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Discussion Starter #1
I found a 4 inch pool of fluid below my 2011 v6. Smells like gear oil. Tracked down the issue to leak coming off the transfer case. As you see on the picture the case is covered in oil seemingly above the refill plug.

I removed the refill plug and found the oil to be at or almost at he maximum level.

The car was driven for at least 5 miles before I found the leak.

Where could this sudden leak come from?

Side note: I had the tranny replaced (whine issue) 4 years ago.

Rav was purchased certified, the drivetrain warranty expired 4 weeks ago. Would the transmission replace extend the warranty you think?
 

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Errr, does the 4.3 actually have a transfer case?

To me a transfer case implies a separate set of gears (e.g. a high and low range) that are used after the transmission does its work.

???
 

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I found a 4 inch pool of fluid below my 20111 v6. Smells like gear oil. Tracked down the issue to leak coming off the transfer case. As you see on the picture the case is covered in oil seemingly above the refill plug.

I removed the refill plug and found the oil to be at or almost at he maximum level.

The car was driven for at least 5 miles before I found the leak.

Where could this sudden leak come from?

Side note: I had the tranny replaced (whine issue) 4 years ago.

Rav was purchased certified, the drivetrain warranty expired 4 weeks ago. Would the transmission replace extend the warranty you think?
The transfer case rarely has a leak. One possibility which may cause a leak is over filling the transfer case. Even though the oil seem to be near the maximum we don't know how much leaked which was over the max. The repair will be costly unfortunately.

Did you do a transfer case oil change ???

The transfer case is separate from the transmission and would be covered under the original power train warranty.
 

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Errr, does the 4.3 actually have a transfer case?

To me a transfer case implies a separate set of gears (e.g. a high and low range) that are used after the transmission does its work.

???
Yes there is a transfer case if you have 4WD. Which means there is also a rear differential.


A transfer case is a part of the drivetrain of four-wheel-drive, all-wheel-drive, and other multiple powered axle vehicles. The transfer case transfers power from the transmission to the front and rear axles by means of drive shafts.
 

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Yes there is a transfer case if you have 4WD. Which means there is also a rear differential.


A transfer case is a part of the drivetrain of four-wheel-drive, all-wheel-drive, and other multiple powered axle vehicles. The transfer case transfers power from the transmission to the front and rear axles by means of drive shafts.
My understanding is that there is an electromagnetic coupler instead of a center differential.

My further understanding is that (at least most of the time) the term center differential is the same as transfer case.

So hopefully you can understand my confusion.

Thanks.

.
 

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There does not seem to be too much discussion about the transfer case because many don't know they have one. Most know or heard about the rear differential.

If you look at youtube I can only find one about changing the GEN3 RAV4 transfer case oil. There is none for a GEN3 RAV4 differential oil change.

The good thing is both can be done by the DIY if they follow a few tricks if you know about them. It is not dead simple as we may like.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
upon close inspection at friend's shop we found that most likely the leak came from the breather plug on the top of the transfer case. See diagram here:
https://parts.kingstoyota.com/p/Toyota_2011_RAV4-Sport-VIN-2T3RK4DV-35L-V6-4WD-AT/BREATHER-PLUG-PLUG-BREATHER-BREATHER-FOR-TRANSFER-CASE-BREATHERFOR-MANUAL-TRANSMISSION-BREATHER---NO-1-ATM-SHIFT--SELECT-ACTUATOR/62976727/9093003133.html

The questions is why this sudden gush of oil came out, right on my driveway? And only once? We estimate it was about 15-20 ml of oil, so perhaps one-two freedom tablespoons.

The best theory he came up with is that the breather plug froze or became plugged somehow. This allowed pressure to build up and the sudden release of pressure pushed some of the oil out.

Transfer case is now cleaned and I will watch it for the next few days.

BTW - it surprises me some do not know it exists - it is on maintenance schedule.

EDIT: or I am really unlucky and this is the problem: https://www.toyotaparts.metro-toyota.com/Transmission_Fluid_Or_Gear_Oil_Seepage_TSB013810.pdf
 

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upon close inspection at friend's shop we found that most likely the leak came from the breather plug on the top of the transfer case. See diagram here:
https://parts.kingstoyota.com/p/Toyota_2011_RAV4-Sport-VIN-2T3RK4DV-35L-V6-4WD-AT/BREATHER-PLUG-PLUG-BREATHER-BREATHER-FOR-TRANSFER-CASE-BREATHERFOR-MANUAL-TRANSMISSION-BREATHER---NO-1-ATM-SHIFT--SELECT-ACTUATOR/62976727/9093003133.html

The questions is why this sudden gush of oil came out, right on my driveway? And only once? We estimate it was about 15-20 ml of oil, so perhaps one-two freedom tablespoons.

