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Discussion Starter #1
First time posting and very frustrated.

2011 Rav4 97k

I have the sudder. 2-3 months ago I changed the tranny filter and flushed the fluid. It helped tremendously. The shudder came back about a month later. I did another driveway flush (2-3 quarts is what came out). It helped. The shudder came back again.

I think it's a bunch of crap that Toyota is aware of this problem and putting out sub par torque converters. (From what I understand the Camery has been recalled for this same problem)

Took it to dealer today they said Torque Converter is sticking.... $5600 for new transmittion. Of course I couldn't get them to use the term "toyota shudder" and they'd "never heard of it."

They also tried to get my wife to trade it in after telling her she needed a new transmission. I did NOT appreciate this tactic and made me think they were full of crap to begin with.

Should I have it professionally flushed? Any videos or options on me doing a more thurough flush? Will it help at this point or will it continue to come back?

And I guess my real question is... What happens if I don't replace the transmisstion? Does the sudder get worse until the transmission dies all together?

Am I really going to have to pay $5600 (Plus the $105 I already dropped for them to tell me something I already knew) for a 5 year old vehicle? Is that my only option?

Sorry for the 4th grade spelling.
 

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There are likely several other transmission shops near you that could diagnose the issue. The dealer is probably quoting a factory rebuilt tranny plus labor. Dealerships don't rebuild things, they just replace parts with high markup factory parts.

If all you need is a torque converter, a local shop might be able to fix it for much less.

Yes you have options!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Called 2 independent guys. One of them was working on the exact problem on a lexus with 100k. One of which is a family member but retired and doesn't have a shop anymore. Both said $4000-$4500 and said there's no going back once it gets to where I am. New tranny time.

So. a 5 year old vehicle with under 100K miles is now going to cost me $4000 or more to replace the transmission. If Toyota spend another $50 on the development of their torque converters It would have saved me
100Xs that and I would possibly have bought a Toyota in the future.

They just lost a customer.
 

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Since the couple drain & refills helped why not have a full fluid flush done first? I'm sure some tranny shops will say that won't work so go to one of the oil change places that has the equipment and will do it for a couple hundred bucks using WS fluid.
 

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Transmission failures are seldom reported for these models so how often was the transmission oil changed? How did you do the flush with just using 2-3 quarts. Sounds like a drain and fill to me. You can do a flush using the return line but will take over 15 quarts including the drain and fill.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Until this happened I never changed the fluid. The manual says lifetime fluid don't change it.

I have not done a "flush" just done what I can in my garage.

The guys I talked to said a flush wouldn't help. If you're a pro and think it's worth a shot im down for the $200 commitment.
 

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The guys I talked to said a flush wouldn't help. If you're a pro and think it's worth a shot im down for the $200 commitment.
I'd be a little suspicious of a shop that won't try a flush and say the only solution is $4000 transmission rebuild. Especially if they say the problem is a torque converter shudder. It's separate from the transmission and probably less than $1000 to replace.
It was several years ago but I had the TQ converters replaced on both my F-250s for $800 each. They've been working perfect for 100,000 miles of almost all towing each.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Giant downtown Toyota deal says they don't replace torque converters they only replace transmissions. I guess times have changed.

Is it safe to take it to valvaline for a full flush and give that a shot risking another $200? You've made me a little more excited about that idea.
 

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I drove it home and looked for the biggest hills I could find. 30+ miles. It shuddered 4 times.

I ask again.... So I put a new transmission in a $25,000 machine with 100,000 miles or do I flush it and wait to see if it still sucks
 

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I'm pretty sure I am experiencing this shudder. 35-40 mph with foot lightly on the gas? More noticeable when going up an incline?
Had it at the dealer and they claim it's from a hole in my exhaust. Will replace muffler and see if it goes away.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yes. You and thousands of others are experiencing this problem and it's not a hole in your exhaust. If you replace your exhaust you're wasting your money because ultimately you'll be replacing your transmission
 

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I drove it home and looked for the biggest hills I could find. 30+ miles. It shuddered 4 times.

I ask again.... So I put a new transmission in a $25,000 machine with 100,000 miles or do I flush it and wait to see if it still sucks
Let's back up a bit here. We have a 2011 RAV4 with 97K on it but what engine do you have?
Describe the shutter more fully. What RPM and speeds does it shudder at? What is the tachometer doing when it happens? I suspect it's when the TC is locking up. If that's the case there is likely nothing wrong with the transmission. Where are you located?

A transmission shop is not going to do or recommend a flush since they want to rebuild/replace transmissions and TCs.

To get a the flush done you'll need to find an oil change shop that does an 100% fluid flush or exchange AND will use Toyota WS fluid. Valvoline is going to want to use their MaxLife fluid but that introduces another variable. (My local Valvoline shop quoted $149 with their fluid. Another trusted local shop quoted $130 + the price of the Toyota fluid.) Since your 1/5 capacity drain & fills definitely helped I see no reason to not pursue the 100% change even if it's $250.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yes it is the torque converter locking up. as confirmed by Toyota dealership and 2 other mechanics.

It happens between 30-40mph under heavy loads. Generally up hill.

Drain and fills were done with max life from Walmart. I did a ton of research on this and found several studies that showed max life was the same if not better than what Toyota is selling. It's what is in it right now. Plus a pint of seafoam trans tune that I put in last night.

The fluid seems to be less dark right now than in the past (me trying to be optimistic)

If the manual didn't say "lifetime fluid do not change" I would have changed it at 50k and possibly avoided this whole problem.

If you think a full fluid flush will help I will get it done this morning. If it makes the sound go away long enough to trade this piece of crap in I'm game. Of course I'd have to pay it off first because it's a TWO THOUSAND ELEVEN yet it's falling apart.

