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RAV4 problem

I have a 1997 2-door standard transmission Toyota RAV4 with all or four-wheel drive (I always forget which). My problem: When I put it into fifth gear, the gear slips out of gear and into neutral after a second or two. I went to my local mechanic who said it needs a new transmission since it would cost less to do that than to fix the part of the transmission that’s causing the problem. He quoted the cost at about $1000 to $1500. I called the nearest Toyota dealer and AAMCO and each charges a diagnostic fee that’s not far from $100 to figure out what’s wrong, after which, who knows what I’d end up paying and having to get done. I could use some advice as to whether to get one of these second opinions at a cost or to just assume that my local mechanic is on the money.


My guess is going to be that you lost your 5th gear syncronizer. How many miles are on this? Though at its age it wouldn’t be too surprising.

In any case, that is an internal mechanical part which means that the transmission has to come out and taken apart. So, if that’s what it is it makes no sense to just replace that part - i.e. you ought to do a rebuild.

Short of that, you can get by for a while without 5th gear.

Most AAMCO’s btw should do free diagnosis. People will also tell you to stay away from AAMCO and find a reputable local transmission shop. That logic isn’t absolute though. AAMCO’s are franchises which means that they are a local transmission shop. If your local shop has a good reputation then there’s no reason not to use it. You won’t save much money there, though you’re likely to get some manner of warranty that is good nationwide.

Hi, and thanks for your reply. My car has about 128,000 miles on it. I have been doing ok not using 5th gear for the past few weeks, as you mentioned. Well, when I need it, I just keep the gear shift in place by putting pressure with my hand so it doesn’t pop right out again.

I got a message from my mechanic today saying he found a used transmission that has about 80,000 miles on it in case I’m still interested. The prices I quoted above were based on his installing a used transmission, not a new one. I’ll have to ask him what kind of warrantee there is for the work, if any.

As for AAMCO, their fee was around $89 for a diagnostic. And they said over the phone that they wouldn’t be the cheapest way to go, but naturally, they said they’d be the best.

Ya, your local mechanic actually gave you a great price…the transmission needs to be replaced. There are some mechanisms that push and pull the gears into other gears which are worn out and not allowing full meshing. You shouldn’t have to be replaceing this transmission for just the fifth gear problem. I don’t want to seem nasty but you might want to pay attention to how the car is being driven: you are putting the clutch all the way to the floor while shifting, you don’t accelerat/deaccelerate quickly,a teenager doesn’t use the car also.
…Tell the dealership and Aamco to stick it where the mushrooms grow. I wouldn’t waste the gun powder used to blow them to hell with on them. Anyone with experience will tell you that they know what the problem is, and an honest shop will forgo the diagnostic fee because of the money made off of you to fix the car. But, there is the seldom occasion that they will honestly find something that should be replaced as long as the transmission is out - be prepared for that.

It can be fixed without droping trans, go to www.rav4world sign up, it is free and put 5th gear in search.
It is a common problem. the site is a GREAT place to learn and get info on the best little suv going.

I don’t think so…It’s a Mitsubishi 5-speed and they have very tender 5th gears. The mainshaft support bearings are getting worn, allowing the fairly long shaft to deflect enough so it pops out of 5th gear. Since this is a common failure with these transmissions (they are used in MANY Japanese made vehicles) repairing them is a cottage industry all by itself…

Stay FAR away from AAMCO… I would go with the used transmission as long as it is guaranteed…And if you haven’t done the clutch yet, now is the time.

Thanks so much for recommending rav4world. It looks like this happens a lot, and there are people who document how exactly to go about fixing the problem. I’m not able to do this myself, but maybe my mechanic would be open to hearing about how it’s done…I hope. This shows how to fix it in the car