Toyota’s “absolute minimum” approach to Avalon transmission issues

Toyota owners across the country and around the world waited for what seemed like an eternity for a fix to the problems plaguing the dreaded five-speed-automatic transmission in Avalons and Camrys. After denying any problems existed, in June Toyota finally released a TSB to address low-speed hesitation in Avalons.

As one of the hundreds of thousands affected, and one who had Bill Kwong, press and media relations manager for Toyota N.A., tell me as late as January, 2007 that they had no data to support any problems with Avalon transmissions, I didn’t know what to expect when I took my 2006 Avalon Limited in for the TSB.

After having the TSB EG029-07 (ECM CALIBRATION: ENHANCEMENT
TO SHIFTING PERFORMANCE & SMOOTHNES) performed, I was able to put on some miles to gauge the effectiveness of the TSB fix.

First the good news: the hesitation seems to be largely fixed. So if you haven’t had it done yet, as Larry the Cable Guy would say “Get ‘R Dun”.

Now the bad news: the shifts are still as weak and sloppy as my knee the day after having arthroscopic surgery. The tranny still hunts to find the right gear, but at least it never is totally disengaged.

Furthermore, the extremely hard downshift and torque-converter-induced engine braking that occurs while coasting down to 33 mph before the TSB is still there… The TSB just moved down to a shift point of 28 mph.

It seems that Toyota took a page from my elementary school academic playbook: it did the absolute minimum to address the problem.

So if you are a Camry or Avalon owner and you are dissatisfied with the problem, the next step is to call 1-800-331-4331, which is Toyota’s national Consumer Hotline. It takes just few minutes. They will create a trouble ticket. This is the ONLY way that Toyota engineers will get the message if you are experiencing trouble, since dealers and district managers are not forwarding complaints to any central trouble reporting center.

A Four Wheel Drift reader passed along that when she called, the representative she spoke with actually explained she experienced similar problems on her Toyota! The representative also mentioned that too many people complain on chat boards and to dealers, but never call the 1-800-331-4331 number.

If we all call 1-800-331-4331, Toyota will get the message that just doing the absolute minimum to make the Avalon “not dangerous” is simply not enough.

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5 Responses to Toyota’s “absolute minimum” approach to Avalon transmission issues

  1. Danielle Woerner says:

    I have an 03 Avalon whose transmission is falling apart at 79,800 miles. Supposedly regular servicing on these transmissions isn’t even necessary, but in fact it did have the big servicing that included fluid replacements, etc., at 70K. I’ve files a trouble ticket with the number. The car has only been towed once in its life and that was on a flatbed, so there’s no chance anything has been done to it to create the problem. Of course it’s past its 5 year, 60K warranty.

    My husband tells me that, while technically my 03’s not part of the redesign release from 05-07 which has the better known problems, items like engines, transmissions, etc., are on their own cycles of evolution and use in cars when they’re manufactured. So for all I know (and I am about the try to find out this info) my tranny may be one of the ones known to have malfunction problems. It will be very interesting indeed to see if I can get Toyota to take any responsibility here.

  2. Otto Wahlrab says:

    My goodness……I thought I was the only one with a problem. 03 Camry, 6 cyl. Right from the get go. Documentation. Toyota rep says nothing wrong. Dealer knows something wrong. Two years later, Dealer advises me that Toyota acknowledges “situation” (as versus “problem”). Now beyond warranty. Finally at 105000mi, this excellent car develops a greater evidence of same problem. Dealers agrees. Letter to Toyota brings a curt refusal (beyond warranty). Dealer wants to give me a good deal on a new one…….what another problem? And what’s a good deal.

    Anyone know if a class action suit has developed over this same transmission problem.

  3. guy kimball says:

    I have a 07 avalon and have had the tranny problems. They finally recalibrated per the tsb mentioned, but I have suffered and 10%+ drop in mgp fuel usage. Many other problems with this lemon,….major including front air bag replacement, and car tracking to the right with tire ware on all four on the outside(wierd). I have an arbitration meeting with corp on March 9.

  4. vijay agarwal says:

    I have 2001 avalon and it got only 64,000 miles and the transmission is already giving problems. Can any one suggest what to do. I can be reached at: 714-866-9701

  5. I have a 2006 Solara. When shifting from Park to Reverse to Drive, the gear shift sticks. Will this fix that, or do a I just need some transmission fluid, or maybe something else?

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