Lifetime ATF in a 2011 Corolla

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739
Location
North Carolina
I don't buy into this theory. I do understand that companies recommend these service intervals to somewhat "prevent" the shade-tree mechanic from causing havoc, and that they are in the business of "return business." However, I hope to turn this Toyota into a 250,000-350,000 mile car many years from now, so YES TOYOTA, I WANT TO CHANGE MY ATF. This comes from speaking with the parts desk. Let's review the transcript: "Good morning, yes sir, I'd like the price of the Toyota WS Automatic Transmission Fluid." Parts guy, "What vehicle?" Me, "2011 Toyota Corolla." Parts guy, "That car doesn't require the ATF to be changed." Me, "I know." Parts genius, "Then why do you want to change the ATF." Me, "Because I do." Parts fella, "Hold-on." Fumbles phone while mumbling to someone, "$8.99/qt." Me, "Thank you sir." It could have been worse. The 10,000 mile scheduled maintenance will be performed this week and I wish to change the ATF next weekend. This would be a pan drop, magnetic/screen cleaning, and fluid flush via the fluid cooler line. The reason for doing this at 10,000, TO REMOVE BREAK-IN METALS TOYOTA. A few thoughts/questions: Would a simple plug removal and fill do what I want to occur? That is removing the metal and chemicals associated with break-in procedures. This would be cheaper as I would not have to purchase a transmission pan gasket. I’m not convinced it will and I'm not into dropping half the sump and replacing with new, just to do it again in 10,000 miles. On to ATF’s. This car is still under the 3-year/36,000 mile warranty. As I don’t expected any issues associated with this ATF exchange, how liable am I if I perhaps selected the Amsoil Synthetic Fuel Efficient Automatic Transmission Fluid at $8.90 plus shipping, which is rated for the Toyota WS specification. Amsoil over the original Toyota WS ATF for $8.99 (dealership quote per quart). I guess my true question is, with some ATF manufacturers listing meeting factory spec’s such as the Toyota WS and later finding out that they drop this specification for whatever reason, how stringent and trustworthy can I be in say Amsoil’s current spec as meeting the Toyota WS standard? An example of this, Mobil1’s ATF specification for the T-IV only to be dropped or the Redline D6 ATF spec’d for low viscosity equivalency only to begin recommending D4. I can see you post now, “If you’re that worried about it, stick with Toyota WS.” Being as anal retentive as we are here on BITOG, I simply want the best product to serve in equipment that I want to serve me for years to come. How does the Magnusson-Moss Act play into a situation where the non-OEM manufacturer drops the “spec’d” standard? Does that become a liability of the AFT manufacturer because I highly doubt anything would come of that. Simply put, how reliable are the standard meeting spec’s quoted by manufacturers?
 
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1,676
Location
Waldorf, Maryland
I never heard of anyone changing ATF ay 10,000 to eliminate break in metals ! I think this is crazy. 30,000 to 50,000 would be VERY conservative. 100,000 would be reasonable. BUT, as they say it is your car and do with it as you desire.
 
Messages
918
Location
Florida, USA
Jim Allen has reported that an automatic transmission generates 75% of its lifetime wear material within the first 5k of its life, primarily from break-in wear and manufacturing contaminants. He recommends a full fluid change at 5k, then a normal interval afterwards. A Magnefine in-line filter would be a wise install as well, but I'm not sure how that may affect your warranty.
 

JOD

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3,577
Location
PNW/WA
my own thoughts in no particular order -lifetime fluids are going to make for a shorter life -I think there's a lot of evidence that most contaminants in an AT show up very early -filters are a good idea, and installing one if not equipped is probably worth it. -I wouldn't drop the pan unless it's leaking, unless you don't have a drain plug. I just think it's more trouble than it's worth. -your safest best is to use the OEM spec'd fluid, and it's the route I'd choose. Shop around at different dealers should get you a better price. If I were in your shoes, I'd probably install a Magnifine and do a single drain and fill (assuming you have a drain plug??), then do a cooler line flush in 5-10K to get all new fluid in there. After that, I'd just do drain and fills at a reasonable interval (15-20K depending on how high a % of fluid you get out during a drain/fill) and change the filter at the specified interval. At that rate, barring bad luck the transmission should stay in service until the car meets the scrap heap.
 

