How to Replace the Transmission Fluid in Toyota Cars

by Contributing Writer

Transmission fluid provides lubrication for the various components of your transmission. When transmission fluid gets old or goes bad due to environmental factors such as dirty roads or highly polluted areas, your transmission may begin to stick, squeak or hesitate when shifting. Although transmission fluid replacement is one of the more time consuming fluid changes in a vehicle, it is still a task that can be easily carried out by a mechanically-inclined Toyota car owner.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace the Transmission Fluid in a Toyota Sequoia

Open the hood and remove the dipstick. This will release pressure in the transmission tank and allow the fluid to drain faster.

Slide under the Sequoia with a pan that can be used to catch the draining fluid and a 14mm socket wrench.

Remove the drain plug on the side of the transmission pan with the socket wrench. Let the fluid drain for about ten minutes.

Screw the drain plug back on the transmission pan and remember to use a new crush washer. Tighten the plug to 15 foot-pounds. This concludes the work underneath the SUV.

Insert a funnel into the dipstick tube and begin pouring transmission fluid. You should use a synthetic Dexrol-III type of transmission oil. Any brand will work. Mobil 1 is a recommended brand. You need to pour roughly 4 quarts into the funnel. Do not overfill.

Let the fluid settle for about ten minutes, and then check the level by inserting and pulling out the dipstick. The fluid should reach the "Full" mark on the dipstick.

Put the dipstick back, close the hood, and record the transmission check in a maintenance journal.

Items you will need

  • Oil drain pan

  • Transmission fluid

  • Socket wrench

  • Small funnel

 How to Replace the Transmission Fluid in a 2005 Camry

Drive the car around for about 10 minutes to heat the transmission fluid. The hotter the transmission fluid, the thinner the transmission fluid will get. Thin transmission fluid drains faster and more comes out of the transmission.

Park the car on a level surface and turn the engine off. Then pop the hood.

Jack the front of the car and put the jack stands behind each front tire. There is a designated place behind each front tire on the 2005 Toyota Camry for the jack stands to sit. Lower the car onto the jack stands. Inspect to make sure that the car is sitting securely and evenly on the jack stands.

Locate the automatic transmission drain plug on the bottom of the transmission pan. The transmission drain plug has a 3/8-inch square hole in the center of the plug for the 3/8-inch ratchet.

Slide the fluid catch pan under the transmission drain plug. Insert the square part of the 3/8-inch ratchet into the center of the drain plug. Turn the drain plug counterclockwise to loosen the plug. Finish unscrewing the transmission drain plug with your fingers. Let the transmission fluid run out into the fluid catch pan until all of the fluid has emptied out.

Wipe off the transmission drain plug threads with a clean rag. Screw the drain plug back into the bottom of the transmission pan. Tighten the plug with the ratchet by turning the drain plug clockwise until the plug is tight. Slide the fluid catch pan out from under the car.

Locate the transmission dipstick on the passenger side of the engine. The transmission dipstick on the 2005 Toyota Camry has a red handle and can be found on the backside of the engine. Pull the dipstick out of the dipstick tube. Put the long-neck funnel into the dipstick tube.

Pour 2.8 quarts of the automatic transmission fluid into the funnel. Give the fluid a couple of minutes to run down into the transmission. Remove the funnel and reinsert the dipstick. Crank the engine and check the transmission fluid while the engine is running. The fluid should be near the top full mark on the dipstick. If the fluid is low, add a half a quart of the automatic transmission fluid at a time until the transmission fluid reads full on the dipstick.

Turn off the engine. Then jack the car up and remove the jack stands from under the car. Lower the car to the ground.

Items you will need

  • Car jack

  • Jack stands

  • 3/8-inch ratchet

  • Fluid catch pan

  • Long-neck funnel

  • Automatic transmission fluid

 When Should You Change the Transmission Fluid on a Toyota Siena?

Severe Driving

Toyota recommends inspecting and changing the transmission oil sooner if your driving habits fall under one or more of these conditions: Towing a trailer regularly; making constant short trips of less than five miles under freezing temperatures; idling excessively or frequently driving at low speeds; driving on rough, muddy, unpaved or slat-covered roads.

