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Toyota Tundra Transmission Problems

mcsmadisonmcsmadison Member Posts: 4
My 2008 Tundra's tranmission went out last week when attempting to shift from 4 WD high, into 4wd lo, then back into high.

I was stuck in the snow in 4wd high, then tried low, to no avail, tried the tranmission in lo (which didn't engage--just 'lo' light blinking and alarm buzzer, then tried 4wd HI and there was NO transmission response, a grinding in "P' and no low, high, or anything--from Park to D, Reverse, all the gears were gone, and I was getting ready to call for a tow truck, and after grinding the P gear for a while and back into N, it went into 4wd high.

Toyota replicated the problem, after some doing, and they're trying to fix it as the 4wd acuator is a problem--it's backordered to Japan which means the truck is out of action for a month.

There are similar reports of damage and problems listed on the NHTSA website.


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    mattinbostonmattinboston Member Posts: 5
    I have the exact same problem on my 2007 5.7 LT w/only 12k miles. I just shifted into 4 low to try to get up from my driveway onto my hill to get some firewood replenished and got the same blinking light on my 4 low indicator, the same grinding into park, etc... Unfortunately I can't get it to come back like you did, so no lower to the wheels. I called a tow truck and the flatbed was too short in the end to load from the bed side... so after reading your post I'm going to go back out and try to jolt it back into gear! Thanks for the hope. Glad this didn't happen in the snow somewhere remote! Sounds like a real toyota problem...
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    mcsmadisonmcsmadison Member Posts: 4
    Sorry to hear you've had the same problem with the transmission/xfer case--when I read of the problems on NHTSA website that other people had similar to ours, I was really disappointed that this was happening on a Toyota for more than just myself... I guess as frustrated as I was, I was glad to know that when the transmission fails, (no gears after the 4wd problem) that the truck wasn't left in park just to accidently roll down a hill and into someone, or over them....that would be bad....the one complaint on the NHTSA had a truck with the same problem roll down into a garage and cause 5K in damage but no one was hurt...

    Like you, I was ready to call the tow truck (stuck in the middle of the street) and as you say fortunately not out somewhere really far away from anywhere but I was on enough of a hill I let the truck roll backwards about 20 ft in N or P and in 2wd and eventually a clunk sound and was acting ready to drive again...but this did not make me feel anybetter--in fact I was feeling less settled and more ticked off than ever--wondering what kind of 30,000 dollar junk was this?

    The truck's been down for almost 40 days now, one problem after the other, the dealership has done what they can, Toyota HQ is now aware that I am not pleased in any way...but they aren't doing much...funny how as I type this there is an add for a new tundra! All I can say is whatever remedy they propose ought to be really good and swift--probably the last toyota I ever buy--which I say after having Toyotas in the family for 28 years.

    Good luck with yours--I hope your situation pans out better than mine.
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    mattinbostonmattinboston Member Posts: 5
    Wow that doesn't sound good... Your post is the first one I found after doing a Google search so I haven't seen any of the NHTSA compliants.

    I couldn't get the truck going again. The battery was dead when I went back out - I think the 4 wd actuator was continuing to run in a loop trying to get the truck out of 4 low even with the key out. I could hear it switching. I think that ran the battery down. I'm charging that now but don't expect anything good.

    To make matters worse, a flat bed came out, I struggled but got my huge dead truck loaded on it only to find out that the truck was too long for the flat bed. The tow guy told me that he could only fit it on front forward and there was no way to do that with the way the truck is situated... so I'm stuck calling the dealership in the morning for help.........

    Anyway I'm writing this to help any others that might find this info useful.

    Toyota - oh what a feeling.............
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    mattinbostonmattinboston Member Posts: 5
    An update for posterity:

    I don't know what did it, but when I went out this morning, took the charging cables off the battery, and started the truck it was in 4 high and the wheels were engaged (I left the switch in the 4 high position overnight). The 4 low light was no longer blinking like it was last night when I left it to charge.

