Some long time readers may remember that my wife's RAV4 had some issues with a "harsh shift condition" that her mechanics thought required a multi-thousand dollar transmission replacement. Hoping to avoid such a financial hit, I did some research and found evidence that the problem was in the ECM, the computer up against the firewall behind the glove box that controls the drive system. A bunch of Serbians in Brooklyn were selling an update where they would replace the capacitors in the ECM (of very low quality, subjected to heat through the firewall, and thus not stabilizing the control voltages for the drivetrain). I sent it off, they fixed it, and the car has run fine ever since. Her mechanic has been strangely silent on the issue, even though I gave them business by having them remove and reinstall the ECM and flush the transmission fluid to get rid of any metal shavings caused by the harsh shift.
Today, friends, I received a notice of a class action suit where Toyota has agreed to reimburse people for any costs associated with repair of this problem. I'm not sure they will cover the transmission fluid flushing, and there is some chance they won't cover the Serbians (about a $300 cost to me, the mechanic cost another $200 or so) but even if they pay for nothing I am feeling even more vindicated.
You have to understand that while I understand how a car works at a very basic level, and I have changed my own oil and filter successfully on more than one occasion (though not for years, it's a freakin' mess), I do not consider myself a "car guy" by any stretch of the imagination and have no idea what to look for when buying a car. To have figured this out and been right where the mechanics were wrong is something I'm enjoying quite a bit. To not even worry if I get reimbursed is even better, as I know people who spent more like $1500, and have seen people who spent nearly $8000 getting this problem fixed.
If you did not receive a notice in the mail, check out www.rav4ecmsettlement.com.