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Tranny Fluid Level Confusion


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I just did a drain & refill on the tranny fluid in our 99 RX300 & before I drained it I checked the level. It was over the "hot" fluid level indicator on the dipstick considerably. I drained out the fluid from the tranny fluid pan and measured it...it was about 4 quarts. I was under the impression that I would get about 2 quarts out of the pan. Anyways, I refilled with 2 quarts and after it was at the correct level indicator on the dipstick (on the "cool" level indicator). I went and checked my parents LX 470 (which they bought from a lexus dealership 1 week ago)...the engine was warm and the level indicator was again way over the "hot" fluid level indicator on their dipstick. So, I am confused. Should I put an additional 2 quarts in & call it good or should I stick with what I have? I am mainly confused b/c both mine & my parents levels were so high when I checked them the first time. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!!

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I took my car to Toyota because I thought the transmission was overfilled. I showed it to them and they agreed it was over. I asked them to go ahead and do a drain and refill. I got it home and checked it and it was exactly the same. It's a mystery to me also. I'm taking my car to a private mechanic who specializes in Toyotas. He says that he knows the exact amount to put in after flushing the entire system.

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Before checking the fluid level, you are always supposed to shift the transmission slowly through all the gear shift positions from Park to Low and ending in Park again.

Then if the engine and fluid are at or near room temperature, the fluid level should be within the "cool" range on the dipstick.

Next, drive the car continuously for about 15 minutes on city streets and recheck the fluid level again. It should now be within the "hot" range on the dipstick. Drain or add fluid as necessary to get the level correct. Over or underfilling is harmful to the life of the transmission.

The dipstick is the ultimate authority.

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  • 5 months later...

I experienced the same dilemma. Just bought a 99 RX300 AWD and found the transmission fluid level higher than the hot mark; drained about 4 qts from the bottom; added 3 qts from the stick hole; checked the level and found it already almost reached the hot mark. It looks like that it only needed 2 qts. It really doesn’t make any sense. :(

Can some knowledgeable experts please share your experience or thoughts? Thanks a lot!

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For my 2001 RX300 - draining produced a little over 4 quarts. The level was measured according to the instruction in the shop manual after a 1/2 drive before the drain. As a reminder, with the engine running, set the emergency brake. With your foot on the brake, move the shift selector from park, to R, to N, to D, and finally to low. Then stopping at each selection, return to park. With the engine still running, measure the transmission fluid level. After I replaced the drained fluid with 4 quarts of type IV, the level was right on the upper notch of the hot range. BTW, the end of the transmission dip stick has a bend in it from the factory - I wonder why. Hope this helps.

Russ

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I've noticed over the years that many new vehicles from many different manufacturers tend to arrive in showrooms with overfilled automatic transmission fluid pans. Also, many dealer service departments and independent quick-lube places tend to overfill when they perform routine transmission service. I believe this phenomenon results from a widespread "better safe than sorry" approach.

When my wife's transmission was replaced under Lexus warranty at the dealership last autumn, I felt that they overfilled the T-IV fluid by about a quart. When I did a drain-and-fill myself last month, my suspicions were confirmed - I drained about 4 quarts out of the pan and differential, but only 3 new quarts were required to get the fluid level back to the appropriate hot and cold indicators on the dipstick.

But you should never rely solely on your dipstick readings just after completing the task - be sure to continue to check your fluid level for at least a week afterwards, in all kinds of conditions (hot fluid, cold fluid, etc.). That's the only sure way to know that your new fluid amount is correct and measures exactly where it should.

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I've noticed over the years that many new vehicles from many different manufacturers tend to arrive in showrooms with overfilled automatic transmission fluid pans.  Also, many dealer service departments and independent quick-lube places tend to overfill when they perform routine transmission service.  I believe this phenomenon results from a widespread "better safe than sorry" approach.

When my wife's transmission was replaced under Lexus warranty at the dealership last autumn, I felt that they overfilled the T-IV fluid by about a quart.  When I did a drain-and-fill myself last month, my suspicions were confirmed  -  I drained about 4 quarts out of the pan and differential, but only 3 new quarts were required to get the fluid level back to the appropriate hot and cold indicators on the dipstick.

But you should never rely solely on your dipstick readings just after completing the task  -  be sure to continue to check your fluid level for at least a week afterwards, in all kinds of conditions (hot fluid, cold fluid, etc.).  That's the only sure way to know that your new fluid amount is correct and measures exactly where it should.

:chairshot: Guys, I did the same thing a month ago drain and refill on my 2001 RX300 AWD. Had the same question. Then I did a research online. I found out that you can only check the transmission fluid level properly while the engine is still running/idling. Then you will notice a big differece on the stick comparing to when the engine is not running. :cheers:

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The engine must be running.

