I have a 2007 Toyota RAV4 Base. It is supposed to be 4WD and
automatically activated when needed. This weekend I went to Cape Cod
in Massachustes. I stopped to take some pictures of the landscape and
I got stucked on the sand. I pressed the LOCK button and activated the
Reverse and the truck was running in false. I tried putting on the
lower gear and setting the LOCK on and nothing. I had to wait for the
police to pull me out of there.
Question: Does my RAV4 have problems? I got stuck in the SNOW once
also and the 4WD did not worked. The slippery light on the panel was
on, but I did not see the 4WD light on.
Here is a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YNatf98oV0
Note that the front wheel doesn't activate, only the rear one. I was
in reverse, of course, but with the lock on.
You should review your owners manual. As I understand the system,
pushing the Lock button guarantees that the coupling to the rear wheel
drive shaft is engaged, it does not provide the sort of differential
lock you seem to think you have. Also, your movie only showed one side
of the car. Are you sure the front wheel on the opposite side was not
spinning as well? As far as I can determine from the specifications,
you probably don't have a limited slip differential at either the
front or the rear.
BTW, I suspect you could have driven the car out if you would have
lowered the air pressure in the tires (temporarily of course) to 15
lbs or so. I've seen old two wheel drive cars get out of worse
situations by "airing down."
Again, I think you need to carefully review your owners manual. I
think the system was operating as designed. 4WD can help you get out
of some situations, but if you get into a situation where there is no
traction, whether your are spinning 1, 2, 3, or 4 wheels you can still
Thanks for the information.
Actually, the other side wasn't spinning. When I first got stucked I
locked the diferential and put on the lower gear. The slippery light
started to blink and the car simply got stuck. The 4WD light on the
panel did not came on, so it was definatly not working.
Not sure if I have to take the car to the shop in order to be looked
into this possible issue.
I am not sure how you can say that. The car is primarily a front wheel
drive vehicle, and in your picture the rear wheel was definitely
turning. This implies that the clutch to the rear wheels was engaged.
What I don't understand is how you can have a rear wheel turning
without a front wheel (one of them at least) also turning. I have a
RAV4 shop manual at home, I guess I'll have to look over the 4WD
system. I must not understand somethnig since I was of the opinion it
was not possible to have just a rear wheel turning under any
Well the RAV4 repair manual is not entirely clear on the operation of the
4WD system, however, I still don't see any way you can have just one rear
wheel spinning and not have at least one front wheel spinning as well unless
something is broken in the front drive system. The transfer case that drives
the drive shaft to the rear axle is just a simple ring gear and pinion. It
bolts to the right side of the transmission and takes its drive from the
transmission (it fits in between the front differential and the right hand
front wheel half shaft). The transfer case drives a drive shaft connected to
a solenoid activated clutch attached to the rear differential. The rear
differential clutch is clearly working since one rear wheel is spinning.
As for your traction control system. You don't have a limited slip
differential, you have a traction control system that works by applying the
brakes to a spinning wheel and modulating engine power. The following is
from the owners guide:
When the traction control system is operating, the following conditions
The system controls the spinning of the front wheels (two?wheel drive
models) or 4 wheels (four?wheels drive models). At this time, the slip
indicator light blinks.
The vehicle may vibrate or make a noise due to brake operation. This
indicates the system is functioning properly. The slip indicator light comes
on for a few seconds when the ignition key is turned to "ON". If the
indicator light does not come on when the ignition key is turned to "ON",
contact your Toyota dealer.
"VSC" warning light
This light warns that there is a problem somewhere in the following systems:
Traction control system
"AUTO LSD" system
Vehicle stability control system
Downhill assist control system
Hill?start assist control system
The light will come on when the ignition key is turned to "ON". When the
systems are work properly, the light turns off after a few seconds. If the
light comes on while driving, all the
above systems will not work. In such a case, the brakes will operate when
applied (no electronic assistance will be available), and it will be
possible to continue driving the vehicle.
