Back in January 2005, we bought a used 2002 Toyota RAV4 for Amy to replace her ailing Honda Civic. We've been really happy with the RAV4, having put it through a lot of road trips and general daily commuting. Since purchase, we've had it serviced at our local Toyota dealer, which despite a higher labor cost, has always done us right.

Our 2002 Toyota RAV4

This came into play back in August 2008 when we encountered engine trouble. To our dismay it was discovered that our engine needed to be replaced due to some sludge that was accumulating. However, a few days later we were delighted to hear that Toyota was replacing the whole thing for free due to an under-the-table recall on our engine and similar powerplants found in Lexus vehicles. Had we not serviced our car with the dealer, we would not have known about this situation (which still may be considered questionable from a quality standpoint, especially with all the flack Toyota has dealt with in the past year).

Jump ahead to April of this year. We were driving around one Saturday when we noticed some shifting issues on the RAV4. I found it odd, but just to be safe headed over to the dealer. The next day we got the bad news… our transmission was shot. Given that the car was only 8 years old, this again was frustrating, but moved forward with the repair to the tune of $3300. We were quite deflated at the time, as we had earmarked much of that money to go towards our "Dave Ramsey Plan" of paying down debt, such as school loans. Oh well.

Then on July 12 we received a phone call from our Toyota dealer. They were letting us know that we should expect a letter from Toyota in the next few months about a "technical service bulletin" that had been issued regarding transmissions. When we finally got the paperwork, it did appear that it was another one of these "secret recalls" that Toyota was doing, probably to avoid bad press. In this case, if customers were having problems with their transmissions, Toyota was offering replacement at no cost.

Unfortunately, in our case, we had already paid for the transmission replacement. So instead we had to file paperwork with Toyota to see if they would reimburse us for the repair. And so we did… and waited.

Letter from Toyota

Today, we got the answer. A nice check in the mail covering the entire cost! Huge answer to prayer. We're excited!