First Transmission Fluid Change at High Mileage (100,000+)?

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Oct 2, 2009
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My son's 2010 Toyota Corolla has 100,000 miles on it. Transmission fluid never changed. Friends 2009 Venza; same thing.

I have seen several options discussed:
1. Only do one drain and fill.
2. Do several drain and fills.
3. Drain, fill. Then unhook transmission line and let transmission pump fluid out, replacing one quart at every quart pumped out. Do this until fluid runs clean (this is what I typically do).
4. Do transmission flush with flush machine. No one seems to recommend this out of concern that deposits will be broken loose and cause damage.
5. Do nothing. Because the transmission fluid was not changed earlier then deposits have built up. If you do any of the above 1-4 you run the risk of damaging the transmission.

Toyota says don't do anything as fluid is lifetime: this is pure bunk IMO. Car Care Nut (CCN) guy says only do 1 or 2. But if high mileage, do 5 (nothing). I really respect CCN but he never showed any evidence of 1 or 2 causing a problem with high mileage transmission.

To those that advocate 5, I have never seen anyone produce evidence that 1-3 ever caused a documented problem. But maybe I have missed that in my internet searches.

So please, provide your recommendations. And provide any proof you have, for or against any of the options.

Thanks.
 
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I just finished a ATF cooler line flush on a Dodge Avenger first change. Right at 101 K miles. This is the infamous 62TE transmission using Supertech ATF+4 fluid. Everything is just fine, no issues to report.
 
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IMO, if a transmission is already on the way out, there is no saving it with a fluid change. Once it starts slipping, it needs to be R&R'ed.

Whenever I see "lifetime fluid" I make the change interval whatever the powertrain warranty was originally. If it came with a 5 year 50k warranty for example, that is what the manufacturer expected the lifetime of that unit to be.
 
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Oh man. You realize that all of the answers will be anecdotal opinions with no data or facts to support them. 100,000 miles is not terribly old. I am not even against number 4 with an exchange type machine utilizing the tranny pump. I have done 1 through 4 with no noticeable bad effects or differences (my anecdote).

The consensus here at this time (vs. next month,etc.) will probably be to drop the pan, clean it, install new filter and refill one time to not "shock" the system (LOL). Then at some shorter interval than 30K, maybe do a few more dump and fills to get the fluid closer to new. Then, pick your regimen for fluid renewal every 30K to 60K.
 
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#4. If the transmission fails because you service it then it was going to fail anyway. I like a line flush because the fluid passes through the transmission at the normal flow rates and pressure.
 
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1) Do a single drain and fill. Repeat it on a schedule (15k, 20k, 30k, etc miles - take a pick as none are right or wrong).

And provide any proof you have, for or against any of the options.
No one has or can provide proof. Their experiences with a handful or vehicles isn't "proof" either, it's just their experience.

Don't overthink this. New fluid is better than old fluid.
 
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Hall is right, anecdotes are not proof.

My SIL changed the fluid on her 2016 Nissan Rogue with 125,000 Km (78,000 miles) and the CVT transmission started doing "funny stuff" within a week and packed it in within 2 weeks. That's not proof but it sure is suspicious.
 
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A drain and fill 2-3 times should be enough and will replace most of the fluid. That's all thats needed to keep stuff clean. If it has a user replaceable filter you could consider replacing that, or not.
 
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Do a spill and fill. Easy peasy. I think 2010 still uses a dipstick. Even easier.
Then do another in a hunnerd miles or whatever. But a couple of gallons of Maxlife and you are set.

Good luck.
Personally, this is what i have done and have always had success with it.
 
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Anecdotally, I helped a buddy do option #3 on a Tacoma a few years back at 160k on factory fill WS. Its still rolling strong with Maxlife at over 190k now.
 
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Hall is right, anecdotes are not proof.

My SIL changed the fluid on her 2016 Nissan Rogue with 125,000 Km (78,000 miles) and the CVT transmission started doing "funny stuff" within a week and packed it in within 2 weeks. That's not proof but it sure is suspicious.


