Hey Toyota, recall my 2006 RAV4

All the Toyota recall news lately remind me of the problem I've had with a klunking noise in the steering column of my 2006 Toyota RAV4, which leads me to wonder: Hey Toyota, where's my RAV4 recall?

Toyota RAV4 recall - steering column klunking noise

I first wrote about the 2006 Toyota RAV4 steering column klunking noise problem (no recall) back in September of 2007, where I linked to many reports of other Toyota RAV4 owners having the same steering column “klunk” noise problem. A year later I wrote about the poor overall quality of the 2006 Toyota RAV4.

To be fair, the RAV4 isn’t a horrible vehicle — but my wife’s Ford Explorer is a better vehicle. The things that bug me most about this 2006 RAV4 experience are:

  1. The Anchorage Toyota dealer’s inability to find the problem,
  2. Their inability to find the TSB about this problem, and
  3. Toyota’s unwillingness to pay for the steering column problem after I found the TSB (Toyota Service Bulletin), but my mileage was then past the warranty period.

(Which leads me to the gripe that since this problem isn’t related to mileage, why does being past 30,000 miles mean that Toyota shouldn’t repair this known steering column defect? And why the heck isn’t there a recall for this problem?)

This whole experience was like some horrible game, where Toyota new the secret behind the RAV4 steering column problem, but they wouldn’t admit to it, at least not until I did a lot of research to find that TSB.

As you can imagine, I can rant on Toyota quality and the RAV4 steering column noise problem for a long time, but in the end the best I could do was to manage a 50/50 cost split with Toyota, so I recently got the RAV4 steering column fixed before I drive back to Alaska. The total repair cost was right at $800, and Toyota is supposed to reimburse me for $400 of this cost. As I've written before, I don't believe in the myth of Toyota quality, and now in the latest news reports we're seeing problems with Toyota honesty.

(This article was originally published February 7, 2010.)

Toyota RAV4 steering column repair - update

After agreeing on the phone to reimburse me for 1/2 of the cost to repair my RAV steering column noise, I had the $800 repair performed, sent in my receipts, and now the Toyota people called me recently and left a message for me, questioning what this repair is for ... what the heck? It's like they will do anything they can to avoid paying for this steering column problem. Just to be clear, I have a very serious dislike for Toyota.

RAV4 steering column refund - another delay

April 14, 2010: The people at Toyota still haven't reimbursed me for half of my RAV4 steering column repair, as they promised to do. I don't know what the problem is, because all we can do is play phone tag. I sent my repair paperwork in, included a letter explaining everything, and included my case number. The only message I've gotten back is that there is a problem with the paperwork. Every time I call, the person I need to speak to "isn't available right now", and I can't talk to anyone else, so I have to leave a message. They promise to call back in "two business days", a promise they have yet to keep.

You'd think with all their current safety and PR problems they would be as nice and apologetic as can be, but no, I feel like we're just playing some game so they can either delay reimbursing me, or avoid reimbursing me altogether. I'm just a wee bit frustrated and irritated with them, and my new mantra is "Toyota is Evil".

RAV4 steering column repair - phone call - April 16, 2010

I finally got to talk to my "contact" at Toyota, and here's the summary: "Mr. Alexander, you know that three-page, stapled document you sent in? Well, we scanned it in, and we can only find one page, so you'll need to send it in again. Do you still have our address?"

After I nearly exploded, she said she also had a fax number, and that would go directly to her, so I'm heading out now to find a fax machine so I can get this to her today.

RAV4 steering column repair - phone call - April 19, 2010

Wow, I'm stunned ... my Toyota contact called today to say "the check is in the mail". They are finally going to reimburse me for $400 of the $800 repair bill. Wow. It took two and a half years, but it looks like Toyota is finally going to cover half of the repair. I still don't think it's fair, but at least they're paying something.

Comments

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A friend of mine has a joke about the Toyota commercial where they say "80% of all Toyota vehicles are still on the road". He says it like this:

"80% of all Toyota vehicles are still on the road, because their owners are broke from paying the maintenance costs, and can't afford a new vehicle."

