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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings all! 2016 RAV4 100k miles. I'd like to ask my question with bullet points so each point is considered:

I know the "Lifetime" W/S fluid really only stands for the lifetime of the factory warranty which is 60k miles.
I know I'm capable of and wanting to change my fluid to Valvoline Maxlife which comes highly recommended.
I'm at 100k and I know my fluid is in need of changing since I'm getting shifting anomalies.
The dealer and another reputable shop find nothing "wrong" with my trans via road test and reading the codes.
My factory warranty has been doubled by the dealer so my warranty period is extended to 120k miles.
If I change out to Valvoline myself, I void the remainder of my 20k miles left on my warranty.
If I don't change my fluid I feel that I'm just damaging my transmission.

So I feel I have three options:

1. Simply wait until 120k miles and change the fluid myself.
2. Have the dealer change the W/S fluid now and then do the changeover to Valvoline at 120k. <this is what I'm leaning towards
3. Change it myself now and void what's left of the dealer warranty.

Any help with suggestions would be really appreciated as I just can't decide what to do. Thanks in advance!!!!
 

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Greetings all! 2016 RAV4 100k miles. I'd like to ask my question with bullet points so each point is considered:

I know the "Lifetime" W/S fluid really only stands for the lifetime of the factory warranty which is 60k miles.
I know I'm capable of and wanting to change my fluid to Valvoline Maxlife which comes highly recommended.
I'm at 100k and I know my fluid is in need of changing since I'm getting shifting anomalies.
The dealer and another reputable shop find nothing "wrong" with my trans via road test and reading the codes.
My factory warranty has been doubled by the dealer so my warranty period is extended to 120k miles.
If I change out to Valvoline myself, I void the remainder of my 20k miles left on my warranty.
If I don't change my fluid I feel that I'm just damaging my transmission.

So I feel I have three options:

1. Simply wait until 120k miles and change the fluid myself.
2. Have the dealer change the W/S fluid now and then do the changeover to Valvoline at 120k. 3. Change it myself now and void what's left of the dealer warranty.

Any help with suggestions would be really appreciated as I just can't decide what to do. Thanks in advance!!!!
Hey there! Since you describe your distance in miles I’ll presume you’re in the US. As such, and as I understand the Act has been written and interpreted by the courts, the provisions and interpretations of the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act will apply to warranties. The warranty provider cannot require that you use their specific replacement parts or fluids unless they supply the parts/fluids to you for maintenance at their cost. Otherwise a compatible fluid/filter which meets the OEM spec should be sufficient. The tricky part is that although VML is listed as compatible with WS, Toyota hasn’t published a spec for WS, so nobody can say/certify that their fluid in fact meets the spec. All this is to say that unless there’s specific wording in the warranty (which may not hold up under the Act anyway) the dealer likely cannot require you to have them do the work. SoNic67 (active in 4.3 fora) has found a synthetic WS which is sold under the Aisin label - Aisin is a transmission maker subsidiary of Toyota which supplies to other manufacturers such as VW and Renault for example. But it is a specific WS fluid, and it’s synthetic, and it’s sometimes available for a better price than the non-synthetic Dealer WS.

While I don’t know your warranty terms, as long as you’re replacing the fluid with one that meets the WS spec, you should be fine. In case something happens, it’s damn near impossible for the warranty provider to actually make a case that replacing fluid would damage a transmission, particularly if the fluid meets the spec AND the work was done correctly. Remember that the onus under your laws is for the warranty provider to prove that the 3rd party work/part/fluid/component CAUSED the failure. Otherwise the warranty stands.

And anyway, if you use the Aisin WS, and something happens, if they perform a used oil analysis they will find that although new, the fluid IS the correct spec. VML actually has some properties which exceed the WS spec (although that shouldn’t be a problem either, but better not to chance it).

The Aisin WS has been available on Amazon, and may be at some jobber shops such as O’Reilly etc. Failing that you can always use the Toyota dino-WS which is good for 60,000 miles anyway, then change again later. For the record I’m a supporter of VML too - running it in my 2012 and due for a full change/flush.


2012 RAV4 Base FWD. Upgraded to large front brakes and 3rd row rear springs.

Link to SAE J2807 test description
 

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This might be silly, but to me ATF is cheap and transmission issues aren't. I just traded my 09 CRV in for my Rav4 with 250,000 and got decent cash because it was still running like a champ. As the years wore on her I started changing (nothing fancy, no flushing etc) my ATF every other oil change, which worked out to about once a year (about 15K miles). Probably $20 per year in added expense, and I think it paid off.

Note that if you've put off your ATF changes and it's really old, you are often better off leaving it rather than changing it - you can end up dislodging contaminants that aren't causing a problem now, but soon will. But that is exactly the reason I changed it so often.

edit - I guess my point is it's better to change it too frequently than to let it go too long...
 

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Actually your three choices all boil down to what you yourself feel comfortable with. I'll be doing a drain and fill on my 2015 Rav4 LE, but I only have 41,000 miles on the vehicle. I'll be using the Toyota WS which I got a good deal on. If you decide to change it yourself and want to use the Toyota brand WS here's a Toyota website you can check out. Put in your zip code and see if there are any dealers near you are that offer discounts.

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hey there! Since you describe your distance in miles I’ll presume you’re in the US. As such, and as I understand the Act has been written and interpreted by the courts, the provisions and interpretations of the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act will apply to warranties. The warranty provider cannot require that you use their specific replacement parts or fluids unless they supply the parts/fluids to you for maintenance at their cost. Otherwise a compatible fluid/filter which meets the OEM spec should be sufficient. The tricky part is that although VML is listed as compatible with WS, Toyota hasn’t published a spec for WS, so nobody can say/certify that their fluid in fact meets the spec. All this is to say that unless there’s specific wording in the warranty (which may not hold up under the Act anyway) the dealer likely cannot require you to have them do the work. SoNic67 (active in 4.3 fora) has found a synthetic WS which is sold under the Aisin label - Aisin is a transmission maker subsidiary of Toyota which supplies to other manufacturers such as VW and Renault for example. But it is a specific WS fluid, and it’s synthetic, and it’s sometimes available for a better price than the non-synthetic Dealer WS.

