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Transmission Fluid Change And Other High Mileage Maintenance


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#1 daisydew

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:44 PM

I have an automatic 2005 Matrix XR with 125,000 miles on it. We bought it with about 118,000 miles and have since driven it from the west coast to the east coast with no problems. I had a full check-up done before we left for a cross country trip and they said the transmission fluid was looking pretty dark and we should probably change it soon. I got the oil changed when we got here and the shop said it's definitely time to change the transmission fluid. I've done on search on MO and just on Google, and I've seen some conflicting things. Some people say never change the transmission fluid, some people say just drain and replace, and some say to do the flush. This shop wants to do a flush. They told me it's a machine that will suck all the fluid out backwards and effectively clean off the filter so it doesn't need to be replaced. Is this the best way to do it? I'm just nervous because I've read online that some people have had weird things start to happen after a transmission fluid change. I've driven my other car (99 Honda Civic EX) for 90,000 miles with no transmission fluid change and it isn't having issues. We overpaid for this used Matrix though so now I need to get it to last as long as possible!

The Matrix is a 1 owner car and the guy took it in religiously for all the scheduled maintenance according to the CarFax. Unfortunately, the CarFax just says "routine scheduled maintenance" and doesn't specify what was actually done. The guys at this repair shop said the power steering fluid was looking really dirty and should be changed too. I have no idea when the brake fluid was changed last, but they didn't say anything about it. Would this be good to do anyway? Lastly, they said the grooves in the serpentine belt were too wide and it should be replaced soon. They did say there were no cracks or anything on the belt though so it wasn't super urgent.

Anything else we should do for this car? I switched over to synthetic oil as suggested by most people on MO. The car does idle pretty rough. At times it rattles the whole car and sometimes pulses a little. We've taken it to 2 mechanics and neither of them thought it was out of the ordinary. One of them said it seems like Matrixes and Vibes idle a little rough most of the time.

Also, we had the intermittent airbag issue that seems to be common on the Matrix. I wanted to let everyone know that we had our clock replaced and it fully fixed the issue.

#2 RotorXR

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 09:23 AM

I would replace the trans oil. I don't know about the "flush" your shop is recommending, but I wouldn't do it if there is a significant cost difference between the flush and a normal drain/fill. A drain/fill will only replace a portion of your fluid as much of it remains inside the trans (3.2 qts according to the manual). I think this would be good enough. Ensure they use a Toyota T-IV or compatible fluid. I wouldn't worry about replacing the filter as most of the A/T filters I've replaced were just fine and filter change may increase your labor charge significantly. It would be helpful to post a picture of your trans oil dipstick with an oil spot on a white paper towel. Also smell the oil as a "burned" smell indicates problems.

I am making the assumption that at 130K miles with "regular maintenance" it isn't the factory serpentine belt. If it was, It would be dry rotted, cracked and require immediate replacement. If the serpentine belt isn't cracking or slipping, I wouldn't worry about replacing it. I don't know how the mechanic measured the belt grooves to determine they were "wide" as I didn't find that inspection criteria in the manual. If you decide to replace it, get a goodyear gatorback belt, they're excellent.

I don't think the power steering fluid replacement is absolutely necessary but I'd do it if it's cheap. The fluid is simply Dextron II or III, a widely available transmission oil.

At 130K you should replace your spark plugs with Iridium tipped plugs of the same type installed at the factory (NGK IFR5T11). This may smooth your idle.

Lastly, I'm going to preach a bit (sorry). If you're physically able, willing to invest in some tools and step outside your comfort zone, you can complete many of these tasks yourself. Many MO'ers do their own maintenance and save lots of $. There are excellent online tutorials (youtube, etc) explaining fundamentals of engine and transmission oil changes as well as belt and spark plug replacement. I've watched my 11 year old niece replace the radiator in her mother's Camry with minimal assistance. Almost anyone can do it.

I am skeptical of mechanics in general, however yours doesn't seem to have recommended anything unreasonable.

Good luck.

Edit: 100th post. WOOT!

Edited by RotorXR, 10 February 2013 - 09:29 AM.


#3 MatrixDom

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:41 PM

Toyota recommends to change the transmission fluid every 64,000 km, so about every 40k miles. I would do that if I were you.

The power steering/brake fluid needs to be changed when it's dirty. A simple drain and fill does the job.
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#4 RotorXR

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:44 PM

+1 on the brake fluid, forgot about that.

