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Toyota Avalon Basic Maintenance Questions



  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591


    Here you go. No mention is made in the service manual for normal operations. In my wife's Honda Civic 03 service manual (not owner's manual now), it goes like this. The first transmission change, is at 60K, then 30K thereafter.


    Secondly, no mention in here or the Toyota manual in regards to flush. Just empty and replace. I do mine every 50K, since I coincide it with an oil change. I know this is a little long, but I only plan to keep the car 250K. My last car, a Honda Civic, manual tranny, I replaced every 30K, NO FLUSH, and it was running strong at 236K when I sold it to another soldier.


    Thirdly, I put in Synthetic Dexron III, yes, they make. It is more important, that you put in the correct type of fluid in regards to viscositiy and thermal breakdown, then if it is synthetic or organic. Nevertheless, I put in synthetic. I really don't notice a difference but I know it is there, cause I did it myself.


    Four, the power steering, something that goes broke in OLD Avalons, takes the same fluid, Dexron III, as does the tranny, at least in my 02. Double check for your year. Look in the Shop/Service Manual, it is there. That would be an excellent thing to do at the same time, since the racks have gone out on these cars after 125K. This is also expensive. Think about this. It takes an extra 10 minutes cause you have the fluid there already and is very easy to do.


    Five, the most important thing besides just changing the fluid, is to get in a habit of letting your foot off the accelorator slightly when the car is about to upshift. Try it. You will see that it takes the pressure of the unit, and over time, if you get into the habit of driving like this, when it upshifts, will save demonstrable wear and tear on the unit. Probably getting it to at least 250K.


    How many of you have had a car and tranny, especially an automatic go over 250K without an overhaul??????????


  • my 2002 Avalon XLS is coming up on 100K miles.


    what should I think of in terms of preventative maintance.


    The only problem that i have notices is that last year the A/C started acting strange...then fixes itself then acts Strange again....the little light would blink too. I did not have anything done with it as it was towards the end of the season and I have not had any problems with the heat. I am hoping this is a belt slippage???? I have heard the belts slip a little.


    Anyway...any suggestions? I think I would like to get 150K out of this car.
  • dave210dave210 Posts: 238
    Hi, I have a 2000 Toyota Avalon with 73,000 miles, which I'll probably be trading in this upcoming fall, but I haven't replaced the spark plugs or battery yet. The car is five years old, and I know Toyota recommended the spark plugs be replaced at 60,000.


    Is it wise of me to put money into the car before I get rid of it in 6 months, or are changing the spark plugs pretty vital, even though I've gone 13,000 miles over the "Toyota Limit?"


    I've had all the other maintenance done (transmission fluid, filters, brakes checked etc.), so this is the only thing that I'm a little concerned to wait around about.


    Also, about how long do the batteries last? Again, I'll be trading the car in soon, but it is the winter and am skeptical how much longer it can really last.


    One other thing I found peculiar is my son's Honda Civic and my wife's Acura MDX both are Hondas and both recommend changing the brake fluid every 3 years, yet I could find no mention of that in my maintenance guide from Toyota, so I've never done it. Does the Avalon require the brake fluid to be changed?


    Thanks in advance!
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    Here's one opinion:

    The spark plugs are worn out. They work, yes. But at $2.00 a gallon for gas why not change them and begin to recover the cost of the new plugs immediately from better gas mileage.

    Original equipment batteries go from 2 years to 8 years, maybe. If it starts the car quickly, the lights don't flicker with the heater on and the case is not wet (leaking), it will last a while longer so leave it alone. Ultimate life is unknown.

    Brake fluid absorbs water, and water, like air, in a fluid brake system will not work. Changing the brake fluid will help make the car safer as the brakes will work better and internal brake parts will be less likely to rust, clog or fail. Absolutely necessary now..? Probably not. But, what is your tolerance for risk? How much safety do you need? Think about it.

