Transmission flush as part of regular maintenance? or scam?

I have a 2007 Corolla. Everytime I get my oil changed Sears says that my “dealer recommends a transmission flush at around 60,000”. They give no indication that the transmission fluid is actually turning brown/smelling burnt etc…

Online I have been able to find every opinion from:
these are scams - don’t do anything until your transmission starts to go bad
I should be draining and changing out the fluid myself every 30,000
I should take it in immediately to get this done!

So I turn to the only community I trust in search of an answer. Are transmission flushs a part of necessary maintenance or should they be done on an as needed basis?

If they should be done - do I pay 120$ for the flush or is it sufficient to just try and drain and replace myself?

All thoughts welcome

More Harm Than Good Can Result From An Improper Transmission Service. There Are All Kinds Of Different Fluids Specific To Specific Vehicles. Put In The Wrong (Or Sometimes “Universal”) Fluid And You’ve Got Bigger Problems Than Dirty Fluid.

Does Sears use Toyota transmission fluid ?
What does your car’s Owner’s Manual say about chnges/flushes ?
I’d just change it every 30,000 to 50,000 miles (depends on type of driving) with Toyota brand fluid that is the correct one for your car. I don’t think I’d flush it. If it’s got a filter, change it, too.


I believe Toyota is one of the manufacturers who decided a few years ago that their transmissions are using “lifetime” fluid. this means that, when the transmission reaches the end of its useful life, new fluid will be installed with a new transmission. The main purpose is to make vehicles appear to be as maintenance free as possible at the expense of longevity. They figure if the transmission last 100k miles before crapping out, they have done well; it’s far enough out of warranty that nobody will complain. Draining and refilling your transmission with the proper spec fluid every so often will make that “lifetime” a whole lot longer, and 30k miles is a good interval. I’m still waiting for a manufacturer to decide their cars no longer need oil changes. We already have some of them recommending 12k-15k mile oil change intervals.


  • take your car to Sears. Find a reputable, independent, local shop.
  • ignore your transmission until it has trouble. That’s the way to cause trouble sooner.
  • listen to what the dealer says about the transmission


  • have the transmission pan removed and filter replaced every 30K miles or so.
  • make sure to buy exactly the correct transmission fluid. Buying from the dealer might cost a little extra, but is probably a good idea.

Ditto cigroller.

Pfern: You should certainly NOT wait until the transmission fluid starts to smell burnt or turning brown, by that point, the band material has already started to wear and excess heat has changed the constitution of the fluid. Once it’s burnt/brown, it certainly DOES need to be replaced, but any prudent owner would change it before that.

Transmission fluid is some pretty impressive stuff when you pause to consider the kind of work it does, and as such, you most certainly should change it whenever the manufacturer recommends and with whatever fluid the manufacturer recommends. Transmission fluids have a multitude of properties concerning viscosity, heat tolerances, and a whole bunch of other engineery stuff that I’m not privy to in my limited gray matter. Some fluids have higher spec numbers and are made to be backwards-compatible with previous specifications, for instance: Dextron VI supercedes all previous specs and my Dex 3 spec Mercedes gets the 6. As such, I’m not very trusting of some of the “universal” transmission fluids like Wolf’s Head that are essentially made for large-volume shops to fill a single flush machine with one type of fluid (as opposed to having to drain and swap specific to the type of car). I have seen a lot of different cars serviced with Wolf’s, and even though I’m untrusting, I’ve never seen a return, and fresh fluid that meets the spec is certainly better than old fluid that meets the spec.

Find a competent independent shop who has a transmission flush machine. These are more advantageous than a “pan drop” service as dropping the pan will only drain out 60-80% of the fluid, leaving behind some old stuff. This machine connects to the input and output side of the transmission cooler, and pumps fresh fluid through the entire transmission.

If you’re like me and you have a spouse who has an unusual emotional attachment to a crappy car like a 2003 Chrysler Sebring, which are notorious for transmission problems to include the infamous pump whine or mysterious roughness when selecting from park/neutral to a drive gear, not only will you change the fluid when you’re supposed to, you’ll change it about twice as frequently as recommended. You will also, before your spouse leaves the house every morning, say a small prayer to your God of choice to please protect the automatic transmission from failure. I wouldn’t DARE wait until it smells burnt.

I Can’t Say That This Is Right Up To Date (Constantly Evolving Information), But Check It Out And You’ll Get The Idea.

Benz, a pan drop might get 60-80% but it still has to be done whether you flush or not. Any shop who flushes an automatic without first dropping the pan, checking for debris, cleaning the pan, and changing the filter is NOT doing a proper service.


My daughters Corolla transmission even has a drain plug, making the job fairly simple…Since transmission failure is “The Kiss Of Death” for most of todays cars, servicing the transmission makes a lot of sense…Flushing the transmission?? I’m not so sure about that…

If you pull the dipstick out and read the print on it, and/or open your owners manual and look up the maintenance, you will know for sure what Toyota recommends. The owners manual lists all the needed maintenance and it should be your guide EXCEPT for the transmission fluid.

If you have the 4 speed automatic, the dipstick and the owners manual both probably say that the fluid is good for a lifetime and does not need to be changed during normal use. At least it did in the earlier Corolla’s (2003). If you look at the fluid on the stick for yourself, it should be bright red, but I doubt that it is.

