Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.

CarComplaints.com Notes: If you're looking for a vehicle with one of the most complained about transmission on the road, look no further than the 2001-2003 Toyota RAV4.

In 2001 Toyota completely redesigned the popular SUV. While some enjoyed the new look, they did not enjoy the harsh shifting, jumping from gear-to-gear and eventual transmission failure that cost owners well over $3,000 to fix. The problem stems from a malfunctioning Electronic Control Module (ECM).

Consumer outrage coupled with pressure from different agencies led Toyota to extend the warranty nationwide back in 2010. The previous power train warranty only covered 5 years/60,000 miles, while the extended warranty now covers the transmission and ECM for 10 years/150,000 miles. Toyota also pledged to reimburse any owners who had previously paid for repairs, if they had "proper proof". Good luck collecting on that one.

8.5

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,520.00
Average Mileage:
111,737 miles
Total Complaints:
113 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (45 reports)
  2. replace transmission (26 reports)
  3. replaced ecm (20 reports)
  4. new tramsmission (8 reports)
  5. replace transmission & ecm at the same time (5 reports)
  6. added a bottle of Lucas transmission treatment (2 reports)
2001 Toyota RAV4 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2001 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 3 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #73

Dec 082009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,678 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

My 2001 Toyota RAV4 started to hesitate when shifting between 1st and 2nd gears. This seemed to start overnight. Independent NAPA service center told me to take it to a Toyota dealer for a reflash, Eau Claire Wisconsin Toyota Dealer drove it and said there was nothing wrong with it except it was a quart low on tranny fluid. Left the Toyota dealer and it continued to hesitate when shifting at low speeds and lower gears. Took to an Independent Transmission Repair shop. They said, the transmission is bad, needs to be rebuilt. $3000 to $3500 is the estimate. I went home and googled "Toyota RAV4 Transmission problems" and found this web site and hundreds of stories. Based on a couple of stories and went back to the Transmission shop, showed him the stories. He did research on his own and decided the best thing to do first is replace the ECM. That will cost me $900. I will get the word on whether it fixed the shifting problems or if the transmission has been ruined and will have to be rebuilt too. More to follow.

- , La Crosse, WI, USA

problem #72

Dec 182009

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

loved my 2001 rav4 since purchase in 2001, brand new but something went wrong all of a suddenly this year (2009) at 98,000 miles... lots of other 2001 rav4 owners having same problem -- transmission problem. It hesitates when i step on gas pedal; it jolts or jerks with I let go of gas pedal, an accident is inevitable. I can't afford to 2500 - 5000 to get the thing replaced, there's gotta be another way, Toyota need to step it up.

- , Oakand, CA, USA

problem #71

Oct 192009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 172,443 miles

I was driving on the InterState when the first incident of shifting occurred. It scared me, but it didn't happen again until about a week later. I had the transmission flushed and it ran well for about 2 days. Now it occurs daily and I've been trying to find a solution. I took it to a transmission repair shop and the mechanic said I needed to have it rebuilt because the gears were stripped at a price of approximately $1800. I was going to take it to another transmission shop tomorrow; but after reading these complaints I don't know what to do. I can't afford a new transmission or the cost of the ECM. I've driven Toyotas since 1986 and I've never had a problem like this before. This will be my last Toyota. Please let me know if a class action suit is started. I am calling Toyota today!!!

- , Jackson, MS, USA

problem #70

Oct 242009

RAV4 L 4WD 1.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

A stop light turned green but my rav4 would not go. No previous problem or warning. The transmission just seized. I was able to creep home, about a mile. It has not moved since. Anyone have any idea of what this is and whether or not Toyota has any recalls or bulletins on this? My 2001 Rav4 has about 160,000 miles on it.

- , Durham, NC, USA

problem #69

Sep 252009

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles

Just like many of the 2002 RAV4 problems, would stall at stop lights and not want to shift into 1 and 2 gear, diagnostics showed internal problems with transmission, very dangerous situation for my college kid in the big city.