cancov

Thread starter
Messages
739
Location
North Carolina
Originally Posted By: JOD
If I were in your shoes, I'd probably install a Magnifine and do a single drain and fill (assuming you have a drain plug??), then do a cooler line flush in 5-10K to get all new fluid in there.
I'm at 10,000
 
Messages
5,507
Location
Florida
Wow, and I thought I was anal. The magnet inside the tranny is there for a reason. If Toyota says the fluid is good for 20 years and 200-300k miles for the average Joe, then it must be so hide Seriously though, I think even a fluid change would net small results as all the metals are on the magnet so very little shavings will be floating in the oil. I say you get at least 30,000 miles outta the oem fluid before dumping it for something else. At that point, install a filter like others have suggested as well as a magnetic oil pan drain bolt to further aid in metal collection that you will remove during each oil change. My 98 Camry V6 got 60k fluid changes from day one. 15 years and 212,000 miles later, the tranny functions perfectly and shifts very smooth. Can't even feel the shift half the time after it warmed up. I've never touched the inside of the pan. Just simple 2x drain n fill 100 miles apart every 60k with M1 synthetic (now using Amsoil) If you're that crazy, how about flushing the brake fluid and power steering fluid as well. I'm sure there's some break-in junk floating around in there as well. Lol. Seriously though, I wouldn't bother with the oil pan / magnet cleaning until at least 60-100k. Give it plenty of time to collect a bunch of metal. With you wanting to make the car last 200k gives me the assumption that you won't be beating on it, so even with the oem fluid, it will last you 200k with ease. No need for excessive maintenance.
 
Messages
192
Location
Colorado springs CO, USA
I have experience with Toyota lifetime fill WS trans fluid in Lexus and toyota trucks from being a technician for them up until 2009. I am going to answer this the best I can from the top of my head. I do not know the exact layout of the 2011 corolla but I am going to tell you how it worked in the trucks. First question is do you have a way to fill this trans once you drain it ? on the trucks there is a fill plug in the side of the transmission case BUT it is NOT as simple as drain and fill. To fill Toyota had a very lengthy procedure that invovled reading the transmission fluid temp using the factory scan tool and filling it at a very specific 5-10 degree F range. If you did a drain and fill alone and the fluid was not up to the write temp you would underfill it by up to 2 quarts. The procedure invovled topping it off then driving the vehicle for a specified mileage, then lift truck again, check fluid temp and add more fluid and they would have us repeat this process 3 or 4 times unitl it was full at the specified tempurature after the specified mileage. If you did not follow this procedure you would UNDERFILL the transmission and cause damage. I tell you this story just to let you know that just because there is a fill plug it is not always as simple as drain and fill. We did this rarely as maint. at customer request and when intstalling new trans assemblies under warranty or C/P. I know some other manufacturers have similar procedures for their lifetime ATF's but this is my experience specifically with Toyota W/S lifetime ATF systems in GX470,LX470, 4runner and sequoia trucks. I do not know off the top of my head if yours has the same type of procedure and I am not telling you not to change your fluid I am simply telling you this as a caution to make sure it's done right. I can also tell you that on at least a half a dozen cases when a customer attempted to change lifetime fill W/S on their own or at an independant and caused transmission failure that Toyota ALWAYS denied the warranty claim.
 
Messages
192
Location
Colorado springs CO, USA
sorry for the long reply and I am not trying to tell you not to change your fluid, you would be very hard pressed to find a single Toyota technician that beleived that any tranny fluid is really a lifetime fill. I know that Toyota even went to warranty arbitration in front of a judge with one of our customers who attempted to change it himself and damaged the transmission. The judge ruled in Toyotas favor because the fluid is designated lifetime and the transmission is designated "non-serviceable" and therefore the customer assumed all risk. If I were in your shoes and I wanted a fluid change I would find a shop willing to to a complete fluid exchange with a flush machine and I would not drop the pan. Just my advice. I personally would buy 3 quarts extra of the Amsoil or W/S fluid and have them use it all in the flush machine, this would ensure complete fluid exchange and get it as clean as possible. I would not let them use any flush chemicals "BG,Wynn" or anything like that only the fresh fluid. My 2 cents FWIW
 
