Dealer confusion about when or if to change CVT fluid

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting' started by Ozark Man, Oct 24, 2015.

  1. Ozark Man

    Ozark Man Member

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    I bought my Prius from a dealer with 82K miles. From the Carfax it appeared the previous one owner had all the service work done at the dealer where I bought it so I could see the CVT fluid had not been changed. I called back to the service dept to ask when it should be. She said they didn't change it until 100K miles unless there was a problem. I didn't say so but I thought that would be too late. Today I was at a different dealer and asked her how much the charge is for the 100K mile maintenance items. She said "about $650". I said, "does that include changing the CVT fluid". She said "we don't change that". I said "some places do". She said "Toyota doesn't recommend it, it's a sealed system, there's no way to check it". I have seen someone's else's comment on another thread that their dealer told them the same thing. The strange thing is that at least 2 dealers are not recommending it be changed, probably more, but I don't ever remember seeing where a CVT failed or anything like that. You would think there would be a lot if people are following some dealers advice and not changing the fluid. I have seen where some people say it should be changed first at 30,000 miles. I tend to agree with one comment that said "it can't last forever" so I plan to get it done at the dealer where I bought at 100K. But I had a thought that there is no way to know if they actually change it, they could just charge me for it. I'm not a DIY except for oil so I wouldn't attempt it myself. When I try something I don't know anything about I usually end up screwing that and something else up to. I would be interested to know anyone's else's thoughts about it?????
     
  2. Tony D

    Tony D Active Member

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    Me, I'd change it every 50k miles. No harm once it's done right.
     
  3. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    it's not that strange. check your maintenance manual. there's no recommended mileage to change it.

    it should be good to cover the 150,000 mile warranty. if you're going to keep it longer, it might be a good idea to change it at 100k. no one really knows,and you're right, there aren't many threads on bad granny's.
    most people having it done pay around $100. it is not a 'sealed system' so to speak, there is a drain plug and a fill plug. dealers don't know much because it's not on their maintenance list.
     
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  4. orenji

    orenji Senior Member

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    Changed mine at 35,000 miles, dealer did not state otherwise and did it at a cost of $95.00. Cheap insurance.
     
  5. David Beale

    David Beale Senior Member

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    It's also easy to change AND easy to check. I suppose it's difficult to check for dealer who doesn't want to. ;) Don't know why they are passing up the revenue they could make doing that change.

    I had Pearl's changed at 50,000 km (about 30,000 mi). For the new owner. I let the dealer do it. I'm getting old. Pearl S is at 24,000 km so it will be awhile yet.
     
  6. Ozark Man

    Ozark Man Member

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    I can understand everyone erring on the cautious side, I usually do. But I think I will stick with waiting until 100K and then maybe every 50 thereafter unless I have enough other problems that forces me not to keep it that long. I hope to keep it until at least 200K if I live that long at my age. I just believe owners would be having a lot more tranny problems if it was crucial because I'm sure a lot of them don't change it. I think most the people on here are more cautious about maintenance but I have never seen a tranny problem thread on here.
     
  7. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Cloud Watcher

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    I wouldn't say the fluid's easy to check. It's definitely not pull-a-dipstick-and-look easy: to do it kosher you need to raise AND level the car, then remove the top (fill) bolt, and have a feel. Personally, If I've gone to that much effort, I'm more inclined to replace it.

    I did a (DIY) change of ours at the one year mark, at around 15,000 kms. It already looked markedly darker than the replacement fluid. I did a second change at the 3 year mark, at around 40,000 kms. This time the drained fluid didn't look much darker than the new. The conclusion I drew is that an early change is beneficial, and then you can use a much longer interval.

    I see no point in your waiting to 100,000 miles. I mean, there's nothing magical about that number, the sooner the better. Where magic is needed is finding a service department that has CLUE about what's involved.

    For DIY, the fluid, 4 liters (or qts) of Toyota ATF-WS is suffice (I wouldn't sub anything else) and a couple of replacement washers, will set you back about $40. You'll also need a funnel with a 3' tube extension, keep the tube dia to 3/8" or less, so it'll fit the fill hole. Both fill and drain bolts are socket head cap screws, requiring a 10 mm hex driver.

