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Discussion Starter #1
I purchased this 05 Rav4 a few months back and recently started having some major issues. After driving it for a short while I start to get a major vibration in the front end and it seems like the car is constantly slowing down. When I step on the gas it will shift up and accelerate but then it doesn't want to downshift on its own. I have to disengage the overdrive and then re-engage it before it will downshift. This seems to happen mostly when I am on the highway. The vibration will make my brake peddle pulse when I start to slow down, and it seems like it went away shortly after I got off the highway and returned to slower speeds. I do have a check engine light that has came on but I have not had it checked yet. I am planning on hopefully getting to that tomorrow. When I first purchased the car and I started noticing a slight vibration only when going around curves on the highway and was thinking the wheel bearing might be going out, but now this all of a sudden started happening and has me wondering if it is something more major.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I mis-entered the light that is on, it is not a check engine light but instead it is a service required light. Will the CPU make the car feel as if it is slowing down? When it starts acting up, if I take my foot off the gas it feels like a heavy drag that is slowing it down. And will the CPU cause the shaking?
 

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I am responding to your symptoms not your light. The symptoms you are describing is a transmission not shifting properly. The shifting is controlled by the ECU. Your ECU may need to be replaced. If you drive with the car running the way it is running you may break the transmission which could cost close to 10 times what replacing the ECU would cost.

Do a search to see if this problem is prevalent on 2005 models and where to get a replacement ECU. Collect some description of the ECU problem and show them to a mechanic, who can look at it and confirm if the ECU is a possibility. Then if he confirms the problem you could order a refurbished ECU and have him install it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Update. I purchased a used ECU and replaced it in my Rav4 and the problems are still there. I was getting on the highway today and I was fighting to get the car to accelerate. Every time I take my foot off the gas it wants to slow down, even if I place the car in neutral. I pulled off into a lot and I could smell what seemed to be like my brakes and the ABS and traction lights came on. I tried shutting the car off and back on, reversing and then attempted to get back going but still I was fighting to get it over 30 mph. A few minutes down the road and it was like it released and everything went back to normal and the car was running like there was nothing wrong. A few hours later when I was going to go back home I pulled a fuse for the ABS and I had no issues at all on the ride home. Being that the car was having the same symptoms with slowing down, I am figuring it is something to do with the ABS system. When it is acting up I can take my foot off the brake on an uphill or downhill incline and the car will not move even when in neutral. Not sure if this helps point to anything or if I will end up having to take it to a shop to have it looked at. There has been no check engine light so no codes to check, and the ABS and traction lights both went off once it started running good again earlier today.
 

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Sounds like it could be a frozen caliper or perhaps a frozen emergency brake cable. Take it to someone who can diagnose it. Doing diagnosis via the internet is not optimal.
 

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....When it is acting up I can take my foot off the brake on an uphill or downhill incline and the car will not move even when in neutral. Not sure if this helps point to anything or if I will end up having to take it to a shop to have it looked at. There has been no check engine light so no codes to check, and the ABS and traction lights both went off once it started running good again earlier today.
Question. Are you riding the brake pedal all the time? If you have to take your foot off the brake pedal going uphill I assume you are.

I doubt this is an ABS issue myself. More likely a sticking caliper that doesn't release. An emergency brake sticking could also be the cause. I suggest you take a digital temp gage / gun with you. And when this happens again, go take a temp reading on all 4 wheels on the same spot. The sticking brake will become obvious. I've had this exact problem on a motorhome.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I am not riding the brakes at all. What I was saying is that when it is acting up I can be on a hill up or down, put the car in neutral and it will not roll. its like the brakes are locking up. Since this all happened I have had a few more things happen. I was driving and it was getting worse and worse. I pulled off into a parking lot where my brakes were almost totally locked up. I could put my foot to the floor on the gas and the car would barely move. I sat for about 10 minutes and tried again and the brakes had released and I was able to get home. When I used the brakes I now had a grinding coming from the front drivers side. I bought new brake pads on my way home and when putting them in I could not compress the piston on the drivers side brake caliper. I replied the caliper and bled the brakes. Well getting back on the road the problem was still there. After a short time of driving it again felt as if the car was slowing due to the brakes and I was having to turn off the overdrive to keep the car going a steady speed on the highway. It comes and goes, it can go fine for 10-20 miles before it will start acting up again. The latest incident happened last Tuesday on my way to work. I was driving fine on the highway then i felt the car trying to slow down again. turned off the overdrive again and made it the the gas station a block from my work. Ran in quick to buy something and when I got back in and took off out the station, I could not get over 5 mph. I pulled over to the side and turned off the car again and sat for about 10 minutes. I started it back up and it took right off. This time now I here a grinding coming from the back possibly passenger side. I have not got to tear into it yet but I know it now for sure needs back brake pads and who know what else. I am baffled as to why the brakes seem to be building up pressure after driving the car for a short period of time. When the brakes were locked and I couldn't move the car, the ABS light and the traction light both came on. When the car stars going again both lights are off.

In my firs post I had stated that I thought I was possibly having a wheel bearing going out as I was having some vibration when going around curves on the highway. When the brakes start acting up and I am accelerating to keep my speed up, the front end has a constant shake. Once the braking issue goes away, the shake is gone.
 

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I would also check the breaks, as people suggested. Feel the wheels with your hand when problem occurs. if caliper stuck, pads can heat the the wheel pretty good. Had that happened to 4Runner, driver side wheel was boiling hot.. Heat took out bearing too.
 
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