Mysterious Oil Change Ruins Transmission, But Walmart Won't Respond

Update: Walmart has responded!

Jeff’s 2006 Toyota Tacoma is now sitting in his driveway sans transmission, because back in February someone massively screwed up an oil change:

Apparently, a mechanic mistakenly drained all of the transmission fluid out of the housing. After realizing their mistake, they filled up the transmission with a mysterious chocolate-milk-colored, burnt, foul smelling liquid. Like gear oil.

Here’s Jeff’s full story, including how he can’t get anyone at Walmart to respond to the problem, although judging by the service records the February oil change they performed was different from past oil changes. Any suggestions on what he should do next?

Back in February, after having the oil changed on our 2006 Toyota Tacoma at Walmart TLE, the transmission starting slamming into gear. Slowly but surely, the problem worsened. Soon it took a few seconds just to shift into reverse. THIS IS WHEN WE SHOULD’VE ADDRESSED THE PROBLEM. Hindsight’s 20/20.

Fast forward to August 09. 2 oil changes later (not at Walmart). Transmission slips totally out of gear, driving down the road. We tow the truck (3 years old w/83k miles) to the Toyota dealer. The dealer test drives the vehicle, agrees with the problem and decides to check it out. Upon inspecting the transmission, he finds what he believes to be a grave mistake, made by *somebody* in the past.

Apparently, during a recent oil change, a mechanic mistakenly drained all of the transmission fluid out of the housing. After realizing their mistake, they filled up the transmission with a mysterious chocolate-milk-colored, burnt, foul smelling liquid. Like gear oil. Also, the culprits inserted 40 OUNCES too much of this wonder fluid. The dealer says this is what caused the initial slamming, and the eventual slipping of the transmission. He says we have two options. 1) Flush “yoohoo” looking stuff out and fill w/new correct fluid and/ or 2) an entire new transmission.

Being a $3k difference in price, we went w/the flush. The problem persisted and the dealer could barely drive it off the lot. So we towed it home, where this 3 year old truck now sits.

So I go to Walmart and ask for the service records. Before Feb. 09 the records say “sealed system, transmission fluid NOT checked.” In February, records say “checked”. Now we were told that ONLY the dealer can access the transmission housing.

Conclusion:

1) The Toyota dealer is the one saying only they can check transmission, but that somebody screwed up.
2) The Walmart receipts (and other shops) all say ‘sealed system; can’t check’. Except one.

My mom still owes $5k on the truck, the transmission would be $4k. But it seems our only mistake was not getting it checked out when the problem started.

We have tried the phone numbers and emails listed here and elsewhere (Project Walmart Freedom archives) to get in touch w/Walmart corporate, to no avail.

(Photo: Daquella manera)