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An End To Transmission Maintennance Confusion!


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I have been doing a lot of research on Lexus IS transmissions. A lot of threads say it is sealed and therefore impossible to change the fluid inside the transmission. Even the maintennance schedule says it never needs to be changed. For some of us who like having cars for the long haul its probably makes us think twice about the life of the fluid. I want to clarify what I have learnt about the transmission over the last few weeks.

1. The fluid is meant to last 100,000km (WS ATF fluid)(Stated by several Dealers and Ex mechanics from Lexus)

2. The transmission fluid can be changed by dropping the pan and refilling the lost fluid through the side of the transmission.

About 1.5 litres is contained within the pan.

3. The fluid can and should be changed as part of regular maintennance. It takes about 8 litres for a full flush.

4. There is a mesh filter in the transmission which should be changed and an o-ring which should also be replaced.

5. Using a special pump machine at a transmission service centre [NOT THE DEALER OP!] for about 100 bucks depending where you go, you can get the whole transmission fluid and filter all replaced.

6. You can purchase the WS ATF FLUID 4L cannisters and FILTER AND O-RING from Lexus Parts.

WHY DOES LEXUS SAY ITS LIFETIME?

Once the car is out of warranty, your fluid will lose its viscosity and protective properties. Heat and metal shavings from normal use will or even excessive towing will cause the transmission fluid to be damaged over time. When people purchase cars runnings costs play a major factor. What Lexus hopes is that the car will be sold before the 100,000km mark. This way transmission maintennace is out of the picture hence a lower running cost [making it more appealing for buyers]. At this stage the car is out of warranty. Without replacing the fluid the car will begin to have rough changes and hesitation whilst changing gears. Eventually you will need a new transmission. This will cost about 7000 dollars from the dealer+labour. It's up to you what you want to believe but I have changed all my fluid and filter and the hesitation between gears and low idling rpm problem was all solved. Also the large amount of heat coming from the transmission was also gone. It's up to you what you want to do but for those who want to keep their cars running fine for the long run I recommend you change your fluid before you cause more damage than good when your transmission is too old.

I just wanted to place an end to all this confusion with lexus IS transmissions!!! Cheers.

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Welcome to the Club, Danny! Thanks so much for sharing your research.

Would it be reasonable to only service the transmission after 100,000 km when there's early signs of problems, such as hesitation between gears and low idling rpm? (The latter could be caused by other reasons but, hey, if 100,000 km has already been driven, then it's reasonable to change the transmission fluid anyway.) Otherwise, if there's no issues, what about just leaving the transmission as-is? Arguably, this is the official recommended Lexus approach, as stated in the Owners Manual: perhaps it's "lifetime" transmission fluid, but you're supposed to see a mechanic as soon as there's any problems, including signs of gear change problems.

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In general, no lubricant last forever. So a regular change is a good idea, regardless of manufacturer recommendation. As mentioned, you can only change a fraction of the fluid by draining the pan.

Some transmissions have external cooler and a full transfusion of fluid can be done using those lines, but this is usually not an official procedure. Some sensible manufacturer recommends transmission pan drain and refill say every 30K. That way, the transmission will get some new fluid regularly and the fluid quality won't degrade to an unacceptable level.

For those DIY people who take a long term view, my gut feel is that a pan drain and refill every second service beginning from say 45K is a reasonable approach. Waiting for problems to come up before changing is not ideal as wear / damage most probably have taken place.

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So for this to be successful you'd need to do minimum 3-4 drops maybe more!(one every 2-3 weeks) of trans fluid to eventually replace the old fluid with a substantial amount of new fluid?I've used this principal on a few other cars i've owned and it works well.In saying that the cars i've done this on have approx.8L of trans fluid and i've drained approx.3L from the pan each time.

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My is250 is also around the 100,00 mark and is experiencing some slightly rough idles. I'm planning to keep this car for quite a while. Can i get this done at the dealer? Or should i go to a transmission service centre. Any recommendations? I'm located near Parramatta. Cheers.

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The 6 speed lexus transmision is not sealed it just dont have a dipstick any more the dipstick been replace with a check bolt next to a drain bolt on the pan.

You do not need to drop the pan to get oil out

The fill bolt is on the left side of transmission marked WS there is a plastic cover thats cover

These new WS oils are long drains fluid. Thats all. I will be doing my 2nd drain soon.

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  • 5 months later...

Might consider doing the ATF on top of the 105,000km (minor) service. Was at the dealer today, getting the recall done.

Paid a visit to the parts dept, and they said they had to order in the fluid if I wanted it, service dept also said the same thing.

Also, is this a hard transmission to work with? As I'm trying to decide if I should use the dealer for this, or if I can use my independant mechanic. He changed the transmission fluid on my '07 Toyota Aurion, which he used genuine fluid for (not sure if its the same one for the IS250). I'll definately ask him to order in the fluid from Lexus, assuming their Parts dept. is willing to supply it. Believe it or not, there are some fluids they don't supply such as the differential oil. However I don't think the diff oil has to be genuine fluid, therefore its not a major problem.

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I have been doing a lot of research on Lexus IS transmissions. A lot of threads say it is sealed and therefore impossible to change the fluid inside the transmission. Even the maintennance schedule says it never needs to be changed. For some of us who like having cars for the long haul its probably makes us think twice about the life of the fluid. I want to clarify what I have learnt about the transmission over the last few weeks.

1. The fluid is meant to last 100,000km (WS ATF fluid)(Stated by several Dealers and Ex mechanics from Lexus)

2. The transmission fluid can be changed by dropping the pan and refilling the lost fluid through the side of the transmission.

About 1.5 litres is contained within the pan.

3. The fluid can and should be changed as part of regular maintennance. It takes about 8 litres for a full flush.

4. There is a mesh filter in the transmission which should be changed and an o-ring which should also be replaced.

5. Using a special pump machine at a transmission service centre [NOT THE DEALER OP!] for about 100 bucks depending where you go, you can get the whole transmission fluid and filter all replaced.

6. You can purchase the WS ATF FLUID 4L cannisters and FILTER AND O-RING from Lexus Parts.

WHY DOES LEXUS SAY ITS LIFETIME?

Once the car is out of warranty, your fluid will lose its viscosity and protective properties. Heat and metal shavings from normal use will or even excessive towing will cause the transmission fluid to be damaged over time. When people purchase cars runnings costs play a major factor. What Lexus hopes is that the car will be sold before the 100,000km mark. This way transmission maintennace is out of the picture hence a lower running cost [making it more appealing for buyers]. At this stage the car is out of warranty. Without replacing the fluid the car will begin to have rough changes and hesitation whilst changing gears. Eventually you will need a new transmission. This will cost about 7000 dollars from the dealer+labour. It's up to you what you want to believe but I have changed all my fluid and filter and the hesitation between gears and low idling rpm problem was all solved. Also the large amount of heat coming from the transmission was also gone. It's up to you what you want to do but for those who want to keep their cars running fine for the long run I recommend you change your fluid before you cause more damage than good when your transmission is too old.

I just wanted to place an end to all this confusion with lexus IS transmissions!!! Cheers.

Hi,

Where in Sydney did you get your transmission filter changed and fluid changed/flushed?

Thanks.

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  • 4 weeks later...
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