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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok this is ridiculous. I've done a simple trans drain and fill on my Corolla and my mother's Camry. What is this dipstick supposed to read when the level is spot on and the car has been thoroughly warmed up and driven??? I've got a hot and a cold mark on the stick and I'm playing hell trying to get a straight answer out of anyone anywhere. STRICTLY asking what EXACTLY it should read once driven and at full operating temp and all gears rowed multiple times yada yada the whole deal. Should it be within the hot level indicator marks? I saw some dude saying test the fluid temp on your forearm and if it's hot, if its cold, if it's warm blah blah... that's ridiculous. It should NOT be this d**n hard to get a straight answer!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ok, that's what I was going with. I've just had to put back quite a bit more than I drained out of both vehicles so far. Dealership should be checking and topping off fluids as they state but this would indicate to me they aren't doing their job. Not surprising, that's why I've taken to doing my own maintenance recently.
 

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Maintenance on the 5th generation Camry is very easy. Transmission drain and fill is very similar to an oil change; very simple. Moderators and members have posted tutorials on how to do just about anything to your Camry. Just search or ask.

Good luck.
 

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Tranny fluid... like all fluids expand when hot, hence the 'hot reading' on the dipstick... thus if the pwners manual specs checking when hot, it is to take into account normal fluid expansion... typically the 'cold reading' is a courtesy reading to let you casually check if there is an obvious issue, whilst the 'hot reading' is the exacting way to check the proper level..


:)
 

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Use the hot mark as mention above when hot.

Personally for me as long as the fluid level is above the middle or at the 'hot', I just leave it for the ATF. I've never had an issue with it in the last 10 years. But again, YMMV.

Keep in mind that if the car is on a ramp, hill, or uneven surface, it can affect the reading.
 

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When using the cold marks, it has never yet lined up correctly.. Full at cold still does not come to hot. So checking and adding tiny bit at hot does work. It does work out as Kingdom934 says, above middle to hot. The fluid fill after drain is 3.5-3.7 qt.

From DIY:
Step 13. Go for a good long test drive of at least 15 minutes and try to get the vehicle up at highway speed.

Step 14. Park the vehicle on a level surface and with the engine running and brake pedal depressed cycle the vehicle through all gears several times. Then set the parking brake and open the hood. With the vehicle running check the transmission fluid level. The fluid should be somewhere between the center of the COLD and HOT mark up to the HOT mark. Top off fluid as necessary and reinstall the dipstick.
 
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When using the cold marks, it has never yet lined up correctly.. Full at cold still does not come to hot.
This is the exact reason I never use the 'cold' line. I just treat it as the 'cold' as being low. Fluid does expand but I never had a transmission fluid at 'cold' with the engine cold go up to 'HOT' mark after a day worth of driving.
 

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You need an ATF temp gauge to use the dipstick.

For example, the cold level is for your 1st start of the day, or after 8 hour cool down. Make sure vehicle is on a level surface and that you moved the shift lever into all spots prior to checking level. Cold level check only allows you to safely drive vehicle until you have the ATF hot enough for the correct ATF level check.

The hot range varies among models. But, the low notch/mark of hot is usually 158F and the high notch/marking is 176F. To keep it simple, if your between 158-176 and the fluid level is anywhere in the hot range, you're plenty good.

Without knowing the temperature, the dipstick reading is meaningless and why many vehicles don't have one anymore.
 

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Tranny fluid... like all fluids expand when hot, hence the 'hot reading' on the dipstick... thus if the pwners manual specs checking when hot, it is to take into account normal fluid expansion... typically the 'cold reading' is a courtesy reading to let you casually check if there is an obvious issue, whilst the 'hot reading' is the exacting way to check the proper level..


:)
One needs to know one thing and have another thing: The actual operating temperature range of the transmission fluid, and a method of accurately measuring the fluid on the dipstick (good-quality infrared temp gun). If you know the temp is right (hot), you know the level is correct.
 

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Here is a brief run down of how the fluid should look:

1. If the fluid is hot enough to burn sensitive skin (forearm vs. palm) it should be at the hot mark if the car just driven a while.

2. If the fluid is hot enough to burn sensitive skin (forearm vs. palm) it should be between the mid point and hot mark if the car was only idling without being driven.

3. If the fluid is cool or room temp, it should be right at the cold mark.

4. If the fluid is warm to sensitive skin, it should be somewhere in between the cold mark and mid point.

This assumes the car is level, has been cycled through the gears, and the dipstick was held downward to check.
 

