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Automatic transmission fluid changes in a car - not quite on schedule


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So the manual says I should change the automatic transmission fluid in my car at 100,000 km (60,000 miles). 

It's now quite a bit past that and I didn't change it.  Apparently a change involves putting the car up on a hoist, removing a bunch of stuff to get to the transmission oil pan, etc.  

Doing a Google search, some say just do it.  Some say just use the dipstick tube.  Some say changing it makes no difference. 

So, calling upon all the wisdom here, should I:

1. Ignore it.  The car is 14 years old and owes me nothing. 

2. Pull out what I can using the dipstick tube and add fresh. 

3.  Get it changed.    

The car is a 2007 Toyota RAV4 with 200,000 km (120,000 miles).  It currently runs fine.  The car owes me nothing and I would get rid of it tomorrow if it died.  I hate driving it.  

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6 minutes ago, Bugsy said:

So the manual says I should change the automatic transmission fluid in my car at 100,000 km (60,000 miles). 

It's now quite a bit past that and I didn't change it.  Apparently a change involves putting the car up on a hoist, removing a bunch of stuff to get to the transmission oil pan, etc.  

Doing a Google search, some say just do it.  Some say just use the dipstick tube.  Some say changing it makes no difference. 

So, calling upon all the wisdom here, should I:

1. Ignore it.  The car is 14 years old and owes me nothing. 

2. Pull out what I can using the dipstick tube and add fresh. 

3.  Get it changed.    

The car is a 2007 Toyota RAV4 with 200,000 km (120,000 miles).  It currently runs fine.  The car owes me nothing and I would get rid of it tomorrow if it died.  I hate driving it.  

If you don't like it, don't need it, don't want it, donate it to a worthy cause, and tell them it's due for a Tranny fluid change.... (Tell them It has always felt like it was a Honda trapped in a Toyota's body.)

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Obviously long overdue. Changing by removing the pan is the right way to do it. You change the filter at the same time that way.

However some overdue transmissions work better with used fluid. 

If you ignore it and it shits the bed it becomes worth $0.  I'd change it. If you hate it sell it while it is running and buy something else.

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1 hour ago, Zonker said:

Obviously long overdue. Changing by removing the pan is the right way to do it. You change the filter at the same time that way.

However some overdue transmissions work better with used fluid. 

If you ignore it and it shits the bed it becomes worth $0.  I'd change it. If you hate it sell it while it is running and buy something else.

This is the right advice, and you DIY it, with YouTube, the Rav4 is a common and reliable vehicle, it deserves the love. And like Zonker says, when you pull the pan, you'll get to access the filter, and also pull all the metal shavings off of the magnet, which might add a 100,000 miles to your transmission over doing it the half-assed way.

Given that, if your transmission feels smooth, it may not be especially urgent, and put it off a few months until the sun is warm, and the beer is flowing your Toyota may not a mind too much.

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Lots of auto trans pans don't have a drain plug, you have to pull the pan.

It was done because too many people changed the fluid but not the filter.

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The dealership talked me into upgrading to ceramic muffler bearings. Expensive? Yes but good for the life of the car. It’s a Ridgeline. 

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5 hours ago, Al Paca said:

The dealership talked me into upgrading to ceramic muffler bearings. Expensive? Yes but good for the life of the car. It’s a Ridgeline. 

Damn, I only went for the titanium.  Maybe that’s why they didn’t last!  I am going to upgrade to the Teflon Blinker Fluid!  

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120K is not bad.  Volvo was running Toyota slush boxes for a while after Ford bought them (got rid of the GM trannies). Volvo says never change the fluid.

They are full of shit, but 120K is not bad.

 

Perform or get a complete flush where they drain the pan, refill and then disconnect the line coming out of the cooler.  attach a piece of vinyl tube into a milk jug.  you kick over the motor and watch the fluid flow via a plastic tube into an empty gallon milk jug.  At 3 qts, stop the motor, add 3 qts ATF to the tranny and repeat.  by the time you have done this 3 times, the fluid will go from dark red/brown to cherry red and you are good to go.  Reconnect the fitting and recheck fluid level.

Important thing is to use quality ATF.  The quick lube shops use low end crap that can destroy your tranny in short order.

You can buy a case of Toyota ATF on amazon for short money.   If you do this, there is no need to change the filter.  The Toyota ATF is quality stuff, especially the WS-1 (a synthetic atf) , but I am not sure if it was used in 2007.  Your manual will tell you.

