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Transmission service for low mileage car

870 Views 13 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  faawrenchbndr
Over the last year, I have researched - looking at car servicing sites, Toyota sites, asking questions and no one seems to have the answer.

I have a 2004 Toyota Avalon which now is driven about 3,000 miles a year. It has 112,000 miles on it. For a number of years, I drove it like the average driver. 15,000 miles a year. Mostly city miles. Some highway miles. Always partially drained the transmission a bit earlier than recommended in the manual. No problems.

Now, I put about 3,000 miles a year on the car, mostly 1-2 miles and stop. Then to somewhere else 1-2 miles and stop. So, the ultimate question is how often or how many miles to go and then partially drain the transmission and put on a new pan.

:)
I already know that the car rarely is warmed up. I already change the oil once a year for that reason.

I know that the stop and go is considered severe driving. Some people use a formula that city miles are 10 times harder on a car than highway miles. If my service manual assumes a lot of high way miles, the recommended 40,000 mile servicing is met in about 2.5 years by the average American driver who does highway miles.

I am guessing that there should probably be a partial drain about every three years.

1. I always use the Toyota fluid.
2. I know that color is only a partial test for when there should be a partial drain.
3. I never want to use the smell test to figure when to do a partial drain.

Why my concern? I want the car to go more than 200,000. 3 other Toyota Avalons of the same model and release in the family did over 225,000 miles each.:)
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Every other year at oil change, if you replace 1/3 or so of the transmission fluid via drain and fill (3 quarts for my Infiniti) at the same time, what does it cost you? $25 and a few minutes? That way, you would have done all that you can, and you can focus on bigger problems.
P.S., unless you don’t have a drain plug, the pan can stay right where it is.
 

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A back flush every 30,000 miles works best, it changes all the fluid. Saying that though Toyota doesn't make a back flush machine at least the dealership I worked at didn't have one. The did have one made by another company that they used for transmission flushes. If you have one with 80,000 or more miles that has never been back flushed don't do it, it could cause you problems.
If I were you I would just keep doing what you have always done. Don't worry about time just do it by mileage, the same mileage as you have always serviced it.
Saying that I worked at dealerships for around 15 years and most people never touch their transmission. Unless it's a Chrysler product the trans almost always outlast the rest of the car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Sealed transmission story. Last week, I learned that the kid across the street was being gifted his mother's Kia. He is going out of state to school. He was going to have the car serviced - which meant rotating the tires to him. He thought that the transmission fluid was low. So we looked. Car has 60,000 miles on it and he had already has an oil change.

The car turned out to have a sealed transmission. So, I explained the difference between the sealed and unsealed. The timing was perfect. He was told to have the mechanic carefully measure how much fluid came out and NOTE the amount in writing. Then, refill with exactly that amount. The next change would be about 90,000 miles or whenever the manufacturer recommended the major overhaul. Measure what then come out and he would know when the fluid was low. And then make a fluid drain at 120,000 miles if the car lasted that long. This of course reflects my belief that a Kia is not a long term vehicle.

It turns out that he did not stay and examine the fluid quality when the drain was done and had no notation from the mechanic as to the amount drained. I hope the mechanic did the drain and refill correctly.

My question is whether anyone knows how to measure and learn whether the transmission fluid low in a sealed system>. thank you in advance.
 

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Transmission fluid isn't like engine oil, it doesn't get contaminates in it from combustion, so age isn't really an issue. I would just keep changing it at whatever schedule you have been on. As long as you have kept up with your drain and fill, I don't think a "flush" will benefit your car and wouldn't do it.
 

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Sealed transmission story. Last week, I learned that the kid across the street was being gifted his mother's Kia. He is going out of state to school. He was going to have the car serviced - which meant rotating the tires to him. He thought that the transmission fluid was low. So we looked. Car has 60,000 miles on it and he had already has an oil change.

The car turned out to have a sealed transmission. So, I explained the difference between the sealed and unsealed. The timing was perfect. He was told to have the mechanic carefully measure how much fluid came out and NOTE the amount in writing. Then, refill with exactly that amount. The next change would be about 90,000 miles or whenever the manufacturer recommended the major overhaul. Measure what then come out and he would know when the fluid was low. And then make a fluid drain at 120,000 miles if the car lasted that long. This of course reflects my belief that a Kia is not a long term vehicle.

It turns out that he did not stay and examine the fluid quality when the drain was done and had no notation from the mechanic as to the amount drained. I hope the mechanic did the drain and refill correctly.

My question is whether anyone knows how to measure and learn whether the transmission fluid low in a sealed system>. thank you in advance.
The best thing to do with a sealed system is to leave it alone. To check level you have to get the trans up to temp, there is a threshold not cold and not too hot, remove the overflow/check plug and fill until fluid runs out the hole.
I'm a Toyota guy but most all the Imports have really improved over the years. I wouldn't be surprised if that KIA doesn't make it to 250,000 or more.
 

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Over the last year, I have researched - looking at car servicing sites, Toyota sites, asking questions and no one seems to have the answer.

