Transmission Fluid Question

toyota
corolla
transmissions
fluids

#1

I had my transmission fluid serviced in May 2010 at a DeltaSonic Service Center. (I was having an oil change done when they told me it looked very dirty). I have gone approx 9,000 miles with the car since then, and the car has about 63,000 miles on it total. So now, 5 months later, while having my regular oil change done with the Toyota Dealer, they are telling me my transmission fluid looks very dirty and needs to be changed. (Again?) I have read that transmission fluid should only need to be changed about every 30,000 miles. So my question is, is there any reason a car would run through its transmission fluid that quickly? Or am I being pushed around by people who want to try to get more money out my service appointments? Or is it possible that the people who did it the first time did it wrong?


#2

Can you find your transmission fluid dipstick? Take it out and wipe it on a white cloth or paper towel. It should be reddish in color.

When they drained your tranny fluid last time, half of the tranny fluid was trapped in the system, so you really only had half your tranny fluid changed. If it really was “dirty” last time, changing half of it could have left it looking somewhat dirty still.

A bigger issue could be, did they use the correct type of transmission fluid for your corolla. Have your maintenance done by somebody you trust.


#3

“Or am I being pushed around by people who want to try to get more money out my service appointments? Or is it possible that the people who did it the first time did it wrong?”

It is highly likely to be any of the above. Cars don’t “use up” transmission fluid. If the level is low, there is a leak somewhere. Can YOU pull the transmission dipstick and see if the fluid is brown or smells like burned toast? If it’s red, you probably don’t need this “service”. If it’s brown, the Iffy Lubeish place charged you for a service they didin’t do. Stay AWAY from chain store lube outfits. Don’t believe a dipstick they show you unless you witness them pulling it out of the transmission. Some unscrupulous shops will keep a container of dirty fluid to dip your stick into.


#4

Toyota transmissions usually have dirty looking fluid, even after a fluid change. You must follow the manufacturers reccomended intervals. Just looking at the fluid means nothing with these transmissions.

However Goldwing is correct in half the old fluid was left in the transmission. This just makes the new fluid look dirty.


#5

I can only assume that “DeltaSonic” is some kind of chain operation (though I’m not familiar with it). Then you have the dealer.

You don’t need to use a dealer and it is wise to stay out of corporate chain auto maintenance places.

Get your owner’s manual and check out the service schedule. Then take control of your own maintenance. I don’t mean actually do it yourself - just be in charge of it. Otherwise you will spend your whole car owning life paying for stuff that you don’t need.

The only exception to the regular service schedule in the manual would be the transmission fluid. You are right that a 30K mile interval is best, and the service would be to drop the pan and change the filter.

If you do want to be able to assess your transmission fluid yourself it isn’t hard. Have a look at this: http://www.aa1car.com/library/atf.htm I like the “blotter test”


#6

A bigger issue could be, did they use the correct type of transmission fluid for your corolla. Have your maintenance done by somebody you trust.

Worth repeating.


#7

Thank you everyone, I value your feedback!


#8

DeltaSonic is a chain of carwashes In Western NY State that does oil changes and sells food and gasoline.


#9

Gee–That sounds like the type of place that I would trust to service my very expensive transmission.
NOT!


#10

That sort of leaves a whole new layer of quickie lube disasters doesn’t it? “My mechanic says I need a new engine. This was right after I left my car at DeltaSonic for an oil change and car wash. It turns out they washed my car with oil and refilled the engine with car shampoo. So do you think its their fault that I need a new engine?”


#11

:-))

Why people entrust their cars to these places is just beyond my comprehension.