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Toyota Camry Transmission Questions (MY Prior to 2007)



  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    All of the Camrys I have owned (1997, 2004, and 2005) have called for Dexron II or Dexron III for use in their power steering systems. Yes, it is ATF. You don't have to fill it to the max level. There are two sets of "min" and "max" markings - one for a cold engine and one for a hot engine. The proper level should be about halfway between the appropriate "min" and "max" levels. Unless there's a leak, the fluid level should NOT go down.

    Always consult the owner's manual or maintenance manual for the proper fluids. Don't believe the dealer without checking. What's "regular" power steering fluid supposed to mean, anyway?
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    "What's "regular" power steering fluid supposed to mean, anyway?"

    There is stuff sold called "power steering fluid" that is not ATF. It's essentially just very low viscosity mineral oil (10 weight or something). It's yellow like engine oil and not synthetic like ATF. Chrysler used to use it but not sure if they still do.
  • I have some leakage under the car. Looks like ATF since the dipstick is right near the tip when hot. The owners manual does not adress checking this fluid - wonder why? It's a strange dipstick, complete with a clip to hold it down sort of. Even the engine diagram in the manual does not highlight this as something to check. If I want to add fluid to be able to drive to the fixit guy, does it just pour down the dipstick tube like other cars?
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Yes, you add ATF by pouring it down the dipstick tube. I believe in 2000 models, Dexron III was still the specified fluid, but you should check your owner's manual to be sure.
  • Hello all,
    A small/big problem. My second hand 200 Toyota Camry 4cyl/auto was working fine till a few months ago, when I suddenly started feeling the unease with which my gear changes when I increase the speed. Its not smooth at all and I can feel a jerk when I increase the speed. Clearly something is wrong. Since its 60K + I took it for a 60K servicing and the Midas guy ( I think ripped me off ) with 470 bucks worth of servicing. I guess everything was needed except the spark plug wire change that cost me arnd 200 bucks. The Transmission flush was done too, which I thought will take care of the gear changing problem. But its still there.
    Any idea what else could be wrong? I am gonna take the car to the Midas guy again, lets see what he says

  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    See my reply in the Toyota Camry problems and solutions thread.
  • ceds01ceds01 Posts: 1
    > Hello Everyone, My sister recently brought her 02 Camry to the
    > Toyota of Redlands dealer to get her camry's 110K Mile Service Maint
    > Done, they did the Basic engine stuff Serp Belt etc.. and Drained
    > Filled the Transmission $500 bucks, thats what was Listed on the work order.
    > this was done a month ago, now there was a tapping shutter sound
    > comming from the tranny, she experienced slippage after 40 mph, she
    > brought the camry back to the dealer and they came back with an
    > estimate of $3K. WTF???!!! there was no tranny problem reported
    > durring the initial 110K mile service maint check. what went wrong
    > here.....
    OK, I checked last night and found 4 oil pan bolts were loose where a leak was discovered, I have pix(I just need to know how to show it),...and its down about a quart.......I tightened the loose bolts and I told my Sis to pickup a bottle of Genuine Toyota ATF-T IV oil and add it see what happens,...the Service Dept should have seen this leak a month ago if it existed then and listed it as an issue on the Work Order. Sabatoge????
    > Please Advise Me
    > CEDs01

    PS My Sister said the Service Done is irrelevent to what had happened....I see a letter to BBB.
  • you fixed the loose bolts and put more fluid in the trans. how does it perform now?? if it's normal, then that's fine. I always checked my pan bolts after doing a filter change in my 94 camrys and some wiggle loose. Even the oil pan that was problematic had loose screws and I had to keep retightening them. I'm not an expert in trans repair but I thought poor fluid and abuse kills them but if the fluid leaks it just shuts down (ie. slips and you don't move). I'm hoping that your car is fine now with the correct fluid amount. Also, it hasn't been long since the repair and you caught it. Let us know how it turned out.
  • yczycz Posts: 25
    You guys may laugh at me while ask this: should I switch to "N" when a car is
    not moving for an automatic transmission? Or stay on "D". I always leave on "D"
    while driving just for convenience. My first two cars were manual, so I had to
    on "N" while stopped. Driving an auto for many years now, just thought about
    why not switch to "N" when stop - may save on some gas (?). Does anyone
    have experience on switching "D" and "N" for auto-trans cars? If you do switch
    between "D" and "N", is there any harm to the auto-transmission?
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    There's absolutely no reason to switch out of D at a stop light. If you're waiting 2-3 for a train to go by, I put it in P just to be able to take my foot off the brake.
  • hongwhongw Posts: 1
    I have a 97' camry and did a regular maintainence recently. The merchanic told me that the tranmission oil is leaking (only about 3/4 left). The cost to fix it is $150, according to him.

    Last time I did the transsmission oil change at Jiffy Lub in May 2004 and do nothing since then. (I did not even check it!). Can anybody let me know would it be a really leaking problem? Could it be a normal thing for an old car like my 97's camry?

    Many thanks.
  • loucapriloucapri Posts: 214
    I have a 97 LE and I only have my transmission drained once and flushed once at 60K and 100K mile. Never have any leak or problem at all.

