Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - steelghost

April this year we bought a 62 plate Avensis estate (with the 1.8 petrol and CVT 'box), which we like very much.

Whilst the Toyota CVT seems generally reliable, from what I've read they are sufficiently complex they are effectively unrepairable and any issues would necessitate replacement, which is eye-poppingly expensive.

The relevant service Schedule calls for the fluid to be inspected every two years, and on the "Severe" track, replaced every four years. Our usage of the vehicle is mostly short local trips (5-10 miles) and suburban stop-start driving (albeit fairly gentle stuff) with the occasional longer run every few weeks. We plan to keep the vehicle for as long as we can so I am keen to ensure the transmission is looked after. Admittedly, I still have 18 months until the replacement is due even in the worse case! I am just thinking ahead (and also interested in the opinions here in any case).

Do I leave the dealership to decide what to do based on whatever diagnostics they have? Insist it be replaced anyhow on the precautionary principle?

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - gordonbennet

I'm in the camp of your last nine words, enquire how much a fluid replacement is going to be, i suspect in comparsion to gearbox replacement costs that an oil change every few years will be small fry indeed, as owners of some other makes have found out to their cost on sealed for life (ho ho) autoboxes.

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - steelghost

Thanks for the reply - I think one of the guys on the Toyota Owners Club paid around £150 for it. I'm comforted to some extent that Toyota do at least list a replacement interval for it, ie they're not trying to claim that it would never need replacement.

I've seen threads elsewhere saying, in effect "if it works OK don't do anything" but I've always felt that if you could tell something wasn't right with a mechanical system, there's already enough wear / play / swarf developed to have done harm, hence preventative maintenance being the order of the day. I'm hoping that the manufacturing swarf has already been caught and flushed out when the transmission was commissioned, or else there is a permanent magnetic trap for it, otherwise /winces

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - gordonbennet

Yes Toyota have always been very conservative when it comes to maintenance, they didn't follow the herd down the extended long life route and they never subscribed to the now quietly being dumped by others sealed for life routine either.

£150 if that's the main dealer isn't bad at all; as time goes by and the car leaves warranty you might find it a surprisngly easy DIY job every couple of years, this is something i do with my own autos with the correct spec oils bought in 20 or 25 litre packs (not from the main dealer) ridiculously cheaply.

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - steelghost

One suspects conservatively spec'd maintenance schedules have as much to do with the much-vaunted Toyota reliability as good mechanical design and manufacturing practices.

Yep that was a main dealer price albeit a post from a few years back, I'll see what the local glass palace have to say for themselves.

I did wonder about the DIY route down the road but a lot of recent "Ask HJ" replies have mentioned that ATF replacement needs to be done under pressure, at specific temperatures etc, to ensure the transmission itself is properly flushed out. Whilst it's CVT rather than t/c I'm assuming the same thing could apply here. I may watch the chap do it at the garage, or at least ask the service manager to justify his fee and see what he says :)

Thanks again.

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - steelghost

As an addendum, I phoned the local dealer and asked the question, and got an interesting reply.

1. There is (according to the service manager's documents) no replacement schedule for the oil!

(I was going off this PDF www.toyota-tech.eu/MaintenanceSchedules/avensis/Fi...f which actually lists a couple of different regimes - eg compare pages 3 and 6)

2. The transmission doesn't have a drain plug (so a DIY job sounds...interesting)

3. They do check it as part of a major service, and (if needs be) top it up - although one wonders how a CVT could 'use' oil?!

4. They reckoned about £180 to change it, if I specifically asked them to do so

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - gordonbennet

From what i can see on that PDF replacement page 6 is every 4 years, presumably severe conditions that would be brought forward.

Never known a Toyota gearbox not require regular oil servicing, i'd hazard a guess the chap on the phone is wrong.

Edited by gordonbennet on 10/08/2015 at 16:55

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - steelghost

I was a bit puzzled about the different regimes, so I went onto www.toyota-tech.eu/, paid my €3 (why do I have to pay to see the service schedule for my own car?!) and downloaded the official UK specific schedule (although it's still marked Europe, not UK!)

Anyway, in that document the CVT TF schedule is as follows

Normal: Inspect every four years (no replacement specified)

Severe: Inspect every three years, change every six years

(I am guessing the document I mentioned earlier contains schedules for multiple countries, or legal environments, or whatever. I can well imagine that running a car in Central or Eastern Europe, where the extremes of temperature are much greater than we typically see in the UK, would mean a more conservative service regime).

