Toyota automatic transmission fluid


I have a 2004 Tacoma pick up truck with automatic transmission. It has 30,000 miles on it. I recently had the transmission fluid flushed at a quick oil change shop. They used a transmission fluid called “Max ATF.”

After I did that, I read in the Owner’s Manual that the only kind of transmission fluid that should be used is Toyota T IV, and that using ANY other kind of transmission fluid can cause serious damage to the transmission.

The Toyota dealer agreed with what the owner’s manual said, and encouraged me to have the transmission flushed, and the fluid replaced with Toyota T IV.

Do I need to do that, or can I keep driving with the transmission fluid that I just had put in the car.

Thanks for your help.


Toyota must allow the use of any transmission fluid that meets their specifications. However I don’t know what if any non-Toyota fluids meet those requirement. Hopefully some will respond that knows.

On the other side however. Keep away from the quick change places. We hear far too many horror stories about them. Some may be fine, but many pay the help little, demand fast changes and that results in a high percentage of errors. Too many live by selling you something you don’t need at inflated prices.

You don't need to go to Toyota, although the are not by nature bad, but they do tend to be more expensive and not better than independents.  Find a good local mechanic and stick with them for your needs.  

Don't go to the quick lube places, even for directions.


Oil/fluid is cheaper than metal. “You buys your ticket–you takes your chance”. Ensure that you have the proper type of fluid. Hopefully, someone will give you better guidance. J.E.M. is exactly correct. Stay away from the quickie lube places. Just to add to this specific area, look on a wall in the lobby or office of these places. Do they have any A.S.E. certifications? If so, ask to talk with whoever’s name is on that certificate. I’ll betcha that he/she either isn’t there at that time or has since “moved on”. It might be the Manager’s name on an alleged certificate, I’ll bet that it reads something like Valvoline/Mobil/Exxon/ B.P./, whatever-Certfied lubricant specialist. Where are the certificates from all of the other “lube monkeys”? But by now, doing any kind of work where he/she might get a little auto crap on them is way below their present dignity, even if it might be to check the technician’s work. The certificate holder did promise you that he/she would personally do the final check/inspection on the work themselves, right? They gotta keep their cheap-@$$ $49.95 slacks/shirts/ties clean, you know. And heaven forbid if they were to get some kind, any kind, of automotive fluids on them! That would mean extra costs for hand cleaner and soap, plus the costs of 1 or two paper towels. etc., etc., etc.


Mobil ATF 3309 meets the T-IV spec. Amsoil and Schaeffer’s both sell synthetics that also meet the spec. Suggest you go back to where you got the service done and make them use one of the four choices: Toyota brand, Mobil 3309, or one of the synthetics, and do the flush for free. There may be other brands that meet the spec, but I would suggest that you double-check or have the manager show you the approved T-IV spec certification.


If what you got was Royal Purple Max ATF, then this fluid is not spec’d for Toyotas, per the Royal Purple website. Google Max ATF and see the Royal Purple website for approved applications. then get the stuff flushed out for free. Strongly suggest that they replace the trans filter with a pan drop after the flush, to remove any potential residual of the wrong stuff in the filter.


You also didn’t need a fluid flush unless you do a lot of heavy hauling or the fluid was contaminated or burned. A fluid and filter change would have been sufficient.


They used Valvoline MaxLife ATF. I was wrong when I typed Max ATF. It was not the Royal Purple, but rather the Valvoline MaxLife ATF. On the Valvoline site, it looks to me like MaxLife can replace Toyota T IV. If you still think I need to flush it out and replace with T IV, please let me know. Thanks.