2017 Toyota Tacoma - No trans dipstick

I’ve always done the
scheduled maintenance work on my vehicles. Religiously changing all the fluids at the recommended intervals.
However, my current vehicle - a 2017 toyota tacoma - doesn’t have a transmission fluid dipstick. As is the case - apparently - with most newer vehicles now.
Is there a good reason for this?
From what I’ve been able to find on-line, I would need to get some kind of electronic tool to check it now.
Is this something that a backyard mechanic like me can still do?
Or are my days of checking and changing the tranny fluid over.


This is a rather common issue these days. And has been a Tacoma issue since at least 2006. BUT, if you don’t see a leak, there is no reason to check the level.

A Tacoma forum member figured out a way you can do this yourself without a scan tool or OBD2 reader.

After reading through the instructions, it might just be better to let the dealer do this.

To generate revenue for the dealer. The dealer is Toyota’s primary customer. You are a secondary customer. Toytoa requires their dealers to maintain a full service shop. By installing sealed systems like this transmission, Toyota guarantees more service business.

Don’t you just LOVE that ? Don’t feel too bad, some vehicle mfg’s decided to take away your engine oil dipstick as well. Its Brilliant…

I don’t like this either, but I’ve heard that some or hopefully all of these systems come with a light on the dash when the level gets low.

Ehh. Cars use more fuel than oil, and we have relied on an electric sensor and gauge to tell us our fuel level for, well, forever. No one seems ro complain about that.

You can open the hood, pull the dipstick, wipe it clean with a rag, insert it, pull it again, and read the level. Or you can push a button on the dash and have the car tell you if it’s safe, low, and how much to add. Which sounds more convenient?

Chrysler was one of the first manufacturers to eliminate the trans dipstick. I have a friend who’s an engineer there who told me that, when they analyzed the vast number of transmission failures they were seeing, a large number had been caused by incorrect fluid having been used. A decision was made to make it much more difficult for this to happen. If you change it every 30,000 miles, even at $250, it’s less than one penny per mile. Your days off Diy are over for that function.

There you go being logical . Frankly I would like that feature .

I agree, but would counter with the idea that if you run out of fuel, you generally don’t have to replace the engine or transmission. Not so when you run out of oil or transmission fluid. You also don’t need to check the condition of the gasoline, because it’s gone inside of two weeks and gets replaced with fresh. Checking the condition of the oil is a good way to monitor engine health, and it’d be nice if you could do that without draining it out.

As for the button on the dash, I like that idea and think it should be supplemented with the dipstick. After all, I don’t trust certain vehicle manufacturers’ electronics as far as I can throw their cars, and don’t really want to have to rely solely on those flaky electricals to tell me if I’m about to grenade my engine.


I believe Toyota has a very complicated procedure, where you can get the transmission into the “check” mode . . . meaning the fluid is at the correct procedure and certain indicator lights blink and/or flash to tell you it’s okay to check the fluid level

But the only way you’re going to even get access to the instructions is if you pay a fee to log onto the Toyota technical website, which has all the information that the dealer mechanics have access to

This procedure, by the way, typically doesn’t require you to own the factory scan tool

But if you did own a factory scan tool, or a professional grade one, such as Snap-On and certain OTC, then you would be able to confirm correct temperature

it is critical to check the level at the proper temperature, otherwise the transmission will be under- or over-filled

I wouldn’t be surprised if those Chryslers you speak of were actually using Benz transmissions.

They actually started with the Ultradrive. They were astonished at the number of failures they were still seeing even after correcting the known design faults. My friend told me of one dealer they went to who was not using the approved ATF +4 for fluid changes but instead was using a “universal” fluid with a BG additive to save a couple bucks.

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what year did this Ultradrive come out?

Nineteen eighty nine

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Diificult to measure the fluid level with no dipstick. However, you can still do your own fluid changes. Capture and measure what comes out when you drain it. Put the same amount back in. That’s what I do anyway on my vehicles. Then I “fine tune” the level with the dipstick.

