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I Changed Transmission Fluid But It's Still Brown!


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I used Mobil 1 ATF on my 96 ES300 to change the transmission fluid, 3.7 quarts as specified in the manual. I could not replace the transmission filter because of the frame bent in a way that blocks some of the bolts so I can't fit any tools up there to loosen them! (It looks like that bar is usually right in front of both oil and transmission pans)

Anyway, after driving it a week, checking the transmission fluid it still looks brown (like before I changed it)! Not nice and red like the fresh synthetic ATF I put in it! Also, it reads a quart high.

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I assume you did a drain and refill. The A541E transmission holds 7.1 quarts of ATF (specification from 97 ES300 manual). Due to the transmissions design, on a drain and refill, only a portion of the transmission fluid drains out. In your case 3.7 quarts. So now you have about 50% new and 50% old ATF. That's why it's brown. Do a drain and refill two or three more times over a period of several weeks and as the percentage of new to old rises your fluid will become red.

There is a technique for replacing all the fluid. It's pretty easy. Search the Toyota site for instruction.

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