    I don't know if it was moving the truck back and forth off/on the flat bed, or the battery going dead... or what, but it managed to get itself back in driving shape. I didn't turn it off or shift out of 4 high - just drove it straight to the dealer in 4 high.

    I'll make one more update with the dealer's findings. I hope this helps someone... and I hope Toyota fixes this thing properly!
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    mattinbostonmattinboston Member Posts: 5

    Don't know if you're still monitoring this feed... but I'd appreciate any more info on your specific dealer findings if you have them (e.g. what specifically was wrong (4wd actuator?) and how they reproduced if you know). My dealer is having trouble reproducing this and is starting to push for me to take the vehicle home. No way am I doing that without a big ole' fight!

    Thanks again for the trouble.

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    garn1garn1 Member Posts: 1
    Help My 07 Tundra has a scrambled transmission display after fixing my trailer plug. 4 lo came on VSC came check engine came on No manual shifting was possible.Truck is drivable but had severe brake lockup of Tundras brakes with trailer in tow. My Mechanic hooked up Genisys systems analyzer we came up with a transmission range sensor problem. New safety neutral switch was crossreference fro Toyota parts now installed with some improvement. All warning lights are still on and no backup lights will come on when in reverse. Severe brake lockup has discontinued. My Mechanic recomends a tran shop that has better diagnostics equipment . Any solutions out there. Still driving. but nervous
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    nri201nri201 Member Posts: 1
    edited January 2011
    My 2010 Tundra's tranmission went out last week when attempting to shift from 4 WD high, into 4wd lo, then back into high. Transmission was not responding in any gear and it was making grinding noise when shifted to P. I called dealer and aranged for a tow truck to be towed away next day morning since it was stuck in 4 WD low and no motion I read your thread and accepted it as it must be a dealer job now. Next day morning I started the truck let it warmed up and shifted from 4 WD low to 4 WD High. It shifted and running again. I think when I was stuck in snow previous night I kept changing gear from D to 4Wd Low to 4wd High then low again kept accerlating kept spining the wheels again and again .The Transmissin fluid or rear diffrencel oil got very hot and it stoped working when it cooled down over night it started working again.Try this before you call tow truck. Good Luck. Never Never shift in to 4WD Low Gear thats where the problem arise.
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    pfiff_granbypfiff_granby Member Posts: 5
    To: mcsmadison, nn201, mattinboston:

    I have a 08 single cab Tundra with 5.7L V8, 6 spd transmission purchased used, with 41,000 mi. I always want to know the reason the last owner sold the vehicle, and I usually find out about 5 days after the used car warranty runs out. Such is the case here.

    Several days after I purchased the truck, I took it out back in the pasture in deep snow to try out 4WD Hi and Lo. 4WD hi worked great, but, when I put it into 4WD lo, the 4WD lo lite came on and there was alot of beeping. I experienced the grinding and loss of any gearing described in the forum.

    Shut the truck off and started it again, this time putting it in neutral, then switching to 4WD lo. It worked this time and I got to try lo ratio as well.

    Fast forward 3 months later.........left the truck in 4WD Hi in the driveway and when I came out to start it , we were in the middle of a big February thaw with temperatures of ~60F. This was the first time since I have bought the truck that the temperature was this high above freezing.

    At start, check engine light was on, and 4WD LO lamp as well as VSC off lamp were blinking on and off. I drove out on the highway but the truck would not up-shift beyond 4th gear.

    (after I got out of my snowy driveway, I put the truck in 2wd and it appeared to shut off the 4WD Hi lamp). It was indeed in 2WD.
    VSC off and 4WD lo lamps were blinking the whole time.

    Later I hooked up the laptop to the OBD-2 connector and ran a scan. I got code PO328 which is a code for "knock sensor, bank 1, high input". There were no transmission type codes in the computer. I tried to clear it but it kept coming back (note: the engine is running quietly and smooth the whole time).

