Toyota RAV4 Transmission Problems [5 Common Issues]

The Toyota RAV4 combines the benefits of a compact car and an SUV. It is also known to have excellent maneuverability and fuel economy.

However, the Toyota RAV4 is not without issues. One problem you may experience with this vehicle is bad transmission. This happens as you keep driving your car.

Toyota RAV4

In this post, I’ve covered some common issues your Toyota RAV4 transmission may develop, and how to go about the issues. Let’s get started.

Toyota RAV4 Transmission Problems

1. Grinding Noises during Acceleration/Deceleration

If your Toyota RAV4 transmission is bad, you may hear loud grinding noises during acceleration or deceleration. The grinding noise sometimes emerges after placing your vehicle in reverse or switching from FWD to 4WD.

Several factors are responsible for the grinding noises. Here are a few causes and recommended solutions:

Defective Needle Roller Bearings:

Needle roller bearings are vital components that prevent gears in the torque converter from grinding unnecessarily. Unfortunately, when needle roller bearings wear out, they cause grinding noises, which you hear from under your Toyota RAV4’s hood.

Get a certified auto technician to check out the needle roller bearings and ascertain whether or not they are defective. If they are, replace them with new needle roller bearings.

Clogged Transmission Fluid Filter:

The job of a transmission fluid filter is to allow just the right amount of clean fluid through to its destination.

However, filters can get clogged with impurities and debris, hindering their functioning. Continued use of a clogged filter grinds the Toyota RAV4’s transmission to a halt.

You need to change the transmission fluid filter to restore the operation of the transmission.

2. Contaminated or Low Transmission Fluid

Vehicles with automatic or manual transmissions require clean and sufficient transmission fluid for optimal operation.

If the amount of transmission fluid is inappropriate or low, your Toyota RAV4’s transmission could overheat, causing the gears to surge out of control or start slipping.

Check to see if the fluid is contaminated or low. If it is low, top it up to the right level with the recommended transmission fluid for the Toyota RAV4 SUV. If the transmission fluid is contaminated, drain it and fill it with fresh fluid.

These are the likely causes of that grinding noise from your Toyota RAV4’s transmission. Take the appropriate step for each of them, depending on the situation you’re confronted with.

3. Leaking Transmission

A leaking transmission is another problem plaguing the Toyota RAV4. Many Toyota RAV4 owners reported this issue, especially with less than 10,000 miles on them.

If your Toyota RAV4’s transmission is not functioning properly, check to see if it has the right amount of transmission fluid. Small transmission fluid leaks can cause severe problems for a Toyota RAV4.

If your transmission leaks, clear it up in your transmission system, so it starts functioning correctly. Arrange for a transmission fluid change as soon as possible. You can do this yourself or get an auto technician to handle it.

4. Lagging transmission

If your Toyota RAV4 appears to lurch when downshifting, it doesn’t necessarily pose much of a safety risk. However, this is not to imply that you should ignore it.

But if you discover that your Toyota RAV4’s transmission is lagging, resulting in a slight hesitation between the time you step on your gas pedal and the time your car moves forward, your transmission is faulty.

Your vehicle may even lurch suddenly without warning, a confirmation that something is wrong with your transmission.

Don’t drive your Toyota RAV4 with a lagging transmission for too long. Doing so will eventually lead to severe damage to your engine and transmission.

Get your Toyota RAV4 to a dealer to check what is wrong with your transmission. Bands or clutches could be damaged and cause the transmission to lag.

It could also be a problem with your transmission fluid. Whatever it is, the dealer will find out and get it fixed as soon as possible.

5. Stumbling Transmission

This is another common problem with the Toyota RAV4 transmission. If you have trouble dropping from a higher gear to a lower one, and everything appears fine when you’re done with downshifting, only to repeat itself later on, there is a cause for concern.

Your vehicle will appear to jump or lurch, and only your transmission could be responsible for such action. Ignoring this sign may cause your vehicle’s transmission to develop serious issues.

This issue is common with the Toyota RAV4 2020 model. You can take your vehicle to the dealer to inspect and make recommendations about the transmission problem.

Can You Drive a Toyota RAV4 with a Bad Transmission?

It is not a good idea to drive around with a bad transmission. If you continue driving your Toyota RAV4 with a bad transmission, you may end up damaging it beyond repair. Meaning you may have to replace the defective transmission with a new one.

Repairing a faulty transmission is cheaper than replacing it with a new one. Therefore, if you suspect your transmission is bad, get your Toyota RAV4 to the nearest auto repair shop for repairs.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Toyota RAV4 Transmission?

The average cost of replacing a Toyota RAV4 transmission range from $1,500 to $6,000. This price quote may vary slightly depending on your location and the model year.

Moreover, labor costs, taxes, the cost of components, and related repairs are not factored in yet.

Tips to Make Your Toyota RAV4 Transmission Last Longer

Here are some tips that would help your Toyota RAV4 transmission last longer:

Avoid ‘riding’ your Toyota brakes. Riding your Toyota RAV4’s brake or keeping your foot on its brake pedal (even slightly) can cause transmission problems. Therefore, use engine braking when driving down winding roads.

Avoid towing anything as much as possible, even if it is a small moving trailer. Such added weights can cause problems with your Toyota RAV4’s transmission, especially if it is adequately equipped to handle the extra load.

Instead, check the owner’s manual to be sure your sport vehicle is adequately equipped with a towing setup capable of handling whatever you want to tow.

Check and change your Toyota RAV4’s transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. This is a good way to maintain the overall health of your transmission.

You may also like to read about Toyota Tacoma and Toyota Tundra transmission problems.

Wrapping Up

The Toyota RAV4 still has its share of mechanical problems, though transmission issues are the focus here.

Some transmission issues you may experience have been highlighted in this post, and how to overcome them.