- , Decatur, IL, USA

problem #68

Sep 022009

RAV4 L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

I was driving my car last Saturday, when suddenly it started hesitating when taking off from a complete stop. It would finally engage and then I was able to continue on. Then the check enging light came on. I had my granddaughter in the car with me and decided I had better get home before we had an accident.

Later, I was speaking to my daughter about it and she told me to check to make sure my gas cap was on tight. I shrugged off her suggestion, but later that evening went out and removed the gas cap and put it back on. The next morning I got up and took the car down to the store. The engine light was no longer on and the car was no longer acting up. I was amazed that the gas cap was such an easy fix. The next day I drove my car the 50 miles round trip to work and everything seemed fine. I was really happy and grateful that I had been so lucky. Little did I know that my luck was about to run out.

The following day on the way to work the car started acting up again. I got to work and tried the gas cap fix again, but that didn't work. I promptly dorve my car to my mechanic. He checked it out and told me it appeared to be a transmission problem and suggested I take it to an AAMCO in a nearby city.

The following morning I took my car to AAMCO. On the way there, the check engine light came back on and the car began having problems not only between 1st and 2nd gears, but also between 4th and 5th. I made it to AAMCO and after waiting for 2 hours for them to look at it and diagnose the problem they came out and told me that the problem was inside the transmission and they would have to take it out to find out exactly what was going on. The cost to remove the transmission to diagnose and provide an estimate for repair was $350.00. I gave them the go ahead and went home to wait for their call. They called me back a couple of hours later and told me that there was 2 broken mounts and the transmission needed to be rebuilt as there was a lot of "munched parts" inside. The cost was going to be $2800.00. I couldn't believe it, but after scrambling to get together the money for the repair I called them back and gave them the go ahead. I was already in it for $350.00 and felt like I didn't have much choice as I have not been able to get my money tree to grow. They told me that my car would be ready on Friday so I told them I would be there after work to pick it up.

On Friday I called AAMCO about an hour before going over to get the car. I was told that they weren't quite done, but it would be ready in an hour. When I arrived to pick it up, they came out after about 10 minutes and told me there was a big problem. I was advised the transmission had been repaired and it was fine, but that the computer needed to be replaced as it was making the transmission to act up as it was before. They advised me that my car was not operable because if I did drive it

- , Marciopa, AZ, USA

problem #67

Oct 102009

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 248,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

In addition to the transmission problem, I also have had check engine light issues for over 2 years.

When the car is started, 1st thing in morning, the transmission will hesitate when attempting to shift into the next gear range. I am compelled to take my foot off the gas pedal in order to make it shift. When cruising on the freeway there are no problems.

When driving to work, sometimes it will not accelerate when I step on the gas, and if it does it will jerk significantly to make the car jump. This is the case every time I come to a stop or red light. Trying to get the car moving is problematic. Almost every time I leave a stop it either won't go into gear at first or then finally pops into 1st.

- , Austin, T, USA

problem #66

Oct 052009

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

It happened without warning. The car doesn't want to shift anymore. It makes a big thump when if finally changes gear. I spent $250 getting an analysis and the transmission fluid changed, and told to come back in three weeks, from an import car repair shop. THey did tell me the computer analysis showed that two sensors are bad and it would be $700 to repair them. They do not affect the transmission. However, when I came home and searched online, I find that both are a very common and extremely expensive problem and the dealers don't want to admit it. I will call the Toyota dealer, but I do not expect them to help.

I paid extra for a Toyota because I expected the quality to be better. Since I wasted my money paying extra and did not get the quality, and now I"m reading that the company is not fessing up to the problem....and did not warn us....I will not buy another. Do not reward a company that doesn't treat you right.

Update from Oct 12, 2009: I've been in touch with my local Toyota dealer. They noted that there was a recall on the ECM and they reprogrammed mine a year or two ago. I responded, why would it go bad again? I told him about all the complaints I read about. He said if you have a problem you should take it to the dealer because they are in touch with each other and know the most about your car. It will cost me $87 tomorrow just for diagnostics. THey cannot tell me what is wrong until then. He mentioned that it could be a cellinoid or anything else. I can tell they will not own up to a poorly built transmission. He said that all cars have something wrong with them. I started to tell him that when I chose to buy a Toyota, that I paid extra up front for quality, and I didn't get it. I told him that I looked online and Rav4's had the most complaints of all the Toyotas. He sorta had to go real quick. Really....everyone.....he does have a point. I wasted $250 going to an auto import repair shop and they didn't know what it was. So I still have to go to the dealer's repair shop to get it figured out. Go directly to the dealer the first time for this repair.

