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bobbiw

98 Corolla Tranny Fluid Change

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I have a 98 corolla (automatic) bought new, do all the easy regular maintenance myself and on time. I have had a transmission flush twice in the past 4 years but this time I am going to just drain and refill (about 3 qts i think). I have been underneath the corolla but cannot locate the drain plug. can anyone help? Also, I think it was Fish, said he dropped the pan every 60,000 miles, I have 170,000 and the pan has never been dropped. Is this necessary for automatics. Thanks. Bobbiw

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If your '98 is anything like my '03, the transmission should have a drain plug. It's exactly the same size as the one for the oil pan, with a 14 mm. 6-point hex head. It shouldn't be difficult to locate.

 

As for dropping the pan, I'd say you're due. Be sure to pickup a filter replacement kit and a pan gasket (they may come together) before you do. There will be magnets in the pan which will probably be in need of a cleaning. I'd just spray them with brake cleaner and brush carefully, don't get any of the gunk on you. Get the whole bottom of the pan as clean as you can, replace the gasket, replace the filter, then get everything buttoned up snug before replacing the fluid.

 

BTW -- if for some reason you can't find a drain plug, then removing the pan would be the only way to remove the fluid. A good trick is to get one of those really big, deep, throw-away aluminum foil roasting pans from the supermarket and use it to take the fluid you drain out. It should provide enough coverage to prevent making too big a mess. Either way, you're still going to end up wearing some transmission fluid somewhere.

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Though it doesn't specifically calls for dropping the transaxle pan on the Corolla factory manual - it is a good thing to do from time to time. Plus, the service book only runs to 120K miles (atleast mine does) - so probably a very good idea, given you mileage, to drop the pan if you get the chance. There are little magnets on the drain pan that captures metallic "sludge" and metal shavings - over time, they will eventually be pulled back into the transaxle and protentially cause damage. The filter, once you see it, won't really filter out those small particles.

 

I don't do flushes at all - just a drain and refill with about 4 quarts (to be on the safe side) every 30K miles and a pan drop every other drain and refill. Never had any transaxle issues with any Toyota that I've owned to date.

 

Depending on how the transaxle flush was done - they could have gotten a good amount of the gunk already out of your transaxle. It is possible that they dropped the transaxle pan when they did the flush (the best machines require a direct connection to the pump inlet for proper flushing. The worst machines do all the work from the cooler lines and/or from the dipstick.

 

The drain plug should be pretty obvious on the car - if you've been doing the engine oil changes - the other pan you see down there on the driver's side is the transaxle sump. There should be a big plug at the lowest point of the pan, kind of inset slightly. Like Larry mentioned, drain the old ATF fluid, undo all the bolts around the perimeter of the pan, make sure to have plenty of paper towels/rags and a decent sized drain pan (Larry's roaster pan idea is pretty good indication of the size you need) - since a good amount of ATF will drain from the pan, even after the initial drain. A little more will drain from the filter screen - when you take off the three bolts holding it on (NOTE the location of the bolts - they are different lengths). The screen can be reused, after it is cleaned, but much easier and less messy to just replace it.

 

This applies to both the 3-speed and the 4-speed automatics - if you have a 3-speed (no overdrive), you will have an additional step to drain the differential as well. Not all shops know that the 3-speed unit has two reservoirs - I've seen some Corollas run 200K+ miles then suddenly die, because they never changed the differential fluid. There is a separate drain plug on the differential - be on the bottom edge of the transaxle, easiest to get at it from the driver's side tire well. The fill plug is separate as well - once you remove the tire, you should be able to see the fill plug fairly clearly - be about half-way up the differential and be the largest plug on that side.

 

Also note - that depending on what transaxle you have (4-speed or 3-speed) you will have a different gasket, different drain plug gasket and likely, a different filter assembly. These pics are from the Rockauto site (just look at your transaxle pan to make sure - you can also count the pan bolts, 15 bolts for the 3-speed, 18 bolts for the 4-speed):

 

3-speed gasket

http://info.rockauto.com/Fel-Pro/Detail.ht...OS18671_TOP.jpg

 

4-speed gasket

http://info.rockauto.com/Fel-Pro/Detail.ht...OS18746_TOP.jpg

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Though it doesn't specifically calls for dropping the transaxle pan on the Corolla factory manual - it is a good thing to do from time to time. Plus, the service book only runs to 120K miles (atleast mine does) - so probably a very good idea, given you mileage, to drop the pan if you get the chance. There are little magnets on the drain pan that captures metallic "sludge" and metal shavings - over time, they will eventually be pulled back into the transaxle and protentially cause damage. The filter, once you see it, won't really filter out those small particles.

