Need for Changing Transmission oil/radiator fluid on LOW milage car

My wife has a 2007 Toyota Sequoia with only 17,000 miles on it (as of Mar 2013). It has had regular scheduled maintanence - engine oil
changes, etc. However, due to low milage, it has never had Transmission or Radiator fluid changed. All miles have been in town, short
trips. Is there a need to have these fluids changed just due to the age of the Sequoia and type of miles driven. It is an expense I would
rather not do unless necessary. We do plan on keeping it to well past 100,000 miles. Considering the age and miles, is there anything
else that I should be watchful for or take action on? Thanks.

At 17,000 miles I wouldn’t worry about the transmission fluid or coolant. The mileage isn’t high enough where these fluids start to oxidize. I’d wait until the mileage reached 30,000 miles and then service those fluids.


I’d Change Them Both. Driving Only 17,000 Miles In 5 1/2 To 6 1/2 Years Is Considered To Be Tough On A Vehicle And “Severe Service” Maintenance Should Be Followed.

Short trips and/or long periods of being parked can add moisture to engines and transmissions that won’t necessarily “burn off” as it would in a vehicle always brought up to full operating temperature every time it’s run.

Also, I’d think contaminants in the coolant would have time to settle out and become corrosive and possibly sludgy.

Change them now and also, I’d get the oil changed every 3,000 miles or annually, which ever comes first, or more frequently.

I also would hope that this vehilce goes for a longer ride at least once/week and runs at full operating temperature for a while.

A brake fluid change will help you, too.


I agree with Tester about the transmission, but the coolant is 6 or 7 years old and TIME is also a factor when it comes to engine coolant as it slowly degrades over time…It would not hurt to change it…Cheap insurance…

Accept No Substitute For The Exact Transmission Fluid Specified For This Vehicle.
Use Toyota Brand Fluid Of The Correct Part Number (Or The Latest Manufacturer Revision), To Be On The Safe Side.


Thank you Tester for your answer/input. It is one that I have received from others too. However, I have to agree with the answers of Common Sense and Caddyman - they seem reasonable under the circumstances; although I was ‘hoping’ that the highly experienced car guru’s would agree more with Tester’s answer. But, I Do want this vehicle to definitely go past 100,000 miles …in the past, I have quite successfully had cars go past 150,000, one - a 1972 buick skylark went past 210,000 miles. Vehicles are far Too expensive not to take care of them in all respects. I will also change the brake fluid too as Common Sense suggests. Thanks guys/gals. …

I also remain interested in the comments that others may have.

Btw Tester, like you suggest, I will wait closer to the 25 - 30,000 mile range to change the transmission. For purposes of the budget, I will change the radiator fluid first, then a few weeks later, change the brake fluid. And, I will have it done at the Toyota dealership, thus using Their recommended fluids. Again, thanks for the very quick answers.


The most critical element to maximizing the miles you get from a vehicle is to check fluids frequently, and keep them at proper levels: particularly oil, coolant, and transmission fluid. After that, be attentive to leaks, or unusual sounds from the vehicle and resolve them promptly. Early detection is the best way to avoid major problems.

Also, understand that short local trips of a mile or two or three are hard on a car, so many people here recommend driving a somewhat longer distance once in a while. Your low mileage suggests that short local trips may be the dominant use pattern for this Toyota.

There have been a rash of threads here lately from people who had catastrophic engine failures from lack of oil resulting from never ever popping the hood to check it. These people seem amazed by the disappearance of oil. It’s the owner / driver’s responsibility to monitor that. Also I’d remind you to have all drivers of this car understand that dashboard warnings about low oil or overheating mean pull over and shut off the engine as soon as it’s safe to do so, in order to avert or at least minimize any serious damage, …not “try to make it home”.

With proper care, your Toyota should easily go the distance you mention and far beyond that. I am still using a Dodge (admittedly showing age) with 296k, and another Caravan with 155k, and my Nissan truck went close to 400k.

I agree with Tester on both the tranny fluid and the coolant. The main reasons that coolant gets replaced periodically are that the oxidation preventatives get depleated and contamination builds up. But those things happen with use. In a closed system they don;t happen with time.

The same principle applies to the tranny fluid. Except in tranny fluid settling of sediment or evaporation of any volatile components of the petroleum based fluid might be an issue of it were left long enough, but I dont think that’s an issue here. I’m talking about very, very long term lack of use. And I’m not sure I’m right on this without doing the research.

You also have fluids in the transfer case, front differential, and rear differential. With so few miles they may not need changing now, but someday they should be changed. I have an '01 Sequoia and I change these fluids every 30K miles.

Does anyone ever put your Sequoia into 4WD? If no, you should start doing so every few thousand miles. Just look for an opportunity on a dirt road every now and then. If you never engage 4WD the system could get stuck from non-use.

The coolant is in contact with several different metals…It contains additives to keep it’s PH neutral so the solution does not turn into an electrolyte and galvanic action begins to dissolve the least noble metal in the system…These metal protecting additives become depleted over TIME…Low mileage has little to do with it…

The additives in coolant break down thru use not age as with any fluid in a vehicle. Once a fluid is oxidized the additives are used up and requires replacement.


The tranny can wait, but the coolant DOES breakdown with time. The coolant is constantly protecting the metal from corroding, and todays engines use a lot of aluminum and aluminum is a very active metal.

But, there is a caveat here, its not the use that causes the coolant to get used up quicker, its the temperature. The hotter the metal, the more active it gets. At freezing temperatures, the corrosion process almost comes to a complete stop. Look at the Titanic, steel in salt water, but at freezing temperatures so little corrosion has occurred in the 100 years it has been at the bottom of the North Atlantic.

Since you are not driving very much, your engine isn’t spending as much time warmed up. The coolant will last longer than it would if you were driving it more. But it is still working to protect your engine and as such, the additives are still being depleted.

On my little used vehicles, I have gone 7 years between changes, but I would not recommend going much past that.

Toyota’s Super long life coolant is good for 10 years/100,000 miles. The 2002-2004 cars and trucks that I have replaced timing belt,water pump and coolant on were spotless inside the engines coolant passages. The aluminum remains shiny, like new with this coolant.

Unless the coolant is contaminated or diluted with water there is no reason the change the coolant early.