Use your ATF dipstick, Jimmy

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Have a question about the automatic transmission dipstick. I don't understand why the "Cold" mark on the dipstick is near the bottom and the "Hot" mark is near the top. Shouldn't it be the opposite? When my '06 Camry LE with 25,000 miles is cold (after sitting all night) and I check the ATF dipstick, the fluid is no where near the "Cold" mark on the stick. In fact, the fluid is much higer up on the stick and actually * above * the "Hot" mark. And when the car is hot, the fluid on the stick goes down. The hotter the car is and/or the longer I drive the car, the lower the fluid goes on the stick. So far I've seen the fluid go as low as the midway point between the Hot mark and the Cold mark. This seems to be just the opposite of what's expected, since the Cold mark or notch on the stick is located closer to the bottom than the Hot mark. So my ATF fluid dipstick level basically acts similarly to how the motor oil acts on its dipstick. Right now, using T-IV if that makes a diff.
 
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Are you checking it on and idling in park? I always run it through the gears after starting up to check it cold. The fluid expands somewhat, thats why it should go higher.
 

Built_Well

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Hmm, well when I check the ATF level cold, I don't even start the car. So I'll try your suggestion, Onmo'Eegusee and tomcat. When I check it hot, though, I always idle the car and move the drive selector through each position from Park to Reverse, before looking at the fluid level. I guess I should be doing that at cold startup, too, when checking the fluid level. Thanks. I'll let you know what happens tomorrow.
 
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 Originally Posted By: Built_Well
Hmm, well when I check the ATF level cold, I don't even start the car. So I'll try your suggestion, Onmo'Eegusee and tomcat. When I check it hot, though, I always idle the car and move the drive selector through each position from Park to Reverse, before looking at the fluid level. I guess I should be doing that at cold startup, too, when checking the fluid level. Thanks. I'll let you know what happens tomorrow.
What the manufacture means by cold is: engine running just after start up and put into all the gears Hot: Transmission fluid at operating temp usually ~180-220 deg.
 
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My trick with the 2 Toyotas I wrench on is to start 'er up when cold, run through the gears and back and then check the cold level zone. Then I take a 15 minute freeway run and check it again after running through the gears again. I use this method on most auto trannies. Honda is the exception to the rule, they call for running through all the gears, then stopping the engine and checking the level within 90 seconds of shutting off the motor.
 
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Check your owners manual. It should state how to check the ATF level. Usually as nthach stated. In both situations, hot or cold, it needs to be checked with the car running with the selector in park and on level ground. I like to run through reverse and drive 3-4 times with about a count of five in each setting before checking, but that is just me. (some guy at a gas station tried to tell me it needed to be in drive when checked and offered to sit in the drivers seat with the brake on for me while I checked it....uh, no thanks bud). I like to go a good 14-20 miles at freeway speeds to get the ATF up to temp before checking it hot. The hot mark is the more accurate reading, and is more difficult given some of the curves in the dipstick tube. Sometimes you only have one shot at a good reading due to the curve in the dipstick. Have not found this to be problem with Toyota.
 
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It will say on the dipstick too,some Chrysler transmissions you check the fluid level in Nuetrual saying on the dipstick.GM has went this way too and I have on one 2003 Chevy Express fullsize van so far,said it on the dipstick
 

Built_Well

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Thanks very much for the great info :-) As soon as I turned on the car cold (from sitting overnight) and moved the shifter from P to 3-L and back to P, the ATF level dropped on the dipstick from above the Hot markings to below the Cold markings. The red fluid was about 3/8 of an inch below the lower of the 2 Cold notches. After driving on the highway for 15 or 20 miles, the fluid was just below the lower of the 2 Hot notches. So I added about an ounce or 1/32 quart of newly bought Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF (new formula). So now I have about one-half of a percent of M1 ATF in there and 99.5 percent T-IV. Think I'll do a drain-and-fill soon to increase the M1 to 40 or 50 percent of the total fluid. The Autozone where I bought the stuff only had 5 bottles of M1 Synthetic ATF a couple days ago (and only 3 of the bottles said "New Formula"). Today, the supply truck visited Autozone, so the store now has about 25 bottles of M1 Syntheic ATF on the shelf, but none of the newly supplied bottles say "New Formula" on them. Could they be the old formula, or has Mobil simply stopped adding the "New Formula" label onto new formula bottles?
 
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 Originally Posted By: wafrederick1
It will say on the dipstick too,some Chrysler transmissions you check the fluid level in Nuetrual saying on the dipstick.GM has went this way too and I have on one 2003 Chevy Express fullsize van so far,said it on the dipstick
Do you know if that also applies to the a604 transmissions also? My 2002 Dodge Neon has that transmission and they are notorious for failing like other automatic transmissions.
 
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A very few transmissions do not run the pump in PARK and that is why they want you to check in N. But that is the exception.
 

