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Transmission Fluid Change?

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by jgod12, Jan 16, 2011.

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  1. jgod12

    jgod12 Junior Member

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    How important is it to change the transmission fluid at 50,000 miles? Is there a way to look at the fluid to see how dirty it might be without pulling the main plug? The Toyota dealer quoted me $155.00. Is this a fair price? I would prefer to take it there instead of the many small shops in my area that normally don't work on hybrids. I have never had a mechanical problem with the car or transmission. It's a smooth running machine and the most trusting reliable car I own compared to my other non-toyota cars.
  2. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    FWIW, I like to change transmission fluid every couple of years, regardless of mileage, regardless of what the car maker recommends. This typically works out to around 36000km with our use.

    50,000 miles is a long stretch with one batch of fluid. Yes, get it changed. And go with the dealership. A third party mechanic might be deligent and get the Toyota fluid "ATF WS", or might go with something non or partially compatible.

    That price seems a little steep, maybe about right for Canadians, who pay through the nose even with the dollars at bar, but steep for US. See if you can find out how much the fluid costs, and how much is needed. The labour shouldn't be more than 1 hour. Also try phoning another dealer or two, if possible. That's can be an eye-opener.

    If you're interested at all in DIY there's quite a few threads here on it, and I could dig up some info. There's a drain bolt and a fill bolt, and no dipstick hole to fill through, so a little tricky.

    Do ensure to remove the fill bolt first. You don't want to drain the fluid and then find you can't break loose the fill bolt...

    Genuine Fluids
    torr310 likes this.
  3. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    The current price of Toyota ATF WS at the dealer parts counter is ~$9 per US quart, and 4 US quarts are needed for a 2G transaxle drain and fill. So, a price of $155 including labor is not a bargain, but not outrageous either.

    I change the transaxle fluid at 30K mile intervals and would suggest that at minimum a conscientious owner should consider 60K mile changes.
  4. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Just curious: what does second gen owners manual recommend? Third Gen, Canadian documentation, says: "check for leaks every 24 months and replace at 72mo/96000km, whichever comes first. I think all the manufacturers have been extending their change interval over the past decade or two, too far though.
  5. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Good to see that Toyota is finally recommending transaxle fluid changes at 60K miles, rather than pretending that the fluid is good for "life".

    The 2G US warranty and maintenance book recommends inspection of the transmission fluid at 30K mile intervals. Presumably this inspection consists of opening the fill plug and determining that the fluid level is near the bottom of the fill plug hole. If the car is used for towing (which is an unapproved use of the car), then replacement at 60K mile intervals is required.
    http://www.toyota.com/t3Portal/docu...MS0011/pdf/01omsour/2004/schedmai/04w1smt.pdf
  6. BAllanJ

    BAllanJ Active Member

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    My dealer tried to talk me out of it last week saying it never needed to be changed. They did it for $91 CAN plus tax. Usually our prices are higher than in the us even though our dollar has recently risen over yours.

    I got it done at 50 Mm which is close to the 30 kmiles people here seem to recommend.
  7. Mr.Vanvandenburg

    Mr.Vanvandenburg New Member

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    I still am concerned about the rather large amount of air intake I heard today when I finally got around to draining my ws fluid, 34k miles, upon removing the drain plug. I also noticed the oil "seemed" perfectly new looking and clear on my hand which had a lot on it. My hand was absolutely clean by just wiping the oil off, like lotion. The magnet had maybe 1/8" of black stuff on it. The black stuff was almost like graphite in it's staining ability on my hands and paper towels.

    Those who have changed more than once, does the air suction return the same, the next time?

    I am barely able to get this job done at this time, so sorry I can't contribute to the oil testing samples.
  8. jk450

    jk450 New Member

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    OEMs typically specify more rigorous service intervals for Canadian-market vehicles as compared to US-market vehicles. The 2001 Prius has a 96,000 km transaxle fluid replacement interval, as well.
  9. jdenenberg

    jdenenberg EE Professor

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    The air pressure difference in the Tranny is normal. If you do a lab test of the ATF (I suggest R&G labs in Florida), You would see a high metallic load on the first used ATF that will be lower in later ATF refreshes. A first refresh at 30k miles and then each 60k miles thereafter is my suggestion. I have done my 2004 Prius ATF (Toyota type WS) refresh at 60k mile intervals now 3 times with lab testing and still doing fine at 190k miles.

