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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2001 2WD with Automatic tranny. It is now at about 42K miles. I get the engine oil changed at the dealer every 3-4 K miles. So in the last 10-11 trips to the dealer service station, they have never talked about the transmission fluid needing to be changed. What is the ATF replacement interval? The maintenance schedule does not clearly specify.
Thanks,
Ravster
 

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Some people say every 30k miles, others say every 60K miles. Dealers usually don't adhere to manufacturer schedules, so don't rely on them to tell you what is due. Did your Rav come with a maintenace supplement to the owner's manual? I think a tranny flush is every 60K miles althought I'd have to look in my book.

PS- When you post a question on this forum, sometimes you have to give it a couple days for a response.
 

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Toyota considers its automatic tranny fluid a 'lifetime' fluid. No changes, ever. Which is why it's not on the service schedule. Which I think is pretty silly. Dirty fluid and heat are what kill auto trannys. With frequent changes and the installation of a transmission fluid cooler you can expect an automatic to live for a loonnnng time.

When the tranny fluid starts becoming brown you're seeing the early stages of heat degradation.

I personally would go with a 40k interval for mostly highway driving. Every 24 months/30k miles is a typical recommended interval. Some people do it religiously every year/15k.

At 42k with some mixed or even mildly aggressive driving, I'd say you're overdue.

You'd be hard pressed to find ATF change intervals on vehicle service schedules these days. The EPA regulations require that cars be as maintenance free for the first 100k as possible in any area that could have an impact on emissions. So manufactuers are building setups that can do that, they just don't much care what happens after 100k.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys! Thats a big help. I was beginning to wonder if I just wasnt reading the maintenance schedule right!
Anyway, whats your take on the kind of ATF- is it better to go with Synthetic? What have other Ravvers been using for their trannies?
Thanks!
Ravster
 

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According to the Toyota factory maintenance schedule, an automatic transmission fluid change is not required for the Rav4 under normal operating conditions, hence the "lifetime fluid" assumption. Same thing with Volkswagens, although with VW's they also say you don't need to check it regularly either.

However, Toyota recommends a fluid change every 60K miles if your Rav4 fits the "special operating conditions" description. The maintenance items that used to be considered normal maintenance are now considered "special operating conditions" items. It's a load of crap. For all practical purposes you should consider your Rav4 to be in "special operating conditions" and perform the associated maintenace if you want it to last a long time.

Manufacturers these days have extended or eliminated transmission service intervals, not because the transmission design or fluid technolgy has advanced, but because consumers and the government have demanded that cars require less maintenance. I believe that extended intervals is one of the factors that caused the famous Toyota engine sludge problem. Honestly, automatic transmissions have not changed a whole lot in the past 50 years, so service intervals should not change.

Keep in mind that a transmission fluid "change" is different than a "flush". When someone peforms a "change", they just drain the fluid out of the tranny pan, and maybe clean the filter. Due to the design of the transmission, that method only actually drains 1/3 of the fluid, and leaves the other 2/3 in the torque converter and tranny cooler lines. When someone performs a true "flush", they hook up a machine to the transmission which pumps out all the old fluid and pumps in new fluid. This is the preferred method because it replaces all of the fluid. However it really boils down to personal preference.

I have a manual transmission, but I change the gear oil every 30K miles. If I had an automatic, I would get it "flushed" every 60K miles. Some people will do a drain and fill, or "change", every 20K-30K miles, but I think a real "flush" every 60K is better because I tend to be hard on my transmissions. In any case I would let only a Toyota dealer perform a tranny service (if I didn't do it myself) because the Rav4 can be picky, and they have all the right fluids and specs.

As for the fluid, the 2001 Ravs require genuine Toyota Type-IV ATF, and if you use anything else it will screw up the transmission.

If I were you, I would call up the Toyota dealer and ask them what they recommend for the tranny service on the Rav. Each dealer has their own schedules and services they offer. My local Toyota dealer recommends ATF changes every 30K miles, but that's mainly just to make money. Toyota itself says you only need to do a "change", and that's only "as necessary", but if your dealer says they can do a real flush, then go for it at 60K miles. Otherwise just do the regular "change" as soon as you can do it. After all, extra money spent now will help prevent a tranny disaster down the line.

I'm sure some of you will disagree with me, but that's just my opinion which is based on information I've gotten from trusted mechanics I know. I also tend to be overzealous with maintenance, so in reality you should be fine just getting a standard ATF change every 30K miles. The decision on whether to drain/fill or flush the ATF fluid is subject to the same debate as premium gas or synthetic oil; everyone has their own opinion, and there is a lot of misinformation (or rumors) floating around.
 

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Stelly will can offer some insight on this I'm sure...
 

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Comfort level, and beware the power flush!

Looking at the 2001 Toyota Scheduled Maintenance Guide, I see Jeff is correct: 60,000 mile tranny fluid change is called for only under Special Operating Conditions.

The 30,000 mile interval guideline, under Special Operating Conditions, says "Replace automatic transmission fluid (all models except RAV4)."
If it was all just low-maint-cost b.s., it wouldn't have that parenthesis statement.
For some reason, Toyota thinks the RAV tranny and fluid are able to hold up better than other models.

We can over-think this.
I believe it comes down to personal comfort level.