I have a 2004 Toyota Avalon which now is driven about 3,000 miles a year. It has 112,000 miles on it. For a number of years, I drove it like the average driver. 15,000 miles a year. Mostly city miles. Some highway miles. Always partially drained the transmission a bit earlier than recommended in the manual. No problems.

Now, I put about 3,000 miles a year on the car, mostly 1-2 miles and stop. Then to somewhere else 1-2 miles and stop. So, the ultimate question is how often or how many miles to go and then partially drain the transmission and put on a new pan.

:)
I already know that the car rarely is warmed up. I already change the oil once a year for that reason.

I know that the stop and go is considered severe driving. Some people use a formula that city miles are 10 times harder on a car than highway miles. If my service manual assumes a lot of high way miles, the recommended 40,000 mile servicing is met in about 2.5 years by the average American driver who does highway miles.

I am guessing that there should probably be a partial drain about every three years.

1. I always use the Toyota fluid.
2. I know that color is only a partial test for when there should be a partial drain.
3. I never want to use the smell test to figure when to do a partial drain.

Why my concern? I want the car to go more than 200,000. 3 other Toyota Avalons of the same model and release in the family did over 225,000 miles each.:)
I know people who’s Toyota’s have gone over 200K and they reluctantly did transmission service when absolutely needed.
 

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Sealed transmission story. Last week, I learned that the kid across the street was being gifted his mother's Kia. He is going out of state to school. He was going to have the car serviced - which meant rotating the tires to him. He thought that the transmission fluid was low. So we looked. Car has 60,000 miles on it and he had already has an oil change.

The car turned out to have a sealed transmission. So, I explained the difference between the sealed and unsealed. The timing was perfect. He was told to have the mechanic carefully measure how much fluid came out and NOTE the amount in writing. Then, refill with exactly that amount. The next change would be about 90,000 miles or whenever the manufacturer recommended the major overhaul. Measure what then come out and he would know when the fluid was low. And then make a fluid drain at 120,000 miles if the car lasted that long. This of course reflects my belief that a Kia is not a long term vehicle.

It turns out that he did not stay and examine the fluid quality when the drain was done and had no notation from the mechanic as to the amount drained. I hope the mechanic did the drain and refill correctly.

My question is whether anyone knows how to measure and learn whether the transmission fluid low in a sealed system>. thank you in advance.

Manufacturer will have specs available for the required amount. If by sealed system you mean no dip stick then you fill until the pan capacity specs are reached. It's a pain in the ass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Not disagreeing, just observing.

1. I have the 4th Avalon of the same model release in the family. Three got over 225,000 miles.
2. Most people, not forum members, do not have much knowledge of car maintenance. There will be a plate on the driver's side door frame with the tire inflation number and the serial number of the car. Watch some day at Costco at the now installed free air station (Costco figure out it cost money to have its mechanics checking tire pressure all day without a sale). Many people don't know the air pressure or how to work putting air into a tire.
3. the problem with relying upon a sealed transmission unit for the lifetime of a car can be obviated if the manufacturer gave a warranty that if the car ever needed a new transmission, a company like KIA would install ,for free, a new transmission assuming no accident damage to the transmission.
4. overfilling and underfilling a transmission creates real problems.
5. if you open and partially use a container of the transmission fluid, toss the rest. It is hydroscopic, absorbs water from the air.
6. Of course, the following could be a marketing gimmick What is a Sealed Transmission? | Master Mechanic or this: What the Heck is a Sealed Transmission?
 

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Not disagreeing, just observing.

1. I have the 4th Avalon of the same model release in the family. Three got over 225,000 miles.
2. Most people, not forum members, do not have much knowledge of car maintenance. There will be a plate on the driver's side door frame with the tire inflation number and the serial number of the car. Watch some day at Costco at the now installed free air station (Costco figure out it cost money to have its mechanics checking tire pressure all day without a sale). Many people don't know the air pressure or how to work putting air into a tire.
3. the problem with relying upon a sealed transmission unit for the lifetime of a car can be obviated if the manufacturer gave a warranty that if the car ever needed a new transmission, a company like KIA would install ,for free, a new transmission assuming no accident damage to the transmission.
4. overfilling and underfilling a transmission creates real problems.
5. if you open and partially use a container of the transmission fluid, toss the rest. It is hydroscopic, absorbs water from the air.
6. Of course, the following could be a marketing gimmick What is a Sealed Transmission? | Master Mechanic or this: What the Heck is a Sealed Transmission?
Trans fluid is indeed HYGROSCOPIC. Not Hydroscopic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I was trying not to be a dick.
I was making the same mistake up until last month lol. I'm highly educated on that term now 😉
Really. No offense was taken. I have continuing problems with spelling/names because of a medical condition. Have come back as far I can. Regained the ability to read, print, write cursive.
 

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Heat destroys an automatic transmission
I drain and refill an automatic every 50k…..”sealed” or unsealed

For those that don’t know, a “sealed transmission” just means no dipstick. It still has a vent, a fill plug, and overflow drain and most have a pan drain.
 
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