Troubleshooting Transmission Problems: The Toyota U140F

Posted by on Friday, January 18th, 2013

The Toyota U140F transmission is made by the Toyota Corporation. It is a 4 speed automatic transmission used in four wheel drive and all-wheel drive Toyota vehicles including the 2001 -2003 Highlander, the 2000 – 2010 RAVE4, the Lexus 1999 -2003, RX 300 and the 2009 to present Matrix. The U140F is part of the U1xx family that includes the U140E, U142E, U151E and the U151F.

The U140F transmission


Toyota is known for making quality, well made and reliable cars and components, but the U140F is not without fault. Let’s take a look at some of the common problems that the U140F is known for. The next time you’re faced with a U140F equipped vehicle in need of repairs, I hope this helps you to be better prepared to find the problems quickly!

There is no movement in any gear. There are a number of things that can cause this problem. Failure of the front and rear planetary gear could cause this problem. Failure of the U/D one way clutch regulator valve, or failure of the forward clutch could also cause this problem. It also could be the result of a stuck or broken primary regulator valve.

U140F transmission diagram


The transmission has no reverse. The first thing I would look at is the direct clutch assembly. This is the most likely cause of losing reverse. Failures of the U/D planetary gear unit, the front planetary gear assemble or the rear planetary gear can also result in a loss of reverse.

The transmission will not shift from 1st to 2nd gear. A valve stuck in the valve body is the most likely cause of this problem, or the failure of the one-way clutch.

The transmission will not shift from 2nd to 3rd gear. A valve stuck in the valve body is the most likely cause of this problem. Also take a look at the direct clutch assembly – failure of this unit could also cause this symptom.

The transmission will not shift from 3rd gear into overdrive. A stuck valve in the valve body is pretty much the only problem that could cause this symptom.

The lock up clutch does not work. The most common problem of this symptom is the failure of the lock up relay valve. On occasion failure of the torque converter clutch will also cause this symptom.

U140F Automatic Transmission valve body


Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when working on a U140F transmission:

  • The transmission fluid needs to be changed every 15000 miles. That is a very short interval compared to most transmissions.
  • The transmission must get up to proper operating temperature (160 degrees) to operate correctly.

Cars equipped with this transmission can easily become a safety hazard on the road. A lawsuit brought against Toyota caused them to extend their warranty to 10 years or 150,000 miles, whatever came first.

Car owners aren’t willing to put up with extra costs. They’re fed up with recalls and problems that should never have happened in the first place.  A poorly functioning transmission can affect your gas mileage, and Americans are already worried about the price of gas skyrocketing out of control.

You can give your customers, or yourself, a helping hand by buying a re-manufactured transmission, if the original goes belly up. A re-manufactured transmission will include fixes beyond a normal rebuild to prevent common failure from occurring again.A re-manufactured transmission will also include a much better warranty; three years compared to an average 90 days for a rebuilt transmission. As a bonus, in the rare event that a re-manufactured transmission fails within the warranty period, they will cover your R&R cost to replace your customer’s transmission. And remember, the companies that re-manufacture transmissions are very easy contact. They are just a quick phone call or email away from helping you out.


3 Responses to “Troubleshooting Transmission Problems: The Toyota U140F”

  1. S.Cote says:

    I own a 2002 Higlander which transmission has been repaired last year.There is still a problem though.This is an intermittant problem that I have addressed to the trans mission shop with no success.(I feel like they just don’t know or don’t want to solve the problem ,leaving the warranty expire).The transmission kicks when downshifting from 2nd to 1st while making a stop at a traffic ligt or at a street corner.Very anoying to hear that “clunk” and feel the “shock” of the driveshafts on the diver’s seat!Have you ever encountered this kind of trouble?Thank you!

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