    Hope this helps....
  • dave210dave210 Posts: 238
    Thanks for the input, but for the general driver, how am I supposed to change the brake fluid if Toyota doesn't say to do so even in their owners manual.


    If it wasn't for my Honda and Acura owners manual saying to do so, it never would have crossed my mind. I'm no mechanic so I just do what's written down in whatever brand car maintenance guide I have.


    But in any event, I'll get all 3 checked out.
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    I agree..and there is nothing in the owner's manual of my 2003 XL about brake fluid changes. Both my wife and daughter drive V6 Hondas. It is in their manuals. Both are over 3 years old and have the original fluid. They stop fine. But no brake fluid lasts forever. Good luck....
  • Save your money. If you are really going to get rid of the car (trade in) this fall there is no dollar value in doing any more than necessary to keep the car running okay.


    Platinum plugs usually last well in excess of 100,000 miles. As long as the car is running well, why not leave them alone? Except for Toyota, don't most manufactures call for plug changes at around 100K?


    My Avalon has 71K on the OE plugs. Mpg, how the engine runs, and acceleration are virtually the same as when new.


    Have a Honda product too (MDX) and agree that it is a good idea to flush brake fluid from time to time, however have never done it on cars under 10 years old and have never had a problem. Yes, the X will get a flush to keep the warranty people happy.
  • petras2petras2 Posts: 104
    i'm considering replacing the power steering fluid on my 98'avalon/81k wants around $100, how hard is it to do it yourself? would replacing just most of the reservoir fluid only, help? is there anyone out there that has NOT done these fluid changes on their higher mileage avalons and had not experienced problems in these areas?..thanks
  • General rule of thumb is changing fluids increases time between repairs. However, before the recent change everything push by dealers, did many (I was going to say any) change power steering or brake fluids? At a little over 17 years of continuous use my 1984 Toyota Van still had the OE brake fluid except for a top off once and the PS fluid was OE too. Rear end fluid was OE. Radiator fluid was changed when the water pump started leaking during year 12. Transmission fluid was changed at 60K miles and again at 110K.

    I did replace the brake master cylinder when the van was 18 years old, but I doubt changing brake fluid would have prevented the reason for the replacement.

    Changing only part of the fluid will help, but is not as good as flushing and having 100% new fluid.

    I'm planning on changing all of the fluids in my 96 (72K miles) this summer.

    NOTE: Finally put new tires on he car this week. Have had OE type Dunlop SP4000 tires on the car since new. Had needed to buy only two tires in 72K miles because three were replaced under warranty along the way.

    Installed CR's top rated Falken 512 tires. I do not recommend them in the 205-65x15 size that is standard on my 96 Avalon. They sing a bit and are in general noisier than the Dunlops. They don't 'turn in' as well as the Dunlops nor do they ride as well at low speeds. Freeway ride is good however. Cornering grip is okay, like the Dunlops, but the slow steering response was not expected. They seem good in the rain.

    The primary driver of the car, a teen, listens to music so the added noise is not a problem and the harsher low speed ride is actually perceived as better road feel (ah, youth).
  • tnbtigertnbtiger Posts: 1
    thank you so much ... this forum regarding replacing the air filter on my 1996 avalon was very helpful. i still owned the vehicle since day 1, and its being very good to me, currently i have 166,000 miles on it. ohh the one thing i want to mention is if you have to replace your valve cover gasket, the dealer will charge you an arm and leg for it. my local dealer quoted me a price of close to $500 and the parts were only like $10 or something. i checked on the web and the part was minimal. i checked around the local mechanics and they replaced the valve cover gasket for me at a total cost of $200.
  • mikes.mikes. Posts: 336
    Was the valve cover leaking? Why the replace? My 96 XL with 160K has no problem so I'm wondering what happened to yours?