Inspection

Check the transmission oil with the engine under operating temperature and idling. Set the transmission in park and pull the transmission oil dipstick. The oil should read between the add and full marks, and have a reddish and transparent color. If the oil shows a brownish and opaque color, replace it.

Warning

Just like engine oil, the fluid in your Sienna transmission might become contaminated with friction material, moisture and dirt over time. If not changed at the recommended intervals, contaminated oil will cause excessive wear and damage of internal components.

Properties

The oil recommended by your car manufacturer for your Toyota Sienna combines several additives to function properly with the friction clutches and bands inside the transmission.

Operating Conditions

As it travels through the torque converter and the transmission body, the oil absorbs great amounts of heat, which the oil cooling system must remove to avoid transmission failure.

 How to Change Transmission Fluid on a 2000 Toyota Tacoma

Raise the truck with the jack and support the vehicle with jack stands. You can omit this step if necessary, but it will be much more difficult to work underneath the truck.

Place the container below the transmission pan drain plug. The pan is attached to the bottom of the transmission, approximately even with the two front wheels. Use a wrench or socket to turn the plug counterclockwise to remove it. Allow the fluid to drain completely and replace the plug.

Remove the bolts that hold the pan on the transmission. Gently tap the pan with the mallet to break the seal, while holding the pan in place with one hand. Remove the pan and drain the remaining fluid into the container.

Take out the four screws that hold the filter cover on the transmission body and remove the cover. Take out the filter and replace it with a new one. Reattach the filter and cover.

Clean the attaching surfaces of the pan and the transmission body to remove the old sealant. Apply a line of RTV sealant to the entire attachment surface on the rim of the pan. Make sure there are no gaps that can cause a leak.

Reattach the transmission fluid pan to the transmission. Use the torque wrench to tighten the bolts to 60 inch-pounds. Lower the vehicle from the jack stands.

Open the hood and remove the automatic transmission fluid dipstick. It is located near the truck's firewall, on the driver's side of the engine. Insert the funnel into the dipstick tube and add 3 qts. of transmission fluid. Replace the dipstick into the tube.

Start the vehicle and engage the parking brake. Press the brake pedal and shift the gear selector into "Reverse." Wait a few seconds and move the selector back, to the next gear position. Continue until you have shifted through all gears and then return the selector to "Park."

Remove the dipstick, wipe it off and replace it. Remove the dipstick and check the fluid level. It should be between the two notches marked "Cold." If not, insert the funnel and add 1/4 qt. of fluid. Re-check. Repeat this process until the fluid reaches the proper mark.

Drive the vehicle several miles to bring it to operating temperature. With the vehicle running, re-check the fluid level. Now, the level should be between the two notches marked "Hot." If the fluid is low, add more, following the procedure in Step 9.

Check underneath the vehicle for leaks.

Items you will need

  • Automotive jack

  • 4 jack stands

  • Container to collect fluid

  • Rags

  • Socket set

  • Rubber mallet

  • Torque wrench

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • New transmission fluid filter

  • RTV sealant

  • 4 qts. automotive transmission fluid (see owner's manual for the proper type)

 How to Change the Transmission Fluid on a 2003 Toyota Tacoma

Run your Tacoma truck for at least 10 to 15 minutes prior to changing the transmission fluid. If the old fluid is warm, it will empty out of the transmission faster than cold, thick fluid.

Raise your Tacoma using a car jack and jack stands so that it is horizontally even with the ground beneath it. Uneven elevation causes problems in both reading the dipstick fluid level as well as creating a hazard while removing the transmission pan, because fluid can spill onto you during the procedure.

Place your drip pan on the ground directly beneath the drain plug portion of the transmission pan. Your transmission pan can be easily identified as the square metal object closer to the driver's side wheel under your truck, with numerous bolts holding it in place.

Use your 24mm socket wrench to unscrew the drain plug at the side of the transmission pan. Transmission fluid will start coming out of the plug immediately, so keep your face away from the plug.

Wait about 10 minutes to be sure that the majority of loose fluid has emptied.