You must shift through all the gears and then back up to park.

While the car is in park and the engine is running, only then can you get an accurate reading. Pull the stick out, wipe with a clean towel, replace, and remove once again to take your reading.

Toyota is very specific about fluid requirements. You'll notice in your manual that they specify just over 4 quarts for a pan drain and refill. Every time I have done mine, it has been right on the mark.

I believe the bend in the end of the dipstick is so that you can more easily navigate the bend in the fill tube. Mine always seems to turn the right direction no matter what direction I start inserting it.

Tom

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I typically check the transmission fluid level while the vehicle is running after moving the shift lever through all the gear ranges as described above. Prior to performing my drain-and-fill last month, it was overfilled as suspected. Since doing the drain-and-fill myself, it is now correct.

Check your transmission fluid levels carefully, particularly if you pay someone else to change your fluid for you. Many shops continue to overfill the pans on a regular basis.

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Toyota is very specific about fluid requirements.  You'll notice in your manual that they specify just over 4 quarts for a pan drain and refill.  Every time I have done mine, it has been right on the mark.

Tom

Yes - 4 quarts with a pan dump. Poured it right back into the empty bottles for confirmation.

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Shortly after I purchased my 2001 RX300 I had the transmission fluid changed. My mechanic flushed the system by filling and draining the system 3 times with the Toyota transmission Type IV fluid. My question is: Was it necessary to flush with the Toyota fluid, which increased the cost of the tranny flush significantly, or could a cheaper fluid have been used on the flush and then refill with Toyota fluid? Also, is it necessay to flush the system every time you change the tranny fluid, or can you simply drain and refill?

Thanks, Jason.

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I've heard the Toyota fluid doesn't mix well with other fluids which is why you should flush with the Toyota fluid as there will always be a small amount still in the transmission.

You can do a simple drain and fill however this only replaces about 1/3 of the total fluid within the transmission.

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  • 2 months later...

I was not aware that checking the transmission fluid require the engine to be running. As a result, yesterday my car suddently not moving, altough engine rev up.

I switched the gear from P to N to R, then N, then P. It moved.

Later I drove it for 40 miles, no problem.

After realizing to check the fluid with engine running, that evening, I checked the level again With hot Engine after 30 miles drive, the level is below the "LOW" mark. I Put 1.25 quart of Type IV.

Have I destroying my tranny? This is 99 RX300AWD with 120k Miles. I drive it with gentle.

Thanks for advise.

Email: Mek88@yahoo.com in Los Angeles

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You probably haven't destroyed your transmission, especially since you already have 120,000 miles on the vehicle. Now that you know the proper procedure to use when checking your fluid level, check it weekly just as you should be checking your oil and tire pressures weekly. The fact that you have 120,000 miles on your original transmission with no apparent problems other than a low fluid level certainly works in your favor. Also, be aware that the all-wheel-drive version of the RX seems to suffer more transmission problems than does the two-wheel-drive version. Best of luck to you.

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You probably haven't destroyed your transmission, especially since you already have 120,000 miles on the vehicle.  Now that you know the proper procedure to use when checking your fluid level, check it weekly just as you should be checking your oil and tire pressures weekly.  The fact that you have 120,000 miles on your original transmission with no apparent problems other than a low fluid level certainly works in your favor.  Also, be aware that the all-wheel-drive version of the RX seems to suffer more transmission problems than does the two-wheel-drive version.  Best of luck to you.

Having just visited the Lexus dealer on Tuesday with my 99 RX300, this matter was discussed and I was told by the resident expert there that on 99-2003 AWD models they recommend a drain and fill every 15,000 miles. He simply said buy the T-IV and do it at home....make it a routine and you will get long life out of it.

AWD is much harder on the trans fluid than 2 wheel is.

He had seen some failures over his 11 years there but most were caused by people towing the vehicle.

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My question would where did the fluid that is gone,go. When a tranny leaks you can see it. So do you still have a leak?

Jeff

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I just changed the tranny oil few weeks ago. When I filled it up, I use the dipstick as a barometer(with engine not running). So I filled it up with only 1.75 qt of Type IV instead of 4qt as suppose to be.

Yesterday morning, I checked it again with engine running when it was cold: It was right on the middle of the cold range.

Then Yesterday afternoon, I checked it again with engine running after 30 miles trip, It was right on the middle of the hot range.

So, I assume the fluid level is okay now.

Problem: When I drive slow 25-30mph,and would like to accelerate, It doesn't downshift. It stays at the 4th gear, unless If I kicked my pedal to the floor then 2 sec later it shifted down.

Appreciate any advise/comments.

Thanks so much

Mek88@yahoo.com in Los Angeles

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