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Toyota Avalon (Prior to 2005) Transmission Questions



  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Some models use DBW, Drive-By-Wire, E-throttle, E-gas, to prevent the engine from developing a significant level of torque during a quick return to acceleration to give the downshifting clutches time to fully seat.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591

    Here is my experince. I have an 02 Avalon also. I do tow(utility trailer 5 x 8), sometimes too heavy, but I have cut back now. I have 92K on the car. I have no tranny problems. I change the fluid mostly myself, every 30K, and alternate every other change with a filter too. I also have put a heavy duty magnet for A/T on the bottom of the pan, on the outside.

    I have never flushed it nor do I intend to. I have no problems with this A/T at this point in time and mileage.

    An aside from the constant tranny changes ever 30-40K would be to let you foot pressure off the accelerator at the appropriate shift points. This not only enhances the smoothness of the shift but will prolong the trannys life.

    I am not sure why all the hype about tranny coolers. The car can only tow up to 2000lbs anyway, and I have seen very few Avalons even towing. And if you are driving this car hard for sport, you kinda got the wrong the car.

    Another elusive point, although well trusted, if not overfilling the tranny too. It takes a long time to fill it, unlike an oil change as you have to do it in little amounts. No mechanic on shop time is going to do it perfectly, just not a money maker. Something to be aware of. When I had one mechanic do it, it was overfilled and I had to let out some Dexron III. Never again. It is too easy to do myself.

  • dano42dano42 Posts: 11

    I have a 2002 Avalon with 31,000 miles. Also found dark transmission fluid. Just had the transmission flushed. I too have never experienced any slipping but obviously concerned.

    Has any one else found dark trans fluid at such low miles? Any trans failures?


  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    The color of modern transmission fluid is not as important as the odor. This idea has been posted before here in the Avalon forums. Did it smell burnt? Or was it just dark? If your Avy had 31k or 5 years on it the fluid was finished and needed a change.

    We drove an '03 XL to 90k, changed the fluid twice and did a flush both times (not really necessary to flush each time.) Never missed a beat and the fluid was always darker when it came out than when it went in. Enjoy your Avalon... :)
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    ATF burned smell is something one must "learn". Equivalent odor to a burning 1/4 watt resistor or burned phenolic for my own sense of smell.
  • cking35cking35 Posts: 3
    I have a 2000 avalon, last Dec. (2006) I replaced the timing belt, decided to replace the transmission filter while I was working on the car. The fluid was dark looking and had a black sooty look in the oil pan and on the filter. Saved the filter and a little bit of the fluid and took it to a national name transmission shop and they told me the fluid had been over heated. I do pull a light boat, but not very far or very often. Would turn the overdrive off like the manual says. The manger at the shop said I shouldn't turn the overdrive off. Took the old filter and oil sample to the local Toyota dealer and they said I should have the transmission flushed every 30000 miles, the manual does not call for this, (159 dollars). Had around 61000 miles on car when I changed the filter.
  • abfischabfisch Posts: 591
    This is down my alley. I have an 02 Avalon similar to yours. I own a home, which was not landscaped when purchased. I have done all the landscaping myself, and have towed a 5x8 Worthington aluminum trailer in the process. This is what I have done. I have 93K on the car.

    I change the A/T fluid every 30K, and change the filter(there is a kit) every 60K. I have a tranny magnet on the outside of the tranny pan also. Whenever I have something in the trailer, I always take the OD OFF!!The manager "at the shop" obviously does not know what he is talking about. The manual (service manual)is incomplete.

    The car is rated to 2000lbs, including the trailer and anything in the car. That is not all that much. Light machines, mulch, wood from the hardware store is OK. Dirt I have a little problem with, although now I do not get more than one "scoopful" at a time.

    If you don't OD off, the tranny hunts too much. The 4 gear is too tall for the torque that comes on, about 2000 RPMs in the older models. Swithching the OD off, puts the engine in the perfect torque range for hauling up to its limit. Realize, it is a front driver, and a medium size V6 so it has limits.

    I have not had one bit of problems with the tranny. I had inner CV problems when I bought the car prior to using a trailer but that was a defect from the factory.

    Changing the tranny fluid, every 30-40K, especially when trailing is correct and will keep your tranny from most problems till over 200K. It takes Dexron III same as the power steering, which would also be a good idea to replace at the same time.

    Hope that helps.

  • my 2000 Avalon XLS has 123,000 miles and I have made the mistake of never changing the transmission Fluid. I'm having no transmission problems with the car. The dealer told me my fluid was dirty and needed changing along with a new filter.

    My question is, at this point should I bother. I've heard that after such neglect, the grime, metal chips, etc that exist in my old dirty fluid may be the only thing keeping it from slipping.
  • finfin atlantaPosts: 591
    Here's one opinion: Change it now and do a complete flush as well. If this causes problems, they would have happened anyway. And have been more expensive.

