2005 rav4 with dirty tranny fluid

toyota
rav4

#1

Looking at buying an 05 rav4. Everything looked great until I checked the tranny fluid which was grey/pink. It was a trade so no service records but a very clean carfax. I really like the car and it shifts fine including accelerating up a hill. I’m hoping it just needs changing. What does anyone else think. I’m in need of replacing my 99 CRV with 230k and needs a new head. Dave


#2

Did it smell burnt? If it was just slightly dirty but reddish pink, and not an obvious burnt smell you should be able to change it out for some new and be ok.

I bought a used f150 in similar condition and, against all the terrible tales, i had a new filter put in, and a flush with new fluid. 1000 miles later its still going strong and shifts great.


#3

It’s more grey with pink if you look close. Slight smell to it. It just shifts so well it makes me wonder if I should get it. Price is pretty good as well. It has 144k on it.


#4

I’m thinking that I haven’t heard bad things about Rav4 transmissions so a fluid change might be the only thing needed to get you to 240,000. No matter the odds, cars can fool you good as well as bad.


#5

@eckmo‌

What engine?

If you have a V6, which one?

If your car has a timing belt, it’s almost surely way overdue

Probably overdue on plugs and coolant also

Don’t want to discourage you, by the way


#6

I have bought a few used cars with the ATF being in similar condition. Then I have done 3 drain and refills and drove them for many more miles only to get rid of them for reasons other than transmission failure. BUT, you might not get lucky, so factor this in your purchase price and also maybe use this as a negotiating point.


#7

144k is pretty high mileage. Personally id keep looking around, unless this price is really good, and you can have 1500-2000 laying around within the next few months incase you need to rebuild the trans


#8

This is almost a “coin toss” situation. When I run into a red flag like this…I move on to the next vehicle. I have gambled and won but I’ve also gambled and lost. It’s your call. Please consider the price and the vehicle mileage before you decide. Have it checked out by a good independent mechanic before you make up your mind.


#9

Thanks everyone, good advice. I’m going to keep looking. I was hoping to hear “Well, that’s okay, just flush it and the trannie will go forever…” Just smarter to wait, right?
Dave


#10

Agree. Sounds like the car has gone the total mileage without a change. Toyota transmissions are pretty sturdy, but the 05 Rav we had, still got it changed every 40 k. It’s too bad you aren’t looking at our old one. It had 130k but the trans was changed at least three times. Walk away.


#11

Right now at work I have a 2006 Toyota Sienna van with a transmission that’s starting to slip. 170,000 miles on it. Funny thing, right on the dipstick is says “No service required for lifetime of vehicle under normal driving conditions.” Would the transmission need to be rebuilt if the fluid had been changed every 60,000 miles? Maybe, maybe not. But doing a $159 fluid service every 60,000 miles may have delayed the $3300 bill he’s facing today.

And yet, with some regularity, I still get accused of selling unneeded services by recommending a trans service at 60,000 miles on a car that clearly states it doesn’t need it.


#12

@asemaster‌

On my 2005 Camry . . . same trans as that 2006 Sienna, I believe . . . the dipstick also has that same sticker

I serviced the fluid and filter anyways

To heck with that sticker and Toyota’s recommendations


#13

It’s often stated on this forum that “who knows best, the mechanic or the people who manufactured the car?”…
The way I look at it is if a car manufacturer states the transmission fluid never needs to be serviced then let them put their money where their mouth is by providing a quarter million mile warranty on the transmission.

The OP states they have a '99 CR-V that needs a new head. This brings up the point (potentially anyway) of whether it needs a new head because of a lack of valve lash inspections which then burnt out a valve seat.
The people who know the car best (allegedly the car manufacturer) are the ones who also put out those once in a lifetime valve lash interval recommendations along with that hokey “audible inspection” premise.


#14
The way I look at it is if a car manufacturer states the transmission fluid never needs to be serviced then let them put their money where their mouth is by providing a quarter million mile warranty on the transmission.

I couldn’t agree more!


#15

We have a 2009 Toyota with the sealed transmissions and WS lifetime fluid, (where Toyota says it does not need changing).

When I ask about changing the fluid every 40K or 60K miles, two Toyota dealerships and a local transmission shop (in business 30 years) all say to wait till 100K miles before changing the fluid.

One or two contributors here have said their Toyota dealers said the same thing.
With those places being hungry for business, I wonder why they advocate waiting.

I did read that recent transmissions run the fluid at cooler temps, which definitely enables it to last much longer between changes. But I can’t locate where that article was.


#16

“under normal driving conditions” is the unknown factor. Who can say during the life of a car with 170k it was driven normally. I recently bought a used car with 20k on it. Though the service interval for the transmission is similar, the fluid WILL get changed before 60k. I didn’t drive that first 20 k miles.


#17

I would not be afraid of it because the car is a four cylinder. Transmission failure is not common on the Rav4 with the four banger.

Heavier vehicles and larger engines I would be more cautious.

Besides, you can use the iffy trans fluid to beat up the price.


#18

@JoeMario‌

No offense intended, but are you absolutely sure your transmission is sealed?

In many cases, Toyota says a particular transmission is sealed, yet there is a dipstick and a drain plug

Yet, the owner’s manual doesn’t even mention the dipstick, and all the engine bay pictures do NOT show the dipstick

My brother’s 2008 Toyota uses WS fluid, and supposedly has a sealed transmission

But I drained the fluid, dropped the pan, cleaned it, replaced the filter and gasket, filled it with fresh WS fluid and checked the level with the dipstick . . . which wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the owner’s manual

LOL


#19

Just to echo @JoeMario‌, my wife’s '09 Rav4’s owners manual is very sketchy on transmission service, recommends changing at 60, 000 only if towing or off-roading, and doesn’t mention the recommended fluid. It does say that the trans fluid does not need to be changed under normal conditions. I had to go online to find out it uses Toyota WS fluid. And it has a drain plug and dipstick.