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Toyota Avalon 2005+ Transmission Questions



  • loliverloliver Posts: 2
    I wish that was it, but no I only have the key and the remote. That is all! I have tlked to other people in my town and they have had the same problem in their Toyota Tundra truck and a minivan. If anyone has any info I would greatly appreciate it.
  • camaddencamadden Posts: 8
    Gosh, yes I have 'cause I had heard that it worked for some people but not for me. My husband drove the vehicle all of last weekend (he rarely drives my car) and was surprised by the behavior. I just escalated my concern to Toyota corporate headquarters. They acknowledge that they have received hundreds of calls on this issue and to quote them "the transmission works in a way that most people are not accustomed to". "Accustomed to" ??? Give me a break. I've been driving for 25 years and have never experienced anything like this. Toyota is walking away from this issue; very disappointing. She suggested arbitration so that's where I'm headed. Thanks for your suggestion, though.
  • oregonoregon Posts: 9
    Just to confirm this TSB from Toyota - just bought a 2006 Avalon XLS with the same steering column noise. The service manager pulled the Steering TSB and we now have a new assembly on order to be installed. Problem?? Something about the tolerances being wrong and some units slipped thru Quality Control. I'm just happy it can be fixed. I thought I would have to live with it and just crank up the stereo!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Misery loves company...???

    Take note that owners of the new AWD Lexus GS series seem to be reporting the same engine/transaxle hesitation/delay symptom as has existed in the ES and Camry since the 2002 model year.
  • chodiechodie Posts: 13
    I have the hesitation in my transmission. I have talked to my service manager 3 times and to toyota by phone many times and the answer is that it is normal. My answer is "this problem is a real safety issue and toyoto needs to do its best to correct". No results from Toyota or dealer. I have had three Avalons, but this is my last unless Toyota resolves the problem.
  • captain2captain2 Posts: 3,971
    IMO, of course, but wouldn't worry too much about tranny issues - it has nothing to do with the trans itself but rather the way it is programmed to select gears - an FE thing that seems to put the trans in the highest gear possible. This creates a 'hesitation' on heavy reapplication of throttle from lower speeds. Since the software that does this must be shared with all Toyotas so equipped, the DBW hesitation should exist with not only Avs. but also Siennas, RAVs etc. and possibly even the 6 speed Camry and the 07 Av. From personal experience, do not find it objectionable, have 'adjusted' my driving style to compensate for the transmission behavior so it very rarely happens - and I would rather 'put up' with this condition than give a few mpgs back.
    The 3.5 2GR engine has not had any documented issues from a reliability standpoint and is actually the best part of the whole car. It is, by nature, slightly noisier than the old belt driven OHC 3.0 and 3.3 engines it replaced. The clicking noise you hear at idle is actually the direct feul injection. In slightly modified forms this engine is now in not only Avs, Camrys and RAVs but now about every Lexus model.
    The Camry transmission problems are in fact a manufacturing defect (snap ring) and apparently effected just a few hundred that had Japan assembled trannies. Haven't heard anything about any transmission programming issues though, so the behavior may be better in the 07 Av.
    Whether these 'problems' effect sales remains to be seen -things like this sure didn't hurt Honda very much a couple of years ago after a bout of tranny failures (overheating) in Accord V6s and TLs.
    Have had my Av for well over a year now (28k) and think it is the best car I've ever owned - but maybe that's just me?
  • captain2captain2 Posts: 3,971
    I have the hesitation in my transmission
    Yep, and so does everybody else. And so do drivers of many, many other cars on the road that are afflicted with this DBW stuff. Would imagine that the VW, Ford, and MB dealers will give you the same 'it is working normally' BS - except that is not BS. Not to excuse Toyota for a substandard software implementation, but something that may not be fixable because it is not a mechanical problem. A few mfgrs. (Honda/Nissan come to mind) seem to do a bit better tuning these drivability issues out of DBW. Sounds contrite - but in mnay ways, the price of technology and the price of progress.
    Have found that a more gradual acceleration technique from lower speeds effectively stops the 'hesitation'. Driving the car 'all-on or all-off' confuses the silly computer and 'creates' the hesitation as it trys to 'adapt' to that driving style.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Yet again.

    The problem is NOT due to the use of DBW.

    I can assure you that the DBW system in my 2001 Porsche C4 works perfectly well, as I suspect all DBW systems coupled with manual transmissions wherein the driver is reponsible for current, or next gear slection, and appropreate application, use of, the clutch pedal.

