In general, the Toyota RAV4 is a very good SUV.
One of its main selling points is that Toyota is considered a reliable brand, and the RAV4 is typically a prime example of this reliability (at least in the last 5-10 years). Today we´ll dive deeply into the transmission used from 2006 onwards. Here´s a quick summary:
Toyota RAV4, made between 2012 – 2018, had problems with the 6-speed U760E/F automatic causing heavy shudders because of the torque converter, whereas 2009 – 2011 model years had problems with the torque converter and transaxle assembly, causing shuddering as well. 2018 and onwards models are typically free of transmission problems.
However, that certainly doesn´t tell the whole story. Below, we´ve outlined all transmissions used in the RAV4 since 2006.
Furthermore, we go through each of them and explain the technical service bulletins, recalls, and complaints we´ve found about them. We’ve already covered the RAV4 in great detail from the type of gas it uses to its 5-lug bolt pattern and this article will be just as in-depth! Read on!
Common Toyota RAV4 Transmission Problems
Fifth Generation (2018–Present)
The fifth generation of the RAV4 makes use of three different transmissions (for the North American market). These are:
- 8-speed automatic (UA80E, V6)
- 8-speed automatic (AWF8F35, Inline-4)
- Aisin Seiki eCVT (T110)
The RAV4 was sold in many different markets; therefore, it has a wide range of transmissions listed on, for example, the Wikipedia page. However, this blog post will focus on the North American models.
8-Speed Automatic (UA80E, V6 Engine)
The UA80E replaced the U660E from 2019 onwards. We´re also very glad to report that the UA80E didn´t cause any significant problems in the RAV4 whatsoever. There are no technical service bulletins, no recalls, and we couldn´t find any severe or reoccurring problems in the complaints section of the website of the NHTSA.
The switch from U660E to UA80E was a welcome one. While the U660E didn’t cause the same transmission issues that it did in the Camry, I’m a bigger fan of the UA80E in most cases.
The only thing we found is that the 2019 RAV4 did have a grinding noise coming from the back, but later it was found this had to do with the rear differential and wasn´t related to the transmission.
8-Speed Automatic (AWF8F35, Inline-4 Engine)
The AWF8F35 transmission was developed by Aisin and used by many carmakers. With some carmakers, like Volkswagen, this transmission does seem to be causing issues. However, we found no reports whatsoever with other carmakers or with Toyota. Also, no technical service bulletins or recalls were issued. Therefore, it´s safe to assume this transmission works very well in the RAV4.
Aisin Seiki eCVT (T110), Hybrid Only)
This eCVT is manufactured by Aisin and only equipped on the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Prime models. Once again, we´re happy to report this transmission hasn´t received technical service bulletins or recalls and that it´s practically not complained about at all. You can read more about the most common other problems with a RAV4 Hybrid here.
K120 CVT With Physical First Gear
This transmission was only used with 2.0L model years from 2018 onwards. However, the 2.0L wasn´t sold in the North American market and was mainly a model for Asian and South-African markets. Therefore, we won’t discuss it further in this blog post.
Fourth Generation (2013–2018)
The fourth generation consisted of three different transmissions. These were:
- 6-speed automatic (U660F)
- 6-speed automatic (U760E or U760F)
- Aisin Seiki eCVT (T110), Hybrid Only)
6-Speed Automatic (U660F)
The U660F was used in the 2009 – present RAV4, according to Wikipedia. Overall, this transmission was reliable and isn´t much complained about. The issues we mention below are rare, and it´s essential to consider this.
- The common issue with the transmission is the worn valve body. Contaminated automatic transmission fluid and vitiated torque converter lockup cause slagging or wear-out of plunger valves and channels of the valve body.
- In the electrical part, the selector position plate with temperature is the most commonly replaced element. The overheating sensor is the reason for the malfunctioning of the valve body.