Built_Well

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You know how they say you can usually put in 1/4th of a quart extra or half a quart extra motor oil and not suffer any damage to your engine from windage, foaming, and other maladies. Although if you put in a full quart extra, you're taking chances. How much extra ATF can you safely put in without risking bad effects or damage? Looks like the '06 Camry LE 4-cylinder has either the U250E transmission or the U151E--hard to tell from the Amsoil site, but I think it's probably the U250E (which might possibly have a total fill figure of 7.4 quarts or so (not sure if I saw this number somewhere a while back or not--the U151E may be 9.x quarts). I think drain and refill is 3.7 quarts. How much more over the 3.7 quarts drain-and-refill amount can I safely put into the ATF dipstick tube, and not damage the transmission?
 
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 Originally Posted By: Donald
A very few transmissions do not run the pump in PARK and that is why they want you to check in N. But that is the exception.
RWD/4WD Dodges require checking in N because they do not circulate through the torque coverter or cooler lines in Park. But the pump runs at ALL times WHEN the engine is running. The pump is run by the outer shell of the the torque converter, which is bolted to the flywheel/flex plate, which is bolted to the crankshaft. I have always wondered why Dodges are this way. Seems like you could overheat the transmission/fluid on a hot day just idling in park.
 
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 Originally Posted By: Built_Well
You know how they say you can usually put in 1/4th of a quart extra or half a quart extra motor oil and not suffer any damage to your engine from windage, foaming, and other maladies. Although if you put in a full quart extra, you're taking chances. How much extra ATF can you safely put in without risking bad effects or damage? Looks like the '06 Camry LE 4-cylinder has either the U250E transmission or the U151E--hard to tell from the Amsoil site, but I think it's probably the U250E (which might possibly have a total fill figure of 7.4 quarts or so (not sure if I saw this number somewhere a while back or not--the U151E may be 9.x quarts). I think drain and refill is 3.7 quarts. How much more over the 3.7 quarts drain-and-refill amount can I safely put into the ATF dipstick tube, and not damage the transmission?
My parent's Sienna with the U151E took nearly 5 quarts when I pulled the pan off for a filter change.
 

Built_Well

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I wonder if the Sienna has a larger pan. The '08 Camry has the same 2AZ-FE engine as my '06, but the '08 takes more motor oil, according to its manual, possibly because of a larger pan.
 
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All Siennas minus the CE are equipped with the "towing package", which is tranny/PSF cooler with a upgraded radiator, higher output alt, and trailer prep. Ours is an LE.
 

Built_Well

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Man, that ATF oil cooler on the Camry must work really well. Last week I drove around town in super-humid, 100-degree weather for at least 5 or 10 miles (maybe more), and the ATF fluid on the dipstick was only halfway between the Cool notches and the Hot notches. With that cooler, I guess it takes highway driving to bring the ATF up enough in temperature to show it nearing the Hot notch. So thanks for that highway driving tip, Nthach. Before then, I had never checked the stick after driving on the highway, and so I had thought I was a 1/4 quart low. Guess not.
 

Built_Well

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Does anyone know if the bottles of Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF with the "New Formula" star logo on them are exactly the same as the bottles without the "New Formula" star logo? I was only able to get 3 of the "New Formula" bottles from Autozone--that's all they had, but I need at least one more quart-size bottle. The truck that supplied Autozone yesterday brought in 30 bottles of M1 Synthetic ATF, but none of the bottles have the "New Formula" star logo on them. Is it the same stuff? The back label mentions the exact same specs as the specs mentioned on the "New Formula" bottles. The only major difference between bottles is the "New Formula" bottles are light gray in color, while the other bottles are dark gray or closer to black. And of course one says "New Formula" and the other doesn't. I still need one more quart. I'm a very careful guy. Do you think I can safely use a quart of the regular bottles without the "New Formula" logo on them along with the 3 quarts of "New Formula" bottles? What's the diff. between these two formulas? By the way, both bottles say they're suitable for Mercon V (I know there was a Canada thread about the difference between old M1 that was only suitable for Mercon and the new M1 that is suitable for Mercon V, but this doesn't appear to be a problem with the 2 bottles I'm looking at).
 
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Built_Well

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Several folks have complained about the search function here. Keep in mind that you can go to Google.com and type your keywords in Google's search box. Just be sure to end your search string at Google with site:BobIsTheOilGuy.com . The site parameter will tell Google to only return matches of your keywords from the BobIsTheOilGuy.com domain. I think I figured out what's going on with Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF. The oil in both the bottles with the "New Formula" star logo and the bottles without the "New Formula" star logo is probably the same oil. The New Formula logo bottles appear to be older bottles replaced by the plainer bottles that don't show the star logo. Paul_e320 explained in an earlier thread how to interpret the date codes found on Mobil 1 oil bottles: X = Beaumont TX plant next two digits = the day of the month A-M ("I" omitted) = month (A = Jan, M = Dec) next [one or] two digits = year (e.g., [6] = 2006) The 3 bottles I got from AutoZone that display the "New Formula" star logo are actually older than the plainer bottles without the logo.
 
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I've seen buffoons at the local lube places overfill trannies. Another trick I have for older Toyotas is that 2-2.25 quarts of ATF will bring the oil level perfectly in the cold zone after a drain and fill. And you're welcome, it's a universal technique that works on all but Honda. Shoot, I've even used it on Mercedes and Fords too.
 
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