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Thread: Odds of getting a correct transmission fluid level check on Toyota automatics?

  1. #1
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    Odds of getting a correct transmission fluid level check on Toyota automatics?

    This video discusses the equipment and techniques required to check the transmission fluid level on modern Toyota automatic transmissions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNcecuGzTDg

    What are the odds of getting a correct fluid level check at a typical repair shop !?

  2. #2
    Best way I've found to check auto trans fluid levels, at least in my vehicles: Make ONE check using mfr's instructions, which is usually when fully warmed up and idling in neutral. With luck it the level will be correct. Once the car has sat overnight, I just open the hood and pull the dipstick. It will normally show a bit higher up than 'full' because of the TC and cooler draining down. Wherever the fluid line is, I file a mark into the dipstick at that point. Now I have a way to measure hot AND cold. And I never measure hot any more, the cold measurements always seem to be consistent.

    Not sure why Toyota would make special 'equipment and techniques' necessary just to check the tranny fluid level--but it doesn't surprise me a bit
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    Not sure why Toyota would make special 'equipment and techniques' necessary just to check the tranny fluid level--but it doesn't surprise me a bit
    “Yoshimi, why didn’t you include a dipstick in the technical drawings?”
    ”Oops, I forgot.”
    ”Well, we can’t fire you, so we’ll put you in the basement designing special service tools.”

    Yeah Toyota!

  4. #4
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    No tranny fluid distick on my or my wife's Toyotas.

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    I think my ford has two marks one hot, one cold.
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Tashiro View Post
    This video discusses the equipment and techniques required to check the transmission fluid level on modern Toyota automatic transmissions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNcecuGzTDg

    What are the odds of getting a correct fluid level check at a typical repair shop !?
    It’s a matter of time. if you use your scan tool to monitor the fluid temperature, then when it’s within the correct range you’d open the bleeder and top off the fluid until it bleeds out (with appropriately warmed new fluid, of course.) Not everybody wants to do this.

    So to answer your original question, not that great.

    And BTW, a “typical” repair shop may not carry the required Toyota-branded fluid. So beware on that. Best to go to a highly regarded specialist indie shop.
    Last edited by Doug Dawson; 05-07-2021 at 2:34 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    Best way I've found to check auto trans fluid levels, at least in my vehicles: Make ONE check using mfr's instructions, which is usually when fully warmed up and idling in neutral.

    Not sure why Toyota would make special 'equipment and techniques' necessary just to check the tranny fluid level--but it doesn't surprise me a bit
    The Aisin U66xx and U76xx series of 6 speed transmissions have been standard equipment for front wheel drive Toyotas since 2006. That's 15 years ago.

    These have no dipstick, presumably to thwart the practice of "flushing" which (not infrequently) "bricks" otherwise serviceable transmissions. The scan tool required is accompanied by a laser thermometer to verify operating temperature. There's a twelve page service manual.
    This can't be done on jack stands.


  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    Best way I've found to check auto trans fluid levels, at least in my vehicles: Make ONE check using mfr's instructions, which is usually when fully warmed up and idling in neutral. With luck it the level will be correct. Once the car has sat overnight, I just open the hood and pull the dipstick. It will normally show a bit higher up than 'full' because of the TC and cooler draining down. Wherever the fluid line is, I file a mark into the dipstick at that point. Now I have a way to measure hot AND cold. And I never measure hot any more, the cold measurements always seem to be consistent.

    Not sure why Toyota would make special 'equipment and techniques' necessary just to check the tranny fluid level--but it doesn't surprise me a bit
    That is a simple yet brilliant idea, nice job!

  9. #9
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    Could be worse, could be a C5 or later Corvette.

    Easy procedure, no special tool required, just fill to the bottom of the plug hole...
    at full operating temperature, dead level, on a car with ground clearance measured in millimeters.

