Delay in engaging reverse - Prado 2001

Purchased a 2001 (it says 2002 on the Registration Card) Prado VX, Auto, 3.4 litres, GCC/Middle East specification, with 218000 KMs (genuine, as I knew the seller, and he kept his service history records). After 200 KMs or so, I noticed a delay in reversing. When I shift it to Reverse, and press the Accelerator pedal, the engine revs, but it doesn't reverse. So I have to try again and then it reverses with a bump, this happens when it's cold. I initially thought this may be due to the loose shifter and replacing the bushings, but this didn't resolve the reverse issue. It also feels heavy and underpowered when accelerating, but I figured it's a heavy vehicle with an aging engine and I shouldn't expect much.

If the car has been driven for a few minutes, then the reverse works fine. I had the transmission oil and filter changed at 218285 KMs and it's currently at 218504 KMs. I took it to a transmission specialist, who didn't find any error codes when he connected to the computer, but says the AT oil smells burnt, which means it could be the clutch. Unfortunately, they don't replace individual components such as as the Clutch pack/band, valves, Transmission Shift Solenoid, Torque Converter, Transmission Speed Sensor, Suction Control Valve, Air Flow Sensor, Throttle Position Sensor and only recommend overhauling the complete transmission, which will cost around USD 816 to USD 1360, of which the labour costs USD 435 and is included.

What's baffling is that when I asked the previous owner about this, he said he's been facing this for years, but randomly, and never bothered doing anything about it. According to the receipts I received from him, he had transmission work done in 2015 that cost around USD 1000 (exactly 6 years ago), after the Toyota Dealer recommended replacing the whole gearbox assembly for slow acceleration from idle and a dashboard light at 159403 KMs. He doesn't remember what work was done, however. It's standard practice in Dubai to replace the whole assembly even if there's an issue with a single component.

After reading about similar issues from other forums that discuss the Prado 90 series, is it possible to check any of the components I mentioned above without opening up the whole transmission? I've read various posts where an individual component or sensor was identified and it resolved the issue, but none of them mention a complete transmission overhaul.

Considering I purchased this car less than a month ago, I'm losing interest in it and so is the Missus.


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