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Changing Transmission Fluid ***DIY w/ pics***

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GS - 3rd Gen (2006-2011) Discussion about the 2006+ model GS300, GS350, GS430, GS450H and GS460

Changing Transmission Fluid ***DIY w/ pics***

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Old 03-30-14, 11:02 AM
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alchemist
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Default Changing Transmission Fluid ***DIY w/ pics***

To change or not to change that is the question. As a highly debated topic on this forum, I felt it was necessary to share my experience.

Yes, I am aware the tranny is ‘sealed’.
Yes I am aware the claims of ‘lifetime’ fluid.
Yes I understand Lexus does not recommend changing the fluid nor does your favorite ASE certified Lexus technician.

Whatever. I am keeping my car until at least 250k miles so in my opinion this is absolutely necessary. My car just passed 100k miles.

First, let’s look at the evidence. After my first drain and fill of 2 Quarts of fluid, look at the difference between new and old fluid.



Now I am aware this may not tell the whole story. Just because the fluid is black, it does not mean it has lost its viscosity and lubricating ability and it still may feel super slick. So I sent a sample to Blackstone labs for analysis. Here is the result:

Their written analysis from Blackstone and breakdown below:

“We see lifetime oils a lot and the name can be very misleading. Since this fluid was the original fill, these metals are from the original break-in. Most of the metal is from new parts wearing in when the transmission was new and some of it is just normal accumulation over the last 100,000 miles. Now that this oil was changed, your next report should show some nice improvements as this stuff washes out. Your samples should look more like universal averages, which show typical wear after ~32K miles on the oil. No contamination was found. You are however, starting to lose viscosity at varying temperatures. Therefore, you changed at the appropriate time. Check back in 20,000 miles without draining."



It needed to be changed probably 20k miles ago.

Below I describe the procedure I found most efficient. I performed a series of drain and fills and did not do a flush as I was concerned of dislodging something that would affect the solenoids down the road. If I had fewer miles I may have just taken it in to a shop that had the BG PF5 machine and let them do their thing.

Disclaimer: Attempt at your own risk. This is the method that I found most useful and efficient – yours may differ and may not be the exact as described herein. As with any do-it-yourself project, unfamiliarity with the tools and process can be dangerous. This project should be construed as theoretical advice. I will not be held responsible for any injury due to the misuse or misunderstanding of this DIY project.

Here is an overview of what I did.
1. Drain 2-2.5 quarts/fill 2-2.5 quarts
2. (5000 miles later) Drain 2-2.5 quarts/fill 2-2.5 quarts
3. (5000 miles later) Drain 2-2.5 quarts/fill 2-2.5 quarts. Use fluid check procedure. Make sure ATF temp is below 46°C (115°F) and check fluid by opening overflow tube. Add fluid as necessary.
4. Repeat Steps 1-3. ***Note*** You do not need to wait 5000 miles between drain/fills. The fluid will be circulated with one drive down the block. I waited 5k miles because I changed my fluid when I did my engine oil change.

KEY POINT – as long as you replace exactly what you drained, you will have no issues. If you are off ½ quart you should not have a problem. I decided to check the fluid level at step 3 so if I was off more than I thought, I could adjust it accordingly, but I felt it wasn’t necessary to do this every time. After step 3, my fluid was perfect so steps 1-2 obviously worked (ie. Replacing the exact fluid that came out).

Ok, here we go…

Stuff needed:
- 12 quarts ATF World Standard (WS) fluid
- Fluid transfer pump or large syringe
- Crescent wrench or 20mm wrench
- 10mm wrench
- 14mm wrench



First, the steps for simple drain/fill:

I used rhino ramps. For the basic drain/fill, leveling the vehicle is not necessary. I actually think more fluid will drain out with the car in this position as the drain plug is to the rear of the tranny…



Remove plastic panel covering tranny. Three 10mm bolts and two plastic 10mm fasteners



Here you will notice the drain plug. 14mm bolt.



Drain fluid. It was soooo black.






***Note*** You have a couple options here. You can drain into a pan then measure the fluid in an empty container OR drain directly into empty container.








EXACTLY 2.5 quarts came out when I drained mine. Yours may differ.