    Does the 96 have a cabin air filter, on the XL?
  • petras2petras2 Posts: 104
    thanks for the reply re fluid tires, i purchased a set of yokohama avid touring tires 205/65, $228 including shipping at tire rack, mounting and balance another $40, so far very pleased with the ride and low noise, not the greatest in moderate snow however...petras
  • 54gradsteds54gradsteds Posts: 102
    I've got a '95 Avalon with 158,000 miles on it, and I'd like to keep it for another year or two. Dealer tells me my valve-cover gaskets are leaking, and the fix will cost $700, including materials. Seems like a whole lot of money to me, at $80 per hour. Is this something I should entrust only to the dealer, or can any competent mechanic do it? If the latter is a possibility, about how much should I expect to pay in the suburban DC area? Should I just try to snug-up the bolts a bit first, after steam-cleaning the engine?

    I'd like to have a new Limited, and She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed has okayed the release of funds, but I'd feel better about waiting for another year or so, just in case there are some "kinks" in the new model. Besides, I think the colors offered now are REALLY crappy!


    p.s. I also had a problem with my bulb-warning light, but saw no lights not working. Upon removing a bulb or two, I realized that some had TWO filaments (hence the two little lead-like nipples on end of bulb), checked both filaments with an ohmmeter, and VOILA ! the culprit was readily identified!
  • zone1zone1 Posts: 11
    Hang On! There is no way in the world that replacing valve cover gaskets should cost that much. The job is fairly simple, and can be done by anyone with even a questionable mechanical aptitude. It's just not that hard to do, and the gaskets don't cost more than $50., if that much.
    If you dont want to tackle the job, then check some independent garages and get some quotes before you do anything.
  • mikes.mikes. Posts: 336
    45bucks sounds like a pretty fair price to me.

  • soliesolie Posts: 2
    I just bought a 05 Avalon XL, While looking at the engine I was trying to find the oil filter as I like to do my own oil changes. Couldn't find it come to find out the Avalon uses an oil cartridge. Is it possible to change your own oil?

  • pmcb48pmcb48 Posts: 192
    MikeS is a new Avalon owner who changes his own oil, and could advise you on how to do it. Technically, your question probably best belongs in the Avalon Owners: Care and Maintenance forum. You could post it there, and/or in the Avalon Owners: Meet the Members (Mike is the #2 post there) forum, which you'll probably want to sign on to anyway, and I know Mike checks it. The 2005+ Avalon Forum is also an option, but more for general discussion than maintenance issues. Welcome. :)
  • rwb2rwb2 Posts: 85
    It's possible and easy but I would suggest you take it to your Toyota dealer for the first one and hopefully they'll let you observe. Mine was the first one they had done and they had the Toyota screen up on their computer while they worked. But again observe. I always liked changing my own but my dealer is willing to do it for $16.99 and since it takes 6 1/2 quarts of oil why not let them. Additionally you and your mechanic can give it the once over much better than you can in your garage. Plus you might get some free advice.
  • mikes.mikes. Posts: 336
    "I just bought a 05 Avalon XL, While looking at the engine I was trying to find the oil filter as I like to do my own oil changes. Couldn't find it come to find out the Avalon uses an oil cartridge. Is it possible to change your own oil? "

    Yes it is quite possible to do your own oil & filter changes. The filter is located on the underside of the car, passenger side. It uses a replaceable element, you reuse the cannister. The new filter element comes with 2 O rings that you replace too. There is a plastic drain spigot included and a decent instruction sheet.

    I use only Toyota filters on my 4 Toyotas and I usually buy them from ToyotaParts World. They are cheaper there even with shipping then from my local dealers.

  • limiteddriverlimiteddriver Posts: 234
    I just purchased an '05 Limited Avalon Friday. My dealer says synthetic is fine but Toyota still requires a 5000 mile change interval. Are any of you using synthetic? At what mileage did you change? Are you using the 5000 interval? Anyone using the Toyota brand dino oil? TIA
  • mikes.mikes. Posts: 336
    " just purchased an '05 Limited Avalon Friday. My dealer says synthetic is fine but Toyota still requires a 5000 mile change interval. Are any of you using synthetic? At what mileage did you change? Are you using the 5000 interval? Anyone using the Toyota brand dino oil? TIA "

    I've been using Mobil1 for a few years now. I have almost 6K miles on my 05 Avalon LTD and have done 2 oil changes. 1st 1 @ 1k miles and 2nd @ 5k, both with dino oil. @ 10k and every 5 after that I'll be using Mobil1 5-30. I also use only Toyota filter for both air & oil. Buy them from a dealer off of the 'net.

