Auto transmission fluid color

1.8-liter VVTL-i (2ZZ-GE) and VVT-i (1ZZ-FE) engine, transmission, exhaust, intake, and performance tuning discussions
bigdoug
Posts: 80
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2016 5:36 pm
Location: Detroit Area, Michigan

Auto transmission fluid color

Postby bigdoug » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:00 pm

I checked the transmission fluid lately, and noticed it look darker than normal. Last time I checked it, a month ago or so, it looked a darker red but not this bad. The left one is with the engine cold, the right is with it hot.

cold.jpg
cold.jpg (32.13 KiB) Viewed 355 times
hot.jpg
hot.jpg (31.64 KiB) Viewed 355 times


The last time I changed it was after I bought the car, and it's been a year and a half and probably 30k miles ago. Then, I took it to a trans shop, they dropped the pan, changed the filter and the fluid. I've been told by backyard mechanics that "fluid discoloration" is normal and I shouldn't worry about it, but both my mechanic uncle and a local trans shop said I should replace it ASAP. I agree. Even another drain and fill would probably save this transmission. There's no black fluid yet so the clutches aren't destroyed yet, and no slipping either.

So, at about 30k since the filter was replaced, how should I do this? It's cold and the weather's crappy around here, so the easiest thing would be just to pull the drain plug and drain and fill. Or I could pull the pan and replace the filter, which takes a little longer.

Also, which fluid should I use? T-IV doesn't seem to be too expensive. I would rather use full synthetic and I don't know if T-IV is synth or not. I could also use Valvoline ATF full synthetic, or Mobil 1 full synthetic.

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Caretaker
Posts: 1582
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 4:11 am

Re: Auto transmission fluid color

Postby Caretaker » Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:46 am

I took mine to a "local transmission shop" a year ago. They had VERY high ratings. Great place. As I walked out the door, they said: "see you in a year." I didn't give it much thought until my fluid color started changing after a year. While I am not a mechanic, I think this drain and fill method is a bunch of crap. Previously, I had done complete flushes at 59,000 and 90,000. If you get your fluid flushed out or completely transferred out with a BG type machine, you should be good to go for at least 50,000 miles. I then went back to my regular mechanic and had him do the complete fluid transfer using Amsoil as a replacement for my World Standard fluid. I'm good to go for another 50,000 miles.
As far as your car, as long as the bottle states that it is Toyota Type IV compatible, then go ahead and get what you want. It used to be that we were stuck using proprietary T-IV or WS. That is no longer the case. There are several companies that have made T-IV and WS complient tranny fluids, some of which you listed. Your fluid color change is DEFINITELY a sign of distress. I'm guessing your local transmission company did the same as mine, and put you on the one year plan (drain and fill). I'm afraid it is time to do it again.
Live it up: There will be plenty of time to be old when you die.
** 2009 Vibe: 1.8 liter automatic **
** 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring **
** 2007 Honda Fit Sport **

circuitsmith
Posts: 242
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:26 pm

Re: Auto transmission fluid color

Postby circuitsmith » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:19 am

For a DIYer a drain and fill is as quick and easy as an oil change.
Cheaper in long run to do that every 30K DIY than getting a shop to do a fluid exchange every 60K.
2006 Matrix 5-sp

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Caretaker
Posts: 1582
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2003 4:11 am

Re: Auto transmission fluid color

Postby Caretaker » Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:56 pm

except that you are leaving a lot of dirty fluid in behind the torque converter each time; essentially adding new fluid to old. I'd rather pay the money to have a machine transfer/flush out the "entire" load of dirty fluid.
Live it up: There will be plenty of time to be old when you die.
** 2009 Vibe: 1.8 liter automatic **
** 2010 Hyundai Elantra Touring **
** 2007 Honda Fit Sport **

jolt
Posts: 580
Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:07 am

Re: Auto transmission fluid color

Postby jolt » Fri Feb 09, 2018 10:29 pm

Would you change your motor oil and not change the oil filter? Pull the pan, change the filter, clean the magnets in the pan, and clean the pan. A power flush does not get the filter changed and can stir stuff up in the transmission so that the filter really gets restricted. If you really need to change out all the fluid, search on this forum and you will find out how to do it by pulling the cooler line and running it as you fill the transmission. You will need a inch/lb torque wench for the filter and pan bolts.


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