So technically speaking, if he's looking at some summary of a service regime that doesn't include "Severe" usage, then he's correct that there is no replacement schedule for it.

I think I'll be getting it done at the fourth annual service in any case!

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - gordonbennet
I did wonder about the DIY route down the road but a lot of recent "Ask HJ" replies have mentioned that ATF replacement needs to be done under pressure, at specific temperatures etc, to ensure the transmission itself is properly flushed out. Whilst it's CVT rather than t/c I'm assuming the same thing could apply here. I may watch the chap do it at the garage, or at least ask the service manager to justify his fee and see what he says :)

It is quite a complicated method on some cars, i haven't a clue what the new box you have will be like for this.

Would you mind coming back and updating us whats involved please and how the job goes.

I really like the Avensis you have, if it wasn't for the damned electric parking brake we'd have one (EPB is my line in the sand not going there ever), and am interested how the CVT box is going to fare long term.

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - steelghost

I'll certainly come back and let the board know what goes on - as of now the car is due its third annual service in January 2016, with the fourth one being the sensible candidate to get the CVT TF changed, so expect a thread from me sometime in early 2017 :)

I think the automatic transmission mitigates the annoyances of the EPB. We pretty much use it as a parking brake but nothing else. Creeping up hill is of course a doddle - and if you need to, left foot braking is an option on especially steep inclines. The scenario that is the most frustrating is waiting at junctions - my choices are to keep the footbrake pressed down, put the transmission into "P", or put it in "N" but use the EPB. The last choice would be best if I was hit from behind while waiting (which is one of the main reasons to use the handbrake while stationary of course), but it would mean many additional engage-disengage cycles on a mechanism which I am fundamentally a bit suspicious of. Putting it in P works, but I am not sure if this has other potential ill effects - I don't like to think about what would happen to the transmission if the car did get bumped. And of course, keeping the foot on the brake is not very helpful to a driver behind me, if it's dark.

Hopefully the lack of any EPB issues on the car-by-car entry is significant. I'll certainly mention it here if anything does happen.

An observation on the reliability of the CVT - when I was looking at Avensis' to buy, it was noticeable that the petrol ones that were built a year or two after the MkIII was released are almost all manual transmissions. As you get newer and newer, an increasing proportion are autos - of the ~2yo vehicles we were looking at, it was roughly half and half. It feels like initially people were wary of the CVT but over time it's shown itself to be sufficiently reliable that it's proportion of vehicles sold has increased. Of course that's based on a pretty small sample size of vehicles for sale in Auto Trader so it's hardly conclusive. Again on the car-by-car summary though, there's no CVT issues mentioned. Time will tell...

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - steelghost

This thread on TOC seems relevant

www.toyotaownersclub.com/forums/topic/168823-avens.../

"I think that you have been unlucky as the CVT generally seems to be extremely reliable. Even the epb actuator doesn't seem to statistically be a big problem (of course if you are 1 of the few it;s a pain) & you should, I imagine, have had it replaced with the supposedly improved later one"

O_o

Edited by steelghost on 11/08/2015 at 15:34

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - steelghost

As a follow up - we still have the car and since purchase it's been faultlessly reliable in every regard.

It's had a full set of new alloys under warranty after the paint finish inside the barrels failed (the lacquered "diamond cut" faces were completely fine!)

Fourth "full" service was completed in January. I asked for the transmission fluid to be changed. The service manager called me and asked why as it was not on the service schedule. I explained that we liked the car and expect to keep it for some time, and given the complexity and cost of the transmission (or any auto for that matter) it made sense to replace the fluid rather earlier than the standard schedule. He agreed that this was a sensible approach and the fluid was (apparently - I don't actually have any way to check other than taking off the aerodynamic covers under the body and examining the transaxle) replaced.

I have to say I am a big fan of this transmission now. It's ultra smooth in traffic - never a judder or jolt. It gets the best out of the 1.8's relatively limited torque (and it's not a small or light car) and you can use the paddles to control the gears if you need or want to (which isn't that often around town but handy on country lanes).

It also works very well with the cruise - allows for a very tall top gear, but the engine can drop the ratio for a few seconds to allow for gradients or speed adjustments, before moving back to the tallest ratio the engine will carry. Makes for very economical long distance driving - genuine high forties is eminently achievable.