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I too have a 2006 Rav4 with the steering fault you speak of. I obtained a copy of the Toyota's technical service report ST001-08 and had to bring it to the attention of the local Toyota dealership because of their inability to find it. Presently they have quoted me £850 - £1000 to replace the intermediate shaft which corrects the fault. Toyota UK are not interesting in paying anything towards the cost so currently I'm looking at my options which include fitting it myself.

If it helps to know it, Toyota only gave me the 50/50 split because I first reported this problem with about 26K miles on the RAV4. Actually, I reported it twice before 30K miles, but the now-defunct dealer was unable to repro the problem both tims. I then drove back from Alaska to Kentucky, and in the cold weather the steering column doesn't make noise, so I didn't think about it again until it started making noise when I had over 50K miles.

I had to fight with Toyota for a long time (Toyota phone numbers I know are 1-800-331-4331 in the US, and 1-888-869-6828 in Canada) just to get a 50/50 split, which again, seems ridiculous, because the steering column noise problem has nothing to do with mileage or however many years you have owned the vehicle -- it's an out and out design/engineering defect, just like the Toyota gas pedals and Prius brake problems, which will be fixed for free.

As you can probably tell, my blood pressure is rising, so I better stop here, lol. But good luck in your quest.

I have a 2007 RAV4 with the same problem, only 15K miles on the vehicle. I think Toyota is aware of this problem and should also initiate a recall for the steering problems.

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http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/index.cfm

People need to start contacting the NHTSA. This is a problem in every 2006 Rav 4 and should be recalled. This only be a noise now, but who knows if our steering will go out eventually. This is the same as the current recall. Customers are telling Toyota about the problem and this are ignoring it. I also have a Camry. These will be my last Toyotas unless they offer a 5-year bumper to bumper warrenty.

Thanks for the link! I don't know enough about this problem to know if it is a safety issue or not, but I will say that my steering column seemed to be getting worse. It used to make no noise at all during cold weather, but when it was still making noise at 30 and 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) here last month, I decided I better get it fixed.

Here's that link again, and again thanks: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/index.cfm

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I had to have my steering shaft replaced in my 2006 RAV4 when it completely died on my 2 blocks from the dealer and 200 miles after the 36,000 mile waranty expired, which meant I was out over $800 :-(

It was like a scene out of a bad sitcom. Good luck with yours.

A great line from David Letterman last night:

"But Obama's physical turned out great. The doctor said a couple of things. He said: 'Cut out the cigarettes. Also, try to stay out of Toyotas.'"

Not to be outdone, here's a great line from Jay Leno:

"More problems with the auto industry ... General Motors announced a recall of 1.3 million cars because of a steering problem. Apparently, the cars are unable to steer out of the path of oncoming Toyotas." – Jay Leno

 

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you think you have problems not only did I have problems with my steering column, but I also had to replace my engine due to a faulty temperature gauge that never registered an elevation, I had to replace shocks and now my axles are wearing out and need to be replaced , We also replaced the shocks in my car, It is an 2006 rav4. The dealership did split the cost of the engine because it tried to say that I did't maintain the automobile even though I had documentation to support the opposite and it was due to a faulty temperature gauge nothing to do with oil changes, I have been very disappointed in the performance of this car and have always wondered did I get a lemon or what, I also talked my husband in buying toyotas since 1995 he has had at least 8 new toyotas , Needless to say I'm not so sure anymore nor do I trust them to be honest anymore since I've had so many problems with my car I will never trust them again.

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I have the same problem with the steering column but what is so strange is why this only happens when it's warm outside and in -20 Celius - it seems to be just fine. I took my vehicle into the Toyota dealership and the service manager sat in my vehicle turned the steering wheel and said "yup" it's your steering shaft - we've had problems with this. The advisor then told me that it was off warranty by 4,000K's and it would cost me just under 3000.00. I asked the advisor if my RAV 4 was dangerous to drive - he said "No" just the noise will be annoying. Still haven't got it fixed - Toyota can fix it when I return it in a few months when my lease is up. I agree with you all, if we are all having the same problems this should be on a recall. I've driven many Toyota's thru out the years - I won't be going back after my lease is up in a few months. Signed Disappointed.

