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Regarding the tranny fluid level ... I don't know if the low marks mean a quart low, but I'm guessing no more than that. Fortunately you should be able to both measure dipstick level and add fluid all with the engine running, so I suggest when the engine is fully warm just add what you need a bit at a time to get it up towards the hot marks.
 

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Looks like I made the right call on the Transmission fluid. It was a quart low. Reads good when hot.

Now I have another problem. I will be changing my radiator, thermostat and hoses this weekend. Got a p0128 this morning on the way to work. Checked coolant level a couple hours later and it looked fine. The drip leak is just that, not enough loss to trip that code. This is something I expected to do shortly anyway, the radiator has the signs of a leak as well. With YouTube and this site I have plenty of confidence
 

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Hello, I have not read the 9 pages of posts, so please forgive me if the answer to my question is already posted. I just purchased the fluid, the crush washer, and the 10mm hex bit for a 3/8 inch drive. I already have a 1/2 inch breaker bar and a torque wrench and 1/2 to 3/8 drive reducer. Now I‘m starting to get cold feet because I don’t have a plan B should the drain plug threads get stripped during the removal process. The 2004 car has 206000 kms. (130000 miles) and was bought second hand so I assume that the drain plug may never have been previously removed during its 16 year life. I’ve read some horror stories about stripped AT drain plugs. What is the worse that can happen with an old Sienna? Thanks for any comments.
 

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Stripped when unscrewing the plug? I thought threads could be stripped only by over tightening when reinstalling it ...?

If you are worried about over-torquing the plug and stripping it, then start with your torque wrench set to a much lower setting and then work your way up to the final torque in small increments ... you'll get a better feel for how tight the plug is. And if you get too nervous, just leave it at a lower torque setting, and check from time to time for any fluid leak at the plug ... if you see any fluid seeping, then tighten up the plug a bit more.
 

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Stripped when unscrewing the plug? I thought threads could be stripped only by over tightening when reinstalling it ...?
Thank you for answering. I am much more worried about how easily the plug is going to come out than how it is going to go back in. I understand that the plug is made of steel and the female portion may also be of steel molded or welded into an aluminum pan. So my concern is that the plug may be seized due to never having been removed in 16 years. What I imagine would be working in my favour is that moisture causing rust can only enter from the outside as the inside is protected by oil and as well, the crush washer should not be the source of seizure between the bolt head and the pan as the washer is of a soft metal which should break free when the plug is unscrewed. If many forum members have never had issues unscrewing the drain plug, even on old cars, then I be willing to take my chances.
 

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I live in California, so not much of a rust problem here ... better to wait until you get responses from people living in more extreme climate areas ...
 

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I live in California, so not much of a rust problem here ... better to wait until you get responses from people living in more extreme climate areas ...
It seems that the car in question spent many winters in Florida so it may not have been exposed to as much corrosion. Still I have my concerns after two 10mm bolts snapped when I recently changed my radiator and I had to drill out the broken off studs and re-tap the female threads.
 

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Apart from your possible seized drain plug, this is a very easy job. I've personally found the oil filter housing to be harder to remove than the transmission drain plug.

Maybe try some penetrating oil on the drain plug for a while before attempting to remove? I'm in California and have only had to use penetrating oil while removing seized outdoor plumbing like hose spigots.


Another idea may be to try a mityvac type device and suction through the dipstick.
 

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Maybe try some penetrating oil on the drain plug for a while before attempting to remove?
Another idea may be to try a mityvac type device and suction through the dipstick.
Thanks for your 2 suggestions. I still hope to use the breaker bar method. If the plug doesn’t budge with a reasonable amount of force, then I will evaluate your alternative approaches.
 

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Thanks for your 2 suggestions. I still hope to use the breaker bar method. If the plug doesn’t budge with a reasonable amount of force, then I will evaluate your alternative approaches.
To be more clear, I'd spray penetrating oil, let it soak, then take your ratchets and work up to a breaker bar. I don't like starting with a breaker bar and hopefully it's not needed. I'd try very minimally tightening and loosening the plug to get the penetrating oil on the threads more.

Regarding the mityvac, I've always wanted to try fluid changes without lifting or crawling under the car but have never done it that way
 

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To be more clear, I'd spray penetrating oil, let it soak, then take your ratchets and work up to a breaker bar. I don't like starting with a breaker bar and hopefully it's not needed. I'd try very minimally tightening and loosening the plug to get the penetrating oil on the threads more.

