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Gearbox Problem - What To Do..


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Hi all,

Had my SR for just over 4 years and been pretty happy with it - mpg not great, egr valve sooting up too often, but still the most solid car I've ever owned. Was just looking at changing it when it went in for it's 50K service. This wasn't at a Toyota dealer/specialist but they have a pretty good reputation.

The engineer pointed out that, with the clutch fully depressed, there was a very slight "rrrrrrr" noise while a gear was engaged. He said it sounded like there might be a problem with the gearbox and suggested I consider changing the gearbox oil as precautionary measure. He did say that there was a fair chance it would never develop into a serious problem but I thought I'd do the right thing and had them change the oil.

There is now no longer any noise (that I can tell), but there is an intermittent problem engaging 1st & 2nd gears. It can take a lot of force to get it into gear (or won't go in at all with the amount of force I'm willing to try), it can be a bit"clunky" or, occasionally, it can make crunching or grinding noises. It's at its worst when the car has been left for a while, especially overnight (when it's been around 0 degrees). Most of the time, especially after 30mins or so driving, it's much better - possibly as smooth as it's ever been.

The garage had another look at it today and said that the problem was due to the oil being too thick. They rechecked with Toyota, who confirmed it was the correct oil, but thought that Toyota's recommendation was actually too thick for our climate. They were confident that thinner oil would solve the problems, and be safe, but wouldn't supply and fit oil that didn't meet the manufacturer's recommendations as it would make them liable for any problems that then occurred. Their suggestion was that I either wait 5000 miles or so for the oil to thin or supply thinner oil for them to use.

So, I'm not actually sure how much of what the garage have said that I should believe. Even if everything they said is correct, I'm not sure if I should clock up 5K or put thinner oil in it. I'd probably wait, but I'd like to sell the car and doubt anyone would buy it as is.

Can anyone give any advice on this? Recommendations for an oil better than Toyota's standard would be really helpful if I go down that route.



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As I started to read your post it seemed obvious that when changing your gearbox oil that your garage had used too thick an oil, Toyota specify that the car requires 2.3lts of mono grade oil API GL-4

SAE 75W, so far as I am aware this is the thinnest grade of gearbox oil available for non specialist applications. I suspect the garage has used 75w90 a thicker multigrade oil which when used causes everything you have reported above. Saying that the oil will get thinner over 5000 miles is wrong as modern transmission oils are designed to last for tens even hundreds of thousands of miles. Ask to see details / receipts for the oil used if is not the 75w mono grade oil get them to change it.
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I've called the garage and they have said that they used "75 90 semi synthetic". I said I'd been told that it should be "75W mono" and they said that it was the same thing. Are they right?

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They just called back - I missed the call but they left a message saying again that it was the correct oil but suggesting I get oil from Toyota and they will fit it free of charge. I'm wondering if they now think they got it wrong but aren't admitting to it...?

I guess the challenge now is going to be getting 2.3L of oil from Toyota. The garage previously told me they didn't use Toyota oil as it was sold in 10 gallon barrels.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Changing to Toyota oil didn't help sadly. I guess the garage was right about the original oil being OK - and they still didn't charge for the 2nd oil change.

As I was worried about spiraling costs, inconvenient trips to the garage and breaking down I've sold the car rather than go further with this issue. Bye bye Verso - you've been a great car.

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  • 4 months later...

I have a similar problem with the gear change from 1st to 2nd - stiff change/grinding noise - which seems worse when the air temp is cool. I had my Corolla Verso serviced, today, by my local dealer and I asked them to look at the problem. They reported that my clutch has a high biting point and may be worn. For them to fit a new clutch would be £377 + labour on top! Has anyone else had their clutch changed to cure this problem before I spend a fortune? I did have the gearbox oil changed, about two months ago by a local garage, to see if this would cure the problem but it didn't (Though it now goes in to reverse a whole lot easier!). For information: My verso has done 41400 miles and has regular services from Toyota dealers.

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