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Automatic transmission fluid change

In October 2009, my wife took her 2004 Toyota Corolla, with approximately 74,000 miles on its odometer, to a local Toyota dealer, for a courtesy oil change. The dealer?s rep pointed out that the car?s serpentine belt needed replacement as well as the car?s automatic transmission fluid. She declined the service, preferring to have it done by an auto repair shop we have done business with for more than 20 years, and who would also do the work a lot less expensively. We had the work done in early November and gave it no further thought.

About the first of April, this year, my wife returned the Subaru to the dealer for another courtesy oil change, and was told that the automatic transmission fluid was discolored and needed to be replaced. Again she declined, and we immediately took this information to our trusted auto repair shop, who immediately agreed to check the fluid and replace it immediately if it gave any indication of being discolored.

My question is, could both of these facilities be honest and telling the truth? Our trusted repair shop charged us $67.50 for a ?full automatic transmission flush? in November 2009, but could it already be showing color by April 2010 when the Toyota dealer claims it was ?still in need of replacement.? Or is there a more likely answer here, which one, or possibly both, are not being totally honest with my wife.

I would appreciate your reply and opinion.

Just to clarify, are you talking about the same car both times because at one point you say Toyota and then later Subaru which would tell me that these are fluid changes on two different cars but yet you make it sound like the fluid was changed and became discolored quickly and you were told it needed to be changed again?

toyota or subaru? regardless $64.75 for a transmission flush…I think not and you know that from the color of the fluid after 6 months. I believe the toyota requires special fluid as well.

I agree that the question is posed in a confusing way, so I will just give you the conventional wisdom on automatic transmission maintenance.

Trans fluid should be changed every 3 yrs or 30k miles–whichever comes first–in order to avoid problems. This is without any value judgments on the color of the fluid. As that athletic shoe company says, “Just do it”.

It is up to YOU to keep track of when the fluid was last changed and when all other maintenance has been done. That way, if a shop is recommending a procedure that is way too soon, you will know that the shop is off-base with their recommendation.

Servicing the transmission is one of the few things where you can’t rely on the mfr’s maintenance schedule. Unfortunately, in an effort to make their vehicles look maintenance-free, most manufacturers are no longer listing the very important 3 yr/30k mile transmission service. Those who do not service the trans on this type of schedule are the ones who wind up with transmission failure any time after 90k miles.

Sorry, it was the same car, I just got my facts twisted.

The point I was after, is it possible the fluid could start to change color so quickly, or did the dealer not check it the second time, just relying on old paperwork?

What color is/was the fluid?
Surely you took a look to verify their opinion.

If the fluid is any color other than red, it needs to be changed.
However, your fluid should be changed as per the schedule that I posted earlier–even if it is red.