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03 Toyota Highlander
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well after the first thread about my tranny and some suggestions, I've decided to change the tranny fluid in my car and see how it goes. Since I'm relatively new to this, I'm wondering what I should prepare for this.

I'll be getting 2 jackstands to hold up the front, what kind of tools do I need?
Which fluid and which brand should I get?
Where is the drain for tranny fluid?

If I can, I was wondering if I can change the diff fluid by myself? or is it the same thing? As I said I'm pretty new to this.

Thanks for any help!
 

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I HAS BOOST!!!
94 Camry SE V6 Coup
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10,728 Posts
u should get a hanes manual or somthin like that. it goes into detail about doing stuff like that. if u drive kinda hard, royal purple has a higher performance tranny fluid but it usually runs the tranny a little hotter so its recomended that u get a tranny cooler too.
 

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03 Toyota Highlander
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Where can I get a hanes manual, or something like that? Ebay?

I do drive my car hard sometimes, how does this tranny cooler thing work and where does it go?
 

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98 Camry XLE V6
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3,116 Posts
nah thats just too extravagant.

haynes manuals can be found online/ebay or at many local autoshops.

fluid is listed in your manual as well as on the tranny dipstick.
dexron III i think..
if you worried about driving hard or whatever, you can get synthetic dexronIII fluid...but its really unecessary and its not the cheapest stuff on earth.
the drain plug is a hex type plug. its towards the driver side, around where the oil pan is.

i think you change the diff and tranny fluid in one shot (i'm not sure), but thats what ive been told for my gen 4. I think a drain and fill was 4.5 quarts...although i've forgotten since i've last done it.

Let it drain for as long as you can. Go watch an hour of tv or something.

Plug it back up and lower the car back to the ground. Hopefully you're working on a semi flat surface. Fill up the fluid through the tranny fluid check tube, and check level frequently. Never let the fluid be filled past the HOT lines.
Check where the fluid is now/before the change and try to match it.
 

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03 Toyota Highlander
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Approx how much fluid do I need?

Problem is I have no clue my ATF has been in. Could be ages, and it seems like ages too. Should I put in new fluid, and then drain it out a second time to make sure?
 

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98 Camry XLE V6
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as i mentioned you may need around 4.5 quarts. i know 5 quarts is too much for a drain and fill, but you need around 4. So after putting in 3 quarts i'd begin checking the dipstick every 1/4 quart you put in. And wait a minute as it takes a bit for all the fluid to reach the bottom of the pan.

It only takes about 1/2 a quart to fill it from the cold to hot line.

well how dirty is the fluid? It's supposed to be cherry red when new with a sweet scent. If its brown/black then just do a good drain. you can do another change if you want but its not necessary. Keep checking your fluids and see how the color is.
 

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03 Toyota Highlander
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Its not cherry and red right now. I'm not sure what color it is cause the stick is black(who's bright idea was that?) but I think it was pretty dark colored. Smells like shit too.
 

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98 Camry XLE V6
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uhm thats what papertowels were invented for.

well that does happen over time. as long as its not a burnt smell you're fine with just a drain and fill. if you drain and fill ever 30K you're fine.
 

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03 Toyota Highlander
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I don't even know if its a burning smell anymore, it just smells really bad.

ProperApex: huh? Sorry but I'm new to this and have no idea what ur talking about.
 

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98 Camry XLE V6
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until you get a manual, don't even attempt to remove the transmission filter. (it's not like an engine oil filter at all).

If the car drives with no noticeable issues just do a drain and fill.
 

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03 Toyota Highlander
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I see.... drain the transmission and be done with it. Got it.

So what ATF should I get? BigBird said Royal Purple, but it runs hot, so that doesn't seem like something I want. However I do drive the car pretty hard and I engine brake a lot(I drive to school that's on top of a mountain)
 

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The Camburger
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525 Posts
dextron III is what the manual recommends. its pretty easy to do. when you do change your filter, on the bottom of the pan there should be 3 magnets. when i changed mine there was only one. Since we have the same problem, im trying to look for similarities.
 

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Embrace the Suck
SC300
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i might have missed this, but is it auto or manual? a drain and fill is only 2.5 quarts, redoing an entire tranny requires the 5. if it shows dark or black like coffee, i suggest doing a flush. it costed me around $70-80 and about 2 hours max.

I bought, a case of 12 Castrol Synthetic Dexron III, a 10mm hex bolt (im auto/1mz btw), a narrow funnel, a drain pan, ramps, and a breaker bar. the drain pan u can use the same one u use for your oil changes, the ramps are optional, but make a difference when it comes to what ill add next, and the breaker bar cuz getting the drain bolt off for the first time in a while might b hard.

when u perform your first drain and fill, drive it around, go thru all the gears for a while. id stay if you do lots of highway, go thru the last gear most, if u do lots of local, go thru all the lower especially. i did this about 5 times, till the fluid drained clear red. its wasteful, but the car shifts plenty smoother, and accelerates faster, and easier.

Hope that helps :thumbsup:
 

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98 Camry XLE V6
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there are machines to do a flush. I once had jiffy lube do it for me. I think their machine was called T-max or something...

It worked very well as drain and fills didnt help my tranny fluid due to it not being changed frequently enough. It was about 90 bucks to do it and it took 2 hours because the camry tranny is low pressure. When i did it on our mercury villager, it took 10 minutes cos it was higher pressure.
 

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03 Toyota Highlander
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm worried about doing a flush as I've heard of the possible death of the tranny after a flush. Right now I just want to get rid of the black/brown fluid. So should I go through draining and refilling it a few times?
I'm planning to do it a friend's house now since his parents own a STi and a first gen Golf GTi and they do their own changed and have the tools ready. That way, I can have some one knowledgable if I'm lost.

Thanks for all the help everyone!
 

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98 Camry XLE V6
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compromise ideas then.

drain/fill
drive 10-20 miles, check fluid for discoloration.
repeat drain/fill if necessary. how does that sound?
 

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Defender of the Universe
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I have about 290K on my 98 camry. Last flush etc. was about 100K. The thing is not having shifting problems. I am caught between the "don't change the fluid or you will kill the tranny" camp and the "just change the pan oil but not power flush" camp. What say you guys?

The fluid is currently is dark and opaque and smells strong, but not burnt. I really am only thinking of changing it because it has been so long and recent events have me thinking I'll need to keep the car a few more years.
 
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