And ~beware~ the power flush. I've heard it can do more harm than good if it is not done properly. Something about flushing in the wrong direction, if I recall correctly.

RAV on.
 
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Well, I don't own a vehicle with an automatic tranny, I can't drive automatics... :wink:

However, I usually suggest to people with automatic trannies to change the fluid out every 30k. No flush needed, just a drain and fill. You have to make sure you measure how much fluid you're taking out, as that's the amount you'll put back in...don't over or under fill...that's bad news.

With our manual trannies, I'll change them usually in the 30k to 40k mile range. I've been bumping it up slowly as the RedLine fluid I use seems to come out of the trannies looking almost new.

The exception to my guidelines is the Rover, where I'll change that fluid more often, especially after a stint in deep mud or wading for a while...

Bogatyr
 
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Do yourself and your beloved RAV4 a favor and install a stacked plate aftermarket oil cooler for your automatic transmission fluid. I used a B&M 16kgvw installed after the OEM cooler. I was amazed at the high temps the RAV4 automatic transmission fluid consistantly ran at, 215-225F with easy driving! With the aftermarket cooler keeping the auto fluid temp at 170F, you can expect the transmission fluid to last around 100,000 miles. Presently, there is no substitute for the Toyota T-IV fluid, use it, it is reasonably priced.
I've already changed my transfer/rear differential fluid twice with Mobil 1 synthetic 75w-90 gear lube. The first time at 5,000 miles (lots of metal material from break-in) and the second at 10,000 miles (not even close to dirty as the first time). Noticed it was smoother after the changes. It took 1 quart for each.
 

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More tranny thoughts

Looking in the back of the 2001 Toyota Owner's Manual RAV4 (and not the Toyota Maintenance Guide), I see on page 250:

"Change automatic transmission fluid only as necessary.
Generally, it is necessary to change automatic transmission fluid only if your vehicle is driven under one of the Special Operating Conditions listed in your 'Scheduled Maintenance Guide' or 'Owner's Manual Supplement.' "

Remember that the RAV has a separate transmission fluid cooler, a real nice feature that contributes to long life of the system.

I looked at the Maintenance Schedules from the 3 closest Toyota dealers. The one with the best reputation shows trans fluid replacement every 15,000 miles! For US$79.56.

As for the link above to gadgetonline:
The guy can write and reason pretty well, but he doesn't claim to be a tech (he watches the techs), so I see his helpful observations and opinions as just that, not gospel.

Again, what are you comfortable with?

The dealer (supposedly) performed "transmission service" as part of my standard 30,000 mile service. Fine.
I expect I'll get it done again at the 90,000 mile dealer service, which I'll have done at 75,000 actual miles. I'm skipping the 60,000 mile dealer service, and pushing it out to 75,000. Then I'll skip the 90,000 and get the 120,000 done.
I'll continue to do my own oil and filter changes, but I'm pushing them out to 7,500 miles and getting the oil analyzed to see if it makes a significant difference over the 5,000 mile interval I've been using.

I drive my RAV with a light foot, especially when the engine is not yet up to operating temperature. Low stress preserves the drivetrain best of all, methinks.

Your mileage may vary.

RAV on.
 

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Every 15,000 miles is a little much, then again the dealer is trying to make money. $80 isn't a bad price, at most dealers an ATF change is $100 or more where I'm from.

What do the 60K and 90K mile services consist of? I make up my own schedule because I was tired of paying for stuff that wasn't needed. I maintain my tires and brakes on a separate schedule from the engine and powertrain, so most of those dealer service packages would duplicate work I already do.

If you got the tranny fluid changed at 30K then you should be fine getting it changed at 75K. The only reason to get it changed every 15K miles is if you tow trailers often or put other strain on your transmission on a regular basis.

I know the Rav's with automatics come with tranny coolers from the factory, but I'm not exactly sure what type of cooler.

I don't take a technician's word as gospel just because they are technicians, because I have been given a lot of bad information by people who were supposedly technicians. Most of the information I have comes from my own experience and research, or from personal friends and respected mechanics that I know. Technicians and mechanics are just like doctors and lawyers, they all have there own opinions. You just have to take all the information you get and make your own decision.

You could be one of those people that changes their transmission fluid every 10K miles and still have it crap out on you at 50K miles. Or you could be an old guy like my father who neglects every kind of preventative maintenance, yet his 97 GMC Yukon is going on 200K miles with no major issues other than the usual wear and tear items. Every car is different, that's why no advice can really be considered right or wrong, because what works from one person may not work for another.

When I figure out how I'm going to maintain my car, I usually compile all the information and opinions in my head, and come up with an average. Some people tell me to change my oil every 3K miles, others say every 10K miles is fine. So I change my oil every 5-6K miles, however it could be longer since I use synthetic. But it doesn't really save me any time or money to extend the oil changes past 5K miles.

Of course the most important thing, especially with newer vehicles, is that you stick within the requirements/limits of the warranty while the warranty is still in effect. Keep good documentation of all the service that is performed on your Rav just in case you need it for a warranty claim. I'm lucky because my warranty goes to 100K instead of the usual 60K, but in many cases you might still be able to have things replaced under warranty even though the warranty has expired, and that is where good documentation comes into play.
 

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I do differentials at 30k

And will do the tranny FLUSH at 50k. Why? Just because it's easy to remember :D
 
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