Replace drain plug. Now you will access the fill hole on the driver’s side of the tranny. It is behind a cover, which is held by two 10mm bolts.










The fill plug is rather large. I used a crescent wrench to remove it. You can also use 20mm wrench. You can see it is stamped WS







Now add the EXACT amount of fluid that came out when you drained the pan. Use a fluid transfer pump or syringe.



Replace everything and you are done for the simple drain/fill step.

---→5000 miles later I did another drain/fill

next post...using check procedure...
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Old 03-30-14, 11:02 AM
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--→ Another 5000 miles and I did the Drain/fill with check procedure:

This time level the vehicle. I use a combo of rhino ramps and jack stands



Drain/fill fluid. It is best if engine is completely cold on this step.

Now check fluid temperature. Make sure engine is off and electrical systems too (such as air conditioning, audio, lighting)

Connect terminals CG (4) and TC (13) of the Data Link Calibrator (DLC3) which is located under your dash.













Start your car. The RPMS will bump up higher than normal and a bunch of lights will appear on the dash.





Move the shift lever from the P to the S position, shift the gear from 1st to 6th and then return the shift lever return to P position.

Next, move the shift lever to D, and quickly move back and forth between N and D (once within 1.5 seconds) for at least 6 seconds. This will activate the fluid temperature detection mode.


Return the shift lever to P and disconnect terminals 13 (TC) and 4 (CG).

You can remove the wire from OBD2 port. Allow the engine to idle until the fluid temperature reaches 41 to 46°C (106 to 115°F)


When temp is in the correct range, the D-shift indicator on the dash will stay lit.




Now check fluid level.

With engine idling, remove overflow plug.



***If fluid comes out, replace overflow plug when the fluid just trickles. You are done.

***If nothing comes out, you need to add fluid. Reinstall the overflow plug and stop the engine.

Remove the refill plug.
Add 1/2 Quart of fluid.
Allow the engine to idle and wait for 10 seconds.
Repeat the "CHECK FLUID LEVEL" procedure.

*****My advice is when you decide to do the drain/fill with the level check procedure, slightly overfill the tranny with fluid so you do not have to add after you check the level following the temp procedure. In other words if 2 Quarts drain out, add 2.5 quarts. Then you will be done after you check the fluid level the first time.

Good luck.

Last edited by alchemist; 03-30-14 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 03-30-14, 11:50 AM
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Sir nice write up, but why not go ahead and do all 12 quarts right there at 3 at a time. That is what I did and all the old pumped out with the new behind it. I used 12.5 quarts though as a half of the new ran out to tell me I was done.The Blackstone report is golden. Sorry I did not do that. You are the man.
Do you perchance have the part numbers for the crush washers for Drain, fill and overflow or did you reuse yours?

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Old 03-30-14, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by burny View Post
Sir nice write up, but why not go ahead and do all 12 quarts right there at 3 at a time. That is what I did and all the old pumped out with the new behind it. I used 12.5 quarts though as a half of the new ran out to tell me I was done.The Blackstone report is golden. Sorry I did not do that. You are the man.
Do you perchance have the part numbers for the crush washers for Drain, fill and overflow or did you reuse yours?
Thanks Burny. You are correct, you can do it all at the same time. Shifting through the gears and/or driving down the block will mix the fluid. And you can do this between each drain/fills. I chose to let mine slowly mix over time and clean out contaminants through several heating/cooling cycles. I used same washers with no issues.

When you checked your level how far off was it?
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Old 03-30-14, 12:53 PM
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i never had to fill it, it just trickled out and I buttoned it up. I had a helper when I did mine to cut engine on and off as I took 3 at a time out. I reused same washers as well, but want to replace them next time. I have a GX470 now that I will get some more practice on. The GS300 just uses the treanny cooler lines and I love that procedure.
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Old 03-30-14, 06:54 PM
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Does the GX470 share the tranny w the Tundra? If so my dad the exact same procedure as I did with the drain/fill and fluid check.

