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Toyota Avalon Basic Maintenance Questions



  • Using the right viscosity grade is important to avoiding the oil sludge problem. Most dealers and installers will try to push 10W-30 on you because it is cheaper. Don't let them. They will try to tell you 10W-30 is better because it's thicker and gives you more protection. Don't believe them. 5W-30 meeting API SL and ILSAC GF-3 is superior to 10W-30 because the spec's require a higher quality of base oil resulting in better viscosity and deposit control. Tell your dealer/installer you want 5W-30 because that is what the OEM recommends. If they do not carry 5W-30 go someplace else.
  • My 2000 Avalon owners manual recommends changing the differential fluid and transmission fluid every 30K. I checked the Hayes repair manual and it showed there should be drain and fill plugs for the differential. I searched under the car and found neither (no problem finding the ATF drain plug). The dealer told me the transmission and differential share the same fluid between both systems. Any DIY'ers out there have any experience with changing differential fluid?
  • hank14hank14 Posts: 133
    David Turner-

    I was wondering the same thing about changing the differential oil on my 98 Avalon. The only thing I have seen is a plug with a small piece of bent tubing on the front side of the block, about 1/3 the way over from the end on the right. I assumed this was the differential oil drain, but did not see a fill hole, so I left it alone. I am going to the dealer for a brake job this weekend and will ask them. I am planning on switching over to all synthetic fluids- Amsoil tranny and diff fluid, as well as motor oil and filter.
  • I'm interested to know how many Avalon owners are experiencing pressure tactics to bring their vehicle in for unnecessary service. I have received a letter, a phone call and a follow-up call from a manager stressing the need for service at 3500 miles. Even for conditions of severe use Toyota does not require such frequent service.

    The key phrase seems to be "Tires For Life Agreement". To qualify for the program such ridiculously short service intervals are required. The program was of no interest to me so I was able to terminate the irritating call.

    Who else is suffering these misleading calls?
  • rzepa1rzepa1 Posts: 55
    I have noticed that too. My theory is that since Toyota is a reliable car, the dealer's service department is trying to make additional money on excessive service as opposed to other dealerships which make big $$$ on fixing cars.

    Seems as everytime I go for a oil change I am asked about 15K,30K and so on services. One time they even made me signed that I declined on the receipt. The other time lady sid "oh, you must have fogotten ...". You should see the look on her face when I said, no I have not forgotteb but I have declined.

    Bottom line is that those types of services are DEALER recommended and not TOYOTA. They improve their bottom line. I recall that the dealership mailed me flyer on one of those (15K or 30K) services which was basically oil change and
    " check hinges... check tire pressure ... etc"
    for a discount price of $249.

    If you are a sucker or want piece of mind you should do it, otherwise tell them no.

    Since my Avalon is under warranty I have oil changes done thru them. Once the warranty is over, I plan to stay away from them and do it all myself (within a reason).
  • Agree - just this week I took the wife's Avy for a minor adjustment. The service writer wanted me to complete the 10K service at a cost of 120 buck-a-roos. I asked he what they were going to do: check stuff, check the air filter, change the oil and filter, rotate tires, top off fluids. When I told him no, he looked surprised. I then showed him the Toyota service manual showing maintenance intervals at 7500 and 15000 (I change my own oil, Mobile 1) at 5k intervals). Think you've hit on something - - the dealers are trying to get more maintenance time due to the reliability of the vehicle.
  • 20992099 Posts: 63
    This talk about fuel filters got me thinking about replacing mine, 2002 XLS W/22K+ miles. Looking in the manual, I found where it said there is no recommended service interval for the fuel filter, let your dealer decide. What mileage interval do you recommend? Also on tranny fluid change, use local garage for oil changes at 5K intervals (Mobil 1) and he said Toyota recommended tranny fluid changes at 15K. Fluid looks fine to me and I couldn't find anything in the book on this either!! Finally, do you change the A/C filter every 10K as recommended? Thanks for your help in this forum.