    Your filter quit working a long time ago. The small bypass (probably) is the only thing that has kept you going this long. And the stuff in the fluid is not good for the other parts of the transmission. The manual suggests a mileage limit between changes for a reason. You got lucky, maybe.

    If it works OK and you intend to sell the car, leave it alone. It would be nice if you told the new buyer, but.. that is a personal decision. I drove both a '99 XL and an '03 XL to 90k miles each and the transmissions were perfect. Properly maintained, also. Hope this helps, others may have a different opinion..... Good luck. :)
  • Just to folllow up... I ended up flushing the transmission myself. So far it has been 8 months and everything is fine. The fluid is nice and red. I flushed it myself using instructions I found on the Internet.

    Now that I have done it, I trust doing it myself over a tranny shop because I will use more care and pay more attention.

    It's fairly easy if you have a garage and basic tools. I bought the Dextron III fluid at WalMart. I found that my model Avalon only has a screen as a filter, so I decided not to remove the pan. I had the car on those drive-up ramps while doing this.

    1. I drained the tranny pan, refilled it with new fluid and replaced the plug.

    2. I then removed the tranny return line from the radiator and stuck about 6' of clear 3/8" tubing on there as a return line. The return line then ran into a large container off to the side to hold the old fluid. Use a clear container with quart marks so you can watch it and keep track of how much is coming out. I used a clear 4 gallon cooking oil container. I guess a gallon milk jug could work too. Make sure it won't tip over as it is filling.

    The radiator return line on my Avalon is at the bottom of the radiator on the driver's side. Or, if you lift the hood it will be the tranny line on the right as you are looking down. You need to remove the cover plate from under the car to access that area. Have patience, the hose clips and line can be a pain to get off.

    3. I then removed the tranny dipstick and put a tranny fluid funnel in there. Then, with the help of my sexy assistant, I started the car. The tranny will pump the old fluid out and into the container from the exit line. It comes out as a full stream but with not a lot of pressure. It only takes about 30 seconds for a few quarts to come out. I wouldn't do it without an assistant to start and stop the car as you are watching it come out and pouring new fluid in.

    As the car is running, you need to pour new fluid in the filler tube as the old is being pushed out. Do a few quarts at a time at about the same rate as what is being pumped out.

    Eventually the fluid will be coming out clear which means all the old fluid is out. You need to buy a few more quarts than what the tranny holds.

    So...You are basically pouring fresh tranny fluid in the filler tube while the old tranny fluid is being pushed out through the hose you attached to the radiator return line, and this flushes the whole system...get it? That's exactly how it works at the tranny shop for $110 + dollars.

    I used 15 quarts of Penzoil Dextron III. Be careful and don't overfill it. Later check the fluid level several times on level ground as described in the owner manual. It's better to add a quart than having to drain one.

    Here is a link to a Lexus tranny flush tutorial. It's for a Lexus, but the basic idea is the same for the Avalon;

    Hope this helps.
  • mohullmohull Posts: 5
    Hello Guys
    Hope you have a good holiday and weekend and happy fourth of July. I have got a question and I appreciate if you can help me out.
    I have a Avalon XLS 1999. When I change the transmission to R to D or D to P and vice versa the car vibrates or shakes a little. I mean changing transmission is like shaking the car.
    Could you please give a comment about this issue?

    Sincerely :mad:
  • gomst1gomst1 Posts: 58
    If vehicle has no engine misfire, I am guessing it could be broken motor mounts. Have your mechanic check it out.
  • mohullmohull Posts: 5
    Thanks Gomst1 for your reply. Actually I bought a car last two weeks and it is my first car in this country. Before I used to Manual Transmission cars when I was back in my home country. I did twice something bad when I was changine the transmission. You know for Manual Transmission you do not need to make sure the car is at complete stop and you can change the transmission before complete stop. Unfortunately I did this twice when the car was not 100 % in stop. I changed transmission to Parking and you know it is kind of stupid but I did that.
    For the mechanic I have not shown it to any mechanic yet.
    I appreciate you if you tell me what engine misfire is and how it occurs and also motor mounts. I am new for this car.

    Have a nice day

  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    The idle air bypass solenoid/assembly is sticking/sticky.

    When you move the shifter from park or neutral into drive or reverse that increases the engine loading so the EFI fuel metering and idle air bypass must be opened up to a slightly higher level. The EFI increases the fuel level instantly but a sticking/sticky idle air bypass would delay having the correct idle A/F mixture.
  • mohullmohull Posts: 5
    Thanks Wwest for your response. What you suggest me to do for that?


  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Have it serviced at Toyota...??
  • mohullmohull Posts: 5
    No I did not do any service yet. What do you think about the cost? Or what should I say to mechanic about the problem? What part of that must be changed or removed?

  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    That was my answer to your question...

