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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello everyone.

I own a 2008 FJC, purchased in 2014. It is 4x4.

I now have 202,000 miles and have been getting an occasional transmission shudder.
I foolishly trusted the Toyota statement about the transmission being sealed and not needing service.

I have a lot of experience off-roading and even doing my own repairs, but never had an automatic transmission before, so I am ignorant in that area.

Anyway...

I figure that tranny fluid is probably more like tar than anything else by now and I want to change it.

The dealer service department told me that a transmission flush with this many miles can actually "shock" the system and could cause major problems. A local trusty transmission shop said this also.

Both the dealer and the tranny shop said a basic service would be about $225, which seems ridiculous to me with only about 4 quarts being replaced.

I also want to install a Hayden Automotive 679 Rapid-Cool Plate and Fin Transmission Cooler.

So what do the experts think?

Here's what I am thinking:

Do a basic service myself, dropping the pan, cleaning the filter, and replacing the fluid that I loose (into a measured cup/bucket), and also installing the transmission cooler with whatever extra fluid that needs.

Is the "filter" worth replacing, or just clean it out and reinstall with a new gasket? I see it's a wire mesh and not a true filter.

Then drive it for a few thousand miles and repeat the basic service, and keep doing this until the fluid is finally red like it should be. This may take a few months even, but maybe its a way to slowly replace all the fluid without "shocking" the system.

What do you all think?

FYI
I live in the high country in Arizona (White Mountains), so we get sub freezing temperatures up here. It's been down to the teens in the morning, and into the 40s during the day. The summers are mild, but I drive into the valley where it can get 120F easy. Also Death Valley etc.
I have to take steep grades etc.

Towed a 2800lb travel trailer every day when I was in California for my master's degree. Trailer is sold but will be getting another soon. Probably an RPod (same weight more or less).

I want this thing to last, but like I said I have zero experience with automatic transmissions.

We just had to replace the tranny in my wife's Jeep JK Unlimited. That was $2400 when it grenaded out of the blue-no warning. I don't want to go through that with this vehicle. I love my FJC!

Thank you in advance.
 

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MOAB SUPERSTAR
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I went through this with my dealership years ago and when we both realized that we were talking about two different things, they’ve happily serviced my tranny on a regular basis. The term “flush” implied a pressurized exchange of fluid which could potentially loosen particles that had become encrusted on the interior....and potentially damage the tranny. However Toyota said they could do a full fluid exchange with a machine that interrupts the normal flow and gradually replaces with new fluid. No internal gunk gets stirred up. Had my first one at about 90k mi and been keeping it up. Now at 157k mi, trouble free, and wheel hard.
 

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local trans shop or dealer may be referring to a full flush or full fluid replacement that is about 13-14 qts hence the large cost (or maybe not and they are just ripping you off). I personally would buy replacement gasket, replacement strainer and drop the pan and replace the 3.5 to 4 qts of fluid. Run it for a month or so and drain/replace pan fluid again. I pretty much drain and replace my trans fluid at every other oil change or no less than once a year. If I were in your shoes, I would drain and replace every 3 months or 3000 miles until it looks like new fluid at each drain and then go to once a year.

I use Valvoline Maxlife ATF that meets the Toyota WS (and a whole bunch of other manufacturers). Costs $18 per gallon at WalMart.

You may be too late to ensure this transmission will last forever, but I have been a believer of regular drain/refills on all my vehicles for 30+ years now and never have had a transmission failure.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
local trans shop or dealer may be referring to a full flush or full fluid replacement that is about 13-14 qts hence the large cost (or maybe not and they are just ripping you off). I personally would buy replacement gasket, replacement strainer and drop the pan and replace the 3.5 to 4 qts of fluid. Run it for a month or so and drain/replace pan fluid again. I pretty much drain and replace my trans fluid at every other oil change or no less than once a year. If I were in your shoes, I would drain and replace every 3 months or 3000 miles until it looks like new fluid at each drain and then go to once a year.

I use Valvoline Maxlife ATF that meets the Toyota WS (and a whole bunch of other manufacturers). Costs $18 per gallon at WalMart.

