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Engine oil in transmission

My daughter, bless her heart, accidentally put three quarts of engine oil in the transmission fluid tube, then drove the car home from work. Is it time to replace, or is there any chance of salvaging the car? Although it’s ancient (1990), it can carry large items that my newer non-wagon Toyota can’t, so I want to keep it if it’s not cost prohibitive.

Automatic transmission fluid is just 10 weight oil with different additives.

Take the vehicle to a shop and have a transmission fluid exchange performed. This will remove all the contaminated transmission fluid and replace it with new fluid. This is a lot cheaper than replacing the vehicle.


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So it sounds like this wasn’t fatal after all. That’s great news. Thanks!

Not good, not fatal. But don’t delay in getting the proper fluid in there. Personally I’d use Toyota brand fluid. A few extra bucks isn’t much compared to a new transmission. A new trans in a 1990 Camry is more than the book value of the car. You don’t need to go there.

No one has asked yet why she thought she needed to add three quarts of oil. Was the engine actually that low on oil? If so, that’s very bad for the engine.


I’m in agreement about the low engine oil and a fuzzy memory makes me think the capacity is about 3.8 quarts.

From the sound of things your daughter discovered a problem at work (oil light flashing on, rattling, etc.), added the oil, and headed home.
If anything the engine is likely damaged goods, not the transmission.

Also, don’t forget to show her where engine oil goes, and where transmission fluid goes, and what each liquid looks like, so that she doesn’t ever have this problem again.

If you have to, tell her to look for both the OIL cap, and/or the 710 cap.
You should get a good chuckle out of that, even if she doesn’t understand why its funny. :wink:


The only experience I had with anything like this was my daughter got the transmission fluid changed at Jiffy lube and drove 300 miles to her house. She complained the car was acting funny.
When I checked her transmission fluid I was surprised to find bright yellow,very clean. manual gear oil.
I told her to go back home and go to a mechanic she trusts and have him look at and drain her trans fluid into two jugs, one for Jiffy lube and one for court if necessary.
Jiffy lube flushed the fluid several times but it didn’t help.
Jiffy lube rep;aced the transmission and torque converter with used ones which didn’t make my daughter happy but I pointed out to her that at 88,000 miles she had a used transmission.

Thanks to all for the replies. Yes, the knocking is another problem, which we’re addressing, but I wanted to keep it just about the transmission for this query because if it wasn’t salvageable, then fixing the knocking would be pointless. As it is, the mechanics have diagnosed it as either a clogged pickup tube (?) or possibly the oil pump (hopefully the former). The shop has a good reputation, is AAA approved and I’ve used them before, so I’m comfortable with their analysis. The question then became, are the chances of saving the transmission good enough to pay for the engine work? Although it’s an old car, it only has about 110,000 miles on it, and I’ve kept it well maintained, so I decided to go ahead.

I’ve already had a talk with my daughter about what goes where. Turns out it’s partly my fault: I had inadvertently removed the owner’s manual from the glove box before I took the car to her, so she didn’t have the option of looking it up. (I always keep the manual in the car, so I figure I’m getting what I deserve here…)

Special thanks to Bladecutter for the chuckle. I’ll pass it on and she’ll get it right away. Smart kid, most of the time.

The knocking is likely due to crankshaft bearings that were trashed due to very low or no engine oil. This means a new engine is needed.

I won’t trash the mechanics here but are these guys aware of the 3 quarts down on oil situation?
A clogged pickup tube is a pretty shaky diagnosis and a failed oil pump is a much shakier diagnosis.

I was thinking that maybe she checked the tranny oil thinking it was the motor oil.

Engine oil in the transmission? Not possible to the best of my knowledge

Its not going to hurt anything internal like clutches, seals, or cause any lubrication problems, but it can cause converter chatter. You should change the fluid AND filter.


I bought a used 2006 Hyundai Azera with about 150k a month ago I haven’t driven it everyday but have used $80 gas. I had to buy a new battery yesterday and after he installed it I asked the AutoZone worker if he could check the fluids and show me what each one should look like when it was low. When he checked the transmission fluid he said it didn’t smell or look right I told him when I bought the car the owner told me the red stick was oil and showed me it was clean and at the right level. He said the red stick is transmission and there’s engine oil in it l. He told me to go right away to have it looked at and flushed. I just bought the battery and have a big move next week. I use the car to work as a postmate delivery driver. I only have about $60 and need to know how much more I need. Since I use the car for work, how bad would it be for my transmission if I only used it for short deliveries so I can earn enough to get the flush?

I have noticed a slight delay when I accelerate. I also hear and feel like something is dry. Oil is clean and level is good l

Don’t put too much faith in a diagnostic from salesman from Autozone. And I seriously doubt you can easily tell if there’s engine oil in the tranny. I’m also surprised that your vehicle has a tranny dip-stick. Most manufacturers had eliminated them by 2006.

But I still would take his advice and get the transmission fluid replaced. Either the dealer or a shop that specializes in transmissions. Do NOT go to a national chain like Jiffy-Lube or Firestone. Find a good independent.

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Thank you for your advice. I’ve been afraid to drive it at all until I find out what to do or where to go. I’m newly single and know nothing about cars. I have no idea what it should cost or what is involved in a transmission flushing. When you say independent what am I looking for? Like in a Google search? I’m in Phoenix, Arizona. There are two dipsticks under the hood …one is yellow and straight
and the other is red with and has a large squiggle …

The Yellow one is engine oil
The Red one is Transmission fluid