How to Inspect The Transmission Fluid on a Used Prius
Is That Used Prius a Keeper?
Buying a used car can be difficult especially when you know nothing about its maintenance history and the kind of driver(s) that previously owned it. However, there is some pleasure in buying a used car in that you might find a diamond in rough that others have passed on simply because it looked too old and dirty on the outside to warrant any investigation into it.
Cosmetics aside, however, taking the time to do at least a cursory inspection of a used vehicle can help you decide whether that used car has potential; is a problem; or, is potentially a problem. In this article we will take a look at the Prius transaxle in particular.
A Transaxle is a combination of the transmission, differential, and ancillary systems around the axle that have been integrated into one assembly. You will usually find a transaxle system in cars where the engine is placed at the same end that drives the wheels. The operation of a transaxle is essentially the same as that of a regular transmission, with the difference being that instead of connecting a long driveshaft to the rear axle, the transmission's output shaft drives a large gear that meshes directly with the differential's ring gear. In other words, the transmission/drive system are all contained in one box.
With this in mind and including with your cursory inspection, you may benefit by getting underneath the Prius and removing the transaxle drain plug momentarily, as you collect a sample of the transaxle fluid for a visual and olfactory sniff test that can be diagnostic for a potential and expensive problem. In fact, if the transaxle has been overly damaged, a replacement can run between $3,000 and $6,000 with another $800 to $1500 in labor added to the bill.
Both the color and smell of the transaxle fluid can reveal whether there may be problems with the transaxle system, which will be discussed in videos below. But for now, just know this color coding of used transmission fluid problems.
If the Collected Used Fluid is:
• Red and Transparent---this is a like-new condition of the transaxle fluid and a good indication that a vehicle has been maintained.
• Light Brown and Semi-transparent---this is still a good indication and there is no need for an immediate changing of the fluid.
• Dark Brown and Opaque---this is what you will commonly see in a used vehicle. At this point enough oxidation from its long miles of use tell you that it’s time for a well-deserved change.
• Very Dark Brown of Black---this fluid has never been changed and could be an indication of some serious wear on the transaxle. Proceed with critical eye on this vehicle before reaching your final buying decision.
• Light Pinkish---a major indicator of trouble here as either coolant and/or water has gotten into the system, necessitating a transmission rebuild or replacement. Definitely expect a large repair bill.
How to Check Transaxle Fluid
But wait, can’t you just check the transaxle dipstick and not bother with going under a vehicle? Yes, you can. However, it is not unusual to find an older model Prius vehicle that has a magnetic transaxle drain plug designed to trap bits of metal that may be present as a transaxle wears down or is abused. By going under the Prius and getting a good sample of the fluid and an idea of the amount of gunk settled at the bottom of the transaxle, you can also take a look at the magnetic drain plug and see if there is an unusual amount of metal wear present.
That said, let’s get to the nitty gritty of the Prius transaxle and watch this very informative and entertaining Toyota Maintenance YouTube channel to learn where the drain and filler plugs are located, plus what plugs you could accidently mistake as being the correct ones to remove that could make a mess of things during your inspection.
2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid Transaxle Fluid Check
Changing the Prius Transaxle Fluid
Now that you have a good demonstration of how to find, access and remove the drain plug and collect a sample of transaxle fluid for inspection, let’s take this a step further with another video of the same model of a Prius and learn how to finish the job by changing the fluid that is simpler than you would imagine when a fill plug is located not under the hood, but under the engine.
2008 Toyota Prius Transmission Fluid Change
I hope that you have enjoyed this article and the videos. If you have ever worked on the transaxle or have any experience with Prius transaxles, please let us know in the comments section below.
Be sure to watch for more articles about vehicle maintenance and repair to help keep you informed of what to watch out for and what you can do to ensure that you remain safe on the road and have a good automotive experience.
And it you decide to take your Prius or any other vehicle to a service center to check your transmission or other fluids for you, be sure to check this warning out first.
COMING UP NEXT: How Some Car Repair Garages Hide Their Brake Repair Scam
Timothy Boyer is Torque News Tesla and EV reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily Tesla and electric vehicle news.
Transmission Services for 2007 Toyota Prius
What’s the Importance of Your 2007 Prius’s Transmission?
The transmission delivers power from the motor to your wheels so that you can drive at your desired speed. Since the transmission has to translate the precise amount of power for your desired amount of speed, a tiny transmission issue can take a major toll on your car’s performance. It's a type of car problem that’s not hard to notice. 2007 Toyota Prius transmission problems could include shifting delays, grinding when accelerating, the car shaking at any speed, or whistling noises and a burning smell coming from under the hood. Let Toyota Prius transmission problems linger and your could suffer a loss in fuel efficiency or discover that your Prius’s not even driveable.
