Transmission Acting Weird

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So, when it comes to automatic transmissions I am semi-literate. I know enough to know that I don't trust them. Now I've got a strange problem that I would like to run by you guys. My 2013 RAV4 in my sig has started to shift strange. I drive 120 miles round-trip from Lynchburg to Charlottesville VA and back for work each day. If you are familiar with Route 29 you'll know there are a ton of rolling hills. Recently, when going up hills I have started to notice one of the two scenarios that are both disconcerting: Scenario #1: While at highway speeds, the car will downshift to 4th going up a hill. When it gets to the top, it will either shift to 3rd or just free wheel (hard to tell) and rev to the limiter at 6500 rpm, then drop back into 5th or 6th. Scenario #2: Same situation, but the car shifts to 3rd over a larger hill. At the top, it will shift from 3rd, go to the rev limiter, drop to 4th, go to the rev limiter and then drop into overdrive. It is shifting like this almost all the time now at highway speeds. I had the fluid changed w/Toyota ATF and Lubeguard Red at 38k. It sees mostly highway miles. I will occasionally tow a small utility trailer with it, but I keep the loads very light and use the "Sport" setting to keep it out of OD. What do you think is going on? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 
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Almost 30K on that fluid. First thing I'd consider is changing it. Pan drop at least. See what you got. though at 30K miles I wouldn't expect a quality to fluid to go south. Low on fluid? Contamination with another fluid like glycol?
 
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So the upshift from 4 to 5 or 3 to 4 is slow to the point the lower gear is disengaged before the higher gear in engaged letting the engine rev. I know rolling hills can be hard on an automatic transmission with the repetitive downshifting and upshifting going on usually with a lot of throttle. This is extra bad with cruise control as it's a lot less gentle than your foot and won't tolerate losing a few mph as you go up the hill to avoid a downshift.
 
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At only 67k in a Toyota there is no need for trans additives. I would do a drain and refill on the transmission and repeat a couple times at 5k intervals. Had a friend with a transmission problem similar to yours, he did 3 pan drop and refills and it was good for 150k after that. No additives. Do you have a manual mode in the trans? If so it will pay to start using it. If the new fluid doesn't fix the problem it might be a sensor...so the above suggestion to find a shop will come into play.
 
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I had a lot of trouble with the tranny/AWD system in my 2006 RAV4. Not so much with behavior, but my "lifetime" tranny fluid was looking bad before 60k and then I had a leak develop just after 60k. I can't remember exactly where the problem was, but a pretty hefty coupler for a shaft had a major crack in it and the owner of the independent Toyota specialist I took it to claimed that this was a common problem due to the nature of the AWD system...he said it sent power only to the front wheels until it sensed slippage, then would abruptly transfer all that power to the rear. I felt this myself the first few times I turned on ice and the V6 brought the rear around with some authority...hitting the "4WD" button was the best way to fix this, but only up to 25mph. The shop owner claimed that they had seen damage just from the front wheels of AWD Toyotas hitting a wet stop stripe on a road, causing the power to shift to the rear too quickly. This was a roughly $3500 repair for me. Your issue may be totally unrelated, but I think it'd be worth having an expert examine your AWD-related hardware closely.
 

SF0059

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Thanks for the input, all. It is no longer under warranty, so there is no reason to take it to a dealer. Checking the fluid level is a service anyways since it is sealed, so I'm having the ATF replaced tomorrow by a indy Toyota specialist. I'm also going to have them look over the AWD system for any issues... I'm not sure what has changed there since the previous generation but it is worth looking at. My gut feeling is it is not the fluid as it has less than 30k on it. New fluid will no doubt help, but I wonder if it will come back in another 20-25k miles. We shall see. I'm a father of new twins with a serious commute... definitely don't have the bandwidth to put up with this for too long.
 
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The lubegard probably doesn't have any effect on this. It's not 100% snake oil, it has some benefits when added to lesser fluids because it contains anti oxidants, anti wear additives, lxe esters and a small amount of friction modifier.
 

SF0059

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PS: Let me address squawking about the Lubeguard. The red has no friction modifiers so at the very most it would make no difference. It has been used without damage countless times, so lets not make this about additive-hating.
 

SF0059

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Originally Posted By: 901Memphis
The lubegard probably doesn't have any effect on this. It's not 100% snake oil, it has some benefits when added to lesser fluids because it contains anti oxidants, anti wear additives, lxe esters and a small amount of friction modifier.
Ha, you said it right before I could!
 
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I would not use the sport mode as it will keep revs higher and not lock the TQ, which puts a lot more heat into the ATF. I would also use the manual mode and disable the cruise control to prevent the engine bouncing off of the rev limiter. Those high RPMs cannot be good on the clutch packs hen the gear finally engages.
 
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Go to a trusted Toyota Dealer and tell your Service Advisor your issues and have him record it into the system and print out a copy for you for your records. It may only need new ATF and it will solve the problem, but that "fix" may wind up being temporary so you need the paperwork that you had an issue before the Warranty is up. Then let them do what they need to do, and pick up the keys when they are done.
 
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Originally Posted By: SF0059
My gut feeling is it is not the fluid as it has less than 30k on it. New fluid will no doubt help, but I wonder if it will come back in another 20-25k miles. We shall see. I'm a father of new twins with a serious commute... definitely don't have the bandwidth to put up with this for too long.
If it does return simply repeating the fluid exchange will keep it going; there is always some old fluid left inside when a drain and fill is performed. IS there a manual mode?
 

SF0059

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Originally Posted By: Kuato
IS there a manual mode?
Yes, it does have a manual mode. I will try it out tonight on the commute home and see what the transmission does. Also, for clarification of the other questions, there is no warranty on the vehicle. I have a local mechanic who was factory trained Toyota master tech, so it will be going to him. I'll keep you all posted!
 
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Originally Posted By: SF0059
Originally Posted By: Kuato
IS there a manual mode?
Yes, it does have a manual mode. I will try it out tonight on the commute home and see what the transmission does. Also, for clarification of the other questions, there is no warranty on the vehicle. I have a local mechanic who was factory trained Toyota master tech, so it will be going to him. I'll keep you all posted!
Awesome; then just keep it in the gear you need all the way up the hill....no shifting at all.
 

SF0059

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So yesterday I drove home 65 miles through the hills all in manual mode. Even in manual mode, it would jump to redline before dropping into overdrive. I did come to the conclusion that the problem is with shifting from 3rd or 4th into 5th. 6th seems fine. The only way I could keep it from revving on the shift was to wait to drop into 5th until I was literally coasting down the backside of the hill. If you are giving it any throttle at all when you shift it starts wigging out. I'm hoping that it is a solenoid, shift servo, or something of that nature. I dropped it off with my mechanic last night, will keep this thread updated... In other news, I started looking at car websites last night just in case. Dangerous...
 
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Sounds like something is amiss. Given how Toyota thinks the the ATF is "good for life" and how many seem to go much farther than you on original fluid, I'm going to take a stab that it's not the ATF. Not unless if it got somehow low (and then I'd think it'd be doing it all the time). Methinks it's more serious than that. Pure swag but... maybe with some luck it's just a sticky solenoid. Lots of stuff has to happen for any given shift, so perhaps you just have a bad solenoid.
 
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