Sealed Transmission Maintenance - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
Camry 5th & 6th Gen (2002-2006 & 2007-2011)/2nd Gen Solara (2004-2008) Toyota Camry Discussion for years 2002-2006 & 2007-2011, as well as Solara Discussion for years 2004-2008. Topics of discussion range from fuel economy, safety, modifications, performance all involving America's favorite family car, the Toyota Camry.

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post #1 of 31 Old 05-13-2019, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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Sealed Transmission Maintenance

Hi

Dealer recommending against transmission fluid service on my 2011 Camry with 99,500 miles. Any data out there that shows failure rate on transmissions that don’t have this service performed?

Thanks
Charlie
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post #2 of 31 Old 05-14-2019, 03:16 PM
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I have noticed a few dealers who have advised against changing the oil and the reason is the standard reply that new fluid could cause failure. That is an old tail that applies when a transmission is old, worn out and already giving you problems. Otherwise changing the fluid is just good maintenance. I would be careful that they are qualified to do the procedure correctly. Don't be shy about talking to the mechanic that actually does the work before turning over your car to them. Any hesitation in his reply or things like "oh you don't have to do the temperature reading to refill", go find another dealership.
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post #3 of 31 Old 05-14-2019, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by RJI View Post
I have noticed a few dealers who have advised against changing the oil and the reason is the standard reply that new fluid could cause failure. That is an old tail that applies when a transmission is old, worn out and already giving you problems. Otherwise changing the fluid is just good maintenance. I would be careful that they are qualified to do the procedure correctly. Don't be shy about talking to the mechanic that actually does the work before turning over your car to them. Any hesitation in his reply or things like "oh you don't have to do the temperature reading to refill", go find another dealership.
Thanks for replying. I’m always amazed at how helpful the SMEs are in forums like this.

I’m old school regarding car maintenance. The fine points I’ve read here as far as the meticulous process in getting the transmission oil changed make this a potentially error-prone process with potential catastrophic consequences to the consumer.

I’m not sure what to do ...

I’m thinking the following:

- Use a dealership as they would be best to absorb liability.

- Sit in the passenger seat as a dealership service rep drives the car as to prove that I’m handing off a car with a flawless transmission

They say lifetime oil, but that defies certain common factors such as evaporation. From a liability perspective, where they say lifetime fluid, if my transmission fails in the future, I don’t think I’d have a strong case against being able to “blame” them.

Ultimately, I guess my original question (reworded) stands:

For those of you who see several sealed transmission system Camrys on a daily basis...

How often do you see Camrys come through with transmission failures?

Of the ones that do come through, what subset can be rooted to not changing the fluid?

Thanks all
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post #4 of 31 Old 05-14-2019, 05:48 PM
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I don’t think anyone collected stats, but you occasionally read in the forum how changing fluids improved the shift and clunks of the U-series by some.

No I don’t believe it’s a lifetime fill, but for manufacturers it’s often defined as 100k miles. If the car is a keeper drain/refill every 2 years or 30k miles. Change the filter around 60k. Valvoline Maxlife is a fave here.

No doubt many techs can’t fill the ATF correctly as they don’t have time to wait until the transmission cools down. You end up underfilling and burn up the clutch packs potentially.

If you’re mechanically inclined I’d drop the pan and change the filter too.

https://www.toyotanation.com/forum/1...v6.html?page=1

https://www.toyotanation.com/forum/1.../576361?page=1
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post #5 of 31 Old 05-14-2019, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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I don’t think anyone collected stats, but you occasionally read in the forum how changing fluids improved the shift and clunks of the U-series by some.

No I don’t believe it’s a lifetime fill, but for manufacturers it’s oftien defined as 100k miles. If the car is a keeper drain/refill every 2 years or 30k miles. Change the filter around 60k. Valvoline Maxlife is a fave here.

No doubt many techs can’t fill the ATF correctly as they don’t have time to wait until the transmission cools down. You end up underfilling and burn up the clutch packs potentially.

If you’re mechanically inclined I’d drop the pan and change the filter too.

https://www.toyotanation.com/forum/1...v6.html?page=1

https://www.toyotanation.com/forum/1.../576361?page=1

Unfortunately, not mechanically inclined.

It makes no sense to me how something that should apparently be serviceable has so many potentially human-errors tied to it. If it’s “supposed to be checked/changed regularly”, it seems that the car would be engineered appropriately - dipstick, etc...

Cooling fluid, which seemingly has the same (or perhaps more forgiving) recommended maintenance schedule vs what’s recommended above for tranny fluid, is much easier to maintain.

A conspiracist would say that it was engineered this way because it’s an easy money grab by the stealership, who are uniquely trained and outfitted with the proper equipment, but they recommended me **not** giving them my business ...
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post #6 of 31 Old 05-14-2019, 08:45 PM
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Dealer flushed mine at 90k and it sometimes slips going from 3-4 shift. Now that the weather has warmed up it has stopped and seemed to get better with more miles. Since I know the service manager he kept the car to start it cold and check the level by the temperature the next day to make sure it was correct level and it was about a pint low but still behaved the same. Now have 12k since the flush and will just do it every 30k from now on. All my cars from now on will be serviced at 30k

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2002 Camry LE
1996 T100 SR5
1993 Corolla DX Wagon
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post #7 of 31 Old 05-15-2019, 05:59 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Rusty360 View Post
Dealer flushed mine at 90k and it sometimes slips going from 3-4 shift. Now that the weather has warmed up it has stopped and seemed to get better with more miles. Since I know the service manager he kept the car to start it cold and check the level by the temperature the next day to make sure it was correct level and it was about a pint low but still behaved the same. Now have 12k since the flush and will just do it every 30k from now on. All my cars from now on will be serviced at 30k
Hi - do you have a sealed system? If yes, in reading this, are you saying:

1- Tranny was fine

2- Dealer flushed it at 90K


3- Now, it slips going from 3rd to fourth in cooler weather


Thanks
Charlie
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post #8 of 31 Old 05-15-2019, 08:08 PM
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Correct but it's not all the time it happens, only once in while in cold weather or when the tranny is cold seems to happen. Have put 12,000 miles since flush and seems to have gotten better. I have no reservations about driving it anywhere. I have a sealed transmission and will flush this car and my Highlander at 30k from now on.

