Transmition oil change required??

Old 04-01-07, 01:34 PM
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Transmition oil change required??


I recently purchased a used 2003 Toyota Corolla which seems to be in very good condition. The only concern I have is with respect to the transmition oil.

The oil isn't bright red as it should, but darker than I'm use to seeing. It does NOT smell burnt.

I brought the car to my local garage (a mecanic whom I know personally & can trust) to get his oppinion.

Here are a few points:
- Automatic transmittion, 40000 miles
- The mecanic says that it doesn't look normal either, but that he had recently changed the transmition oil in a VW & the brand new oil wasn't a bright red, but rather dark also, so MAYBE some transmition oils just are dark.
- The car doesn't drive or behave weird, everything seems normal.
- There isn't a recommended transmittion oil chage as per the 2003 Corolla maintenance recommendations. It states to do it only if required.

So, my question is:
Anyone else have a similiar situation. So I be concerned? Should I have it changed? If yes, how diffidult is it do do it myself? I'm comfortable with changing the engine oil, but I've never changed transmition oil. What needs to be changed? The oil, the filter, the gasket? That all?


Old 04-01-07, 02:38 PM
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Mark, follow your owners manual for interval changes to avoid possible warranty issues later on.

Too tell you the truth, I have only changed the tranny fluid on one of my vehicles, and that was because I emptied it out installing a trans cooler.

If the fluid does not smell burnt, you are probably ok. Trans fluid will usually be a darker red if drivin more then a thousand miles or so.

I've had cars driven well over 130k miles without a tranny fluid change.

If you are going to do it, it's not too difficult.

Some cars do however, require you to lower a crossmember. So look and see.

There should be a drain bolt to drain the pan, if not, get a suction type hose (turkey baster thingy with a clear hose) and drain it from the dipstick.

With tranny fluid drained, well half of it anyways, remove any bolts from the pan.

Carefully lower pan (have plenty of towels ready).

You will then see the magnets, clean these off. There may be metal shavings. It's ok to have some.

You get the gist. Some filters are more hidden then just dropping the pan, but you will see when you pull pan off.

This will get you about 4-5 qts. The rest of it is stuck in the torque converter. There is a process to get that out as well, but requires more work, like disconnecting a trans cooler line off the radiator and so on..
Old 04-01-07, 03:43 PM
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Read your manual, Japanese cars use different fluid than most others, and it does look different. If your mechanic is not familiar with Japanese (US made) cars, time to switch mechanics. Manufacturers suggested maintenance depends on your driving style. Short trips require more maintenance, long mileage, less. Fluids wear out(glop up) faster under stop/go conditions. Recommended maintenance is just that, recommended. Your car will probably last longer if you follow their suggestions, but for the most part, there is a lot of freeway as to time schedules.

Last edited by the_tow_guy; 04-01-07 at 05:36 PM. Reason: Edited disrepectful nationality term.
Old 04-01-07, 03:58 PM
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Make sure the seller did not pump 90weight gear oil in the tranny to stop a leak or a noise. its a common cover-up tecnique. Another thing to remember that the old metal shavings and junk likes to hang out in the stator plates of the torque converter so sometimes even after only a short time the trans fluid can get dark. Steel transmissions more so than aluminium. sometimes this is not a big concern since if it is small enough to fit through the filter it should not cause a problem with the gears.
Old 04-01-07, 05:34 PM
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Not all import cars use any kind of specialized ATF, our Camry (and likely your Corolla) uses regular Dexron. Toyota trannies are very reliable and I would be surprised, unless the vehicle was pretty well abused, if you have a problem. In the absence of an OEM fluid change recommendation, I would still drain and refill at no more than 50,000 (I do the wife's Camry every 25,000). I haven't been under a Corolla in a while, but the way things are standardized now, it's quite possible your Corolla is very similar to our Camry, which has an allen head plug (10mm, I think) and uses a screen rather than a replaceable filter, so you may not find any reference to a filter. Unless you DO have a filter, a simple drain and fill every 50,000 miles should give you many, many miles of service.
Old 04-01-07, 06:24 PM
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Leave it alone and drive carefuly and it should go beyond 150,000 miles with no trouble.
Problem is that messing with a good trany could create problems in the future, eg...leaks, slippage and so on.
I've seen brand new cars trany fluid appear very dark so don't let that scare you. You say it doesn't smell burnt and the level is good.......I would leave it alone.
Old 04-02-07, 11:03 PM
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fluid please, fluid basically hydraulic fluid, not oil, is not oil is tranny Fluid.

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