While I don’t know your warranty terms, as long as you’re replacing the fluid with one that meets the WS spec, you should be fine. In case something happens, it’s damn near impossible for the warranty provider to actually make a case that replacing fluid would damage a transmission, particularly if the fluid meets the spec AND the work was done correctly. Remember that the onus under your laws is for the warranty provider to prove that the 3rd party work/part/fluid/component CAUSED the failure. Otherwise the warranty stands.

And anyway, if you use the Aisin WS, and something happens, if they perform a used oil analysis they will find that although new, the fluid IS the correct spec. VML actually has some properties which exceed the WS spec (although that shouldn’t be a problem either, but better not to chance it).

The Aisin WS has been available on Amazon, and may be at some jobber shops such as O’Reilly etc. Failing that you can always use the Toyota dino-WS which is good for 60,000 miles anyway, then change again later. For the record I’m a supporter of VML too - running it in my 2012 and due for a full change/flush.


2012 RAV4 Base FWD. Upgraded to large front brakes and 3rd row rear springs.

Link to SAE J2807 test description
Thank you for this. I had that Magnusson-Moss nugget of info in my brain for the longest time but forgot about it. That kind of steers me to just changing it myself and I've already ordered the VML, enough to fill/drive/drain three times (-this in hopes of getting as close to a full flush as I can get). You bring up a very valid point about Toyota not releasing the specs of their WS! I think I'm willing to bet that if I do the changover to VML that the trans. will last another 25k miles and that will terminate the extended warranty. So I think that's what I'm going to do. Thank you for your reply good neighbor to the north!
 

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Thank you for this. I had that Magnusson-Moss nugget of info in my brain for the longest time but forgot about it. That kind of steers me to just changing it myself and I've already ordered the VML, enough to fill/drive/drain three times (-this in hopes of getting as close to a full flush as I can get). You bring up a very valid point about Toyota not releasing the specs of their WS! I think I'm willing to bet that if I do the changover to VML that the trans. will last another 25k miles and that will terminate the extended warranty. So I think that's what I'm going to do. Thank you for your reply good neighbor to the north!
You’re quite welcome! I do suggest that you do a touch more research on the Act and re-read your warranty paperwork just to be sure - don’t want to trip on a clause somewhere. And of course while I’m jealous of the MMWA I have no direct experience with it myself, as we have nothing comparable here. Due diligence is your friend.

On the other hand, do a visual check for leaks around the transmission. If there’s a leak, particularly from the pan gasket, that may be covered and TA-DA! The dealer will do a pan-drop fluid change at no cost to you! I had this just before my original powertrain warranty was up


2012 RAV4 Base FWD. Upgraded to large front brakes and 3rd row rear springs.

Link to SAE J2807 test description
 
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Buy the WS and change it. You’ll get out about 2qts for every drain and fill. Do it once at least for peace of mind just to make sure your level is correct and the current fluid isn’t goo.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Speaking of reading live transmission temperatures..... Can anyone recommend an OBD2 unit that will show me my live trans. fluid temps? Apparently you need to be between 104 and 113 degrees F to check the level of trans fluid.
 

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The Scanguage 2. It shows a lot of other things beside the transmission fluid temp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The Scanguage 2. It shows a lot of other things beside the transmission fluid temp.
Oh yeah. Heck I used to have a cheapo unit that connected via BT and used the Torque app. I just want to do this change correctly and I'm willing to pay for the proper equipment.
 

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Speaking of reading live transmission temperatures..... Can anyone recommend an OBD2 unit that will show me my live trans. fluid temps? Apparently you need to be between 104 and 113 degrees F to check the level of trans fluid.
Are Toyota tranny's really that sensitive? I'd guess anything approaching "normal operating temperature" ought to be sufficient...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Are Toyota tranny's really that sensitive? I'd guess anything approaching "normal operating temperature" ought to be sufficient...
Not true. If you check the level with the straw (the only way to do it) the level of the fluid will be way too high. The straw only registers properly between 104-113 degrees F. Toyota created an entire procedure just to check at normal driving temps that dealers would be servicing. It's insane the amount of steps they have to take to check it at operating temp.
 

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…Toyota created an entire procedure just to check at normal driving temps that dealers would be servicing. It's insane the amount of steps they have to take to check it at operating temp.
All to get rid of the dipstick to prevent overfilling…. It’s a solution in search of a (real, widespread) problem!


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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
All to get rid of the dipstick to prevent overfilling…. It’s a solution in search of a (real, widespread) problem!


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I'd posit that they did it to drive people to the dealership for the revenue. You can't even change the oil without a special tool for goodness sake!
 

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I'd posit that they did it to drive people to the dealership for the revenue. You can't even change the oil without a special tool for goodness sake!
From what I understand at the time it was started by BMW to prevent overfilling by owners or other shops. But man what a pain in the butt. That’s why I’m happy with my 4-speed.

Strangely the Aisin 6-speed which Toyota sold to VW for my Golf IS equipped with a dipstick and therefore fill tube, despite being substantially similar to the non-dipstick unit in Toyota vehicles. Go figure.


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Another vote for ScanGauge. It’s a bit pricey, clunky to set up and operate but it’s solid. It also now reads TPMS.
My techstream was erroring out when i was trying to get it into transmission mode.
 
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