    You need to be able to raise the car, level. It's worthwhile taking the engine underpanel completely off, imho. For a DIY'r, all in all it'll take about 2 hours, due to the raising and levelling the car (be safe!), removal of the engine shield, threading the tubing through the engine bay.

    It's much easier with an assistant, someone to pour while you watch below. As soon as it starts coming back out, you're done.

    BTW, always remove the fill bolt first, just in case you have problems. A breaker bar is a very good idea. Also you should use a torque wrench when reinstalling the bolts. The torques are in the attachment.

    Maybe you can do it yourself, or armed with a bit more info, you can get a service department to come back to earth on their descriptions and prices. Good luck!
     
    #7 Mendel Leisk, Oct 24, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2015
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  8. Ozark Man

    Ozark Man Member

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    I do appreciate the advice but that's beyond my skill level. You greatly overestimate the technically-challenged! For you it would it would be easy, for me an almost impossible challenge. I don't even have a way to raise the car level. I haven't even discussed the price for just that alone with the dealer that would do it at 100K. The other dealer wouldn't do it at all. The price I mentioned was for all the maintenance items at 100K. I think the dealer where I bought it will be cheaper and they will do the fluid change. If I had owned the car at 30,000 I would have probably had it changed early but now I'm only about 17,000 short of the 100K so I will probably just wait and have the fluid, plugs, coolants changed at 100 along with cleaning the throttle and whatever else the dealer recommends that I think is necessary. But I am grateful for your effort to help me.
     
  9. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Cloud Watcher

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    $80~$100 would be reasonable. Print out the pdf for discussion, if someone starts in about how complex it is.

    What a few diy'rs have done is run the front end up on ramps, then jack up the rear and support with safety stands. I use safety stands front and back. "Level" doesn't have to be absolute, too.
     
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  10. CR94

    CR94 Senior Member

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    If you can devise a safe way to get the car reasonably level and high enough to crawl under it, changing the transmission lubricant is no more complicated than an engine oil change. Maybe less, because there's no filter. You do have to deal with the tedious plastic fasteners holding the plastic underpanel.
     
  11. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Cloud Watcher

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    There a couple of the plastic fasteners on the panel that are a bit bigger. They're located at the "oil change" flap, which I never use, prefer to remove the whole thing, due to the fragile joint of the flap. On mine those two different fasteners have a distinct grey coloured cap, but just in case, you can mark them and the panel with some contrasting color (paint or Sharpie marker), to keep them from being mixed up. There's maybe 10 plastic fasteners, and about 6 small bolts near the leading edge.

    Any time I have the fasteners off I rinse them in hot soapy water, sluice out any grit that's accumlated in the mechanism. I've done about 10 oil changes, taking the panel off, and have yet to have any of the fasteners fail. It's fairly apparent it's grit that causes them to jam, and then the caps break when you're struggling to remove them, or the internals explode, lol.
     

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  12. David Beale

    David Beale Senior Member

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    Well, I just did an oil change, and here in Edmonton, grit city, those fasteners DID NOT want to release. Finally got them out (the three for the oil change door), and one was actually broken -before- I removed it (one of the four expanding pins was gone). I did wash them and did replace the broken one and they sure went back in nicely. It's getting them out that's the problem. Washing them at the last removal doesn't help at the next removal around here. Maybe it's all that nice clean rain you get on the wet coast. ;) So far, I have not had any issue with the oil change door "hinge". I even squeeze it a little more with my hands to get the door to stay out of the way. If it eventually breaks I'll just pop rivet a piano hinge in there. I'm real tempted to install Dzus fasteners in place of those three. Heh, I got a cup of sand/gravel on the floor (and me) when I opened the door. Hey, it's clean grit!
     
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  13. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Cloud Watcher

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    Are they sanding your roads already? Or you're on dirt roads sometimes?

    Yeah, when they came out with those fasteners (in the '90's, it was a mixed blessing. And of course they're about $4~5 through dealership. Or you can get generic that never fit just right.

    I wonder if sililcon spray would help? Or just gum it up completely?
     
