Early transmission fluid change?

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188
Location
WA
A lot of people (including myself) change out the factory lubricants in the motor and the differentials early, within the first 2000 miles or so. I did this on my last truck, and included the manual transmission. My new truck has one of those "sealed" automatics that are supposed to be good for 100k miles. Aside from getting into an argument with a dealer about whether it's necessary, do you recommend doing an early flush on the transmission, or leave it alone? I don't know what a full transmission service costs, so I don't know what is involved.
 
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8,859
Location
Texas
 Originally Posted By: MisterBen
A lot of people (including myself) change out the factory lubricants in the motor and the differentials early, within the first 2000 miles or so. I did this on my last truck, and included the manual transmission. My new truck has one of those "sealed" automatics that are supposed to be good for 100k miles. Aside from getting into an argument with a dealer about whether it's necessary, do you recommend doing an early flush on the transmission, or leave it alone? I don't know what a full transmission service costs, so I don't know what is involved.
If it were mine, I'd leave it alone. ATs don't produce the same kind of initial rush of wear particles that an engine does. They do throw off some clutch material, but its well within the ability of the filter to take care of it. They don't need any special break-in oils either. By the way... what brand of truck is using a dipstickless transmission now? Toyota? I know that Chrysler is using them in the LX cars, but last time I looked (a 2008 Ram 1500) Dodge trucks still had dipsticks. I had a real hate-fest for dipstickless automatics when they first came out, but when you think about it the service procedure for them is exactly the same as its ALWAYS been for manual transmissions. I guess its not that big a deal- check the level at the fill hole every oil change, more often if you start seeing spots where you park the car.
 
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6,388
Location
Washington St.
"Sealed" transmissions aren't. As 440 says, they have a drain, a fill plug, and a vent just like a manual transmission or a differential case. In any case, don't bother draining. If you'd feel better, put a Magnefine or SPX Filtran in-line filter in the cooler line.
 

MisterBen

Thread starter
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188
Location
WA
2009 Toyota Tacoma 5-speed. No, it's not completely sealed, but Toyota's mentality appears that way for the consumer. I will leave it alone then, but I don't think I can stomach going 100k with it. It doesn't have a towing package on it and does not include a transmission cooler - at least not the standard external. I think it still has the radiator cooler, just not the one that sits in front of it. I am planning a trip through the desert, and will spend a couple days in Death Valley at the beginning of the summer. Should I add a transmission cooler? Toyota says it's not needed unless I will be towing, but it's going to be very hot and we will probably be doing some slow driving through backroads and probably hilly conditions. ETA: checking fluid level is a little complicated in this transmission. You have to have it at the proper temperature range, and then it amounts to removing the check plug on the bottom, and seeing how much fluid comes out. If it's a trickle or a lot - you either have just enough or too much. If none, it's probably low and needs to be topped off - until more comes out. Interesting strategy. :)
 
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Messages
25,210
Location
Upstate NY
 Originally Posted By: Eddie
Sealed units usually/probably have a special additive package. One must be extra carefull about just changing to make one feel good.
This sounds like pure HYPE. Why would GM or Honda or whatever use an additive when they already spec their own ATF. Makes no sense.
 
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1,412
Location
Falls Church VA
Friend said his car has sealed automatic transmission. When he queried the repair techs, they said there is almost never any problem until after 100,000 miles. Were it mine, and were I planning to hang on to it, I'd likely change it out before "lifetime", maybe about 30,000 max.
 

MisterBen

Thread starter
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188
Location
WA
 Originally Posted By: Dick in Falls Church
Friend said his car has sealed automatic transmission. When he queried the repair techs, they said there is almost never any problem until after 100,000 miles. Were it mine, and were I planning to hang on to it, I'd likely change it out before "lifetime", maybe about 30,000 max.
I was thinking maybe 30k or 50k intervals. I can't remember what "severe service" requirements are.
 
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3,669
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Definately don't go 100K, even if you do easy driving. I'm not sure why they say 100K, maybe so they can make money by replacing your tranny? I would say you're safe doing 50K intervals, maybe 30K for the FF.
 