Regarding the mityvac, I've always wanted to try fluid changes without lifting or crawling under the car but have never done it that way
This car is located 30 miles away from my home and I forgot to bring the penetrating oil with me. So I will follow your suggestion and buy the oil at the nearest hardware store before starting the project In 2 days time.
 

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I am happy to report that the ATF change went well today. After your suggestion, yesterday I purchased a can of PL100 penetrating oil and applied liberal amounts over a few minutes and let it sit overnight. Today I found that a 6.5 inch long handle of my 3/8 Inch drive ratchet didn’t give me enough leverage to open the plug, but my 16 inch long handle of my 1/2 inch drive breaker bar did give me enough torque. The plug came out easily. There was no sign of corrosion on the plug’s male thread and the old crush washer had a bit of corrosion on the side of the washer closest to the pan.
Because the crush washer has a different inside diameter relative to the diameter of the pan´s threaded hole, not all of the washer got crushed originally, so we see
a thin raised rim along the inside diameter of the washer, proof of how it molds itself around the plug to create a perfect seal.
After installing a new crush washer, I decided to torque only to 33 foot-pounds instead of 36 in order to leave a little margin to retighten later should it leak.
I have attached a photo showing the colour difference between the new fluid and the old which is probably 16 years old with 130,000 miles.
So glad I don’t have to deal with the task of changing a pan due to a stripped plug.
46360
 

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Nice. That old fluid looks gross eeeek. After maybe 1 or 2 more drain and fills, the fluid in the van will look brand new. Not sure the math exactly, but you replace less and less of the old with each drain and fill. Diminishing returns and that's often why people suggest another method to replace all the atf. I personally don't like to mess with hoses unless I'm replacing it.
 

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Common knowledge seems to suggest that a drain and refill puts 50% new with 50% old. Repeating will make the ratio 75% to 25%. A third time will get us to 88% / 12%. I was rather surprised that the supposedly magnetized drain plug that I removed today had absolutely no metal debris attached. And as I poured the old fluid from my collection container into a jug, I used a funnel with a built in strainer and the strainer did not have any debris either after 4 quarts passed through it. So while the old fluid has a brown stain, it may have remained a functioning lubricant. So I am not so hard pressed transform a 50/50 ratio into 75/25 or better for a 16 year old car which may not be on the road after another 5 years. If the van was younger, then I would be more inclined to repeat the process at least one more time after a few weeks, now that I have mastered the process and have already bought the tools.
 

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Common knowledge seems to suggest that a drain and refill puts 50% new with 50% old. Repeating will make the ratio 75% to 25%. A third time will get us to 88% / 12%. I was rather surprised that the supposedly magnetized drain plug that I removed today had absolutely no metal debris attached. And as I poured the old fluid from my collection container into a jug, I used a funnel with a built in strainer and the strainer did not have any debris either after 4 quarts passed through it. So while the old fluid has a brown stain, it may have remained a functioning lubricant. So I am not so hard pressed transform a 50/50 ratio into 75/25 or better for a 16 year old car which may not be on the road after another 5 years. If the van was younger, then I would be more inclined to repeat the process at least one more time after a few weeks, now that I have mastered the process and have already bought the tools.
I guess you're not going to do it, given that you're not even going to do the cheater way with multiple partial changes, but there's a better way that I'll describe for the next person to use the thread for advice.
You can change out ALL the trans fluid at one time, and get 100% changeout.

You do that using the transmission pump to pump out the old fluid and refilling as you go.
The way the transmission works is there's the sump which holds some of the fluid (it's only about a third by the way, not half, so you need to do more than just three changes to get to 88/12)
From there the transmission pump pumps the fluid through the body of the transmission, where it does it's stuff to make the car go.
After that the fluid goes to the radiator and is cooled down.
Then it returns from the radiator and is dumped back into the sump.

