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I have compiled a lot of experience and research on this sunshade issue and, to support others, have summarized it all here. (Of course, some of this information will have already been stated in this forum.)
Issue: 2005-2014 Toyota Avalons, rear window sunshade assembly failure, complete and total, in the 'up' position; most common over 2005-2008 Avalons. The failure obstructs rear view at nighttime, especially if the rear window is also tinted. The sunshade is designed to automatically retract into the 'down' position when the car is put in reverse; if this failure has occurred, the sunshade will make a loud grinding sound for about 15 seconds while the sunshade attempts (and fails) to retract into the 'down' position. It will also make the sound even IF the sunshade is already retracted. Failure can occur at any time, but as early as 15,000-20,000 miles into new ownership. Toyota never released any TSB, any public acknowledgement or any unofficial/goodwill warranty toward this issue.
There is another Avalon sunshade assembly issue where it randomly activates on its own, extending to the 'up' position. That issue has a separate root cause, a relay failure, TSB-0157-14 "Rear Window Sunshade Rises With NO Switch Input," than is discussed here.
Descriptions and part numbers provided herein are based upon my own 2006 Toyota Avalon Limited, for which the sunshade assembly part number is 65333-AC010.
Dealership/Warranty Fix: Replace entire sunshade assembly. This work, when not covered under original warranty, will quote in the range of $1500 to $2000. Not only because the sunshade costs around a grand, but because there is about 6 hours of labor involved in uninstalling the old sunshade assembly and installing the new sunshade assembly. Almost everything near the sunshade assembly has to be removed to obtain access to remove it, including the back seat, the C-panel covers, the rear panel, the rear seat belts, etc.
Do NOT pay for this dealership fix because it WILL NOT LAST. The sunshade assembly is itself defective and so it will also eventually completely fail in the same manner. In my own case, the original sunshade assembly was replaced under original warranty around the second year of ownership (after purchased new), then the replacement sunshade assembly also failed about two years after expiration of the original warranty. Online discussions also report failures of replaced sunshade assemblies.
Temporary Fixes: The sunshade assembly MAY continue to work for an additional, and SHORT, period of time by applying some type of dry lubricant to the wheels that connect the tops of the two vertical sunshade bars to the top horizontal sunshade bar … as well as into the tracks within the horizontal bar within which the wheels move. One of my mechanics applied a white magnesium or lithium lubricant that resolved the issue for a short time. Another of my mechanics applied a spray of dry silicone lubricant that also resolved the issue for a short time. Online posters mentioned obtaining the same effect with other dry lubricants such dry bicycle lubricant. Online posters have also mentioned using a screwdriver to widen the slot through which the sunshade extends and retracts, thereby reducing the resistance the sunshade experiences when moving.
Suspected Root Cause: Inside the sunshade assembly is the sunshade motor assembly. Inside that motor assembly is a small 3.8cm white plastic gear (with 48 teeth and a 0.7cm metal hub with 11 teeth). This is the item that apparently fails. Exposed to heat that builds inside the motor assembly due to the sun radiating down on the rear panel, the plastic gear becomes brittle causing various types of failures including: the gear cracking off entirely, braking off of its teeth, warping of its teeth, warping that allows the metal rod on which the gear turns to slip out of its own placement, etc. There are NO Toyota part numbers for either the sunshade motor assembly or the plastic gear within it. It does not appear that Toyota or its dealerships have actually diagnosed this root cause and will simply assume the entire sunshade assembly has somehow failed or has been torqued into a bind.
Permanent Fix: There WAS an independent gearmaker who had fashioned a 3.8cm solid brass gear to exactly replace the white plastic gear. The owner could pay an independent mechanic the labor to remove the sunshade assembly and detach the motor assembly. Then, for a fee of $200, an owner could send the motor assembly to the gearmaker and he would install the solid brass gear and return the motor assembly to the owner. Then the owner could pay the mechanic to re-attach the motor assembly and re-install the sunshade assembly. The gearmaker offered this service on eBay. However, as of 2017, he has retired and no longer supplies the gear service. To maintain a matter of full record regarding this issue only, I provide the former points of contact for the gearmaker as Mr. Al Meekins, http://gearsmade.com, AMeek3775@AOL.Com, voice 856.858.6421, fax 856.858.1642. A metal gear replacement does not seem to be available anywhere else. Accordingly, there is NOT really any currently available permanent fix available for this issue.
