Toyota WS color at 50,000 miles

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Dec 28, 2014
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Bought a slightly used 2016 Avalon this summer with 50,200 miles on it. Immediately drain and filled the transmission (as there was no history of a service) and even for WS standards, I was shocked at the color. And this is not the first time I’ve run into this...owned a Lexus LS460 and did a spill and fill at 74,000 miles...very dark colored fluid, but I was able to get it “red” again after a couple spill and fills and a pan drop.

My Avalon has now had two spill and fills and a pan drop, filter replacement and whatever amount of WS it needed to reach proper fluid level (temp check, etc). So, I figured...it’s “red” now, but I recently pulled the plug after 8,000 miles of driving after the pan drop and it now looks dark purple/plum color. Two Darin and fills, one pan drop and fluid fill...and it still doesn’t look red? Thing shifts fine, great actually. No metal on the magnets and factory filter looked pretty darn good (I cut it open).

I know WS can change color pretty quickly, but I’m still surprised of the color after all these fluid changes from 50,000-64,000 miles where it sits at now. These are pictures of my initial spill and fill and my last one, with new fluid as a comparison in the first picture.
 

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Don't use the dealer sourced fluid. Switch to Amsoil, Redline, Lubegard or other full synthetic compatible fluid.
If using OE fluid, I'd guess that it is a manufactured by king of marketing/profit ExxonMobil.
If you don't want to use the mentioned multifluids, try another brand of WS specific, like the Aisin, Ravenol, Eneos, Idemitsu...
 
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I never did comparisons on a white bucket like yours, but I read on here some time ago that the Toyota brand WS turns purple with use, even though it starts out red. While pouring it into the funnel, I always thought the clean WS had a little more of a raspberry tint than most ATFs.

I bought a Vibe with about 29k miles and drained the pan soon after. That fluid looked about like your "before" comparison, with the addition of a creamy gray cast. I changed it again soon after and took a sample, which came back flagged for high aluminum.

I immediately dropped the pan and did a filter change, then started draining the fluid every oil change and sampling once per year. Toyota's WS was getting expensive with those regular changes, so I eventually switched to Maxlife. Aluminum kept trending down and the trans worked fine until the insurance company totaled it for a parking lot wreck last fall.
 

doublebase

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I never did comparisons on a white bucket like yours, but I read on here some time ago that the Toyota brand WS turns purple with use, even though it starts out red. While pouring it into the funnel, I always thought the clean WS had a little more of a raspberry tint than most ATFs.

I bought a Vibe with about 29k miles and drained the pan soon after. That fluid looked about like your "before" comparison, with the addition of a creamy gray cast. I changed it again soon after and took a sample, which came back flagged for high aluminum.

I immediately dropped the pan and did a filter change, then started draining the fluid every oil change and sampling once per year. Toyota's WS was getting expensive with those regular changes, so I eventually switched to Maxlife. Aluminum kept trending down and the trans worked fine until the insurance company totaled it for a parking lot wreck last fall.
The funny thing is, I’ve owned a transmission before that required the WS fluid and after a pan drop and a drain and fill, it looked red and “new” for the remainder of the time I owned that vehicle (another 110,00 miles). I did yearly spill and fills on that thing...I drove a lot, around 26,000 a year so I figured doing a simple drain and fill was no big deal.

I plan on doing the same with this car, but this is my third spill and fill (one with the pan drop and filter change) and it still doesn’t look “good”. I guess I’m not really worried about it, but I still find it strange.
 

doublebase

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Many transmission problems on the FJ forums using WS fluid. I am not impressed with it. I switched ours to Maxlife.
I keep hearing people say they use the Maxlife fluid...I’m always worried about using something other than OE for transmissions and coolant, but I must say I see/hear about so many people with Toyota’s using that maxlife. No issues with it I assume? No weird shifts or 1-2 flares? I’ve used some aftermarket stuff in the past on a Honda and immediately it began shifting different. But that was 16 years ago, I might be willing to give it a try...it’s only $18 bucks for a five quart jug at Walmart.
 
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I keep hearing people say they use the Maxlife fluid...I’m always worried about using something other than OE for transmissions and coolant, but I must say I see/hear about so many people with Toyota’s using that maxlife. No issues with it I assume? No weird shifts or 1-2 flares? I’ve used some aftermarket stuff in the past on a Honda and immediately it began shifting different. But that was 16 years ago, I might be willing to give it a try...it’s only $18 bucks for a five quart jug at Walmart.