Unscrew the bolts surrounding the transmission pan. When you get to the last few bolts, keep the pan level so that no fluid from the bottom of the pan drips onto you.

Clean both the inside and outside of the transmission pan using your degreaser on the shop rag. Do this thoroughly so that the new fluid does not become contaminated with harmful particles from the old fluid.

Lift the transmission pan back into its original position under the transmission.

Wind each bolt with your fingers just enough to hold the pan up.

Torque the bolts down securely using your 24mm socket wrench. Fasten the bolts flush with the transmission so that no openings are exposed where any fluid could leak out.

Open the hood of your truck and locate the transmission's fill plug, near the driver's side of your Tacoma. When you unscrew the fill plug, you will see that the dipstick is attached to the cap.

Turn your ignition key so that your Tacoma is running during this portion of the procedure. This allows the fluid to flow warm, providing a more realistic reading of the transmission fluid, considering that the truck will be running when the fluid is in use.

Pour the first qt. of transmission fluid into the fill plug using a funnel for accuracy.

Push your emergency brake to the floor and shift the car into various gears for a few seconds at a time. Your foot should also be on the brake pedal for extra safety during this step. Putting the car in different gears forces the transmission fluid through each part of the transmission system and opens more space for more fluid in the fill plug area.

Pour the other qt. of fluid into the fill plug, but go slowly so that there is no overflow. The entire second qt. may not fit into the transmission and you do not want to risk spilling the fluid, creating a messier area to clean up.

Shift the car's gears once more before cleaning up, to ensure that the transmission fluid is completely lubricating every gear in the transmission.

Finish the transmission fluid change by lowering the car jack, removing the jack stands, replacing the fill cap and closing your truck's hood.

Items you will need

  • 2 qt. Dexron transmission fluid

  • Drip pan

  • Damp shop rag

  • Safety glasses

  • Petroleum-resistant work gloves

  • 24mm socket wrench

  • Degreaser

  • Funnel

 How to Change the Transmission Fluid in a Toyota 4Runner

Crank the engine and let it run for 30 minutes prior to changing the fluid. Transmission fluid must be at operating temperature before a change. Turn the engine off after the specified time. Park the 4Runner on a level surface and engage the parking brake.

Place the drain pan under the transmission pan. Remove the drain plug and let the fluid drain into the pan. The fluid will be hot; make sure you are wearing gloves and stay away from the flowing fluid.

Remove the old drain plug gasket from the drain opening and discard. Place the new gasket in its place and tighten the drain plug bolt.

Pop the hood and remove the transmission fluid dipstick. Insert the funnel into the opening and add the recommended amount of transmission fluid (depending on your year model). Replace the dipstick.

Crank the engine and toggle through all of the gear selections with your foot on the brake. Allow the engine to run for 10 minutes. Turn the engine off and check underneath the vehicle for leaks.

Items you will need

  • Drain pan

  • Gloves

  • Socket wrench set

  • New transmission plug gasket

  • Funnel

  • New transmission fluid

 How to Change the Transmission Fluid in a Toyota Tundra

Park your Tundra on level ground. It may help to raise it to gain easier access to the transmission. Be sure the truck is stable before going under it.

Remove all of the dirt and grease from around the drain plug. Place a drain pan directly underneath the drain plug. Use a socket wrench to remove the plug and allow the old fluid to run into the pan. Allow the fluid to drain completely.

Replace the drain plug. Use a new sealing washer if necessary. Remove the drain pan and dispose of the old transmission fluid according to your local ordinances.

Add the new transmission fluid through the fill tube. Some of the old transmission fluid will still be within the transmission. Pour the new fluid through the funnel, and use the dipstick to check the level. If needed, continue to add fluid.

Replace the dipstick into the filler tube. Start the engine and allow it to idle. Shift the transmission through the gears, then back into Park. Re-check the fluid level while the truck is idling. Add more fluid if necessary.

Items you will need

  • Funnel

  • Drain pan

  • New transmission fluid

  • Socket wrench

 When to Change the Transmission Fluid on an Automatic Toyota?

