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Transmission Fluid Change - diy and pics

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Old 07-05-10, 03:28 PM   #1
dco5000
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Default Transmission Fluid Change - diy and pics

I'm going to post this over a few threads, so if there are comments they can be directed to the sub-element of the fluid change.

This DIY is provided based on my own uncertainty of how to proceed on changing my -- 2004 RX330 with 113k mi driven in the NE US -- transmission fluid. We are the 2nd owners, bought 3 years ago with 58k miles on it. Car originally hit the road in May 2003 (7 years of wear and tear). My wife drives the car on paved roads and very normally (neither conservative or racy).

My reason for changing the fluid is that I felt the downshift was rough once or twice. For example when decelerating below 30 mph and then the traffic light turns green and stepping back on the pedal, I felt the shift, and the gears lurch a little. In the past, gear shifts were nearly imperceptible in this Lexus. Now after having changed the fluid (7.5 US QT), the shifting again is nearly unperceivable.

Estimates to change the fluid at local garages and dealers were $140 to $300 (Lexus). Only Lexus and Toyota used Toyota Type IV fluid. I could not find a RX330 DIY. I did find a good RX300 DIY. Note that RX300s require trans fluid changes regularly, while that is not a required maint in an RX330. Again my reasons for changing were to restore super-smooth shifting on my RX330 with 113k miles, change as much fluid as possible at one time, keep it simple, and replacing the current fluid with “lifetime” fluid (Type IV) versus a generic trans fluid with additive (The generic with additives are really meant for 4 years/60k mi, not lifetime).

I bought 8 qt from local Toyota Dealer, $5.12 US/qt – 12% local coupon (+ 7% local tax). I bought 8 qt for 4 ½ quarts for draining the pan, and 3 to 3 ½ quarts for pumping through the trans cooler line. This turned out to work extremely well. Other posts are 100% correct in how important it is to collect the used fluid and after refilling transmission through the filler tube, fill the empty bottles so you can see how much to replace.

I did not remove the trans pan, or clean the filter. The reasons I did not were: 1. Lexus choose to not require the fluid to be replaced meant they thought it was a pretty tightly sealed system and large amount of foreign contaminants are probably not getting into the trans, 2. the boards talked about paper versus metal filters which to me just added complexity (not keeping it simple), 3. my trans fluid looked clean on the dipstick and odorless, 4. changing the pan, filter and all those bolts creates potential for new leaks or seepage for contaminants.
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Old 07-05-10, 03:33 PM   #2
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Default Draining the Transmission Fluid Pan

Notes of draining the fluid. It was hard to turn the drain plug, maybe 60 or 70 lb force. I had to use a breaker bar over my 10mm Allen Wrench, actually had my wife assist because I did not want to risk stripping the nut by twisting instead of pulling. My drain plug did not appear to be magnetic (this was a surprise and different that what I had read on the boards; I assume there are magnets in the pan. This was not a concern to me, but I did want to note it). My fluid looked used, but neither new or dirty, just used. In fact when I flushed the trans cooler, I can’t say that I ever saw the color change from dark red to bright red. (And maybe I could have pumped 2 more quarts and I would have seen a difference, a $10 “what if?” that I can debate for another 10 years, until I change the fluid again.)

I drained, let it drip for 10-15 minutes, installed the drain plug and poured 4 qt thru the dipstick. I then emptied the used fluid back into the 1 qt bottles. That is how I now that I got about 4 ¼ to 4 ½ fluid through the pan. Don't have a filter? Visit a Dollar Store, or ask your Mom, Aunt or Grandma for an old one. Nothing special, just needs to fit into the dipstick hole (also useful for pouring from waste pan back into used bottles).
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Old 07-05-10, 03:50 PM   #3
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Default 3 Quarts from Trans Cooler Line

Here is the part that I think went really well and hope this DIY safely helps others. The RX300 DIY showed using the trans cooler return line to get 3 more quarts. My repair manual did not show or recommend using this method to get more fluid. The Haynes manual also did not address changing an RX330 versus a RX300 or Highlander (a little of a disappointment in the manual, thankfully the Internet boards were more detailed). The trans cooler lines on my RX330 are below the left side of the radiator, different from where they are shown for the RX300. The metal (steel? Aluminum?) lines on mine were heavily corroded, which is very VERY unusual for our RX, as almost everything is in “like new” condition for a car with 113k mi. However I decided to move forward and not bog down, 10 years from now, maybe I replace the metal lines.

Since the car was on ramps with jack stands as a backup, I was easily able to be sure which line would have fluid coming out of it and I would be able to control the draining once the car was ON and the fluid began to circulate. I’ve labeled that line in the photo. After using pliers to slide the clamp up the rubber tube, I tried to remove the tube from the metal line. I was surprised this was so difficult. I didn’t want to “break the seal” using a screwdriver, but ultimately I decided I had to. Gently I inserted a smaller screwdriver about 1 inch under the tube and rotated around the line. This worked and the tube wiggled off without having to pull too hard on the tube. This was psychologically the most stressful part of the whole job, as I didn’t want to have to replace a torn tube. In the end, it slid right off without any damage.

Some people talked about being nervous to have the car started. I was able to very comfortably hold the line facing downward and use a box (milk carton) to raise my waste pan very close to the hose, so I wasn’t worried about splashing. I could do this while sitting in front of the bumper and not under the car. I did not know how much velocity the fluid would have when coming out of the tube. I prepped my wife that she may need to “immediately” turn the car off, and we turned off all distractions (radios, climate control fan, kids to another area) before we continued. I had a good idea about how full the bucket would be with 3 qt of fluid (as that is what the RX300 boards suggested should be pumped through the cooler).

