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Vibrations or resonance in a 2013 Avensis 1.8L CVT normal?


slc79
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Hi. I'm a first time Toyota owner since last week and generally I think the car is very smooth to drive, but I am experiencing some sort of resonance at certain RPMs, especially if the car isn't under any particular load. It's semi-intermittent and it reminds me a bit about an engine running at a too high gear for its speed. This is particularly noticeable at about 50 km/h on a straight road. In this situation the RPM drops to about 900-1000. I'm also experiencing some of the same in higher speeds but at different RPMs.

Enabling the sport mode will make the vibration go away because of the higher RPM even though car is still running at same speed. Can anyone offer any insight on what this might be, or if it is actually a characteristic for this particular engine/gearbox combo? Having searched online a bit, it suggests there are others experiencing this to some degree, but no clear answers... Any insight/help appreciated 🙂

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So, in the event someone else may bump into this post seeking the same answers as me, I will sum up the results of my own hunt.

First of all, sorry, I have no solution. But I have a few thoughts... I think behavior is subtle enough to not really distract some, while it is very noticeable to others. In short, I believe all the cars have it to some degree, but how much you're bothered by it depends on multiple factors. In short, I don't think there is anything wrong with the car. Here's a few points that I will back that up with:

1. By looking through various forums, I can find multiple reports of the phenomenon, in particular with a 1.8L petrol fitted with a CVT transmission. Different model years, different models... but all cases I've found specifically, 1.8L and CVT! (And a large chunk of those have already tried replacing parts that usually would cause vibration in a faulty car)

2. I think it's theoretically possible to re-map the car to stop doing it, but you'd then be chiptuning the car and it will fall out of spec, and technically make it illegal.. you won't even gain any torque or bhp of significance .. 🙂 So no point.

3. Another thing I noticed while driving my car to test various situations, I decided to have the current fuel consumption up and running. Then it struck me, this is probably forced on to meet EU demands. Because the car seems to have at least two modes, and whenever it can, it will favor the least required fuel consumption it can get away with, sometimes almost choking the poor engine to death and it will start shaking a bit. The Sport mode can remedy this mostly, but comes with a price (higher fuel consumption and a tad more "hyper active" driving experience). My observations is also that every time the vibrations started, the RPM went down, but not only that, the gauge on current fuel consumption would NEVER vibrate when above the 10-mark (if you're using L/KM gauge). EVERY TIME under 10, this shaking would be back. This kinda proves to me that some eco-stuff is  taking over as it sees fit, and there appears to be no way to override it other than the sport mode (but even then it's present and affects your RPM in some situations).

4.
If coming from a car with a fully manual transmission, you are in full control of how low or high the engine speed is, this is also why I believe I haven't found any owners with the 1.8L and a manual gear with complaints about the same symptoms. I drove another automatic transmission yesterday too (not CVT, but a powershift) and now that I am aware of this I was able to notice slight signs of the same behavior, just not as much, and also while at lower RPMs. Again decided by the automatic transmission.

At this point, I do not really know what I'm hearing is resonance or actual vibrations (since both can make the cabin shake), but seeing as this is happening only in low RPM while the car would have benefit from slightly more, I do think it is what it really sounds like.. a starved engine. Since this seems to be common in more than a decade worth of car models, I do not believe it is a sign of anything failing, rather than something that needs to be improved somehow. Exactly how I would not have a clue on where to look. I may even be assuming incorrectly... 🙂 But thought I'd share my thoughts anyway, knowing there might still be someone with the same (seemingly) unanswered questions.

 

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I owned a 12 plate 1.8 valvematic with the cvt for about 2.5 years, and it never had any of the behaviour you describe.  It was pretty new tho, I'm not certain now, but I probably owned it roughly from 1-3.5 years old, and from 10-35k miles.

The main reason I sold it was the cvt.  I raved about how good it was until a different commute involved joining a motorway at the bottom of a long hill, and that cvt high rev drone got right under my skin.  I did think that the drone had somehow gotten louder or more intrusive as time passed, and that either the padding in the car had somehow worn a bit, or that maybe the gearbox could do with an Oil change.  I know it's supposed to be sealed for life but I do recall reading of at least one person who changed the Oil with good results.  Perhaps worth considering?

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Good Post Alan.

I`ve never heard of a problem with the Multidrive? box, but I can see where you are coming from re the long hill.

Louder might have been reflecting wear on an exhaust system?

Hesitancy might have been the fuel?

"Sealed for life" is an often misunderstood term and it was meant to mean "for the life of the production run of the model", usually 6/7 years.

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1 hour ago, alan333 said:

I owned a 12 plate 1.8 valvematic with the cvt for about 2.5 years, and it never had any of the behaviour you describe.  It was pretty new tho, I'm not certain now, but I probably owned it roughly from 1-3.5 years old, and from 10-35k miles.

The main reason I sold it was the cvt.  I raved about how good it was until a different commute involved joining a motorway at the bottom of a long hill, and that cvt high rev drone got right under my skin.  I did think that the drone had somehow gotten louder or more intrusive as time passed, and that either the padding in the car had somehow worn a bit, or that maybe the gearbox could do with an oil change.  I know it's supposed to be sealed for life but I do recall reading of at least one person who changed the oil with good results.  Perhaps worth considering?

Well, this is a bit difficult to confirm, really. Because I had someone else drive my car, and did not react to anything at ALL. As if everything was normal. In order to confirm my theory about some people simply not noticing it (aka, we who do somehow is particularly picky 🙂 ) I should see if I can find someone with the same engine and CVT to take their car for a spin. I WIILL also take the car to a Toyota workshop next week to have them look at it, but every single one of those posts I've tracked and followed to an end on various forums that went all the way ended up with workshop saying "everything is normal here". Considering how common these reports are, and with a whole variety of cars, I can't help thinking that this is "just how it is". I would be happy to be proven wrong, obviously 🙂

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Took it for a longer ride now... definitely need to see if this can be improved. The vibrations made me nauseous when I arrived at the destination. It's as if I'm sitting next to a subwoofer almost all the time at lower speeds (60 and under). Full automatic seems to push for 900-1100 RPM while driving, but noticed that if I run it in tiptronic mode it won't even let me anywhere near the 1100-mark. I also noticed that when using tiptronic, there were absolutely no vibrations at any time. That could serve as a workaround, but sort of defeats the purpose with an automatic transmission 🙂

I am now accepting ideas to what I can look for to see if there's anything actually wrong, or if it's just wear and tear/normal.

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Yes, ok.. this is a case closed now. I took the car to a mechanic and he could tell me that the slight vibration I was complaining about is normal on pretty much every petrol driven AT-car for over a decade now, so it IS indeed me just being too picky / not used to it. He also confirmed my suspicions that this was caused by the eco-driving mode, and it's a result of the engine being almost choked to save fuel. He also said it would be more common in larger cars, as there was lots of car to pull considering the engine. Many cars have a "normal" mode, but for some reason the Avensis does not (or have hidden it really well!). In the end he told me I should get used to it as this was a very good car and in the given price range I probably couldn't do much better. So... it's just different, not faulty! 😄 So I won't complain more about this specific symptom now and get used to using manual shifting if it becomes bothersome!

Sorry for the trouble, but if anyone ever again seeks similar answers I hope this is useful info. I'm going to learn being best friends with my newly purchased car now!

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Have a read at the latest post on this thread about changing the Oil on the cvt gearbox…

 

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