Transmission fluid change question

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ReddBoots79
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2024 5:50 am

Transmission fluid change question

Post by ReddBoots79 »

Hello all. I got an 09 FWD (auto) recently and got a few things replaced at 127,460 miles. The last thing I was looking into was the transmission fluid. Neither the dealer or the Carfax show that a change was ever done, but it shifts just fine. The fluid is brown with a hint of red, and aside from one family member, every mechanic I asked told me to let it be.

Anyone had experience doing a drain and fill at this high mileage? I'm definitely not considering a flush and will use a T-IV. I wanna get another 100k or more out of the car, and I don't think "letting it be" sits well with me.
andrewclaus
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:38 pm
Location: Golden, CO

Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by andrewclaus »

I agree with you. I don't know about the '09, but on my '07 it was an easy job since the pan has a drain plug. If you have that plug, also consider dropping the pan to replace the filter and gasket. I only got 3-4 quarts out of 8, so I repeated the job a month later. That was seven years and 70,000 miles ago and the fluid is still a healthy red and still shifts perfectly, with 220,000 miles on it. I also used T-IV.
ReddBoots79
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2024 5:50 am

Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by ReddBoots79 »

That's good to hear. I'll do it in the next month or so. I'm more confident now after driving 20 miles yesterday and then checking the fluid again. Definitely reddish brown and after most of it evaporated, the red stayed. Just relieved it's not black.

Odd that GM stuck with T-IV, since the 2nd Gen Matrix used WS. Dexxcool too.
lexicon
Posts: 181
Joined: Sat May 06, 2006 3:48 pm

Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by lexicon »

A friend who bought their Vibe at 20k, pulled out 2.5 qts at 90k miles and did it twice...then did the same thing at 200k...The car has over 250k miles now.... dont flush, just get "some" of the dirty fluid out , you will feel better and hopefully, the transmission will last many more miles....
Keep us posted on your experience w the fluid change....
2005 VibeAutomaticStockNon AWD125 hp model
ReddBoots79
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2024 5:50 am

Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by ReddBoots79 »

I will. The dipstick notes the type as WS, and apparently GM had incorrect info in the 09 manual that was later corrected for 10. I think the fluid was changed at some point because of the red tint in the fluid. Apparently WS turns brown pretty quickly too.

Should I stick with Toyota WS if I'm doing a mere drain or would any WS compatible fluid do?
lexicon
Posts: 181
Joined: Sat May 06, 2006 3:48 pm

Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by lexicon »

For Trans fluid I only buy Toyota Fluid from Toyota, you can also get it on-line.

Sounds like there is a conflict on your fluid, you may want to make absolutely sure you only use the correct type of fluid for replacement. Could be a big issue.
Hope it goes well.
2005 VibeAutomaticStockNon AWD125 hp model
ReddBoots79
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2024 5:50 am

Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by ReddBoots79 »

Thanks, I think I'll stick with OEM fluid. No point of saving a few dollars and creating a bigger problem for later.

I found a few topics on this forum about the 09 fluid and apparently it was a misprint. Can't get any more certain than a dipstick stamp:

viewtopic.php?t=48320

That said, if the previous owner did a change and used WS compatible fluid like Maxlife, it's done good. I'll do a couple of drain and fills about 2k miles apart.

Edit: Out of curiosity, I checked the GM direct store and it recommended WS. Switching to pre 09 models recommended Dexron VI.

I also found an old thread from 09 here. There was service bulletin about it released to dealers then. That settles it, it's definitely WS

viewtopic.php?t=31600
jolt
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Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota

Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by jolt »

I have changed the transmission fluid at 50,000 and 100,000 on our '09 Vibe. The last time I used the Valvoline MaxLife fluid and have had no issues. I would suggest you drop the pan and change out the transmission filter. There are also two magnets in the bottom of the oil pan that need to be cleaned. You should search on this forum board about changing the transmission filter. I have posted the info for the bolt torque spec's for both the pan bolts and the filter bolts on this forum in the past. You can find the filter and pan gasket cheap, the last one I bought on Amazon for $10.00. You are not changing out all the fluid with a drain, so 4 quarts is more then you will use. To get the proper filter and pan gasket, count the number of bolts that hold your pan on. There are two different transmissions and the pan bolt count will tell you if you have the right filter and pan gasket. My Vibe has the 2.4L engine and the transmission pan has 18 bolts. You will need a inch-pound torque wench, brake cleaner, and rags. Clean out the inside of the pan and the magnets with the brake cleaner and rags. Would you change your motor oil and not change your filter?
ReddBoots79
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Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by ReddBoots79 »

Appreciate the details here Jolt, and agreed, a filter change is due.

I assume you did a drain and fill with the Maxlife fluid? WS has its detractors on the Tacoma forums and some swear that their trucks shift better with Maxlife.
jolt
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Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by jolt »

Yes, drain and fill. The whole system only holds roughly 8 quarts. If you do a drain and fill, you will only need roughly 3.5 quarts. You can not drain the convertor, which holds at least halve the fluid. From what I have read about the transmission fluid is that the main difference between the older TF fluid and the WS fluid is the viscosity. The WS fluid is thinner, so it has less drag and better fuel mileage numbers then the older TF fluid. I would think Toyota did this to squeeze a little more out of there numbers for the fuel mileage.

