Today I “flushed” my transmission fluid. It was way overdue. The ODO was at 140,855. I bought it used with 60k on it and was never sure if the dealer changed the fluid. At any rate, I should have changed it by 100k or a bit earlier considering I tow with it. I opted to do the flush method rather than drain and refill the tranny pan. This is how you do that.
Oil catch pan
2’ or so length of spare tubing (same size as the soft trans lines)
A few empty 4 qt oil jugs
About 3 gallons (three jugs) of Valvoline Maxlife ATF fluid. I buy them at WalMart for less that $20 a gallon.
You do not need to use Toyota WS fluid. I have used Maxlife on all my Toyotas for years.
I opted to put the Runner up on ramps to make crawling around under it easier. You will need to remove the plastic cover and skid plate just like you do to change the oil cartridge. I won’t go into that here, but that is what the 10mm socket (five bolts on the plastic shroud) and 12mm socket (4 bolts on the skid plate) are for. Get those out of the way as that gets you to the soft transmission return line coming off the bottom of the radiator.
Before you ever drain something that has a fill plug, you always, always remove the fill plug first. This way you don’t get yourself in a corner if the fill plug is seized or cross threaded and can’t come out. The fill plug is 24mm and sits above and “behind” (meaning towards the rear) of the transmission pan on the passenger side. It has WS stamped on it.
Remove the fill plug and set aside, being mindful of the rubber o-ring attached to it.
Now you can drain the tranny pan (sump). Place your EMPTY oil catch can under it and remove the 14mm bolt. This is not the special bolt used to check the fluid level, which takes a hex key to remove. This is a normal 14mm bolt. The bolt has a small metal washer on it so don’t lose that. Drain the fluid, letting it get to where it is barely dripping. Once drained, put the bolt back on and torque to value, then clean excess fluid off the bottom of the pan and bolt so you can tell if you leak later on.
You must measure how much fluid came out. The pan should hold about 3 quarts. Measure how much was in the oil catch can. Situate yourself under the tranny and open up one of the gallon jugs of Maxlife. Your fluid pump will have two hoses – an IN and an OUT. I used a cheap Harbor Freight hand pump. It came with (2) 51” hoses, the pump, and some air line accessories. Since the hoses were rolled up, they want to go back to that rolled up position. This will cause the hose to pop up out of the fluid as it pumps, sucking air. To combat this I popped a brass fitting on the end to help weigh it down.
Secure the OUT hose end into the fill plug hole, and drop your IN hose into the ATF fluid, making sure you get to the bottom but don’t curl back up out of the fluid. Pump back in the exact same amount you drained. Again, for me it was right at 3 quarts. The Maxlife jug has graduation marks on it to make it easier to measure. Note that the pump assembly will hold some amount of fluid in it (mine held about a quarter of a quart in it (pump and hoses), even if I had the handle all the way down.
The sump has clean fluid in it, but the entire system holds around 13 quarts of fluid. Time to start pumping the old fluid out.
Crawl under the radiator and using your pliers slide back the hose clamp on the RETURN tranny hose line - it is the one toward the driver side next to the radiator hose:
Pop on your excess hose to the radiator nipple, and drop the other end of the hose into an empty 4/5 quart oil jug. I like these as they have a clear slot to see the fluid and graduation marks to measure the fluid. Here is a pic of some old MaxLife jugs I used:
With the jug secured so it does not fall over, start the motor. The return line on the bottom of the radiator will pump old fluid into the empty jug. It takes around 7-13 seconds to pump out a quart. Keep your eye on the jug and turn off the engine once it is almost at the quart mark. Bear in mind your sump only holds about 3 quarts, and you are not returning any fluid to it. This is why you do NOT want to pump out more than about 2 quarts at a time, as you may wind up draining out your torque converter, which will screw you. 1 quart at a time is a safe bet.
You have now flushed out 1 quart of fluid. Crawl back to the pump and pump back in 1 quart.
Repeat this process until you have either started pumping out cherry red fluid, or until you have gone through about 3 gallons of MaxLife. Now remove the excess hose you are using, place back on the tranny hose to the radiator and re-secure the clamp. Remove your pump assembly and torque the fill plug back on. Wipe up all areas, then run the engine and look to make sure you are not leaking from the hose, the drain plug or the fill plug area.
Put back on the skid plate and shroud, clean up, and you are done! Good for another 60-100k.