Dealer recommends service for 2011 Toyota Tacoma - is this necessary?

The Tacoma has 60,000 miles and the dealer wants to flush the transmission, the brakes, power steering and perform fuel induction service and 4X4 fluid service. Is all of this necessary?

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Check your owners manual to be certain of what services are required and what the time/mileage intervals are for fluid changes. Have you ever changed the transmission, brake, power steering fluid before? Have you ever serviced the 4X4 fluid? I think the fuel induction service is likely unnecessary

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If it were me, I’d do it, all of it except maybe the fuel induction service… although I’d do the work myself. I’d change the diff fluid (axle) as well.


The term necessary should be replaced with “well advised”.

Eight year old, 60k miles transmission fluid should have been changed 30k miles ago.

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If it’s a direct injection car (I have no idea if it is or not) then it might need the induction service as well. Direct injection sprays the fuel downstream of the valves, and so the valves get deposits on them that are washed off by the fuel spray in a normal injection system but stay on the valves in a DI engine. Lots of DI car owners have found it necessary to do an induction service.

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It depends on how long you plan to keep it.

Eight year old, 60k miles transmission fluid should have been changed 30k miles ago.

I initially struggled with this with our 2009 Toyota vehicle.

I asked two different Toyota dealers and an independent transmission repair shop whom I have a lot of respect for. All three told me to not bother doing anything with the fluid until 100K miles. They said in their experience if you weren’t towing, the Toyota “no-dipstick” transmissions with the WS fluid did fine waiting to 100K.

Your owner’s manual is the most trustworthy source of what’s necessary. Transmission fluid does need to be replaced periodically, but an important factor is how the vehicle is driven - hauling and towing shortens the interval. The fluid changes for transfer cases and differentials fall into that same category. I am becoming aware that brake fluid replacement is useful, but different manufacturers have different intervals (or sometimes no intervals). I’ve never done a power steering fluid change, nor an induction service.
Absent any problems or manufacturer’s recommendations, I’d forgo the power steering and induction service and consider the others.

Not totally. The recommendations in the manual are frequently tainted with politics. For example, very few manufacturers say anything about changing the transmission fluid, for two reasons: first, after 100k the warrantee is over and they don’t care what happens after that. Second, EU government pushes the manufacturers to minimize fluid changes to minimize disposal issues.

A long time friend of mine has been a transmission rebuilder for 40+ years. He has told me that automatics should be serviced every 30k miles…

He’s also told me almost every transmission he’s had to repair was due to not changing the fluid regularly or running the fluid low due to a leak.

In several transmission schools I’ve attended they were pretty adamant that the fluid be changed on a regular basis. You can’t go by the appearance of the fluid (unless it’s fried) and that while the fluid doesn’t break down the additives in the fluid do.


Then what is the most trustworthy source?
The greater majority of car owners don’t have the time, knowledge, or resources to come up with the optimum time/mileage and need a source of info that is more correct than not. I think the owners’ manual is the best, practical source for the majority.

I agree, by default it’s the best guide.

But you can add to that, if you are knowledgeable or have access to info like this forum. Items like transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, etc.

Another path is to use the “severe driving” schedule in the owner’s manual, which applies to almost all of us.

It’s a complicated discussion…

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Yes, but the maintenance schedule that is listed by the mfrs. should be considered to be the absolute minimum, and it really only applies to vehicles that are not used in “severe service”.
The way that the vast majority of cars are driven actually puts them into that “severe service” category.

The mfrs. do usually provide information about what constitutes “severe service”, but in light of the fact that most people can’t seem to comprehend the odometer mileage OR elapsed time values (including a “whichever comes first” proviso) for maintenance, IMHO it isn’t too likely that those same folks will bother to read the fine print about “severe service” in order to see that it actually does apply to their vehicle.

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You may have noticed that some European manufacturers have large oil sumps to account for longer change intervals.

And marketers. Remember that idiotic Toyota commercial a few years back where they welded the hood shut because it “needed no maintenance until 100,000 miles?”

I’d bet money that some marketer went down to the engineering department and asked “Will the car make it to 100,000 miles without changing fluids?” And of course the answer is yes - but the question is how much beyond 100,000 it’s gonna go.

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The definition of severe service varies with manufacturer.

Here is Subaru’s definition:

  1. Urban driving
  2. Any country, coastal or winter driving
  3. towing
  4. Racing.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t meet #1 or #2.

Some things that change under “severe”:
Change oil/filter 3800 mi or 4 mo
Change Diff gear oil at 15k
Change CVT fluid at 25k
Change brake fluid at 15k
Coolant change at 11 years/140k

Since the manufacturers don’t base warrantee on following the severe schedule (thank you!), probably because no one does, I’m basing my schedule on a compromise between severe and regular. Eg, change CVT fluid at about 40-50k. Change brake fluid when I change brakes.

I’d only do the fuel induction service if there were fuel system related symptoms. But I’d do the other stuff. I have a 4WD Ford truck, and sometimes I’d replace the front and rear differential fluids every single day. For example if I was on a camping trip and crossing deep streams. Not that big of a deal. The only other quibble I might have with the dealership recommendations is the flushing machine vs pan drop and filter & fluid replace on the transmission. I’d do the latter and suggest you do the latter if that’s possible on your Tacoma. Pan drops aren’t always possible. Depends on the powertrain.

If this all sounds excessive, the dealership’s goal is that you leave their shop with a car that is as near to showroom mechanical condition as is practical. Not all owners of 7 year old cars want that level of perfection. But I think that’s a pretty good agenda. If your objection isn’t so much to doing it, but to paying for it, shop around. You don’t need to use a dealership for that service; especially not on a 7 year old truck. Ask your friends, coworkers etc which inde shop they use, and from that list choose one that specializes in your vehicle, or at least Asian cars and pickups. Likely save a dollar or two.

WRT to the previous replies on when to change the transmission fluid, here are a few more thoughts.

I fully agree that changing the fluid more often will lead to longer transmission life. But there is another important side to this.

  • The average person keeps their new car 6-7 years, and drives 12-13.5 thousand miles/year. That’s below 100K miles
  • Factory owners manuals, car dealers, and many repair shops tell these owners to either don’t change the fluid or to change it every 100K miles. [Not talking towing]
  • I believe a majority of these new car owners who never change their transmission fluid or wait till 100K miles, never see a problem.
  • Is it possible that these owners may see problems at 150K or beyond? Sure. But that’s not their problem since the majority will have sold their cars way before then.
  • Aside from transmissions with bad designs, is lack of service causing transmissions to fail before the 100K range, enough to cause new car owners to spend their money on replacing the fluid?

Again, I agree changing trans fluid more often extends the life of the transmission.
But for today’s new car owners, the case isn’t there to make this something they need to do.

Your points are valid . . .

But I know several people that took the approach you mentioned . . . and had their automatic transmissions fail CATASTROPHICALLY at 60K or 70K, for example

So it will come back to haunt some of them, while they still own the car

Big gamble

Most will win

Some will lose in dramatic fashion, and it will hit their pocketbook hard


The “you never have to change the trans fluid” people whom I have known didn’t experience catastrophic trans failure until they hit anywhere from 90k to 110k miles.
On the other hand, those–like me–who changed their trans fluid every 30-40k miles have NEVER experienced trans failure.