The Toyota Tundra has experienced a plague of hefty transmission problems since their second-generation model release in 2007. Many Tundra owners claim they experience hesitation from their automatic transmission when shifting gears.
Are you experiencing hesitant or sluggish gearshifts from your automatic transmission? Do the RPMs go up before the transmission shifts to the next gear? The transmission fluid level and condition are the first things to investigate. Toyota states that the transmission fluid needs to be at the required level for the transmission to operate. The fluid cools and lubricates the transmission and deserves just as much attention as your engine oil. Without fluid heat can be a sole reason your transmission goes out.
Here’s how you address fluid issues:
- On the older model Tundra, there is a dipstick for the transmission to determine fluid levels. If fluid is low, top it off. If discolored (fresh fluid’s red), or it smells burnt, it is more than likely time to get your transmission flushed.
- On the newer model Tundra, contact your dealer to look into checking and flushing your transmission fluid. Their new transmissions are “sealed,” and also do not have a dipstick. Dealers must use a special tool to check and fill the transmission once it accomplishes a certain temperature.
- A specific fluid, called Toyota AT WS, is the only type of fluid used with these transmissions, and you can only get it at a dealer. It’s claimed that the Tundra’s new automatic transmission doesn’t need to be serviced until 100,000 miles. For some it’s obvious that this is not accurate. Any issues that take place need a dealer’s attention to avoid severe damage and to take advantage of any Technical Service Bulletins that may apply to your vehicle.
NOTE: Don’t let Jiffy Lube (or similar) near your Tundra’s transmission. Toyota has a very specific process for refilling your Tundra’s transmission. They also specifically state that transmissions should not be “flushed” – just drained and refilled.
- A fault in design makes it difficult for the torque converter to disengage after initiating a gearshift. As a result of this issue it may feel like your Tundra is shuddering and your transmission is jerking.
- This is an issue that Toyota acknowledges via a Technical Service Bulletin. You should notify your dealer about the issue immediately to see about getting the component replaced.
For the Future
- If you continue to experience issues after addressing the points above it would be best to speak with a dealer to diagnose any other possible malfunctions, especially if you’re receiving a check engine light and experiencing abnormal vibrations and sounds.
- Review the Toyota Technical Service Bulletins to make sure you’re knowledgeable on your vehicle. Toyota and its dealer network have been prompt in addressing issues with the Tundra, and will work with you in whatever way they can.