Reviews of the Rav 4 variator, the general impression of drivers

Toyota cars are incredibly popular among drivers. This brand has gained a strong leading position. There are quite a few factors contributing to this effect. However, the positive impression was formed primarily because of the incredible reliability.

Toyota cars rarely break down. They are able to withstand serious loads. The company pays special attention to the development of various components and assemblies. Such high results are achieved through a multi-stage quality control procedure. This can also be seen in the reviews of the Rav 4 variator. The unit is reliable. Moreover, the efficiency of its operation was not even affected by the serious complication of the design.

Review of the Rav 4 variator: reliable, but I didn’t have enough

I owned a Rav 4 with a CVT for about a year. Then I sold it and bought the same device, but with a gun. In general, the impression of use was only positive.

I bought the car secondhand. Of the minuses of this car, I will name only 2 factors:

  • mileage of 50 thousand km;
  • interior is a little shabby.

Well, apparently, the car was used harshly before me. I myself drive a lot; in a year of ownership I have driven about 40 thousand km. I don't have any complaints about the box. My review of the Rav 4 variator is extremely positive. Switching is quite quick. The machine never stalled.

However, there are also disadvantages. I didn't have enough power when accelerating. Acceleration seemed slow to me. I waited like this for a whole year, as a result of which I decided to sell.

Overall, I recommend buying the car. I myself have only positive impressions. There were no breakdowns or other “joys”. The reason for changing the car was indicated above. If the car picked up faster and was revvy, I would leave it.

Review of the Rav 4 variator: it’s better not to get repaired

I have owned a Rav 4 with a CVT for several years. Before that I rode exclusively on automatics. One of the advantages I can name is the softness of switching. In principle, I did not have any problems with the presented question.

The car shifts smoothly, shocks and jerks are eliminated. During the entire period of operation, I did not have any problems with the variator. I've been driving a car for about 2 years. The period is not too long, but it cannot be called short either. I made conclusions.

In my review of the Rav 4 variator, I cannot help but mention the main drawback - the cost of repairs. The unit should not experience problems even after 150 thousand kilometers. However, the motorist may have difficulties with recovery.

A new variator will cost 500-600 thousand. This is approximate. I won't give exact numbers. The above are just examples. They were announced to me by the officials. The contract variator is cheaper. For all the “pleasure” you will have to pay about 100-150 thousand rubles. However, they also have disadvantages:

  1. The final mileage is unclear. It is quite possible that the purchase itself will never justify itself.
  2. Difficult to find.

There are a lot of problems with the last point. I am writing my review of the Rav 4 variator not only based on my own experience, but also on information from a friend. A friend’s knot told him to live long. In all of St. Petersburg we were able to find only one option during the analysis. There are much more slot machines. There will be no problems with purchasing here.

What type is installed and its uninterrupted service life

The 2013 and 2014 models are equipped with the “Aisin” K111F V-belt variator, also called. The operating principle of a V-belt variator is based on pulleys, which contain two disks. They are connected using a V-belt. The conical disks formed by the pulley can move or move apart, thereby changing the diameter of the pulleys. The cones are brought closer together by centrifugal force or hydraulic pressure.

The modern Toyota Rav 4 variator is equipped with a metal belt, which is made of several layers of a special steel alloy. The design of such a belt is divided into shaped parts, which are connected into “butterflies”. This device provides greater flexibility, reduced noise, and also increases the durability of the structure and its reliability.

V-belt variator “Aisin” Toyota Rav 4

If you compare modifications with an automatic transmission and a CVT, with the same engines, you can observe differences. The continuously variable converter shows better dynamics and reduced fuel consumption, and the car also starts more smoothly. Due to the fact that V-belt transmissions are usually installed in cars with relatively low engine power, a continuously variable transmission remains in service for a long time.

How long and trouble-free the Toyota Rav 4 variator will serve depends on the operation of the car. Considering that the Rav 4 is declared as a crossover, operating the car to its full capabilities may affect the durability of the unit. Similar units are also installed on passenger cars that do not have the off-road capability of a crossover. Therefore, the operation of the CVT box is more careful, and the resource is limited to 100–150 thousand kilometers.

The main reason for the malfunction of the Toyota Rav 4 variator is scuffing or wear of the pulleys with broken metal bands. Premature lifting of pulleys can be prevented by:

  • do not start by pressing the pedal all the way;
  • do not tow too much;
  • Do not engage or disengage reverse gear until the car comes to a complete stop.

Of course, there were some defects in Toyota's all-wheel drive CVTs. The housing flange, which contains splines, tends to collapse, resulting in lubricant leakage. If measures are not taken to eliminate a possible defect, the flange is completely destroyed, fragments of which can get into the gears. This subsequently leads to complete failure of the transmission.

