Transmission Fluid - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
Corolla 9th Gen/1st Gen Matrix (2003-2008) 9th generation Corolla and 1st generation Matrix discussion.

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post #1 of 36 Old 06-17-2019, 10:11 AM Thread Starter
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Transmission Fluid

Hello,
I have 2007 Corolla S. I haven't changed/ flushed the transmission fluid.
My friend gave me 7 or 8 quarts of chevron dexron iii mercon ATFluid.
Is that ok to use on my car? Any idea?

thanks
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post #2 of 36 Old 06-17-2019, 10:32 AM
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Your owner's manual should tell you recommended fluid.
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post #3 of 36 Old 06-17-2019, 11:28 AM
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No. You need a fluid that is T-IV compatible. A list of fluids can be found here:

https://www.toyotanation.com/forum/1...ce-thread.html

DIY Procedure Here:

https://www.toyotanation.com/forum/1...placement.html
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post #4 of 36 Old 06-17-2019, 05:32 PM
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Why are you changing the transmission fluid? Assuming this is for an automatic, the manual says that unless the car is used under extremely strenuous conditions, the transmission fluid does not need to be changed as long as the level is good.

Also, having looked into this, a lot of people say that they run into issues after changing transmission fluid. Issues like the check engine light coming on or the shifting being rough.
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post #5 of 36 Old 06-17-2019, 06:18 PM
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There's no such thing as a lifetime tranny fluid. IMO. It should be changed every 50,000 miles or so. (drain and refill, about 4.5 litres)
The problems arise when the fluid has been neglected for a long long time and then its changed or when the garage tries to do a transmission "flush". Stay away from the flushes as they seem to stir up lots of sediment which does affect it negatively.

Call the dealership to ask which fluid you should use for your car, or check your manual. They are different.
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post #6 of 36 Old 06-17-2019, 06:38 PM
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I changed the ATF in my car about 45k miles back. What I noticed was -



1) the old ATF was dark
2) had a burnt smell
3) there was stuff around the magnets in the pan.

4) After changing the ATF, the shifting was OMG so much smoother.

5) Zero transmission problems since.



What causes the issues with transmissions after fluid change?


Power flushing the ATF can dislodge debris which were blocking the small leaks in various seal gaskets. These "leaks" would only get bigger over time leading to transmission failure. Also the burnt fluid as I and numerous others on this forum have found, the lubrication properties are only likely to deteriorate over time/mileage. Cannot think of a scenario where they would get better or even remain same.



If you are worried about potential leaks then suggest that you do a drain and fill (repeated about every few K miles).



Finally, if I can make it a habit to change the ATF every 30K miles starting with a new car. The cost is very low and ensures fresher fluid at 100K, 200K or 300K miles at minimal cost. My DIY changes cost me less than $20 every 2-3 years.



PS:: Tha manual states it is lifetime fluid under normal driving conditions. Does anybody know what lifetime is? and what kind of warranties apply when transmissions fail at say 61Kmiles or 100K or some other bigger number, because you followed the manual?

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post #7 of 36 Old 06-17-2019, 08:05 PM
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A simple drain/fill is recommended or about 4 quarts. For the cost of OEM fluid, you are looking at $25. I have gone through 2 fluid exchanges in less than 8K miles and shifts great. Purchased with 83K, almost 90K on the clock. Every 25K I will perform another drain/fill. We changed mom's Honda at 140K first time as it was dark with no problems.

How many miles on your car, and condition of fluid?

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post #8 of 36 Old 06-17-2019, 08:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catanzaro View Post
A simple drain/fill is recommended or about 4 quarts. For the cost of OEM fluid, you are looking at $25. I have gone through 2 fluid exchanges in less than 8K miles and shifts great. Purchased with 83K, almost 90K on the clock. Every 25K I will perform another drain/fill. We changed mom's Honda at 140K first time as it was dark with no problems.

How many miles on your car, and condition of fluid?
I don't see anywhere in the maintenance schedule where it is recommended to change ATF under normal car usage.
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post #9 of 36 Old 06-17-2019, 08:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donlogan View Post
I don't see anywhere in the maintenance schedule where it is recommended to change ATF under normal car usage.
Car manufacturers want you to think their product is so good that it needs no maintenance and therefore has a super low cost of ownership. Their warranty only lasts to 60K. If the transmission fails after that, that's your problem, not theirs.

The best way to obtain a low cost of ownership is to drive a car as long as possible. If you're someone who sells cars every 70-80K miles or 7-8 years, then yes, I would say to save your $25 and not change the fluid. The transmission won't fail. But, if you are economical and drive cars for a long time, changing the ATF every 30K-50K may prolong the life of your transmission from 150K to 300K, essentially doubling the lifetime of your car.

All depends on how long you plan on keeping your car. You don't "need" to change it... just buy a new car when the transmission fails!
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post #10 of 36 Old 06-17-2019, 08:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donlogan View Post
Why are you changing the transmission fluid? Assuming this is for an automatic, the manual says that unless the car is used under extremely strenuous conditions, the transmission fluid does not need to be changed as long as the level is good.

Also, having looked into this, a lot of people say that they run into issues after changing transmission fluid. Issues like the check engine light coming on or the shifting being rough.
This is not good maintenance practice. Especially considering Toyota is often vague and inconsistent on requirements for the same car and years. Toyota has also been burned for their maintenance recommendations before, causing the sludge debacle of the early 2000s by recommending 7500 mile oil changes when shops were using cheap dino bulk oil.