    JeffD
  10. Mr.Vanvandenburg

    Mr.Vanvandenburg New Member

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    It restores itself for the next time? I wasn't ready for the amount of air pressure difference. I have heard the explanations before, but can't get an understanding of it. Right now the air pressures are equalized, and since the unit apparenty can hold a slight vacuum, don't understand how it will restore itself when resealed up.
    In other words, if not for this forum info., I would have been saying "oh crap" when I loosened the bolt.
  11. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    ATF WS has very low viscosity and wipes off pretty easily, as you noted. However when you collect the used fluid in a clear plastic container you can see how dark it is vs. new fluid.

    The transaxle has a pressure valve which will release excess air pressure that builds up as the transaxle heats up. Then, as the transaxle cools off, a partial vacuum forms.

    If you were to change the transaxle fluid when the transaxle is hot, you would not notice much air pressure differential as you remove the fill plug.

    Not sure what you mean by saying "...barely able to get this job done". If you are having a problem and we can help, pls let us know.
    torr310 likes this.
  12. dinger_greg

    dinger_greg New Member

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    Does anyone have a link to the step by step process to drain and fill the transaxle fluid. It seems like an easy DIY job. I want to make sure I remove the correct fill and drain bolts.
  13. 2009Prius

    2009Prius A Wimpy DIYer

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    I think he meant "barely able to afford the WS" so there is no money left to do the analysis of the old fluid.
  14. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    OK. I can understand that. I had my used transaxle fluid tested once for fun, but don't see the point in routinely spending $20 on a test.



    See my post #2 here:
    http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-ii-...bleshooting/44124-changing-transaxle-oil.html
  15. Mr.Vanvandenburg

    Mr.Vanvandenburg New Member

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    I could spend the money, but don't really want to, or try to catch a sample etc. It is the stress in other areas of life, and a physical problem of sore fingers in right hand.

    My trans was somewhat warm when changing the oil, not hot, but "luke warm." I removed only the drain plug so far, so had a gurgling drain. Because I wanted to hurry to drain as warm oil as possble, left fill plug for later. I think that may wash the bolt area a bit anyway, the "gluging." In the next few days I will get the fill plug off, and finish the job. I hand put in the drain plug to keep dirt out. My 12 pt 24mm socket has more play than I would like on the fill plug I noticed.

    My remarks on the clean looking oil etc were strictly observations. I have seen the reasons to change factory fill etc. I am doing this on the ground without lifting the car, so the catch pan barely fits under.
  16. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    In general it is not a good idea to drain the fluid without first being sure that the fill plug can be removed. Also, if you remove the fill plug first, the drained oil will not "glug" as it comes out of the transaxle.

    If you find that your 24 mm socket has excess play then you may want to obtain another, perhaps 6-point. I am using a 15/16" 12-point socket which works quite well (15/16" = 23.8125 mm).
  17. Mr.Vanvandenburg

    Mr.Vanvandenburg New Member

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    Yes I realize the draining procedure was a little off, but it does drain out, and I have another car to use meantime. I "will' get the fill plug out, no matter what.

    I was also thinking to try the 15/16" for a little more tightness on the nut, which is close to 24mm, .9375" vs. .945 "

    Thanks for all the various help and willingness to repeat (air vacuum reason) information without fuss.
  18. ETP

    ETP Ancient sloth foot

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    I do not have a lift so I may have the dealer do it if it is less than $150. I already have the fluid so I expect to get a credit as they always do when I bring my own authorized fluids in. I cannot even get the latches off the engine oil drain pan cover with it fully on the ground. If you did this without lifting the car/// you da man!
  19. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    There's a drain pan cover with latches on the 09?
  20. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Got to hand it to you getting the hex drain plug out with it still on the ground. Its no fun with it jacked up! You must be a very skinny fellow.
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