 

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Don't Do it

412000 miles currently on Tundra Ltd most at 80ish probably 50% towing a 9K trailer.  Haven't even checked fluid level (you cant). I Monitor Temps...all OK , shift points ....all OK no leaks... why change? Like the vast majority of failure mechanisms on all mechanical stuff. The failure mechanisms for the tranny are not time based so why do time based maintenance? Unless you are in business of..... or selling parts...... The things that will cause the fluid to degrade are oxygen, moisture and heat. I don't have any significant quantities of those in my tranny. You wont either unless you remove that stupid dipstick !!!! 

 

YMMV

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12 hours ago, Al Paca said:

The dealership talked me into upgrading to ceramic muffler bearings. Expensive? Yes but good for the life of the car. It’s a Ridgeline. 

:lol:.....

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2 hours ago, vibroman said:

Don't Do it

412000 miles currently on Tundra Ltd most at 80ish probably 50% towing a 9K trailer.  Haven't even checked fluid level (you cant). I Monitor Temps...all OK , shift points ....all OK no leaks... why change? Like the vast majority of failure mechanisms on all mechanical stuff. The failure mechanisms for the tranny are not time based so why do time based maintenance? Unless you are in business of..... or selling parts...... The things that will cause the fluid to degrade are oxygen, moisture and heat. I don't have any significant quantities of those in my tranny. You wont either unless you remove that stupid dipstick !!!! 

 

YMMV

 

400-some thousand miles ... I would buy a new Tundra if I thought I could put that many miles on it. Did you get it new? Do you do the factory-service schedule yourself, dealer, or just ignore it?

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15 hours ago, silent bob said:

Fuck, I'm well overdue on changing my Muffler Bearings and Blinker Fluid!

While you're at it, get a shingle stretcher. Worth the cost!

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3 hours ago, vibroman said:

Don't Do it

412000 miles currently on Tundra Ltd most at 80ish probably 50% towing a 9K trailer.  Haven't even checked fluid level (you cant). I Monitor Temps...all OK , shift points ....all OK no leaks... why change? Like the vast majority of failure mechanisms on all mechanical stuff. The failure mechanisms for the tranny are not time based so why do time based maintenance? Unless you are in business of..... or selling parts...... The things that will cause the fluid to degrade are oxygen, moisture and heat. I don't have any significant quantities of those in my tranny. You wont either unless you remove that stupid dipstick !!!! 

 

YMMV

What dipstick? I haven't had a car with a trans dipstick for a decade or two.

 

Otherwise? Great advice.

Same thing applies to engine oil, brake fluid, coolant, differentials, etc. Just drive the fucker and never open up any of the mechanical bits.

You'll be fine and save a lot of otherwise wasted money.

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7 minutes ago, silent bob said:

Anybody here have a left handed metric Crescent wrench?  

No, never, but these new adjustable c-clamps are a clever improvement...

 

 

018-1480__71370.1416729986.jpg

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For what it it worth, I just had the tranny go out of a 6 year old Dodge minivan and when the woman who drives it said I have had the recommended transmission flush done the mechanic at the transmission shop said "never let anyone flush your transmission". Only cost me $3100 instead of the $5200 estimate from the dealer for a remanufactured one. 

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19 hours ago, mikewof said:

 

400-some thousand miles ... I would buy a new Tundra if I thought I could put that many miles on it. Did you get it new? Do you do the factory-service schedule yourself, dealer, or just ignore it?

No It had about 20K on it when I bought it. I have not done any of the factory BS service. Original plugs, brakes 2 or 3 sets,  2 sets of rotors. New rear wheel bearings at +-250K (Always towing or bed full of gear). Just oil and filter changes (based on oil condition so anywhere from 3.5K to 15K) Reg 5W30/10W30 Mineral oil (Castrol) and a good beta ratio filter (usually mobil 1)

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1 hour ago, danstanford said:

For what it it worth, I just had the tranny go out of a 6 year old Dodge minivan and when the woman who drives it said I have had the recommended transmission flush done the mechanic at the transmission shop said "never let anyone flush your transmission".

Dodge trannys have been dodgy for a long time. No joke.

 

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6 hours ago, danstanford said:

For what it it worth, I just had the tranny go out of a 6 year old Dodge minivan and when the woman who drives it said I have had the recommended transmission flush done the mechanic at the transmission shop said "never let anyone flush your transmission". Only cost me $3100 instead of the $5200 estimate from the dealer for a remanufactured one. 

