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Transmission/Transaxle Fluid Replacement ?

Discussion in 'Generation 1 Prius Discussion' started by TexomaEV, Jun 3, 2010.

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  1. TexomaEV

    TexomaEV Member

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    Folks, is there a filter that needs to be replaced when doing a transfusion of transmission fluid on a 2001 Prius?

    Also, is there a magic synthetic, super slick fluid one would recommend or additive over just the OEM fluid?

    Thanks in advance. I'm not sure if the fluid has ever been changed, so I figure I'd be safe rather than sorry.
  2. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web 03 and 10 Prius

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    Hi,


    No filter but I'd recommend getting a replacement gasket and drop the pan and wipe it down. Regardless, here are my 'lessons learned':

    I'm currently running a test with Type WS, the OEM is Type T-IV. Due to the high levels of Cu, I can not recommend Amsoil ATF.

    Bob Wilson
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  3. adric22

    adric22 Ev and Hybrid Enthusiast

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    Yeah, I changed the trans fluid in mine when I got it too because the previous owner had never done it, along with the coolant, oil, spark plugs, air filter, and cabin air filter.. You might want to check that cabin air filter.. It is behind the glove box and easy to reach. The thing was horribly disgusting, full of dead bugs and little twigs and leaves. That is the air you are breathing in the car! However I chose not to change the inverter coolant because it looked okay and the process is more involved for bleeding the air out of it.
  4. TexomaEV

    TexomaEV Member

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    Thanks, that's quite some testing you did there on the different fluids. I'll prob stick with the OEM, and clean out the pan as you stated. Local transmission shop, said they'd be happy to do the work, and learn a little about a Prius at the same time. Just wanted to ask you experts before hand, and now I can give them a heads up as what to do/expect.
  5. jk450

    jk450 New Member

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    To begin with, your transmission does have a filter. I'm not sure why you are being told otherwise. It's a metal screen that is held in place by a plastic housing on the end of the oil pickup tube that extends into the transmission fluid pan. With the pan off, it's easily visible.

    While the filter is replaceable, there is no replacement interval, as it can be cleaned. It's nice to wipe out the pan if it's been removed, but it's more important to inspect the filter screen and make sure it doesn't have anything clogging it up. Most of the time, it's fine.



    No. OEM fluid is Toyota Type T-IV. The later WS fluid has improved cold temperature viscosity, according to Toyota, but Toyota says the two are not compatible. About a tenth of the old fluid remains in the transmission during a fluid change. However, some folks replaced their T-IV with WS years ago, and I have heard of no issues related to the fluid change.
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  6. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web 03 and 10 Prius

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    There is a difference between a pickup tube screen and an oil filter. If you replace it, you'll need a new O-ring too. The common meaning for a filter is a trap to capture debris in the oil between changes. Regardless of what it is called, the pickup tube has a single layer, fine plastic mesh to keep chunks out of the oil pump. There is no transmission filter like the kind found in automatic transmissions. The gunk laying on the pan is the part that can be removed.

    Doug was a pioneer in putting in an after-market, transaxle, spin-on oil filter. However, I understand it was removed later.

    In open-pit mining, earth movers and heavy dump trucks often use a by-pass oil filter system to remove the smallest particles. It runs in parallel to the existing oil filters. Reports are these micro-filtration systems can triple the oil change interval but those vehicles are running 24x7 in terrible conditions. The oil and equipment savings more than paying for the by-pass filter system.

    BTW, I've kept all of the oil sample tests and photos over in "Prius_Technical_Stuff" . . . if you want to get in the fine details. <grins>

    Bob Wilson
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  7. jk450

    jk450 New Member

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    The screen is a filter. That is its sole purpose.
  8. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web 03 and 10 Prius

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    Sorry but a filter removes wear materials by trapping it so it can be removed with the filter. A screen simply keeps the chunks from going in to damage moving parts. These chunks often just fall down off the screen when the flow stops.

    Semantics by any other name is still a waste of time.

    There is no replaceable filter like one would find in a traditional, automatic transmission. The wear materials form a gunk layer on the bottom of the pan and it is important to wipe it clean. Note that the NHW20 and ZVW30 do not have a transaxle pan.

