Rav4 demise?

I have a 2003 Toyota Rav 4 Sport with 160,000 miles. I take good care of it, as it does me. All of a sudden, while driving on CA freeway, it seemed to slip out of gear into neutral–no power when accelerator pressed to the floor. The power came back quickly, but this happened again the next day, with no apparent cause. I took it to my mechanic and, as I drove the surface streets, there was a knocking sound. My mechanic said the initial problem was a transmission issue and referred me to another mechanic. And, he said the knocking may be a thrown rod(?). The second mechanic confirmed the first guy’s transmission assessment (he’s a transmission specialist, so of course, he’d see a transmission issue) and said he’d need to fix that before addressing the knocking. And, he said to fix the transmission (including replacing the computer that drives the tranny) would cost about $5K. The Blue Book on the car is just about $5K, so I’m wondering if I should move on or invest in what’s there.

A failed transmission on a vehicle with 160K miles on it along with a knocking noise from who knows where? I’d move on.

Five grand on a replacement vehicle is a pretty hefty down payment.


So sad, but before a trans figure out the knocking noise, if a broken rod no sense spending money on the trans. A trans fluid change and filter and maybe miricale in a can would be my first thought.

I agree completely with what Tester stated, but I will be more blunt…

Why in the world would somebody even contemplate sinking a minimum of $5k into a 12 year old car with 160k miles and the possibility of additional mechanical issues?

Also, when the OP gets his next car, he should consider also getting a new mechanic.
If the knocking problem was “a thrown rod”, the engine would have stopped working a millisecond after that noise was first heard, and there would have been a huge puddle of oil underneath the car where the engine’s oil leaked after the “thrown rod” penetrated the side of the engine block.

That diagnosis is clearly wrong, although I suspect that the engine is suffering from excess wear to the bearings–which is also ominous in nature.

The only fix I would consider is maybe a used engine+transmission swap from a local junkyard if you could get that done for maybe $2500. That could buy you a few more years. But $5k to fix the tranny isn’t worth it.

What EXACTLY did the guy say was wrong with the transmission that would cause a knock or did he just say that you have a bad transmission and that was the end of the discussion?
If this is an automatic transmission I’m having a hard time seeing a knock in something like that unless it was the differential gears.

Any chance this could be a failing halfshaft?

Take it to a dealer, have it evaluated then decide if you want to fix it. These guts are guessing. If it’s cheap enough , go for it. Otherwise, too many issues to fix.

Have you checked the transmission fluid level? When it gets borderline low you can lose coupling briefly. It could be that simple.

The trade in value of your car is near zero. The retail value wouldn’t be near $5,000. The repairs needed are subtracted from the total. Fixing everything that is wrong will be impossible and the miles on it would not change. It’s time to buy a car with fewer miles on it.

Live a little get another one. Dont throw good money after bad.

Poor ECU led to transmission issues in this vintage RAV4 for Toyota. Many dying long ago.

I would be hard pressed to spend $5k on this but the problem is not unheard of.

Before giving up and junking the vehicle, be sure to verify all the fluid levels are ok first. I presume that’s already been done, but just in case …

I’d worry about the knock and live with the trans. My Buick developed a neutraling out. It only did it in the summer and in fact several times did it at the same stop light on my 50 mile commute. In the winter it was ok. Something about a worn shaft or valve or something. I lived with it for over a year being careful not to get myself in a situation that would be dangerous if the thing went into neutral for 10-15 seconds. You need to find out what the knock is though. Either way, sounds like its time to start looking for new wheels.