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4,622
Location
Western Washington
 Originally Posted By: 440Magnum
I had a real hate-fest for dipstickless automatics when they first came out, but when you think about it the service procedure for them is exactly the same as its ALWAYS been for manual transmissions.
Well, it's a PITA to check the level under the rig, and it has to be at some exact temperature. And to refill you can't just fill through the dipstick, once again you have to get under the rig to do it. No thanks :no-no: AZfireguy did a great write up about it when he switched his over to Redline D-6 synthetic fluid. Here's the link for the OP if he wants to read it.. http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1378676&fpart=1 Oh yeah, don't wait 100k to change this stuff out. Pablo just mentioned that Amsoil is coming out with a WS compatible ATF very soon, that's what I'd stick in there. Probably do a complete flush at around 40k if it was my rig.
 
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8,756
Location
RI
Its not a PITA. You can check the pan temp with an IR gun. I've found a bunch of Toyota's underfilled from the factory a pint or more. I would definitely check the level NOW and change out the fluid every 30k-50k via full cooler line flush. A transmission cooler is a worthy update for EVERY transmission that doesn't have one.
 
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8,756
Location
RI
Yep, verified IR gun with ECU. Gotta have a 'trusty' baseline before using the method for 'all' vehicles in the future. Toy isn't the only automaker where I've seen low factory fill levels. I'm a little surprised by the amount of 'ends, trannies, and 'cases that are too low from the factory.
 

JTK

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13,161
Location
Buffalo, NY
I swapped out the ATF in the "sealed" 4L30E in my 2002 Isuzu Rodeo around 15-20Kmi, the old stuff looked as good as new. Also did a swap out on the 4L60E in my 2005 Trailblazer. Also looked really good. From what I've experienced, differentials and transfer cases tend to look horrible after ~24Kmi. You're best off doing the trans somewhere after 36-40Kmi. Joel
 