To be fair, based on personal experience of N=3 plus a lot of online anecdotal evidence, 70K seems to be the design life for any Dodge/Chrysler minivan. If you get one with the towing package that includes a tranny cooler, you can eek out 100K.

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6 hours ago, vibroman said:

No It had about 20K on it when I bought it. I have not done any of the factory BS service. Original plugs, brakes 2 or 3 sets,  2 sets of rotors. New rear wheel bearings at +-250K (Always towing or bed full of gear). Just oil and filter changes (based on oil condition so anywhere from 3.5K to 15K) Reg 5W30/10W30 Mineral oil (Castrol) and a good beta ratio filter (usually mobil 1)

I'm basically a Chevy guy, but the idea of having a full-sized truck that I can run for the rest of my life, with a half-decent Tundra, seems wonderful. And in general, I've found the Japanese vehicles to be a pleasure to work on.

But you may have hit the lotto on that truck, and your transmission oil may be the consistency of metallic pancake batter.

The prices on those Tundras here is nuts, I've never seen anything like it, it doesn't even make sense to buy used, the used prices are nearly the price of new with those Tundras and Tacos.

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3 hours ago, IStream said:

To be fair, based on personal experience of N=3 plus a lot of online anecdotal evidence, 70K seems to be the design life for any Dodge/Chrysler minivan. If you get one with the towing package that includes a tranny cooler, you can eek out 100K.

Similar numbers for many Ford transmissions.

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18 hours ago, Blue Crab said:

Dodge trannys have been dodgy for a long time. No joke.

 

Yep, experienced three of them in Dodge Caravans when the kids were growing up.  The algorithm is to get the tranny fluid changed at the dealership 5K before the warranty is up, then never change it again.  

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I had a 1994 Dodge Grand Caravan AWD from new to ~2012.  Castrol was advertising its synthetic engine oil good for 50K miles so I did the experiment.  After the first break-in oil change at 1000 miles or whatever I filled up with the Castrol and went then next 49K.  Then changed oil and filter and went the next 50K and so on.  The tranny was still fine all the way to 220K when the motor or CPU brain went wonky the sliding door rolling mechanism wore out and the kids were grown up.   I dumped it for a few $K and moved on.  Perhaps the AWD tranny was an up grade, I never had a problem with it.  It probably got whatever dealer service was recommended in the first 100 or 150K miles because it was my wife's car and, you know, wives love to do things by the book.  Anyway I loved that car.  It was the most comfortable driver seat (captains) I have ever been in.  You could drive hours and hours in it, and we did, traveling to regatta's towing the Lightning or later as empty nesters on ski safaris with mattress in the back all over the Western US.  It was wonderful to have all that room in the back seat to put on your ski gear & boots.  And you could put a full sheet of plywood in there!   I grieved its demise.  I still think about getting another. 

PS:  We rented a 2014ish Caravan for my mom in a wheel chair.  It still had the comfy upright driver/wingman captains seats but the rear seats now fold down leaving a flat cargo area.  No more yarding the two ~75 lbs rear bench seats of the '94 onto the garage floor to go fetch that sheet of plywood.  Maybe I really will get another one......

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Yeah, big difference between a 94 AWD and a ~2005 2WD. Those fucking doors failed every 6 months too. The wiring would work harden and break. 

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Mine was manual door.  Could hardly close it near the end, then it jumped the tracks a few times and tough to get back on.  Time to move on.  The electric doors are cool.  Bummer the wires crap out.  Maybe I'll keep the Subie but damn its not as easy as the Caravan to get in and out, nor nearly as comfortable.  Getting old.

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FWIW, we replaced the 2005 T&C with a 2016 Kia Sedona and the damned thing is fantastic. I do miss the Stow-N-Go seats of the Chrysler but that's about the only thing I miss about it. 