    Can you see oil under your transmission pan? Did you see oil from your driveway?
    The main reason for oil leak is usually from a bad gasket. Run your finger around the pan and see if find something.
  • how do you know it's leaking?? just by the low level?? did the jiffy place enough in?? do you see red fluid in your garage or where you park??? if so, is it leaking at the trans pan seal?? or on the trans itself??? for that you'll have to drive up a ramp or jack it up on jack stands for safety and look underneath. If it's a small leak, you can add stuff weekly and forget it. if it gets worse, fix it.
  • We had changed the transmission oil about 2-3 months ago. Just recent check showed that the oil was very dirty. We took it back to the place which had changed the oil. On inspection, they said that the problem is with the transmisssion and needs to be re-built. They agreed the oil should not have been that dirty that quick. Cost for rebuilding transmission estimate was $2000-2500. The car has about 100,000 miles. The engine has just started to sound a little louder.

    The question is :

    A) Has anyone experienced a similiar problem with 1998 (or close) Toyota or Camery Transmission?.

    B) Is the cost quote reasonable ?

    C) Is a rebuilt transmission the right way to go ?

    D) How long do the Toyota Camery really last? 200,000 miles + ?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  • haefrhaefr Posts: 600
    Earlier Toyota automatic transmissions were spec'd for common Dexron III ATF. But current Toyota automatics are spec'd for Toyota's own "T-IV" ATF. The two are not interchangeable - they have totally different friction modifier chemistry which affects both shift quality and the working life of the friction facing materials. Check your owner's manual for which ATF you're supposed to use as service fill. If your car calls for T-IV, and if Dexron III was used, and given the car's mileage, that may have just been enough to take what's left of the friction facing materials over the top. Did you have the work performed by a Toyota stealership or an independent shop? If the latter, I have a sinking feeling their techs poured Dexron III in. (It's rare to come across an independent shop go to the expense of stocking the manufacturers' proprietary ATFs) $2,000.00 and up is the going rate for an automatic transmission rebuild. (Stealerships are sometimes getting closer to $3,000.00 - but less if the old unit is rebuildable.)
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    I had a 1997 Camry 4-cylinder automatic. The specified fluid was Dexron III. The 1997 was the first year of a redesign for the car. I would highly doubt that Toyota switched to the Toyota-proprietary Type IV fluid the very next model year (1998).

    If I had to guess, the change was probably made as of the 2002 model year, when the car was redesigned again and a 5-speed automatic replaced the 4-speed in V6 models. In 2005, the 4-cylinder models also got the 5-speed. (My 2004 Camry with the 4-cylinder, 4-speed auto required the new-type fluid.)

    Have you ever had the transmission fluid replaced before? If not, and the repair shop just did a drain and refill, about half of the dirty old oil will still have been left in your tranny.

    I'd go to another shop for a second opinion. A bum transmission doesn't necessarily make the engine noiser, unless the tranny isn't upshifting properly (that is you are running in third gear when it should be in fourth).

    You may simply need to have the fluid drained and refilled a couple of times or flushed to get all of the old fluid out. (I'm not a big fan of flushing.)

    There are no hard and fast guidelines for how long a car will last. A lot depends on how well it's cared for. However, the weakest link in today's cars' drivetrains appears to be the automatic transmission.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I changed the ATF in my 2001 AWD RX300's transaxle at ~40,000 miles, 4 qts out, dirty and smelled burnt, 4 new qts in purchased from Lexus. Within a week new ATF was dirty.

    Discovered, here on the internet, that the transaxle holds five qts and the only way to drain that fifth qt is to remove the second drain plug in the differential case. The second time I dropped the sump pan and cleaned out about 1/8" of what looked like ground up pencil lead, non-magnetic, I assume wear from the clutches' frictional surface.

    Another 10,000 miles and my ATF is still pink and no burnt odor.
  • I was hoping that 200,000 was the life expectancy of my 98 Camry, but I've just blown an engine at 150,000. Another engine will cost from $1300 to $1700 just for the engine plus labor, so my mechanic is not advising me to repair. He said the transmission will probably be next. I sure was expecting more :(
  • haefrhaefr Posts: 600
    You may have gotten one of Toyota's infamous "sludge monster" engines. (Ask your mechnic if sludge was present on his inspection.) Toyota did a warranty extension for owners of those cars, but I'm not sure whether it went beyond 100,000 miles. I believe at the time your car was new, Toyota was recommending 7,500 mile oil changes (which turned out to be part of the problem). The company has scaled that back by 2,500 miles in addition to internal engine changes to facilitate oil return to the sump during operation. In short, ya' got robbed, but there's likely little that can be done about it now except on your nickel.
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    The sludge policy is for 8 years from the date of original purchase and unlimited miles, so a 1998 Camry should still be covered, regardless of mileage. There is a requirement for the owner to show proof of "reasonable" maintenance in order to get the free repair under the policy.
  • 96 Toyota Camry, 4 cylinder, AT, 140K miles

    Dumb question: I see 2 drain plugs for the transmission and differential, but no filler plug. Where's the filler plug and is there a second filler plug for the differential ?