    (I dunno, is a lift considered a "special tool"? )
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Matthews View Post
    The Aisin U66xx and U76xx series of 6 speed transmissions have been standard equipment for front wheel drive Toyotas since 2006. That's 15 years ago.

    These have no dipstick, presumably to thwart the practice of "flushing" which (not infrequently) "bricks" otherwise serviceable transmissions. The scan tool required is accompanied by a laser thermometer to verify operating temperature. There's a twelve page service manual.
    This can't be done on jack stands.
    You could do it on jack stands, but they would have to be the exact same height. This is where having a lift comes in really handy.

    I wonder why one would be concerned about this stuff. Is there a leak?

  11. #11
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    Toyota uses a sealed transmission for at least 20 years now on most models (my '07 Tundra has a sealed transmission). You shouldn't need to do a thing until the manual says to (which is like 200k miles). Even then the simple way to do it is just drain the oil out of the pan into a measured container and put the same amount back in. No flushing. You'll get about half so if you do it two or three times you'll get it all.

  12. #12
    Umm... Just my opinion, but there's no such thing as a 'sealed' transmission, no matter what the factory calls it...

    this is a youtube video screenshot of a 2007 Tundra sealed transmission being serviced...
    tst.jpg
    Notice the mechanic has a socket on one of the bolts that holds the transmission cover pan on. To the right a bit is the drain plug. Drain pan gaskets can shrink over time and leak. If that mechanic doesn't tighten that drain plug, it's going to leak. The hydraulic lines to the fluid cooler can leak. The cooler itself can leak. The front input shaft seal can leak, and the rear output shaft seal can leak. Many cars go their entire lives not leaking, many don't. BECAUSE any transmission can leak, there should be a user accessible way to measure the fluid level in the things. With no dipstick, the only 'user method' is to assume it's low if the transmission starts slipping. And by then...

    Today's vehicles are amazing, but I don't appreciate having to pay a mechanic just to tell me if my transmission is still full...
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    Umm... Just my opinion, but there's no such thing as a 'sealed' transmission, no matter what the factory calls it...

    BECAUSE any transmission can leak, there should be a user accessible way to measure the fluid level in the things. With no dipstick, the only 'user method' is to assume it's low if the transmission starts slipping. And by then...

    Today's vehicles are amazing, but I don't appreciate having to pay a mechanic just to tell me if my transmission is still full...
    The scale and durability if these transmissions is recorded with the NHSTA. While there have been multiple engine recalls in the past ten years, the only transmission subject to class action (due to known chronic failures) was the Ford Powershift.

    While it is possible to break an anvil, it's no longer commonplace. Most car buyers sell their cars on long before mechanical wear or soft parts begin to leak.

    When was the last time any of our gentle readers saw a car broken down by the highway?

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Matthews View Post
    While it is possible to break an anvil, it's no longer commonplace. Most car buyers sell their cars on long before mechanical wear or soft parts begin to leak.

    When was the last time any of our gentle readers saw a car broken down by the highway?
    You may live in a rarified environment where all the children are above average and all the BMW’s are leased. But if you talk to an average BMW mechanic, mebbe buy him a drink, you will learn that there are many cars on the road that are still crap. ;^)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Dawson View Post
    You may live in a rarified environment where all the children are above average and all the BMW’s are leased. But if you talk to an average BMW mechanic, mebbe buy him a drink, you will learn that there are many cars on the road that are still crap. ;^)
    Car and Driver digs into this very topic, every couple of years. Leasing is favored by luxury sedan drivers.

    The linked article (and other, even older ones) mention a figure of 70% for BMW cars under lease.

    Clearly, most BMW enthusiasts agree that these aren't worth operating outside of the warranty period.

    That said, accounts of the ZF8HP failing in even BMW due to ATF loss or software failures are few.

    What's taking down cars in the past 15 years?

    How many of those would be saved by a dipstick?

    https://www.themechanicdoctor.com/zf...s-good-or-not/

    https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a1...nly-purchased/

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