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Messages
4,622
Location
Western Washington
 Originally Posted By: unDummy
Its not a PITA. You can check the pan temp with an IR gun.
OK, let's compare methods of checking the ATF fluid. Method with dipstick... 1) Pull hood release lever. 2) Prop up the hood. 3) Pull dipstick and look. If low, get your funnel and add through the dipstick tube. 4) Close hood, cuz you're done. Method with no dipstick. 1) Get out car ramps. 2) Drive car up on ramps, somehow making sure car is level. 3) Crawl under car with appropriate tool. 4) Make sure the fluid is at the correct temperature, 46C. How you do that with a gun, I don't know. 5) Remove plug for checking level. 6) To add fluid, crawl back out and find your fluid pump. 7) Crawl back under and pump more atf fluid into tranny. 8) When satisfied you have the correct level, replace the fill plug. 9) Crawl back out from under car. 10) Back car down ramps, put the ramps away. Below I've copied and pasted the official Toyota service method for an 05 Tundra. Sure seems like a PITA to me. I guess I just never want to be under my car when it's running. BEFORE TRANSMISSION FILL  This transmission requires Toyota Genuine ATF WS.  It is necessary to refill the transmission with the correct amount of fluid.  The vehicle must remain level while adjusting the transmission fluid level.  On vehicles equipped with active suspension, turn the suspension control switch OFF if it is necessary to jack up the vehicle with the engine running. 2. TRANSMISSION PAN FILL (a) Remove the refill plug and overflow plug. Fill the transmission through the refill hole until fluid begins to trickle out of the overflow tube. (c) Reinstall the overflow plug. 3. TRANSMISSION FILL (a) Fill the transmission with the correct amount of fluid as listed in the table below. (b) Reinstall the refill plug to avoid fluid splash. Repair Fill Amount Transmission pan and drain plug removal 1.3 L (1.37 US qts, 1.14 Imp qts) Transmission valve body removal 3.9 L (4.12 US qts, 3.43 Imp qts) Torque converter removal 5.3 L (5.60 US qts, 4.66 Imp qts) Entire transmission assembly 5.3 L (5.60 US qts, 4.66 Imp qts) HINT: If you cannot add the listed amount of fluid, do the following:  Install the refill plug.  Allow the engine to idle with the air conditioning OFF.  Move the shift lever through entire gear range to circulate fluid.  Wait for 30 seconds with the engine idling.  Stop the engine.  Remove the refill plug and add fluid.  Reinstall the refill plug. 4. FLUID CIRCULATION (a) Allow the engine to idle with the air conditioning OFF. (b) Move the shift lever through entire gear range to circulate fluid. 5. FLUID TEMPERATURE CHECK NOTICE: The fluid temperature should be less than 30C (86F) before beginning the fluid temperature check. (a) With hand-held tester (1) Connect the hand-held tester to the DLC3. (2) Select the tester menus: OBD/MOBD, ENGINE, DATA LIST and A/T. (3) Check A/T OIL TEMP. (4) Allow the engine to idle until the fluid temperature reaches 46C (115F). (b) Without hand-held tester (Using A/T OIL TEMP indicator) (1) Connect terminals between CG (4) and TC (13) of the DLC3 using SST. SST 09843-18040 (2) Move the shift lever back and forth between N and D every 1.5 seconds for six seconds. (3) The D shift indicator on the combination meter comes on for two seconds. This indicates that the fluid temperature check mode has been started. (4) The D shift indicator will come on again when the fluid temperature reaches 46C (115F) and will blink when it exceeds 56C (130F). (5) Allow the engine to idle until the fluid temperature reaches 46C (115F). 6. FLUID LEVEL CHECK NOTICE: The fluid temperature must be between 46C (115F) and 56C (130F) to accurately check the fluid level. (a) Remove the overflow plug with the engine idling. (b) Check that the fluid comes out of the overflow tube. If fluid does not come out, proceed to step 7. If fluid comes out, wait until the overflow slows to a trickle and proceed to step 8. 7. TRANSMISSION REFILL (a) Install the overflow plug. (b) Stop the engine. (c) Remove the refill plug. (d) Add 0.4 liters (0.42 US qts, 0.35 lmp qts) of fluid. (e) Allow the engine to idle and wait for 10 seconds. (f) Proceed to step 6. 8. COMPLETE (a) Install the overflow plug with a new gasket. Torque: 20 NVm (205 kgfVcm, 15 ftVlbf) (b) Stop the engine. (c) Install the refill plug with a new gasket. Torque: 39 NVm (400 kgfVcm, 29 ftVlbf)
 
Messages
491
Location
Arlington, TX
I always change mine out early than recommended. For me, i changed mine out at around 15k miles when i bought my truck new. Then afterward do whatever interval that lets you sleep safely at night.
 
Messages
8,756
Location
RI
If you're lazy, have no common sense, and don't have mechanical aptitude, then of course its a PITA. Redline D6 is another option. Supertech DexronVI is if you're a rebel too. Amsoil might have a WS equivalent soon. And WS isn't too hard to find online or at the dealership. I don't need ramps. My garage floor is level. I refill with a pint to a quart more then I drain out. My last Toyota: pull drain plug(atf was hot), reinstall drain plug, pull fill plug, fill with equivalent amount plus a quart, take vehicle for ride, pan is similar temp as ATF, measure pan temp with IR, pull overflow plug, let excess drain out, reinstall overflow plug and be done. Also, haven't had any need to replace plug washers(use a torque wrench and most will last forever). Never had a plug leak either. Takes less then 30 minutes every time. Dipstick requires ATF also to be at correct temp. Temp is often overlooked and is why many people with dipsticks have inaccurate ATF level. We call that user error. Many dipsticks have weird angular bends to them making them difficult to insert and some sticks pull ATF up into the tube so you get only 1 good reading. Easy to fill thru tube but requires extractor or 'loose' drainplug to drain when overfilled. And most ATF tubes fill slowly. When it comes to accuracy, ATF temp is critical. This might be why some transmissions do not give braindead owners a dipstick to use. Automakers are trying to prevent owner errors. The removal of the dipstick isn't to save money. Its to prevent owner incompetence. Too many wannabee backyard hacks out there.
 
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