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Discussion Starter #1
So, having been on this forum for years and years now, I can't say I have ever seen this, or was able to search and find it, but here goes.

I have an auto trans.
When I drive up in the mountains, I tend to 'shift' to 4th or 3rd as needed and just leave on long climbs.
Other day I went to downshift in the gate and I noticed it wouldn't move into that slot.
And, as one is want to, I forced it and it went....but it broke something so now it just slops about!
It engages the gears, it just doesn't "click" and stay like it's engaged into a slot.....it just slaps about. Goes thru all gears fine, again, just with zero resistance or lock.
I want to say that this shifter is a unit box that "plugs" into the trans? As in it's a somewhat sealed modular box-thing that can't be opened up and cleaned and fixed?
Is that true? Anyone done this? Cost?

Thanks. Super random I know.
 

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No, the "shifter box" used on AT models is completely independent from the actual transmission.

It is just a plastic box containing the shift lever and the shift gate/detent mechanism, and is connected to the transmission via Bowden-type cable.
 

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I recall a thread where someone was having shifter issues. Finally found a small toy in the mechanism when he took the cover off.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hey thanks for this reply. I was able to look up the 'shifter module' and found what you described; basically a box unit module. I doesn't quite look like you can take it apart to repair if one thing is broken like a spring or something, but it also literally looks like you can just swap the thing out for a new unit pretty darn easy!

No, the "shifter box" used on AT models is completely independent from the actual transmission.

It is just a plastic box containing the shift lever and the shift gate/detent mechanism, and is connected to the transmission via Bowden-type cable.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
HA!!! Or maybe a petrified french fry?!!?!
I'm going to see if I can get into the "module unit" after taking the shrouds off and stuff. I found a picture of just the shifter module box, and it didn't "look" like it can be taken apart, but maybe I just couldn't see the disassembly screws or tabs to pop off?

I recall a thread where someone was having shifter issues. Finally found a small toy in the mechanism when he took the cover off.
 

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I'll bet that when you get into the shifter module (Toyota call is a "shift lock control unit"), you'll find that some small foreign object dropped into it from the shift gate opening.

And as frequently happens, applying increasing levels of force when something doesn't work as expected didn't really correct the root cause of the problem.

Based on your description of loss of "detent" function, and how much force you ended up applying, you may just have bent the leaf spring/damper that appears to create the detent stops. Or you might have broken part of the plastic housing itself. Aside from the spring/damper, Toyota doesn't show any replaceable parts for the shifter module, and a new assembly is fairly expensive at ~$300-$500. I'd check salvage yards for a clean used part.
 

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Oh that is PERFECT!!!! Looking at the break down chart, yea I am wondering if you're right. I for sure 'broke' something, so it shifts, but the ability to retain in the detent is totally not there. Might actually be easier than I am thinking.

Hey you know the maxim: if it don't fit, force it if it breaks it was meant to be replaced!!! :D

I'll bet that when you get into the shifter module, you'll find that some small foreign object dropped into it from the shift gate opening.

And as frequently happens, applying increasing levels of force when something doesn't work as expected didn't really correct the root cause of the problem.

Based on your description of loss of "detent" function, and how much force you ended up applying, you may just have bent the leaf spring that appears to create the detent stops. Or you might have broken part of the plastic housing itself.
 

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I had the same thing happen to me last summer driving on Last Dollar road between Telluride and Ridgeway. I believe a spring keeper broke (inside the shifter) and then the gears 4th / 5th and 2nd / 1st slopped around. I could manually hold the shifter in 4th (wanted to be in 5th) or manually hold the shifter in 1st (wanted to be in 2nd). The forward / downward motion of the shifter was unaffected, but the lateral motion didn't stay in certain gear positions.

I priced one from Toyota ($850 plus labor). I was on the road, so I called several salvage yards in Denver, and found a used one for $85 (1/10 the price) and installed it myself. I was going to fixed the broken one when I arrived home in Phoenix, but disassembly / reassembly of the shifter probably requires a special tool that only the manufacturer has. So, I ended up putting it out with the trash. I suspect this is why the shifter does not have a breakaway parts diagram and Toyota only sells the complete assembly.

Your transmission is fine, it is just the shifter. Call around (salvage yards, E-bay, etc.) and get a used unit. My replacement unit has been working just fine for 15 months. The salvage shifter had a scratched cover plastic piece. The cover shows the shift position. I was able to remove the cover from my broken shifter and put on the salvage unit.

The entire project took me about an hour and 20 minutes, but I'm sure now that I've performed this fix once, I would bet it only takes about 25-30 minutes. Sorry for your problem, but it is really an easy DIY project.
 
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