Another defect is in the primary and secondary pulleys. More precisely, the support bearings of the shafts of these pulleys wear out quickly. This often happens during the first few tens of thousands of kilometers. It is because of these factory defects that the reliability of the Rav 4 variator is significantly reduced, despite the predicted service life of 150 thousand kilometers.

Maintenance of the Toyota Rav 4 variator includes replacing the working fluid. In the operating manual, the manufacturer does not recommend filling the continuously variable transmission with oils other than Toyota Genuine CVT Fluid TC or Toyota Genuine CVT Fluid FE. Using a different transmission fluid may cause poor transmission shifting, vibration, seizure, or complete damage to the unit.

Review of the Rav 4 variator: normal flight

According to the technical data sheet, the unit is capable of operating for 150 thousand kilometers. I am writing my review of the Rav 4 variator after the car has covered 190 thousand. It works properly. No problem. There is not even a hint of any future troubles. Nothing knocks, switches quickly.

Difficulties previously arose with changing the oil, but then I found a normal service. The craftsmen there know their work. Before this, not a single “specialist” wanted to take on the replacement. They say: if you drive, keep driving.

I looked on the forums, they advise replacing it after every 30-40 thousand km. I only use the car in the city. This mode has both pros and cons. On the one hand, you don’t have to strain the car off-road, on the other hand, frequent stops and accelerations are also not the best driving option.

Toyota CVTs. Myths and reality

As you know, every car has a gearbox. It helps the engine adapt to different speeds and loads, but here’s the problem: both manual and automatic are essentially a set of pairs of gears with a fixed ratio. To change the ratio, these pairs must be switched and the engine must be disconnected from the drive wheels during the change. In this case, jerks occur and the engine operates in steps - sometimes at high, sometimes at low speeds. But there is a way to connect it to wheels without steps. Such a transmission is called a variator, and its main principle is a stepless change in the gear ratio.

In theory, the variator is designed simply
: two sliding pulleys with a conical belt between them. By pushing and sliding the pulley halves, you can change the diameter at which the belt operates. By changing the diameter, we change the gear ratio. In fact, CVTs are far from new. For more than a hundred years they have been used in all kinds of equipment, for example, in printing presses. However, there they are too bulky and can withstand only small loads. Therefore, the main problems when installing a variator under the hood of a car were reducing the size and increasing the digestible torque. Different companies took different paths, and not all of them ended successfully. The first variators - both for stationary equipment and for cars - were with a rubber belt. And imagine, this worked as long as the engine power measured a couple of dozen horsepower, and the torque did not exceed 50 Nm. But very soon it became clear that rubber was not suitable as the main transmission link in powerful cars. Research and experimentation have led to the conclusion that the only material that can withstand the required loads is steel. And today we will talk about one of the most successful, proven designs over the years - the Toyota RAV4 CVT with a steel belt.

It is this belt, sandwiched between two pairs of cone pulleys, that continuously changes the transmission ratio. That is, one pair of pulleys is turned by the engine, the other is connected to the drive wheels. When the first pair is spread as far apart as possible, the second, on the contrary, is moved close together - this is at the start. And as it accelerates, the second pulleys diverge, the belt falls to a smaller radius, and the first ones move synchronously - the radius increases. Since the cones of the pulleys are smooth, there can be an infinite number of belt positions (and therefore gear ratios) - no steps, at each specific moment of engine operation you can provide the most optimal in terms of economy or the most powerful, if you need to accelerate, gear ratio. What does this give? The fact is that the motor has the most favorable rotation speed - peak power. Revs away from this peak are also possible and are generally used in manual transmissions and conventional automatics, but the efficiency of the power plant outside the peak is lower. And only the variator makes it possible to accelerate exactly at maximum power when the gas pedal is pressed to the floor. At the same time, instead of steps along the steps of a ladder of gears, the situation is more reminiscent of a smooth escalator.

And now
about the most interesting thing in the design of the Aisin , which is exactly what is installed on the Toyota RAV 4
. The fact is that the metal belt, which is the heart of the variator, is designed in an extremely unusual way and works not in tension, but in compression. The silver snake is made of flat plates strung on a steel tape rolled into a ring. On a pulley where the belt is bent, the plates diverge in a Latin “V” shape, but as soon as the belt branch reaches a straight line between the pulleys, the plates form a tight stack that perfectly transmits any force. The CVT belt touches the pulleys only with the side surfaces - the thin ends of the plates - and does not slip. Of course, for this it is necessary to precisely regulate the compression of the pulleys and the distance between them. This is done by the hydraulic unit - the gearbox control system. And its electronics communicate with the engine control system.