#5 daisydew

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 12:52 PM

Sorry I wasn't able to reply sooner. We went away on vacation. Thank you so much for all the information.

My husband has the car today, but I'm going to try to get a picture of the dipstick on a paper towel and post it here.

I have been watching videos about changing transmission fluid. I've never done any maintenance on my car by myself, so it definitely scares me. I'm a little nervous because I watched one video where a guy took the whole pan off the transmission and it had a lot of metallic debris. It makes me nervous to have someone "flush" the system by pulling all the liquid out and possibly pull that debris up into the transmission. It seems like the "flush" is the standard change offered at mechanic shops now though. The fluid is very very dark so I think something needs to be done soon though. Ideally, I would love to find someone who feels confident doing what the guy in the video does. Here is the video:



We are driving cross country back to California in a couple months, so we will probably do the spark plugs before we go. My husband has done that before, so I know we won't have to go to the shop for that.

I think we'll hold off on the serpentine belt. My dad said the same thing that as long as it isn't cracking that we should be just fine. I looked at it and it doesn't look bad at all. I don't know how to tell if it is slipping, but it doesn't make any noise and nothing feels weird about the car except the rough idle.

#6 Salsa Guy

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 01:39 PM

The Debris he is showing is normal for a high mileage transmission. A flush will do the job or even a straight change out. Make sure they are using the correct fluid when doing either.

I had an '76 oldsmobile that had an excessive amount of debris. They want to pull the tranny and I told them NO! Just flush and replace the filter. It was at 120K miles the car never had a tranny problems when I sold it with 240K miles. We heard from the new owner when it had 300K on it and still was running fine.
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#7 MatrixDom

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 02:23 PM

That video is very useful only if you have an automatic transmission. I wish they made one for manual transmission.
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#8 matthewinaz

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 11:24 AM

Hey the tranny fluid--It says on the dipstick you don't need to service the fluid. I was skeptical.
Just do this bud.
Drain the fluid from the drain plug for the tranny-yes it has on like the oil pan.

Drive it for a week and do it again

Drive it for another week and do it again..

this is called a partial change. I did mine at 150k for the 1st time and there are no problems.

If you want to and you do your own oil changes just do it then and don't worry about it.

You can do the same thing with the power steering fluid. Just suck out the fluid from the reservior and refill it everytime you do an oil change. Should only take you 2 minutes max for that.

If you drian your radiator and fill it. You must.. I mean must use the coolant from the dealer. Don't trust anything from Auto Z. or Checker. The stuff at the dealer has no Silica(sand particals).
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#9 daisydew

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 09:36 AM

I ended up just going to the dealer for a transmission flush. I was starting to build the confidence to just drain it, but I live in an apartment complex that doesn't allow any work to be done on cars in the parking lot. I wasn't sure of another place to take it and drain the fluid.

They said the same thing as the other shop...that my power steering fluid is really dirty. Want $120 to change it out. I'll look up a video to see how to do it. If it is really quick like you said, I might be able to get away with it in the apartment parking lot.

They also noted my rough idle. The car has idled roughly since I bought it. It didn't use to pulse, but I've been noticing a slight pulse now. They also said it idles lower than it should. They suggested a fuel injector cleaning to help. Never heard of that before and they wanted like $130 to do it, so told them I'd have to think about it. Any thoughts on that?

#10 hughesjasonk

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 10:39 AM

I ended up just going to the dealer for a transmission flush. I was starting to build the confidence to just drain it, but I live in an apartment complex that doesn't allow any work to be done on cars in the parking lot. I wasn't sure of another place to take it and drain the fluid.

They said the same thing as the other shop...that my power steering fluid is really dirty. Want $120 to change it out. I'll look up a video to see how to do it. If it is really quick like you said, I might be able to get away with it in the apartment parking lot.