    In my case the vehicle DOES work in 4WD hi, but it won't go into 4WD Low.

    At this point, I am totally confused. I can hear a DC motor whirring when switching from 2WD to 4WD hi and back. No such whirring when selecting 4WD Lo.

    At this point, I would be VERY interested in what the three of you have found in your search. I have low to no confidence that the dealer who sold me the truck will be of any help unless I am willing to shovel out big bucks. So far, I am comitted to troubleshooting this myself and identifying a problem before I go to the dealer.

    Other than the experience of the 3 of you in this forum, I haven't found anything on the internet that relates to this problem. Is this a systemic problem with the Tundra 4WD Transfer case actuator? It seems like it is a little ridiculous to have a gear-motor assembly actuate the 3 modes when a lever could do it just as easily.

    Thanks in advance for any info you can share...............

    I will try to see if there are any obvious problems with the 4WD transfer case actuator
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    mattinbostonmattinboston Member Posts: 5
    I got my Toyota dealer to replace my 4wd actuator under warranty as a safety issue. The problem did not reoccur.

    Good luck! It's a bugger of a problem.
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    pfiff_granbypfiff_granby Member Posts: 5
    Well, I got the Truck back in working order. The Service Department found a mouse nest under the intake manifold on the engine. What's more, the mouse was still in the nest when they uncovered it! The notation on the bill ($929.00) said "Mouse was still in nest, and now is somewhere in the shop." I kid you not!

    There is no defense against this kind of critter infestation. The design of the engine makes that place under the intake manifold very attractive for a nesting spot. I will have to search the internet for a solution to this problem. Living out in the country where country mice abound makes it that much worse.

    I have to say, I was not expecting this after reading the narratives about the Transfer case actuator. The Service dept. sent a picture, and included the chewed up wiring harness in a box. The lead-in for the knock sensor as well as the signal lines for the 4WD control went through this harness.

    In further discussions with the service folks, I learned that if you switch into 4WD while the wheels are spinning, the slip control software takes over and shuts everything down. This is one of the reasons why you cannot get the truck in gear while the lights are blinking and the alarms are beeping.

    I experienced this problem once, and just by turning off the ignition and re-starting the vehicle, I caused everything to reset, and it all started working again. I wouldn't recommend doing this while hurtling down the highway at 50 mph, but if you are stuck in axle deep snow while trying to get the truck into 4WD Lo, it works.

    I think these forums are invaluable for transferring this kink of knowledge among the user base. My thanks to all who contributed to my increase in knowledge of my vehicle. Even though I am $929.00 poorer for the experience, I will probably make the investment in the service manual for future problem solving!

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    sshifflettsshifflett Member Posts: 1
    I am experiencing the same 4wd hi, lo, other warning lights flashing. Had it into the dealer once, need to take it back again. It did get stuck in some pretty deep snow, but only 85,000 miles. Maybe should have stayed with the Tacoma.
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    sbordocjsbordocj Member Posts: 1
    OMG. Do you mean to tell me that there is NOT supposed to be a beeping noise in 4wd Lo? We bought a 2011 Tundra in October. Until yesterday had no need of 4wd low. When we did put it in low, it stated beeping (we just thought it was a safety thing to remind you were in low...) Anyway, now we can't shift it out of 4wd Low. When we tried, no luck. The truck will move, but won't shift. Arghhh.
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    pfiff_granbypfiff_granby Member Posts: 5
    From all I can get from the downloaded files of the owners manual, If 4WD Lo is engaged properly, there should be no beeping sound or blinking mode lights. The only time the beeping and blinking occurs is if 4WD Lo mode is not properly engaged.

    The only way I can properly enter 4WD Lo, is by having the vehicle motionless with no wheels spinning. Wheels not turned but, straight ahead, transmission in NEUTRAL. It should engage and there should be no blinking or beeping. If it does then, the transfer case control, is not functioning properly.