As for the MaxLife fluid, the cheapest place around my area to purchase it from is Menards in the gallon jug. Amazon also sells it in the gallon jug.
ReddBoots79
Posts: 16
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Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by ReddBoots79 »

A little update, I got it done with help. It took 4 quarts in and I'm seeing some improvements already so all's well. I splurged a bit on Amsoil fluid but I can't vouch that the differences are due to the quality of the fluid or just the fact that I've got fresh fluid in. I say this after using Maxlife in my niece's older Matrix and I saw improvements with that too.

I am smelling a faint odor of the fluid but no leaks (laid cardboard and checked after 18 hours or so). There was some inevitable splashing on the sides when it was drained so I reckon that's what I'm smelling. I only drove about 5 miles since so the dipstick shows a red fresh fluid mainly.

I'll do the 2nd drain after 2k mile.

Edit:

I had a minor leak, hence the odor. Also I managed to overfill it a bit, and I got some help to sort all of that out.

Third to fourth shifting is buttery smooth now. I'll post an update if I have any issues later on, but as it is, I'm pleasantly surprised how much of a difference this made.
ReddBoots79
Posts: 16
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Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by ReddBoots79 »

I checked my fluid level yesterday, and the Amsoil one is a bit weird compared to the original WS. If I check it after 10 or so minutes of idling after a cold start, the level is between the two "hot" notches. But, after a 30 minute drive (if was about 85F out), I get a slightly different reading.

I've attached a pic of it. I assume this is ok?
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VibeNation2024
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Location: Central IL

Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by VibeNation2024 »

You will not get an accurate reading just by idling the car and will have to drive it. You will then return to park, slowly shift through the gears, return to park, idle for 3-5 minutes and check the dipstick again with the car still running. The full procedure is in your owner's manual but there is also a post in this forum with the instructions:

viewtopic.php?t=22730

Keep us posted how it looks.
ReddBoots79
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2024 5:50 am

Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by ReddBoots79 »

Thanks for the feedback. The level you see in the picture is after a 22 or so mile drive on a hot day (which probably wasn't a good idea). I did the gear cycle before the drive too. From what I gathered, what I've got here is fine but anything over 1 inch over the hot notch is bad news. I'll try it again today after a brisk 10 minute drive.

To your point about the manual, the 2nd Gen is when WS was used and Toyota (and GM by extension) started telling people it's lifetime fluid. So the manual is missing the proper procedure to check it. The Vibe 09 manual has the wrong type of fluid listed too.

I got that warm idle tip from some dealership sites but there's inconsistent stuff there too.
ReddBoots79
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Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by ReddBoots79 »

VibeNation2024 wrote: Thu Jun 13, 2024 6:26 pm
Keep us posted how it looks.
There's a bit of a difference. And given the temps today (85), unless I very quickly took out the dipstick, there was some splashback a bit higher on just one side (the opposite side was dry and so was the mid section until the notches).

I've attached a picture of an earlier reading that looked the same.
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VibeNation2024
Posts: 45
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Location: Central IL

Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by VibeNation2024 »

Based on that info and the pic for reference, I would say it is overfilled...but maybe only 1/4 qt. I read that the difference between the low and hot notches is only .3 qt so if we use that as a reference, It would be slightly less than that. I will add a disclaimer that this is my opinion so not sure if someone with a 2009/2010 could provide real world input/expirience.

Also, it would be very difficult to drain such a small amount with removing the bolt so you could get a hand pump with a longer hose to remove it through the dipstick tube. You could always remove a small amount (1/8 qt) and recheck before removing any more.
ReddBoots79
Posts: 16
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Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by ReddBoots79 »

It's a bit difficult, I'll say that much. But here's what happened leading o this. The same day I posted the original pic, I realized that while the car was warm after a drive, the level was at the bottom cold notch.

I added a bit of fluid, about 8-9 oz, and ended up with this. Based on that, I probably needed about 4 oz or so. I'll say that WS and the Amsoil fluids are much thinner than T-IV used in the first generation. So, I'm thinking that warming up the engine without a drive on a hot day is appropriate to check the level.

Worst case I'll get a pump to syphon some out. I'm not too worried because you'd need an overfill of 1 quart to get into trouble.

UPDATE:

Followed the same procedure BUT just drove for 10 minutes or about 5 miles. The level sits right where it should be. Lesson learned: do not check after a 22 mile drive in 85-90 weather when the engine is hot rather than warm.
VibeNation2024
Posts: 45
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Location: Central IL

Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by VibeNation2024 »

Good deal and thanks for the update. Just for reference...I checked the trans fluid level of my 2008 Vibe after a drain/fill with Toyota Type T-IV (from local Toyota dealer) and it was right at the line of the H (next to the O in HOT). This was after a 20 mile drive in 80ºF weather with some hills. I then cycled through the gears and let it idle for 3 minutes. I checked after 5 mins too and the level was the same.
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ReddBoots79
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Re: Transmission fluid change question

Post by ReddBoots79 »

Interesting. I'm just puzzled why I get a perfect "warm" reading after a brisk drive, then get a higher reading after a longer drive.

I've got a quart left of the fluid so I may just get a syphon and take some out for my sanity :lol:

UPDATE:

I got this pump from Harbor Freight and syphoned out about 4 OZ and it's now sitting at the T in "Hot". I'm planning on doing a second change in another 1500 miles and will definitely use it again instead of the pan drain. It's also notably cheaper than anything on Amazon.

https://www.harborfreight.com/multi-use ... 63144.html
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