    BTW, if the oil change test results indicate there is significant carry forward. I'd recommend having a clean, dry, capture bottle, say a former water bottle, and saving a sample from the drain. If it looks like testing may be warranted, you'll have a sample to send to a service. Typically you'll want a standard oil test along with viscosity at 40C and 100C, which should also give the oil viscosity index. This is your primary 'health' indicator.

    If the used oil tests particularly bad, you might consider treating this first one as a flush and changing it again in a couple of thousand miles. The cost is modest and you'll take out risk factor.

    Testing the gunk in the bottom of the pan is possible and if you see something looking bronze like, may be something to consider. My oil testing service used the kitchen paper towel material to do a microscopic analysis. As for other pan debris, you may see some white, faintly pinkish bits. Those appear to be aged transaxle case sealant. We're finding the sealant is the primary source of excessive Si in the test results.

    Bob Wilson
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  9. jk450

    jk450 New Member

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    Unfortunately, this is incorrect, as well. The material that one will find in the bottom of the pan is, for the most part, too fine to be filtered by the screen. The material that is filtered by the screen almost always sticks to the screen.

    If enough material collects, it can reduce the flow rate of the pump, which can in turn lead to transaxle failure. That's why it's important for the technician to take a quick look at the screen with the pan off.
  10. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    The external add-on filter Bob referred to was an off-the-shelf fuel line filter, with a pore size probably on the order of 50 microns. The fluid pump was re-plumbed by a Toyota Mechanic in Olympia WA to have a loop external to the transaxle case.

    I ran it that way for about 20 k miles. On inspection, the plastic case of the filter had been deformed by the about 80 oC fluid flowing through it. On that basis I deleted the filter but left the external-flow loop in place. The filter had not collected much particulate matter at all; this 2001 had already had 3 fluid changes @100 k mile.

    We reckoned that there was not much to be gained by filtering to this cutt-off, vs. the ca. 1 mm (1000 microns) installed pickup screen. The pan magnet does a fair job of collecting ferrous particles, and non-ferrous settle in the sump. Transaxle fluid pumping is by no means as vigorous as that of engine oil, so that settling is not much disturbed.

    I guess that Toyota (USA) never did recommend transaxle fluid changes on NHW11 (can't testify to later Prius gens), but at least a few participants in the internet groups have been recommending it as preventative maint. for a long time.

    Mostly unrelated, I killed a Honda engine by allowing accumulation on its engine oil pickup screen, hence this has been a matter of personal interest since. Never again :)
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  11. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web 03 and 10 Prius

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    The single layer, fine mesh, plastic screen that is easy enough to clean. There is no reason to replace it unless there is a tear.

    It would be great if you could post photos of what you find.

    Bob Wilson
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  12. TexomaEV

    TexomaEV Member

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    You bet, I'll be happy to take photos.

    Problem I'm having is finding the Transmission Fluid, and Gasket. Local to me, dealer wants $6.50 a quart, and doesn't stock the gasket. Went to O'Reily's Auto, they have a store brand that says it's a replacement fluid for T-IV in toyota transmissions, but don't think I want to take the chance.

    Is there anywhere online, one can purchase both the Fluid and Gasket at the same place/time ?
  13. jk450

    jk450 New Member

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    Again, it's a metal screen. It's not fine mesh; you can see right though it.



    Again, the screen is clean in most cases; a visual inspection will suffice.



    It doesn't tear. The pump is low pressure. The specs are in the repair manual.
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  14. jk450

    jk450 New Member

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    That's a bit high. Regarding the gasket, most dealers don't stock it, but can get it in one or two days.



    I wouldn't, either.



    Although the gasket can often be reused, you'll want a new one. I'm sure someone here will have a suggestion. Look for posts from folks who have actually used the service they are recommending.
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  15. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    $6.50/qt isn't bad, I'm currently paying ~$9/quart for Toyota ATF WS.