Yes the GS300 seems much less tedious
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Old 03-30-14, 10:36 PM
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Intersting.....one concern I have is that with this procedure, you can never get a full fluid change.
12qts is the capacity, you remove say 3qts for simplicity, you then have a mixture of
9 old and 3 new......it mixes......you drain 3qts (again for simplicity of math) - you remove 1/4 of the 9/3 mixture, removing 2.25 old and 0.75 new. Add 3 new.
you now have a mixture, 6.75 old 5.25 new.
Repeat ---- remove 1/4 of capacity - removing 1.7 old 1.3 qt new - add 3 new - then you have 5 old and 7 new....you get my drift. WTH does the dealer do anyways?
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Old 03-30-14, 10:44 PM
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I understand the concern as there would also be some old fluid left. However even after the three drain/fills ive done i actually notice a difference. In my opinion as long as you have a greater ratio of new to old youre good.

The dealer either...

1. Wont change at all
2. Does drain/fill
3. Has BG PF5 machine and does the flush.

The tech manual has an outline of #2 which i followed with some modifications.
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Old 03-30-14, 10:48 PM
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My toyota dealer wanted $250 for one drain/fill, my lexus dealer wouldnt touch it, and an independent had the BG machine but not the proper fittings.

So i did it myself
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Old 03-31-14, 04:34 AM
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I have an 07gs and i'm at 80 k. I ask my lexus dealer about a tranny flush and the SA told me that they wouldnt do it until 100k miles. I don't mind paying the dealer to do it because i'm not a DIY guy. Should i get an indy to do it now or just wait for the dealer to do it? Is a tranny flush and a drain /fill the same thing?
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Old 03-31-14, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by EyeKutr View Post
Intersting.....one concern I have is that with this procedure, you can never get a full fluid change.
12qts is the capacity, you remove say 3qts for simplicity, you then have a mixture of
9 old and 3 new......it mixes......you drain 3qts (again for simplicity of math) - you remove 1/4 of the 9/3 mixture, removing 2.25 old and 0.75 new. Add 3 new.
you now have a mixture, 6.75 old 5.25 new.
Repeat ---- remove 1/4 of capacity - removing 1.7 old 1.3 qt new - add 3 new - then you have 5 old and 7 new....you get my drift. WTH does the dealer do anyways?
He chose to do it incrementally. I did all 12, but only 3 at a time. Drained 3, filled 3 new qts. Started engine a few seconds and drained 3 more. repeated until cherry red was coming out the drain bolt then did the top off procedure. Will need 2 people if choose to do it this way. Buy 13 quarts as you will need 12 plus a partial.
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Old 03-31-14, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by wadeski View Post
I have an 07gs and i'm at 80 k. I ask my lexus dealer about a tranny flush and the SA told me that they wouldnt do it until 100k miles. I don't mind paying the dealer to do it because i'm not a DIY guy. Should i get an indy to do it now or just wait for the dealer to do it? Is a tranny flush and a drain /fill the same thing?
I think you'll be fine with waiting but it is up to you. It wont hurt if you do it early.

Flush and drain/fill are different. For a flush, most dealers and indys typically use the BG PF5 machine:



They connect this with specific fitting to the passenger side of tranny where the 'hockey puck' is:



This PF5 is connected on the pressure test port (at pthe puck location) and fill port (driver's side) - one to pump fluid in and the other to pull old out. You usually have to purchase 13-15qts to do this.

My advice if you want a flush is to go to a tranny-specific shop (if your lexus dealer does not have this device)

For a drain/fill - most dealers do this (as I described above), but they only do one drain/fill - replacing only 2-2.5 Qts then send you on your way.

Perhaps you can convince the dealer to do what Burny described - and have them do all 12 qts at once.

Good luck.

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Old 03-31-14, 08:37 AM
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Thank you Alchemist for such a detailed answer! Thats why I love this forum!
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Old 04-01-14, 11:07 AM
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Thanks for all the instructions and photos.

What happens if you didn't jump those OBD2 terminals at the end of the procedure?
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Old 04-01-14, 11:31 AM
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then there is an argument from the lexus engineers and/or technicians that you didn't accurately measure the fluid level because you didn't have knowledge of the right temp.

You bring up a good point however, you could just wait 5 minutes after starting your car (time it takes for fluid to warm to 106F) then check you fluid.

You would probably be close to the right temp.
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