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Transmission Refill vs Flush at 60K miles

  • Transmission Flush

    Votes: 6 37.5%
  • Transmission Refill

    Votes: 8 50.0%
  • No need to change the transmission fluid... it's "lifetime" after all

    Votes: 2 12.5%

  • Total voters
    16
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello Everyone,

My 2016 ES 350 is currently at 57,250 miles, and I was planning on getting my transmission fluid serviced.

I've been told many times not to get my transmission fluid flushed, but instead to get my fluid refilled.

However, I called up a Toyota dealer (in Marina Del Rey, CA), and their main service guy recommended a flush rather than a refill for the following reasons:

1. Refill doesn't replace all the transmission fluid (e.g. in the torque converter).
2. Flush is perfectly safe as long as the vehicle isn't suffering from any issues (or if the transmission fluid hasn't been changed in a while).

I asked him if he also does transmission fluid refills (rather than flush), which his dealership does.

The Toyota dealer wants $250.00 for the transmission flush or $180.00 for the refill.

Any thoughts, as I'm extremely leery about performing a flush?

As for my vehicle, I haven't noticed any transmission issues. I'm merely performing the service as a preventative maintenance.


Note: My 2016 Lexus ES 350 has the same drive train as a 3.5L 2007 to 2017 Camry or 2007 to 2017 Avalon (non-Hybrid).


Thank you.
 

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イリジウム
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The “flush” the dealer is talking about is probably just a fluid exchange machine that will replace about 95% of the old fluid. I don’t think there really are pressure flush machines out there these days.

As mentioned I’d prefer to have the felt filter replaced too.

The main concern is whether or not the dealer can get the ATF level right. The car is simply too hot when they drive it into the service bay. The need for profit means they won’t allow it to properly cool down would be my guess.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The “flush” the dealer is talking about is probably just a fluid exchange machine that will replace about 95% of the old fluid. I don’t think there really are pressure flush machines out there these days.

As mentioned I’d prefer to have the felt filter replaced too.

The main concern is whether or not the dealer can get the ATF level right. The car is simply too hot when they drive it into the service bay. The need for profit means they won’t allow it to properly cool down would be my guess.

Hello John,


You make some extremely important observations.


As for the machine, I didn't think they were referring to a fluid exchange machine (like a TransTech).


Out of curiosity, do you know how safe a fluid exchange machine happens to be (opposed to a machine which uses pressure to flush out a transmission)?


Also, how long would it take for the fluid in a transmission to cool down (let's say you drove the car for 30 minutes on the freeway beforehand)?


A big thank you for the help.
 

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There is a tool set the dealer uses to set the fill level correctly at any temperature. This is outlined in the Toyota fill level procedure, It involves a vacuum pump, a special adjustable fitting thats inserted in the drain hole, and a special adapter thats fitted into the fill hole.
 

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Hello Everyone,

My 2016 ES 350 is currently at 57,250 miles, and I was planning on getting my transmission fluid serviced.

I've been told many times not to get my transmission fluid flushed, but instead to get my fluid refilled.

However, I called up a Toyota dealer (in Marina Del Rey, CA), and their main service guy recommended a flush rather than a refill for the following reasons:

1. Refill doesn't replace all the transmission fluid (e.g. in the torque converter).
2. Flush is perfectly safe as long as the vehicle isn't suffering from any issues (or if the transmission fluid hasn't been changed in a while).

I asked him if he also does transmission fluid refills (rather than flush), which his dealership does.

The Toyota dealer wants $250.00 for the transmission flush or $180.00 for the refill.

Any thoughts, as I'm extremely leery about performing a flush?

As for my vehicle, I haven't noticed any transmission issues. I'm merely performing the service as a preventative maintenance.


Note: My 2016 Lexus ES 350 has the same drive train as a 3.5L 2007 to 2017 Camry or 2007 to 2017 Avalon (non-Hybrid).


Thank you.
At 60k miles, I will say that your transmission's condition must still be in a good condition, so doing a flush is not going to destroy your tranny. However, I like to refill and drain than doing the flush, and I will repeat the process of drain and fill every 10k miles for like 3 times.
 