At 60k, you need to have the pan dropped and cleaned and the filter flushed out. The filter is a stainless steel screen and is reusable, a new one costs about $65. Refill with only Toyota type IV fluid, about 4.1 quarts. service your transmission every 30k after this. Every other service, drop the pan and clean the filter, on the others, just drain the fluid and replace with 3.5 qts of the Toyota fluid.

2007 Toyota = World Standard fluid.
There is no dip stick for the transmission.

Take it to the dealer, and tell them you want the service.

Edit: No dip stick (and the associated tube) means it’s difficult to put new fluid in. You can do it yourself, yes, as can almost any independent shop. Just make sure they’re using the correct fluid.

W123benz…liked your post. Hope your wife gets to enjoy her Sebring for many months,err years to come.

Ditto cigroller.

Same here

Is that a manual or automatic transmission?

Find a good independent or a shop that specializes in transmission work…My Toyota and wifes Lexus uses the WS fluid. There’s a tranny shop not too far that changes it out for me…They use genuine Toyota WS fluid. There are other companies that make this fluid but it’s just as expensive as the stuff you buy from Toyota.

“2007 Toyota = World Standard fluid.”

The Corolla is that last to get any updated technologies. If I remember correctly, the 07 Corolla with the 1.8 engine still had the 4 speed, which means dipstick and T-IV fluid.

In regards to the flush… My local transmission shop said to NEVER flush because it can easily clog the little orifices in the transmission.

I didn’t read all the posts above so excuse me if this has already been mentioned.

Some dealers have excellent service departments. I take my Accord to the dealer for transmission service and to my local mechanic for everything else. The dealer seems to be on the same page as me re: the transmission: simply drain and refill the fluid with OEM fluid is what they recommend. I do this every 20,000 (it is a 12 year old car…) and it costs about $60. $ well spent.

So it may not hurt to take a trip to the dealer and at least see what they recommend about your transmission. If they do the work, at least the correct fluid will get put in (if Toyotas are as anal as Hondas about it). And you can surf the web while you wait!

I wouldn’t trust Sears to do much more than install a battery or some tires… Well I hope this helps the O.P.

Accordion, you’re reading my mail. There are some things you do with a dealer, somethings you do with a good independent. Usually, it’s when many parts are involved you get the dealer shaft ! Btw, I feel service consistency in places like Sears is so local dependent upon the individual mechanics, you can’t trust them with a new battery…now which is positive and which is…?

I used to frequent this shop that offer oil change coupons, and that the technicians generally did a good job and were honest. But that fat old dude who ran the counter had no idea what customer service was. The last time I went, I just walked up saying I need an oil change, he handed me a form for me to fill out, took my keys, told me it would be 30 mins, then took a leisurely stroll in the parking lot.

When he walked back in, he took the paperwork from and started to recite without so much as a glance at the paper “Your transmission oil is dirtee . . .”. That’s where he got cut off by one of his guys, who had the audacity to correct him and said that he couldn’t check my transmission fluid because it had dipstick. Then that fat dude looked in his crystal ball and said “well it is based on age”, as if he knew when I last changed it.

That’s why it was the last time I went there. So yes, transmission fluid changes as suggested by shops can be a scam. It should be up to the owner to pull the dipstick regularly, or in my case, keep track of its change intervals.

Firstly, what most people don’t realize it that you can only drain about half of the total volume of xmission fluid through the drain plug. Roughly, the other half is in the torque converter. The other issue is that transmissions don’t have filters like oil filters. They are correctly just screens.

My solution:

Locate and disconnect one of the transmission fluid coolant lines running to the radiator; either one – which ever is easiest to access. Stick the end of that hose into a suitable container, e.g. a gallon milk jug.
Connect a second length of hose to the other hose fitting and into a second jug

To determine the flow direction (i.e. which is in and which is out) start the engine for a few seconds.
One jug will now have some fluid in it. That will be your waste fluid reservoir.

Get out your pump garden sprayer.
Disconnect the spray wand from the hose.
Depending on the hose length, you may need a longer piece of hose, but you need to connect the pump sprayer outlet to the IN connection, i.e. the line that the fluid was NOT flowing out of.

There are a couple ways to approach this:

  1. Consult the service manual for the dry fill fluid capacity of the xmission and put that amount into the pump sprayer.
  2. Just put 2 gallons of fluid into the sprayer knowing that you will probably waste a couple of quarts.
  3. If your fluid looks dirty or burnt just keep flushing until you are content with the clarity of the flushed fluid.

Chock the wheels, pump up the sprayer, start the car, and run the shifter slowly through the gears.

Watch the waste jug for overflow and the sprayer to make sure that you are pumping fluid back in. You may have to pump it up more as the fluid is used.

Ideally, you want to replace ONLY as much as you remove – but no MORE. Low is better than overfilling.

When you are satisfied, stop the engine, reconnect the hoses, warm up the fluid to operating temp and check the fluid. CHECK FOR LEAKS!

To clean out your sprayer, just pour in some Gunk, slosh it around, then wash it out with water.

Also, I have installed a Wix inline xmission filter that has a magnet inside to catch iron particles. This filter will catch much finer particles that the sump screen, and is much easier to change.

Probably more effort than most people want to invest, but it’s way less effort than dropping the pan.

But hey, it’s just the way I do it.