Toyota Transmission Recommendations for 2007 Priuss
Your Prius’s transmission should be inspected routinely, according to Toyota. Specifically, the transmission fluid in your Prius should be exchanged regularly with Toyota-approved fluid. Our expert techs are familiar with 2007 Prius services and perform them according to Toyota-recommended specifications. As soon as you suspect something’s wrong with your Prius’s transmission, book an appointment at your local Firestone Complete Auto Care to help keep your engine running at peak performance.
Toyota Prius Transmission Service Pricing
We work to keep the average cost for Toyota Prius transmission fluid changes and repairs affordable. Visit your local Firestone Complete Auto Care and we’ll give your car a free Courtesy Check. We’ll give your Prius a check-up so you can make informed service and repair decisions. Whether your car needs a transmission fluid exchange or routine maintenance, you can rely on our Triple Promise to deliver a car that’s Fixed Right. Priced Right. Right on Time.
2007 Toyota Prius Questions & Answers
What happens if I "ride" my Toyota's brakes? Riding the brakes (keeping your foot lightly pressed on the brake pedal for a long time) can lead to transmission issues over time. Remember that when you’re driving down winding roads, and opt for engine braking when possible.
How much can my Toyota tow? Think twice before volunteering to tow a moving trailer, no matter how small it is. Defying your Prius towing capacity can spell trouble for the transmission system. Always consult your owner's manual before towing or hauling something.
How often does my Prius transmission fluid need to be checked? Caring for your Toyota Prius’s transmission fluid is a great way to help it perform. Some technicians would say that between 30,000 and 60,000 miles is a good timeframe for having your Toyota's transmission fluid checked and replaced, but that timeline can vary depending on how your vehicle is used and your manufacturer’s recommendations. Leaks or low transmission fluid are easy to spot and affordable to repair.
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2007 Toyota Prius - AT Fluid - Vehicle Specific
Transmission fluid is the lubricant for all the moving parts that make up your vehicle's transmission. Due to the heat generated in the transmission, the fluid can break down over time. What type of transmission fluid you need depends on your vehicle. Your car's manual provides transmission fluid service requirements. Regular transmission service is necessary to keep your car on the road. That's why O’Reilly Auto Parts has the transmission fluid your vehicle needs. Check out our complete line of products.Show More Show Less
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Prius transmission toyota fluid 2007
so? does it make it different?
there are literally hundreds of thousands of toyotas in USA running the 10,000 mile (16,000 kms) interval with the toyota 0w20 oil - corollas, camry, sienna, prius etc.
no issues at all.
toyota genuine 0w20 costs about 100 dollars for a change at a toyota dealer - I can assure you no toyota owner is going to have that changed at 3000 miles (5000 kms) - Customers will literally kick toyotas combined butts to oblivion.
If you think that Made in Germany means jannati - thats ok too, I can then examplify Ford USA - they have been speccing 5w20 oils in literally anything they made (except the high stress mustangs and turbo fords). old crown vics with their ancient spec 4.6 litre V8 engines would get the most severe punishment duty you can imagine, First they were used as cop cars (which literally means beat it to hell) and then auctioned where they were sold to taxi companies - who then ran it for at least a 250,000 miles more on the same engine - retired taxis are usually at 400,000 miles before they are exported to other countries (mostly GCC)
all while using el cheapo mineral 5w20 from a drum changed every 5000-8000 miles depending on mood.
How to Change the Transmission/Transaxle Fluid
2004-2009 Toyota Prius
Before doing anything read my disclaimer & safety info.
A transmission/transaxle fluid change is a routine maintenance item, just like an oil change but performed much less often. The first time Toyota recommends replacing this is 120k if you're driving in "ideal conditions," although they recommend inspecting it every 30k. Based on what I've read on the forums and other Prius sites 60k may be a better interval for routine changes. Since I bought my Prius used I didn't know if this was ever done, but now at 115,600 I wanted to change it to get a reference point.
I did this after doing an oil change in the middle of a MN winter and have to say that it was really simple. I will be going into detail below but this really boils down to: raise car, remove fill plug, remove drain plug and drain fluid into container, torque drain plug, add new fluid, torque fill plug, lower car.
1)Put you car on ramps or jack up the front and place the car on jack stands so you have some room to work underneath the car. Follow steps 1-2. You will also want to put some newspaper or a drop cloth underneath the transmission case so you don't get your floor/driveway dirty if any spills occur.