6-Speed Automatic (U760E/F)
For the U760E (2012 – 2018, FWD) and U760F (2013 – 2018, AWD), we did find one specific problem that stood out. The U760E transmission did have some problems with transmission shudder caused by the torque converter in the 2013 – 2015 model years.
The solution was to replace the torque converter assembly and reprogram the ECU logic. After this, complaints seized to exist. Furthermore, Toyota upped the warranty for this part to eight years or 150,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
Furthermore, it´s good to know that the U760E/F are simply just light-duty versions of the U660E/F. Therefore, it´s logical that these transmissions also had few problems besides the torque converter shudder.
Aisin Seiki eCVT (T110), Hybrid Only)
Same transmission as used in the 2018 – present RAV4 hybrid and therefore barely complained about.
Third Generation (2006–2012)
It´s important to know that the 2006 – 2009 models did have a couple of technical service bulletins that applied to all cars and transmissions. Toyota stated the following about this:
Some customers may experience multiple warning lights illuminated, vehicle not shifting from Park to Drive, and other accessories becoming inoperative after the vehicle has cold soaked in sub freezing (below 14F / -10C ) ambient air temperatures. A newly designed relay has been made available to improve this condition.Source
Furthermore, the 2006 – 2010 RAV4 did have another technical service bulletin that applied to all transmissions in that model year. In this case, there was a no-crank/no-start situation that needed to be solved:
Some RAV4 vehicles may intermittently exhibit a “no crank” condition. The engine can usually be started after moving the shift lever to the Neutral position or by cycling the shift lever in and out of the Park position. A revised neutral start switch assembly is available to address this condition.Source
5-Speed Automatic (U151E/F, V6)
Overall, this 5-speed automatic hasn´t caused many problems at all. Sometimes, these transmissions cause flares, slipping 2-3 shifts or binding on the 3-4 shift. These problems are typically resolved by performing a transmission memory reset. If this is not the solution, there´re ways to check if the solenoids are causing the problems.
This transmission had a few more problems in the Sienna, thanks to a shift lock issue, but that rollaway issue wasn’t seen in the RAV4.
4-Speed Automatic (U241E, 2WD)
The 2009 – 2011 versions of the 4-speed automatic (both the 2WD and 4×4) equipped with a 2AR-FE engine had a technical service bulletin because they were prone to having check engine lights combined with fault code P0741. The solution involved replacing the transaxle and/or torque converter assembly.
4-Speed Automatic (U140F, 4×4)
First, the check engine light problem we just described for the 2WD 4-speed automatic also applies for this transmission.
2006 – 2007 U140F transmissions did have a service bulletin because of a drone noise and vibration at high speeds. Toyota eventually figured out that the solution to this was replacing the computer assembly of the ECU. However, if the noise was caused by a loose ECU or the noise was caused by the transmission because of a damaged ECU remains unclear (TC006-07).
How Long Does A Toyota RAV4 Transmission Cost?
In an earlier blog post, we already established that the RAV4 will last between 230.000 – 250.000 miles in general. After doing our research, it becomes clear that we would expect the transmissions of the RAV4 to last the complete lifespan of the car.
It became clear that only the 2013 – 2015 model years of the RAV4 equipped with a U760E/F transmission were the only ones that experienced a serious problem (torque converter shudder) in the past ten years. For the rest, the RAV4 has been performing great. The 2006 – 2012 transmissions did a little worse, but still, we didn´t find catastrophic problems, merely annoying issues, and required a TSB to have them fixed.
While the Toyota RAV4 is generally a reliable SUV, it has experienced certain transmission issues in specific model years. Between 2012 – 2018, problems with the 6-speed U760E/F automatic and its torque converter led to significant shuddering. Similarly, the 2009 – 2011 models also had issues with the torque converter and transaxle assembly.
Thankfully, the RAV4 models from 2018 onwards seem to have overcome these transmission problems. This dive into the history of RAV4 transmissions underscores the importance of thorough research and awareness, which can greatly assist in making informed decisions about buying or maintaining your vehicle. Safe driving!
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
Read more about our fantastic team on our about page!