 

I don't do flushes at all - just a drain and refill with about 4 quarts (to be on the safe side) every 30K miles and a pan drop every other drain and refill. Never had any transaxle issues with any Toyota that I've owned to date.

 

Depending on how the transaxle flush was done - they could have gotten a good amount of the gunk already out of your transaxle. It is possible that they dropped the transaxle pan when they did the flush (the best machines require a direct connection to the pump inlet for proper flushing. The worst machines do all the work from the cooler lines and/or from the dipstick.

 

The drain plug should be pretty obvious on the car - if you've been doing the engine oil changes - the other pan you see down there on the driver's side is the transaxle sump. There should be a big plug at the lowest point of the pan, kind of inset slightly. Like Larry mentioned, drain the old ATF fluid, undo all the bolts around the perimeter of the pan, make sure to have plenty of paper towels/rags and a decent sized drain pan (Larry's roaster pan idea is pretty good indication of the size you need) - since a good amount of ATF will drain from the pan, even after the initial drain. A little more will drain from the filter screen - when you take off the three bolts holding it on (NOTE the location of the bolts - they are different lengths). The screen can be reused, after it is cleaned, but much easier and less messy to just replace it.

 

This applies to both the 3-speed and the 4-speed automatics - if you have a 3-speed (no overdrive), you will have an additional step to drain the differential as well. Not all shops know that the 3-speed unit has two reservoirs - I've seen some Corollas run 200K+ miles then suddenly die, because they never changed the differential fluid. There is a separate drain plug on the differential - be on the bottom edge of the transaxle, easiest to get at it from the driver's side tire well. The fill plug is separate as well - once you remove the tire, you should be able to see the fill plug fairly clearly - be about half-way up the differential and be the largest plug on that side.

 

Also note - that depending on what transaxle you have (4-speed or 3-speed) you will have a different gasket, different drain plug gasket and likely, a different filter assembly. These pics are from the Rockauto site (just look at your transaxle pan to make sure - you can also count the pan bolts, 15 bolts for the 3-speed, 18 bolts for the 4-speed):

 

3-speed gasket

http://info.rockauto.com/Fel-Pro/Detail.ht...OS18671_TOP.jpg

 

4-speed gasket

http://info.rockauto.com/Fel-Pro/Detail.ht...OS18746 TOP.jpj

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I just did 60000 mile service on my 2003 and included dropping AT pan and cleaning the filter. It was worth it as there were fair amounts of junk on magnets, pan and filter. Also, dropping pan and removing filter drains 5 qt compared to simple drain via the drain plug (3qt). It retrospect, I should have gotten the $15 aftermarket gasket and filter (autozone) instead the $15 OEM gasket and filter cleaning. Cleaning is messy. I also used the new Mobil 1 ATF compatible with T-IV.

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I agree - cleaning works, but is pretty messy - and in some cases, you are not able to get all the little chunks out of the filter. How does the Mobil 1 ATF seem to run in the transaxle? Notice anything different?

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How does the Mobil 1 ATF seem to run in the transaxle? Notice anything different?

 

Did not notice a difference yet. However, driving Corolla much less as my daughter is learning to drive on Corolla. Probably it will be totaled soon. But seriously, there is ~50% old T-IV left in so I did not expect a difference.

 

Off topic, the air filter media looked surprisingly good after 30000 miles. The rubber gasket crumbled some though (age and heat). The replaced coolant looked just like new. Probably good for more than 30000 miles.

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About messes, I just buy a cheap $1 bag of kitty litter and spread some on the floor before starting drains. That way any spills are being absorbed immediately. When it dries it's just sweeped away. No bad mess to mop up with towels and stains on the floor as a result.

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There will be magnets in the pan which will probably be in need of a cleaning. I'd just spray them with brake cleaner and brush carefully, don't get any of the gunk on you.

 

Why not use b12 solvent? Cheap, its not bad on your skin, and evaporates quickly. Just wear eye protection and you'd be good to go. It wont hurt anything since the new gasket goes on after youre done will it fish?

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