  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    Everyone has a differenct story about changing intervals. Your type of driving has alot to do with it also.

    The fuel filter, the one in the engine bay, doesn't need to be changed at 22K. That is too premature. I believe I saw a dealership say 30 or 40K which means longer.

    The tranny doesn't need to be changed at 22K either, unless you are doing 100% city driving, mountain driving, pulling a trailer, etc. 30K intervals are more than enough, however I am going to replace mine at 60K the first time, then 30K thereafter.

    5K Oil change intervals are in my opinion perfect from the literature on wear and tear. Unless you live in a very cold climate, the difference of synthetic versus regular motor oil is negligible. How many people do you know keep a car past 200K miles??? How many autocars have you had in your lifetime past 200K??? I have had one, using reg. oil at 5K intervals, except during the dead of the winter. I sold it to a soldier at 236K, a Honda, and it did not even burn up a full quart every 5K intervals. So if it makes you feel better use it, otherwise, put the money in the bank and save for a new car one day.

    I change my A/C every year, not based on mileage. It is located in back of the glove box, which has 5 or 6 screws and just slides straight out.

    I hope this helps. Perhaps Nomad56 can give his opinion, but his Avalon is an older model, not sure if they have an A/C filter.

  • 20992099 Posts: 63
    Thanks for the info. I appreciate it and will go with the intervals you recommended. I did notice a slight (1-1.5 mpg) difference with the Mobil 1 oil, but it may have just been that I did more longer distance driving between oil changes the last time. The jury is still out on that one. Will change the A/C filter as I bought my 02 XLS with 11K last winter and don't know if the filter has ever been changed. (I know I haven't changed it!!) Car has been great so far.

  • hank14hank14 Posts: 133
    I posted this a while back, but no response. I drained and filled the transmission pan last night, and was wanting to change the diff fluid on our 98 Avalon, 89,000 miles. I found the drain plug for the differential, on the back lower side of it, but no fill plug. The manual says it uses ATF fluid. Do they share the same fluid, or is there a separate fill plug? Anyone with a manual that can fill me in on this?
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    Email Nomad56. I think he has an older model Avalon and does extensive work on it. He probably missed your post. I am pretty sure, but not totally sure, the new model (2000-present) share the same fluid. Drain plug on bottom, filled through the dip stick for the transmission in the engine bay, using Dexron III.

  • nomad56nomad56 Posts: 134
    Y'up-it's like AB says...fill the tranny, it's a shared system, let the car idle and shift the shifter into all positions on the selector... 2,3,D,R, etc. ..then check your level again. -nomad56-
  • Changing the tranny fluid is one of the few jobs I like done at the dealer. Every now and then they have a sale on a tranny fluid flush and fill. This does a complete change of fluid rather than only about half with a drain and refill. Not a bad idea to do the same for brakes and cooling system if you plan on keeping the car for a long time.
  • hank14hank14 Posts: 133
    Thanks for the info. Just to be clear- there is a separate plug for the differential which is behind the transmission fill pan and plug. I found it by looking towards the front of the car from behind the front right wheeel. It is exactly the same as the diff plug on the front and rear diffs of my 99 Landcruiser. The only difference I see is that the landcruiser has fill plugs.
    In the Avalon manual, it states that the drain and refill quantity for the tranny is up to 3.7 qts and 0.9 qts for the differential. So I would assume that if you drain both of them you would add about 4.5 qts of ATF fluid to the tranny dip stick. Is this correct?