    I have also found that even if the vehicle is fully stopped and in drive, it won't go into 4WD Lo from 4WD Hi, the Lo lamp will blink indicating "not fully engaged". It appears that if there is any loading or stress on the drive-line, while turning to 4WD Lo, it might not properly engage.

    This is clearly a design related problem that Toyota will NEVER admit to. An obvious weakness in an otherwise decent truck. Time will tell whether these trucks age gracefully , or not.....

    As far as getting it out of 4WD Lo, my only experience was again making sure there is no load on the drive-line, putting the switch into 4WD Hi, shutting the ignition off, then re starting.

    If it is really "stuck" in 4WD Lo, the dealer will have to explain why that is OK or give you an answer as to the problem.

    If it is a critter nest under the intake manifold, it is very hard to see. It just about takes a fiber optic light to see under the manifold, by removing the foam rubber blocks from around the manifold openings.

    Good Luck and let us know the results.

    Also .....Do not click on any links offering a free Toyota service manual. I did and picked up some kind of trojan horse or virus in my PC.
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    fasteddy72fasteddy72 Member Posts: 1
    Hello there. Did you ever come up with a solution to this. My wife is crying (really upset) over this as this is the 3rd time this has happened in 60 days.

    I need a solution, we have tried mouse traps, dryer sheets, ect. I will do doing the work my self this time as we are out of $$$ but also was going to see if there was a way of protecting the cables.


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    pfiff_granbypfiff_granby Member Posts: 5
    This has happened to me with just about every truck I have ever owned. No manufacturer seems to be immune to the dreaded mouse nest. My last vehicle a 97 Ford F250, was so infested, I had to remove the intake manifold and a bunch of hardware to re-connect one key wire that "mickey" had eaten through. Luckily I had a shop manual which guided me through it or, I would have spent a big pile of cash at the Ford dealer.

    Gosh, if it has happened to you 3 times in 2 months, it is probably the same mouse declaring war on you!

    A mouse actually squeezed into the ventilation grille on the hood of my 72 Chevy Pickup and ate through the squirrel cage rotor on the heater fan (I always wondered why they called it that?) and camped out in the heater chewing everything in sight.

    I have never found a chemical or animal irritant that you could safely sprinkle on your engine. I am getting all kind of advice from "experts" who have never had to clean up one of these messes. Some examples: Moth balls in a plastic bag with some holes poked in the bag, Dryer sheets like snuggles...etc., peppermint which mice allegedly don't like. Oh and this one.....Make your engine compartment smell like a cat because.......you guessed it!.......mice don't like cats!

    My problems all occurred while parking close to a tree line. When I parked my vehicle out in the open and closer to the house, I never got a critter invasion. My theory is mice don't like to run around out in the open because of eagles, hawks, and other predators. Assuming it is the same mouse that has invaded your truck, I'd also try some traps with peanut butter. I know that works, but nail them down somewhere under the hood so the caught critter doesn't hop into some un-reachable place where it will die and stink up the vehicle.

    I intend to try this and some variation of the peppermint smell. Still looking for a shop manual for the Tundra in case I have to do the repair again.

    Good Luck!
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    realtoyownerrealtoyowner Member Posts: 1
    you sound like two unemployed disgruntled chevy truck drivers that need to get a life! NO problems with my 07 tundra or my 01 4 runner or any of the 4 toyota trucks ive owned and put over 280,000 miles on each.P,S. you sound alot like chevy sales people ...
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    gorillapride13gorillapride13 Member Posts: 1
    Toyota has a fail safe sensor in the transmission that prevents the truck from shifting or moving when the temperature of the fluid gets too hot. Great idea but need to tell consumers about it too.
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    jjfloridajjflorida Member Posts: 3
    I have a 2000 Tundra with a 4.7L engine and automatic transmission. The transmission seems to go into neutral while stopped and then hesitates to go back to first gear when I hit the accelerator. The truck has just over 100,000 miles and has been serviced. The problem did go away after I had the radiator replaced about a year ago but it has resurfaced recently.

