Toyota RAV4 Transmission Problems

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Cars have a lot of working components that need to function in unison.

If even one component of the car starts to break down, you will see that the entire can will no longer work.

In the case of the Toyota RAV4, the transmission was the biggest issue in a lot of situations.

Here are the typical signs people see when suffering from Toyota rav4 transmission problems. Some of these signs were quite common while others were more situational:

  1. Check Engine Light Comes On
  2. Gears Having Trouble Responding
  3. Gears Being Hard To Move
  4. Transmission Fluid Leakage
  5. Gears Slipping
  6. General Lack Of Power
  7. Grinding, Vibrations And Shaking
  8. The Car Lets Out Noise When In Neutral
  9. Burning Smell
  10. Car Goes Into Limp Mode

The article will explain all of these issues below in detail. I’ll also talk about problematic models of the Toyota RAV4 and how you can get them fixed.

10 Signs Of Transmission Problems In A Toyota RAV4

Learn if Toyota Rav4 has any transmission issues or not

There are multiple signs of your transmission not acting as it should.

Many of these I have listed above and will be talking about below.

If you notice any of them, you should get your Toyota RAV4 checked out immediately.

This way, you can minimize the damage done to your car.

1. Check Engine Light Comes On

The blinking engine light will always detect issues with the engine or the transmission. This is a surefire way to confirm that something is wrong with your Toyota RAV4.

Additionally, these lights are sometimes accompanied by certain codes which can further tell you precisely what is wrong with your car.

2. Gears Having Trouble Responding

The transmission system is responsible for changing all of the gears. If you are having issues with the gears responding, then you can be certain that something is wrong.

This could either result from a lack of lubrication or an internal problem that you should get checked as soon as possible.

3. Gears Being Hard To Move

There can be any number of reasons why your Toyota RAV4 gear will not shift. Almost all of them are to do with a bad transmission system.

Bad clutch connectors, clogged filters, and lack of transmission fluid are just a few of the issues that you could be dealing with. It is best not to drive the car until this issue is resolved.

4. Transmission Fluid Leakage

It also acts like the gears hydraulics will keep the transmission cool. This means that the transmission fluids give it functionality and prevent it from overheating.

Seeing thing leak can be the start of many transmission tribulations. It also is an early sign that something is not right.

5. Gears Slipping

Smooth-shifting is something that a lot of people take for granted. On the other hand, the gears shifting but not staying where they should be can be a massive letdown.

It also is a huge issue when it comes to the transmission system and one that should not be ignored. It is a clear sign that there is a problem with the transmission.

6. General Lack Of Power

Transmission-related problems can also affect the rest of the car. This can be seen when you feel a lack of power in the vehicle, despite the engine working normally.

While it is just as possible that there could be an issue elsewhere, some people have noticed this with bad transmissions. Getting it checked out should be a priority.

7. Grinding, Vibrations And Shaking

Another common issue when dealing with a bad transmission system is excessive movement. This can be in the form of excess vibration and shaking.

Shaking and vibration during gear shifting are clear signs that the transmission system is not well. Furthermore, grinding can also be faced if your transmission is manual.

8. Car Lets Out Noise When In Neutral

If your Toyota RAV4 is giving out loud sounds in neutral, you will need to inspect it as soon as possible. This could either be due to issues with the engine or the transmission.

These sounds will be in the form of loud bangs. Make sure that you have a good amount of transmission fluid as well.

9. Burning Smell

While it could mean any number of things, it can most definitely signal issues with the transmission.

Either due to worn components of the transmission system or the protective chemicals degrading both depicts a problem in the transmission system.

Additionally, it can also lead to massive issues with the gearbox.

10. Car Goes Into Limp Mode

In the event of transmission failure, modern cars simply go into limp mode, basically a failsafe. This mode is also activated if the car detects the potential for transmission failure.

Either way, it is a sign that the transmission is worn out and will need to be checked.

How To Prevent Your Toyota RAV4’s Transmission Issues

Have you recently gotten your transmission fixed and did not want to deal with it happening again?

Here are a few steps you can take to safeguard your transmission system:

1. Check Transmission Fluids Regularly

Transmission fluids are integral for your transmission system to work flawlessly.

You should try your best to ensure that it is at optimal levels. If not, you will suffer from overheating and other issues.

2. Make Sure The Toyota RAV4 Is Serviced Regularly

Regular servicing can be a surefire way to prevent issues in the transmission system.

Not only does it ensure maximum efficiency of the system, but it also finds issues in their beginning stages, making it easy to get them fixed,

3. Get The Car Checked In The Event Of A Check Engine Light

As mentioned above, always avoid driving the car with a check engine light on. This is a clear sign that something is wrong with the transmission system.

Further driving can lead to more problems. Once you see the check engine light, you should head to a mechanic as fast as possible.