    The problem arises when the engine/transaxle firmware must take on the responsibility of "guessing" what you, as the driver, will next do.

    Do you intend, will you, come to a full stop, or will you begin to accelerate before coming to a full stop. Regretably Toyota?lexus' firmware assumes you will come to a full stop.

    Put the clutch pedal back in, non-operative, and the firmware will get it right every time.

    Think about it, with the clutch pedal in you can be in any gear you wish in preparation....
  • alan_salan_s Posts: 362
    This of course, is now of only forensic interest to me, but I think the transmission is only partly the issue. In my ex-Avalon, when the accelerator was depressed even with the transmission in Park or Neutral, there was a delay in engine response. In some circumstances. this combined with the transmission hesitation could cause close to a 2 second delay between throttle input and vehicle response. I experimented with the throttle position, but the DBW system seemed to "relearn" the gas pedal "home" position, compensate and reintroduce the lag. I had attributed this to the DBW system.

    I have found the Honda and Nissan systems to be much "tighter" in their responses and they don't feel any different than a conventional system. I am extremely curious as to why Toyota would continue to propagate this, even if it affects, as they claim, only a small percentage of vehicles.

    Perhaps the complex "adaptive" and anticipatory multi-map logic employed by Toyota is just not the right solution. It seems that a fast-responding reactive system is better in real life situations, and this is easily achievable with the speed of modern processes.

    One more thing, did a NOVA really get Apollo 11 to the moon?
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    I think we have found through pretty exhaustive discussion on this topic that the problem can range from a minor nuisance (what you are describing) to a downright safety issue (chodie's description). Not every vehicle seems to have the hesitation to the same degree.
  • captain2captain2 Posts: 3,971
    scoti1 - would suggest to you, as I posted earlier, that 90% of us Av owners out there do not find it terribly bothersome and that, of those that do, the inability of the system to adapt to an all-on/all-off driving style is likely the culprit. The Avalon simply does not respond correctly to sudden throttle changes from lower speeds, make it a firm (but gradual) application of throttle and the problem 'disappears'. Wwest is correct, there are certainly livable DBW systems out there and there are also many that, in one form or another, are even worse. But, either way, it would make no sense that one Avalon would be different from another - until it has had a chance to 'learn' something that it can't cope with.
    From my point of view, the jury is certainly still out on all this electronic control crappola being put into all cars these days. It will get worse before it gets better and is certainly something we all will have to live with.
  • oilcan2oilcan2 Posts: 120
    Don't want to sound silly but if there is some time/mileage
    point where the trans stops learning and doesn't learn any
    more,than maybe we need to get trainers for these transmissions,have someone whose trans is perfect train
    your car for you.I wonder if we had all the posters with
    problem transmissions switch there cars with the non-problem ones and let those drivers train their cars what
    would actually occur.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    There could, of course, be a quite reasonable explanation for engine response to the accelerator pedal while in park or neutral. Were I writing the control firmware in this case I might delay the onset so as to be sure of the driver's intent.

    Application of pressure to the acceleration pedal while in park or neutral would in most cases be an anomaly, Ooops, bumped the pedal and only sustained application "should" be responded too.

    And no, I never heard that Nova story/rumor but there is the one about a clone of Ken Olsen's 16-bit off-spring rescuing the pioneer 10 program as the probe exited the solar system.
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676

    If you follow wwest's posts on this and other boards, you will see that the hesitation does not appear to be a transmission learning issue. Wwest has looked into this and found that the learning resets itself everytime you start the car and makes judgements on your driving style within the first few minutes of driving. I am completely non-technically trained so I am sure wwest can explain this better. but if this weren't the case, how could you ever have multiple drivers on one car, especially rental cars?
  • oilcan2oilcan2 Posts: 120
    Guess I'm trying to establish what the difference is from
    one avalon fron another,assuming no mechanical problem,it
    would be interesting to get a driver who has a so called
    perfect av trans(even if it's in his mind)to drive a problem one and see if he has any luck with the trans.
  • Hi oilcan2,

    This difference may be among drivers; not cars. Numerous Avalon drivers who had "hesitation" problems were able to improve their car's response by changing the position of the foot on the gas pedal.

    Changing their foot position seems to have worked also for readers who drive other car brand with similar problems. See

    #11794 How do YOU step on the gas pedal? Initial Poll Results

    and many following posts.

