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Old 07-03-2019, 01:13 PM   #1
jdlamoreaux
 
Drives: 07 Yaris
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Hands tied re: Trans Fluid change? Advice needed

I have a 2007 Yaris Sedan with 197k miles, automatic trans. Original owner. Serviced with the dealer for the first 7 yrs, then I just took it to some random local garage that seemed pretty honest. They closed down so I tried another place for my last normal maintenance. They told me the trans fluid is dirty and should be changed out ASAP, cost of $300. Problem is, this is the first time I remember even talking about trans fluid (I know next to nothing about car maintenance, I've always just had to trust dealer/mechanic). So I don't know that it was ever changed. And $300 seemed steep. There are local auto repair chains that do a trans flush for $129 so I took it there and they told me just so I'm aware, Toyota says not to change the trans fluid under normal driving conditions for the life of the car. So I decided not to mess with it yet.

Do I risk damaging the transmission at this point in the life of my car by flushing the fluid? Also, why do the small garages in town charge $300 and the chains charge $130?

I'm just totally confused at this point. Any help appreciated!!
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Old 07-03-2019, 01:56 PM   #2
tmontague
 
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I wouldn't flush it, just a simple drain and fill would help get some new fluid in there and get rid of some crud built up. I doubt you will cause issues with a flush but it isn't likely necessary. I'm not a fan of expecting a fluid to last the lifetime of a car, especially when you want the lifetime to be as long as possible.

Personally I use the trans cooler lines to "flush" trans fluid on all my used cars I buy so I know everything is fresh. This never caused any trans related issues in any Toyota I have owned. I don't do this to clean anything, I simply do this to ensure all the old fluid is out and doesn't mix with the fresh new fluid. It likely isn't necessary however
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Old 07-03-2019, 11:46 PM   #3
jdlamoreaux
 
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Thanks! You clearly are 1000x more handy than me if you can do these things yourself. I might find out if anyone will do the "drain and fill" -- maybe if I do that a couple of times within a period of time I'll be better off, but without the drastic change of fluid that a flush would provide?
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Old 07-04-2019, 11:37 AM   #4
johnwk
 
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If your transmission is working normally, then you'll probably survive following Toyota's advice not to mess with your transmission fluid at all.

If I were you (assuming you're hoping to keep the car working for a while), I would just have a drain-and-fill done. Most likely, if a chain shop is asking $130 for a "flush," they're really just going to do a drain-and-fill (AKA "changing" the fluid). A drain-and-fill is essentially replacing only part of the transmission fluid, because it doesn't force the old fluid out of the entire system. A flush does force all the old fluid out. So a flush is a lot more work and uses a lot more new fluid, hence the higher price.

Here's the purported risk of doing a full flush in your situation. Your transmission has a lot of tiny passageways in it. At 197k miles, those passageways probably have some gunk in them, although not enough gunk to actually block any passageways. If you do a full flush, all the new fluid can dislodge all that gunk, allowing it to flow around the transmission, potentially blocking a passageway that was not previously blocked.

By contrast, if your transmission fluid were still fairly new and clean, a full flush would be an excellent way to keep your transmission clean. But, again, as long as your transmission is working normally, the gunk that's in there is probably just fine. A drain-and-fill will tidy things up a bit without dislodging all the gunk.

You can ask the chain whether they're offering a drain-and-fill or a full flush. But I would take it to a reputable shop and ask them to do a drain-and-fill instead of a full flush. I'd expect them to charge less for just the drain-and-fill.
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Old 07-04-2019, 01:44 PM   #5
tmontague
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdlamoreaux View Post
Thanks! You clearly are 1000x more handy than me if you can do these things yourself. I might find out if anyone will do the "drain and fill" -- maybe if I do that a couple of times within a period of time I'll be better off, but without the drastic change of fluid that a flush would provide?
yes, having a shop do a drain and fill would likely suffice. Done a few times and most of the fluid in your trains will be new, but it won't be cheap when you factor in a few drain and fills. You likely could just do one drain and fill and around half or so of the trans fluid would be new, in a year or so if you have the cash do it again.

This all comes down to how much cash you have topped with how long you want the car to last and what you are willing to put into it to make it last and be reliable.

Could you leave the fluid and never change it, yes, many do. That said, many people also don't keep cars upwards of 300k km and will never see a failure of the trans in a Toyota. At your mileage if you want the car to last you as long as possible and trouble free I would recommend you do a drain and fill.

I have read all over online about how a flush could "possibly" lead to issues in an old trans yet I've never actually heard someone speak from first hand experience. Toyota trans in my experience do not have issues at your mileage with doing a full flush with all new fluid. I have done this to 3 Toyota's ranging from 260k km all the way up to 360k km and never had a trans act up after a full flush performed by myself.
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Old 07-04-2019, 05:00 PM   #6
06YarisRS
 
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Excellent advice on the drain and fill approach. I am a firm believer in using OEM fluids so Toyota WS for my Yaris. I drain and fill both of my Yari and my minivan about every 30000km. It's so quick, inexpensive that for me it's a no-brainer. I changed the filter on my 08 and will before long on my 06. Agreed that there is no such thing as a lifetime fluid; unless you're expectation of "lifetime" is much shorter that what it could be.

Oh, and the idea of doing a few consecutive drains at very short intervals is a good one, imo. It is a nice, slow and unobtrusive way of getting clean fluid into your transmission. I usually do a few changes when I acquire an older vehicle, then follow up with my regular regimen. I am fortunate to have access to two hoists, but I've done it many times in my driveway as well.
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Old 07-09-2019, 12:42 PM   #7
jdlamoreaux
 
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Thanks for all the responses! I am wanting my car to last as long as possible, that's my motivation at this point. I know when I hit 200k miles, I'm on borrowed time already, so I want to do everything I can to educate myself and keep up with all the proper maintenance. I was able to have my Toyota dealer look at my car's history thru the VIN, and the fluid was changed for sure 9 years ago when I was having it serviced by a dealer, so at least I know it was changed at least once. Their opinion was to go ahead and change it. I asked why the price differences, he said the chains are doing the flush for $130 with the same machines as the mom & pop shops for $300 (he told me the dealer price was $350) - he seemed to think they were just charging way less because it's not very complicated procedure and they just wanted to be competitive. But I think I will be asking if they can do the drain and fill rather than the flush anyway, just because the opinion here sounds like that's "safer".
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