  • haefrhaefr Posts: 600
    "I see 2 drain plugs for the transmission and differential, but no filler plug. Where's the filler plug and is there a second filler plug for the differential ?"

    You fill through the transmission dipstick tube. You'll need a funnel small enough to fit into the tube, or use a plastic tube extension that will. The differential will be filled as you fill the transmission. The only reason for the separate drain plug on the differential was to assure full drainage of that component. Check your owner's manual - if it states Toyota T-IV ATF, DON'T substitute Dexron III ATF. When you drain, you'll end up with nearly half the fluid retained in the torque converter. Refill, button everything up and take the car out for ~6 miles to fully warm and mix the fluid, then drain and refill again. Do one more ride and repeat another drain and refill. At that point you'll effectively only have about 12% of the old fluid left in. If the old fluid smelled burnt, though, better do a fourth drive, drain, and refill.

    (Your question wasn't dumb.)
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    The differential will be filled as you fill the transmission.

    I'm not sure if this is true on the Camry 4-cylinder. I seem to remember a couple of horror stories about people thinking the differential was filled, but in fact it was empty. You might want to ask on the Maintenance Board, "Got a quick technical question?"

    The transmission fluid specified is Dexron III for the '96 (I had a '97, and it used Dexron III).
  • Thanks for the info. I think I've located a fill plug for the differential on the back of the diff. near the firewall.
  • haefrhaefr Posts: 600
    Thanks for the update.
  • pvdhampvdham Posts: 2
    I have 2000-camry automatic transmission with 65k miles. I did a stupid thing... While driving 20mph(and talking with my wife), I shifted the gear from drive to reverse! The car stalled and stopped. I thought its done... I got the car to park and started it and drove it off. Though nothing looks to be broken or sounds weird, what can i suspect to have happend or got affected? Transmission? Gear box? Anything that i can get checked so that the car doesn't die midway... Thanks a lot in advance.
  • icehengeicehenge Posts: 9
    Just bought a 1998 Camry and I'm wanting to change the transmission fluid. I picked up some AT fluid, and the transmission pan gasket and filter from pep boys last evening.

    My dilemma is that I want to change the fluid but I know draining the fluid won't complete empty out to old fluid. I figured i'd just drain and refill through the drain plug on the AT the first go around.
    Then drive for a few days then again drain and remove the second time remove the pan and replace the filter and refill again with fresh fluid.

    Anything wrong with this approach?
    The Camry has 106k miles on it and the fluid looks pretty old.
  • bildowbildow Posts: 100
    I saw your message your idea is fine I would pull the pan first and you have a mesh screen to clean then after putting back on the pan put in the required oil i think it's about 3 quarts you can ask the dealer about that then drive it a few miles and drain from the drain plug in the transmission pan I would probably drain it about 3-4 times to really clean out the oil. trans at least 1-2 times a year keeping the oil in great shape. If your car is 4 cylinder you also have to drain the separate differential and it has to be filled seperatly by pumping in the ATF using a bottle and pump it does NOT FILL FROM THE MAIN TRANSMISSION. IF YOU DONT FILL IT SEPARATELY YOU WILL RUIN THE TRANSMISSION :shades:
  • loucapriloucapri Posts: 214
    I have a 97 and I took it to the dealer and had them power flush the transmission fluid for about $150.00 @ 100K miles. Now my car has 118K and the fluid still pink.
    I understand your apporach but just kind of time consuming and hate to say that, the fluild will still be brown.

    I used to try to save money by doing such job myself (including changing the oil) but as I getting older and see the do-it-yourself result vs. the dealer's work, I just don't see the value. I guess my time worth more than the money I save :)
  • smittycsmittyc Posts: 2
    You can actually change virtually all the fluid in the system using the following method. We have 5 Toyota's in the family, and I have done this to them all at least once.
    It takes about an hour. Use whatever fluid is recommended on the dipstick, or in the manual. Our Camry's and Corolla's take Dexron, but the Celica takes Toyota Type IV fluid, available only from Toyota, at about $3.50/qt. Use what's recommended, or you'll be sorry. It's still less expensive than having it done.
    1. Drop the pan, drain the fluid, replace the filter, and reinstall the pan as you usually do.
    2. Add 3 quarts of fluid.
    3. Remove the fluid return line at the transmission (usually the upper of the two lines), and place it into a one-gallon milk jug or similar semi-transparent container. You may want to place the container in a box with rags around it so that it doesn't spill.
    4. Start the engine, and let about a quart or so of fluid get pumped into the milk jug (about 10-15 seconds).
    5. Stop the engine, and add a quart of fluid to the transmission.
    6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you get new fluid out of the drain line.
    You'll use about 8-10 quarts of fluid total, including the 3 you put in at the beginning, so you may need more than one milk jug.
    7. Reinstall the drain line to the transmission, start the engine, and check for leaks.
    8. With your foot on the brake, put the transmission in each gear, then into Park.
    9.Let the car down and check the fluid level on the dipstick. Add fluid if needed to bring it up to the proper level.
    10. Take it out for a test drive, and check the fluid level again.
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