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I would "flush" it in your driveway. Drain pan, empty bottles, and a piece of hose is all you need (if a sealed trans then you may need a fluid pump to pump the fluid into the refill bolt). Drain the pan, refill the same amount you drained. Disconnect the return line off the bottom of the radiator (driver side hose typically) and push on the spare piece of hose onto the radiator nipple. Start the car and pump out (into an empty bottle) one quart. Stop, put one quart back into the pan (dipstick or refill plug). Repeat this until the fluid coming out is new. All this costs you is about an hour and 13 or so quarts of fluid. WAY less than $250.
 

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Entire concern with "flushing" using machine is twofold:
1. old transmissions tend to self seal with ATF crud, flushing tends to reduce that seal, with potential leaks/malfunction
2. crud can be dislodged, plugging sometimes very tiny orifices in transmission.
I honestly think it's mainly for old school crude transmissions, but...
Also, this is normally referred to a machine that circulates cleaning agent through the transmission, then refills it with fresh ATF. So you have both solvent and basic fluid flow that may cause one of the above mentioned points.
If you want absolutely safe way to naturally flush your transmission, it is time taking but works just fine. Actually, even printed in older Mitsubishi user guide.
Say, your transmission grand volume of ATF is 12 qrts.
Drain is normally 4.
So you drain, refill with 4, drive for about 15 miles.
Drain, refill with 4, drive for about 15 miles.
Drain, drop pan, replace filter and gasket, refill.
Done. You replaced entire ATF volume and naturally to transmission flushed it. As simple driving will run ATF at high pressure, where needed.

Takes about 1.5 hr, I done it before.
 

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My Normal Method
  • Drain-and-fill at 50,000 miles (completed)
  • ATF Filter & O-Ring and Drain-and-fill at 100,000 miles (completed)
  • Drain-and-fill at 150,000 miles
  • ATF Filter & O-Ring and Drain-and-fill at 200,000 miles
  • etc. etc. etc.
My Potential "Severe Duty" Method (I don't plan on doing this)
  • Drain-and-fill at 50,000 miles (completed)
  • ATF Filter & O-Ring and Drain-and-fill at 100,000 miles (completed)
  • Drain-and-fill at 125,000 miles
  • Drain-and-fill at 150,000 miles
  • Drain-and-fill at 175,000 miles
  • ATF Filter & O-Ring and Drain-and-fill at 200,000 miles
  • Drain-and-fill at 225,000 miles
  • Drain-and-fill at 250,000 miles
  • Drain-and-fill at 275,000 miles
  • ATF Filter & O-Ring and Drain-and-fill at 300,000 miles
  • etc. etc. etc.
 

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Using the terms that my dealership had on their computer.
Drain & fill, pretty self explanatory.
This will exchange about 1/2 of the fluid in the system.
Was $98 with coupon



Flush, this is where they hook it up to their machine and new fluid is added as the old is pumped out of the system by the transmission's pump with the engine running.
NO chemicals are added, just new fluid.
This will exchange close to all the fluid in the system.
They used about 8 quarts of WS fluid.

Was $199



Owner's manual for my 2016 does not mention doing anything until a level "Check" at 100K miles.
 

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I am typically a drain-and-fill person. I don't think I've advocated a flush ever before.

If this were my car, I'd figure out a way to drain and fill myself (most likely measuring the exact amount that came out after letting the car sit cold overnight with the replacement fluid next to it, so that it's the same temperature, and replacing with that exact amount). A flush requires a machine, which would require paying someone else to do it. But, as you know, the sealed transmission on the ES isn't an easy drain and fill procedure. I'd repeat this every 30K or so.

Now, if you're going to pay someone to do it, and your car is so new, I don't think a flush is a bad idea. The flush isn't necessarily damaging unless your transmission is already worn. A drain and fill will only replace a portion of the fluid. With a flush replacing basically all the fluid, you should be good to go until 110K miles, at which point you might consider a drain and fill. But I'd probably choose the flush at this point if I was in your shoes.

Also, as mentioned, make sure the dealer is putting the proper amount of fluid in it. They all have the capability to measure it correctly, but some techs might just be bad at doing it.
 

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You don't mention what type of driving you do. Personally I wouldn't be worried about doing anything to the transmission of a 3-4 year Lexus that is running just fine. But since you are posting on this forum, this obviously concerns you. Do a drain and fill now and do a full fluid exchange at 120k miles (this is what the "flush" does).