In the following cases, contact your Toyota dealer:
The warning light does not come on when the ignition key is turned to "ON".
The warning light remains on after the ignition key is turned to "ON".
The warning light comes on while driving.
The "AUTO LSD" system aids traction by using the traction control system to
control engine performance and braking when one of the front wheels begins
to spin. This system is used only when wheel spinning occurs in a ditch or
on a rough surface. This system is effective in case one of the front wheels
The following is from the owner's guide for the 4WD system:
Active torque control 4WD system
The active torque control 4WD system controls the engine torque that is
applied to the rear wheels according to the driving conditions and road
conditions. When the vehicle's driving conditions are stable such as driving
straight ahead, the engine torque is applied to only the front wheels.
FOUR?WHEEL DRIVE LOCK SWITCH
When the vehicle is driven on loose surfaces, such as sand, gravel, or deep
snow, or if the vehicle gets stuck, pushing the four?wheel drive lock switch
to ensure that the engine torque
is applied to the 4 wheels.
When the four?wheel drive lock switch is pushed, the four?wheel drive lock
indicator light blinks twice and remains on until the four?wheel drive lock
To cancel the four?wheel drive lock, push the switch once again and the
four?wheel drive lock indicator light will go off.
When the vehicle speed exceeds 40 km/h (25 mph), the four?wheel drive lock
will be cancelled automatically.
The four?wheel drive lock indicator will come on for a few seconds when the
ignition key is turned to "ON".
If the indicator light does not come on when the ignition key is turned to
"ON" or the four?wheel drive lock switch is pushed, contact your Toyota
Use the four?wheel drive lock only when driving on the loose surfaces, such
as sand, gravel, or deep snow, or if the vehicle gets stuck. After the
four?wheel drive lock is used to provide traction, cancel the four?wheel
drive lock. Using the four?wheel drive lock at other times may cause damage
to the four?wheel drive system.
SYSTEM FAILURE WARING
The "4WD" warning light warns that there is a problem somewhere in the
active torque control 4WD system.
The light will come on when the ignition key is turned to "ON". When the
system works properly, the light turns off after a few seconds.
If the warning light does not come on when the ignition key is turned to
"ON", contact your Toyota dealer to service the vehicle.
If the "4WD" warning light flashes...
This indicates that the driveline temperature has become too high. Without
turning off the engine, do either of the following to cool the driveline:
Reduce vehicle speed until the light goes off.
Stop the vehicle at a safe place and allow the engine to idle until the
light goes off.
If operation of the vehicle is continued while the light is flashing, the
system automatically shuts off the engine torque that is applied to the rear
wheels to protect the driveline. If this happens, the light will flash
When the driveline temperature falls enough, the light will go off.
If the "4WD" warning light remains on...
This indicates that the system may not work properly. Contact your Toyota
dealer to service your vehicle.
I am not a trained Toyota technician, so it is entirely possible that I am
misinterpreting what I am seeing in the manual. However, at least to my eye,
it does not appear possible to have just one rear wheel spinning. It seems
to me that you could have just one front wheel spinning because the rear
drive shaft clutch didn't engage (or disengaged because you overheated it)
or that you have one front wheel and one rear wheel spinning and that your
traction control system is not operating, either because you are spinning
the wheels too fast (it disengages if the speedometer indicates 40 mph or
more (this is easy to do if only one wheel is spinning) or because it is
broken. However, if it is broken, there should be a warning light telling
you there is a problem.
I just can't picture a scenario where you have only one rear wheel turning
unless you have broken something in the front wheel drive system. If it was
my car, I'd take it to the dealer. If they can't find a problem, I'd jack up
one front wheel at a time, leaving the engine off, the transmission in park
(or in first gear if the vehicle is has a manual) ,and with the other three
wheels firmly on the ground three on the ground and confirm that the wheel
off the ground cannot be "spun." I just can believe there is something wrong
with the front wheel drive system that doesn't make the car drive strangely.
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