2013 Toyota Prius - Trans service needed?

Dear Ray, I am a big fan of your newspaper show!!! Based upon your audience’s automotive questions, I love the way your answers go into the technicalities of auto mechanical workings and their related problems.

I recently bought a meticulously maintained 2013 Prius with 154,500 miles, but the previous owner lacked to do one thing, per the Carfax, and the known Toyota dealer they had it serviced at. It appears the transmission service or transmission fluid change was left off the service checklist. I am really troubled about this since it had 154,500 miles on purchase day! My 2013 Prius now has 158,500 miles. I know it has a sealed CVT transmission that may even have a steel chain in it according to the internal transmission pics I saw.

My questions are as follows: May I ask you what type of service my CVT transmission can both tolerate and need? How long will it normally last when the transmission fluid is not changed? (Mc Clarty Toyota now has a Toyota CVT power-flush machine for their customers’ sealed Toyota transmissions. They are claiming to be able to replace all the old transmission fluid with all new transmission fluid. It cost $269.00 for a sealed-transmission power flush vs. $179.00 for a sealed-transmission four-quart drain and fill.) I mostly prefer to have the entire transmission power flushed, so it can have all new transmission fluid opposed to only gravity-draining out the four old quarts of transmission fluid, which will leave the old transmission in the transmission. To me, its like adding new Coca-Cola to old Coca-Cola, vs. pouring out all the old Coca-Cola and pouring in all new Coca-Cola. May I ask you to expeditiously answer this question because it really hurts me to neglect my car! I want to have the transmission fluid replaced expeditiously since I think the old CVT fluid is hurting my CVT transmission.

Appreciate your answers so much!


Hi, Bryan. Ray doesn’t post here but my advice is better late than never. Go ahead and have your transmission serviced. At this point it’s living on borrowed time and having it serviced will only extend its useful life.

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Normally I would suggest a drain and fill. In this case do the flush… at the dealer so the correct fluid is used.


The Prius “CVT” is achieved by varying the speed of the two electric motors and the gas engine. The ‘steel chain’ is used to transfer power, but it’s not used to connect two sets of cones, as used in most CVTs. The Prius has no conventional “transmission”, but it does have a planetary gearbox with fluid that is changed. I’d have the dealer do it. Check with the Toyota dealers in your area for the best price.