Messages
23,711
Location
CA
Some of the 4-speed autos that used WS do have a dipstick. The RAV4 was one of them I believe, not sure if the Corolla is. If it is, then great. If not, go get a copy of the instructions and a $60 cable for Techstream and do the job yourself. I changed the WS on my Prius at 15k, but this one does not require the scan tool for level check. I did a flush on a co-worker's Yaris at 90k with 12 qt of WS. The fluid was mud and turned purple only several weeks after the flush. But the transmission never shifted much differently after the change so perhaps the fluid was not truly toast. Today's transmissions don't have chunks in the fluid from break-in so the early changes probably are not necessary. 250-300k is probably unrealistic on today's complex cars anyway since components may be more precisely manufactured and design to meet certain certain lifespan goals. I doubt these components are as overbuilt as they used to be. 150-200k is probably more realistic. The original fluid will probably be OK for that long. Everyone may say Amsoil is better, but the fact is, Amsoil was not tested extensively in every Toyota WS application that it is being recommended for.
 
Messages
25,689
Location
Upstate NY
I would go with a Magnefine filter regardless. It will pick up almost all ferrous metal and other crud over 30 microns. I would do that while you are thinking what to do. You can order it from our sponsor or even NAPA has it, although it nay have a few other labels on top of the Magnefine label. Does your vehicle have a dipstick? +1 on Amsoil ATF.
 
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Messages
102
Location
OH - IO
Quote:
I have experience with Toyota lifetime fill WS trans fluid in Lexus and toyota trucks from being a technician for them up until 2009. I am going to answer this the best I can from the top of my head. I do not know the exact layout of the 2011 corolla but I am going to tell you how it worked in the trucks. First question is do you have a way to fill this trans once you drain it ? on the trucks there is a fill plug in the side of the transmission case BUT it is NOT as simple as drain and fill. To fill Toyota had a very lengthy procedure that invovled reading the transmission fluid temp using the factory scan tool and filling it at a very specific 5-10 degree F range. If you did a drain and fill alone and the fluid was not up to the write temp you would underfill it by up to 2 quarts. The procedure invovled topping it off then driving the vehicle for a specified mileage, then lift truck again, check fluid temp and add more fluid and they would have us repeat this process 3 or 4 times unitl it was full at the specified tempurature after the specified mileage. If you did not follow this procedure you would UNDERFILL the transmission and cause damage.
Wouldn't this be a case of just draining the pan cold, measuring the amount of fluid, adding this amount of new fluid take care of this? Or removing the cooler line and adding what fluid came out? I have a hard time understanding why the only way to accurately measure the amount of fluid going into a cold tranny is to get it up to temp first...
 
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Messages
427
Location
Cincinnati, OH
Originally Posted By: MaximusD
Wouldn't this be a case of just draining the pan cold, easuring the amount of fluid, adding this amount of new fluid take care of this? Or removing the cooler line and adding what fluid came out? I have a hard time understanding why the only way to accurately measure the amount of fluid going into a cold tranny is to get it up to temp first...
That's how I did it to the sealed tranny on my Nitro, which I know is different from a small FWD car. I had the same concerns as the OP. I'm not sure if the Corolla even has a removable pan. I know a lot for FWD autos don't. I agree about cleaning out the pan. Here's my post with a pic of my pan at 40k miles. http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=2060806#Post2060806
 
Messages
192
Location
Colorado springs CO, USA
Originally Posted By: MaximusD
Quote:
I have experience with Toyota lifetime fill WS trans fluid in Lexus and toyota trucks from being a technician for them up until 2009. I am going to answer this the best I can from the top of my head. I do not know the exact layout of the 2011 corolla but I am going to tell you how it worked in the trucks. First question is do you have a way to fill this trans once you drain it ? on the trucks there is a fill plug in the side of the transmission case BUT it is NOT as simple as drain and fill. To fill Toyota had a very lengthy procedure that invovled reading the transmission fluid temp using the factory scan tool and filling it at a very specific 5-10 degree F range. If you did a drain and fill alone and the fluid was not up to the write temp you would underfill it by up to 2 quarts. The procedure invovled topping it off then driving the vehicle for a specified mileage, then lift truck again, check fluid temp and add more fluid and they would have us repeat this process 3 or 4 times unitl it was full at the specified tempurature after the specified mileage. If you did not follow this procedure you would UNDERFILL the transmission and cause damage.
Wouldn't this be a case of just draining the pan cold, measuring the amount of fluid, adding this amount of new fluid take care of this? Or removing the cooler line and adding what fluid came out? I have a hard time understanding why the only way to accurately measure the amount of fluid going into a cold tranny is to get it up to temp first...
You are on the right path, I am sorry that my original posts did not allude to this, the reason for the complex manufacturer process is because they do not publish a SERVICE procedure at all, even internally, they expect no one to service these transmissions so the process I described is intended for use when replacing a transmission assembly, which do not come completely full and must account for fluid lost in cooler lines. The reason I posted this procedure is to point out that it is not as simple as a standard drain and fill. If you ask any shop to do a drain and fill, on a diff, tcase, manual trans or a trans with a dip-stick they will usually never measure the drained fluid, they "just pull the plug and wait" then fill. It would be easy for someone not familiar with the Toyota product to assume that if they "filled it until fluid came out of the fill hole" that would be sufficient. My point is that it is not. that if you do that at the wrong temp you will underfill the transmission.
 
