150,000 Miles OEM , 15 Year Old Transmission Fluid, Should I Change, Still Clear Red Color

I have a 2005 Toyota Camry with original OEM transmission fluid in it, it’s at 150,000+ miles. Should I change it? I have read that if your fluid has never been changed and you have high miles, you can do more harm than good by changing your fluid. I’m long over do, so should I just leave it alone?

I checked the dip stick, and to my surprise, the fluid is very red! It’s not black or burnt at all, looks very clean. I’ve heard that if it’s long over due and your fluid is black and disgusting, just leave it alone, new transmission fluid will flush out all the debris and you’ll loose friction etc…

So I seem to be in the situation were I’m way WAY WAY overdue on changing the fluid (150,000 miles, 15 years old), but the fluid is still red and looks clean!

Should I go ahead and change it or would I be doing more harm than good?

I think the original owner neglected servicing it because in the maintenance manual, it doesn’t even call it out at a certain miles, at all in the Chilton maintenance book.

15 years old, 150,000 miles.

If your fluid is bright red, somebody has changed it at least once.

I’d change fluid and filter if it was mine.

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I’ve heard that part of the reason for the “Big Problems started after I changed the fluid” correlation is that, when car owners have transmission problems, their first attempt at “solving” the problem is to change the fluid.

I never go more than 35000 mi between fluid or gear oil changes in my cars (auto & 5 speed).

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If the fluid has never been changed, then the additives in it have long been depleted–regardless of color.

The only way that this could be harmful is if someone uses the wrong fluid, or manages to screw-up the procedure. Take the vehicle to an independent trans shop (NOT Lee Myles, Cottman, Mr. Transmission, or–God forbid–AAMCO) and it will be done properly.

Many–perhaps most–people don’t do a trans fluid change until it is too late, and then they blame the ultimate failure of the trans on their long-delayed Hail Mary Pass.

To put this into human terms, consider this scenario:
John has been experiencing chest pain for several days, so he finally decides to go to The ER.
While he is at The ER, he suffers a heart attack.
Should he blame the staff at The ER for that coronary incident?



Hi john.smith0909123_160324:
If it were my car, I would:

  • first drop the pan, clean it out, and replace the filter. (don’t ignore this step)
  • then either just refill it with new fluid or do a fluid exchange.

I would not get a flush.


Is there a way to determine if my car uses an interior filter for the transmission fluid before I open it? I can’t find a database with this information online. It’s a 2005 Toyota Camry le

Yes , there is . Go to any parts supply web site , enter your vehicle and see if they sell a filter for your vehicle.


Could you explain why?


Your car DOES use a filter . . . I know this for a fact because I own a 2005 Camry, and I’ve changed that filter a few times

You’re overthinking it, though . . .

Go to your local auto parts store and tell them you need a transmission filter kit for your car. It will contain the filter and gasket. Then you need to buy the fluid. Should be about 5 quarts. The fluid needs to be T-IV compatible

thanks, what’s T-IV?

That’s a specification

Look on the back of the automatic transmission fluid quart bottle . . . it must say it’s T-IV compatible

I personally have never seen any evidence that Toyota is wrong about their factory filled transmission fluid being lifetime. I would never change trans fluid that looked perfectly good.

For starters, given Honda states they do not recommend flushes, would it be wise of me to ignore their warning?

Second, with old fluid, some machines produce high pressure that can dislodge some of the sludge buildup.

Last, lots of places have flush machines because of the high profit they bring in. That doesn’t bother me except for the fact that the person doing the flush may not know how to do it correctly or use the correct fluid.

I know many flushes are done without any problem. It’s not my preference.

Preference is one thing.

But real information is another.


Toyo fluid turns dark quickly. Having owned several toyo trans rigs. And every one I changed has dark fluid. It’s $5/qt at dealer and it’s easy to find a toyo dealer. How long have you owned this car?

Hi Tester:

In that article, the author states:

I have been in the transmission repair industry since 1987 and can honestly say that I can’t recall a single time where I saw a healthy transmission get a flush or a fluid change and subsequently have a problem.

I do agree with the author’s assertion, and I assume it’s the point you’re also trying to make.

But this thread is about a 15 year old car with 150K miles with original transmission fluid. Those are the cases where likelihood of problems from doing a flush are no longer near zero.

Based on what I know of your automotive skills (from this forum), I would definitely bring a healthy transmission to your shop for a fluid flush - without hesitation. Because I know you would do it right.

But because transmission flush machines are profitable, they are found it many shops (esp chain shops) where profit often is more important than quality service, where entry-level technicians are common, and where one-size-fits-all fluids are used. And where there’s no sense of judgement for when it’s better to not choose flushing on a transmission with old fluid.


That’s you, and you are entitled to your opinion. I always change the transmission fluid and filter before 100,000 miles, and can assure you that what comes out is not as clean as it looks on the dipstick.

Also, when you let down the pan to change the fluid and filter, you get to see how much wear particles are on the magnet, which is a good indicator of how much wear the transmission has. This is of course another good reason to never do a “flush” and always do the “drain and fill”.

I’ve owned the car for about four years



The link you posted seems to somewhat contradict the article you linked to in an earlier post. This guy here states, towards the end, that flushing the transmission on a high-mileage car may have negative consequences.