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I also had to replace the intermediate steering linkage and it is not cheap. Started hearing the noise around 18,000 miles. Was told not to worry about it.
I took it in for an inspection at a local Toyota garage ( with appx. 40,000 miles on the car) and was told that the linkage was so bad that they could not put a sticker on my car. So I went from don't worry about it to paying over $800.00 to get it repaired. Now I am getting a noise that appears to be coming from the oil pan area, could it be that the main or rod bearings are already about to give out (only 58,000 miles). I even use synthetic oil which is better. Toyota you need to bite the bullet and fix these problems or you could lose a lot of customers.

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I have a 2006 Rav4 with the same steering issue. It absolutely amazes me that Toyota will not do anything to correct such a WIDESPREAD problem. I refuse to pay to have it fixed. I sure hope they put a recall out. However, I can't say I see that happening anytime soon. Not only am I having trouble with my steering. But I also had my radio replaced 3 times when I first purchased it. This is my third Toyota and I can confidently say that I will NEVER purchase another one again.

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I have a 2007 RAV4 V6 base model, we bought it because it was just the right size for us and I've owned 6 Toyota's. I've always had good experiences with them and I of course went for this updated little dude. So far I've had to have a chip replaced because the air bag light kept going on and off, I've had the steering wheel goodie replaced because of the knocking noise, just recently had to have the alternator replaced because it was making a whirling noise. Today we just had our breaks cleaned because it's making growling noises, but of course driving it home it's still growling. I just wanted to share with you all, that in my mail today I received a campaign notice (recall) from Toyota for a hose replacement on 2007 V6 RAV4's. Apparently,the oil supply hose for the VVT-i actuator may degrade over time, which may produce abnormal engine noise and the oil pressure light to go on....or you could just be losing oil...yikes. I'm so disappointed, need I say more.....

I have had my Rav in twice for the steering problem - both covered by the warranty and the second by the extended warranty. I have 57.000 miles on it.

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Any problems with the wheels? My wheels are discolored and i was told i could pay to have them repainted. Service man said it is a defect and has not seen the problem but it is not covered.

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I just did a 2.5 year service here in Canada. My mileage is at 23197 miles (about 37000km). I went in mainly for an oil change but I got the VVTi Hose change notice in Feb and booked my appointment. I also read about the steering klunk on this site along with others and I did notice a slight noise. It was noticed and 45221-42071 (Shaft, Intermediat) and 45260-42090 (shaft, intermediat) was replaced and I see a note of TSB 2928 on the invoice. Toyota fixed items under warranty without any fuss. I feel your pain of those who are having issues with the 2006...I wish you luck! Time will tell about the steering noise but the short distance from the dealership back home did not have the thunking noise which is good news. If any issues comes up, I'll let you all know.

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I have that same knocking sound in the steering column of my 2006 Rav4 too. Before reading this, I felt it was a default and should be recalled. Now I know for certain it is an issue that Toyota should look into.

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Has anyone had issues with putting your car in Park ?
Whether it is on level ground or hill, doesn't seem to matter. I sometimes can't get my key out. I have to turn the key and run the stick from park to drive, back and forth, until I can get the key out.
I'm not having problems with the Steering. Only other issue is the light in my viser mirror, stopped working.

