Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???
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Thread: Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???

  1. #1
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    Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    06 AWD 85k, had some noise from the r front, took it in , and the mechanic is saying the Trans axle and X-fer case are done.


    1. ever heard of this?
    2. cant these things be repaired?
    3. what kind of X-fer case system/layout does this thing have?


    bty posting this for the inlaws

    Thanks,
    ken

    EDIT: corrected typo/misspelling in topic to make future subject searches more accurate
    By: topspy/Mod-Squad

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  3. #2
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    Re: Trans axel and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    Quote Originally Posted by 450 DUDE
    1. ever heard of this?
    No, but that means little as I am just one owner... Toyota staff would have a better idea.

    The simultaneous failure of two components which don't even share their lubricant seems suspicious to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by 450 DUDE
    2. cant these things be repaired?
    Yes, but automatic transmissions are picky things which require specialty attention. If a transmission (or transaxle) internal repair were done by any general service shop, they would like take it out of the vehicle and send it to a specialty transmission shop for the internal work. For a dealership, swapping for a rebuilt unit is quicker and I think generally accepted as appropriate.

    Quote Originally Posted by 450 DUDE
    3. what kind of X-fer case system/layout does this thing have?
    The Sienna has a transverse engine, connected to an automatic transmission with integrated front differential (the combination of transmission and "axle" making it a transaxle). The AWD version adds a transfer case to the right-hand side of the differential area of the transaxle, intercepting the transmission output and splitting to a front output and a rear output.The front output goes right into the differential part of the transaxle; the rear output goes via the driveshaft or propeller shaft to the rear differential. The transfer case uses a "centre differential" to do this, so front and rear are always powered, and are allowed to go different speeds as required by turns. This is a typical centre-diff transverse engine setup, used by other Toyotas (Highlander, older RAV4, Lexus RX, etc) and various other manufacturers.

    In the Sienna, I believe that the transfer case contains gear oil for lubrication, entirely separate from the transmission fluid of the transaxle.

  4. #3
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    Re: Trans axel and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    These are all going out here in Colorado at about 100,000 miles due to a fluid leak. Dealer sees one a week.

    Nate

  5. #4
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    Re: Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    Wow....if that's true, that does not bode well for "higher" mileage 2ndGen AWD Siennas......even ones with an extended warranty. Scary.... :o :o
    Better get the car inspected (if applicable) if you are coming up on 100K miles.

    YMMV.
    Good Luck!! 8)
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    20131028

  6. #5
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    Re: Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    Thanks mucho for the info , good posts!


    nater ? ... sooo do you know if both Trans axel and X-fer case are going at the same time? Im ASSumeing this seal is between the Transaxel/diff and the X-fer case?

    Just want to make sure this is the problem before they spend the quoted $7-$8k :o

    Thanks again,
    ken

  7. #6
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    Re: Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    I have 04 LE AWD with 89K seems ok. Don't have any noise or feel that may point to the same problem.

    Can you give a better picture about the noise? happens during driving? turning? more info will be helpful for the rest of AWD owners

    So what is the quote on the fixes?

    Did the dealer give you a good reason as why they are toasted?

  8. #7
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    Re: Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    Since we're discussing the possibility of leakage between the transaxle and transfer case (which could explain the simultaneous failure)...
    TSB: ATF Leak from Transfer Case; 2008

  9. #8
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    Re: Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    I haven't pried open the service manual to check yet, but if I recall (what the dealer said) correctly, the transfer case is two halves of aluminum, sealed with toyota red FIPG (no gasket). This seal starts to seep, and then all of a sudden it dumps a bunch of fluid on the ground all at once (while you are driving, so you don't notice it) then the transfer case is toast. Essentially, the transfer case needs to be inspected at every oil change, and at the first sign of seepage, the whole thing needs to be resealed, for a cost of $2400 (mostly labor) or else you will be buying a transfer case (and I believe transmission) within 6 months to a year. What is so devastating is that most transmission seals leak slowly, and you can watch the puddle in the garage to gauge how much you are losing, and can top off at the dip stick. The transfer case has no dipstick and the leak turns catastrophic all at once when it decides to go.

