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Discussion Starter #1
I recently purchased a 2011 Camry SE with 215k miles - the story is all in a recent thread here - I wanted to start a new thread to discuss changing the transmission fluid.

As far as I can tell, the original owner exclusively went to the dealership for maintenance. Looking into the service records, I don't see anything that mentions transmission fluid. Recently, I've noticed upon cold start, the car sometimes makes a loud hum when in reverse. This goes away, but I've also noticed that around 2nd and 3rd gear, around 30 MPH, the car noticeably bumps between gears, seeming like it has a hard time deciding which gear to shift into. The last issue I've noticed is that if I'm parked on a slanted surface and then shift into reverse, it has slammed into gear more than once.

With all that in mind, my first thought is to change the transmission fluid, however it's nearly ten years old with 215k miles. I know people say when its this old you want to avoid changing the fluid because all of the "grit" is keeping the friction optimal and putting new fluid in will make the car slip even more. Alternatively, I've heard changing the fluid then adding additives like Lucas Transmission Fix is a good idea as well (if the slipping gets worse).

Any advice will help.
 

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As far as the dealership, take a look at the Owner's Manual or whatever Toyota may have called what was the Scheduled Maintenance Guide in 2004, to see what the actual services recommended are for various mileages, then see if that particular X mile service was performed.

To be perfectly honest, were I you I'd have a transmission shop that handles Toyotas routinely take a look. Provided you know its an honest shop, they are in the best position to advise.

I virtually never change transmission fluid regardless of the marque, and I absolutely never do transmission flushes. I've got vehicles with over 200K on them, some of which are trucks that have worked throughout their lives, that are going strong that have never seen a transmission fluid change. I check to make sure it looks clear, doesn't smell burnt, and is approximately the same shade (but usually slightly darker over time) than whatever it was when new. Others will have a fit over this, but it has worked for me for decades and across many makes and models.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
If it currently feels fine, just do a drain-and-fill and possibly a filter (strainer). It's just preventative maintenance.
I asked my mechanic about the filter, he mentioned we can only change the fluid since the transmission is sealed off and there is no access to the filter.
 

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I asked my mechanic about the filter, he mentioned we can only change the fluid since the transmission is sealed off and there is no access to the filter.
I don't remember if the filter (strainer) can be replaced but unlike Honda's, while the transmission is sealed it still has an ATF pan which will have the filter in it. I also just found the ATF filter on Rock Auto so it can be replaced. There is a theory that the filter does not need to be changed since not much stuff is collected in it but I would still do it anyway for my own peace of mind. They keyword is "peace of mind" so whatever brings you peace of mind is up to you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I don't remember if the filter (strainer) can be replaced but unlike Honda's, while the transmission is sealed it still has an ATF pan which will have the filter in it. I also just found the ATF filter on Rock Auto so it can be replaced. There is a theory that the filter does not need to be changed since not much stuff is collected in it but I would still do it anyway for my own peace of mind. They keyword is "peace of mind" so whatever brings you peace of mind is up to you.
Peace of mind is key here - question though - are there any negatives to doing a drain and fill for the first time at 215k miles? I'm a little apprehensive because I'm heard several different and contradicting opinions/theories from youtubers and online commentators who all sound extremely confident in their supposed wisdom.

FWIW the problem isn't too bad and it wouldn't crush my peace of mind to ride this out and track the symptoms a little longer. With Coronavirus/COVID-19 I haven't driven this car as much as I'd like, so waiting it out wouldn't bother me.

My main fear is if I change the transmission fluid I'll end up causeing more harm than good - which is something I'd rather not gamble with.
 

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Peace of mind is key here - question though - are there any negatives to doing a drain and fill for the first time at 215k miles? I'm a little apprehensive because I'm heard several different and contradicting opinions/theories from youtubers and online commentators who all sound extremely confident in their supposed wisdom.

FWIW the problem isn't too bad and it wouldn't crush my peace of mind to ride this out and track the symptoms a little longer. With Coronavirus/COVID-19 I haven't driven this car as much as I'd like, so waiting it out wouldn't bother me.

My main fear is if I change the transmission fluid I'll end up causeing more harm than good - which is something I'd rather not gamble with.
The other theory is if the car his not shifting right then doing anything to it may be negative. If the car is shifting good, then a drain-and-fill should be okay. There is a lot of opinions out there and a lot of situations are gonna be different.
 

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IMO, if a transmission fails immediately following a fluid change then the failure was imminent anyway and most likely would have occurred regardless. Yes, in the case of worn clutch packs the clutch material circulating in the fluid may buy you a few more miles, but again the failure is still imminent if you are getting slippage. In the case of hard/late shifts that is most likely due to varnish build up that prevents the smooth operation of the shift solenoids and valves. New fluid has additives that keep internals clean which is why regular fluid changes are a really good idea if you want to drive beyond 150K, not that manufacturers are really interested in that happening. If it was mine, based on the symptoms you are describing I would do a single drain/fill so that only ~40% of the fluid is changed. That will put fresh additives in the fluid without getting too aggressive and breaking off the build up in chunks to large to pass through those valves and solenoids. I had good luck doing that with a Volvo a few years back. Don't expect an overnight result, but if you make it to your next oil change then do another drain/fill and keep doing that until you get it working good. Or, if you want to speed it up do it every 500-1,000 miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
IMO, if a transmission fails immediately following a fluid change then the failure was imminent anyway and most likely would have occurred regardless. Yes, in the case of worn clutch packs the clutch material circulating in the fluid may buy you a few more miles, but again the failure is still imminent if you are getting slippage. In the case of hard/late shifts that is most likely due to varnish build up that prevents the smooth operation of the shift solenoids and valves. New fluid has additives that keep internals clean which is why regular fluid changes are a really good idea if you want to drive beyond 150K, not that manufacturers are really interested in that happening. If it was mine, based on the symptoms you are describing I would do a single drain/fill so that only ~40% of the fluid is changed. That will put fresh additives in the fluid without getting too aggressive and breaking off the build up in chunks to large to pass through those valves and solenoids. I had good luck doing that with a Volvo a few years back. Don't expect an overnight result, but if you make it to your next oil change then do another drain/fill and keep doing that until you get it working good. Or, if you want to speed it up do it every 500-1,000 miles.
It's going to be about $150 every time I want to do the trans fluid with my mechanic - is this something that an amateur can do without many issues?