    Any ideas?
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    clancytimothyclancytimothy Member Posts: 1
    good luck i had a 07 the front diff and two cv axles were replaced not under warrenty at 62000 miles i called toyota for help and was told i wasent a loyal toyota customer because i only had one toyota. i did a lot of looking and found a t-s-b bulliten about clunking noise heard in front ends they have a shim kit thet will be installed that is if someone hears the noise i was going to sue toyota and the dealer when toyota refunded me the 4,500 i had paid to replace the front end two years later. i have a 2011 tundra now and have issues with this one with only 13000 on it after this one i will never buy another tundra
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    sbjrsbjr Member Posts: 1
    My 2008 Tundra 4WD makes a clunking clashing sound in the front end when the rear wheels slip but sometimes at other events. Selecting 4WD high range most often causes the transmission to shift very hard and loud. It is impossible sometimes to get this truck into 4WH low. I bought this truck new and have had it back to the dealer twice with no help. 35,000 miles. Any ideas?
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    wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    Sounds as if you're using 4WD when you shouldn't be. You have a "PART-TIME" 4WD system that should NEVER be engaged except on a KNOWN slippery, low-traction surface.

    Also, even on a low traction surface you should disengage 4WD once underway, traveling above ~20-25 MPH.

    Since 4X4 mode "4WD low", uses a spline/dog type clutch so it will often be difficult to engage, trying rolling slowly, VERY slowly, backward while shifting into 4X4 mode.
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    ddauroraddaurora Member Posts: 2
    I have the same issue with my 2000 Tundra....Did you ever find out what the problem was??
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    ddauroraddaurora Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2000 Tundra with a 6 cyl. engine and automatic transmission. The transmission seems to go into neutral while stopped and then hesitates to go back to first gear when I hit the accelerator. Now I can't get the transmission engaged at all, even though the gear selector moves. The truck has 133,000 miles and has been serviced.

    Any ideas?
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    trav16trav16 Member Posts: 1
    When he battery died it killed the power to the soliniod and your hubs stopped trying to lock themselves. the button was still in the 4wd position and when you fired it back up to move he next day they slipped into position. I have a 94 s10 blazer and if I don't keep up maintenance on the 4wd actuator it seizes up every winter. I have to punk he battery let it sit for 5 mins then re-try it. if that doesn't work I have to pull the battery and move the cable.manually a few times to free it up. good YouTube video on it.... Nothing beats the good ol 4wd stick on the floor....
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    dhonbergerdhonberger Member Posts: 1
    have similar problem 4lo/vcs flashing goes into reverse and park and neutral but won't engage in drive in either regular drive mode or you shift mode. I've taken the upper plenum off mouse nest was present but no wires hurt. looked at shifter took apart shifter ok transmission won't go into drive? very puzzling any suggestions?
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    pfiff_granbypfiff_granby Member Posts: 5
    Even though there are no wires visibly hurt, the wiring harness P/N 82219-0c020 was replaced at the dealers and the damage only became obvious when I looked at the harness which was removed.

    The fact that the transmission will not go into drive, indicates that there may be mechanical damage as well (can't understand what that might be).

    If it is possible, take it to the dealer and have them use their diagnostic equipment to examine the problem. The fact that it is a mouse nest, means that the damage can be covered by your homeowners insurance. The dealer charges are quite expensive but in this case, D.I.Y. is not a good idea,and Homeowners should cover all parts and labor, which in my case exceeded $700.00.
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    lotuselevenlotuseleven Member Posts: 2
    I have a 2005 Toyota Tundra 2wd after I got done changing my oil and checked for leaks I backed my truck out of the driveway and then I put in drive and it would not move and the same for reverse. I hope somebody has a clue as to what is going on. Thank you. dt
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