A/T service question

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Aug 4, 2003
Want to do tranny service on a recently acquired '97 LX 450 (87K miles) and am wondering what the consensus is on whether to spend the extra bucks and take it to Toyota for a power flush for $140, to the local oil change place who will do it for $70, or just drain and refill it myself a few times over a period of time. Your thoughts?
I also have a 97 LX 450 with nearly the same mileage. What I do is to drain the trans pan and refill every other engine oil change (or about every 5-6 thousand miles) At first the trans fluid was dark but now after a few refills it is nice and red.
Most people opt for a "fluid exchange" verses the "power flush". A power flush can loosen internal debrise which then can get caught in the inner workings of the tranny. Kind of like a blood clot, maybe some paraysis or worse death. A fluid exchange just swaps out the fuid without and detergents. I had a exchange done then every 10k drain and fill with M1 synth. Tranny loves this stuff, shifts better now than 60k ago.
Exchange or drain and fill periodically. Mine was exchanged at 90k, I just drained and filled 4qts at 117k and could tell a diff in shifting, so I will probably follow the above procedure of drain and fill every 2 or 3 engine oil changes (10-15k).
Maybe what I'm calling a power flush is actually a fluid exchange. They said they hook up a machine to the cooler lines and the tranny pumps out the old and the machine pumps in the new. Any concerns about switching over to M1 synth at this mileage? Do they mix OK?
There is not a freaking thing in the world wrong with flushing your AT. The best system involves removing your pan and filter. The machine then uses your own AT as the pump (no high pressure flushing) to continually run new, clean ATF through the AT untill all the old ATF runs out. Then you get a new filter and button it up.

I'm glad you dislike your 4Runner, so I presume you would like to join the ranks of 80/100 series owners.

But for your first post on this board you had better do some research on previous post regarding AT service before you command "There is not a freaking thing in the world wrong with flushing your AT".
...And that homework will also reveal that you don't put a "new filter" in a transmission with a permanent cleanable metal filter...

Funny, we owned two 4Runners and loved them both.

The temptation to save $70 and use the local quickie-lube vs. the dealer is understandable. I chose to use my favorite Toyota dealer for the fluid exchange. There were a lot of reasons (and some coersion); a few of the reasons would be pertinent to your decision.

If your neighborhood quickie-lube is well known to you and you trust their skilled craftsman and their willingness to stand behind their work then go for it. If not, then pay the extra to have it done by a Toyota dealer; they're more likely to know which tranny line is the input and which is the output. They're also more likely to know that little detail Doug pointed out and 4R-Hater missed... your tranny has a permanent metal filter. If the quickie-lube guy removes the tranny pan then they need to use the Toyota FIPG (?) to reseal the pan. I would bet they just look the other way and "button it up." :D

Thanks Beo - good point (damn it). Didn't realize the pan had to come off for the operation. That might be more than I'm willing to let q-man do to my rig.

So explain how flushing clean ATF at normal pressure through the AT causes damage....and give me a break, clean your screen if that's what you have.

[quote author=DRTDUCK link=board=2;threadid=6274;start=msg50503#msg50503 date=1066098144]
But for your first post on this board you had better do some research on previous post regarding AT service before you command "There is not a freaking thing in the world wrong with flushing your AT".
The pan doesn't have to come off for the fluid replacement. It needs to come off if they are going to clean the metal screen.

At your mileage, a drain/fill cycle will be fine. It will just take a long time if your plans are to switch to synthetic ATF.

It appears to me from your 2 posts that you have jumped into this forum looking for an argument. You won't get one from me.

However, I will point out that we've had several discussions in this section about auto tranny power flushes, drain/fills, and fluid exchanges. These discussions have changed my mind about "safe" automatic transmission service. There are numerous (no, I won't search for the old posts) reports where people have suffered transmission failures, soon after their tranny was power flushed. Nobody that I know is an expert in all the different types of machines out there, the skill level of the operators, and the additives/cleaners these places put into the machines. I also don't know the quality of the ATF fluid that all these places use.

A couple of the experts on this forum (CruiserDan and Christo) have stated their shops use a fluid replacement process for the ATF and they have found these machines safe and effective. I sure wouldn't bet the life of my transmission on an unknown shop and an unknown machine/technician.

I'll throw out one more data point. About 6 months ago I stopped in at the local automatic transmission specialist shop near my house. From the looks of their shop and their signage, their *only* business is automatic transmissions. I asked them if they would do a transmission flush. He asked the mileage. I told him 125k. He said "Nope, we won't touch your vehicle." I asked if he knew any place that would and he said, "Yep, the Jiffy Lube right down the street will do it. Every day we rebuild transmissions after they flush them."


I wasn't looking for an arguement with anyone, however DRTDUCK's condecending and uneducated remarks drew one out of me.

The lack of facts about ATF changes, flushes and or exchanges was the reason I responded. I would have assumed that most readers would know better than to try and make up for an unmaintained AT with burnt fluid with a flush system.

Once again, the system Slee uses was exactly what I described.

In re-reading the thread, I agree you got kinda thumped there by my comment. However, it's worth noting that typical netiquette would dictate a little less strong wording on your first post(s), particularly on a fairly techy board like this one where the level of knowledge is quite high.

Speaking personally, please take this for what it's worth but I've never liked it when a newcomer posts without at least including their name at the bottom. And finally, there is something mildly inflammatory about adding a screen name with the word "hate" in it that kinda gets my dander up.

Put it all together, and from my perspective I see a newbie with an annoying screen name posting wrong information emphatically. I can get over it, but just wanted you to see it from a perspective other than yours.

sexual tensions abound! :eek:

everyone take a step back...relax and breathe....gooooood.

Now...does this REALLY matter? :D
It's more than a little childish to assume that a "newbies first post" reflects their mechanical knowledge, don't you think?

As far as user name goes.....I'll try picking something more PC so as not to hurt anybodies feelings. I am on my 4th 4runner, current one being my second 85........and my back is more than ready for an FZJ80. I thought it was humerous myself.

[quote author=IdahoDoug link=board=2;threadid=6274;start=msg50594#msg50594 date=1066109148]
Put it all together, and from my perspective I see a newbie with an annoying screen name posting wrong information emphatically. I can get over it, but just wanted you to see it from a perspective other than yours.
I will just throw in my two cents here:

1) If you really want to get into the nuances of flush v. exchange v. drain and fill and the potential problems, go to bobistheoilguy.com and check out the ATF discussions.

2) There is a difference between an exchange and a flush. A flush involves adding cleaners during the exchange which tends to exasporate the problems of material being loosened when regular changes have not been performed. Also, it seems many of the cases where cars have failures following a flush involve flushing, and not changing the filter. The filter then clogs and the transmission fails from a lack of lubercation. This is less of an issue with the LC because of the screen filter. If you do flush a car with a filter transmission and it has not been done in a while, it is probably best to change the filter at the time of the flush and then again in a few hundred miles.

3) Since I am conservative, I would do the drain and fill a few times. An exchange should not be a problem, but make absolutely sure that 1) the trans is not being reversed flushed, and 2) no additives are being put in, only transmission fluid. I have read about this being a problem and would highly suggest if you go the exchange route, you personally watch them perform the exchange.


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