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Toyota Avalon, Transmission, Sedan
#63 of 104 2002 Avalon Low Miles Dark Transmission Fluid
Jul 08, 2007 (12:39 pm)
I have 2002 Avalon with about 22,000 miles on it. I have owned it since it had about 3,000 miles, for about 3 years. I never beat on it or drive it in severe conditions.
I have regularly changed the oil and checked the transmission fluid level. This time I checked the transmission fluid level I noticed it was brown. I don't remember seeing it dark before, and I know I have checked it. I know it is supposed to be red, unless Toyota uses some sort of dark OEM fluid.
So I had the tranny flushed and replaced with new Dextron III fluid. The manual and dipstick says use Dextron II or III for this year.
I was wondering if anyone knew what might have caused the dark fluid with such low miles. I know high mileage cars that have never had the transmission fluid changed could have this problem, but I have never seen it happen on such a low mileage car.
The car runs like a top, has never had any shifting or transmission slipping. That's another thing that confuses me, but I never push the car either.
#64 of 104 Re: 2002 Avalon Low Miles Dark Transmission Fluid [xomaman]
Jul 09, 2007 (5:51 am)
Your 2002 likely does not have DBW to "protect the drive train" so the ATF is overheating due to the transaxle's slow response in fully engaging the downshift clutches when you quickly go from a lift-throttle condition to one requiring a substantial level of acceleration.
Some might advise you to install an auxillary ATF cooler and I would agree that it might help. My reluctance is based on the fact that my 2001 RX300 has the factory auxilary cooler and yet my ATF was BURNED (absolutely NO towing nor rough service) at only 40,000 miles. Then again the RX is much heavier....
#65 of 104 Re: 2002 Avalon Low Miles Dark Transmission Fluid [wwest]
Jul 09, 2007 (8:20 am)
Yeah, I thought about a tranny cooler, they are only about $50. What do you mean by DBW???
#66 of 104 Re: 2002 Avalon Low Miles Dark Transmission Fluid [xomaman]
Jul 09, 2007 (1:01 pm)
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.
#67 of 104 Re: 2002 Avalon Low Miles Dark Transmission Fluid [wwest]
Jul 12, 2007 (9:19 am)
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.
#68 of 104 Re: 2002 Avalon Low Miles Dark Transmission Fluid [xomaman]
Jul 22, 2007 (4:43 pm)
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?
#69 of 104 Re: 2002 Avalon Low Miles Dark Transmission Fluid [dano42]
Jul 22, 2007 (5:15 pm)
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...
#70 of 104 Re: 2002 Avalon Low Miles Dark Transmission Fluid [fin]
Jul 22, 2007 (6:37 pm)
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.
#71 of 104 Burned looking transmission fluid
Aug 27, 2007 (2:29 pm)
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.
#72 of 104 Re: Burned looking transmission fluid [cking35]
Aug 30, 2007 (9:33 am)
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.