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I was faced with an expensive repair at the dealership in late December when they told me that the differential coupling was the source of the whine / growling noise many others have mentioned in this and other Gen 3 RAV4 forums. I decided to contact Toyota's Southeast US Regional Office to see if they could help and the person I spoke to sent me a letter about a Warranty Enhancement which would totally cover this repair. It provides extended warranty coverage of the drive train--specifically the differential coupling. The "ZF4.PDF" is the actual document I got from the Regional Office.

My vehicle was originally sold in Indiana. The 2nd owner failed to transfer ownership of the vehicle. Therefore any recall or warranty enhancement docs went to the original owners who probably threw them away. If you are not receiving any communication from Toyota you should go to Toyota.com and register for an account. Then confirm that your vehicle is listed, and if not, add it to your account. You'll need its VIN.

That's how I found out about the maintenance history of my vehicle as well as recall repairs which had never been performed.
 

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Your Humble Administrator
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Thank you for providing the document! One thing though, the RAV4 uses an electromagnetic clutch in the coupler, there is no fluid at all. Sometimes even the dealership techs call it a viscous coupler, but there is no such thing in the 2006-2016 RAV4.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have seen hundreds of forum posts about this issue and wanted to share the warranty enhancement form with other frustrated owners.

I definitely hit the jackpot when I got hold of toyota southeast, mentioned the TSB and the NHTSA bulletin and the rep sent me the document. It went from being a very expensive repair to something I am looking forward to having done--at their expense. The doofus I bought the RAV4 from never transferred ownership with Toyota so the TSB and Warranty Enhancement docs went to the original owner.
 

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Hey, Newbie Stumpknocker60, thanks for posting. Indeed, many have had the dreaded rear differential coupling growl. It has been covered with the 9 Year enhanced warranty in Canada--but not USA... So if legit, this could help a lot of USA folks--even providing reimbursement for past repairs. The problem has affected both the I4 and V6 RAVs in the gen 4.3.

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I hope it gets tagged to the many threads people have posted about this issue. My 2009 hasn't had the problem, but I can breathe a little easier till 2018 if the problem ever crops up. Also, I wonder if Toyota is sending out letters on this? My RAV IS registered with Toyota.com/owners and so far no word.
 

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there are other parts involved in the recalls including the rear suspension arm (rear tire rod). The mechanic also showed me another rear suspension part called the rear stabilizer link. Both the left and right stabilizer links experienced the same kind of failure as the component in the recall, because the threaded shaft rusted and eventually broke. This item connects the rear stabilizer bar with the rear suspension arm assembly. See attached excerpt from repair manual.
 

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Okay, Stumpknocker! There are two different things going on that your dealer has apparently worked on: the 'rear stabilizer rust problem' is an actual recall and Toyota has sent out letters on that, and it is well known on this forum. Toyota is obligated to make every effort to contact owners for a "recall."

The new thing you've brought to the table is the 'enhanced warranty for differential coupler.' This has also been widely discussed here--but what is new is that Toyota USA is now offering a 9-year warranty for it. Toyota Canada has already been doing this for awhile, but those in the USA have had to pay out of pocket if their RAV was out of warranty. The 9-year warranty extension--and the offer to reiumburse those in USA--is a very big deal. Toyota is apparently not as obligated to notify owners about an "enhanced warranty."

I don't think the 'enhanced warranty' offer will show up in the Toyota.com/owners website. Interesting you had to contact the regional office and they sent the letter to you.... Has the repair already been made at dealer? Thanks again, I think many owners will be quite happy to hear about this if they are covered.
 

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The differential coupling has been ordered and I'm waiting to get an appointment to have it fixed when the part comes. The official Toyota owners site should show recalls and warranty enhancements. But it doesn't so folks like you and me have to do leg work to pry the information out of the regional and national offices...which seem not to readily share info with anyone unless prodded by an upset customer. The regional folks also might comp a repair if your vehicle is older or has more miles than allocated in the warranty enhancement doc. The most aggravating thing to me is that many dealerships will not tell you that a necessary repair is covered under an extended warranty and instead to convince you that you have to pay for a repair. In my case, given my awareness of the hundreds of RAV4 owners who had this same problem, I decided that a call to a regional office might yield beneficial results--which I am gladly sharing with forum members.
 

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I've followed a number of Toyota recalls and 'warranty enhancements', as well as the differences in Canadian and USA Corporate policy--now there is a Regional aspect? Then it boils down to individual dealers, and how well they treat the information. What a way to run a railroad! I hope Toyota makes an effort to get the word out, as this is a chance to upgrade their image, if that is a factor for them.

There were several other threads suffering from the differential coupler problem, this is the longest one:

http://www.rav4world.com/forums/99-4-3-mechanical/145170-rear-differential-coupling-sub-assembly-pn-41303-42020-a.html

It's kind of sad to read through it, as even some of the Canadians faced getting coverage for this known problem, various dealers doing different things, paying different amounts. It does appear that one of the last forum members on Dec 23 (Surface_Navy on page 13!!) actually had satisfaction for this repair from a USA dealer. So it does seem to be happening and hopefully some of those folks get the word.

Thanks again for digging in and posting the letter. One of the best posts of the year for gen 4.3 owners--especially those that paid out upwards of $2k USD for the repair.
 

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I encourage everyone to reach out to Toyota customer care if experiencing this issue. It looks as if the US division is now acknowledging the issue. I simply called, provided my VIN, and was told I was covered for replacement once the dealer confirmed the issue.
 