    Take it to Toyota and have it serviced.
  • jimmy22

    I purchased an off lease 2005 and it is great, have a 1996 XL with 245000 miiles still runs great. Search around on the site, some people mention a TSB that fix a transmission hesitation problem. Also if your check engine light comes on or engine misfires you may want to check replacing the ingnition coils. Friend bought a 2005 touring and had to do this due to engine misfire, his car has 37K

    Love my avalons, wife has a 1995 corolla with 167K

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,514
    Might be this TSB:



    '05 Avalon

    June 20, 2007


    To enhance shifting performance and smoothness during acceleration, the Engine Control Module/ECM (SAE term: Powertrain Control Module/PCM) calibration has been revised and certain fuel control feedback components have been updated. Please use the following procedure to address customer concerns.
    NOTE :Before proceeding, verify the ECM (PCM) calibration has NOT been updated by checking for the Authorized Modifications Label (shown in Figure 11 of the Repair Procedure).

    Applicable Vehicles
    ^ 2005 model year Avalon vehicles.

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  • Hello all !

    I have a 1998 Avalon XLS with 110,000 miles. The problem I am having is with the transmission. It works fine,, shifts fine except when I am starting out from a stop. When I hit the gas, it jumps forward and takes off. Other cars I have owned, it seems like there is a gradual shift into gear without it jerking forward but on this car it feels as if it hits the gear hard and the car jumps forward. I bought the car used last year with 97,000 miles on it so i dont know that much of the car history. I checked the tranny fluid and its clear pink without any unusual odor.

    Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    If you happen to mean "california stops", not quite coming to a full stop, then for a car with that many miles that might be your problem. Otherwise you're probably driving with a transaxle that will soon need a rebuild.
  • I have a 2000 XLS with 306,000 miles. All I've done is service it every 90,000
    miles when I changed the timing belt. I have had to replace the struts and once
    the ball bearings, but that's it. The motor and transmission run great and I am
    told by the oil change folks the oil is as clear as a new car. In fact, I am wondering
    what failure is most likely to leave me "high and dry" while on the road?

  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    More modern, say beginning in '98, FWD & F/AWD vehicles DO NOT downshift into 1st gear during lift throttle coastdown periods until/unless the vehicle comes to a full and complete stop. If you happen to try to accelerate just prior to this downshift you will always get a jerky acceleration.

    You can somewhat avoid this "feature" via manually downshifting into first as you roll to(ward) a stop, and before gas pedal depression.

    Later models use DBW to prevent a rise in engine RPM until the downshift is complete, softening the GO...

    You might also want a technician to check for slack in the (cable) coupling from the gas pedal to the throttle butterfly valve.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,514
    AAA reports that most breakdowns on the road are due to fairly simple things like bad belts, hoses, blow-outs.

    If you've never had radiator renewed or new water pump, you're pushing your luck there. If you've never had a catalytic converter, then it's well beyond its life span.

    Also I'd put your car on the lift and have things tightened up and checked for structural issues, like cracks in suspension mounts. Also a good time to check for leaks, including oil, water and exhaust.

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  • I have a 1995 Toyota Avalon with a leaking transmission. My car is in really good condition, but does have 203k miles on it. She runs well, and has been really well taken care of, but that pesky tranny leak is getting to be an issue. I keep adding fluid and adding a sealer to it to keep it from leaking but it still loses about 2 quarts every 6 weeks or so. I read on another site that resealing the entire transmission would stop the leaking, but I don't know how to do that and I would prefer to do it myself, rather than take it to a mechanic.

    Does anyone know how to:

    how to reseal the entire transmission toyota avalon 1995??


    Have any other suggestions on how to stop the transmission from leaking????

    Any suggestions are MUCH needed and welcome!!!!! I LOVE my car and don't want to get rid of her! I know that she can be fixed! She's a GREAT car, she just needs a little TLC! PLEASE HELP!!!!!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,514
    It really depends on where it's leaking as to what you can and can't do yourself.

    I don't think adding sealer is a good idea, but at this point the damage has been done. Sealers swell the seals up and they usually don't work anyway, especially on the types of seals that work on rotating shafts.

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  • I have a 2000 Avalon that has been very reliable with all scheduled maintenance (every 3 months), other than a replaced catalytic converter and brakes last year. But for two days now, I have had to park it on a level spot in my yard rather than my barely-sloped driveway, as it won't lock into park and begins to roll back when I lift my foot from the brake. I'm wondering if anyone can offer an educated diagnosis before I take it in for a possibly expensive check-up. Thanks in advance for any help.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    You should be using, primarily, the parking, or E-brake when parking on an incline. Using only "park" can result in the vehicle sliding, spontaneously sliding (middle of the night) on a slippery/icy inclined surface.
  • When a vehicle transmission is placed in "park", the transmission is either mechanically or electrically locked up. Some part of this mechanism is either broken or not working on your 2000 Avalon, and it probably can only be correctly fixed by "expensive check up and repair", since transmission repairs usually fix that description.

    The solution of using the parking brake should be considered a temporary fix at best, until the real problem is corrected.
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