Update from Oct 13, 2009: OKay....I really did not need to go to the dealer because it was the same thing wrong that everyone else is describing. But, when I called the Toyota 1-800 number and complained, the girl told me that I needed to go to the dealer and have it diagnosed. So, I spent $87 for the dealer's repair shop to tell me that, guess what, my ECM or ECU...needed replaced. Price: $1385.65. I asked if the transmission was damaged. Well, they could not tell me that until the EMC was replaced and then they could tell. Cost for new transmission? $3700 more. Total would be: $5200. I was flabbergasted. I told the guy the blue book value of the car was that much.

So, I flipped through the phone book and found a Transmission shop and talked at length to a sympathetic person. He said he would try to get a used EMC. I said NO! They are not made right. They've "improved" them. If you put in a used one, the same thing will happen again. He then said he could try to rebuild the transmission depending how bad the damage is. He said the dealer's repair shop will just install a new one. So, I drove the car to the transmission store and am waiting to see what happens after he installs the EMC.

I also called the Toyota place: 1-800-331-4331. They tell me that when I got my recall letter, it was to reprogram the EMC. They would not say that it was faulty. Then they said that they had extended teh warrenty to 80,000 miles. I said, well if you extended teh warrenty, that means you knew that there was something wrong with it. And what good does that do us? It goes bad after the warrenty is over. I also told him that from what I read, by the time the engine warning light goes on, it's too late. The damage to the transmission is done. I told him that the least the company could have done was warn us to have the EMC changed to the "improved" version so we could have avoided the transmission damage. I told him that people reported that it was dangerous when they drove their cars adn they wouldn't shift and almost caused accidents. I told him that this car was my sixth Toyota, but there will not be a seventh purchase and that from what I read, the other people felt the same way, and that we would be mentioning our experience to our friends and family. I feel that the company has gotten "too big for their britches". They did not want to admit a fault, so they let us get blindsided with an enormous, needless repair. If they had warned us that the EMC could go bad and what the consequences would be, we could have prevented the repair of teh transmission. So, I say to all of you. call that 1-800 number and tell them of your experience and how you feel about it. The more complaints they have, the more likely they will be to do something about it. By the way, the transmission repair person, said that Ford has been making some pretty reliable cars lately.

- , Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #65

Aug 012009

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

Toyota should have a recall on this...apparently it is a known issue with this vehicle. The ECM goes haywire and destroys the transmission. The result is you need a new ECM=$800 and a new transmission =$2800. Toyota has admitted this problem to me and actually paid for half of the ECM cost after much harassment. The headquarters tried to get me to pay for the full amount and they would reimburse me...lol. Taking me for an idiot, I suppose. I refused so they credited the Toyota dealership for half the amount. This shows they need to recall it...everyone has this problem and because of this hassle I will never, ever buy a Toyota again..and then they wonder why they are not doing so well in the American Market.

- , Safety Harbor, FL, USA

problem #64

Mar 222008

RAV4 2WD 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

I have 108,000 on my RAV 4L 2WD. I definitely take my car in for regular maintenance and treat my car as though it were a child. However, this week the car started kicking like a horse between 0-30. Initially, I thought I had it in the wrong gear, but after paying close attention, I noticed the check engine light came on.

My friend owns an Auto shop and he did a free computer diagnostic test on my car and said it was the solenoid. He made a few phone calls to Toyota to see if it was an approved recall and said Toyota is aware of the problem, but "claim" it is a wear and tear on the vehicle.

Toyota said, you could try to change the solenoids, but there is no guarantee it will work, then said once you purchase these parts, they are non-refundable. They found no metal in my transmission.

So my friend-mechanic said it would be gamble to pay $800 for parts to labor, only to find out it may not fix the problem. He said its a gamble.