Thanks,

Haha, I was so upset by the steering column problem that I've never noted all the other problems, but yes, I occassionally have a problem putting the RAV4 in park. Here is a short list of other common problems with the RAV4 that come to mind:

  • Putting it in Park (as you wrote).
  • Getting the key out of the ignition (as you wrote). I have to turn it one way or the other until it "frees" up.
  • Getting the driver side door open. Once or twice a month I can't get it open, and have to try to open it, close it, then try again. Hopefully that won't happen if I ever need to get out of the car in a big hurry.
  • The transmission does some weird things from time to time, but that's harder to describe ... some lurching, and some slipping. It's worse here in Alaska where it's constantly cool.
  • The little plastic thing that is supposed to cover the cigarette lighter hole never stayed on that hole from Day 1.
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I am having the same problem with my rav4 as well all the things i have read but I told my dealer about it he say he dont know of any problem with 2006 Toyota RAV4 steering column klunking noise problem where I linked to many reports of other Toyota RAV4 owners having the same steering column "klunk" noise problem. Its not fair and I think they should replace the part for free. I already had a problems a terrible sound in the front wheel which the replace. I will continue to call take them before this Rav4 take over the cliff.

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Today, May 11, 2010, I left my car, Toyota RAV4 '06 model, at Guam local dealer where I purchased as new car and they charged me $65.00 just for check.

Folks working at the dealer said they never heard of that problem before and they can not repair it because parts are not provided.

I'm mad. I never said anything bad on Toyota products before.

Anybody has any good idea to help my problem? The car runs not even 10.000 miles and basic warrenty is expired a year ago according to dealer. I'm planning big campaign not to buy Toyota products.

Here's the information I have on my steering column repair invoice:

90460-64003 CLAMP, HOSE
45221-42071 SHAFT, STEERING INTE
45260-42090 SHAFT ASSY, STEERING

"REPLACED INTERMEDIATE SHAFTS ..."

(I'm tempted to make some jokes about getting the shaft from Toyota, but I'll just leave it at that.)

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Same problem with the steering as everyone else. It's obscene that anyone should wait until their steerin breaks on the road because Toyota won't fix a known defect. We called the dealer and he acted like he had no idea what we were talking about. when we mentioned the service bulletin, he immediately said "that's not covered after the 36k warranty" as if he had a script in his hand.

Call this number and register a complaint:

BY PHONE: Call the Hotline, Monday-Friday 8am to 8pm at(888) 327-4236 , TTY: (800) 424-9153.

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My 2006 rav4 have the same problem now. I thought i made a good investment by buying this brand new car in cash and hoping it'll last forever.

Don't know if I should go fix it right away since sounds like it could be a big problem if I wait. Will Toyota reimburse the fix if and when they do recall on this problem?

I just filed a complaint online. Everyone please do the same and hope NHTSA will force toyota to do the right thing.

This is my first Toyota and I swear this will be my last!

Note: Toyota announced yet another recall today (July 28, 2010), this time for Lexus and Avalon steering problems:

"The vehicles' steering interlock system can develop a crack which can expand, making it hard to unlock the steering system when the cars are parked. In rarer cases, the steering wheel can become locked when the cars are moving."

I've had a similar problem with my RAV4 when parked, though turning the steering wheel usually loosens it up.

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Hi guys. i bought my first Rav4 (2006) used and had the same problem on the steering, but its an easy fix. just hoist the vehicle, remove the sub-frame, no need to remove the column leave outer ends attached to knuckle to get to adjustment on the column. There are two nuts in sight. Remove the outer one as the inner is a lock nut, apply lube greese into hole (trying to recall exactly what the mechanic did) re-install the inner nut and tighten slowley and feel for when play is out but no stiffness in steering

Hope this helps

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I had a 95 camry(great car) 99camry worse 09tacoma more problems.
Toyota is spending more money on advertising the quality of there car than on quality and repairs. The repair shops here are advertising sunday hour,non warrenty of course,what does that tell you. Trading in my tacoma before it's to late. No more toyota
PS same steering noise as everyone else

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same steering complaint 2006 rav 4 took it in under the factory warranty no fault found or you need tires.
Called toyota cust. service and got no where
i will not buy a toyota or lexus
will go back to the quality and service of the german cars.

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I was less than 36K miles but more than 36 months, and had this intermediate steering shaft issue discussed here. The dealer was going to charge $650 but agreed to do it for $450. We sat on the problem for 6 months before deciding it became a big problem with our satisfaction on the vehicle.

