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Old 05-11-2009, 10:24 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Automatic Transmission Fluid Black

Hi i'm new on here i just bought a 2004 is300 automatic. Car is great engine is strong transmission is fine just that when checking the tran fluid it comes out black. i was warned about before purchasing but for the price i got it it is well worth it if i need to fix it. But i just want to knpw a couple of things

1. should i replace the fluid?

2. where should i go to replace the fluid?

3. How did it turn black?

4. If i dont replace am i still risking the transmission?

Thanks everyone
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Old 05-11-2009, 10:57 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mute View Post
Hi i'm new on here i just bought a 2004 is300 automatic. Car is great engine is strong transmission is fine just that when checking the tran fluid it comes out black. i was warned about before purchasing but for the price i got it it is well worth it if i need to fix it. But i just want to knpw a couple of things

1. should i replace the fluid?

2. where should i go to replace the fluid?

3. How did it turn black?

4. If i dont replace am i still risking the transmission?

Thanks everyone
As you do not know the history of the vehicle, then replace it. You are at more risk to do nothing.

Firstly, consider the following. If replacing AT fluid in a vehicle that has never been serviced before, mileage will be important. There is a sudden cleaning effect that can cause more problems in higher mileage vehicles. Use caution!

The Lexus service interval on a first gen car is 60,000 miles. It can also be an indicator of a pre-existing problem. Do not do a flush, just change the fluid. New ATF fluid will clean the system sufficiently with out cleaners or chemicals. As you do not state the mileage, I would assume that however far past the service interval you are, proceed with caution. If close to it, do not worry too much.

Secondly, it is black or darkened because AT fluid transfers heat from metal components, this heat in turn, causes the fluid to oxidize. This is basically the fluid loosing it ability to perform its job properly and requires changing.
Excessive heat is the number reason for transmission failure in North America.

Change it at any service provider you feel confortable with. As you are not under warranty, just make sure your service provider is professional. If not there is also a DIY on this site on how to do it yourself.

Thirdly, make sure you use Toyota Type Tiv fluid. It is one of the best AT fluids in the market.

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Old 05-11-2009, 11:06 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You should have not gotten that car. Did the fluid smell burnt? If yes then possibly the transmission has overheated/been abused. Check that it's actually purple and not black and smells burnt.

Take the car back unless you want to end up stranded with a burnt transmission.
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Old 05-11-2009, 11:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by mtn View Post
You should have not gotten that car. Did the fluid smell burnt? If yes then possibly the transmission has overheated/been abused. Check that it's actually purple and not black and smells burnt.

Take the car back unless you want to end up stranded with a burnt transmission.
^^ Do not go to these extremes - this is an overexaggeration, and frankly we do not have enough information on the car to determine this. The first response to this thread was the intelligent one and the way to approach it.

As stated, the natural heat produced by the transmission is what causes the discolor of the A/T Fluid. Even at 50,000 miles the fluid is noticeably darker. If your transmission isn't experiencing any real problems, change it with OEM Toyota fluid and you'll be golden.
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Old 05-11-2009, 11:47 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for your replies, the car has 92K miles on it and from carfax reports it was serviced around 90k from a dealer as to what was done i have to go to the dealer and check. do you think it would be wise to just go to a lexus dealer and have it checked? the color is black i did not smell it should i smell after its been parked overnight or it doesnt matter?
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Old 05-11-2009, 11:50 AM   #6 (permalink)
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also is royale purple better for both oil and trans fluid?
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mute View Post
also is royale purple better for both oil and trans fluid?
Toyota Type T iv is one of the best ATF's in the market period. Why would you want to use anything else?

Tip: Burn't ATF smells like burn't popcorn. It does not matter when you check it, hot or cold it will smell the same.

AT 92,000 I would just change it. You will know you have a problem after...... as it will burn and darken quickly. If it does not, then it was just old and needed to be changed.

As you do not experience any drivabilty problems, use this as your common sense guide.

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Old 05-11-2009, 01:57 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You can call the dealer and ask them what they did at the 90k service over the phone but it's safe to say that they didn't change it or they did and your tranny is really really hosed if it turned black in 2k miles (unlikely)
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Old 05-12-2009, 12:23 AM   #9 (permalink)
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According the manual, replacing the transmission fluid is not required at any time over the life of the vehicle under normal operating conditions. I believed the manual until recently and found my fluid pretty darn and not viscous. I had it changed (not flushed) and it's shifting smoother already. I'm going to change it again in about 5k miles with the oil change to further refresh/dilute/replace the old transmission fluid. Mine was dark, but didn't have a noticeable burnt smell. I was very nervous, but I think I'm okay for now.
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Old 05-12-2009, 01:45 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by fiveohfour View Post
^^ Do not go to these extremes - this is an overexaggeration, and frankly we do not have enough information on the car to determine this. The first response to this thread was the intelligent one and the way to approach it.

As stated, the natural heat produced by the transmission is what causes the discolor of the A/T Fluid. Even at 50,000 miles the fluid is noticeably darker. If your transmission isn't experiencing any real problems, change it with OEM Toyota fluid and you'll be golden.
If it smells burnt, then you know that transmission overheated. I may have jumped conclusions, but if the fluid was burnt, then say hello to tranny problems.
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