How To Fix The Toyota RAV4’s Transmission Problems

In case, you still end up with some sort of transmission problem, then the first thing to do to get them fixed is to check the transmission fluid.

If you are low on fluid, then filling it up should get your Toyota RAV4 working back to normal.

Moreover, if you detect any leaks, you will have to get them patched up; otherwise, there will be no point in getting more transmission fluid.

Finally, if you are dealing with a broken part, your best bet is to diagnose and locate which part is broken. From there, I will recommend that you get the part replaced.

Which Year Did Toyota RAV4 Have Transmission Troubles?

Almost all of the years of the Toyota RAV4 are known for some degree of issues.

In this part of the article, I will discuss which years were most notable for their transmission failures.

This should help you avoid a particular model of RAV4 if you are afraid of transmission-related issues.

2002 Toyota RAV4

2001 brought a complete redesign of the Toyota RAV4, and along with this came many transmission-related problems.

These persisted in the 2002 model as well. Hard shifting, gear slipping, and full-on transmission failure were just a few of the problems customers had to deal with.

The year itself is widely regarded as the worst choice when it comes to the Toyota RAV4.

2007 Toyota RAV4

The 2007 Toyota RAV4 was widely hated for its engine problems, but it also had many transmission-related issues.

Transmission noise was all too common, and there was a fair amount of difficulty in shifting gears.

All of this would end with the transmission itself failing. This would end up in the component needing to be replaced.

2001 Toyota RAV4

This model was the first misstep in a long line of problematic models for the lineup.

The 2001 Toyota RAV4 established the trend of a bad transmission system for the lineup, which would persist for years to come.

All the issues, such as hard shifting and transmission failure, were present in this model.

2008 Toyota RAV4

Many people consider the 2008 Toyota RAV4 a pretty good car.

This is despite some rather egregious transmission-related issues. These included the transmission jerking and whining almost constantly.

There were various instances of transmission leakage and transmission slipping and long with many complaints of rattling.

It is easy to say that the transmission system just needed a lot more work and polish.

2006 Toyota RAV4

The 2006 Toyota RAV4 was highly criticized for its array of problems centered on the engine. The transmission was also a prominent source of misery for owners as it often failed.

This would occur in manual and automatic transmissions and be accompanied by vibration while driving.

2003 Toyota RAV4

While a huge improvement from the 2002 model, the 2003 Toyota RAV4 was still a bad year.

This was due to the persisting transmission problems, which had been reduced but not completely removed.

Loss of power, transmission slippage, and jerking would end the same way; transmission failure. It was the most complained aspect of the model.

2009 Toyota RAV4

All in all, the 2009 Toyota RAV4 was a pretty good car. However, it suffered from various drive train and transmission-related issues, which earned it a mention in this list.

There was constant vibration and whining from the rear. Additionally, some users faced squeaking and rumbling. Transmission slippage was also common, as well as surging.

2019 Toyota RAV4

The biggest issue the 2019 Toyota RAV4 faced was regard to its transmission. The transmission would hesitate and lurch at slower speeds, along with shifting roughly.

It would commonly get stuck in the park position and was prone to slipping. Aside from the transmission, there were little to no issues, which is why, for many, this year gets a pass.

2013 Toyota RAV4

Similar to the 2019 Toyota RAV4, the 2013 model was just okay in everything. It did not excel at anything, especially when it came to transmission.

This is because it was also prone to failure and would vibrate all the time, more so at lower speeds. Unintentional shifting and leaks were also quite common.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How Much Does A Toyota RAV4 Transmission Replacement Cost?

If you decide to get your transmission replaced for the Toyota RAV4, you should easily expect at least $1,000 at the minimum.

If you include labor costs and choose to get it fixed from a more expensive shop, the cost can rise significantly to $6,000 or more.

Q2. What Is The Lifespan Of A Toyota RAV4 Transmission?

The Toyota RAV4 has a long lifespan of 300,000 miles if you give it moderate care.

This is almost double the life of the transmission system, which only goes up to around 120,000 to 150,000 miles before breaking down.


Q3. Is It Safe To Drive A Toyota RAV4 With A Bad Transmission?

Many will advise you that riding your Toyota RAV4 with a bad transmission is not safe. This can lead to bad situations where you think you are in a certain gear but end up in another.

Eventually, you can end up in an accident, which is why driving with a bad transmission is not safe.


The Toyota RAV4 went off to a good start but fell into difficult times when it went into a redesign.

This also resulted in many transmission problems that persisted throughout the various years of the lineup.

Toyota RAV4 transmission problems show no end of stopping, even in the newer models as far as 2019. However, there is always a chance for improvement.

Toyota is already aware of the reputation of the RAV4 and is taking steps to mitigate all of the transmission-related issues.

Soon, you should be able to drive a new lineup model without having to deal with any major issues.