Then, in May 2010 we took it back to the dealer and asked if they would still do it for $450. The dealer suggested we call Toyota directly. At this time, Toyota was in the middle of all their recalls on the sticking accelerators and other stuff. Toyota agreed to pay for half of labor and parts. But then they called back and strangely said they'd reimburse for the whole thing.

The repair ended up being $390. We paid the dealer for the repair, the dealer faxed in the invoice to Toyota, and Toyota sent us a"goodwill reimbursement" check after 3 or 4 weeks.

So if you have this issue, definitely call Toyota Customer Experience Center directly at 1-800-331-4331 and reference the ST 001-08 TSB. They are open M-F 5a-6pm, 7am-4am Pacific time.

The TSB can be found at: http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/snd27613/2008-10-14_215655_rav_4_steering_2.pdf

Now, just yesterday, our passenger "AIRBAG OFF" light is on and the passenger seat belt alarm doesn't go off. More fun...

Toyota quality is suspect these days.

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2006 Rav4 65,000mi- cost me $395.98 for the fix. They don't make 'em like they used to- My husband's Tacoma has 200,000+ miles & never had a problem- Toyota should have recalled this when they discoveted the flaw- likely the last Toyota I will buy- this coupled with the nasty mold smell from the AC that started a few months after buying brand new has done it for me.

I keep forgetting to add it here, but if anyone has any problems with their RAV4 feeling sluggish, lagging, or nearly stalling, I was able to fix at least 80% of my problem by cleaning the RAV4 MAF sensor. Again this is on a 2006 RAV4 with the 2.4 liter 4-cylinder enginer.

I've had a few other transmission problems that a friend thinks may be due to the transmission being 'adaptive'. He had me disconnect the battery today and drain the reserve energy by pumping the brake pedal, which may or may not reset the memory of the ECU (or ECM, whatever it's called). I've read some things that say this is a valid approach, others that say it's not valid, but I have to say, my transmission did feel different after doing this. It still has a soft spot at 40-45 mph, but all the other problems went away.

Toyota covered all our costs and gave us a car to use whilst they did the replacement. Partner picked up on the problem at about 50,000 k's still under warranty. A friend in our town was recently hit with the whole bill (she does less mileage)- but luckily she had paid for an extended 5 year warranty, she tackled them and they agreed to pay for all costs. l did wonder how wide spread is this problem in the Rav 06 and how much are Toyota getting away with?

cheers

Susan
Australia

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Hello there!

I bought at the end of 2006 Brand new Rav4 4wd Base edition also at the same dealer I have bought 2 Brand new Scions Xb 1.5L. And ill tell you it is shameless Toyota that would not look into problems with their Loyal customers. I have 30898 Miles on my car today, its in pristine condition by look and I maintain my car more than necessary(Oil Changes @ 3500 Miles Fully Synthetic)Air filters and other maintenance that are required...
At 30898 Miles i had replaced front Balance bar links, Front Shocks, upper strut bearings, ball joints,CV Shaft,and now problem with steering rack and intermediate shaft #1,2.
Now at that price that I have paid the Rav4 $22,500 I could get let's say Kia Sorento and would have more warranty period and mileage cover than from Toyota. For Christ sake it's 31000 Miles on the car with out doubt, my dad wont even drive this car in snow to save it from bad weather. Sounds like a joke to some, but it's costing me a fortune to fix it because it past 36 months since the vehicle was sitting for a year.
I'm Active Military currently in Bosnia and feel sorry that i ever bought this car from Toyota, not because I have paid cash for it but because it was my gift to my dad hoping that it's going to serve him well for long time without problems and because Toyota History has shown good reputable cars on the market before. I surly hope that someone reads these posts because i have been Toyota customer for a long time and this is beyond any courtesy that Toyota have ever Shown to me.
All receipts for work done are well over $4000 Including labor, Joke? My Dad has disappointing look on his face ( What!Priceless?) Look into what we have spend for cars and take care of us Toyota, Just to show some appreciation that we deserve.... :(

In reply to by susan australia (not verified)

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I purchased a new Rav 4 during end 2006. I reported a noise somewhere at the steering column at about 50 000km's however the Toyota dealership could not find any problems. At 80 000km's they identified the issue and replied that it will cost about $1000 Aus Dollars to correct the problem. I contacted Toyota Australia and they indicated that they had no intention to assist me with the cost.