Replacement Plastic Gear: As stated, Toyota does not have a part number for this 3.8cm white plastic gear. However, third-party makers supply a replacement white plastic gear on eBay. For my own Avalon, auction descriptions include terms such as "Mercedes W124 E-Class Toyota Rear Curtain Sunshade Motor Gear" and part numbers may include Bross BGE502, EK-0040, Apwr PH367890. Mr. Meekins confirmed to me by email in 2017 that these are indeed the correct plastic replacement gear (and that he no longer supplies the brass gear service). The cost will be about $12-$15, before shipping and tax. Owners should keep in mind that this white plastic gear would be expected, at some point, to fail as does the original plastic gear. And so the labor to uninstall and reinstall the sunshade assembly will reoccur. However if the owner wants to repair, having an independent mechanic replace the gear will still be much less expensive than purchasing a brand-new entire sunshade assembly. To install the gear, once removing the sunshade assembly from the vehicle, remove the bolt that holds the shade arms to the center hub, remove the 3 screws that hold the black plate, then remove and replace the broken gear. Work purposefully as the motor assembly contains a spring that may 'spring' out.
Best Option (IMHO): Most owners, including myself, end up just 'helping' the sunshade retract into the 'down' position one last time, then disable the sunshade function entirely (and, perhaps, tint the rear window to compensate). The disabling is wise, since the sunshade button sits right next to the gas hatch and trunk release buttons (on my Avalon, at least)… and so sooner or later the driver will accidentally engage it.
To help the sunshade retract one last time: open both rear doors and nudge each of the vertical sunshade bars inward a wee bit so that they are no longer exactly vertical. While having someone else activate the sunshade button, push gently down on the horizontal sunshade bar, helping the sunshade to catch and retract. If it is stubborn and will not retract, recruit an additional helper, then push gently down on BOTH ends of the horizontal bar AND push gently in at the tops of the vertical bars while the button is being activated. It may take a number of attempts, but this approach is likely to eventually work.
To disable the sunshade function entirely: There does NOT appear to be any easy access to the wiring of the sunshade assembly where it is mounted (so as to 'snip' it). On some Avalons, the disabling can be accomplished by simply pulling the appropriate fuse from the INTERIOR fuse box. The fuse box is facing down, under the dash, right next to the emergency brake and has a black cover. On my own Avalon, the top of the fuse box cover has the fuse listed as RR S/SHADE. The fuse is a red 10A and I count it as the eighth fuse from the left on the bottom row. It is located directly under the letter "A" in the word "TOYOTA," and is just to the right of a green 30A fuse. Also it's located between fuses labeled as SPARE and WIP.
On my own Avalon, this fuse is DEDICATED to the sunshade function. However, depending on how your own Avalon is equipped, and/or its model year, this fuse may also be supporting other functions, such as cruise control. In which case pulling the fuse is not an option.
In that case, you can pay an independent mechanic to remove the lower left dashboard knee trim panel (for my own Avalon, 55302-07020) in which the sunshade button is mounted, unplug the sunshade button harness, then reinstall the trim panel.
You can also have the mechanic remove the sunshade button entirely. It just snaps out. Toyota makes a plastic 'cutout cover' of matching color that will snap into the button's cutout so as to be flush and matching with the rest of the panel. For my own Avalon, the part number for the cutout cover is 55539-04040. The cost will be about $10-$12, before shipping and tax. The correct interior color code must be specified.
In my case, after removing the sunshade button, I had my mechanic snap an OEM Toyota toggle switch into the cutout (it fits perfectly) and then wire it to control a third-party accessory I had earlier installed into the vehicle. The switch has a 'fog light' icon on it; I left the icon on it, but I suspect a bit of acetone and magic eraser would remove it, making the switch generic in appearance. The switch has a lighted on/off indicator. For my Avalon, the part number for this switch is 00550-35976. The cost will be about $15, before shipping and tax. This particular switch will marry exactly to cutouts in many older Toyotas, given the cutouts were standardized, but will probably not marry to the cutouts in more recent Toyotas. The wiring for this 3-prong switch is Top prong #4-Ground, Middle Prong #2-12V Power In, Bottom Prong #3-Power Out to Device.
I'm keeping an eye out for one of those custom-cut faux-suede UV-protective fabric covers that fits the rear deck … to camo the sunshade slot … but I haven't seen one yet.
- Vassi C.,
Las Vegas, US