You may be too late to ensure this transmission will last forever, but I have been a believer of regular drain/refills on all my vehicles for 30+ years now and never have had a transmission failure.
They both specifically said that it would cost just about the same to do a full flush as the regular service. I found this alarming and decided at that moment that they are less than honest about this.

I am going to do what you suggested: drop the pan and replace the 3-4 quarts, then do it again at the next oil change, and keep doing it until it is all red. Figure maybe I'll wait on adding the cooler until the third change, just to be safe? Or maybe the extra needed for the cooler will help? Gotta think on that.

Do you thinjk adding the Maxlife or other compatible fluid pose any danger mixed with the stock Toyota brand?

Thank you!!!
 

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Not sure I see any benefit in "dropping the pan" when replacing the ~4 quarts of fluid in the pan. The "filter" is just a screen, and not an actual particulate filter. If there is enough gunk or debris on the screen to restrict fluid flow, the transmission probably needs a complete overhaul.

Just drain the pan, replace the same volume of new fluid, and carefully adjust the final fluid level with the transmission at operating temperature. Repeat every few months until you you have done this at least 4-5 times, and you will effectively replaced ~90 - 95+% of the original fluid.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Not sure I see any benefit in "dropping the pan" when replacing the ~4 quarts of fluid in the pan. The "filter" is just a screen, and not an actual particulate filter. If there is enough gunk or debris on the screen to restrict fluid flow, the transmission probably needs a complete overhaul.

Just drain the pan, replace the same volume of new fluid, and carefully adjust the final fluid level with the transmission at operating temperature. Repeat every few months until you you have done this at least 4-5 times, and you will effectively replaced ~90 - 95+% of the original fluid.


So dropping the pan is pointless? I figured it would be good to see if there is any debris in there. Wouldn't cleaning off debris from the filter/straining mesh prolong the life of the transmission?
 

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So dropping the pan is pointless? I figured it would be good to see if there is any debris in there. Wouldn't cleaning off debris from the filter/straining mesh prolong the life of the transmission?
My two reasons for dropping the pan are to get the extra fluid out (if I recall, its about another 1/2 qt) and to see what if any crud is in the bottom of the pan and how much metallic filings are stuck to the magnets that are in the bottom of the pan. Even if they are small, I want to get all the particulates out of there to limit their circulation with the other fluid.

And if you find any large particulates, large metal filings, you can start saving for a new trans because it will be needed soon.
 

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Dropping the pan is not "pointless", but is it time, cost, and risk-effective?

Pulling the pan DOES allow you to see how much accumulation of "sludge" (friction plate material) there is on the bottom of the pan, and particularly if there are any pieces of ferrous debris stuck on the pan magnets.

However, if the transmission is functioning correctly in all ways, what action will your findings trigger? What if you find .010" of sludge on the bottom of the pan, or .040"? will you immediately overhaul or replace the transmission? I don't think so.

What if you find a small piece of steel broken off the end of a retaining ring? This is more of a concern, but if the transmission is operating perfectly, what will you do?

The pint of so of transmission fluid remaining in the pan after a "drain plug drain" has no significance if you are draining only the pan, and leaving the remaining 10 quarts of "old" fluid in the system.

If the trans pan gasket is not leaking, and the trans shows no operational problems, I'd just perform the repeated pan drain & fill process, add your aux trans cooler, drive conservatively, and hope the transmission remains trouble-free for 300K+ miles.
 

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I kind of have to agree with what your dealer is telling you. I have a 2005 Tacoma Prerunner and about the 200,000- 205,000 mile point, I too was wondering about just refreshing everything and go for the 400,000 mark of miles driven. I asked transmission shops and several dealers. None said I was living on borrowed time, but one well known independent shop and one quality (?) dealer did say as long as it is working, not slipping or leaking.... leave it alone! I now have over 250,000 on it and it runs good. I did changed my universal joints in the Tacoma, and that took that shudder, or that thump-lag out of it immediately. Have you checked you U-joints?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Both arguments sound good.
So now I am torn between what to do:
Drain the pan oil and replace, or drain the pan oil, drop the pan, and remove-clean-replace the filter thing. Seems like cleaning the filter thing would be good, but like FJTest said, is it worth it.