My wife started the car, about 5 seconds later a very steady stream of fluid began to flow. It was not so hard that the tube was harder to hold or created an arc or splashing when leaving the tube, just a solid steady stream. However, the idea to put my drain pan on a box for it to be close to the tube was extremely helpful. After 10-12 seconds about 3 quarts had come out. On my car, the fluid stopped being a steady stream and kind of started spitting (not violent but no longer steady). I asked my wife to immediately turn off the car. I reattached the tube to the line, and using pliers move the clamp back to where it should go. That went real smoothly, didn’t require any force and made good contact.

I then poured 3 qt of trans fluid into the filler tube. Emptied the used fluid into the now empty qt bottles, and then used an empty Gatorade bottle for the final ½ qt of fluid, as I still had a ½ qt in my 8th bottle. I checked for leaks, spent some time fumbling with the multiple splash guards, and then backed the car off the ramps, after removing the jack stands and bricks behind the rear tires.

Once on the ground, I ran the shifter through the full range of gears a few times. Shut off the car and checked the fluid level. It was right on full. The next day I drove the RX330 about 40 miles city and highway. The $40 I spent for Toyota Type IV was like getting a $44,960 discount on a new RX. Man my car shifts nice! Time and money well spent!

Good Luck to you all and please don’t do anything you feel unsafe doing. For me this was a very easy job because of the jack stands and experience of having installed my own underground sprinkler system a few years ago. i.e. I wasn’t worried about pulling the cooler lines off the fittings. Also my wife is really good at being safe and reacting quickly, so I wasn’t worried about her starting the car with me close to (but not under) it. I really wanted the Toyota fluid in it, but couldn’t justify paying the dealer labor charge (Lexus or Toyota) price to get it. Total time from start to finish, about an hour; 90% of it due to me not knowing where the cooler lines were, or how to properly re-attach the splash guards.
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Old 07-05-10, 06:08 PM   #4
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great diy post! Whats the rubber line you removed? is the the rest of the fluid left in the torque converter?
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Old 07-06-10, 12:44 AM   #5
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There is actually a good video on what you did, thanks for the post. Apparently this method is "a mechanic's secret".
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsdPAadc9fY
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Old 07-06-10, 01:33 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBooby View Post
There is actually a good video on what you did, thanks for the post. Apparently this method is "a mechanic's secret".
Thank you for the video. Very informative.
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Old 07-06-10, 02:41 AM   #7
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Wow! Makes me wanna go do it myself now But I think I will wait and show it to my friend and see what he says. Then maybe in about 20k

Fantastic find!
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Old 07-06-10, 08:11 AM   #8
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Post Transmission Fluid Change

This is a little bit off-topic but.........
The steel transmission cooler lines on my 2002 RX have about the same amount of corrosion on them as dc500's cooler lines.
My questions is; Is the amount of corrosion on these lines as shown in the photos of dc500's lines a cause for any great concern?
The lines on my RX look as though they still have plenty of "meat" on them and don't seem to be in danger of a catastrophic failure but I would rater be safe than sorry.
Maybe I will look at just replacing all of the cooler lines with 3/8" neoprene tubing and be done with it.
What's every ones opinion?
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Old 07-06-10, 08:31 AM   #9
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If you are to replace them, use the same spec. They were designed for a certain reason.

This tranny cooler was replaced on mine ( I did it after Lexus said I am out of warranty). The part was $50 and just unhooked, replaced and fill up the spilled fluid.

The new cooler had rubber bushing, instead of being bolted directky to the chassis.

I had a write up on this TSB.
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Old 07-06-10, 08:34 AM   #10
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This thread had my DIY on replacing the oil cooler.

https://www.clublexus.com/forums/rx-...to-30km-h.html
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Old 07-06-10, 08:37 AM   #11
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Great post!

This pic showing the corroded tubes is the oil cooler. I changed this because of a TSB, a thump where decelerating at 30 mph.
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Old 07-06-10, 02:07 PM   #12
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Thanks' all for your responses.
My RX is an AWD and has the trailer towing package which includes the aux. trans cooler.
I would imagine that I could replace the steel lines with the neoprene tubing and not negatively affect the transmission cooling. I don't think the steel lines contribute much to the overall removal of heat in the cooling process.
Any thoughts?
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Old 07-20-10, 02:25 PM   #13
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nicely done, sir! on a side note, I've been putting this job off since the fall of last year. I am thinking of taking the pan off of the transmission so I can clean those magnets off the metal shavings. I have the new pan gasket. would any gasket grease do for this job?
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Old 07-21-10, 12:11 PM   #14
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Nice DIY indeed.

My question is this...for my RX330, I had a heck of a time getting the fluid to the right level. For instance, I measured specifically what exactly was drained, and put that exact amount in, and now, when the engine and trans are completely cool, the ATF level is an inch and a half over the "HOT" notch on the dipstick...I notice that the transmission, when cold, shifts abruptly but then when it warms up, it is as smooth as it always was...

I honestly can't remember before I changed the fluid if the trans shifted abruptly when cold or not...that's what happens when you get old.

Bottom line: Do I have too much fluid in this unit???

Thanks much for replies.

JBL

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Old 07-21-10, 12:59 PM   #15
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mine shifts like that when cold,then when up to operating temp,it smooths out. I would check on a level surface,when hot,and definitely have the motor running when you check it.
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