Good luck.
 

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With a fluid exchange (some erroneously called flush) machine, like TransTech, it measures what it drew out and simply pumps new fluid of the same amount back. (Read the Introduction of the TransTech manual below) So that's about as accurate as can be. You'd be fine. For the price difference IMO the full fluid exchange is the better deal, as drain/refill only replaces about 1/2 of the fluid.

See FAQ #3:
https://www.cpsproducts.com/wp-content/uploads/TransTech-III-MTT-1100-SERVICE-MANUAL-1.pdf

"3. How does the TransTech know how much fluid to put into a vehicle?

The TransTech takes the amount of new fluid in the clean tank, flushes it through the transmission, and returns an equal amount of old used
fluid in the unit’s waste tank, leaving the transmission with all new, clean fluid at the same level it started with. Reference the chart on page
4-3, step 1. "



With filter change, the pan is removed and the fluid is drained. No machine is connected to the cooler lines and therefore no way it can measure what's in the pan. The tech then needs to set the level correctly. 30 minutes of cool down won't do IMO if the engine reached operating temperature. I wonder if 3-4 hours with the hood open is still sufficient. That's why you hear some describe noisy transmissions after service (because the fluid was low).

The 15,000 mile number mentioned in the manual would be ok for conventional (dino) Dexron III/Mercon type fluids under severe service. Modern synthetic-blend or fully synthetic fluids as recommended, for example, by GM (Dexron VI) should be replaced 50K miles under severe service, and about 100K miles under normal service. The sales department would be the folks to suggest that you never replace the ATF. :wink:

https://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=2162131


Hello John,
You make some extremely important observations.


As for the machine, I didn't think they were referring to a fluid exchange machine (like a TransTech).


Out of curiosity, do you know how safe a fluid exchange machine happens to be (opposed to a machine which uses pressure to flush out a transmission)?


Also, how long would it take for the fluid in a transmission to cool down (let's say you drove the car for 30 minutes on the freeway beforehand)?


A big thank you for the help.
 

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"3. How does the TransTech know how much fluid to put into a vehicle?

The TransTech takes the amount of new fluid in the clean tank, flushes it through the transmission, and returns an equal amount of old used
fluid
in the unit’s waste tank, leaving the transmission with all new, clean fluid at the same level it started with. Reference the chart on page
4-3, step 1. "

I read this several times. then again.
See, I am a guy who sticks to words meaning. I learned to do this, as I can't do it any other way around with my patients. Or, trouble will come.


So I am reading this above:


Machine takes NEW fluid and FLUSHES IT THROUGH. Ok, THROUGH means it went In and went OUT. That's through.
Next. RETURNS EQUAL AMOUNT OF OLD FLUID? RETURNS?

RETURN: give, put, or send (something) back to a place or person.
As OLD fluid originated from transmission and was RETURNED?


Folks, who writes this?



Look, I am not an idiot. I know, what they mean. I also SEE, what they wrote. Pardon me my French, it's ass backward. NEW fluid has to be RETURNED. Not old. Oy wei.....
 

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With filter change, the pan is removed and the fluid is drained. No machine is connected to the cooler lines and therefore no way it can measure what's in the pan. The tech then needs to set the level correctly. 30 minutes of cool down won't do IMO if the engine reached operating temperature. I wonder if 3-4 hours with the hood open is still sufficient. That's why you hear some describe noisy transmissions after service (because the fluid was low).
There is an official Toyota procedure for adjusting the fluid level when its hot. It involves connecting a couple special machines, vacuum pump, refill container, and an adjustable drain tube. The adjustable drain tube sticks up inside the existing plastic drain tube. The operator adjusts how far it sticks up past the original tube based on the current fluid temperature..


This procedure is a little burdensome, but appears to work, if the service center does it this way.
 

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There is an official Toyota procedure for adjusting the fluid level when its hot.
Dealer techs are notoriously sloppy about getting the level correct even when servicing transmissions that have dipsticks. So owners should double check the fluid level of the 6 speeds using the engine started from a cold start procedure linked to by me earlier.

An infrared temp gun is also useful for getting the fluid level correct on dipstick equipped Toyotas - see photo below
 

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Dealers often can’t get the engine oil levels correct. And that’s supposed to be a no-brainer!
 
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