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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, this is like my third post since getting this vehicle a week ago. So I noticed that the transmission tends to slip when cold but it completely goes away and shifts perfectly smoothly after driving for 10 minutes or so. I went and got the fluid changed at jiffy lube thinking that would solve the problem, and it's about 80% better, but still present enough I'm worried about it. The mechanic who did the transmission flush also noticed a lot of liquid leaking near the transfer case, but the transfer case was full. I too noticed some fluid on the ground, but it wasn't red so I figured it wasn't transmission fluid. The car also seems to be burning a lot of oil :( Is it possible I'm leaking transmission fluid or something else that would cause this behavior? When I originally looked at the car before buying it I had a mechanic look it over and they said it looked like it was in amazing shape, but then the previous owner got the oil pan and gasket changed and it has had problems since.
 

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What you may be experiencing is a delayed upshift when the engine is cold. This would manifest as the engine revving up more when cold due to the transmission holding a lower gear longer. That might sound like slipping. Toyota does this on purpose to forced a quicker warm up in order to reduce cold emissions. This may well be normal.


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I'm sorry this is happening to you. Regarding the transmission flush -- do you know what kind of fluid they used?

Also, the fluid you noticed by the transfer case -- the transfer case fluid is a gear oil, which absolutely stinks. Does the fluid stink very bad? I have seen fluid from the power steering system make it all the way over to the transfer case when the top pinion seal is leaking (the fluid in our power steering system is actually ATF, or automatic transmission fluid, and ATF stinks too but not nearly as bad as gear oil). Look at the first couple of pictures on this post to see if perhaps you have a leaking steering shaft pinion seal, which would be caught by watching your power steering fluid reservoir:

http://www.rav4world.com/forums/94-...inion-valve-seal-stop-common-4-1-ps-leak.html

If you have fluid all over like this, stand on the driver's side, by the tire, and look down to where the steering shaft comes through the firewall: if you have fluid all over this part, its ATF from the power steering system. If it is the original Toyota fluid (which is likely), it is undyed ATF, so it is not red but rather a dark brown color. But it smells like ATF.

If the transmission is leaking, there are a few places that that could occur, and that fluid is also a different smell and viscosity. If its engine oil, then that should be pretty obvious. See if you can identify the type of fluid, or post some pictures of these leaks and pools. Also, you can check all of these fluid levels yourself, including the transfer case. They all have reservoirs or dipsticks.

Here's a post that shows how to check the transfer case fluid: http://www.rav4world.com/forums/94-...st-diy-transfer-case-fluid-change-w-pics.html

Here's a post that discusses how to check the transmission fluid -- skip to The Drifter's comment: http://www.rav4world.com/forums/83-4-1-general/71946-when-check-trans-fluid-dipstick.html

The power steering fluid is easily checked by locating the reservoir (it circled in the picture) and comparing the level to the marks on the side. There are marks for HIGH and LOW based on temperature (either COLD or HOT). Again, our Ravs take ATF -- not power steering fluid -- in the power steering system.



Post back with what other information you collect after investigating these leaks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hey demoder. Thanks for the super informative reply. I will check the leaks after work today and get back to you ASAP. Regarding the transmission fluid - it's a manual transmission (sorry, i'm not sure why i didn't note this in the original post) and they used 75w90 gear oil. Being a manual I'm not sure there is an easy way to check the transmission fluid myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Okay guys! I pulled it out and got some information that should help us.

I called the jiffy lube and they said they used 75w-90 gear oil for the transmission, so no problems there.

I checked the power steering fluid and it was full, actually slightly past maximum. Here's a picture of the reservoir.


I also checked for pools underneath the car. Sure enough, there was a puddle under front right of the car in front of the passenger. It looks and smells like oil:

(The pool on the ground looks huge in this picture, but my finger is relatively close to it. It's about the size of a large phone)



I checked the oil dipstick after this, and the dipstick was nearly bone dry even after getting the oil topped off at jiffy lube a few days ago!

And under the car there was plenty of fluid/grease covering everything, I'm starting to think it is also oil but I couldn't get far enough under to be certain.

Under the driver side, near the drive train/steering shaft:


More fluid under the passenger side, through the wheel well:


Passenger side, from the front:


Finally, because this car is a manual transmission, I don't believe I can check the transfer case fluid or transmission fluid myself as there aren't any dipsticks, and I don't have tools to get to fluids otherwise. That said, when I went to jiffy lube, the mechanic there said that he didn't think any transmission fluid was leaking and said the transfer case was full. I'm starting to think this car might just have an insane oil leak, but the previous owner had the oil pan and gasket replaced right before selling it to me. Maybe it's time to contact them and see if they might have messed something up. Could low oil have anything to do with the car shuddering/slipping when cold? Just to be clear, I've never run the car with zero oil in it and have never had a check engine light, but it does smell like burning oil frequently.
 

