Should I have transmission fluid changed?

It’s been a while (can’t remember) since the last time I had the transmission fluid changed on my 2006 Corolla. Within the past 10 years sometime, I can’t find the records. It’s running fine now and I’m kind of an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” guy. In fact, all I do remember is the last time it was changed the dealership couldn’t get the bolts out of the transmission pan and they charged me over $1,000 to replace it and change the trans fluid. So I’m kind of traumatized. Do you think I should have the fluid changed or checked? Right now the dealership claims they check and fill fluids. I mean I have the engine oil changed every 6 months or 5,000 miles though.

I would follow the advice in the manual, which is leave it alone I think.
That’s what my RAV4 manual said.

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Nice I will check my owners manual tomorrow in the glove compartment. What’s weird is the last time I checked my manual I don’t remember it even mentioning changing to transmission fluid anywhere in the manual.

They will offer an up-sell when the fluid appears dark enough to promote a sale.

Removing the transmission pan is unnecessary, every Toyota transmission has a drain plug. A drain and fill every 50,000 miles is sufficient with long life automatic transmission fluid (Type 4).


I just checked. All my owners manual says is one sentence: “Change transmission fluid only as necessary.” That’s it.

Thanks for the information

10 years since the last change… @Nevada_545 says you have a drain plug… it is neccessary.


For me, the real question is which do you prefer: paying maybe $100 to have the transmission fluid changed now, or buy a new transmission a few years from now when yours stops working suddenly when you’re trying to get to work on a cold, rainy day?

Your choice. I know what I’d choose.


Lol, for me part of the question is needing a new transmission now too, right after the transmission fluid is changed, If it is done incorrectly. Or spending another $1,000 at the dealership because they tell me it’s a big job and need to replace the transmission pan etc. Instead of just using a drain plug.

Did you ask for the filter to be replaced?

Also, what’s the difference between a transmission flush and transmission fluid change and how do I know which one is needed?

I asked for nothing that they did not suggest.

I didn’t ask for that

If you take it to an independent trans shop that has been in business for many years (NOT a chain-run joint like Cottman, Mr. Transmission, Lee Myles, or AAMCO) they will have the expertise to do it correctly, and they are likely to charge less than a dealership.

I do not understand why they would need to change the tranny pan. they just remove it and put the same one back. changing the fluid and a new filter should not cost a lot.

Using the drain bolt drains about 3.5 qts of ATF. Dropping the pan drains about 4.1 qts. Capacity of the transmission is about 6 qts. Dropping the pan allows cleaning the pan and the filter. It is not necessary if you drain and refill every 30 to 50k.

The only way that you can damage the transmission from a drain and fill is if you use the wrong ATF. Yours needs T-IV and you can buy it from the dealer or any parts store. The price difference isn’t that much but do stick to a major brand if not getting it from a dealer.

If the dealer is the only one that has serviced your transmission and they had trouble with the pan bolts, they caused the problem. They ripped you off, they should have done any repairs they caused for free. I would recommend you stay away from this dealership and find a good independent mechanic.

Do not use a transmission chain. If you need to, buy the ATF yourself and give it to the mechanic. Do not do a flush, just drain and fill. This will only renew your ATF a little so it can get to work mildly cleaning out any gunk from the transmission.

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There is very little that I agree with Pat Goss on and this one I could not agree less with.

I would not use chemicals, I would not flush.

In the case of @D.J, he (she) is concerned that because it has been so long since the last fluid change that there may be built up contaminants that will flake off and ruin the transmission if the ATF is changed.

While I don’t believe this old wives tale about an ATF change causing damage in an old transmission, I am recommending doing just a drain and fill because it only replaces 3.5 of the 6 qts of ATF in this transmission. That will be a milder change than he would get with a full flush and more gently clean the transmission. I would also recommend a follow up ATF change about one to two thousand miles or 3 to 6 months later to finish the cleaning job.

Why not change the fluid all at once? Using the fluid exchange machine replaces the fluid in the torque convertor. New fluid will not cause the sediment in the pan to float.

Personally, I would not be opposed to that in theory, but I would have to compare the cost/benefit ratio. Too many unknown variables here, the most important is condition of the vehicle and remaining economic service life. I suspect a drain and fill will be the most cost effective.

@D.J has not even told us if he/she has even looked at the dipstick to see what color/condition the ATF is right now.