, Salem, MA

May 3, 2014

Auto Scanner: When to flush the antifreeze

Auto Scanner
Larry Rubenstein

---- — Q: I would like to ask about Super Long Life Antifreeze that came in the Toyota. When should it be replaced? Also, is Prestone 5-year antifreeze really good for five years? My 2011 Toyota Tacoma, six-cylinder, four-wheel-drive (purchased used in December) now has almost 30,000 miles. I purchased air, cabin and oil and oil filter and changed them. I changed front and rear differential oil, also the transfer case oil. My problem came when I got to the transmission. I purchased the filter and gasket kit. It has a nice drain plug on the pan, but no dip stick. I only removed the drain plug and measured what came out (3 quarts). Then I replaced with 3 fresh quarts through the side of the fill plug on the side of transmission. How do you know if it is correctly filled? I would like to remove the pan and replace the screen, and would like to know it is filled properly.

A: I have always recommended that antifreeze be flushed every two years. Many manufacturers are advertising that the factory antifreeze is good for the life of the car. Well, General Motors and Toyota have had many lawsuits concerning this problem due to intake manifold failures and heater core blockage problems. This is a poor maintenance practice. My schedule would be as follows: factory antifreeze three years, after that flush and refill every two years.

Concerning your transmission fluid change, there are three plugs on your transmission. The fill plug is the highest, the drain plug is the lowest, and the overflow plug is the middle plug. Note, the overflow plug is loosened using an Allen wrench. Quite simply, if you are just doing a drain and fill, you put a pan under the drain plug, remove the fill plug, and then the drain plug. After all the trans fluid from that area has drained, reinstall the drain plug. Start to refill the transmission and stop when the fluid starts coming out the overflow plug hole. Reinstall the overflow plug, reinstall the fill plug. You’re all done. If you want to change the filter, use the same procedure, but after filled, run the vehicle through the gears with the engine running and your foot on the brake. Recheck the transmission fluid by turning off the engine and removing the overflow plug. If fluid starts leaking out, you are all set. If not, you must remove the fill plug and start to fill again until the overflow plug hole starts dripping. Reinstall all plugs and consider doing this again at 35,000 miles more on the odometer. I think a flush would be a better service for you rather than a drain and fill.

Car Care Tip: If you use a mobile phone in your car, consider purchasing a hands-free device. The setup is very easy. If you do have a problem, the vendor or your phone carrier will help you.


Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears every Saturday. Write to Larry at The Salem News, c/o Auto Scanner, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915, or send an email to