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That does look like a pretty good oil leak, and I think you're right that it would be a good idea to speak with the previous owner and ask about the repair. The oil pan doesn't look new: maybe you can get an idea on what they were trying to address with the repair.

It will take some time, but perhaps you can clean up the area and see if you can locate the spot or general vicinity of the leak. There are some threads in these forums that discuss various oil seal failures that might occur, especially at the oil pump. I think the easiest spots to check first (just because they are easier, not necessarily because they are more likely) may be these:


Timing belt cover: you can see the black plastic timing belt lower cover from under the passenger side of the engine. Clean it up its its oily, and see if your oil is leaking from behind this cover. There are several seals behind that cover which can fail.

Valve cover: the valve cover sits angled back a bit towards the firewall (as does the oil pan). It can leak on the back side, or on the back corners. Clean the back of the cover and corners, if dirty, and check there.

Oil pan: Clean the top and bottom of the oil pan flange and check back for leaks. The oil pan is tricky, though, because oil can end up on that flange after dripping down from another spot.​

It is good that you caught this leak because you can now be sure to keep the oil at the correct level until you hunt the source down. Check out this thread from toyotanation: its a 5SFE engine in a '97 Camry, but that engine is almost the same as yours.

Trying to isolate oil leak - pics included - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Welp, I took it to the shop that did the oil pan and gasket. Turns out they didn't actually replace the oil pan, even though she said they did and the receipt implied it - they just replaced the gasket. They looked at the underside of the car and found leaks in several spots:

Camshaft seal
Front crank seal
Water pump
Valve cover

I have pictures if this would help.

Quote for the oil leak work was about $1350, and what makes things even worse is they told me that they made these recommendations to the previous owner, but instead she just got the oil pan replaced and chose not to disclose them to me.

On top of this, they are pretty sure the clutch needs replacing, which would be another $700 but I think I can baby it and make it last long enough to afford it.

All in all I don't think I can afford these repairs :( and I imagine they're pretty difficult to do with what little mechanical experience I have. I might just have to sell the RAV, given I've already spent $3700 purchasing it thinking that it was in near perfect condition. I guess I can keep topping it off with oil, although the leaks are only going to get worse.
 

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I think $1350 is a high estimate for that job, though any way you cut it, that job will be in $600+ range at a shop. The tech must have removed the timing belt cover to verify those leaks (except for the valve cover), or perhaps just looked at their notes from the last time the vehicle was there, because what they are describing is all in that area.

If it is helpful in your decision making, you should be able to get a much lower quote on that job -- but again, it will still be a costly repair. However, if done properly with good (Toyota) parts, that job shouldn't have to be done again for many years (the timing belt would be expected the last 70K miles, and you probably wouldn't have to replace the seals or pump again).

If you are interested in getting the repair, call around to some independent Toyota shops and ask them for a quote for a "timing belt replacement, with the oil seals and water pump replaced too" and see what you get. The parts alone don't cost much at all: the seals are $6 - $9 each, the belt is $25, and the water pump (coolant pump) should be about $110 -- its the labor in getting to those parts that drives up the price.

The reason they are throwing in the water pump is because its easy to access once you get in there to replace the seals, so many people decide to just change it in case it goes out since labor would be very expensive to get at it again. But you don't "have" to replace the water pump if its working.

You can do the valve cover yourself, but if I were you, I'd just try tightening the spark plug tube nuts to the right torque (17 ft-lbs) first. To get to the nuts, just pull the spark plug wires out and you will see them -- they are big 30 mm nuts that go right around the spark plug tube. You might be able to stop that part of the oil leak with a few turns of a wrench.

Below is an example quote for a typical "full service" timing belt replacement, with part numbers form a '99, to give you an idea (most if not all the part numbers should be the same, but you'll have to double-check). The labor rates will vary shop to shop and area to area, and you can always buy the parts yourself and bring them in to save money, but some shops won't warranty the parts if you do this. The shop that supplied this quote was high, and my sister ended up finding a shop that did the job for $720, without a new water pump. Also, tell the shops whether or not you have ABS, because it will cost a bit more with ABS (extra labor for moving the parts).

 
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