Toyota RAV 4, 4WD, V6, 2007 Transmission

Owner of 2007 RAV-4 Sport, V6 4WD. 117,897 mi as of 5 July 2014. (No Towing history)
Checked the transmission fluid today: full, red, no grainy feeling and does not smell burnt, so looks good.

I’m trying to ensure that i’m doing everything I can to ensure it keeps running smoothly, as it has been.

Looked in to the owners manual and the maintenance guide, trying to clarify something as I’m not as auto astute.

The Owners Guide talks of:
-Automatic Transaxle
-Rear Differential
It talks of these 3 as separate entities, which i’m assuming require separate servicing, by that i mean the fluids / oils located in different compartments.

The Maintenance Guide talks of replacing:
-Replace Transmission Fluid or Oil
-Replace Transfer Case Oil
-Replace Rear Differential Oil, including limited slip

So I"m safe to assume that the
-Automatic Transaxle = Replacing the Transmission Fluid
-Transfer = Replacing Transfer Case Oil
-Rear Differential = Replacing Rear Differential Oil, including limited slip

Some of additional information that i have gathered:
-in a RAV4 the Transmission is called the Transaxle because the Transaxle includes the Transmission and the Front Differential.
-although in a RAV4 Transmission fluid is said to be lifetime, in practical terms that is not always the case and needs to be changed if shortcomings are noticed when checking the transmission fluid.

The RAV had:
Transmission Flush & Fill performed Sep 2009 @ 63,129 mi
Replaced Transmission Pan Gasket Aug 2013 @ 106,750 mi

Q1: The transaxle gasket was replaced when a dealer noticed a leak. So i’m assuming that the transmission fluid was then added because that’s part of replacing the gasket. So the question is can i count the pan gasket service toward transmission / transaxle requirement?

Q2: Transfer case service; no servicing establishment ever mentioned this service being required, the vehicle is at 117,897 mi. Did i miss something and failed to do this service? Is there a way for me to check the transfer case fluid as i did the transmission fluid?

Q3: Replacing Rear Differential Oil, including limited slip, same as Q2, never suggested or mentioned by any mechanic or dealership i’ve dealt with in the past. Did I miss this service as well? Is there a way for me to check the (Rear Diff / limited slip) as i did the transmission fluid?


Go back to your owners manual and look to see if the service is marked R or I. If it is marked I, it means inspect. R means to replace. Usually rear differential oil is marked I because the rear differential does not get the oil hot enough to cause it to breakdown. It is also a sealed unit so outside contaminants can’t get it.

To replace the pan gasket, the transmission had to be drained. In a Toyota, that gets about 2/3rds of ATF out, which is enough. A flush and fill without draining the pan really doesn’t do much better despite the claims. It only gets it all if the pan is drained. Toyota does have a drain plug, but not all places, especially quick lube type places do it correctly. In fact they can damage your transmission because they often use a non spec ATF when they refill.

In some Toyota transmissions, the front differential and transfer case has a separate compartment in the transmission. The oil used in this compartment is not circulated through the cooling system. Normally a differential and a transfer case do not generate enough heat to damage the oil, but in this case, the oil gets very hot due to the proximity of the ATF and the engine, so the oil can get damaged. It has to be replaced, sometimes more frequently that the ATF. So check that manual carefully, you do not want to damage the front differential and transfer case, very expensive to repair.