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post #9 of 31 Old 05-15-2019, 08:23 PM
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drain and refill with genuine/oem/(asin iirc) tranny fluid should take out about half of the old oil and there will be no shock to the system. drive it for a while ~5000 miles then reset adaptations, not before. The only times I have heard it cause issues are:

1) wrong or multi application generic ATF is used
2) complete change of oil and transmission adaptations are reset (ZF)
3) wrong or incorrect amount of oil is refilled
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post #10 of 31 Old 05-16-2019, 11:20 AM
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Welcome to the site cg.


This is one of the most fiercely debated issues out there: do I/how to/what fluid for tranny fluids.


#1 - there is no such thing as true "life time" anything. It is fluid, it will wear out and the transmission will fail due to breakdown of the fluid. When? Can't say. 150k, 300k, 500k - it's like rolling dice.


#2 - dealers consider "life time" to be something very different than what a logical person would consider it. Consider this: the life time of a May fly is about 24 hours. What does that have to do with tranny fluid - well, nothing other than pointing out that life time spans are not Universal. The industry considers 12k miles a year to be normal use for a car, so hitting 120k miles means a decade of ownership. People tend to not hold on to anything that long, hence the fluid is life time to you if you buy it new and dump it before 10 years.


Sealed trannys are harder to get the fluid level right. Changing fluid is easy - it's getting the right amount in there that is harder as you have to measure the amount with the engine running and the tranny temp at normal operating temperature, without a dip stick. General shops may not run the thing long enough to get to the proper temp so may not measure the amount properly. The dealer very much should know better.


At 95k you are in very little risk of new fluid causing you any issue. Let it get to 200k or above 150k or some other unknown value and the risk begins to increase. If you can change it, I would do so. If you cannot (yourself) I would have a reliable shop do it.

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post #11 of 31 Old 05-16-2019, 11:36 AM
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You drain fluid into metered vessel. You know exactly how much you drained. You replace with exactly same amount.
Done.
This is what I do on our 2011 RX350. "sealed" transmission. Right.



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post #12 of 31 Old 05-16-2019, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ukrkoz View Post
You drain fluid into metered vessel. You know exactly how much you drained. You replace with exactly same amount.
Done.
This is what I do on our 2011 RX350. "sealed" transmission. Right.

My method as well - assuming the level was right to begin with!

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post #13 of 31 Old 05-16-2019, 04:14 PM
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^+1

Same here, I always measure to get an idea of what I drained. But I add a little more and use the check plug to verify.
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post #14 of 31 Old 05-16-2019, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SFCamry View Post
Welcome to the site cg.


This is one of the most fiercely debated issues out there: do I/how to/what fluid for tranny fluids.


#1 - there is no such thing as true "life time" anything. It is fluid, it will wear out and the transmission will fail due to breakdown of the fluid. When? Can't say. 150k, 300k, 500k - it's like rolling dice.


#2 - dealers consider "life time" to be something very different than what a logical person would consider it. Consider this: the life time of a May fly is about 24 hours. What does that have to do with tranny fluid - well, nothing other than pointing out that life time spans are not Universal. The industry considers 12k miles a year to be normal use for a car, so hitting 120k miles means a decade of ownership. People tend to not hold on to anything that long, hence the fluid is life time to you if you buy it new and dump it before 10 years.


Sealed trannys are harder to get the fluid level right. Changing fluid is easy - it's getting the right amount in there that is harder as you have to measure the amount with the engine running and the tranny temp at normal operating temperature, without a dip stick. General shops may not run the thing long enough to get to the proper temp so may not measure the amount properly. The dealer very much should know better.


At 95k you are in very little risk of new fluid causing you any issue. Let it get to 200k or above 150k or some other unknown value and the risk begins to increase. If you can change it, I would do so. If you cannot (yourself) I would have a reliable shop do it.

Thanks for the welcome.

Ultimately, the statistic that would bear out the proper course of action is, for those who never perform any maintenance on the transmission fluid, the point at which a “failure” takes place - unless the demise of a car is for something other-than-Transmission. As you say - it ranges greatly. Assuming driving habits and typical seasonal temperature are factors.

In this exchange, I believe that I read of an incident where a flawless transmission encountered a minor issue after maintenance.

On the other hand, I also don’t believe that any automotive fluid is lifetime.

The reason I, and others, buy Toyota/Honda is due to projected reliability if you keep your car maintained. I don’t have my car maintained by the dealership. However, for those here who only use a Toyota dealership for maintenance, have you ever been told that a Transmission fluid change/flush is recommended? If not, one would wonder why a dealership would turn down a lucrative profit.

Still torn by this ... and my next car (~2022) is going to be a certified 2019 Highlander (last year before redesign) off a lease return - and I’ll face this same question.

Thanks
Charlie
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post #15 of 31 Old 05-16-2019, 07:17 PM Thread Starter
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^+1

Same here, I always measure to get an idea of what I drained. But I add a little more and use the check plug to verify.
Hi

I’m far from a do-it-yourselfer, but is it difficult to account for compensating for evaporation?
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