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I have first generation, RAV4, automatic that has suddenly taken to shifting hard during the shift from 1st to 2nd gear or when manually shifting from Drive to Reverse.

Vehicle details: 2000 (First Generation) RAV4 L, two wheel drive, with an automatic transmission. I am the only owner and have put 110,000 miles on it. Maintenance is mostly per the owners manual schedule with a few stretched oil changes. My driving is predominantly suburban and towing has been limited to very occasional instances involving light loads on a utility trailer.

Problem details: When accelerating normally, there is a significant lunge/bump during the shift from 1st to 2nd. When accelerating aggressively, the lunge/bump is less significant. When at a stop, there is a significant lunge/bump when shifting from reverse past neutral and into drive.

Relevant details: The shifts from 2nd to 3rd and all higher gears seem to be normal. ECT and O/D modes operate normally. The fluid level is good and the color, smell and appearance seem to be normal. It has been 42K miles since the last transmission fluid change. The problem appeared immediately after lubricating the accelerator cable to fix a problem with sticking. The sticking was occurring just as the gas pedal was being pressed to accelerate from a full stop. During the lubrication process I determined that the sticking came either from area where the accelerator cable goes into the transmission housing or because of something internal to the transmission. At any rate, the accelerator sticking issue seems to be fixed. The two electrical connectors going into the transmission have been disconnected, inspected and reconnected twice. They are clean, dry, and corrosion free.

I took the RAV to a reputable shop in my local area for a transmission fluid change. My thinking was this would be a good first step in troubleshooting the issue. The technicians at this shop did a quick test drive and felt that the problem was more involved than their shop could handle; they referred me to transmission specialist. The technician at transmission shop (which is considered the best in the metro area) did a test drive, diagnostic, and fluid sample inspection. He recommended against changing the fluid and asked me to drive the vehicle for two months or until the problem changes.

Soooo...anyone have thoughts on what is going on? The car is great in all other respects but selling it now is possible whereas selling it with a blown transmission would be at big loss. Would a flush, or fluid & filter change be good or bad? Is there a specific widget, solenoid, or electrical connection that could be causing this problem. And, if there is, can it be checked out in some way.
 

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The problem appeared immediately after lubricating the accelerator cable to fix a problem with sticking. The sticking was occurring just as the gas pedal was being pressed to accelerate from a full stop. During the lubrication process I determined that the sticking came either from area where the accelerator cable goes into the transmission housing or because of something internal to the transmission. At any rate, the accelerator sticking issue seems to be fixed.
What exactly do you mean by lubricating the accelerator cable? And also -- Toyota terminology and
regular people" terminology is different for the cables on the throttle body. Just so we are all on the same page -- there are two cables on the throttle body on a automatic Rav4: the top one is what most people call the "kick-down cable" (but Toyota calls it the "throttle valve cable, or "TV link"), and the bottom cable is what most people call the "throttle cable" (but Toyota calls it the "accelerator link" or "accelerator cable").

If you over tighten the kickdown cable (top one), it will cause harsh shifting right away; it will also cause a serious jolt when you shift from P to R, for example. If you overtighten the throttle cable (bottom one), it will cause high idle and can also cause harsh shifting on an automatic.

Did you adjust the kickdown cable at all (top one)?
DId you adjust the throttle cable at all (bottom one)?

Also, how exactly did you determine that the throttle cable (bottom one) was sticking, and how did you lubricate it?

Does you Rav have cruise control (I'm asking because if it does, the throttle cable from the accelerator pedal is interrupted by the cruise control device, which has its own spring and all, and which can cause strange accelerator pedal issues if something goes wrong in there)?

You said that this all started happening immediately after you lubricated the cable -- just to be clear, you had none of this behavior before you did that?
 

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What exactly do you mean by lubricating the accelerator cable? And also -- Toyota terminology and
regular people" terminology is different for the cables on the throttle body. Just so we are all on the same page -- there are two cables on the throttle body on a automatic Rav4: the top one is what most people call the "kick-down cable" (but Toyota calls it the "throttle valve cable, or "TV link"), and the bottom cable is what most people call the "throttle cable" (but Toyota calls it the "accelerator link" or "accelerator cable").

If you over tighten the kickdown cable (top one), it will cause harsh shifting right away; it will also cause a serious jolt when you shift from P to R, for example. If you overtighten the throttle cable (bottom one), it will cause high idle and can also cause harsh shifting on an automatic.

Did you adjust the kickdown cable at all (top one)?
DId you adjust the throttle cable at all (bottom one)?

Also, how exactly did you determine that the throttle cable (bottom one) was sticking, and how did you lubricate it?

Does you Rav have cruise control (I'm asking because if it does, the throttle cable from the accelerator pedal is interrupted by the cruise control device, which has its own spring and all, and which can cause strange accelerator pedal issues if something goes wrong in there)?

You said that this all started happening immediately after you lubricated the cable -- just to be clear, you had none of this behavior before you did that?

I am wanting OP to reply.. Curious as to what he did and what happened after?
 
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Discussion Starter #4
I have first generation, RAV4, automatic that has suddenly taken to shifting hard during the shift from 1st to 2nd gear or when manually shifting from Drive to Reverse.

