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Transmission work at a dealer

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Smash Williams, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. Smash Williams

    Smash Williams Well-Known Member

    In the grand tradition of SportsJournalists.com car threads, I bring to you... another car thread.

    I've got a 2002 Toyota Rav4 with 104,000 miles on it, and the automatic transmission has been a bitch for the past two weeks. I first noticed a really clunky shift into reverse and from first to second gear, and then it started freaking out when at low speeds and accelerating from stops. It would jerk forward 5-10 times before finally seeming to catch and drive normally. It drives great once I get it above third gear and stay there, but unfortunately, nearly 100 percent of my driving is stop-and-go since my city lacks major highways.

    The fist thing I did was take it to an Amaco for a free transmission check, and the guy there told me he couldn't feel the clunky shift but he could hear the planetary gear, whatever that is, grinding in first gear, and that the transmission fluid was awful. He said it would require a rebuilt transmission for at least $2,800 and recommended looking at new/used cars instead of putting that amount of work into it. He told me to bring it to a dealer cold for the trade in (since it doesn't clunk nearly as bad when cold) and to not change the fluid.

    Then I did some online research and found out a bunch of Rav4s from 01-03 have transmission problems, so much so that Toyota has issued an extended warranty for 10 years/150,000 miles to cover transmission/ECM issues. The ECM is apparently a little computer that somehow governs the transmission though I'm not quite clear how. My car is in that window by about 8 months, so it's going into the dealer Monday.

    My two questions are this - given the extended warranty terms I printed off, Toyota gets to examine the car and tell me whether it's just the computer or whether the transmission is also part of the problem. They can replace either the computer or the computer and the transmission. Given what the Amaco guy told me, I'm pretty sure it needs the transmission, but I don't trust them to give me that without some convincing. Is there a way to convince dealer shops that the transmission is indeed fucked and they owe me a new one?

    Also, I've never had work done at a dealer shop before. Are there things I need to know in terms avoiding work I don't really need done?
  2. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    The first thing you need to know when going to a dealership is this: repeat after me "Don't give me that bullshit."

    If the trasmission is giving you troubles and you've never really serviced it, go to Advanced, O'Reilly, AutoZone, CSK, NAPA or whatever you have and get a bottle of Lucas Transmission Fix (or similar product, I like all of Lucas' stuff). Ask the guys there what they think or if they've got any suggestions.
  3. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Active Member

    Get ready to hear a lot of BS from the dealer. Some will do the right thing. But many are being run by bottom-line service managers, whose job is protect their precious service profits - usually enticed by a nice bonus if they do so - at all costs.

    Search your area/region for a good independent transmission place. If you're that convinced it's merely the transmission and not the computer, the little guys will worry about what actually needs to be fixed, keep the BS to a minimum and not try so hard to fill the ticket.
  4. Smash Williams

    Smash Williams Well-Known Member

    The only reason I'm taking it to a dealer in the first place is this repair should be covered by warranty, and the terms of that warranty say the work has to be done by a Toyota dealer.

    From my understanding of this issue, the computer is always a problem. It's programed improperly and somehow screws up the transmission by putting too much stress on the gears over time (or something). The question is whether the recent bucking is just the computer going bananas or whether the computer has already screwed up the transmission to the point of no return.

    My plan is if the dealer doesn't replace the transmission for free, I'll take the car to a transmission place when I get it back and have them check it out to see if there's additional damage I need to get fixed. Then I can either go back to the dealer with that as ammunition and try to convince them it's also covered or I can just pay the transmission guys to do it.

    But I'd really rather the dealer just replace the transmission tomorrow so I don't have to deal with all the hassle.
  5. MacDaddy

    MacDaddy Active Member

    It's also worth noting that just because Aamco says the transmission needs replacement/rebuilding it's not necessarily the case.
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