But what if you buy a used vehicle that didn’t come with a trans dipstick . . .

How do you know the previous owner(s) put in the correct amount of atf . . . ?!

Actually, my advice goes for a lot of things . . . never assume the previous guy did things correctly

Several years ago when I had my own place I had a Dodge Magnum in one stall and a Mercedes ML500 in the next stall. They were both in for trans service. The transmissions were identical, used the same filter and pan gasket, and had the same fill procedure. But the Dodge called for ATF+4 and the Benz called for Mercedes-Bens Auto Trans Fluid. I took a chance and filled both with ATF+4.

Oh, fluids are all the same, right? It’s not like using 75W90 in place of 80W140 can damage a diff in 300 miles, right? :slight_smile:

Did you ever come to any further conclusion on that diff?

The boss decided to sublet the vehicle out for repairs . . . meaning a shop will remove the differential and do repairs on a bench and/or stand. I suspect every single gear and bearing will get replaced

Whatever interesting information that shop finds, I probably won’t hear anything

As far as that ATF+4 fluid, I encountered the same thing several years ago. I was working on a mopar with a Benz transmission, yet it called for ATF+4. I got a good chuckle out of it, but filled it with the mopar brand fluid. I suspect the fluids are chemically identical, but it wouldn’t do if the customer knew the transmission was Benz, not mopar, hence slap their own name and designation on the fluid.

I never looked into it . . . would I be correct in assuming that ATF+4 bought from the mopar dealer costs less, versus the 722.6 fluid bought from the Benz dealer?

One of my coworkers has a Tacoma . . . several years older than op’s truck . . . but it also uses ws fluid and has no dipstick. he asked me how to do a fluid and filter service. We looked up the procedure on identifix . . . I know, I know, but it’s the only website at work that shows Toyota technical information . . . anyways, I printed it out and it showed a way to enter “automatic transmission fluid fluid detection mode” without a scanner. yet a few days later, he said he just drained the fluid and refilled with the same amount of fresh fluid. And he wasn’t even the first owner of the truck, so who knows if the previous guy had it done correctly? Could be it was underfilled from before he even owned the truck, and if he put in the same amount, that would mean it’s still underfilled

I’m guessing part of the problem is that as the complexity of these automatic transmissions increases, more speeds, etc, maintain the fluid level at exactly where it needs to be becomes more and more critical to the performance. To verify the level is correct now requires knowing the precise fluid temperature (b/c its density changes with temperature), and configuring the transmission so the fluid is where it is supposed to be for the measurement. With more and more speeds there are more and more places inside the trans where the fluid can go, it is necessary to make sure the fluid level measurement is done when the fluid is where it is supposed to be, and not where it isn’t supposed to be. Increased functionality breeds complexity, and the re-fill and fluid level check procedure is very complicated for these transmissions. It doesn’t necessary take a tech a really long time to do it, but they first need the proper training and equipment to do it.

If you want a simple diy’er method for checking the trans fluid level, the manual transmission refill procedure for this vehicle is three steps:

Step 1: vehicle level.
Step 2: Remove t transmission filler plug
Step 3: The oil surface should be no lower than 5 mm below the opening

What could be more simple than that? :wink:

You’re absolutely wrong

What you described is not the proper way to check the fluid level on this particular vehicle

I looked it up :wink:

They may not be identical, there may be a difference in clutch materials however Chrysler ATF+4 may be adequate.

The NAG1 or W5A580 transmission was a “hand-me-down” to Chrysler from Mercedes when they transitioned to the 7-speed transmission.

The NAG1 in the LX vehicles (300, Charger, Magnum) was domestically manufactured by Chrysler, it was not supplied by Mercedes. The Dodge Sprinter with the NAG1 transmission uses a specific “Sprinter ATF” while the LX cars use ATF+4.