2) Here's the transaxle case, circled in RED is the drain plug and circled in GREEN is the fill plug. Looking at this picture (taken from underneath looking straight up) the fill plug faces the front of the car and the drain plug is angled down to the ground. The transaxle case is on the drivers (left side of the car) whereas the oil pan is on the passengers side of the car. Another perspective. Hobbit also has a great picture here to give you an overview. So now that you know where it's located....
2a) Use a 24mm socket to unscrew and remove the fill plug, circled in GREEN. Depending on temperature and if the car's warmed up you may or may not hear a hissing sound, this is normal. If you've put your car on ramps no fluid should come out as the car is on an angle and fluid is therefore lower than the bottom of the fill hole.
3) Position your drain pan under the trans drain plug. Use a 10mm hex socket to remove the trans drain plug (circled in RED in the previous pic). To avoid a mess, first crack the plug so you can turn it by hand. Then remove the plug by hand while keeping upwards pressure so the plug doesn't fall out. You'll feel it "jump" a thread once it's completely unthreaded, at this point quickly pull it out and the fluid will burst out! My pic is a trickle since it took me a bit to grab the camera, it comes out fast.
4) While the trans fluid is draining pop the hood and remove the front engine cover. You need this off so you can get a funnel snaked down to the transmission fill hole.
So here's what my drain plug looked like after I took a swipe at it before realizing I should show how dirty it was...opps! Anyway, it wasn't too bad so maybe the previous owner had a trans change at some point. Either way a lot of junk was cleaned off. Also note how the crush washer "crushes" in to fill voids, you definitely want to use a new one each change.
5) Clean up both plugs and install a new crush washer on each one. Reinstall the 10mm hex drain plug and torque it to 29 ft-lb (39 Nm, 400 kg-cm).
6) Run your funnel down from the top of the engine bay and into the front fill hole of the transaxle casing. This pic is shot sideways looking straight up, front of the car is on the left.
Here's another perspective looking top down.
I wanted to know how much fluid drained out so I would know how much to put back in. So I marked my container as shown with some tape.
And here's what I got, almost one gallon. The repair manual calls for 4 quarts so this is good. Bring the used fluid to your local recycling center. I like these containers but the caps don't stay on well so I duct tape them before transporting to the recycling center, a trip made maybe every year or two.
7) Add Toyota ATF WS transmission fluid; I put in about 3.75 quarts. The repair manual says 4.0 quarts but 3.75 seemed about right for me to get to about the level I felt when dipping my finger into the fill hole before I drained the fluid.
NOTE: If want to do this completely by the book your car needs to be on a level surface and the fluid level should be within 0-5mm of the bottom of the fill hole. Essentially, you add fluid and if it starts leaking out it means you're at the 0mm mark and it won't take anymore.
Use your judgment on how much to add, I would suggest some type of jug to measure how much came out like I did so you know roughly how much to put back in. A used 1 gallon milk jug would work nicely if you don't have a large 5 gallon container like I do.
8) Install the 24mm fill plug with a new crush washer and torque it to 29 ft-lb (39 Nm, 400 kg-cm).
9)Turn off the Maint Req light (if it was on due to this) and reset your trans fluid counter on your . I also record mileage and date the job was done in a OneNote notebook.
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For 2007 Prius Second generation facelift Toyota recommends to use: ATF T-IV automatic transmission fluids. To select the right automatic transmission fluid see the table below.
How much automatic transmission fluid you need to put into 2007 Prius depends on conditions listed below.
in your garage to make future searches easy.
|Amount to change||4.86US qt.4.05UK qt.4.6L|
|Automatic transmission fluid: ATF T-IV|
Without special equipment it is possible to replace only ATF in the AT pan because of the way automatic transmission in 2007 Toyota Prius has been designed. It will take about 30–90 minutes depends on your skill level and might save you up to $200 depends on the region you live in.
With a spanner or a retched with the right size head unscrew the refill plug and the drain plug. After that drain old AT fluid. If you want to replace the filter you need to remove the ATF pan, replace the filter and then install the ATF pan back with a new gasket. Screw back the drain plug with a new gasket and refill the transmission with new ATF.
Please be noted that all capacities listed here are approximate. Check fluid levels when adding or refilling as recommended in your 2007 Toyota Prius user's manual. Keep in mind that all information here is provided “as is” without any warranty of any kind.
Before doing any DIY service please check your insurance policy and Toyota warranty policy for your region. In some regions DIY service may invalidate your warranty.