  • 4bearhug4bearhug Posts: 52
    I just purchased a 98 Avalon w/ 87k miles to be used by my kids. I've really appreciated all of the helpful posts here on problem solving by the Avalon experts. I just found a couple of issues with the car that I would appreciate some helpful advice.

    1. The CD player appears to be skipping constantly whether the car is traveling or sitting still. It has gotten a bit better over the past day, but still is not totally fixed. Could this be from non use by the previous owner? Is there something that I can do to fix this?

    2. The moonroof only pops up in the back, but will not slide open. The button on the roof indicates that it should slide and when pushed makes some noise like it's doing something, but nothing happens. Any suggestions?

    Are either of these things fixable by me who knows next to nothing about cars or do they require an expert? Can a local shop help or does this require a Toyota dealership? Because this was bought for my children to drive I hate to put too much money into a fix, but it is a very nice car and it seems a shame not to have these options work. Also, I didn't get an owners manual with the car which I really miss, so I can't check for help there. Anybody have an extra 98 Avalon owners manual?
  • pcp2pcp2 Posts: 12
    The use of an oil cartridge seems to me a change into the PAST. I had a 1964 E-Type Jag and it had a cartridge filter. You had better get it installed correctly or it would leak oil all over the place. Can someone tell me why Toyota would go into the past to put a unsuccessful filter on a modern car?
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    It is not the's the future. The reason is "recycle". It is easier to get used oil from a paper cartridge than from a paper cartridge wrapped in steel. The spin-on filters are much easier to use but cause more trouble in the waste oil recovery process. That's my guess... we should expect to see more of the "old tech" filters. :)
  • mikes.mikes. Posts: 336
    What fin has said about oil recovery is what Toyota has said about using this cartridge. Recycling is the big reason here. Plus I bet they save a few cents for every filter AND they charge us more for the new element only. My local dealer dent out a coupon flyer a few weeks ago and they had Toyota filters for 3.99 each. They exempted the Land Cruiser from the coupon but not the 05 Avalon. I bought 10 and saved about 20 bucks. :)

  • deepandeepan Posts: 342
    2. you do realize there are 2 seperate switches for the roof. Tilt and slide. the roof will only slide if the roof hasnt been tilted and vice versa.
  • 4bearhug4bearhug Posts: 52
    I think I know what you mean by 2 separate switches. There is one main switch on the roof with a front portion that tilts the roof and a back portion that slides the roof. I may have the order reversed, but I think that's how it works. The middle of the switch shows a circle and I'm not sure/don't remember what that does. Not having an owners manual is a bit of a pain.

    If I am not understanding how the roof slides open, please let me know. I realize that you can't slide the roof if it's currently tilted, but my roof won't slide at all. Is there something unique about how the Avalon's buttoms work to slide the roof?
  • deepandeepan Posts: 342
    i have a 96 avalon. It has 2 SEPARATE switches. One to slide and one to tilt. i had an older camry and it only came with one switch. only slide no tilt. toyota roofs when closing stop halfway. you will have to release the button and press it again. try to release and press repeatedly. did you every remove the battery. i've heard of pwr windows needing to be reset dont know whether it applies to roofs.
  • sararno9sararno9 Posts: 2
    I am ready to buy an avalon and it has 177,000 miles on it for $3300. I was told the only maintenance needed soon would be the gasket seals. Is this expensive to fix and also does this sound like a good deal?

  • soliesolie Posts: 2
    Has anyone installed the Fram Sure drain system on their Avalon? I have a 04 4runner and installed one they work fantastic, not one drop off oil.

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