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Here is a brief run down of how the fluid should look:

1. If the fluid is hot enough to burn sensitive skin (forearm vs. palm) it should be at the hot mark if the car just driven a while.

2. If the fluid is hot enough to burn sensitive skin (forearm vs. palm) it should be between the mid point and hot mark if the car was only idling without being driven.

3. If the fluid is cool or room temp, it should be right at the cold mark.

4. If the fluid is warm to sensitive skin, it should be somewhere in between the cold mark and mid point.

This assumes the car is level, has been cycled through the gears, and the dipstick was held downward to check.
Well, there you go, Adam! First-degree burns are much cheaper than an infrared temp gun!
 

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Well, there you go, Adam! First-degree burns are much cheaper than an infrared temp gun!
"Burn" in this example is meant to mean "uncomfortably hot". It's the same reason I don't recommend using your palm, since it's less sensitive.
 
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You need an ATF temp gauge to use the dipstick.

For example, the cold level is for your 1st start of the day, or after 8 hour cool down. Make sure vehicle is on a level surface and that you moved the shift lever into all spots prior to checking level. Cold level check only allows you to safely drive vehicle until you have the ATF hot enough for the correct ATF level check.

The hot range varies among models. But, the low notch/mark of hot is usually 158F and the high notch/marking is 176F. To keep it simple, if your between 158-176 and the fluid level is anywhere in the hot range, you're plenty good.

Without knowing the temperature, the dipstick reading is meaningless and why many vehicles don't have one anymore.
I have the 2002, V6 and as it happens if i just do a simple drain and refill (with no dropping the pan) it takes exactly 3 qts...(thank you Toyota engineers.) If I did it on another kind of car and i don't know the refill amount, I'd get two gallon containers exactly the same type (I'd buy 2 containers of cheap bottled water and just pour it out, just to use the containers, it's that important).Then pour in the drained amount and refill the other empty container with the clean fluid to the same amount. And add that amount.

I never thought they removed the ATF dipstick because owners were messing it up, certainly this happens all the time, no doubt, but that sounds like something Mercedes snobby engineers would do! Although i guess that might be a consideration. I feel they removed the dipstick for reasons of, wanting to sell the owner a new car 5 years sooner then they ordinarily would...if the owner doesn't change the fluid, the transmission then blows out years sooner then it would -the cost of a new one pushing the owner over the edge into "might as well get a new car" territory type thing.
 

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If you have a dipstick, I don't know why you would ever replace your fluid hot.

Whenever I do a drain and fill, I let the bottled ATF sit with the car overnight so they both reach the same ambient temperature. That puts the ATF at the cold marker on the dipstick. Then I use two identical graduated gallon containers, and whatever I drain into one, I fill the other with the new ATF and pour into the car. No issues with heat and volume differences that way.

It even works when doing a full cooler line flush, since you are only turning on the car for brief moments to pump out 2 quarts at a time or so. It doesn't get hot enough to make any significant difference.
 

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If you have a dipstick, I don't know why you would ever replace your fluid hot.

Whenever I do a drain and fill, I let the bottled ATF sit with the car overnight so they both reach the same ambient temperature. That puts the ATF at the cold marker on the dipstick. Then I use two identical graduated gallon containers, and whatever I drain into one, I fill the other with the new ATF and pour into the car. No issues with heat and volume differences that way.

It even works when doing a full cooler line flush, since you are only turning on the car for brief moments to pump out 2 quarts at a time or so. It doesn't get hot enough to make any significant difference.
Hot fluid removes the contaminants better, cleaning up more of the pan and other areas.

It's the same with oil and transmission fluid. It's better to warm the engine or transmission prior to replacing the oil/fluid.
 

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++1 on hardtopte. also hot flows faster. there is a but though. when it's hot, it's easier to burn yourself a bit and possibly lose some on the floor, which doesn't get measured and thus if you used the drain number as the refill number, it's gonna be off. that's where checking the level as suggested in the owners manual comes in handy. car at temp, run through the gears and level to full on the stick on a level surface.
tony
 

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++1 on hardtopte. also hot flows faster. there is a but though. when it's hot, it's easier to burn yourself a bit and possibly lose some on the floor, which doesn't get measured and thus if you used the drain number as the refill number, it's gonna be off. that's where checking the level as suggested in the owners manual comes in handy. car at temp, run through the gears and level to full on the stick on a level surface.
tony
I usually do my oil changes when the car is right off when driving for a good 30+ minutes. Oil is HOT but it's not too bad.

I've burned (and scarred a tiny bit) my hand after trying to get the old filter out and on the 1MZFE. It's a battle scar :)
 
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