    Also, we bought our Avalon out of a lease and it developed the worn strut mounts shortly afterward. Had to haggle to get them repaired, as they said it was not covered by the extended warranty.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    Forum People:

    While I try at points to be the devils advocate, "leaving it to the dealer" gives me the whillys, unless it is a fair and competent dealership, which their are, but few and far between. By sticking to a REGULAR maintenance schedule, and changing all the fluids, no only including the ATF, and Brake fluid(every 3 years regardless of mileage, and Steering resevoir, you should really never need to flush the stuff, and have some incompetent put their mitts on your 30K machine. Yes, flushing gets all the fluid out, but replacement at scheduled intervals does also, without the exorbatant charges for turning a freaking screw and pouring fluid. I just can't let them do it, not at $75/hour. I would rather get frostbite!!!!

  • I agree and hate to leave the car at a dealer. I usually do my own maintenance, but one dealer in town actually invited me to watch and ask the person doing the job any questions I might have about what was being done. The tranny flush is sometimes on sale for under $100. Brake and cooling system flushes are too.

    Most of the Toyota dealers around here change book hours and more for labor. Sometimes I think the book hours are set for someone that has to read the service manual first and has little experience.
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    If you want a really expensive mess, just leave that Toyota ATF in there for more than 30k miles. Avalon's generate a lot of heat in the transmission and the standard fluid turns to jello as you go past 30k. A change is cheap compared to a new transmission. The flush is probably not necessary (my experience) if you are under 100k. After that, maybe, depending on how long you intend to keep the car and how much money you want to spend. These transmissions should go 150k or more without trouble...if maintained. The '99 I had was very smooth at 92k miles when traded for an '03 XL. Enjoy your Av.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    Avy Forum People:

    Couldn't agree more with the last two posts. Doing it yourself, is always better if you can. Changing fluids are maintenance, not repairs, which should be very easy, with some basic equipment and safety. I have no experience with ATF longevity, since this is my first automatic car, but regular interval changes should bring it to over 200K without too much fuss, without flushes.

    The Toyota Service manual, conveniently(2002), leaves out any mention of ATF change intervals or PS intervals. How freaking convenient. A new 2003 Civic manual, for severe service(much clearer) suggests ATF at first 60K interval, then every 30K thereafter. There is a NEW DEXRON III Synthetic now, instead of an organic DEXRON III. Does anyone have any experience with this synthetic in there tranny yet????????????? Nomad56?????????

  • hank14hank14 Posts: 133
    I drained and refilled the transmission this summer in our 98 avalon with 80K miles. I used Amsoil synthetic ATF. I repeated the procedure this week with 89,000 miles. I honestly haven't seen any difference, but I plan on draining and refilling every 6 months or so. I am also using Amsoil synthetic oil which has a 25K mile or one year change interval and a 6 month Amsoil filter.

    On my 99 Landcruiser with 120,000 miles, I changed all the fluids to synthetic Amsoil motor oil, trans fluid, gear lube, and grease. I plan on driving these vehicles a long time.
  • berobberob Posts: 35
    I just bought a 2000 Avalon with 56,000. I cannot find a maintenance schedule with the literature but assume that some level of maintenance is scheduled for 60,000 miles. Can someone advise what I should do at 60,000 miles? Keep in mind that I don't know a lot about the maintenance history so I'm inclined to do too much rather than not enough. Also, what's the cheapest place to buy Mobil 1? I seem to recall someone saying Sam's Club sells it, but I couldn't find it at the one near me. Also, what kind of oil filter should I use? Thanks.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Here you go:

    Depending on your vehicle's use, just use the appropriate schedule. Many items are inspect or check, which you could probably perform yourself.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,469
    that's a handy chart. All you Toyota owners should bookmark it. thaks Alcan!

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  • mcclearyflmcclearyfl Posts: 149
    I replaced the stock air filter on my '03 Avalon with a a TRD oil-coated version. The company claims superior filtration and improved airflow, thus greater power. My initial reaction is that full-throttle acceleration from a standing start is perkier and more willing. I have not yet tried acceleration from cruising speeds.

