2009 RAV4, after replacing the drive belt, the break switch gone bad, then the O2 sensor gone bad

I have a 2009 RAV4 and it has only 40,000 miles. Three weeks ago, I took it to a local Toyota dealership for oil change and tire rotation. The service manager told me that it needs the drive belt to be replaced and the oil in the four-wheel drive system needs to be replaced. I accepted his recommendation and have the job done. After paid almost $700, I took the car back. The next week, the engine lost power and did not respond to the gas pedal for a few seconds while I was driving on the highway. This problem occurred on and off while I was driving. In addition, the brake light was on after I had the car fully parked and the car key was out. I took it back to the dealership. After diagnosed, the service manager told me that the “brake switch” has gone bad and it caused the engine lost power because it has a “break safe system”. After paid about $130 to replace the “brake switch”, the problem of engine lost power and won’t respond to the gas pedal was gone. The next week, however, the engine light was on and the warning light of four-wheel drive was on. I took the car back to the dealership again. After diagnosed, this time they said the O2 sensor has gone bad and it caused the engine light on and the four wheel warning sign on. I took the car back again. So I paid another $450 to have the O2 sensor replaced. Now the car seems to be running normal.

May I ask, is this a normal repair and maintenance for a 6 year-old 40,000 miles Toyota RAV4? Or the mechanics damaged the computer system in replacing the drive belt and caused all the unnecessary repairs? Was I cheated? IF so, what will be the proper way to deal with this kind of situation? Thank you for your helps in advance.

Those prices sound outrageous.
$700 for an oil change, tire rotation and some gear oil?
Were there some flushes or “induction cleaning” in that deal?
There’s mostly no need to bring an out-of-warranty car to the dealer.
Time to find a good non-franchise independent mechanic to get your work done.
No way a drive belt change can directly cause the other problems.
However, it’s possible a mechanic working on the car can disturb unrelated parts, especially if he/she is clumsy or hurried.

Thank you Mr. circuitSmith for your feedback. The $700 was for replacing the drive belt and change oil for the four-wheel drive system.

Prices are way too high. As said, check “Mechanics Files” link above for a mechanic in your area.

I presume “change oil for the four-wheel drive system” means the transfer case oil was replaced. On my 4x4 truck that would take about 30, 45 minutes max, and require maybe a couple quarts of 90W, total billing I’d expect would be around $125. I can’t imagine it would be much different for a Rav 4. Probably less gear oil is required than my truck.

By “drive belt” I presume you mean serpentine belt, that would be another 1/2 hour and maybe $50 for the new belt, so figure $100 for that.

Like the others here, I’m having a difficult time figuring out the $700 fee for those two items. It seems too high. Is it possible they did some other tasks too? Did the drive belt service include replacing the tensioner or idler pulleys? Maybe they serviced the front and rear differentials too? CV joints? What does the itemized invoice say they did? I’m thinking they did some other stuff and didn’t inform you of the details, or you didn’t understand what they were saying. Maybe go back, take the invoice, and get some clarification on what exactly they did.

The other problems probably weren’t related, no way to know for sure. It sounds like those are now resolved.

Vehicles out of warranty, the dealership is often not the best place to get them serviced. Especially in urban areas where there are lots of inde mechanics specializing in those makes. Suggest to ask friend, co-workers etc who own Toyotas who they use to service their cars and stop by and interview a few shops, so next time you need help, you’ll know where to go.

A drain and refill on the transfer unit and rear differential aren’t very costly. They must have replaced the transmission fluid also. Customers don’t sweat the details, just the numbers.

I’m having a hard time seeing how a faulty oxygen sensor would cause the 4x4 light to be on

I’ve worked on tons of 4x4 vehicles with bad O2 sensors, and I don’t seem to recall the 4x4 light to be on, as a result of the bad sensor

I’m thinking the 4x4 light was on for a different reason, in this particular situation

perhaps the mechanic actually did something wrong, and caused the 4x4 light to eventually come on. And when he was replacing that sensor he upsold, he corrected the other problem. But never mentioned the other problem, because that might be admitting wrongdoing

perhaps a Toyota tech . . . Steve? . . . can explain how this might come to pass

I think he or she confused the VSC off indicator with the 4 wheel lock indicator.

The tech may have spilled gear oil on the downstream oxygen sensor causing the lack of input to the PCM.

perhaps on both counts

On my own personal car, I once spilled a bit of oil on an oxygen sensor when removing my oil filter. As a matter of fact, the check engine light came on a few miles afterwards, and the code was for that sensor that got oil spilled on it. I cleared the code, cleaned off the sensor as best I could. And that code never came back, and it’s been a few years now.

This is because of the design . . . the oil filter is horizontal, and directly above the sensor.

This was the first oil change I did on that particular car

The next time, I laid a couple of rags over the sensor, before removing the filter

Stay away from that dealer and find a good independent mechanic. They may not be wearing masks…but you are still being robbed.

Thank you, Mr. knfenimore. I did not know the “Mechanics Files” link . I’ll use it.

Mr. Nevada_545 and Mr. db4690:
I think both of you are right. I’ll type in the description of the service this evening for you to see.

Mr. GeorgeSanJose:
Thank you or your response. I’ll type in the description of the service this evening so we can have a better understanding what the mechanics has done to my car.

Replace drive/Serp belt: Parts $82, Labor $132
Flush Coolant: Part $65, Labor $114.95
change fluid in front and rear differential and transfer case assembly: Parts $89.9, Labor 150.05
plus shop supplies and tax,
The drive belt replacement and 4-wheel service total cost $626.82

replace break switch
part $34
labor $66

shop subplies and ect $14.9

total $121.5

O2 sensor replacement

diagnostic check labor $264
O2 sensor $157.14

Shop supplies and ect $39.6

got 10% discount, total cost (+tax) $432.06

The drive belt replacement and 4-wheel service total cost $626.82

You noted above this also included coolant replacement, and since they changed the differential fluid in add’n to the xfer case, those totals seem reasonable (for a dealer shop) to me. You could have probably got a 10-20% discount for the same services at an inde shop.

The brake switch replacement fee looks within reason too. Again it would be a bit less at an inde shop probably.

The O2 sensor fee, can’t really say b/c it depends on how much diagnostic time it took. That seems sort of steep, $264. But like I say, hard to say without knowing what all was involved in the diagnostics. I replaced the O2 sensor on my 20+ year old Corolla 18 months ago, and the part cost $45 and it took about 15 minutes for me to replace, but every vehicle is different on the parts cost and how much time it takes for the job. This is especially true for emissions-related sensors. On newer cars these can be pretty expensive to replace.

I think it is a string of bad luck and the prices are about normal for a dealership. The labor rate is driven by locale. So if this Iowa maybe excessive labor rate however eastern city or california for example seems reasonable.

The real questions are:

  1. Is there any correlation between the broken of the break switch and the work of drive belt replacement, coolant flushing, and fluid changes in front and rear differential and transfer case assembly?
  2. If the answer is no, what is the average life span of a Toyota break switch? Will the broken of a break switch cause the engine lost its power and fail to respond to the gas pedal?
  3. Is there an correlation between the failure of the O2 sensor and the above repairs?
  4. If the answer is no, what is the average life span of the Toyota O2 sensor?
  5. Is there any correlation between the warning light of the 4-wheel drive system and the fluid changes in front and rear differential and transfer case assembly?

Last but not the least, isn’t Toyota very reliable? Does a 6 year-old 40,000 miles RAV4 really require these maintenance and repairs?

I’d like to thank you all in advance for answering my questions.
By the way, I do live in an east-coast suburban area.

It is BRAKE switch not break switch