Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How to Change Transmission Fluid in 2005+ Toyota Trucks and SUV's With World Standard ATF

For quite some time, I never knew how to service an automatic transmission for newer model Toyotas.  This was because I could never find a transmission fill tube or dipstick.  It turns out that I was not crazy or blind, there is actually NO dipstick or fill tube on 2005+ Toyota pickups and SUV's using World Standard ATF.  Here's how to change the World Standard ATF if you wish to perform the procedure yourself. 

First, you will need to make sure you've got the right tools.  Tools needed:

1. Scan tool to monitor transmission fluid temperature
2. 15/16" wrench to remove and install transmission fill plug
3. 5mm Allen socket to remove overflow plug.
4. 14 mm socket to remove transmission fluid drain plug
5. 3/8" ratchet

Once you've got all the tools together, you'll need to hook up your scan tool and verify that the ATF fluid temperature is below 115 degrees Fahrenheit.  If the fluid temperature is too high, you will need to let the truck sit for a while till the fluid temperature cools down.  This is very important.  If the fluid temperature is not correct, you may end up with an incorrect fluid level after performing a fluid drain and refill. 

Here's a screenshot from the scan tool indicating ATF fluid temperature. 

This transmission has two different temperature readings, and both indicate that the temperature is well below the 115 degree threshold, so it is safe to proceed. The next step is to either hoist the vehicle into the air, using either a lift or onto jackstands. Once the vehicle is in the air, you will be able to access the transmission fill plug. The fill plug is located on the transmission extension housing. Remove the plug with a 15/16" wrench.

Next, you will need to drain the transmission fluid. Use a 14mm socket and 3/8" ratchet to loosen the ATF drain plug. Remove the drain plug and allow the fluid to drain into a container. Go ahead and also remove the transmission overflow plug using a 5mm allen socket and 3/8" ratchet. The fill plug and the overflow plug are labeled in the below picture. In case you forget, the 14mm plug is the drain plug, and the allen plug is for the overflow tube.

Once the fluid has been drained out, you're going to need a pump to put some new World Standard ATF into your transmission. I use a pump that looks like this one below:

Replace the washer on the drain plug and reinstall the drain plug back into the transmission. Make sure that you don't over tighten the drain plug, as it will easily strip the threads in the transmission pan. Once you have the drain plug in place, use your pump to pump fluid into the transmission. You will be pumping transmission fluid where the fill plug was. I usually set the pump on a roll-around cart so I can comfortably pump the fluid until fluid begins to flow out of the overflow tube. Once you see fluid coming out of the overflow tube, temporarily install the overflow plug.

Next, start the engine and allow the transmission fluid to warm up. If it's a cold day outside, this might take a few minutes. The repair manual says you can check fluid level between 97 degrees and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. I like to check the fluid level near the upper end of this range, as this is what I have had the best luck with. I will monitor the fluid temperature with the scan tool till it reaches between 105 and 115 degrees.

Now, comes the most crucial step in the entire process. Once the transmission is at operating temperature, will the engine still running, remove the overflow plug, and either one of two things will happen. Either, transmission fluid will flow out of the overflow tube, or nothing at all will come out. If no fluid comes out of the overflow tube, the fluid level in the transmission is low, and you will need to add more fluid. Add fluid until you see fluid begin to trickle, not pour out of the overflow tube. If the fluid is gushing out of the overflow tube, the transmission is overfilled. Below is a picture of what the fluid should look like when trickling out of the transmission.

Once you're sure that the fluid level is correct, install and tighten the overflow tube plug. Lower the vehicle from the hoist or jackstands. Now, test drive the vehicle and check to make sure that the transmission shifts correctly.


  1. The fill plug and the overflow plug are labeled in the below picture. In case you forget, the 14mm plug is the drain plug, and the allen plug is for the overflow tube.
    Transmission Service Fort Lauderdale

  2. Dude, Thanks 100%. You seem to be one of the only people online that are doing the correct procedure. It helped me out, and I just want to say thanks... again. BTW. 254 area code ?

  3. What tool do you use to read trans fluid temp?

  4. It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post!

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