They also noted my rough idle. The car has idled roughly since I bought it. It didn't use to pulse, but I've been noticing a slight pulse now. They also said it idles lower than it should. They suggested a fuel injector cleaning to help. Never heard of that before and they wanted like $130 to do it, so told them I'd have to think about it. Any thoughts on that?


can disconnect the low pressure side and let it drain or use a turkey baster and suck it out
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#11 wantin150

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 03:53 PM

I usually siphon the PS fluid from the res every oil change. Refill is only about 8 oz or so, so a qt lasts a while. A frequent refresh of the additives is never a bad thing. Brake fluid should be flushed at a min when you replace the brakes or in the neighborhood of 2 yrs or 30k. Brake fluid absorbs water quickly which affects performance.
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#12 johnbernier23

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 07:18 PM

Rough idle -possible dirty throttle body. I'm about to tackle that on my 05XRS there's plenty of "How To" on here, I did one on a GMC 6 cylinder, makes a huge difference. There is an idles air control valve on the throttle body, that's going to get a cleaning too.
Just a quick "what I could get" without pulling it (TB) out made a difference. So when I do it right it will be good. Smooth idle....

#13 dnm

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 08:57 PM

Rough idle isn't your throttle body.

#14 XR2003

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 12:50 AM

IACV or time for a new intake manifold gasket. . .
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#15 MatrixDom

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 09:43 PM

Whatever you do don't let the dealer make you buy a $130 can of fuel injector.
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#16 mabuz

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 10:17 AM

Late to this party, but just a note about the rough idle:

 

My '05 XR started having a really rough idle this winter, fluctuating between 600-1200 or so, and shaking the car when I would be stopped.  I expected the worst: vac leak, bad head gasket or something, but decided to try new plugs and some MAF cleaner spray, and I have to say that the combination of those two really did the trick.  Runs great again. 

 

I honestly never thought about cleaning the MAF sensor, but it makes sense that all the tiny particles that get through your air filter would get stuck on the super hot wire the MAF uses to guage air flow.



#17 CORZRYDE

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 07:43 PM

Late to this party, but just a note about the rough idle:

 

My '05 XR started having a really rough idle this winter, fluctuating between 600-1200 or so, and shaking the car when I would be stopped.  I expected the worst: vac leak, bad head gasket or something, but decided to try new plugs and some MAF cleaner spray, and I have to say that the combination of those two really did the trick.  Runs great again. 

 

I honestly never thought about cleaning the MAF sensor, but it makes sense that all the tiny particles that get through your air filter would get stuck on the super hot wire the MAF uses to guage air flow.

 

Cleaning the MAF does nothing.  Check it a week later after cleaning and you'll see what I mean...


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#18 drarthurwells

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Posted 14 January 2016 - 02:04 PM

Changing auto transmission fluid is easy so I change every 15,000 miles - about every 2 years for the little driving I do.

 

The manual calls for 3.2 quarts which is OK for quick drain of less than 30 minutes - I use 3.5 to 3.75 quarts on a long drain (24 hours draining).

 

Better to under-fill than over-fill the fluid.

 

Check level only when car has been driven for over 15 minutes with progressions between all gears, engine running in drive when checking, and fluid should reach to or near low mark of  hot check.


Edited by drarthurwells, 14 January 2016 - 02:05 PM.


#19 jburdman7

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Posted 12 January 2017 - 01:27 AM

If the trans is behaving properly I'd change the fluid only. I'd only risk a flush as an attempt of a cheap fix on an actual issue.
 

If you replace the fluid in the Honda, do some research. Sometimes Honda does odd things like use ATF in MTs.

 

X2 on the turkey baster method for the PS fluid, but I would not worry about that yet unless it looks ugly.

 

Brake fluid ends up getting changed when the brakes are changed. I don't worry about it unless it looks bad.

 

Wide belt grooves? That's a new one to me. If the ribs aren't cracked, run it till they are.

 

"we had our clock replaced"

Clock or clock spring ie., the time piece, or the gizmo behind the steering wheel? Either can cause the airbag light issue.

 

I understand the MT fluid to be synthetic from the factory so on a MT I wouldn't worry about the fluid till maybe 20 years or 200K.

 

Trixes have a lot of Aluminum in the cooling system. Many cars are forgiving about never changing the coolant. I would follow the instructions for the Trix. If you ever do your own radiator flush USE DISTILLED WATER or pre-mixed fluid.

 

I do not understand the multiple trans fluid drain instructions above. You drain it. You fill it. You run it for another 100+K mi. My .02

 

After 80k miles, there are two kinds of Oxygen sensors. Dead ones, and those about to fail. Most people wait for the ECU to give the code, but Trixes are known for ruined Cats too, so methinks the computer flags the Ox sensor a bit late. IMO - get rid of the O2 AYC.

 

Enjoy!