Toyota Rav4 EV Forum
http://www.myrav4ev.com/forum/

ALL POSTS - motor whine or "HUM" (Milling Sound)
http://www.myrav4ev.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=251
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Author:  cleanauto [ Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Traction Motor Replacement

Earlier this week the traction motor assembly was replaced on our RAV4EV. Our car has had an excessive whining noise at freeway speeds that we never heard in the RAV4EV we rented for a weekend before buying (Or any other 2012 RAV4EV we have driven in). We didn't hear it on the test drive before buying, but we definitely heard it on the way home back on Dec. 15th. It took quite a bit of effort and time moving up the service support chain to get it fixed. Luckily we are there now, and we can really enjoy being back among active RAV4EV owners. This is our third RAV4EV (we had two 2002 RAV4EV's for over 8 years), so you can say we're kind of fans of the car.

An interesting fact we found out is that Toyota (and Tesla I assume) have a recorded audio file for each car from it's early test drive at the factory. For some reason our car slipped through the quality process when it shouldn't have. All part of being on the leading edge.

Tim
Granite Bay, CA (near Sacramento)
2012 RAV4EV #1240, 2011 Nissan Leaf #691, 2011 Chevy Volt #692 (yes we love EV's in our family going back to 1997 with a Honda EV Plus and a GM EV1)

Author:  TonyWilliams [ Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Traction Motor Replacement

cleanauto wrote:
Earlier this week the traction motor assembly was replaced on our RAV4EV. Our car has had an excessive whining noise at freeway speeds


Wow! My car has the same whining gearbox noise, and it might be getting worse. I'll get a new motor for it when I leave for Europe next month.

Author:  jspearman [ Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Traction Motor Replacement

Fascinating about the audio file! I remember Tony commenting about the whine on his RAV, but ours is quiet enough that I've never noticed the sound, especially compared to the Leaf which I thought was a little annoying at higher speeds. I'm happy to hear Toyota took care of this for you. Makes me curious about the thousands of new S motors out there, since this could be a nasty expensive problem for Tesla.

Author:  Jscifres [ Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Traction Motor Replacement

Welcome to the forum, Tim.

Tim and I purchased our cars the same day at the same dealership and it's been nice to know an EV guru and local owner to bounce questions off each other. When he told me about the noise, I was really concerned that he'd struggle to get the issue acknowledged, let alone fixed. But after riding in Tim's car, I can confirm that the noise/hum was quite obvious as speeds reached 50mph.

I'm glad your persistence paid off and you finally have this issue behind you!

Author:  occ [ Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Traction Motor Replacement

Hi I'm new to this forum. Been on MNL for a long time tho, since I own a LEAF.

I'm really looking into the Rav4 EV now because of the $7500 incentive on top of the 0% financing. I just rented one (from South Coast Toyota Costa Mesa, CA) for the day and loved the power/torque/acceleration, and range!

What was a bit disappointing is the motor whine. Seems so much louder than the LEAF, both during applying power and regen. I thought maybe it was that the Rav4 cabin insulation is not as good as the Tesla S (test drove one but can't afford it).

So this thread gives me hope. So if what I'm hearing is "not" normal, then a normal one is quieter, but will this be a problem as the car age, or just a isolated defect?

Is there anyway to know if a rav4ev has a bad motor other than to drive a good one?

Author:  Bassman [ Sat Feb 23, 2013 3:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Traction Motor Replacement

Hi Tim,
I just got my Rav4EV yesterday. Funny how great minds think alike. You'll be happy to know the Gen 1 Insight is doing fine. Sorry to hear about your motor whine. Hopefully the new motor goes for a long time before it needs replacing. Talk to you soon. :)

Author:  RecActVeh [ Sat Feb 23, 2013 8:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Traction Motor Replacement

RecActVeh wrote:
RAV4 EV Rental Test.........Pleased with range would be a understatement!

I do have to say that the leaf provides a nicer ride. I notice much more road noise in the RAV and the whine bewteen 45-70 is awful. It's like a bee swarming around my ear. Hopefully it's just this particular rental from South Coast Toyota with 1300 miles on it. I would definetly drive the one I intended on purchasing beforehand as 100 miles in this thing was obnoxious!

TonyWilliams wrote:

The ride sucks and the whine won't go away on another car. The Tesla Model S guys mention that noise, and that's with their motor all the way in the rear, not at your feet like the Rav4. They are exactly the same motor and gear box. My motor's Tesla serial number is 331.


This clearly tells me that whine was not normal. I rented the same RAV from South Coast Toyota as occ did and the whine stopped me from going forward with a purchase. My Leaf is silky smooth and silent in comparison. I could live with the ride dynamics but the gearbox noise was awful. Upon returning to my Leaf after four days in the RAV rental, I realized just how silent by comparison the Leaf is. There are many things I like about the RAV and if this issue is selective I give em' another look. I think I've got some time as the dealer inventory just keeps climbing. As one fleet guy told me "these things are aren't exactly flying off the lots"

Author:  Jscifres [ Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Traction Motor Replacement

From the sounds of it, several cars are experiencing this issue. The existance of the audio file does prove that Tesla has some form of QC set up to catch it, and possibly to track changes over time.

To those who are on the fence about the Rav, I can tell you that a back to back drive in the OP's Rav and my Rav, on the same route, was very revealing. Mine is nearly silent in comparison.

I would recommend test driving the car where you can go 50+ on relatively smooth road before you purchase. If engine/tranny noise is significantly louder than road noise, there may be a problem.

FWIW, I believe the OP was told that he could drive the car without fear of damaging it while he waited for parts.

Author:  occ [ Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Traction Motor Replacement

Jscifres wrote:
From the sounds of it, several cars are experiencing this issue. The existance of the audio file does prove that Tesla has some form of QC set up to catch it, and possibly to track changes over time.

To those who are on the fence about the Rav, I can tell you that a back to back drive in the OP's Rav and my Rav, on the same route, was very revealing. Mine is nearly silent in comparison.

I would recommend test driving the car where you can go 50+ on relatively smooth road before you purchase. If engine/tranny noise is significantly louder than road noise, there may be a problem.

FWIW, I believe the OP was told that he could drive the car without fear of damaging it while he waited for parts.


Thanks Jscifres. I'm on the fence because of this noise. Like RecActVeh stated, at 45-70, the buzz is noticeable on top of the road noise. Unlike the high pitch whine on the LEAF, which is very subdued and not heard at all at freeway road noise speed. I did a short test drive in another Rav4 (only 15 mile on the odometer) and it seems like the whine was there at freeway speed. Although that short test drive was before my longer extended rental at South Coast Toyota, so I'm can't properly recall, but both my wife and I did noticed that it was not as quiet and refined like the LEAF. I had attributed the noise to normal "truck" noise at the time.

Tim, so after the replacement, is it a definite improvement?

Author:  SeattleRav4 [ Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Traction Motor Replacement

I just drove mine listening intently for this whine. I can hear a definite whine while accelerating but in steady state, mine has no perceptible whine. Perhaps it is at a frequency that I cannot hear.
I would recommend anyone considering a purchase to go test drive several and see if you can hear any traction motor whine. Maybe there is a range or maybe some do and some don't.

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