I've just recently purchased my TCH, and couldn't be happier...
But after reviewing the maintenance schedule I noticed that no reference is made in regards to a drain and refill for the fluid. Also, there is no transmission dipstick so I can't check on the fluid level.
Has anyone out there heard when we should drain and refill? Anyone also hear how we can check fluid levels?
Since TCH has no transmission per se (it's more like differential gear than auto transmission) , there is no dipstick and there is no easy way to check or replace that fluid. I think that oil is rated for the life of the car, but some Prius owners experienced problems and failures. There is filling hole on the bottom of the transmission and I think you can drop the lower pan, but I wouldn't worry about it for at least 50k miles and probably ask dealer to do it, unless I could lift the car and had very good access from the bottom.
There is a drain hole and a fill hole. Both appear to be NPT style plugs. One simply refills the fluid until it starts to run out.
On CONVENTIONAL transmissions you could only drain about one-third of the oil volume via the drain as the rest was held up in the torque converter, valve body and elsewhere in the system. I always made it a habit to drain whatever was in the pan at every oil change and replace with fresh. This was a cheap and simple way to ensure fresh oil fairly constantly.
Now on these new eCVT's... I really don't know much about them, but the other posters suggestion of a 50k/mile drain interval seems reasonable. There is no such thing as a "lifetime fluid". I do recall reading somewhere that the fluid itself is either viscosity or friction modified in some way so using OEM oil would be required... I wouldn't go dumping plain DEXRON in there.
Personally, I won't worry too much about it until around 50k. By then we should have good data and collective experience to guide us.
The eCVT in the TCH uses Toyota World Standard (WS) automatic transmission fluid. This fluid is now being used by most of Toyota's line-up. The fluid runs about $45/gal and can be purchased quite easily at any Toyota parts counter.
The eCVTs do not have a torque converter (correct me if I'm wrong), so draining the unit will pretty much remove all of the old fluid. The fill and drain setup is similar to an automatic transmission. Drain via the drain plug, and fill via a fill hole. Check the service manual for the instructions or Toyota's online technical reference service.