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still waiting

thought the Toyota dealership's mechanics certainly would have the replacement part installed after having to wait more than 5 hours last Thursday. But I was WRONG. Someone ordered the WRONG PART and now I have been "gifted" a new differential and am still waiting to be informed that the correct part is ready to be installed. This doesn't give me any more confidence in this dealership than my previous bad experiences.
 

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ive got an initial service appointment tomorrow to diagnose the issue. will report back.

dont wanna count the chickens before they hatch, but after dealing with this for 2 years, im hopeful to finally move on from the noise.
 

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@ Stumpknocker: Whoa, they "gifted" a whole new rear diff? Did they "gift" you a loaner car while they cover their screw-up? It's great to have the extended warranty for the coupler, but finding a reliable dealer shop to get it done seems to be the weak link sometimes.

I'm lucky to have 3 Toyota dealers in my radius--and one of them flat out failed in basic maintenances. But one of them is quite good and has performed 2 warranty ops without issues and even exhibited honesty and good worksmanship! Good luck and let us know how it goes.
 

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nope...I just got to sit in the customer area and finally took a lengthy brisk walk around the neighborhood. The service "advisor" kept saying "it will be a little bit" over and over and when I was already 2 hours late for a meeting in a neighboring state she told me of their mistake.

What was strange was that I almost immediately noticed a brake vibration as I headed to NC. I had a mechanic tell me the discs were ok several weeks ago but noticed and reported the vibration when it occurred several times when I had to brake hard for congested traffic.

I visited another dealership in NC the next morning and the mechanic claimed that brake dics "could suddenly warp"...which I think is total hooey. He also found a few other problems which I noted but dismissed but they did nothing to resolve my problem. I'm going to visit a trusted shop later this week for their opinion.

Why do dealerships seem to "find" repairs but not be willing to resolve issues that crop up AFTER another dealership did work? That's why the dealership is a place of last resort as far as I am concerned. The only reason I like Cumberland Toyota is because a favorite club is a few miles away and I can get good craft beer and boneless wings when I'm done with the BS at the dealer.
 

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an update on my issue with my 2007 Rav4. Finally was able to get it into the dealership yesterday for initial diagnostic. Initially, the tech wasn't able to reproduce the issue and I'm guessing its because he never got above 30mph.

so after I explained the 'sweet spot' again - I said 37mph - I then went to the dealership after work and drove it myself with a tech along for the ride. i reproduced the grumbling, the tech agreed, and they called this morning and are starting the replacement this afternoon. And its all covered by the Warranty Enhancement that is linked on the first page of the post.

it feels good to finally have this issue taken care of by Toyota. and i encourage everyone that believes they're dealing with the issue to reach out to Toyota cares and start a case and then their dealership. I believe the Warranty Enhancement for this issue expires at the end of April 2017.
 

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an update on my issue with my 2007 Rav4. Finally was able to get it into the dealership yesterday for initial diagnostic. Initially, the tech wasn't able to reproduce the issue and I'm guessing its because he never got above 30mph.

so after I explained the 'sweet spot' again - I said 37mph - I then went to the dealership after work and drove it myself with a tech along for the ride. i reproduced the grumbling, the tech agreed,...
Is it a grumbling or more of a background whine? Do you hear the noise (when inside the RAV) from the front or from the back?
 

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i would call it a rumble/grumble. to me, a whine is more high pitched, and this is definitely not high pitched.

and i hear it when inside/driving, definitely from the rear.
 

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Got Another Toyota letter , thought it was another recall, but it was about the differential coupling..Just mailed my paper work in, with tracking, to get reimbursement for my Coupling repair done in 2014, on my 2007, $1800.00.
 

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I also had the whining noise coming from the rear of my 2008 RAV4 with 90,000 miles on it. I live in New York and bought the car new here. Took it to my local mechanic friend, we put it on a lift and he checked the driveshaft and then put a mechanic's stethoscope on the electro-mechanical coupler. You could easily hear the grinding noise coming from the coupler. He warned me how expensive is was to fix. So I told him to hold off while I did some research. I came to RAV4World and found this thread. Decided to contact my local Toyota dealership. They informed me that it was under an extended warranty until end of October 2016 no matter how many miles. I brought the car into them. They checked it out and called me to tell me that indeed the coupler was bad. They also said I needed a new driveshaft at $1500 and new rear axle seals at $600. I had them do just the warranty work on the coupler. My mechanic friend checked the driveshaft again and said there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. He did agree that the rear axle seals are leaking a little but he can replace them both for about 1/3 or what the dealership wanted.

Bottom line - Toyota did replace the electro-mechanical coupler (some call it viscous coupler) on my 08 RAV4 in the U.S. But that extended warranty is only good till October 2016...at least for my car it was. Maybe newer RAV4s have more time.

Hope this helps someone.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I am so glad the information I shared has helped so many fellow forum members. Thanks to all of you other members who have posted such useful information to help your "brethren" avoid expensive trips to the "stealership"
 

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Don't the dealership "service advisors" realize how much they piss us off by claiming repairs need to be made that are totally unnecessary. The day after the dealership unnecessarily replaced a good rear differential and I was noticing what turned out to be brake disc noise, I went to another dealership. I was in the waiting room for at least 2H before the guy came out with not only a correct diagnosis of a brake disc problem but also a litany of other "issues". I remarked to him that I had just spent more than FIVE HOURS at a different dealership the previous day and that I was highly surprised that if the "issues" were real that the other dealership didn't "discover" them. Like the water pump they said needed replacing because it was leaking--yet a topped-off coolant reservoir hasn't budged from the mark I made when I got home. Thankfully with the help of the experst on this and other forums I can avoid the stealership on almost every issue.
 
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