    The owner's manual decribes a few simple do-it-yourself maintenance steps, but changing the air filter is, amazingly, not one of them. It is very obvious what is necessary, but this omission from the manual is bizarre. Installing snow tires and rotating tires (rarely done by most owners - it's left to the service bay) are descrbed in detail. Maybe the air filter isn't considered important!
  • mcclearyflmcclearyfl Posts: 149
    In my previous post I had not evaluated performance of the TRD air filter at highway speeds. Acceleration from 75 mph to 85 mph again seems more sprightly. The key seems to be getting the revs above 4000 rpm, at which point the better breathing of the replacement filter has the most impact. I am previously accustomed to slipping out of overdrive into 3rd gear to use the engine's optimum power and torque characteristics, but always felt that there was something missing. At least part of that surge has been restored, probably about 5 HP worth.
  • tomdisalvotomdisalvo Posts: 7
    Hello all. Glad to find such an active forum for the Avalon. I'm doing some legwork for my mom in regards to her Avalon maintenance. She has so-far continued going to the dealership after expiration of the warranty, which is an argument for a later date...

    After reading through most of the archives, I've got a few questions on the 60k service:

    First, the timing belt. There is no consensus on whether or not the engine is an 'interference' engine. IE - should the timing belt break, will the valves and pistons will smash together in a $2,500 collision? Is this the case with the 3.0? My feeling is to hold off on replacing the belt until 90k, but only if it's not an interference engine. Otherwise I won't take that chance. Any definitive answer would be appreciated.

    Second, replacing the spark plugs. What type & mfr are the OEM plugs on an '00? Platinum or Iridium? My mom's dealership is looking for a $100 upcharge to their normal inflated service prices. That charge is what has led me to this forum, BTW. I'd like to change her plugs myself (knowing it's a pain) and don't want to get them from the dealership.

    Any guidance would be appreciated. With significant shade-tree mechanic time on my Nissan, hopefully I can contribute to the forum in the future.

  • nomad56nomad56 Posts: 134
    Tom-FYI-CAR Mfg recommendation on the belt is 60k. BELT mfg recommendation is 90k. Toyota's only true "interference" engines are 4 cyl. and were made from 1980-1994. Even the VVTi engine is not an interference engine. NGK "platinum" plugs are available for about $50. -nomad56-
  • tomdisalvotomdisalvo Posts: 7
    Thanks for the information. Indeed a set of NGK platinum plugs should only cost about $50. I'm glad to hear Toyota doesn't use anything exotic for the plugs. Might you (or someone else) have a specific part number for them? I know there are a range of gaps & temperatures.

    Time to break out my socket extensions & universal joints. From my reading, it sounds like the rear bank of plugs, especially #1, is tricky to reach. My next hurdle is also finding her a good local garage for future maintenance. At least in our part of the country (Milwaukee WI), there is an absolute shortage of competent mechanics.

  • jickajicka Posts: 38
    According to the owner's manual, the 2000 Avalon has "Iridium" plugs. In the maintenance book there is no mention of plug replacement specificaly for the Avalon until 120,000 miles.

    At the 60,000 mile mark, plug replacement is indicated for the Camry.

    Do I argue with the dealer when the 60K service is due?
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    A few thoughts on the spark plug questions here:

    Iridium: is a rare platinum type metal and the plugs contain very little of it. The metals are actually combined. Iridium is harder and resists heat a little better but platinum is certainly good enough. At the same time, Toyota offers a warranty based on proper care of a car from a manual and these are two different metals and react differently under stress. Your call...

    Changing plugs: They probably can last 120k and still work well enough. But, have you ever tried to *remove* a plug after several years and 120k miles? You might think they were made as part of the cylinder head as you struggle to get it out...and not strip the threads in the engine. Think about this. And, will you still own the car?

    Other ideas are always welcome...
  • chilin12chilin12 Posts: 9
    Purchased a 2000 XLS Avalon with 82K miles. Planning to keep up to 250K.......what is the kind of maintenance I should do? Timing belt, water pump, tensioners.........what else? Experts on this forum please advise.
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