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Guest MikeLewis9425

Transmission Color

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Guest MikeLewis9425

2005 Corolla, had transmission fluid changed about 10,000 miles ago (about 1 year) shortly after I purchased the car. Now dealership is telling my the fluid looks dirty. Wondering what color is should be. Fluid is brownish, not the usual bright red on my other cars in the past. What color is the T-IV fluid now?

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Hello and welcome to the forums.

 

Toyota type T-IV ATF fluid is bright red when new. Even with moderate driving, the Toyota type T-IV can pick up a lot of color - don't worry, fluid quality can't be determined by looks alone. If it has a burnt odor as well, then that might be reason for some concern. Ideally, the ATF fluid should be changed every 30K miles or 2 years for maximum performance. I think the factory service manula calls for fluid exchanges when necessary - usually checked every 60K miles (a bit too long IMO). If you don't drive it that often, then go by mileage.

 

I've noticed that some Corolla's ATF will heavily discolor at 10K miles or less - regardless of how the car was driven or if an auxillary transmission cooler was used. Since the car drove the same and didn't suffer any driveability issues - just chalked it up to terrible looking fluid, not necessarily bad ATF or a bad transaxle. If it makes you feel better - go ahead and get it changed out. But don't be tempted to flush the transaxle, just a drain and refill will be plenty. Many times a transaxle flush will stir up metallic particulates in the system, even though it get a greater fluid exchange process (removes more if not all of the old fluid) - the resulting "new" fluid can look terrible from picking up all that crap in the system. Not to say that all flushes are "bad" - just have recognize that some may potentially cause more harm than good.

 

The best flushes are the ones that have the technician remove the transaxle pan, pull the filter element, and then flushes the system. That way, all the fluid is exchanged as well as the technician cleaning the pan, replacing or cleaning the filter, and making sure that everything looks OK. Unfortunantly, most of the equipment are either the cooling line types (machine hooks to the colling lines in the radiator) or worse, the dipstick flusher (probe sucks the fluid out and replaces the fluid - not actually a "flush").

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The dealership does not change all of the transmission fluid just what is sitting at the bottom of the transfer case about 1/3 of the fluid. you will need the change it 3 times with driving to get the color bright red again. Do it yourself with the next few oil changes. alternatively some oil change places can pump out all of the fluid at one time however toyota doesn't not recommend this because it can cause problems with seals and possibly loosen metal fillings.

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