  14. David Beale

    David Beale Senior Member

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    Roads here are still "clean", but remember, I only change the oil once per year, so they see winter.

    DO NOT use lubricant on those pins! It will attract and hold grit. I'm wondering if a small squirt bottle of water might clean them -before- removal? The water would at least lubricate them somewhat. Of course it would then be dripping in my eyes. ;)

    I paid about $10 for the five small plus three large. The parts guy took pity and gave me the "dealer price".
     
  15. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Cloud Watcher

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    I replaced all the fasteners on our previous Civic Hybrid, still in the family. It was 7 of one kind, 2 of the other. A bit over $40, thank you very much. And this was at a downtown dealership that always undersells the competitors. Out here it would have been another $10 or so. :(
     
  16. SuperchargedMR2

    SuperchargedMR2 Diehard Rams Fan

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    Glad I found this thread. I've asked several places and all have told me it's lifetime fluid which I call BS. Glad to hear it's no different than changing the gear oil on my MT cars. Time to get some WS fluid from my buddy at the dealer! My Prius hit 62k miles and I've been wanting to do this every 30k miles like I do my MT gear oil.
     
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  17. prius cabbie

    prius cabbie Junior Member

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    I changed mine every 40,000 a 2005 prius which I used as a taxi in NYC. My knowledgeable mechanic told me not to change it on my 2013 cab saying the 05 needed it but the 2013 fluid runs cold and doesn't get hot. I don't feel comfy not changing it. I have 65,000 and he said he can do it but it's not necessary on the 13 but was on the 05.
     
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  18. Steve Lee

    Steve Lee Member

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    There are several threads in regards experiences and procedure (manual excerpt and videos) to change cvt oil. I did mine CVT oil change at 57200 miles on my 2010 prius exactly to the date I purchased( 2/26/2016), original owner. The total estimate price for materials, $40 (4 quarts) + $3 (2 gasket) + $8 f(funnel & hose) = $51+tax. As overall price perspective if you do not have tools then price will go up, include cleaning and returning oil which is time and gasoline price goes up, using gasoline to buy parts price goes up, include person (you and your buddy) time for preparing & completing work (labor) price goes up.

    In doing yourself is personal satisfaction, learning and understanding the vehicle which I account more. As far as price of $100 or $200 for the dealer or 3rd party in doing the CVT oil change work has its advantages (saving time and hassle in preparing, buying parts, buying tooling (if any), doing work, cleaning up, and having some limited type of insurance if something go wrong after work is completed). If your time is more valuable than price that dealer/3rd party charges, I recommend go to the dealer or 3rd party. If you have time, value knowledge, and experience, then I recommend doing yourself.

    Toyota dealers are independent company not managed by Toyota Motor Co. Toyota dealer technician(s) is/are trained (with some training) and of course there is/are manuals which they may use as reference. If you want to take Toyota dealer recommendation, you can do so, and do cvt oil or other maintenance items at the recommended miles.

    If you value owner(s)/user(s) experiences, then you can use owner(s)/user(s) experience information and do cvt oil maintenance accordingly.

    My car performs smoother(glides) new after cvt oil change. Next day I did my engine oil change and fluid coolant change, then car performs, car performs as it when I drove first time brand new out from the dealership and I reclaimed approximately 2 MPG more. Now, I'm debating if I want to do the brake fluid and pads..I think I will wait until pads requires changing.

    I suggest/recommend to search and review threads and videos on the items that you will like to change/replace ie, spark plugs, coolant fluids, engine oil, cvt oil, brake oil, brake pads..I believe you can do one or more maintenance items, others owners/users have done it.
     
  19. yeldogt

    yeldogt Active Member

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    The failure rate for the transaxle is almost non existent -- lets be honest here. Very few ever get new fluid.

    I had the 2011 done at 100k (local independent) when the car was in for it's normal oil/ rotation service. I have the cars gone over a bit more at the 100k mark and it being our first Prius planned on having the fluid level checked ... the time (Cost) to check and possibly add a few ounces is almost as much as just changing the fluid. The fluid was fine and we noticed no difference after the change.

    It's a cheap enough service -- just use the correct fluid.
     
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