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Toyota transmissions-should i buy or not

i am looking at buying a 1991 toyota camry for 500 dollars. it is in really great shape and actually drives great as well. big problem… the trans fluid is dark and after i drove the car, it smelled like something was burning, possibly the trans fluid. so far the trans is fine besides that. would a flush work or is it too far gone?

Trans fluid should never be flushed. Only drained and replaced. The previous owner should have done this by now! I bet this car has over 150k miles so it should have been done at least twice.

You may spend $500 on the car and then dump $2k into a trans. overhaul.

I would have this vehicle inspected by a mom & pop mechanic or an auto-saavy friend and ask their opinion about the fluid / have them take a look and smell.

Good luck. Doesn’t sound promising though.

What you are smelling is motor oil driping on exhaust or a heat shield.
Get it on a lift to see for sure where oil leak is starting from.
As far as trans fluid as you heard do NOT flush. When you drop the pan you only change about 1 third of the fluid.
I would say either do not change it or change it 1 time then drive it a day then do it again. Make sure the first time you clean bottom of pan real good.
250,000 mi is not uncommon good luck

You could be smelling burning clutches in the transmission.
If the transmission is suspect, set the park brake, place the trans into Drive while holding the footbrake, and try to rev the engine quickly.

If the engine revs to 3000 RPM or something like that instead of stalling out around 1900 then the transmission is on the way out.
(And if you do this test, do it ONE time only)

Flushing or a fluid change is not likely going to help at all.