Transmission / Coolant Service

I brought my 2005 Scion XA in for a minor service today to check everything over. They said I need my coolant and transmission serviced. I’ve read that servicing the transmission can cause a lot of damage over a certain amount of miles. I am at 112,000.

You have read incorrectly. Not changing the transmission fluid after a certain amount of miles is what causes damage.

This is the most recent I have read that states several car manufacturers caution AGAINST flushes and some say changes but never flushes:

Who Recommends Flushing As Maintenance?
The shops that want to sell you the engine or transmission flush charge anywhere from $49.95 to $99.95, not including a new engine or transmission. Those are extra. And they state quite emphatically that it is recommended that it be done. But who actually recommends that it be done? I checked with GM, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, Honda and several other new car manufacturers and not one recommended an engine or transmission flush as routine maintenance. In fact, they specifically don’t recommend it at all!! The new car dealerships that do sell them use the implication that since they are the dealer that it must be the factory that recommends it. And if they do say the factory recommends it, they are flat out lying to you.

Read more: “Do You Need To Flush? |” -

To service a transmission does not necessarily mean to flush. Most of these cars can be serviced with a pan drop, filter change, and refill. While this method does not get out as much fluid as a “flush” or fluid exchange, it does well in keep the transmission running well. This is what I get done on my cars every 30K miles. I just had a pan drop, filter change and a fluid exchange done on my Mazda at 125K miles and it is doing fine.

Check the owner’s manual and see what Toyota has said about the Scion. Even if there is no mention, getting a trans service should prolong the life of the transmission. I am not a believer in “lifetime fluids”, for transmissions.

I read the article at the link. Note that the author is talking about back flushing, and I know of no reputable local mechanic who uses that method. Note the comment of the Ford Master Tech below the article also. It pretty well summarizes my understanding of what is normally done. There are other, gentler, fluid exchange methods and machines that do well. Those are the ones I refer to in my comments above.

All Toyota models, and I assume Scion models as well, need their transmission fluid and filter CHANGED (not flushed) every 72 months (6 years) or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first!

The engine coolant (antifreeze) needs to be replaced at 60,000 miles or 8 years for the original long life factory fill, and then every 4 years or 40,000 miles afterwards. I would personally not wait till the 8 years was up. My Toyota’s coolant will be changed at 4 years.

It seems you are 'way overdue on the transmission and likely on the coolant as well. I would get these things done ASAP!

Not doing the above changes will void the engine and transmission warranty.

Hope this sets the record straight and does away with the VOODOO surrounding not touching older transmissions.

We are a little sensitive to transmission services around here.

Far too many places recommend fluid flushes that are really designed to make money not protect transmissions.  

The other side of the coin are all those who had their transmission serviced (maybe properly) only to have their transmission fail shortly thereafter.  What this group does not tell you or even realize themselves is the only reason they had the service done is because the transmission was showing signs of failure and they were hoping the change would fix it.  

The time to have your transmission services is before it is damaged. In general I advice everyone to provide all the maintenance listed in the owner’s manual. But there is one exception and that is transmission fluid change with removal of the pan and cleaning the filter. That should be done about every 25-40,000 miles to avoid damage.

Yes, you do need to have both the cooling system and the transmission serviced. Contrary to what you have been told by uninformed people, it is the failure to have maintenance performed that causes severe problems with transmissions, not the service itself.

When a transmission has been ignored for as long as this one has, bad things start to take place. The transmission fluid starts to break down, providing less and less protection to the trans as time goes on. Varnish-like deposits begin to accumulate in the valve bodies and in the very tiny passages inside the transmission. As the friction material of the clutches begins to accumulate in the transmission pan, a sludge-like material results, and this can be circulated through the transmission, leading to major problems and early failure.

To give you a human analogy, saying that transmission service causes transmission failure is very similar to saying that visiting one’s M.D. for a thorough physical leads to heart disease. On the contrary, periodic visits to the M.D. can prevent the emergence of heart disease, just as periodic service to a transmission can prevent transmission failure.

But, if one eats an unhealthy diet, refuses to exercise, leads a bad lifestyle, and only visits his physician after all of this damage has taken its toll, when the physician discovers severe atherosclerosis, the physician was not the cause of that damage. Similarly, if one ignores the maintenance requirements for a vehicle, when the transmission is finally serviced–several years too late–that service is not the cause of later transmission failure.

For the life of me, I will never understand why auto maintenance should be such a mystery to so many people. A car owner does not have to be either an automotive engineer or a rocket scientist in order to know what a car’s maintenance needs are. The only skills needed are the ability to open the glove compartment, take out the booklet(s) placed there by the manufacturer, and read the information contained in those booklets.

Replace them both and motor on.