    (Other than fluids) I buy my Toyota parts from Champion Toyota, Houston. This dealer is one of several in the US that sells Toyota parts online for ~25% discount from MSRP. It doesn't make much sense to buy parts on-line unless you buy several parts at one time, to leverage the shipping charges.
    Champion Toyota Parts - Toyota World, Genuine Toyota Parts, TRD Supercharger, Toyota Venza Parts, Toyota Parts, Toyota Accessories, Discounts on Toyota Parts

    I would not suggest that you buy automotive fluids from any source where you must pay shipping charges. The cost of shipping will be very high compared to the cost of the fluid. Further, you'll probably find that the online dealer will not fill the order anyway, due to concerns about shipping hazardous materials (12V batteries, lubricants, and antifreeze.)
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  16. jk450

    jk450 New Member

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    WS can be a bit more than T-IV, but usually not that much. $5/quart is a decent retail price for T-IV.
  17. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web 03 and 10 Prius

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    I would hold off on other transmission oils given my bad experience with Amsoil. The Amsoil ATF that is supposed to be Type T-IV compatible led to excessive copper levels in subsequent testing. I've looked at the various published specs for something like Type WS and only turbine oils come close. But the real problem is additive compatibility.

    There are two metal compound additives that appear to have merit:

    • boron nitride - there are two forms, one of which is abrasive and the other an excellent lubricant to handle dry startup. But it is best applied to a treated surface. It is found in the oil tests.
    • molybdenum - another lubricant often used when rebuilding an engine as a grease to handle the initial startup load. It is often found in motor oils, some transmission lubricants but not in Type T-IV or Type WS.
    If you decide to study lubricants, I would recommend a good start begins with "The Practical Handbook of Machinery Lubrication," L. (Tex) Leugner, Noria Publishing. I also recommend:
    Machinery Lubrication Magazine Home

    Going back to the task at hand:

    1. Type WS or Type T-IV - 4.9 quarts (5 quarts and a little left over)
    2. fresh pan gasket - order two, you'll need another in about 30,000 miles or sooner if the oil suggests treating it as a flush
    3. loctite blue (optional) - provides a positive grip for the bolts
    4. torque wrench (optional) - or whatever you feel best: bolts, 67 in-lbf; drain plug 36 ft-lbs;
    5. clean, dry sample bottle (optional) - gives the option of testing. I use: R&G Laboratories, Inc or PdMA Corporation - Oil Analysis - Excellence in Lubricant Analysis. Ask for 40C and 100C viscosity in addition to the standard oil test. Total test cost runs about $20. Dyson's is another Texas based oil testing service who show some interest in Prius transaxle oil testing.
    6. clean paper towel and plastic bag - if the pan debris looks 'interesting', take a photo. However, if you wipe it down with the paper towel and put it in a plastic bag and seal it, you have the option of having it tested (same folks as above.)
    7. Funnel with a 2 ft. extension - to reach the fill hole
    8. fill and drain plug washers (why not) - these large diameter, soft metal, copper or aluminum, washers make a fresh, oil tight seal and cheap.
    By the way, pp. HT-38 identifies the part I called a screen, an "oil strainer". I look forward to your photo.

    Since you are in the area, you might consider replacing the inverter coolant. You'll need some clear plastic hose to fit over the bleeder nipples in the front of the inverter. The reason is that strange substance Hobbit found in the coolant channels is probably an aluminum salt. There was one posting of seeing 'jelly-like' substances coming out of a coolant change. I strongly suspect this is the likely cause of inverter coolant pump failures.

    Bob Wilson
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  18. jk450

    jk450 New Member

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    It's not. The pump itself was redesigned to improve reliability some time ago.
  19. TexomaEV

    TexomaEV Member

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    Does the FORUM have a way to "Sticky" or have Technical Service Wiki pages? This is great info along with many of the other postings in the thread regarding "Transmission Fluid Changeout" , I'd like to see "Sticky" or TSW's (Technical Service Wiki) pages on other topics, such as "Inverter Coolant Changout", "Radiator Flushing", anything else that is unique and not typical of most ICE automobiles. Such a WIKI would/could possibly help save a Prius. One saved, is one remaining on the road for a longer period of time for a DIY'r.
  20. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web 03 and 10 Prius

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    It would help if you could share when it started showing up in the NHW11s?

    Is there a part number or change in the pump appearance that would allow inspection to identify which version of the pump is in the car?

    Is the same pump used in the NHW20?

    Bob Wilson
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