High mileage transmission flush

My 95 Camry wagon has 200K, been regularly serviced, but never had a ‘transmission flush’, just level checks. My mechanic says the fluid is ‘dark’ and the transmission should be flushed. Friends say that will cause an expensive repair job. The car runs great, so should I leave well enough alone?

If the fluid is dark, the damage has already been done to the transmission from overheating. I don’t think it will cause any problem that isn’t there now. New fluid will cause new sludge to come from the torque converter over the next couple of months. If you are not serious about doing it several times over a couple of months, there is no reason to start. I’d say it is a waste of money now.

Just a few thougts:

  1. Flush vs change: Flushes of all kinds (except coolant and brakes) are usually designed mostly to increase profits. However this is not to say they do have some value. There does not seem to be well defined meaning to either term these days.

  2. A standard transmission flush does not get the filter change. I believe it is very wise to make sure the filter gets changed. A standard fluid change should include a filter replacement.

  3. A fluid change does not change all the fluid. Of course neither does a flush, but the flush does change more.

  4. A flush or a change will not damage the transmission. However it is true many transmissions fail after one. The reason that the transmission was failing and the change or flush was done in an attempt to fix the damage and it was just done too late.

It is not easy to determine when it is too late for the fluid change or flush is too late, but overall in a situation like your where it has not yet begun to miss-shift I would suggest that a change or flush (I really suggest you make sure they change the filter) is well worth the cost.

Depending on the situation it may pay to have a second fluid and filter change a few months later.

No, just because you are healthy, that does not mean you don’t see a doctor.

What did your “regularly serviced” include?

Your transmission is about 140,000 miles OVERDUE for a fluid and filter change, not a flush. Your maintenance manual likely calls for that to be done at 60,000 miles or 6 years. It should be done by a capable transmission shop or the dealer. Avoid tire and muffler shops and Rapid Lube places!

I’m assuming the person who told you about the flush was not a proper transmission shop. If he was a good mechanic he would have recommended a fluid and filter change at 80,000 miles latest.

Transmission fluid typically is a pinkish red, totally clear when OK, and if you put a drop on a paper towel, it expands gradually to about the size of a silver dollar, with no deposits or discoloration anywhere.

At that mileage a FLUSH could indeed damage your transmission, since it will likely dislodge solid chunks of material that can plug the many passages in a transmission.

You are very lucky indeed that your transmission is still functioning!

Please read the rest of your owners manual with respect to other important items such as coolant change, oil changes, timing belt replacement, etc.

Drain and fill the transmission. I believe your car has a drain plug on the transmission pan. Do 2 or 3 drain and fills over a short period of time in order to get most of the old fluid out. Fluid gets dark in color over time, it is normal and if your transmission is working like it should you probably haven’t damaged anything. Drain and fill with the correct fluid as specified by your owners manual. Flushes are money makers but are not recommended by Toyota.

If you do decide to change the tranny fluid and filter, (not sure if Toyota has a drain plug and remote filter) make sure the pan is dropped so as to check for metal shavings or small metal pieces.

Wait a sec. You said the vehicle was regularly serviced. Did that include tranny service too?

Brown colored fluid usually means burnt. (from overheating)