03 Tacoma, 100K miles, need ATF advice please

HJC

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Mar 21, 2009
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I'm approaching 100K on my Tacoma 2.4L 4AT and I wanted to know what the maintenance freaks at BITOG suggest. The manual says it's lifetime fluid (top off with Toyota ATF D-II or DEXRON III/II). Change only under severe duty. I just use it as my commute vehicle and rarely ever haul heavy stuff although I used it to move a lot of stuff a few times. Should I: 1)Leave it alone, it's says lifetime fluid. Toyota knows more than me! 2)Flush and fully replace with a synthetic like M1 or Amsoil. 3)Start a drain and fill routine every 10K miles to keep the fluid fresh. Feel free to add anything else I should do.
 
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No. Yes. Or that's reasonable too, drain and fill each oil change for a few. Get the differentials right away too, I hope you've hit them by now.
 
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I didn't know they had lifetime fluid back in 03. Anyway, it's not really a lifetime fluid, so get it changed out asap. Flush and replace with Amsoil or Redline.
 
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Do a couple of drain and fills with Super Tech Dex VI(or another brand if you wanna pay more) or Castrol High Mileage. You should be able to find both at Walmart.
 
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Hopefully you're not too late to do something now, but better late than never i guess. Whatever you do i WOULD NOT do a flush; there's a possiblity it will cause more damage than good. If it were mine, i would drop the pan and clean the screen, then replace with Dex II OR III type atf. Preferably amsoil ATF, which is one of the best quality atf's you can buy. You may just want to refresh with just a drain fill every 3k miles or less. If it were mine with 100k on it, i'd be doing it every 1k miles X 10 then every oil change. But that's just me. When you drain the pan, you remove 75% of the contaminants from the fluid so several drain and fills is what i'd recomend.
 
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At 100k, its time for a pan drop, magnet cleaning, filter inspection(or replacement), put together, top off, and do a complete cooler line flush. Castrol Import or HM, Pennzoil multivehicle, Valvoline Maxline or some locally available excellent ATF's that I would consider using. 1. No ATF is lifetime. Toyota recommendations is foolish and a UOA would be very interesting. 2. Synthetic investment is not needed but Mobil1, Amsoil, RedLine, RoyalPurple, Amalie, Schaeffers.... are some excellent mail-order boutique ATFs. 3. Starting a drain/refill regimen is an excellent idea if you don't want to flush. But, I would 1st start with a pan drop for inspection. If the proper initial flush investment of 16 quarts of ATF is too much to spend now, the 4 quart drain/refill habit is plenty. Either way, I wouldn't skimp out on the 100k pan drop that I'll always recommend. Might want to replace the magnets too. A magnefine or permacool filter is an recommended option either way.
 
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HJC, My son has a 2003 Tacoma with the same transmission. We bought it used with 95,000 miles on it. I checked the fluid and it looked bad. First did a Auto-Rx treatment. Then drained the transmission pan, added same amount back into tranny. Then disconnected the transmission line at the radiator, pumped out 2 quarts at a time until all was red again. Added a permacool filter for insurance also. We used Mobil 1. Shifting improved a lot and has remained so for 40k miles. Be sure you buy a crush washer from Toyota for the pan drain bolt for $3.00. HTH, Ken
 
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Auto-Rx...YES Then, flush and refill with any of the fluids that say they are recommended for transmissions that originally used Dexron-III. (By the way, real, GM licensed, Dexron-III is still available listed as the Allison TES-389 fluid.) I wouldn't remove the transmission sump pan. I would install an inline filter in the line to the cooler.
 

HJC

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California
Thanks for everyone's input. Wow it's really that bad huh? 3Toyotas, You recommended NO flush. This is because of the built up gunk that may break loose and clog some of the passages inside the tranny right? So would the AutoRX treatment take care of this issue? I'm leaning towards doing the AutoRX then flush with a DEXRONIII. Then maintain a yearly drain and fill.
 
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AutoRX site says using their product then doing a drain & fill does nothing. They recommend a t-tech flush after running AutoRX 500-1500 miles. Or flushing the system yourself through the cooler lines. It is a risk flushing though after 100k miles. But you are not at super high mileage either. IMO it is close call that only you can make. Sometimes the decision is easy and many can state enequivical postions.I don't think that is the case here.
 

PT1

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I disagree with the 100k flush scare tactics. What is wrong with a fluid exchange and getting all the bad fluid out as long as you don't use the cleaning solvents? How can new fluid be "bad" for your trans?
 
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I put a permacool filter inline and did the auto rx treatment. That way any crud dissolved was deposited to the filter. Afterwards when I replaced all the fluid, I put a new filter on there. Probably good for 50k interval with synthetic. Ken
 
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 Originally Posted By: HJC
Thanks for everyone's input. Wow it's really that bad huh? 3Toyotas, You recommended NO flush. This is because of the built up gunk that may break loose and clog some of the passages inside the tranny right? So would the AutoRX treatment take care of this issue? I'm leaning towards doing the AutoRX then flush with a DEXRONIII. Then maintain a yearly drain and fill.
I've read here on this site, as well as talking with a trans tech that i know and from both i have gotten this info on a flush with high mileage. I am no expert here, that's for sure and i know very little about auto RX treatments. Yes, the flush from what i've been told CAN cause gunk to clog the passages. But mainly, those vehicles had filters that were not replaced shortly after the flush, therefore causing the tranny to fail. Your tacoma ( i beleive ) only has a screen, and with a simple pan drop and cleaning and refresh after a flush might do the trick. But i told you what i'd do if it were my truck, and it's something most folks can do in their garage with just a couple hand tools and a couple tips from those here on BITOG. I myself, enjoy working on my own stuff and i don't trust most others to do it for me.
 
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A transmission flush machine operates off of the transmission's own internal pump. There is no internal internal pump involved. So, how could any chunks break off and clog up passages? You don't need a machine to do a flush. A flush can be done by one person on their own driveway in less than an hour. For example, I flushed the transmission on my father's '92 Toyota Previa last Sunday. The transmission holds 6 quarts on a dry fill and I used 8 quarts of Castrol Domestic Multi-Vehicle ATF to perform the flush. I started out by draining the pan, which removed 2.5 quarts, followed by refilling the unit. Then, I removed the cooler line from the radiator outlet and attached a clear piece of vinyl tubing to that outlet. Next, I had my friend start the van as I watched the dark fluid exit the converter. After two quarts got pumped out, I stopped the van and added the amount that was lost. I repeated this process until the amount of fluid that was pumped out plus the amount that I drained from the pan exceeds the capacity of the unit. For me, the unit holds 6 quarts. I drained 2.5 out of the pan, flushed 5.25 quarts out through the cooler lines, then used the remainder to top-of the system. Now, the fluid is bright red and the transmission shifts much smoother than it did on the muddy looking fluid.
 
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