Trans flush in 2004 sienna

Hello, been putting off (for unfortunate financial reasons) getting a trans flush done on our 2004 sienna. Has just over 60K miles on it so high time I get to this maintenance item.

I was quoted the following from my mechanic in terms of cost: The cost of the transmission flush with the synthetic fluid, what Toyota calls for, is $290.06. We put cleaners and conditioners through the system as well.

I have no idea whether this is a fair price for this service. Your input/thoughts most helpful. many thanks in advance.

Hold on there. Do you mean “flush” or "drain, clean, filter and refill?

I believe you will find that there are some problems with Flushing and flushing seems to be attached to a lot of places like the fast lube joints that are there only to take your money.  

I will pass on the Toyota fluid for now.  I hope someone who knows the answer will address that part of the question.  If Toyota requires a special fluid it should be noted in the owner's manual.  Is it noted there?  I say this because some dealers (any make, not just Toyota) have a habit of selling the special mix fluid that you can by off the shelf at Wallyworld for 10% of what they charge.

Check you manual…Toyota uses special fluids and my dealer recommends a fluid exchange for my RAV ('07) at 90 thousand…currently at 50 K and so far the fluid looks like new.

Your best bet is to always go with the exact transmission fluid recommended by the manufacturer. The fluid properties & transmission design go together very closely. When you do the math the cost difference is minimal in comparison to the cost of transmission work.

That said, what exactly is included in this service? Just the flush with the extra chemicals? Even with Toyota supplied fluid $300 seems really steep. So hopefully the first thing they will do is drop the transmission pan and change the filter (with a fluid exchange to follow that could run to $300). If they plan to flush without first changing the filter then don’t let them service the transmission. Also tell them not to run their chemicals through it (“cleaners and conditioners”). The only thing you want going through there is the recommended transmission fluid.

What kind of mechanic is your mechanic? I’d be inclined to take the van to a dedicated, local, independent transmission specialty shop for service.

Mechanic is independent with three bays. General service - not trans specific. Came highly recommended to me by a few locals in my area. They have done other small jobs for me, nothing major.
Very nice folks but maybe not the right choice for transmission work.
And yes, they recommend a flush not a drain and filter. Maybe it’s an easier job to just flush? I don’t know.

The flush is a HUGE money maker and much easier for the shop. A machine basically does the labor & its almost pure profit. In partial “defense” of your shop, the practice of just hooking up the flush machine and exchanging fluid (with or without extra chemicals) without doing the pan/filter is standard. It comes complete with various claims about the filter, including the false notion that the flush will clean it.

The problem is that the entire machine flush thing is what is best for the shop and the machine manufacturers. It is not what is best for your transmission. It is sometimes useful for exchanging all of your transmission fluid (a pan drop only does a certain percentage of the fluid - anywhere from 30-60%). But it should only be done after a new filter goes in. But if you just have the pan/filter serviced every 30K then you never have to worry about a full fluid exchange.

Get a quote for trans service from one or two Toyota dealers. I’d go with a dealer over a general shop if the price quoted is reasonable. Screwed up transmission flushes are too common and can lead to expensive transmission failures.

Any flush that does not require the dropping and cleaning of the trans pan and a new filter should be avoided. These flushes use minimal labor and a machine intense process that leave dirt and debris inside the transmission.

Thank you all for your considered suggestions; you have been very helpful to me.

beating a dead horse…
$335 to drop the pan, replace the filter and refill transmission fluid with appropirate toyota spec’d stuff.
that’s the latest quote from another shop. sound right? thank you so much…

Sounds crazy expensive to me - by something in the range of $100-150 too much. But I also don’t know what they’re going to hit your for per quart on the transmission fluid.

No, not right. They are discouraging you from the flush. This flush machine is what we techs call “Gravy work” meaning a big money maker. Anyone can flush a transmission, it takes very little time and effort and yields big bucks for the shop.