As the title says, garage is telling me i need a transmission flush, but from what ive read perhaps a drain/fill is the better option? Car is a 2010 Corolla with 165,000 kilometres on it. Im a car noob. Thanks for the help.
Drain and fill with a new filter is a better option, in my opinion. With that, you get a look at the debris in the pan.
If this the first time it has been done, or you suspect it is, you might do a flush some 20k km later.
The fluid is brown so yes it needs to be changed.
My one concern is with what appears to be particles on the dipstick. That is not good and I agree with Mustangman the pan needs to be looked at. Hopefully the pan is not full of the same.
what do the particles mean?
Particles are debris caught in the transmission filter. They can be metal fragments, gasket material, and other gunk.
It means the internal parts of the transmission are starting to come apart from wear or lack of lubrication or both.
Has the transmission fluid ever be changed that you know of? Additives in transmisson fluid breaks down after a while and that’s why it’s a good idea to change the fluid every 30 to 40k miles. Aged fluid contributes to clutch pack wear, bushing wear, etc and in turn to transmission failure at some point.
If the pan is removed and has a fair amount of metallic debris and so on then as much as I hate to say it, the transmission may be on the way out. When that will occur is unknown.
If the pan only has a very small amount of blackish material in it then I would not worry so much about that as that is likely clutch material wear due to lack of fluid changes. A large amount is trouble of course.
It hasnt been changed that I am aware of. I feel like they would have stated that there was a lot of debris in the pan if there was?
The dirt you see on the dipstick may be rust from the inside of the dipstick tube, normally debris does not float in transmission fluid.
Have them remove the transmission pan so the particulate can be examined.
If it’s found to be metal particulate, install a new filter, reinstall the pan, refill the transmission, and start looking for a replacement vehicle or transmission.
If it’s not found to be metal particulate, then do everything above and then flush the transmission to exchange all the transmission fluid and to remove all the particulate.
And you may find you just saved your transmission.
Those transmission pans have a very strong magnet inside them so I doubt those are metal particles on the dipstick. In fact, I’m going out on a limb here and say they aren’t particles at all, just air bubbles. They are all perfectly round.