Depending on the year Toyota had either a 40K mile service interval, 60K mile interval, or the "lifetime" interval, even though the transmissions are all the same internally and use the same exact T-IV non-synthethic fluid.

Toyota also says to change always at 60K or less, if the vehicle is under "special conditions." What are special conditions? Well depending on the year or region, that may driving in dirty or dusty areas, heavy traffic, towing, driving more than 70MPH for 2 hours, driving above 2600 feet above sea level, driving in stop and go traffic, driving in heavy traffic, etc.

Also the post transmission fluid change issues are a myth. I've done original transmission fluid changes on Toyotas with over 200K miles and many with well over 100K miles with no issues whatsoever. I've changed it on older transmissions and newer transmissions. There are also numerous documented T-IV filled transmission failures on similar vintage Camry models, all which had no fluid replacement.

Also I have seen zero reports here of transmission fluid changed issues, however there have been numerous fixes just from changing the fluid. Specific to these cars, transmission fluid changes have been documented to fix P0741 codes and severe shift concerns. I have also personally seen the shift quality increase in all Toyota transmission fluid types from Dexron/T-III to WS (synthetic fluid).

The single only reason for "lifetime" fluid intervals is to portray vehicle ownership costs as low to aid in marketing. Transmission fluid drives, cools, and lubricates the transmission. The idea that a non synthetic fluid will last a lifetime is just not true. A UOA will clearly demonstrate the fluid breaks down, shears, burns, and loses effectiveness. Some fluids are better, but none are lifetime.

Toyota also does not have any internals for brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission filters, or PCV valves even though they often fail or cause issues. They also believe for some reason that coolant has a dual interval of 100K and 50K thereafter (2005-2008) or 60K and 30K thereafter (2003-2004) even if you use their coolant.

TL: DR

ATF breaks down and needs to be changed. Toyota maintenance recommendations and intervals are often vague, inconsistent, and nonsensical.

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Last edited by hardtopte72; 06-17-2019 at 09:38 PM.
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post #11 of 36 Old 06-17-2019, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donlogan View Post
I don't see anywhere in the maintenance schedule where it is recommended to change ATF under normal car usage.
Some cars do specify. Think of it this way: why do you need to change your motor oil? Your engine coolant? Your brake fluid? Your power steering fluid? Your differential fluid? Your transfer case fluid? Why would ATF be any different? If there was a magic fluid that never broke down, never lost any of it lubricating properties, why would that not be copied in every fluid out there? Why don't shops that rebuild trannys collect old tranny fluid and use it? Why would anyone sell ATF fluid if all you ever needed t do was put it in one time and forget about it (other than topping it off, which would be maybe a quart a decade or so).

Yes, you need to change your ATF fluid. Or you just get a new transmission some day when it breaks down (it will), that has new fluid in it.

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post #12 of 36 Old 06-17-2019, 10:09 PM
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Re: my comment about people reporting issues after changing ATF. I had been watching Youtube videos to learn how to change the transmission fluid. In the comments section several people across several videos mentioned that they had issues with their car right after doing the change. So after seeing that I decided to hold off on it.

So the consensus seems to be that it's the flush that causes the issues.

I'm going to go ahead and do a drain and fill in that case.

Is it ok to mix two different brands of ATF? Both are T-IV compatible.
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post #13 of 36 Old 06-17-2019, 10:36 PM
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Issues are generally only caused by machine flushes which use an internal pump that may or may not be the proper direction and pressure of the internal pump.

Full fluid exchanges are not an issue as long as just the internal pump pressure is used. The same applies to drain and fills, though they aren't effective at removing all fluid and are more of a good practice if done regularly every 30-40K miles.

A good example of a full fluid exchange than can be done at home is below:

https://www.toyotanation.com/forum/1...placement.html

As for mixing fluids, it isn't ideal because additive packs work best together, but won't cause issues. Recommended fluids can be found in the link above.
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post #14 of 36 Old 06-18-2019, 05:44 AM
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Amazingly what is more upsetting is how newer cars all have "sealed" transmissions. Well, not dipstick. One can still change the fluid, but it becomes a real PIA and for your basic DIY type of individual, now it has become real difficult. For me, one bolt and a washer is very easy. Car manufacturers and the new design makes no sense, other than they do not want anyone touching the vehicle besides the dealer. How can one even tell if the fluid has been drained and filled without physically seeing the fluid.
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post #15 of 36 Old 06-18-2019, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catanzaro View Post
Amazingly what is more upsetting is how newer cars all have "sealed" transmissions. Well, not dipstick. One can still change the fluid, but it becomes a real PIA and for your basic DIY type of individual, now it has become real difficult. For me, one bolt and a washer is very easy. Car manufacturers and the new design makes no sense, other than they do not want anyone touching the vehicle besides the dealer. How can one even tell if the fluid has been drained and filled without physically seeing the fluid.
Yeah, my mother's 2010 Toyota Camry has a "sealed" transmission. No dipstick. It requires you to have either Techstream or an electronic thermometer. Judging the level is somewhat subjective, though, as I've seen two different pro mechanics have different personal definitions of what the flow of the fluid should be coming out of the drain (fluid level straw) when the fluid is within a certain temperature range. I was able to do this successfully, but it's just so much drama and complexity, like a BMW or other European car. Luckily the Gen 9 Corolla doesn't have this issue.
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