Do I really need 5th gear?

I have a 99 Rav 4 (2wd) with 245,000 miles. 5th gear went out a couple of months ago so I have been driving in 4th gear while keeping my RPM’s at 2900. I am getting 32 mpg. My question is can I just continue to drive this way, or should I seriously consider getting 5th gear fixed?

You don’t have to get it fixed. 5th usually just gives you better highway mpg with the lower rpms. But if the car is still running perfectly and is generally in good condition, and you want to keep it for a long time still, you might as well get it fixed.

I agree. Repairs would be expensive and you can continue to merrily drive without 5th gear. But if you plan on keeping this car a long time it makes more sense to repair it right away than to change your mind a year from now.

I would like to point out that there is a lot of loose metal in the bottom of the transmission, the remains of the 5th gear. I had this happen to an old Honda I had. I did finish the drive, Atlanta to Tampa, and found a repair shop once I got home. They found a lot of sizable metal in the bottom, captured by a magnet. But, the mechanic told me that the magnet wasn’t perfect, and you did not want a piece of that metal popping loose, and getting into the remaining gears.

If you plan on keeping it, seriously, get it fixed. Just stay away form AAMCO transmission. Some are OK, others are butchers.

Busted Knuckles is right, when a gear ‘goes out’ it means there’s metal pieces in the gearbox, not good. If you want it to last for a good amount of time, have it fixed (edit-repaced with a used one, as suggested by Manolito), it won’t cost much more than having the tranny removed and cleaned out.

If it were mine, with that mileage, I would drive it as it is. If it fails and you intend to drive the car a lot further, I would put a junk yard tranny in it along with a fresh clutch. Paying a tranny shop to rebuild a manual transmission on a high-mileage car is rarely cost-effective.

This is a pretty common failure on RAV4s. There are some posts on rav4world that detail how the 5th gear can be replaced without removing the transmission; should you choose to get it fixed (I wouldn’t), you could print those out and show them to your mechanic.

If you watch how you park you could probably get away without reverse.

Judging by the pictures in that forum and the symptoms reported by the members, it looks like it’s not the gear that’s failing but the syncronizer/engagement dogs. A gear shifter that moves in and out of gear when the vehicle transfers from drive to coast usually means that the side thrust of the helical gear teeth is moveing the gear itself back and forth and the shifting forks along with it. As the gear gets enough end play, the back and forth movement eventually pulls the gear out of the syncronizer.

Something real similar happened to my old Datsun 620 pickup truck. I replaced the worn parts only to have the problem return after only about 60,000 miles. Finally fixed it for good by putting a mainshaft from a 720 pickup in that transmission which had left handed threads on the nut that held the gear on the shaft as well as having a proper interference fit between the gear’s inner bearing race and shaft.

If you fixed it, how long would you keep it? If it’s several years, get it fixed. Otherwise, just let it die on it’s own schedule.