2008 Toyota RAV4 won't run -- Transmission related?

sheridanosheridano Member Posts: 1
edited February 2015 in Toyota
Hi guys,
I'm new to the forums, but looking for some advice or maybe someone who's experienced similar problem.

Keeping it short, I own a 2008 Toyota Rav4 with 130k miles. I just recently bought it from another owner, the first owner.

The other day, I was driving on the highway coming into Albuquerque, where I live, and my car basically felt like it went into neutral even though it was in drive and stopped accelerating. The engine was still running, but basically it would just rev and stopped moving forward.

So I can turn the car off, and the car will run for about 30 seconds to a minute and then it will again just slip into neutral at some point and stop accelerating. It's not shifting hard or surging or jumping, and I've never had ANY transmission problems whatsoever in the past. It literally just from one moment to next stopped working. My dad's thoughts since it can drive if I turn it off and start it again is maybe it's temperature related? Like when the car gets warmed up some sensor stops working? Maybe it's electronic related? ECU/ECM? Solenoid?

So I tried topping off transmission fluid, and that didn't work. I tried disconnecting the battery to reset the computer (AutoZone employee's advice), that didn't work either. I took it to the Toyota Dealership (not a good idea), and the engineer suggested three transmission flushes, and that didn't work either. Of course Toyota charged me and then later told me that they don't do transmission work and that they think it's something internal, but they couldn't diagnose it. They suggested I get a new transmission from them for 5k dollars (of course, again), so I had it towed to my house.

Basically I'm a younger guy with not a lot of income, even getting this car took everything I had, and I need this car to work. With tow and dealership charges, it's starting to suck me dry, so I wanted to get you guy's advice before I made another move. I don't want to take it to a transmission shop and have them charge me to diagnose it and then it's not transmission related.

So to sum up, it's a 2008 Toyota Rav 4 with 130k miles, 4 cylinder, Automatic Transmission. Car will start, run for 30 seconds to a minute (and can drive forward in that time), and then will suddenly go into neutral (it doesn't even feel like it shifts), and will stop accelerating, though engine stays on. There also does seem to be a strange electric buzzing coming from under my hood. And no transmission leaks or any previous bad transmission signs AT ALL.

Have any of you had a similar problem? Any advice for me? I want to know what's wrong with it before I commit to spending so much money on work. Should I take it to a transmission shop? An import shop? Try and find a specialist? I'd like to rule out the dealership if possible, they were very rude and not helpful at all.

Thank you guys so much,
Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. I'm desperate!

Albuquerque, NM


  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Member Posts: 5,600
    You need a transmission shop, transmission specialist to look into this for you. You can find one by using the shop/technician locator in the iATN. http://www.iatn.net/ The usual expectation is that a transmission control issue results in at least one forward gear still operating as a limp in function and reverse. However there are some cars now that do go into neutral exactly as you have described. Unfortunately by the time you are experiencing these symptoms what started out as something that could be fixed by a module repair often requires an internal transmission repair as well.

    As far as the dealer where all they can do is replace the transmission instead of repairing it, follow the dollars. It's cheaper for them to employ some people who can replace he units (and more profitable with less liability) then it is to have people who can diagnose, disassemble and repair things like transmissions, engines etc.
  • ChrisPChrisP Member Posts: 1
    I have the exact same problem right now. Stops accelerating when on drive. Electrical buzzing sound. Anyway, I was just wondering if you got this solved. And what was the problem.

    Thank you.
  • count_mia2count_mia2 MassachusettsMember Posts: 1
    edited December 2020
    My 2010 4cyl. Rav4 2.5l (2AR-FE), Transmission type: U140f has sudden onset of serious drivability symptoms with NO Check Engine Light. Had this car 6yrs, 2nd owner, all maintenance up-to-date, car babied NOW out of warranty! Suddenly, other day aft driving 1.3ml, my car slows and tranny's not engaging. I pulled to road side, parked and tried moving shifter to diff positions, car revs only, cant shift into gear, towed home. Mechanic says its in Fail-Safe or Limp-Mode (mimics tranny problem). Night bf no symptoms yet wild weather: High winds, high humidity then temp drops w/ snow -Seen weather effect older cars / sensors.. ( I drive mostly local, short trips, at low speeds) So next day many diff tests incl. battery, alternator which test good, and battery was disconnected over-night (drain memory of bad data), and new gas cap. The OBD2+ scanner shows all normal, in closed loop "live" data is all good, yet a "pending code" is saved to ECU / ECM -not sure how long ago- C1241 per alldata chart = "Brake control, Differential." So days later drive it about 4mls (20mph to 35mph max) no noise, no shuddering, no shimmying, no other symptoms, (smooth as usual) then it starts to bc slow or sluggish changing gears (aft 3.5mls) so head home slowly (about .5ml) and park shut off then (attempting to move back a few ft) start again, placed in reverse, engine revs but wont engage, moving shifter to neutral and back to reverse then extremely loud BANG, car jumps back few inches. Now OBD2 live data still all normal and NO MIL - Malfunction Indicator Lamp, or DTC - Diagnostic Trouble Code, or even another Pending Code (2nd time triggers a MIL or engine light). How Toyota's many sensors don't trigger a fault code. All req'd recalls are complete / NONE OPEN. While I noticed one Rav4 Recall is for "Growling noise" from the differential at 40+ mph, (at least proves some problem with differential) but I never had that symptom (maybe due to lack of speed) it seems that recall was completed -not still open (my car on list).. That solution is described as an update, upgrade or re-calibration of ECM to correct a problem with Differential -which is linked to tranny. I do wonder if that "solution" is req'd at diff intervals per mileage or a manufacturers secret which hides future codes based on mileage. Scary is to go to shop w/no idea what's wrong and now scarier is going to dealer. Don't want to seem skeptical, but I see (FBI investigation) shows Toyota w/help of dealers, will hide defects even deadly ones while dealers will call all symptoms "Normal."

  • ErincelErincel Member Posts: 1

    My brother is having this exact same problem. Did any of you come up with a solution or repair that fixed the problem?

  • KC7NOAKC7NOA Member Posts: 1

    Same problem here too ... its like it warms up and refuses to grab

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