Vehicle details: 2000 (First Generation) RAV4 L, two wheel drive, with an automatic transmission. I am the only owner and have put 110,000 miles on it. Maintenance is mostly per the owners manual schedule with a few stretched oil changes. My driving is predominantly suburban and towing has been limited to very occasional instances involving light loads on a utility trailer.

Problem details: When accelerating normally, there is a significant lunge/bump during the shift from 1st to 2nd. When accelerating aggressively, the lunge/bump is less significant. When at a stop, there is a significant lunge/bump when shifting from reverse past neutral and into drive.

Relevant details: The shifts from 2nd to 3rd and all higher gears seem to be normal. ECT and O/D modes operate normally. The fluid level is good and the color, smell and appearance seem to be normal. It has been 42K miles since the last transmission fluid change. The problem appeared immediately after lubricating the accelerator cable to fix a problem with sticking. The sticking was occurring just as the gas pedal was being pressed to accelerate from a full stop. During the lubrication process I determined that the sticking came either from area where the accelerator cable goes into the transmission housing or because of something internal to the transmission. At any rate, the accelerator sticking issue seems to be fixed. The two electrical connectors going into the transmission have been disconnected, inspected and reconnected twice. They are clean, dry, and corrosion free.

I took the RAV to a reputable shop in my local area for a transmission fluid change. My thinking was this would be a good first step in troubleshooting the issue. The technicians at this shop did a quick test drive and felt that the problem was more involved than their shop could handle; they referred me to transmission specialist. The technician at transmission shop (which is considered the best in the metro area) did a test drive, diagnostic, and fluid sample inspection. He recommended against changing the fluid and asked me to drive the vehicle for two months or until the problem changes.

Soooo...anyone have thoughts on what is going on? The car is great in all other respects but selling it now is possible whereas selling it with a blown transmission would be at big loss. Would a flush, or fluid & filter change be good or bad? Is there a specific widget, solenoid, or electrical connection that could be causing this problem. And, if there is, can it be checked out in some way.
In response to Demoder's post.

First, your post was helpful, thanks.

Second, the vehicle does have a cruise control. I was able to access the cables into and out of the cruise control actuator without issue.

So, there are three accelerator cables to address on my vehicle. The first goes from the accelerator pedal to the cruise control actuator (accelerator link part one). The second goes from the cruise control actuator to the throttle body (accelerator link part two). And, the third goes from the throttle body around and down to the automatic transmission (TV link). I was able to lubricate two of the cables without adjusting or removing anything. For the TV-link, the end that goes into the transmission is held in by a bolt and clip. I was able to remove the retainer bolt and clip and retract the sheath's end fitting just a bit. Once out of the way, it was obvious that the cable end's lug was way down inside the transmission and beyond my ability. So, I put the sheath, fitting, clip, and bolt back. There were no "adjustments" made to this end of the TV-link. I did my best to not to stretch or pull on any of the cables during lubrication but I did have to pull back on the TV-link's sheath with light force to re-insert its end-fitting back into the kick-down port on the transmission.

The method I used to lubricate the cables is okay for occasional small jobs and I have used it quite successfully on aviation flight control cables. I took a small straw from a WD-40 spray can and placed one end close to where the cable goes into the sheath. Then, I wrapped some rubber tape around the fitting and straw-end to make a somewhat watertight seal. After this , I connect the spray can to the other end of the straw and allow the pressure in the can to push oil into the cable sheath. If the seal is good, the oil will run the length of the cable sheath and come out the other end; this happened for the first two cables without issue. I could not tell if it worked on the third cable because of the way it attached to the transmission. As it so happened, lubricating the cables eliminated the sticking accelerator pedal problem and, seemingly, started the hard shifting problem.

Based on your comments, my hunch is that even a light pull on TV-link can cause problems so I will be going back to the transmission shop to have this checked out.

I will send updates when I learn more from the folks at the shop.
 

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There is a note in the FSM about properly tensioning the TV cable for a new install: I'm not sure how that would relate to what you might have accidentally done in changing the tension when you were attempting to remove it from the transmission, but you might mentioned it to your mechanic (he can get it through ALLDATA, its under the transmission section for he can search for "throttle cable"). But it comes to mind since you mention that you might have changed the tension a bit.

What I might try is this: make an adjustment at the other end of the TV/kickdown cable (the end that's on the throttle body) to introduce a little slack. In my experience with auto Ravs, that kickdown cable is much more picky with too little slack (too tight) than with a little extra slack (too loose). It is much more forgiving in the "too loose" condition. Most of them have never even been adjusted, and I have seen then very floppy even, with no ill effects on shifting (though this is not true for the accelerator link: picking up the slack from cable stretch on the accelerator link is very beneficial and makes for a better throttle response).
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The idle on the RAV is normal so the lower accelerator link cable does not (to my mind) need any adjustment. To test the possibility that the TV cable is causing the issue I adjusted it to create the maximum slack allowed; did the test drive and...grrrr... no change.
After thinking about when the problems is most noticable, I am curious why the lurch/bump seems to be very strong during the shift from Park to Reverse and First to Second and is essentially a normal bump for all other shifts. Any thoughts?

Anyhow, I will be stopping by the transmission shop tomorrow. They will review the ALLDATA site and run the diagnostic on it again and see if any faults appear. My understanding is that they have just received a new tester/system that has the ability to emulate the vehicle's ECM (computer). The thinking is that it will determine of the problem comes from the transmission or the computer. More to follow.
 
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