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My 95 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Automatic Transmission is Overheating

Puzzled by Automatic Transmissions

Puzzled by Automatic Transmissions

Question: Hi. Today I was driving up a long grade in the mountains near Albuquerque, at about 9000 feet, in my 1995 4Runner SR5, and the automatic transmission overheating light came on.

I stopped immediatly, and I there was a burnt smell about the vehicle, not strong. I waited about five minutes, engine off, then continued, the light went off and did not come back on during the remainder of the trip, up to about 10500 feet. It was a moderatly hot day (it can get much hotter).

What could be causing this? Is this something to worry about?

What might be a solution? Change to synthetic AT fluid like Amsoil? A transmission cooler?

The tranmission was fully flushed by American Toyota in Albuquerque several months ago. They may have overfilled it– the fluid is now so clear that it is hard to get good level reading, but it generally looks on the high side. I also think they did not clean the filter, despite being asked to (wouldn’t there have been some indication that the pan had been removed?).

Interesting aside– American Toyota in Albquerque will do a transmission flush, but is not equipped to refill will synthetic AT Fluid– any alternatives for this job in Albuquerque if I do put in synthetic?

Any insight into this is appreciated!

My insight: You overheated your transmission. Nice and simple. Now you need to find out if it has been damaged. The best way to do that is to go to a transmission shop prepared to lower the transmission pan or sump so the filter can be changed. More important is to examine the fluid and contents in the bottom of the pan before all of the fluid is dumped out.

If there is a problem with the transmission, the fluid will have a burnt smell and appear to be dark and overheated, and there may be some extra contamination from clutch plates or other soft parts in the transmission pan. Only an experience professional can determine that.

If the transmission is damaged, have it fixed or buy a replacement Toyota transmission from If it is not damaged, go ahead and change the fluid to Amsoil or any one of the other easier to get quality brands like Mobil 1, and the filter. Then install a transmission cooler to combat the heat from driving in the mountains. And change your transmission fluid every year or 30,000 miles. Call us now @ 866-320-1182.

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