From about 70000km I found that the accelerator has a delayed action. When you apply more fuel via the accelerator it starts slowing down then it will drop a gear (automatic) and take of with everyone’s neck taking a beating as it takes off. Every 10 000km service since the service centre spends time in correcting some issue regarding this “dead spot”.

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I just got hit with repairs for:

4260-42090 Shaft Assy, Steering
45221-42071 Shaft Steering NTE
90460-64003 Clamp, Hose $493.61 1/17/11.

Replacement steering shaft in lower steering column. I will agree that this should have been a recall with this many people having the same issue. We had complained twice during the waranty. We have owned at least 10 Toyota's in the last 20 years and this will make me seriously consider my next purchase of a vehicle. I was totally loyal to Toyota until now.
I have also complained about a very loud bang from the rear end that they can't find. It only happens when it's cold and sitting overnight as you back out of the garage and then shift back into drive. They can't seem to find this either (axle maybe).

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All,

I feel your pain on the intermediate steering shaft issue. I had it in my 2007 Rav4. I took the car to the dealership while I was within the 36K mile warranty period, and of course, they couldn't reproduce it. 6 months later the problem was getting worse, and I brought it back to them. Fortunately, this was after Toyota's massive gas pedal recall, which I believe softened their stance a bit. This time they could reproduce it, and they offered to pay for the whole thing. They made it clear to me that they were doing me a BIG favor, and I should be very grateful to them. Jerks. My friend wasn't so lucky with his RAV4, and ended up with a 50/50 split, like many of you. I too went through a lot of aggravation over this issue. It probably wouldn't hurt to get the Better Business Bureau involved if you're having trouble getting money from Toyota for this. I've had luck getting them to help me with non-automotive issues in the past. All you have to lose is your patience, sanity, time, etc. Good luck.

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I wanted to pass on my experience buying a 2007 Rav4 hoping to help other owners who have steering issues. I noticed a notchy feeling in my wheel only a month after I purchased the car. I brought it back to the dealer numerous times. You guessed it, they never confirmed it as an issue. I'm glad I bought the extended warranty with all the recalls these days. I recently took it to another Toyota service who discovered that my problem was the lower steering shaft binding that needed replacement. I also had to replace a front wheel bearing. I can't believe I had these issues on a car with low mileage. My extended warranty covered the costs, but what an agony for almost two years. These obvious design flaws need to be rectified.

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I have the same clunking noise in the steering, as described by many others.
I had a dealer check it out a couple years ago and they could not duplicate the issue, and said it was NOT a safety issue. Now that its no longer under warranty, the noise has become excessive. You can actually 'feel' the clunk in the steering wheel.
I took it to another dealer, with the TSB in hand, to get an estimate for repairs.
It was comical to listen to the service manager talk to the head mechanic.
They claimed to be totally unaware that this is an issue.
Repair would involve purchasing both shafts and labor. A wheel alignment would also be required as part of this process. This is an ABSOLUTE LIE. Replacing one or both shafts has nothing to do with wheel alignment. It's probable that one shaft may resolve the issue.

I will purchase parts on line, attempt it myself, and keep this site posted.

Experienced Toyota employees that claim this issue has no history.. I now realize that it is simply a well-choreographed ‘act’ to extract as much money as possible from loyal customers.
Ron

I had the same issue with my 2007 rav4, turned out to be lower driveshaft along with a tork converter problem. Why did I buy another rav4 to only have another tork converter go. I won't be buying toyotas anymore! I have to drive my car until it gets worse, each time I bring the car in for evaluation, the tech never duplicates the sound.