Toyota transmissions usually aren't picky with ATF. Maxlife will be fine in your Avalon :)

Another good choice is Castrol Full Synthetic ATF, when it's on sale.
 

doublebase

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Toyota transmissions usually aren't picky with ATF. Maxlife will be fine in your Avalon :)

Another good choice is Castrol Full Synthetic ATF, when it's on sale.
Yeah, I’ve heard nothing but good things about these transmissions, but I plan on doing spill and fills from here on out once a year or so. I’ve seen the Castrol tranny fluid at Walmart, I think it’s pretty cheap even when it’s not on sale.
 
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I'll be doing a drain and fill at my next oil change. I'm debating on whether to put in Amsoil or Idemitsu.
I'm curious to see how mine looks after about 7k of use. I had a pan drop and filter change done for me last May; didn't get to see the fluid then but wasn't told it was awful, either.
 

Astro14

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I think part of the problem is the drain and fill likely only gets 40% of the fluid. So, even three D&F haven’t gotten close to 100% fluid change. If you’d like a nice red color, or all new fluid, do a cooler line fluid exchange, not a drain and fill.
 
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I never did comparisons on a white bucket like yours, but I read on here some time ago that the Toyota brand WS turns purple with use, even though it starts out red. While pouring it into the funnel, I always thought the clean WS had a little more of a raspberry tint than most ATFs.

I bought a Vibe with about 29k miles and drained the pan soon after. That fluid looked about like your "before" comparison, with the addition of a creamy gray cast. I changed it again soon after and took a sample, which came back flagged for high aluminum.

I immediately dropped the pan and did a filter change, then started draining the fluid every oil change and sampling once per year. Toyota's WS was getting expensive with those regular changes, so I eventually switched to Maxlife. Aluminum kept trending down and the trans worked fine until the insurance company totaled it for a parking lot wreck last fall.
WS does tend to turn purple. Nothing wrong with it. Just it's nature. Is there anything particularly special about WS? Probably not. But think of the millions of Toyota/Lexus/Scion vehicles running around on factory fill with 100, 200, 300k+ miles. Never changed. It can't be that bad.

Old fluid on the left. Toyota Tacoma 4.0
 

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Many transmission problems on the FJ forums using WS fluid. I am not impressed with it. I switched ours to Maxlife.

Maybe it is the transmissions on the FJ; JMO

Not a fan of WS myself and would use Maxlife over it;

Some people are against multivehicle spec fluid but Toyota has chosen WS to use in a Prius which is basically a gearbox. So Toyota is basically saying WS is "multivehicle"; it can do it all, protect ATs for which it was designed and "other stuff too"
 
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It is my understanding that WS is not a synthetic fluid. I use MaxLife in older Toyotas.
I recently serviced our GS350 6 speed (67K) with Idemitsu WS equivalent.
I will service it 1 more time soon. Good luck.
That would be my choice, Aisin or Idemitsu, these can be Toyo/Lexus specific and I'd prefer an ATF made to specs than a one fits all.
 

doublebase

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I think part of the problem is the drain and fill likely only gets 40% of the fluid. So, even three D&F haven’t gotten close to 100% fluid change. If you’d like a nice red color, or all new fluid, do a cooler line fluid exchange, not a drain and fill.
It takes 6.9 quarts for a total fill, so I guess you might be right...I’m only able to get out 2.5 quarts or so on a spill and fill. Did that twice and a pan drop. Probably added 7 quarts total of new fluid, but when you think about it...this was spaced out over 14,000 miles or so. I imagine the first 4 quarts were pretty contaminated when mixed with that old fluid that was in there.

I’ll watch some videos on a cooler line exchange.
 
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I spill/fill WS both of my Toyotas, the T4R is cherry red GX470 lot of brown color to it neither really tow or are driven hard and I believe the transmissions are identical, almost perfect shifts a stumble situation is very rare.

Must be a difference in clutch material.
 
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Same to my RAV4 fluid, the factory fill at 68k miles was very dark, oxidized.
I swapped it with AISIN WS, full synthetic (shipped from Rockauto). Three drain/fills, separated by 200 mile drives.

20200209_121829 (2).jpg
 
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I think part of the problem is the drain and fill likely only gets 40% of the fluid. So, even three D&F haven’t gotten close to 100% fluid change.
The other method doesn't do a complete change either. The fresh fluid that comes in gets mixed with the old one in the torque converter, drain pan, valve body etc, before is pushed out.
Unless you have a drain plug in all of those places (some trucks have a drain plug in the TQ)...
 
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