To exchange all the fluid, you break the line going from the radiator back to the sump, so no dirty fluid is returned to the sump.
The sump is drained, fresh fluid is put in the sump, then the car is run for a few seconds (long enough to pump out a gallon) and then stopped before the pump has sucked all the fluid out of the sump.
The transmission pump pumps the clean fluid from the sump part way into the transmission while the car is running.
The clean fluid pushes the dirty fluid through the system to where the line was broken and into your drain pan.
Now you refill the sump with as much fluid as you just pumped out.
Then start the car again and pump another gallon or so out.
Repeat as many times as needed to get all the dirty fluid out and clean fluid throughout the whole system.
(you'll know you're done when the fluid coming out where you broke the system open is ruby red instead of brown)

Here's how you do it in a bit more detail:
First get a plastic gallon milk container, mark it into four quart marks.
(Or make a bunch of them enough to hold ALL the fluid, but one marked container to measure and pour it into other unmarked containers works too)
Drive the car for 15-20 minutes till the transmission is completely warmed up.
If you need to, you can put the front of the car up on ramps, but it's possible to do it with the wheels on the ground.
Find the two lines going from the transmission to the radiator.
There is metal tubing at both ends of each line; but there is section of flexible rubber tubing in the middle of each line.
Disconnect both flexible tubes at the radiator end, and put them into separate containers.
Start the car and stop it a second or two later.
The line that discharged transmission fluid is the one that leads from the transition to the radiator, you'll use the other line to drain the system.
(That way you'll exchange the transmission fluid that's in the radiator too)
Reconnect the line that discharged fluid back to the radiator.
Where the other line originally connected to the radiator, connect a foot or two of clear flexible vinyl tubing to the radiator instead, and lead that into your marked plastic milk container.
(the hose going to the transmission is left hanging)
Now unscrew the drain plug at the bottom of the sump and drain the sump.
Measure how much fluid drained from the sump, screw the drain plug back in, and add that much fluid back into the sump via the dipstick tube.
Start the car and watch the dirty fluid being pumped into the milk container. As it hits a whole gallon, stop the car, then add that much back in.
(it pumps out at a medium speed, taking maybe 20 seconds to pump out a gallon ... if you're paranoid, have an assistant start and stop the car while you watch the fluid, but I'm comfortable doing it myself without an assistant)
After you've refilled it, repeat the "run car to pump out dirty fluid, and then stop car and refill sump with an equal amount" until the clean fluid has pushed all the dirty fluid through the whole system, and clean ruby red fluid is being pushed out of the clear plastic tube from the radiator.
At that point, remove the vinyl hose and reconnect the rubber hose going from the radiator to the transmission and measure the level.

The clean fluid will mix with the dirty fluid a bit as it pushes it through the system, so you'll need to do a bit more than 100% to get it all, but this method works WAY better than the "drain and refill sump multiple times" to get near 100% exchange.
(I believe I ended up doing 150% ... it was mostly clear before that, but since I was going to the bother of doing it for the first and last time in several years, I wanted to be SURE it was as complete an exchange as possible)

If you pump a little to much at once (or don't replace quite enough each time) the pump will run dry and suck air and it will start to spit trans fluid instead of a smooth stream, stop immediately if that occurs and fill a bit more or pump a bit less at a time.
(it wont hurt anything if it happens briefly, but doing it for more than a few seconds would be bad)

If you ended up overfilling, the easiest way to "unfill" is to pop the line off and "pump" a bit more out again.

I've done the above to a Corolla (twice, had the car a LONG time) a Camry, and a Sienna.
It works great, and seems more complicated to describe than it actually is to do.
 

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IMHO if it is a metal-based washer and it doesn't drip when you tighten it, then there should be no problem reusing the old washer.

If it is a hollow crush washer then I would plan on not too much time between the drain-and-fills, and check it daily for dripping just in case ... if it is a solid washer and isn't visibly smashed then I think it's probably good indefinitely.

-- John
 

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Regarding the tranny fluid level ... I don't know if the low marks mean a quart low, but I'm guessing no more than that. Fortunately you should be able to both measure dipstick level and add fluid all with the engine running, so I suggest when the engine is fully warm just add what you need a bit at a time to get it up towards the hot marks.
Speaking of tranny fluid levels, anyone have thoughts on this one? The engine is cold.
47573
47572
 

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Was the engine running when you took that? The fluid level will be higher when the engine is not running. In any case it's looking like you may have more fluid in there than you need.
The engine was cold at the time of that picture, and it'll obviosly read a bit higher when hot. No shifting issues are present, but still tempted to do a splash/fill. Thoughts?
 
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