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4 hours ago, eric1207 said:

I had a 1994 Dodge Grand Caravan AWD from new to ~2012.  Castrol was advertising its synthetic engine oil good for 50K miles so I did the experiment.  After the first break-in oil change at 1000 miles or whatever I filled up with the Castrol and went then next 49K.  Then changed oil and filter and went the next 50K and so on.  The tranny was still fine all the way to 220K when the motor or CPU brain went wonky the sliding door rolling mechanism wore out and the kids were grown up.   I dumped it for a few $K and moved on.  Perhaps the AWD tranny was an up grade, I never had a problem with it.  It probably got whatever dealer service was recommended in the first 100 or 150K miles because it was my wife's car and, you know, wives love to do things by the book.  Anyway I loved that car.  It was the most comfortable driver seat (captains) I have ever been in.  You could drive hours and hours in it, and we did, traveling to regatta's towing the Lightning or later as empty nesters on ski safaris with mattress in the back all over the Western US.  It was wonderful to have all that room in the back seat to put on your ski gear & boots.  And you could put a full sheet of plywood in there!   I grieved its demise.  I still think about getting another. 

PS:  We rented a 2014ish Caravan for my mom in a wheel chair.  It still had the comfy upright driver/wingman captains seats but the rear seats now fold down leaving a flat cargo area.  No more yarding the two ~75 lbs rear bench seats of the '94 onto the garage floor to go fetch that sheet of plywood.  Maybe I really will get another one......

We have a Journey now.  Fucking thing will "almost" fit a 4 x 8 sheet.  Fuckers.

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41 minutes ago, Rain Man said:

We have a Journey now.  Fucking thing will "almost" fit a 4 x 8 sheet.  Fuckers.

That was actually an OEM design requirement in old, full size station wagons BITD.

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17 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

That was actually an OEM design requirement in old, full size station wagons BITD.

The real SUVs.

I am noticing a Jeep revival. Not much mud in evidence tho. It's similar to the ASA thing without any training whatsoever. 

And the labels on the outside of clothes? Come on. 

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39 minutes ago, Blue Crab said:

And the labels on the outside of clothes? Come on. 

I dated a girl in London back in the 70's who was extremely status conscious. She had a beautiful, very expensive jacket she wore for business and mentioned that after spending so much she wished the label was on the outside.

She should have copyrighted the idea.

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May be too late, but if you have gone over 100k without changing the fluid, don't touch it, if you change the fluid there's a 50/50 chance it will start slipping. The crud in the fluid sometimes is the only thing holding it together. But servicing it according to the schedule will make it last longer. Ask any red fluid guy, he will tell you the same.

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2 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

I've never seen such a concentration of "internet advice" as in this thread.

Meh. We haven't got into burning candles or steaming our genitals, this is nothing.

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32 minutes ago, Ishmael said:
3 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

I've never seen such a concentration of "internet advice" as in this thread.

Meh. We haven't got into burning candles or steaming our genitals, this is nothing.

I had some questions about ear wax buildup.........

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To be honest. I’ve never changed the trans fluid in a car. 
 

I wonder if my saturn vue would have had more then 240k miles on it if I did. 
 

well I really don’t know how many miles it’s has since I sold it at 240k. 

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14 hours ago, Point Break said:

I had some questions about ear wax buildup.........

You can steam those, too. I'm sure Gwyneth has some product made from her precious bodily fluids that will work.

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Just now, Ishmael said:

You can steam those, too. I'm sure Gwyneth has some product made from her precious bodily fluids that will work.

I wouldn't be so quick to devalue Gwyneth's precious body fluids.  I wouldn't mind certain ones.  Under the right circumstances.  Maybe.  OK, probably.

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1 hour ago, Ed Lada said:

I wouldn't be so quick to devalue Gwyneth's precious body fluids.  I wouldn't mind certain ones.  Under the right circumstances.  Maybe.  OK, probably.

I'm old Ed ... running out of time. I'll take Gwyneth's O so precious bodily fluids without hesitation or reservation. Not my first time.

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13 hours ago, chinabald said:

To be honest. I’ve never changed the trans fluid in a car. 
 

I wonder if my saturn vue would have had more then 240k miles on it if I did. 
 

well I really don’t know how many miles it’s has since I sold it at 240k. 

I have a 1968 Volkswagen.  I don't "change" the oil, I just keep filling the oil.  If it's not leaking oil, it's out of oil!

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6 hours ago, Ed Lada said:

I wouldn't be so quick to devalue Gwyneth's precious body fluids.  I wouldn't mind certain ones.  Under the right circumstances.  Maybe.  OK, probably.

Maybe, but it would require a ball gag.

Otherwise I'd have to listen to her crap.

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1 hour ago, SloopJonB said:

Maybe, but it would require a ball gag.

Otherwise I'd have to listen to her crap.

I'm sure she doesn't insist you share the bathroom during those tender moments.

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