Maybe I can just start by replacing the pan oil and adding a cooler, then doing the filter cleaning later.

What worries me is FJtest's comment to "drive conservatively, and hope the transmission remains trouble-free for 300K+ miles." I drive pretty conservatively, but I do go off-road, and to places like Death Valley, Tuweep, etc.

Is this a ticking time bomb?
Makes me think that the only way to have an idea of whether this transmission is on short-borrowed time is to check on how that pan and filter look like.

I read there's a bolt which is almost impossible to get to. I'll have to get under there and check.
 

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Both arguments sound good.
So now I am torn between what to do:
Drain the pan oil and replace, or drain the pan oil, drop the pan, and remove-clean-replace the filter thing. Seems like cleaning the filter thing would be good, but like FJTest said, is it worth it.

Maybe I can just start by replacing the pan oil and adding a cooler, then doing the filter cleaning later.

What worries me is FJtest's comment to "drive conservatively, and hope the transmission remains trouble-free for 300K+ miles." I drive pretty conservatively, but I do go off-road, and to places like Death Valley, Tuweep, etc.

Is this a ticking time bomb?
Makes me think that the only way to have an idea of whether this transmission is on short-borrowed time is to check on how that pan and filter look like.

I read there's a bolt which is almost impossible to get to. I'll have to get under there and check.
I may be spoiled by all the difficult trans pan changes I have done over the years including seemingly every GM product with no drain plug and a pan that you can't get out because of the exhaust system or something else in the way. I can recall swimming in trans fluid a few times in my driveway.

I can tell you the on '99 4Runner, '03 4Runner and '10 FJ Cruiser that dropping the trans pan after draining most of the fluid through the plug hole is the easiest ever. Nothing to it if you have any limited mechanical skills at all. And no leaking from the replacement gaskets (I dont overtighten and I go around and around the pan and tighten the bolts a little at a time after have finger tightened using socket. Also dont use any RTV silicon. Just the cork or fiber gasket provided).

I think you are overthinking this. Extra knowledge and peace of mind never hurts. And dropping the pan and inspecting gives me that. FJtest as usual has a valid point that it may be of little benefit except peace of mind. To me that is worth the extra 15 mins it will take to change screen and have a look in the pan. I do this on every used vehicle that I have bought.

As far as putting an additional supplemental trans cooler on it....i would probably do that after a couple of pan drain/refills. You can also look into putting a magnafine filter in the transmission oil cooler lines. I would probably do that sooner than later.

Also I dont think I answered your question on mixing of Valvoline Maxlife and OEM fluid. I personally dont think its any big issue, but if you are concerned, you can buy the Toyota WS fluid or I believe someone posted a couple of months back that Aisin (the maker of the Toyota A750F transmission) sells a WS compatible fluid at Rock Auto. I'll see if I can find a link.
 

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Here you go -- here is link to thread. There is a link to Rock Auto within the thread. Looks like current price is $5.78/qt or $23.12 per gallon plus whatever shipping charge to your home.

Walmart is free shipping over $35 or purchase at store or have it delivered to store if not in stock if you purchase the Valvoline Maxlife ATF.

https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/for...rock-auto-has-aisin-brand-ws-trans-fluid.html
 

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I think we just changed the fluid and filter on @Bar3K 's FJ. I remember it being rather dark and with a slight burned smell. It still shifts fine and there's no reason to believe any damage had been done by towing a medium load in low range for extended periods of time. We'll change it again soon to help dilute the 'bad' fluid, bit I have no doubts in my mind that the transmission is still very healthy. They're pretty stout transmissions, especially to be rated enough to pull it's own weight plus 5000# trailer. A cooler can be good insurance for those times when you need to get a little western with the skinny pedal off road.
 

