2007 Toyota Camry - Transmission slip

Dear Car Talk- I have a 2007 Camry XLE that I have babied for its whole life. Two days ago, I went from reverse to drive ( twice) and the gears slipped and the car revved when I hit the accelerator . The 3rd time, the drive engaged and I have driven it twice without this occurring. I took it to the local garage, who says that they cannot check the transmission fluid because it is " sealed" and they must go to the undercarriage to do it. Toyota wants $135 to check it and will " make a determination about repairs at that time". If the transmission is starting to slip, I assume it will be thousands of dollars to fix it, more than the car is really worth , and I don’t want it on the record at the Toyota dealership. I would like to get every dime I can get out of a trade in and I am not sure that the visit to Toyota is worth it on a 13 year old car as things are going to start to go anyway. It’s hard to find a mechanic that I trust and I don’t want to put good money into a bad investment. What’s your take on it? Thanks , Leela

I’m a bit surprised you have a sealed transmission since my 2009 Corolla’s transmission has a dipstick. Anyway, that suggests you’ve probably never had the fluid changed, which is not good. It’s possible there’s something out of alignment and the transmission isn’t actually going into gear. Unfortunately it’s also possible your transmission is on its last legs. Have a good independent transmission shop look at it and give you a diagnosis but have your checkbook handy. You might put it on CraigsList as a “mechanic’s special” and just buy something else.

You’ll have to pick a shop carefully then, most chain type shops (Pep Boys, Meineke and many others) also report to Carfax.

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Our local independent mechanic does too. TBH, it seems to me a mechanic who would diagnose and/or repair something like this “on the sly” could easily be a bit shady in other respects.

If an independent shop does not report to Carfax or any of the other reports services ( Which requires a membership fee ) why would that be 'Shady ’ ?


A shop that would help someone hide a vehicle repair/problem doesn’t strike me as especially ethical. As always, you’re entitled to your own opinion.

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Thanks to all the input! You are so helpful ! Once I calmed down, I realized you all are right. I will take it to the dealer to get it looked at. Costs $135 just to open it up and they will make a determination at that time. I am hoping it is something simple and I can keep the car for another few years. If not, I will trade it in for what it is worth and a clear conscience. sigh. Again thanks for the moral support.
Best, Leela

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Just because an independent shop doesn’t belong to, or report to carfax, doesn’t mean they’re unethical


The OP wanted to hide a transmission issue from the dealer (which is ridiculous anyway since she already asked them for a diagnosis) and she wanted to find a shop that would be complicit. If they don’t normally report to CarFax that’s one thing but if they assist owners in concealing issues that’s another.

Years ago, well before CarFax, mom’s Malibu started acting up during a family vacation. We limped to an out-of-town Chevrolet dealer where they strained a bunch of grit out of the transmission fluid and sent us on our way. Later, a local transmission shop told her the car would be all right for a while but eventually it would need a transmission. Soon after, she traded in the Malibu on a Ford. As much as I loved mom that always left a bad taste in my mouth.

Just got it back from dealer… $150 later… transmission fluid was low, otherwise fine according to computer and test drive… they said it was not advisable to replace the fluid on such an old car.?..Happy that my car lives on! I will probably keep it much longer now that I know the transmission is ok. It is annoying to have to pay that much for what would have been a 5 minute trip to the local mechanic, however. Thanks again for your input…

If you REALLY want to be able to keep driving it for the long term, you will ignore that Old Wives tale of misinformation. Take the car to an independent transmission shop (NOT a chain-run shop like Lee Myles, Cottman, Mr. Transmission or AAMCO!), and have the fluid changed.

Your trans fluid should have been changed at least 4 times so far, based on its age. You may have dodged a bullet temporarily, but if you fail to do a fluid change at this point, I predict that the need for a rebuilt transmission is in your near future.

 Are you sure you don’t have a transmission dip stick. 
I have a 2007 Camry LX, 2.4 and it has a transmission dip stick.

+1. It’s time someone take that legend out back and shoot it.

It probably got started because people would experience transmission problems, then change the fluid for the first time in forever, and then because they’d already neglected the transmission so badly it would fail anyway. And they would assume it was all the new fluid’s fault, because it couldn’t possibly be their neglect of regular maintenance!


I’m not entirely sure about this . . . but I believe there were 2 different automatic transmissions offered for the 2007 Camry

That was roughly the time Toyota was transitioning to automatic transmissions without a dipstick

Just some food for thought . . .


Good to hear but I do wonder how a sealed transmission could lose fluid. I’m no mechanic but it sounds like there’s a leak somewhere.

Our regular mechanic won’t change transmission fluid for exactly that reason. He told me that in the past people have brought their vehicles in to have the fluid changed and shortly thereafter they experienced transmission problems and blamed it on him.

C’mon, Dave . . .

There’s no such thing as a sealed automatic transmission


Would you be happier if I put it in quotation marks, i.e., “sealed”? :wink:

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op’s automatic transmission still has a pan gasket and various seals

So even a “sealed” automatic transmission can lose fluid


Which means, unless I’m misinterpreting your post, that there could be a leak, which is what I suggested. Not a serious one since it took 14 years to cause obvious problems but such things frequently get worse with age.