Transmission Fluid Replacement

Tom and Ray,

I recently took my car to a repair shop to have a few things checked out. Sqeeky brakes, oil change, tire rotation, and transmission flush. I own a 2005 Toyota Camry (I believe it is a 2.4L 4cylinder) with 86,500 miles. He fixed the sqeeky brakes, did the oil change, and the tire rotation, but said since I had not change the transmission oil for 86k, not to do it or I may have to rebuild my transmission. What do you think? Can i get it changed safely or should I continue to run with the original tranny fluid?

Thanks, Bill

Tom and Ray don’t hang out here (to the best of my knowledge). This is just a discussion board full of whomever happens to come by (though many are “regulars”).

At the top of the web page is a “Search” button. This question is asked on at least a weekly basis. A search or two will tell you everything you want to know.

They dont want to do it because all too often when replacing the ATF many issues can arise. If they simply pull your drain plug you will get approx 3qts out and it will take many about 4x to get the fluid out entirely… IF the shop is brave they will try to entirely empty your trans which holds about 10qts of ATF…when they do this they seriously risk a non working trans after their fluid flush. This happens for many reasons most prominently is the torque convertor if it is entirely drained it may not pump up or fill itself up EVER again… Its a risk they dont want to take. I would only take it to the dealer and ask them how they go about the ENTIRE trans fluid change…they may say…just drop 3qts out at the next 4 engine oil changes. This way no one ever entirely drains the torque convertor risking damaging it and never having it pump up properly…and thus not work again.
I have used the drain 3qts out/add 3 qts new AFT method at several engine oil changes for years with no problems. This shop has obviously seen the issue B4 and they are leery. I suspect that the shops that have the issue…RUN the engine after they pull the trans drain plug…this forces out all the ATF from the convertor while it is spinning…THIS IS WHERE the damage occurs. The convertor ruins itself while being drained this way…most mechanics know that it WILL pump the oil out of the convertor but what they dont know is what can happen to this part of the tranny by doing this.

I always go with the drain 3qts/add 3 new qts method at the next 4 engine oil changes…never had a problem. I know the guys who DO have probs run the engine and ruin the convertor or the pump in the trans…they dont know what they are actually doing. WHen you install a new torque convertor you fill it up manually on the ground before you install it in the car. I strongly suspect that if you drain it in the car it cannot fill itself up or pump itself up by adding ATF while it is in the car.
Long enough answer?

Check the owner’s manual and the maintenance schedule that came with it. What is the recommended transmission fluid change interval for your car? You may not be as far overdue as you think.

Personally, I fail to see how clean transmission fluid can hurt anything, and think a fluid change is in order. Better late than never.

That old wives tale has been beaten to death so change the fluid. This should be done roughly every 30k miles or so.

I highly recommend changing any automatic fluid after 30-40,000 miles. Don’t go for a “Flush” Just change the fluid and clean the filter.

Now about that old old story about not changing the fluid. It goes like this. The typical story goes like this:

Over 80,000 miles and the transmission is starting to do something not right. So someone suggest chaining the fluid. Next thing you know, a few months later, the transmission fails. So the owner believes that proves it: don’t change the fluid.

 [b] However what really happened was the transmission had been abused by not having the fluid changed and by the time they did change the fluid it was already damaged and the change did not cause the problem, it was just too late.[/b]

The shop should drop the tranny pan and inspect it for excessive debris. If any is found then the pan should be reinstalled, the old fluid poured back in and drive it until the tranny fails.

If however the pan is dropped and everything looks normal then do the tranny fluid exchange. This will remove all the old tranny fluid and this is the best bet for transmission life. Here’s how a tranny fluid exchange is performed.