Dirty Transmission Fluid

I’m having a recalled part changed on my 2005 Toyota Corolla, and the dealership said my transmission fluid is dirty and needs to be changed. I’d rather have my local guy change it, but can’t until next week. I’m going to be driving about 1300 miles this weekend. Will my transmission be ok until next week???

Nobody can tell you. It would all be speculation.

How much is the dealership asking for the job? It might be worth it just to get it done, but they could be lying to you, and making it sound worse than it is.

I recall the last time a repair shop recommended a transmission fluid change. I was astonished. The fool was not aware my car had manual transmission!

Yes, your service manager has a boat payment due. That doesn’t mean he is right or that he is wrong about your car. And nobody can predict the result on your trip. My guess? Take your trip as-is, everything will be OK. Transmission fluid is supposed to look a bit dirty after some use. But if this is really going to prey on your mind, have someone do the job (not necessarily the dealer).

How many miles on the current fluid?
Many here recommend an auto trans fluid change every 30k or so.

Back in February I took in my 2006 Matrix for the ECM recall
and the service writer told me my trans had dirty fluid.
I told him that was odd since I had changed it 2200 miles earlier.
He asked if it had been flushed or just changed, I said just changed, he suggested getting it flushed.
I asked how do they flush a manual transmission.
He said “um…they power flush it”.
No thanks!
“And your power steering fluid looks very dark…”

Note: I wrote this before I saw Steve’s post!

Was the last fluid change done on schedule? The answer may help us here.

Personally, with time of the essence, I’d lean toward changing it to be safe. I’d hate to go 1,300 miles with questionable fluid. Also, check your owner’s manual for the recommended procedure. If it calls for just exchanging fluid without a flushing procedure, make sure they follow that. Also, make sure you double-check the fluid level before you leave.

For what it’s worth, in the future, I’d recommend not having service done so close to a major trip. It’s good to be able to drive around town for a week in case something was done incorrectly during the service. (My brother once ended up driving sixteen hours without heat in the dead of winter after some last-minute service went wrong.)

Pretty sure the 05 (if it’s an automatic) requires the “world standard” fluid. Your local guy may be able to do it, but you need to make sure he has the right fluid, and not one of those “suitable substitutes”, that tend not to be really a substitute, nor suitable.

That stuff’s a bit pricey, but a lot less so than a new transmission.

Since you didn’t tell us even how many miles you have on the car,or when the last service was done, we can’t even begin to guess.

From Steve F:

“I recall the last time a repair shop recommended a transmission fluid change. I was astonished. The fool was not aware my car had manual transmission!”

Well I have replaced manual transmission fluid several times.  It does not last forever. However, It does have a long life under most conditions.  Depends on car and conditions.  I would suggest that 100 - 200 thousand miles would be fine for most drivers with manuals.

Don’t take his word for it. Wipe off the tranny dipstick on a white paper towel or rag and look at the color. Your tranny will be fine for your trip. The dealer is looking to increase its profit.

Look at your maintenance records, how many miles since the tranny fluid was serviced. Go by your records and owner’s manual. Never take the word of a service manager at a dealership.

Thanks to all!! If any add’l advice is warranted my car has just under 70,000 miles, and the last fluid change was about 12,000 miles ago. I suspect the dealership wanted some $$ from me since I was there having a free service provided for the recalled part. I will definitely will check the fluid, though, just in case…