The best theory he came up with is that the breather plug froze or became plugged somehow. This allowed pressure to build up and the sudden release of pressure pushed some of the oil out.

Transfer case is now cleaned and I will watch it for the next few days.

BTW - it surprises me some do not know it exists - it is on maintenance schedule.

EDIT: or I am really unlucky and this is the problem: https://www.toyotaparts.metro-toyota.com/Transmission_Fluid_Or_Gear_Oil_Seepage_TSB013810.pdf
If the breather cap was plugged it would not release air and the pressure would force to blow through the seal instead. But when temperatures
are very cold there would be less pressure?
The breather cap would more likely be blocked if it was rusted. That is how the rear differential seal leak because it gets more rusted due to road salt.
The front transfer case is protected and does not get the same treatment as the rear because there is a radiator splash shield for added protection from the element.

If you are able to take the breather cap off you can test it to see if it is blocked. You should be able to blow air through it.

The mechanic theory about the breather tube being frozen is interesting and you will find out if it keeps leaking or stops.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
you are right, the front transfer case is very clean compared to read diff.

I am thinking the breather cap being plugged theory is wrong. I am really worried it is the seal between transmission and the transfer case. Not sure how to test it.

I will call the dealership tomorrow and see what they say. Since the warranty just expired maybe they will give me a discount. Transfer case is part of the powertrain so certainly it should have been covered.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
update: checked ATF and it is at least half a liter low. I am now convinced that there is a leak between the transmission and transfer case. Meeting with the dealer tomorrow AM.
 

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...Side note: I had the tranny replaced (whine issue) 4 years ago.

Rav was purchased certified, the drivetrain warranty expired 4 weeks ago. Would the transmission replace extend the warranty you think?

I guess you're about to find out how "good" your dealer is. IMO, the warranty tranny replacement was not installed properly which eventually created the problem. These seals don't just go bad especially in just 4 years. Here's hoping for some good will! Let us know how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
just got back from the dealership. Potentially, good news:

- ATF was over one quart low but no leaks found
However:

Transfer case fluid is supposedly not at all contaminated with ATF.

The dealer determined that ATF was low because it was never filled correctly but says one quart out of 9 is not a big deal.

They told me exactly what my regular mechanic said: Transfer Case spit out some gear oil because the breather valve froze and suddenly unplugged and released the pressure.

I am supposed to watch the transfer case over the next four days and come back to have ATF level rechecked.

They charged me nothing for the diagnosis. It is Toyota Direct in Columbus OH, kudos to them.
 

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just got back from the dealership. Potentially, good news:

- ATF was over one quart low but no leaks found
However:

Transfer case fluid is supposedly not at all contaminated with ATF.

The dealer determined that ATF was low because it was never filled correctly but says one quart out of 9 is not a big deal.

They told me exactly what my regular mechanic said: Transfer Case spit out some gear oil because the breather valve froze and suddenly unplugged and released the pressure.

I am supposed to watch the transfer case over the next four days and come back to have ATF level rechecked.

They charged me nothing for the diagnosis. It is Toyota Direct in Columbus OH, kudos to them.
  • I know this is a super old thread but, did you ever change it, because I have the same issue with my 2010 V6. It is almost an impossible spot to get to so I was wondering if you ever ended up changing it yourself or did you take it to the stealership..... these are thieves wanted to charge me $140 just to diagnose even though I told him exactly where the leak was coming from. They told me it could be 10 hours of Labor just to get to the part that cost 16 bucks. I would appreciate your input on this, thanks
 

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I know this is a super old thread but, did you ever change it, because I have the same issue with my 2010 V6. It is almost an impossible spot to get to so I was wondering if you ever ended up changing it yourself or did you take it to the stealership..... these are thieves wanted to charge me $140 just to diagnose even though I told him exactly where the leak was coming from. They told me it could be 10 hours of Labor just to get to the part that cost 16 bucks. I would appreciate your input on this, thanks
 

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I know this is a super old thread but, did you ever change it, because I have the same issue with my 2010 V6. It is almost an impossible spot to get to so I was wondering if you ever ended up changing it yourself or did you take it to the stealership..... these are thieves wanted to charge me $140 just to diagnose even though I told him exactly where the leak was coming from. They told me it could be 10 hours of Labor just to get to the part that cost 16 bucks. I would appreciate your input on this, thanks
Just take it to a reputable mechanic. Are you sure about the source of the leak because it is rare for it to leak? Not many members have replaced the transfer case but is very expensive due to the labour to remove it.
 
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