  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    Yes, that would be a good experiment and would help glean information on whether it is completely a driving-style issue or one that is mechanical or software related in a certain number of vehicles. I know some drivers with the problem have been able to drive similar models and not experience the same problem, so my opionion is that, while the problem may be exacerbated by driving style, it is not the root of the problem.
  • camaddencamadden Posts: 8
    So, I guess that I'm in good company ! Just wish that I had done more research before I bought. I'll know better next time. Thanks for the info.
  • neil5neil5 Posts: 118
    today in for 5k service. I asked them to check out my tranny, even though I have not had bad performance occasional slippage on turns. They are checking for service up dates, softwareupdates and roadtesting the vehicle and doing computer check...I live next door to head manager at dealership so I will let you know what comes up. Happy with the Avalon..far better than 07 camry I have been driving today...not as large or refined...I'll keep the Av...
  • gohawaiiangohawaiian Honolulu, HawaiiPosts: 84
    My month-old Avalon occasionally (not always) does something that feels odd to me. I'm wondering if it's normal & something that other owners have also experienced: when I take my foot off the gas pedal, it sometimes feels as if the car has downshifted into a lower gear, because there is a slight feeling of drag or resistance slowing the car down a little (rather than just continuing to coast along as if the car were in neutral.) Is this slight engine-braking (if that's what it is) a cause for concern? Has anyone else noticed this?
  • Yes, this can happen, for example if you are driving down a hill, and is no reason for concern. When you take the foot off the gas this means that you want to continue at same speed or slower. If you are going down a hill, the car could gain a lot of speed even if you don't give it any gas. So when you take your foot off the gas pedal and your Avalon responds by downshifting, this helps to resist the gravitational acceleration and keeps the speed under control.

    If you prefer to let the car gain speed down a hill, and don't like this automatic downshift feature, you can usually override it by shifting manually into "S" and nudge it into 5th gear. If traveling at a slow speed, nudge it into the next gear up from the gear that is engaged.

  • gohawaiiangohawaiian Honolulu, HawaiiPosts: 84
    Thanks, Havalong. That's a real surprise. I have never felt a car doing that before. When did cars begin downshifting like that by themselves? Is this phenomenon now commmon on most new cars, or just recent Toyotas? My car downshifts by itself not only going downhill, but frequently on level roads, where the downshift seems clearly inappropriate. On level pavement, after 5 seconds or so, the car will shift back to the proper "drive" gear, as though the computer has belatedly figured out that the downshift was a mistake. I find it quite disconcerting especially if there's no downhill incline and therefore no reason for it to downshift. (I wonder if this may be a case of too much electronics for the car's own good, causing it to go a little haywire occasionally.)
  • Hmmm. gohawaiian, you may be experiencing the "sometimes indecisive transmission" behavior. Watching your RPM may tell more. My car selects the highest possible gear but downshifts when the RPM drop below 1400 or so. Then if the speed picks up a bit or the slope changes, it may downshift again. It normally doesn't shift up and down very frequently unless the terrain calls for it.

    Is this happening to you while in "D"? Have you tried shifting to "S" and 5? This seems to help reduce indecisive shifting.

  • gohawaiiangohawaiian Honolulu, HawaiiPosts: 84
    Thanks havalong. As I'm not familiar with a 5 speed automatic, maybe it is just doing exactly what it is supposed to do. The sensation of resistance or drag that I sometimes feel on level pavement occurs when I take my foot off the gas at speeds under 40 mph. I watched the RPM indicator as you suggested and did not see it move up at those times when I feel the drag or resistance, so the car is probably NOT downshifting. As I mentioned, though, after several seconds like that, the slight feeling of resistance disappears and at that moment, I see the RPM needle fall from about 1400 to about 1100. I wonder if maybe the car, while at speeds under 40 mph, has been in 4th, and as it slows down & coasts when I take my foot off the pedal, could it shortly thereafter be upshifting into 5th? Would that be the expected behavior of the transmission as the car coasts on a level road and its speed falls? If so, that would explain the feeling of drag that shortly afterwards disappears when the RPM needle drops. If that's all it is, then I guess the only question I have is whether all Avalons do that & it is completely normal? Thanks!
  • neil5neil5 Posts: 118
    Well some good news and top of the heap:\