If it's as easy as an oil change, I'd rather do this myself to save the money - that is if I choose to do this multiple times for the next 12 months.
 

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Look up a video on YouTube. It's not that difficult. Instead of worrying about the temperature of the fluid on re-fill just drain it at ambient temp and put the same amount of fluid back in. You'll need a drain pan, a fluid pump to put fluid back in, and a marked container to measure what you got out. Can be a milk jug that you mark up so you know how much is in it. Valvoline MaxLife is a great Toyota WS compatible fluid (full synthetic) and can be had at most Walmart's for less than $20 a gallon. You should be less than $30 per change to DIY.
 

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You can change the fluid yourself. There are some DIY threads in this site - go to the stickies and you will run into them.
 

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I recently purchased a 2011 Camry SE with 215k miles - the story is all in a recent thread here - I wanted to start a new thread to discuss changing the transmission fluid.

As far as I can tell, the original owner exclusively went to the dealership for maintenance. Looking into the service records, I don't see anything that mentions transmission fluid. Recently, I've noticed upon cold start, the car sometimes makes a loud hum when in reverse. This goes away, but I've also noticed that around 2nd and 3rd gear, around 30 MPH, the car noticeably bumps between gears, seeming like it has a hard time deciding which gear to shift into. The last issue I've noticed is that if I'm parked on a slanted surface and then shift into reverse, it has slammed into gear more than once.

With all that in mind, my first thought is to change the transmission fluid, however it's nearly ten years old with 215k miles. I know people say when its this old you want to avoid changing the fluid because all of the "grit" is keeping the friction optimal and putting new fluid in will make the car slip even more. Alternatively, I've heard changing the fluid then adding additives like Lucas Transmission Fix is a good idea as well (if the slipping gets worse).

Any advice will help.
I just got my Camry back from the dealership after an all points check and asked the same question. The auto trannies are sealed for life and MUST NOT be drained. I know, it seems strange, but according to Toyota, 'tis true.
 

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I just got my Camry back from the dealership after an all points check and asked the same question. The auto trannies are sealed for life and MUST NOT be drained. I know, it seems strange, but according to Toyota, 'tis true.
Typical stealership bullcr4p, don't believe an iota of what you hear from those shameless crooks, the stealership only wants to sell you a new car, they're not interested in seeing you drive your current well serviced car until its wheels fall off.
 

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It's going to be about $150 every time I want to do the trans fluid with my mechanic - is this something that an amateur can do without many issues?

If it's as easy as an oil change, I'd rather do this myself to save the money - that is if I choose to do this multiple times for the next 12 months.
Yes, you can do it yourself, just do a bit of research to understand what the options are, how it's done and why it's done that way. Plenty of great information on this forum. Given you don't know what's your tranny fluid level status, for the first service you should probably go through the fluid level check procedure.
 

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i've been doing diy full atf flush annually on all my vehicles, sealed or non-sealed transmission, and atf filter, just as easy as engine oil change.
even the sticker said atf is lifetime fluid. big lie, any moving part is subjected to heat and wear tear, require maintenance.
 

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Change the fluid, filter, clean/replace/upgrade the magnets, and keep driving.

Since vehicle is high mileage, ANY failure is expected. Drive gently and it will last longer than driving like speedracer.

You need to measure ATF temp, either by jumping pins, or by using an ABD scan tool. If you can't do either, don't do the service. The other option is to perform the service and have a shop check the level.
 

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Change the fluid, filter, clean/replace/upgrade the magnets, and keep driving.

Since vehicle is high mileage, ANY failure is expected. Drive gently and it will last longer than driving like speedracer.

You need to measure ATF temp, either by jumping pins, or by using an ABD scan tool. If you can't do either, don't do the service. The other option is to perform the service and have a shop check the level.
Splain jumping pins. Yes, I know what you mean, but which two pins and what flashes and what is the flash code?
 

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In the end, do what gives you peace of mind. If you want to do an drain-and-fill, go for it. If you want to do an drain-and-fill and filter, go for it. If you want to leave it as it is, go for it. If you want to believe the transmission will last a lifetime. go for it.

For me, transmission peace of mind comes from:
  • 50,000 miles
    • Drain-and-fill
  • 100,000 miles
    • Drain-and-fill
    • Filter, o-ring, gasket
  • 150,000 miles
    • Drain-and-fill
  • 200,000 miles
    • Drain-and-fill
    • Filter, o-ring, gasket
  • 250,000 miles
    • Drain-and-fill
  • 300,000 miles
    • Drain-and-fill
    • Filter, o-ring, gasket
In addition, there are multiple definitions to "lifetime" and it is up to you to consider what that is.
 

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In the end, do what gives you peace of mind.
Which is the best advice anyone can give. And this person is doing his due diligence to determine what will give him peace of mind.

I can't think of many things when it comes to "routine maintenance" that doesn't involve strongly held opinions, delivered as though they were incontrovertible fact, that are diametrically opposed to each other.

In the end you have to weigh the evidence, consider the sources, and do what you are comfortable with. There is no One True Way regardless of how many insist, with absolute conviction, that there is.
 
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