Messages
1,668
Location
VA
I had a similar exchange with a parts guy over WS. He asked me why I wanted to change it, since "they tell us it's good for 100,000 miles." The 29,000 mile fluid from my 2010 Vibe looked like motor oil. I'm not sure what trans you have, but here's my experience: The Vibe (a Matrix in Pontiac clothes) has the 1.8 and U341E 4-speed. It has a drain plug in the pan and the filter is the felt type, not a metal screen. A pan drain takes about 2.6 quarts, and it took 3 quarts to refill after dropping the pan to replace the filter. There is a dipstick/fill tube. I want to install a Magnefine and possibly a small cooler, but space is tight and I haven't decided on the best routing. Changing the ATF on the Vibe is easier than an oil change--I would say do it now and don't involve the dealer. If you're really against multiple pan drains, you could do a cooler line flush yourself. Some people may call this overkill, but it will give you peace of mind if nothing else. In my case, the first drain looked so bad that I changed again and had a UOA done. Aluminum came back high, so I drained the pan once more and then did a pan drop to change the filter. The two magnets had some paste and a few slivers, but there was no other material in the pan. I have no authority to comment on fluids. Since you're still in warranty, the safe choice would be Toyota WS. In another two years, there may be clearer options in aftermarket fluids or more real-world experience with them.
 
Messages
19,685
Location
Sunny Florida
not even that difficult. Pump it out through the line just until the line bubbles, shut car off, add ATF in regular manner to pan capacity, repeat until fluid from line is clear and new.
 
Messages
1,777
Location
Pennsylvania
I got the same runaround when I purchased WS fluid for my 2008 Sienna. I was able to purchase 5 quarts at $8/quart. The nice thing about the Sienna is it still has a dipstick. Drained 4.25 quarts and replaced the exact aamount. Also included 8oz or Lubegard Red in the fluid.
 
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Messages
5,507
Location
Florida
Originally Posted By: Slick17601
I got the same runaround when I purchased WS fluid for my 2008 Sienna. I was able to purchase 5 quarts at $8/quart. The nice thing about the Sienna is it still has a dipstick. Drained 4.25 quarts and replaced the exact aamount. Also included 8oz or Lubegard Red in the fluid.
I always have any engine / transmission fluid topped off all the way to the top dot on the dipstick, so whatever amount of fluid comes out, i put in the same amount. Always works out perfectly and i end up with just the right amount of juice. I'm all up for dumping the factory oil and using a higher quality synthetic but at the same time, it's always good to wait at least a few years and let someone else be the guinea pig to make sure the aftermarket fluid is compatible, esp on new model cars where a new type of fluid is used. I say, if you wish to change the fluid, use the factory lube until the warranty is up and by then, you should be able to use a good aftermarket synthetic replacement, which lasts longer and will be able to protect the transmission better (hopefully) as it ages.
 

cancov

Thread starter
Messages
739
Location
North Carolina
Thanks for all the replies. This is why I appreciate BITOG, there are different opinions and experiences. Car specific forums can get too "customizey," in that mostly what is discussed is asthetic. After reading this thread a couple times and thinking over the weeked, I think I will look into getting the supplies to do a pan drop to replace the filter and clean the magnet, and evacuate as much of the factory fill by way of the cooling line. I've performed this on a few other vehicles sucessfully, and yes, I do check the ATF level while at operating temperature. I will replace with Toyota WS now and perhaps around 40,000, switch to Amsoil Low Viscosity ATF, so that I run into no problems with warranties. At the rate I drive now, that will only be about 1 1/2 years. Appreciate the input fellows.
 
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