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Sadly with "shuddering" as the OP mentions any fluid change is likely not going to solve the issue. In that case a complete fluid change and filter check is the way to go but may not provide improvement. I employ the drain and fill every 4-6 months method and that makes me feel better even though it may not be needed.

To me the single greatest thing you can do for these transmissions (longevity) is install the cooler. Since I did that my oil looks/smells new with each change.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
OK

So I'm going to go ahead and drop the pan and check out what's happening. I'll post pictures and possibly do a video of the whole process.

Also going to install the tranny cooler.

I ordered a replacement "filter" on Amazon: FRAM FT1237 Automatic Transmission Filter. It was $36 and the gasket alone is about $26 at the dealer, so figure I'll just replace it though I've hear they don't need replacement-just cleaning.

Looking at the Magnafine filter recommended by SilvFx, but am a little concerned that the poster below said he experienced a delay in shifting from D to R and back. Probably due to the tranny pump being worn out, but just thinking about it.

https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/for...69674-my-experience-magnefinefilters-com.html

I'm gonna use the Toyota brand fluid-at least for now. After the warning about "shocking" the tranny, I just don't want to take unnecessary chances.

Thanks again you all for the great advice! I'll keep checking in to see about any other points, and post pictures/video when done.
 

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OK

So I'm going to go ahead and drop the pan and check out what's happening. I'll post pictures and possibly do a video of the whole process.

Also going to install the tranny cooler.

I ordered a replacement "filter" on Amazon: FRAM FT1237 Automatic Transmission Filter. It was $36 and the gasket alone is about $26 at the dealer, so figure I'll just replace it though I've hear they don't need replacement-just cleaning.

Looking at the Magnafine filter recommended by SilvFx, but am a little concerned that the poster below said he experienced a delay in shifting from D to R and back. Probably due to the tranny pump being worn out, but just thinking about it.

https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/for...69674-my-experience-magnefinefilters-com.html

I'm gonna use the Toyota brand fluid-at least for now. After the warning about "shocking" the tranny, I just don't want to take unnecessary chances.

Thanks again you all for the great advice! I'll keep checking in to see about any other points, and post pictures/video when done.

Gotta love those local dealers and their markup. FYI...Cool Springs Toyota (a sponsor here on the forums) charges $17.32 for pan gasket and $42.27 for strainer. plus shipping See here:

https://parts.toyotaofcoolsprings.c...d-lubrication-cat/automatic-transmission-scat

RockAuto (also a sponsor here) has ATP or WIX trans strainers and gaskets for $22 to $25 plus shipping. They also offer a 5% discount code.

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog...v6,1445186,transmission-automatic,filter,8600

Any idea how much dealer is going to charge you per quart for Toyota WS Fluid? Remember Rock Auto offers the Aisin Type WS fluid which is exactly the same as Toyota WS.

No affiliation with any of these vendors -- but I am a smart shopper for best price.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Gotta love those local dealers and their markup. FYI...Cool Springs Toyota (a sponsor here on the forums) charges $17.32 for pan gasket and $42.27 for strainer. plus shipping See here:

https://parts.toyotaofcoolsprings.c...d-lubrication-cat/automatic-transmission-scat

RockAuto (also a sponsor here) has ATP or WIX trans strainers and gaskets for $22 to $25 plus shipping. They also offer a 5% discount code.

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog...v6,1445186,transmission-automatic,filter,8600

Any idea how much dealer is going to charge you per quart for Toyota WS Fluid? Remember Rock Auto offers the Aisin Type WS fluid which is exactly the same as Toyota WS.

No affiliation with any of these vendors -- but I am a smart shopper for best price.

Thanks!

Toyota dealer is charging $10 per quart.
 

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I had the same thing happen on my '13 TT at 85k miles. Looked on here, and saw the doom and gloom about a possible convertor failure. Took it to dealer, and they said yes I think you had a bad convertor.

After spending a night sweating like hell, and reading everything I could I decided to gamble on getting a trans flush and fill. Dealer performed it, and when they did it they noticed the 2 oil lines going to the cooler were sweating fluid. Replaced those lines, and completed the service, and it runs like a champion. (Knocking like hell on wood)
 
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