Draining the Oil

Before draining the oil, warm up the engine and transmission by idling the engine for a few minutes. Than raise and support the front of your Toyota on jack stands. On some models, you can remove a drain plug located on the side of the transmission oil pan. Otherwise, you need to remove the oil pan.

To remove the pan, first unscrew the side and front pan mounting bolts after placing a catch pan underneath. Loosen the back bolts just enough to detach the front of the pan from the transmission to allow some of the oil to drain on the catch pan. Once the oil stops draining, hold the pan using a shop rag as you finish removing the back mounting bolts. Hold the pan in a horizontal position and lower it over the pan. Then you can tilt the pan to drain the remaining oil.

Refilling the Transmission

On many Toyota models, it is a good idea to replace the transmission oil filter when changing the oil. Check your car owner's manual for the recommended intervals for your particular model. If you decide to install a new filter, make sure to install a new O-ring on the filter fitting too, if required.

Before you install the pan, perfectly clean the gasket mating surfaces underneath the transmission and the oil pan. Install a new gasket and sealer, if necessary, and start the mounting bolts by hand to prevent damage to the threads. When tightening the bolts, use a crisscross pattern and do not over tighten to avoid tearing the gasket or distorting the pan, recommends James E. Duffy in Modern Automotive Technology.

Your car owner's manual lists the correct type and amount of transmission oil appropriate for your specific model. Add the oil through the transmission dipstick tube. After that, start you vehicle; shift through the gears and back to Park. Turn off the engine and check for oil leaks.

 How to Change Transmission Fluid in a 1999 Toyota Camry

Buy a transmission filter, gasket and fluid from an auto parts store. You can look in the parts book provided on location or the auto parts employees can help provide the correct fluid, gasket and filter you that need.

Position your Camry onto jacks or ramps to have access to the underside of your engine. Engage the emergency brake to make sure the car does not move during this process.

Crawl under the engine and look for the rectangle transmission pan. There will be a drain plug next to this pan. Position the fluid drip pan under the drain plug to catch the fluid.

Grab your 3/8-inch socket wrench and loosen the drain plug. Allow the fluid to drain thoroughly, about 10 minutes. While you wait, fill the new filter with fluid and provide a seal on the filter gasket by dipping your finger in fluid and running it around the edges.

Remove all the bolts that hold the transmission pan in place, except for one bolt on each side of the pan. Loosen the four remaining bolts about halfway to allow the transmission fluid to pour out of the pan. Reposition the drip pan if you needed to catch the fluid.

Remove two opposing bolts on the pan when the fluid stops pouring out. Brace the transmission pan with one of your hands as you remove the last two bolts. The pan will still have fluid in it, so lower the pan carefully and allow it to drain into the drip pan.

Wipe the inside of the transmission pan and the magnet located on the pan with clean shop towels or paper towels. Remove the pan gasket with a plastic scraper as a metal one may scratch the surface. Position the new gasket on the pan and hold it in place with one of the bolts to prevent shifting.

Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the old transmission filter in place, and then flip the filter over on the drip pan to allow it to drain before disposing of it. Fill the new filter with fresh transmission fluid and provide a seal by dipping your finger in the fluid and rubbing it on the outer gasket of the filter. Attach the new filter.

Carefully position the cleaned pan and new gasket into place. Screw in all the bolts until they are halfway tightened, then use a back-and-forth sequence to tighten them all of the way.

Open the hood and secure it open. Find the red-handled transmission dipstick and remove it. Using a funnel, add three qts. of transmission fluid.

Turn your engine on and lower your truck off of the ramps or jacks. Let the engine idle for 5 to 10 minutes to let the fluid get warm and expand to get a correct fluid reading.

Check your fluid level by wiping your dipstick with a shop towel or paper towel and dip it in. You want the fluid to read at the top line. Add fluid a little at a time and keep checking until your get the appropriate reading. Replace the dipstick into the holder and lower hood.

Items you will need

  • Front jacks or ramps

  • Fluid drip pan

  • 3/8-inch socket wrench

  • Philips screwdriver

  • Transmission fluid filter

  • Transmission fluid, 4 to 5 qts.

  • Transmission pan gasket

  • Shop towel or paper towels

  • Funnel

  • Kitty litter and broom, if needed for spills