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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Lately the weather has been become quite cold. By cold, I mean colder than -25 C (or -13 F)!

Just wondering if anyone else has been experiencing the transmission acting strange in colder weather. It seems like it stays stuck in first gear and revs higher than normal (more than 2,200 rpm) just to reach 20 km/h (or 12 mph).

This only happens in extremely cold conditions and the problem goes away once it has warmed up after about 8 minutes. I do not have a remote starter, so my usual warm up time is 2-3 minutes in extreme cold.

I have driven other vehicles in these conditions and none of them behaved this way.

This is a 2014 RAV4 built in Canada, AWD, 6-speed auto that has about 12,000 km (or 7,500 miles) on it.

Edit: Added video
 

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It sounds to me the car is trying to warm up the engine faster because of the cold ambient temperature. The computer revs the engine higher so it creates more heat. Probably normal.
 

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This behavior is normal. As stated above, it's programmed to speed warming so as to reduce the amount of time a rich (cold) fuel mixture is needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm adding a video to this post so it's more clear what I'm talking about. This was recorded while on a pretty flat parking lot. Does it seem like there is slipping? And that's supposed to be normal?

 

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It was -14F here the other morning and I didn't notice any higher revs to change gears. However, I do let the engine warm up till that bar moves at least one spot before driving. Yours is still all the way to the left. And I always drive in sport mode which normally keeps the car in a lower gear for longer anyway, so I might not have noticed.

Like others have said it does seem normal that the car is trying to warm itself up.

Does it go away once the car warms up?
 

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Haven't experienced this yet in the RAV, but our prior Venza did the same thing, back to normal once warmed up.
 

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Haven't experienced this yet in the RAV, but our prior Venza did the same thing, back to normal once warmed up.
Same here. Our 2010 Venza 4cyl will let the rpm go higher before it up shifts when the engine is cold. Don't really notice it in the RAV4.
 

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at -25 my body doesn't work properly either, oh well !

two days ago i left the house @ -5 F, other than normal cold engine noises and taking 7 miles to reach normal temps

probably the engine/ trans management comp just doing it's thing

my kia sorento had the delayed trans shift syndrome in - F temps only
 

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Does it seem like there is slipping? And that's supposed to be normal?
Yes, it is NORMAL. Modern transmissions with 6 or more gears lock-up the torque converter at fairly low speeds (20-25 mph) and even lower gears to save fuel.

But when the transmission is cold, the lock-up function is disabled and the transmission behaves like an ancient auto tranny with a lot of slippage. It has two objectives:
- Running with open lock-up torque converter is inherently less efficient, generates heat and speeds up engine and transmission warm-up.
- It circulates more transmission fluid helping to equalize the temperature between the engine and the transmission faster.

Both the engine and transmission temperature are communicated to the ECU which determines the best shift algorithm based a large number of factors.

The net effect is less wear because both the engine and the transmission reach target temperature faster and bring the tolerances between different components on target. It also saves fuel - it's better to warm things up quickly and do most of the driving with the engine and transmission on target, than to slowly warm things up.

Most cars build in the past 3-6 years behave like that.
 

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My 2013 AWD also does the first-gear-hold thing when below zero.
But...
Last week I had to gun it once due to traffic, and to my surprise it started shifting normally after that. Even though it was still not warmed up...


Which makes me think it's something viscous clogging in the transmission, and not a shift design feature.
The burst of energy freed up whatever was clogged.
 

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I suggest if you drive in subzero weather to consider changing your ATF & gear oil to synthetic which doesn't need to warm up to flow such as Redline. I'll probably put in my Rav at 30k miles. I used it in my subaru and it really made the transmission shift smoothly.
 

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WS fluid works well even in -35F. I am talking from experience.
On the other hand, any ATF change (OEM or non-OEM), even at 30K miles, will surely make your transmission shift better. That does not necessarily mean that non-OEM is better than OEM.

Redline, AMSoil, ... all make great fluids. I don't know if they are better than WS.
 

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It flows well at -35? My experience is regular ATF and gear oil aren't particulary good at extremely cold temperatures versus synthetic.
 

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I'm adding a video to this post so it's more clear what I'm talking about. This was recorded while on a pretty flat parking lot. Does it seem like there is slipping? And that's supposed to be normal?

first gear in cold - YouTube
Doesn't look like it's slipping. I would expect to see the RPMs continue to rise with no speed increase if it were.
 

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It's was -25 Celsius yesterday and had the same thing happen, really weird.

I also have a Yaris so I'm use to feeling a cold tranny shifting slowly and holding onto the lower gears a bit longer, but this thing with the RAV4 tranny feels like a gear that's even lower than first. It definitely wasn't a case of it staying in 1st gear too long.

Over 2000 rpm and only 5-10 km/hr. I pull over, let it warm up another couple minutes, slowly pull away again, revs up, a little better this time, then about 30 seconds later it seems to find the real first gear, then slowly shift to second. Then it starts behaving normal.

Waited again until today, it's -15 Celsius, does the same thing.

Honestly though, this has been our first winter with this new RAV and these past few days have been the coldest so far, scary cold in fact.
 

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Same thing happened to my Rav4. 8000kms, minus 25 celsius,
Would not leave first gear. Waited 5 minutes then it was ok. took it to Toyota. They found nothing.
 

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Is there a TSB on this?

Disconnecting mine's battery overnight cured it for several days, but slowly it gotten back to how it was.
 

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WS fluid works well even in -35F. I am talking from experience.
On the other hand, any ATF change (OEM or non-OEM), even at 30K miles, will surely make your transmission shift better. That does not necessarily mean that non-OEM is better than OEM.

Redline, AMSoil, ... all make great fluids. I don't know if they are better than WS.
WS is a semi-synthetic Redline and Amsoil are full synthetic and are far far better oil's then WS. WS is horrible in my eyes. Semi-synthetic oil in a Rav4 that has no real trans oil cooler has NO place.
 
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