Transmission fluid change - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
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#1 Old 03-19-2012, 11:01 AM
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Transmission fluid change

I have read through all of the threads here about tranny fluid changes, and also looked at the sticky for diff and transaxle fluids too.

What I want to know is if just draining and filling the automatic transmission fluid is enough. I know that it will only drain about 1/2 of the total fluid in the transmission if you just use the drain plug on the transmission oil pan. So if I just did that, is it enough? Or do we pay for the full trans oil flush from the dealer for $150+?

The car has 83,400 miles on it and I will be towing, so I'd like to get the transmission serviced before I start towing.

Thanks!
Bryan

Last edited by cassb; 03-19-2012 at 02:24 PM.
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#2 Old 03-19-2012, 12:36 PM
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I vote for he complete transmission service. I also tow and have the tranny serviced way before the Toyota 100,000 World Service (WS) recommendation.

2008 Highlander AWD, Blizzard Pearl & Ash interior, loaded but no rear entertainment
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#3 Old 03-19-2012, 12:56 PM
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Here is the link to the useful information on Transmission flushing:

http://www.gadgetonline.com/TransFlush.htm
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#4 Old 03-19-2012, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by newsrv View Post
I vote for he complete transmission service. I also tow and have the tranny serviced way before the Toyota 100,000 World Service (WS) recommendation.
I think I'm leaning that way too. I just got back from the dealer and asked about it. They said it's $200 to do the flush/fill. The fluid itself, if I were to buy and try flushing myself, would be around $90 anyway. Plus they run solvent through it and add some conditioner along with the oil. So I'll be looking for a discount coupon in the near future and just have them do it.

Thanks!
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#5 Old 03-19-2012, 02:19 PM
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Do not run any solvents or conditioners through the transmission. It is a bunch of hype. A simple drain/fill is all you need, especially if the transmission fluid has never been changed before. I have a 2012 vehicle and I took the cover off. There is a drain plug & a port to fill from the dipstick in the engine bay. Someone sent me a TIS from Toyota which makes absolutely no sense. Has anyone done a drain and fill only on a Toyotal Highlander. Where did you drain the fluid from? How many liters/quarts came out? Where did you fill the fluid from? I just drained/filled the Infiniti yesterday right in the driveway. I do this every 15,000 miles and the fluid runs about $25 (wolf's head equivalent). I can not imagine this being any different. All I found was a drain plug on the bottom of the transmission. Anybody have any thoughts?
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#6 Old 03-19-2012, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Catanzaro View Post
Do not run any solvents or conditioners through the transmission. It is a bunch of hype. A simple drain/fill is all you need, especially if the transmission fluid has never been changed before. I have a 2012 vehicle and I took the cover off. There is a drain plug & a port to fill from the dipstick in the engine bay. Someone sent me a TIS from Toyota which makes absolutely no sense. Has anyone done a drain and fill only on a Toyotal Highlander. Where did you drain the fluid from? How many liters/quarts came out? Where did you fill the fluid from? I just drained/filled the Infiniti yesterday right in the driveway. I do this every 15,000 miles and the fluid runs about $25 (wolf's head equivalent). I can not imagine this being any different. All I found was a drain plug on the bottom of the transmission. Anybody have any thoughts?
Yes, there is a drain plug on the bottom of the transmission pan. You can do a drain and fill and it will be about 4 quarts of fluid. This would be fine if you don't tow and the mileage is under 100,000. I believe the transmission holds about 10 quarts total, so you are freshening about 40% of the fluid.

I'm going to tow with mine, and the oil has never been replaced after 83,000 miles, so I will get it flushed and completely changed. My dealer here charges $8.99/qt. for the Toyota WS oil, which is what you should use if you have a '08 or newer. You just pour the new fluid into the dipstick tube -- just make sure you don't overfill it.
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#7 Old 03-19-2012, 02:40 PM
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Whenever I drain the fluid, I allow the fluid to drain overnight into a very clean bucket. Then I measure the fluid cold (overnight) and put back exactly the same amount of fluid through the dipstick. Thank you.

For what transmissions cost these days, you are better off buying fluid and doing a drain/fill every 15K-20K, even though you are only replacing 40% of the fluid. In my experience, I usually get out about 50% of the fluid, but Toyota's may be different.

Because the fluid has never been changed, I would not risk doing a complete flush, but only a drain/fill. Then another drain/fill a few months later Most shops will not even touch the fluid at this kind of milaege. I remember when I purchased my father in law Lexus LS400 with 70K miles (no service records). 3 shops here in NJ would not touch it without receipts because it was dirty. Aamco did a complete flush after driving the vehicle and luckily everything worked out. The first 3 shops did not want any risk in the event the transmission went south.

Solvents and conditioners (bunch of hype). They are marketing tools. Transmission fluid has cleaners and conditioners built into them to keep the transmission from running to hot and detergents, unlike motor oil.

Keep us posted after the complete flush.
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#8 Old 03-19-2012, 02:55 PM
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I assume the 4 quarts is 100% accurate as when you look on ebay for fluid, they sell the WS Fluid in 4 quarts. With shipping it comes out to about $7.50 quart (which is still not bad). So for $30 every 15,000 miles you can have a piece of mind that your fluid will stay clean. If you purchase in bulk you may get the fluid cheaper.
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#9 Old 03-19-2012, 03:02 PM
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I am assuming that since this is a Toyota dealer that's going to do it, they know what they're doing. We'll see -- they don't even recommend changing the tranny fluid at all for the first 100,000 miles if you're not towing. So this will actually be an early change for this car. But you can bet that if flushing the tranny oil causes damage, even with the dealer, I will be knocking on their door for some compensation.
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#10 Old 03-20-2012, 08:37 AM
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Ironically, it goes back to when Synthetic Oil came out over 20 years ago in where people were going 15,000 miles vs. 3,000 without oil changes. But even today with synthetics people would not wait 15,000 miles unless they leased the vehicle. I do not even know people who go 10,000 miles without oil changes (problems with sludge). I can not agree with Toyota and 100K miles. Remember their pockets are deeper than ours, so proving that a transmission had problems because of extended maintenance intervals will be hard to prove. I would suggest you watch them do a complete flush on the system. Have a conversation with the manager. These tranny's are run by computers and when something changes the computers sometimes gets thrown off. My BMW because of a fluid change had all these issues in where it was not shifting right (70K miles) BMW says 100K. This was a simple drain and fill. So this is why I do not like the long intervals. I had to have the whole car reprogrammed because of a simple drain/fill (running perfect before this).

This way if you go through a flush or drain/fill and it is not shifting properly, you can have Toyota pay for the resetting of the EGS computer modules. Have the SA or mechanic drive the vehicle with you so you can show them that there is nothing wrong. It reminds me with my Corolla were after 30K miles they told me I had carbon buildup ($90 service) but would not even consider changing the fluid on the tranny. I beleive they stay away from fluid changes because of the risk (sometimes) with drain/fill flushes. So why not say 100K miles because most warranty items are done @ this point. Good luck and keep us posted on the service.
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#11 Old 03-20-2012, 08:46 AM
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Good luck and keep us posted on the service.
Yup, I sure will. Thanks for your help and insight.
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