***Confirmed that you can re-solder yourself and it works! Read on for full details!***
I'll try my best to keep this short since my saga has been told by countless others. I have a 2001 Rav4 with just over 100,000 miles on it and a few days ago we experienced the dreaded thump into reverse and what appears to be the car attempting to start in 3rd gear (no power and lots of slipping, along with a lot of erratic shift decisions when you can get the car going. So far, Toyota has denied my request to have this covered by the extended warranty program for this issue, claiming I've exceeded the 10 year limitation.
I wasn't about to pay the dealer $900 to replace the ECM to test whether the transmission was damaged with no promise of my money back if the ECM didn't fix the issues so I looked for alternatives and I came up on this site. I'm still in disbelief that the dealership doesn't keep a spare ECM on hand for proper diagnosis but that's a whole different story...Moving on.
Like many, I was tempted to send my ECM to our popular Brooklyn friends for "repair" when I came across the earilier post with the youtube video
claiming that you can fix the issue by yourself by re-soldering the 6 resistors highlighted in the video. I'm the adventurous type so I decided to give it ago, figuring I had nothing to lose since my ECM was already broken. I honestly didn't think it was going to work.
I'm happy to confirm that YOU CAN fix the ECM yourself, provided you're comfortable soldering. I re-flowed the solder on the 6 resistors found here
. I also decided to touch up the grounding solder spots as they looked ineffective as well.
The interesting thing is that I had access to industrial magnification so I checked out the solder connections for the resistors and they all looked perfectly fine, even before I re-flowed the connections. This begs the question of what makes the connections go bad. In hindsight, I should have used a solder sucker to remove the factory solder and add fresh solder but I was trying to do it quickly to be able to test. We'll see what this does for longevity but I literally fixed it by simply re-heating (re-flowing) the original solder connections.
Now for some questions to those who have had this fixed...
1. Anyone know how these repair services are "resetting the transmission adaption tables?" I don't assume these small shops have Toyota diagnostic computers so I'm guessing it's both obvious and simple, but I don't know the procedure. I assume the Transmission will relearn over time and that resetting it is just a time saver. I'd like to save time.
I have an OBDII code reader so I used the "erase" function, which to my knowledge just clears the codes if there are any but since my ECM wasn't showing any codes and it still allowed me to "erase" I assume it may be doing a reset on the ECM or portions of it? I don't know if this clears the elusive "transmission adaption tables." Any ideas? I called around to both dealerships and local shops and couldn't get passed to someone who knew the answer. The Toyota dealership wanted to charge me $250 (2 hours of labor) to reset the computer...stating that "we won't know what else we could get into so we have to bill you for 2 hours to start with." No thanks...
2. The reason I'm asking about the adaption tables is my Rav is hesitant to shift into 3rd now, even after "fixing the ECM." I'm trying to determine if this is a "learning issue" for the system or if I have damage done to the transaxle. The car seems to be driving well, especially the 1-2 shift, it's just 3rd where it sort of sputters before it fully engages. It's also possible one of the resisters still has a bad connection?
We really only drove the car 2 times undiagnosed, 1st when it originally happened, a second time for me to test what my wife was reporting around the block a few times. I then drove it two more times to take it to and from the [completely unhelpful and un-knowledgeable] local Toyota dealership. We probably put less than 20 miles on the car and really babied it driving to and from the dealership, unless the dealership did damage for their "testing". I'm doubtful that the transaxle suffered much damage, if any but I don't know how to verify. The fluid looks good but did smell sort of burnt the first time I drove the car after we knew about the problem (for testing). Since I was trying to test, I wasn't as gentle as I probably should have been but I was trying to verify my wife's claims of abnormal shifting.
I've read reports of people saying it took time for the ECM to relearn proper shifting but is what I'm describing sounding normal?
3. Should I pay to have the transmission fluid flushed? I figure it certainly can't hurt and the service interval has been met. It's just still rather expensive to do and if the transaxle is in fact damaged, I don't know how helpful new fluid will be over the long haul or how worth it it will be in the end to throw much money at this issue.
Your thoughts and experiences are welcomed. If nothing else, I hope my post adds some legitimacy to the fact that you can in fact fix this yourself if you are adventurous. Not sure how long the "fix" will last so it may still be worth buying the updated factory ECM, if in fact it has been updated at all beyond newer solder, I'm not sure.
I'm thankful it is at least fixed in the short term although I do have concerns over the general safety going forward. Sort of feels like a ticking time bomb, sadly. Look forward to replies!