    To be fair, Colorado's extremely dry air (low humidity) and seasonal and daily temperature swings may be playing a part in this, and this might only be a problem in the Denver/Boulder area. (It gets down to -20 in the winter and as high as 120 F in the summer, and temps can fluctuate as much as 60 degrees in a typical day, since there is almost no moisture to hold the heat at night).

    I learned all this while Sienna shopping last month. I noticed seepage from the transfer case of the Sienna I was shopping, and the seller noted that it didn't drip on the ground, so don't worry. I talked to the service writer of that exact vehicle (had the VIN) and the guy showed me two AWD's on the hoist getting new transfer cases from the same issue.

    On that note, we passed on the AWD and are the proud new owners of a 2004 FWD limited that is nice and dry on the transmission. :-)

    I'll be getting snow tires instead of AWD for the winter. Studs are legal here, so it'll stick like glue, even without AWD.

    Nate

  10. #9
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    Re: Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    FYI, price out a genuine Toyota Reman transmission unit. Toyota seeds the program with new transmissions, so you'll probably get a new unit anyway. If not, Toyota is very fussy on their reman program, generally all of the wear items are replaced; generally only the cast parts are reused, like the casing and the valve body. Definitely worth the savings.

    Nate

  11. #10
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    Re: Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    FYI, I just looked up the MSRP for a Transaxle at $2846 and a transfer case at $2496. You should be able to get these installed for under $1000, I would think. $9000 seems like too much, $6000 should be about the limit. Ask them about having the front differential sealed at the same time.

    Nate

  12. #11
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    Re: Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    I did not think that the AWD had that much trouble with them(?) For most part i "thought" they were pretty "bulletproof". Thanks nater for the info!!

    ROB
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  13. #12
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    Re: Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    Just one more reason I wish it had the hybrid 4wd-i from the highlander. Maybe if I win the lottery i'll build my own.

    Nate

  14. #13
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    Re: Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    can somone tell me where are the Trans axle and transfer case? I have AWD and have no idea where to look. sorry, not very good at car parts and names

  15. #14
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    Re: Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    Quote Originally Posted by grandmama
    can somone tell me where are the Trans axle and transfer case? I have AWD and have no idea where to look...
    I tried to describe this in my earlier post, but here's a little more context which might make it more clear (just from memory, hopefully I have this right):

    The engine is toward the right (passenger) side of the engine compartment, and the transaxle is stuck on the end, occupying the left side of that space. The differential part of the transaxle protrudes from the back side; you probably wouldn't be able to see it from above at all, and the axle shaft from the left wheel hub comes out of it. The transfer case basically looks like more of the transaxle, on the right side just behind the engine; the axle shaft to the right wheel hub and the driveshaft to the rear both come out of the transfer case.

  16. #15
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    Re: Trans axle and Transfer case TOAST! ???

    Quote Originally Posted by nater
    Just one more reason I wish it had the hybrid 4wd-i from the highlander.
    I think that's an interesting advantage of the Highlander's system: no transfer case, and no driveshaft to the rear. It would eliminate the specific leakage problem which is being discussed here.

    The handling characteristics of the mechanical AWD system and the hybrid's electric rear drive are not the same, but my guess is that the Highlander's system would be fine with most Sienna AWD owners.

    Quote Originally Posted by nater
    Maybe if I win the lottery i'll build my own.
    The juggling of components under the Sienna's floor to fit the AWD components might leave enough room for the battery (where the spare is in the 2WD) and the rear drive unit (where the rear diff is in the AWD, or the muffler is in the 2WD) of the hybrid system. I don't know how the underhood packaging would work (there is a big electronic control box to fit), but it all goes in the Highlander so maybe it would be okay in the differently shaped but wider Sienna.

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