    The safest Vehicle out there for side impact.
  • camaddencamadden Posts: 8
    Thanks. I would apprecate any info that you can get as i am in the process of formally filing my dispute.
  • bobwileybobwiley Posts: 241
    The infamous auto trans problem jumped up and bit me. I have an 06 Avalon Limited with 3,500 miles. Living in the Ozarks, I usually use the "manual" mode as I go up & down the hills leading to our sub-division. The other day I left it in the auto position and after slowing down and checking for traffic, I stepped on the gas and the RPM's shot up to over 3,000 and the car then lurched forward. Need less to say I was thankful that there wasn't any on-coming traffic. this happened on my way to the dealer to get the oil changed. Since that episode, it has happened on 3 other occasions--all while in the auto mode and after slowing down and then stepping on the gas to go. Of course, the dealer couldn't duplicate. I found a website for those who want to complain to the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA)) The website is can view complaints to the NHTSA on any number of cars. NHTSA website is There IS a problem with the auto trans and before someone gets hurt, Toyota needs to address the issue--so here's a great avenue to let your feelings be known.
  • doxondoxon Posts: 5
    I'll look into that website. The jerking and just plain over reving occurs a few times per day with my 06 limited. All Toyota will tell me is that I need to learn how to drive the Avalon. They have a document that spells out exacly when and when not to "ever gently" press the accelerator in specific conditions. What a joke.
  • bobwileybobwiley Posts: 241
    doxon: The F-150 I traded and my wife's Grand Cherokee Ltd "NEVER" had transmissions do anything like what I experienced with our Limited. In fact, I've been driving over 50 years and other than a "slipping" automatic, I have never experienced anything like the Avalon's quirky tranny.. Love the Avalon--however--from now on, I'll be very skeptical about stepping on the gas--unless--I get the "Tell it All" document from Toyota on how to completely change my driving habits to "learn how" to drive an automatic the Toyota way! What a CROCK--Toyota has a "major" problem with the Avalon tranny and the more people who report this through the NHTSA the better.
  • magrezzamagrezza Posts: 11
    I have to agree--and disagree. I am 42, have owned about 16 cars since I was 16, and own an '06 Avalon Limited, early production model. YOU DO HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO DRIVE THIS CAR. I am not saying that it should rev to 3,00 rpm suddenly, which is possibly another issue, altogether. At the same time, due to the way this transmission is programmed to give exceptional performance, combined with outstanding gas mileage, it is a bit tricky at first.

    These are my suggestions.

    1. Never drive in "stop and go" traffic in the "auto" mode--I always use "2". The reason is that your transmission will re-program itself, interpreting crawling motion as a "driving habit", which no one has. In my case this effect is worse, since I am, admittedly, an extremely agressive driver.

    2. Learn when the transmission shifts automatically, and avoid accelerating in city traffic if it about to downshift. This is what causes that "herky-jerky" feel. Try to always wait for shifts BEFORE pressing the accelerator. For example, if you are slowing down/braking, and then need to suddenly accelerate, if the car is about to downshift, and you press the gas, it will jerk forward.

    3. NEVER, EVER put anything less than 91 octane in this car. 93 is better, and preferred, and will improve driving experience NOTICEABLY. For you money misers who are too cheap to by premium gas, I honestly suggest selling the car, and buying something else. This makes a MAJOR difference. I was forced to buy cheap gas one day, and felt as if I had changed my car, as it was jerking all over the place, and completely unable to shift smoothly. NEVER 87 OCTANE. NEVER, EVER.

    4. If your driving style is very passive, the "herky-jerky" effect is worse. The tranny shifts very early, and often too soon. Consider accelerating fast every once in a while, to keep shifts more delayed. Remember, this car is smarter than you are, and knows what you do, a WILL second guess your driving.

    5. In time this does get easier. I was frustrated when I first got my car, but now, after about 8K, I don't even notice shifting.

    All of this might sound like too much trouble, however, I have never, ever bought a car that I didn't have to "learn" to drive--BMW, Mercedes, VW, etc. Remember, these are machines that are not perfect. Get to know your car, be patient, and, it will get better.

    Last of all, on another subject. I THREW OUT MY CRAPPY MICHELIN TIRES LAST WEEKEND, and put on Yokohama Advan S4's, 225/55/17. I FEEL LIKE I HAVE A NEW CAR. Traction is dramatically better, I can corner faster, and the car drivers more like a BMW or Mercedes. I had them up to 115 mph last week on the highway (for only about 10 seconds), and the car felt as stable as if it were at 50 mph. Toyota is cheating us with such crappy tires on such a great car.
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