How To Change Transmission Fluid In Toyota Tundra

Being able to do some of the routine maintenance on your family's vehicle can be challenging but satisfying. While some maintenance is pretty straightforward, others involve multiple steps and having the right tools for the job. Fluid changes can fall into this area. So, if you have a Toyota Tundra and wish to change the transmission fluid on your own, you've come to the right place. We researched this popular pickup truck from numerous professional sources, so you'll know exactly what to expect.

In order to successfully change the transmission fluid in your Toyota Tundra, you'll need to complete the following steps:

  1. Place Tundra on ramps or jack stands
  2. Locate the drain plug
  3. Remove the drain plug 
  4. Allow transmission fluid to drain
  5. Replace the drain plug
  6. Add new fluid to the transmission

Now that you know the steps in changing the transmission fluid in your Toyota Tundra, we'll explore each step in further detail. You might also be wondering how much transmission fluid a Toyota Tundra will hold, or how often you should change the fluid. What brand of fluid should you use? Do Toyota Tundras have transmission issues? For the answers to these questions and more, read ahead in this post to see what our research has uncovered.

Auto shop owner taking apart his car transmission., Auto shop owner taking apart his car transmission., How To Change Transmission Fluid In Toyota Tundra

A step by step guide to changing the transmission fluid in your Tundra

To accomplish this task, you'll need the following:

  • Bucket or drain pan
  • Funnel
  • 14mm socket, ratchet, extension
  • Paper towels or rags
  • Toyota approved automatic transmission fluid
  • Rubber gloves
  • Goggles

Once you've gathered the above items, you'll be ready to change the transmission fluid. Let's break down the steps that were mentioned earlier in this post.

1. Place Tundra on ramps or jack stands

In order to be able to reach and loosen the drain plug, you'll want your Tundra to be a little elevated. Truck ramps can be utilized here; just make sure you chock the rear wheels to avoid movement. Jack stands work better but require a bit more labor. 

2. Locate the drain plug

As soon as your Tundra is elevated, locate the drain plug for the transmission reservoir. This will be underneath the Tundra, centered just behind your front axle. To avoid burns, make sure your Tundra is cool to the touch before draining this fluid. Before going on to the next step, put on your gloves and safety goggles.

3. Remove the drain plug 

Set your drain pan close by. Then, using the 14mm socket, slowly loosen and remove the drain plug. The transmission fluid will empty out and should be caught in your drain bucket or pan.

4. Allow transmission fluid to drain

The fluid should be flowing out of the transmission fluid reservoir steadily. While not all of the fluid will drain out, most of it will. As soon as the flow turns into a really slow drip, you've drained about as much as you're able to, and are ready to proceed to the next step.

Don't have a drain pan? Check out this one on Amazon.

5. Replace the drain plug

Using the 14mm socket, replace your drain plug. Do not overtighten. It should be snug, but not on so tight that you'll have issues loosening it the next time you need to change your transmission fluid.

6. Add new fluid to the transmission

With the aid of a funnel, add your new transmission fluid to the Tundra's transmission. This is added where your transmission fluid dipstick is located. Do not overfill, as you could harm the transmission by doing so. Use paper towels or cloth to clean up any accidental spillage.

It's important to point out that Toyota does NOT recommend ever flushing your transmission of its fluid. While the transmission will accumulate some debris and sediment over time, this will all harmlessly settle in your transmission.

Flushing it out will only loosen this debris and force it into the gears and other moving parts, potentially damaging your transmission. Therefore, Toyota strongly recommends that you only change the fluid, and then only at times when your maintenance schedule calls for it.

For a step-by-step video tutorial on how to change the transmission fluid, you can watch below. This video will also show how to remove the drain pan and replace the strainer.

How much transmission fluid does a Toyota Tundra hold?

The 2021 Toyota Tundra will hold 11.7 quarts of transmission fluid if it is completely drained. As we discussed earlier, you won't ever be able to completely drain the fluid out of your transmission. About 20% of the fluid will remain in the transmission after you drain it. 

A photo of a parked white 2008 Toyota Tundra pick up truck

How often should you change the transmission fluid in a Toyota Tundra?

The transmission in your Toyota was manufactured to not need a fluid change very often. As part of your routine maintenance, it's recommended by Toyota to have your transmission fluid checked at 30,000 miles, then drained and refilled at 60,000 miles.

As we pointed out earlier in this post, it is strongly recommended to NOT have your Tundra's transmission flushed. Only drain and fill it with new fluid. 

If you have a Tundra with over 100k miles on it, checking the fluid is recommended every 10k to 15k miles. And if you tow a lot of weight with your Tundra regularly, you should begin checking your transmission fluid in shorter mileage intervals, as well. 

Smiling male auto repair mechanic works on an engine

Do Toyota Tundras have transmission problems?

The always reliable Tundra began to experience some noticeable issues beginning with the release of their 2007 model. The first truck in the second generation of this pickup truck began to attract attention on the internet for faulty transmissions. 

Consumers began noticing that there was a long delay in shifting between the higher gears. Some took notice that gears were sticking and making the truck shake badly while in motion. 

Toyota recalled some 15,000 of their 2007 Tundras that had 4x4 gearing. The rear propeller shafts were faulty, not being properly heat treated. Such a defect could cause the separation of the rear transmission from the driveshaft.

Moving forward, Toyota was diligent in fixing the transmission issues that plagued the first run of their second generation of Tundra pickup.

Gearbox cross-section, automotive transmission with sprocket and bearing mechanism for commercial trucks, SUV, cargo, and construction vehicles, selective focus

What type of transmission fluid does a 2012 Toyota Tundra take?

The transmission fluid of your Tundra is a hydraulic fluid. There are scores of brands available, many of which are of great quality.

The consensus on Tundra forums tends to lean toward DEXRON-III brand transmission fluid. But a look at the 2021 owner's manual recommends Toyota Genuine ATF WS. As with any fluid, always check the reviews and consult a professional, especially if you're considering changing brands. 

This fluid performs three tasks. First, it lubricates the moving parts of the transmission to keep them from wearing out. Second, it transfers power through a torque converter, which converts kinetic energy into hydraulic energy and back again. Lastly, transmission fluid acts as a coolant, keeping the gears from getting too hot. Excessive heat wears down some parts and warps others beyond repair. 

Your Tundra's transmission is built tough and reliable but will need to be inspected on a routine basis. It's especially important to make sure the transmission fluid level is always at "full."

By the time your vehicle shows signs that your transmission is failing, it's usually too late to remediate the problems, as the damage has already been done. So pay close attention to your owner's manual, and follow the manufacturer's maintenance recommendations fully. 

In Closing

Toyota Tundra TRD on display during the 22nd annual All Toyotafest. , Does Toyota Tundra Have Crawl Control? [And How It Works]

Changing your Toyota Tundra's transmission fluid is a multi-step process, but one that you should be able to accomplish on your own by following the steps in order. As with any piece of routine maintenance, it should be done at the intervals that the manufacturer recommends, and should only be attempted if you're comfortable in your ability to do it. For anything that might be above your skill or comfort level, consult a trusted local mechanic or your dealership. Drive safe!

If you found this post on the Toyota Tundra to be helpful, we believe you'll enjoy reading the following posts on these popular pickup trucks:

Taking Your Toyota Tundra Off Road? Here’s What You Need to Know

What Pickup Trucks Can Tow 10,000 lbs?

What Truck Models Come In Double Cab? [Full-Size And Midsize 2021]

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