My guess from your last reply is you're going to say I screwed up with the max life. It helped so I'm comfortable with it. I could take it to a different Toyota dealer and have them do the flush also. Anything is better than $5600.
 

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Toyota quoted me $280 plus tax and a 3 hour job. If I was smart I would have had it done yesterday at the other dealer that charged me $100 to look at it and the flush would have been another $180 and I'd be done by now. Now I'm looking at $380 for a flush (if you look at it the way I do).

I can't go back to the first place. I've said too many unfriendly words to them.
 

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Yes it is the torque converter locking up. as confirmed by Toyota dealership and 2 other mechanics.

It happens between 30-40mph under heavy loads. Generally up hill.

Drain and fills were done with max life from Walmart. I did a ton of research on this and found several studies that showed max life was the same if not better than what Toyota is selling. It's what is in it right now. Plus a pint of seafoam trans tune that I put in last night.

The fluid seems to be less dark right now than in the past (me trying to be optimistic)

If the manual didn't say "lifetime fluid do not change" I would have changed it at 50k and possibly avoided this whole problem.

If you think a full fluid flush will help I will get it done this morning. If it makes the sound go away long enough to trade this piece of crap in I'm game. Of course I'd have to pay it off first because it's a TWO THOUSAND ELEVEN yet it's falling apart.

My guess from your last reply is you're going to say I screwed up with the max life. It helped so I'm comfortable with it. I could take it to a different Toyota dealer and have them do the flush also. Anything is better than $5600.
As long as you're asking, here's my 2 cents:
There's no reason a defective torque converter can't be replaced. Other than the shop owner needs a new boat.
I don't believe in adding variables when trying to diagnose a problem. I'm not a fan of transmission flushes, but in your case I'd give it a shot. Only thing is, I would only use Toyota WS, regardless of what the internet says.
A full flush using WS and see what happens. If still NG, a new conv shouldn't run more than 1-1.5k.
You're implying your RAV is "falling apart". Are you just fed up with this problem, or are there other issues?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
What year is your car? If it doesn't need a new muffler don't waste your money.

3 ways to test the shudder....:
When it happens lightly tap the break with your left foot this will tell the computer to release the clutch because it thinks you're slowing down. If the sound instantly stops that's your problem.
Another option is to throw it into 3rd gear instead of Drive and see if it goes away.

Also.... You can simply give it more gas to open the clutch. If any or all of these work you have the shudder. If it's a camery you may be covered. If it's not you may be screwed. Best bet is to get a transmission flush pronto and hope it goes away and doesn't come back.
 

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Yes it is the torque converter locking up. as confirmed by Toyota dealership and 2 other mechanics.

It happens between 30-40mph under heavy loads. Generally up hill.

Drain and fills were done with max life from Walmart. I did a ton of research on this and found several studies that showed max life was the same if not better than what Toyota is selling. It's what is in it right now. Plus a pint of seafoam trans tune that I put in last night.

The fluid seems to be less dark right now than in the past (me trying to be optimistic)

If the manual didn't say "lifetime fluid do not change" I would have changed it at 50k and possibly avoided this whole problem.

If you think a full fluid flush will help I will get it done this morning. If it makes the sound go away long enough to trade this piece of crap in I'm game. Of course I'd have to pay it off first because it's a TWO THOUSAND ELEVEN yet it's falling apart.

My guess from your last reply is you're going to say I screwed up with the max life. It helped so I'm comfortable with it. I could take it to a different Toyota dealer and have them do the flush also. Anything is better than $5600.
As long as you're asking, here's my 2 cents:
There's no reason a defective torque converter can't be replaced. Other than the shop owner needs a new boat.
I don't believe in adding variables when trying to diagnose a problem. I'm not a fan of transmission flushes, but in your case I'd give it a shot. Only thing is, I would only use Toyota WS, regardless of what the internet says.
A full flush using WS and see what happens. If still NG, a new conv shouldn't run more than 1-1.5k.
You're implying your RAV is "falling apart". Are you just fed up with this problem, or are there other issues?

I think I'm going to go for the flush. Now we're on to a different topic but $149 for max life and they can do it right now or $300 for Toyota and I have to make an appointment and leave it for 3 hours. For a car that's already giving me trouble and I'm not sure if this will work is it worth the extra time and money? If I end up replacing TC they're going to give me new fluid anyway. And it will likely be max life.
 

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Your drain refills only take out 2-3 quarts???
Everytime I did it on my I4, 4 quarts or even more came out
If I did 3 drain/refills with 4 quarts coming out, I would be at a little about 85% new fluid.
At 2-3 quarts after 2 drain/refills, you unfortunately have mostly old fluid in there.

Also, make sure the ATF is at the right level after driving it around for at least 20 minutes. Too much or too less is no good.

Here's what I would do: I am not a fan of full flush but go for it since only 2-3 quarts come out every time.

If the shudder is still there, put some additives (e.g. lubegard). Again, I am not a fan of additives but it costs almost nothing compared to the alternative.
 

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I think I'm going to go for the flush. Now we're on to a different topic but $149 for max life and they can do it right now or $300 for Toyota and I have to make an appointment and leave it for 3 hours. For a car that's already giving me trouble and I'm not sure if this will work is it worth the extra time and money? If I end up replacing TC they're going to give me new fluid anyway. And it will likely be max life.
I'd only go to a dealer to buy the correct amount of WS fluid and then find a local trans shop to do the flush. As I said, I wouldn't introduce another possible issue by using anything other than Toyota WS.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Had valvaline do a flush with max life. The stuff coming out was black as night. I've got my fingers crossed that it was just past its prime and not lubing things up properly and causing clutches to stick.

Drove it 45 miles or so and no shudder so far. Please God let the new oil do the trick!!!
 
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