Funny. I changed the CVT fluid on my Nissan Altima VQ with 283,500 miles a couple of times and it helped it run much better and quieter.

That CVT in that SIL vehicle was on it's way our well before anyone changed that fluid.

Unless that CVT fluid was really that badly formulated.
 
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That CVT in that SIL vehicle was on it's way our well before anyone changed that fluid.

Unless that CVT fluid was really that badly formulated.
That could be right but there had been no symptoms up to that point. All we can say is that the timing seems suspicious.

The fluid was changed at the Nissan dealer so it was likely an appropriate fluid.
 
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This car should have a drain plug and a dipstick, so a fluid change couldn't be easier. Do one drain-fill and see how it goes. If everything is OK after a few weeks, you could do a second, and then maybe even drop the pan and change the filter.

On the 4-speed, a pan drain should take about 2.7 quarts. If it has never been changed, you can probably reuse the factory drain plug gasket, but get a few from NAPA just in case. Part number ATM PB2403 is a nice thick washer that can be reused a few times. The filter in the 4-speed has an actual felt element, not a wire screen. The plug takes a 10mm Allen head socket.
 
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This car should have a drain plug and a dipstick, so a fluid change couldn't be easier. Do one drain-fill and see how it goes. If everything is OK after a few weeks, you could do a second, and then maybe even drop the pan and change the filter.

On the 4-speed, a pan drain should take about 2.7 quarts. If it has never been changed, you can probably reuse the factory drain plug gasket, but get a few from NAPA just in case. Part number ATM PB2403 is a nice thick washer that can be reused a few times. The filter in the 4-speed has an actual felt element, not a wire screen. The plug takes a 10mm Allen head socket.
Terrific answer. That's "Bob" at its best. What you need to know to do the job.
 
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That could be right but there had been no symptoms up to that point. All we can say is that the timing seems suspicious.

The fluid was changed at the Nissan dealer so it was likely an appropriate fluid.


That transmission was on it's way out...

New correct fluid in all likelihood never " causes" a real problem.

New oil, new friction modifiers or in the case of CVT oils new coefficient of traction modifiers are not going to cause a total break down of the transmission.
 

Peteco

Thread starter
Joined
Oct 2, 2009
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This car should have a drain plug and a dipstick, so a fluid change couldn't be easier. Do one drain-fill and see how it goes. If everything is OK after a few weeks, you could do a second, and then maybe even drop the pan and change the filter.

On the 4-speed, a pan drain should take about 2.7 quarts. If it has never been changed, you can probably reuse the factory drain plug gasket, but get a few from NAPA just in case. Part number ATM PB2403 is a nice thick washer that can be reused a few times. The filter in the 4-speed has an actual felt element, not a wire screen. The plug takes a 10mm Allen head socket.
Thanks. Just curious since it looks like you are familiar with this vehicle. Why not do 2 or 3 drain-fills or even the fluid pump-out process ( #3)? Have you seen problems doing this? Not trying to talk you out of your suggestion, but looking for rationale.
 
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I suggested trying one drain/fill and seeing how it goes because you seemed unsure about doing it with high miles. The ideal would probably be two drain/fills and a pan drop/filter change. Then you would have mostly new fluid, and could do additional drain/fills on a schedule like every 30k. If the trans is OK now, it's doubtful that new fluid will hurt it.

Some people will say that #3 changes most of the fluid at once and therefore wastes less oil. That is true, but the drain plug makes this job so simple that I'm willing to use a few more quarts for a cleaner process that doesn't disturb the cooler lines.

My experience is from a 1.8/U341E Vibe I bought with 29k. I drained the ATF first thing, and it looked like used motor oil. So I drained again and sent a sample to Blackstone. It showed aluminum was way high, so I did another drain and filter change. Then I started doing a pan drain at every oil change and sampling every other time to see if Al went down. It did trend down, everything else looked good, and the trans always worked fine. Eventually I slacked off to a drain/fill every other oil change or more until the car was totaled in a wreck.
 
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