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - gordonbennet

Thanks for remembering to update the thread, you said you would in 2015 and true to your word.

Good news on the car proving reliable and enjoyable, and a helpful sensible service manager at the dealership, in all honesty i've found that to be the case behind Toyota service desks and good work from the workshops.

Just out of interest, every other service was a major service on the schedule when i had a Toyota new enough to require garage servicing (i do all my own generally cos all our cars are old, like me) and part of the major service used to be a full brake service, which comprised removing pads cleaning things up inspecting and proper lube up, is this still the case please, because if so it might be a pointer as to why the EPB on Avensis isn't providing as much expensive 'fun' as other makes are as they age, would be interesting to know also if calipers seizing up feature as often as they do on other makes, which don't necessarily service brakes properly.

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - madf

Toyota calipers seem very resistant to seizure.

I changed front disks and pads on our 2003 Yaris in 2006 (seasie corrosion prior owner).

Since then , I have had to lubricate one caliper - in 11 years. Still the same pads/disks as 2006..I have only changed brake fluid as normal maintenance.

Don't talk about Peugeot calipers - steel pins corrode in calipers and stick. Toyota apppear to use high quality SS.

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - steelghost

The service schedule looks like they have certain things that are done every service, some every other service, and some every third or even fourth service, there isn't a major / minor service schedule per se.

As regards brake services it looks like they do not do the full stripdown and clean / lubricate you mention, they seem to focus on degree of wear on pads and disks.

One wonders if someone worked out that by substituting SS pins they could shave X minutes off a regular service and hence make servicing costs more competitive etc...

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - steelghost

Well about a week ago had a warning light on the dash, manual says it's related to brakes. Booked in with the dealer to check it out, turns out a failed seal in the rear off-side caliper had allowed almost all the brake fluid out. Replacement part overnighted and car back with me maybe 24 hours after taking it in, all handled under warranty.

Colour me impressed.

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - gordonbennet

Well about a week ago had a warning light on the dash, manual says it's related to brakes. Booked in with the dealer to check it out, turns out a failed seal in the rear off-side caliper had allowed almost all the brake fluid out. Replacement part overnighted and car back with me maybe 24 hours after taking it in, all handled under warranty.

Colour me impressed.

Hmm, usually calipers have to be as old as the hills for seals to leak, i wonder if the self adjuster had stoppeed working so the piston and its seal were getting pushed further down the bore than otherwise and eventually reached the end of travel.

Admit i'm not up on how the system works on these simply because i won't have anything to do with EPB's so have no need to know, but i'd be inclined to ask them if they pulled the pads out of the other caliper and checked all adjustments were working free and fully, in case the same problem might befall that one, but out of warranty.

I'm assuming that the EPB works directly onand is part of the caliper on these, which would make a new caliper a seriously expensive job.

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - madf

The service schedule looks like they have certain things that are done every service, some every other service, and some every third or even fourth service, there isn't a major / minor service schedule per se.

As regards brake services it looks like they do not do the full stripdown and clean / lubricate you mention, they seem to focus on degree of wear on pads and disks.

One wonders if someone worked out that by substituting SS pins they could shave X minutes off a regular service and hence make servicing costs more competitive etc...

No pins on Yaris calipers..

No pins on Jazz calipers..

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - Metropolis.
The best place to look for auto box advice is the US market for obvious reasons. Whilst this was in relation to to onventional autos, i heard from a guy at a US lexus dealership that they change the atf every 20,000 miles!!! I think the idea is the oil always stays fresh. Problems tend to arise where the oil is too far gone, at which point a flush or even just a change could dislodge something and cause issues. I'd bet money Lexus UK don't have the same practice.
Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - steelghost

To close the thread, we're putting the car up for sale at almost 46,000 miles covered. Other than the aforementioned brake caliper, absolutely nothing else whatsoever has gone wrong with it.

In case anyone cares, we're moving to an EV because almost all our driving is local and the difference in running costs is startling.

Edited by steelghost on 24/08/2019 at 23:00

Toyota Avensis Tourer 1.8 Valvematic Multidrive S - Looking after Toyota CVT - Avant

Many thanks for coming back to us. Glad the Avensis has gone well: your experience is typical of Toyota owners.

Do start a new rhread and tell us about the process of deciding on an EV, as that's sure to be of interest.

 

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