However, there is still a moment when the car starts, and here, as in most automatic machines, the torque converter works. It is the first to meet the flow of power from the engine and is able to not only move the car smoothly, but also increase torque. Although its work is fleeting: as soon as the car starts, the lock is activated, and then our old friend - the belt - comes into play. Of course, in reality the CVT is a little more complex, and the apparent simplicity of two pairs of pulleys and a belt is surrounded by numerous engineering solutions. But we will not dive into such depths - the engineering genius has already solved all the problems and we can only enjoy the silent and smooth operation of the mechanism. Most do this, but some believe that if you are an advanced driver, then a CVT is not suitable for you

. Nothing like this! Believe me, continuously variable transmissions are very familiar with the modes of sports driving, forced gear and engine braking. “What programs? - you ask. “They are not here.” Indeed, there are no fixed gears, but they exist virtually, so to speak, programmatically. Hundreds of the best Toyota and Aisin engineers have spent decades perfecting their continuously variable unit. And, before sending CVT cars for export, they thoroughly tested them on the domestic market, collecting a lot of information on the intricacies of settings and teaching them how to significantly save fuel. But for a European client who is accustomed to mechanics, be sure to provide manual shifting on any transmission. Well what can I say? The client is always right, and if he wants to manage everything, then let him manage.

This feature is implemented in the Sport Sequential Shiftmatic CVT. Once you switch the selector to M mode, you will be able to use the lever to change seven ranges of transmission operation, but the electronics will still prevent you from breaking the box. As soon as it turns out that your desires are contrary to the capabilities of the power unit and the engaged downshift can lead to an increase in speed, a double buzzer will sound. Forced limitation is especially useful on long descents, when you need to save on the brakes. The driver can select seven different deceleration rates, but if you're too lazy to operate manually, there's also automatic CVT control when driving on hilly terrain, all for comfort and a smooth ride. By the way, even when accelerating in normal mode, the RAV4 variator skillfully simulates gear changes without irritating the user with a monotonous howl during acceleration. Another system saves fuel at traffic lights and prevents you from rolling back on an uphill slope. If the transmission determines that you have stopped and the selector remains in position D, the engine will reduce the dose of injected fuel during the stop. The speed will drop, which will reduce the load on both the engine and the gearbox. But this will only happen if you stop on a flat surface - on a slope the idle speed will remain unchanged, which will give additional small traction on the wheels and will not allow you to roll back.

The talk of the town is transmission overheating

. Many people are afraid of it, but in reality you need to try very hard to really noticeably heat the oil in the box. Although, of course, if you really want to, the variator can be overheated. To prevent this from happening, the built-in protection will notify the driver in advance with a message on the dashboard.

By the way, about oil. More precisely, a special fluid for CVT. CVTs are really very demanding on its quality. The reason is clear - the belt transmits force to the wheels using friction, which means wear of the steel plates is inevitable. Just like in a motor, and in general in any unit with lubrication, it is the oil that accumulates the smallest wear particles and transfers them to the filter, at the same time cooling the steel parts. According to the regulations, it is necessary to monitor the condition of the oil every 40 thousand km, but if you are a fan of active driving or often use the car for towing and off-roading, then it is better to preventively change the oil in the range of 40–60 thousand. But even without this, your variator will last no less than a regular automatic, and given the lack of clutches in it, even longer. And, believe me, this is not a myth!

But there are many myths, and the first, most common one is “a metal belt is unreliable”

. So, the service life of a variator with a push belt is no lower than that of traditionally designed automatic transmissions, and even more so of robotic transmissions. There are practically no real failures due to belt wear, and the vast majority of drivers operating cars with continuously variable transmissions do not even know what type of gearbox they have.

Another myth - “the variator does not allow off-road driving”

. It's hard to say where it came from. Even theoretically, based on the fact that the variator is capable of maintaining any gear ratio and smoothly changing it in any range, it turns out that it is better suited for off-road use than other transmissions. Quickly changing gearbox operating modes from D to R and back is also not a problem. This technique is called swinging, and it is not difficult to perform it on a car with a CVT. The only thing where the variator can really give up is very long slipping at high speeds. For this purpose, by the way, there is a warning about overheating. But, let’s face it, this is far from the standard operating mode for a crossover.

We have already talked about the specific working fluid of the variator, and the requirement to fill only a specially designed composition, as you understand, seems completely justified. After all, “steel on steel” contact requires a special lubricant, which at a certain moment can lose its properties, turning almost into glue or almost into ordinary oil.

Well, the last prejudice is trying to instill in us the idea that the variator is completely unrepairable

. This is also not true. In fact, if you happen to really burn the belt and pulleys, it's all easy to replace. Moreover, the complexity of the work is no higher than during a standard repair of a conventional machine. So don’t believe any myths or garage stories, but, as they say, trust the professionals.

Text Evgeny Khapov

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