Another option he recommended was to rebuild the transmission. He called 3 different shops and got 3 different quotes for the transmission, $1600, $2200, $2800. Each said that even if the transmission was rebuilt, there is no guarantee that the computer will read it and will malfunction. Next and final step would be to drop another $600 (minimum) to have TOYOTA reprogram to the transmission.

At first, I thought what did I do to cause this expensive, and unexpected repair. My car has 108,000 miles and I do everything that is required for the recommended maintenance. I am very frustrated, and did not expect the repairs to be this costly. I really have no choice, but to pay for a new transmission.

Anyone have a better solution,

Lara

- , Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #63

Jul 172009

RAV4 L 2L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

So, I haven't taken the car to the dealership yet.

I'm nervous too- as I can't really afford a costly repair. And I definitely can't afford a new car. But, my car isn't so safe to drive right now.

The car is constantly hesitating on gear shift. Occasionally seems to shift to neutral or a far to high gear. I know that the longer I drive it like this, the more damage I'm causing, but I'm reading people's complaints and seeing multi-thousand dollar repair bills.... aaaaaaa!

- , Madison, OH, USA

problem #62

Sep 022009

RAV4 L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

I was driving my car last Saturday, when suddenly it started hesitating when taking off from a complete stop. It would finally engage and then I was able to continue on. Then the check engine light came on. I had my granddaughter in the car with me and decided I had better get home before we had an accident.

Later, I was speaking to my daughter about it and she told me to check to make sure my gas cap was on tight. I shrugged off her suggestion, but later that evening went out and removed the gas cap and put it back on. The next morning I got up and took the car down to the store. The engine light was no longer on and the car was no longer acting up. I was amazed that the gas cap was such an easy fix. The next day I drove my car the 50 miles round trip to work and everything seemed fine. I was really happy and grateful that I had been so lucky. Little did I know that my luck was about to run out.

The following day on the way to work the car started acting up again. I got to work and tried the gas cap fix again, but that didn't work. I promptly drove my car to my mechanic. He checked it out and told me it appeared to be a transmission problem and suggested I take it to an AAMCO in a nearby city.

The following morning I took my car to AAMCO. On the way there, the check engine light came back on and the car began having problems not only between 1st and 2nd gears, but also between 4th and 5th. I made it to AAMCO and after waiting for 2 hours for them to look at it and diagnose the problem they came out and told me that the problem was inside the transmission and they would have to take it out to find out exactly what was going on. The cost to remove the transmission to diagnose and provide an estimate for repair was $350.00. I gave them the go ahead and went home to wait for their call. They called me back a couple of hours later and told me that there were 2 broken mounts and the transmission needed to be rebuilt as there was a lot of "munched parts" inside. The cost was going to be $2800.00. I couldn't believe it, but after scrambling to get together the money for the repair I called them back and gave them the go ahead. I was already in it for $350.00 and felt like I didn't have much choice. They told me that my car would be ready on Friday so I told them I would be there after work to pick it up.

On Friday I called AAMCO about an hour before going over to get the car. I was told that they weren 't quite done, but it would be ready in an hour. When I arrived to pick it up, they came out after about 10 minutes and told me there was a big problem. I was advised the transmission had been remanufactured and it was fine, but that the computer needed to be replaced as it was making the transmission act up just as it was before. They advised me that my car was not operable because if I did drive it, the transmission would be destroyed again. They advised me it was going to be another $1100.00 to replace the ECM.

I was speechless. This repair bill was now $3907.14. I'm not sure if a 2001 RAV4 is even worth $3900.00. I was l already in this repair for $2800.00, did not have a second vehicle and had arranged a loan for the repair. I felt sick and was not sure if what they were telling me was the truth. I was over a barrel and felt I had no choice at all. Again, I okayed the repair and went home. I came home and did research and found that this computer/transmission issue was for real and was happening to a lot of people.

Yesterday morning I went and picked up my RAV. It appears to be running okay. I am not sure what to do at this point. I now owe $3400.00 plus interest for this repair.

It is my understanding that Toyota has known about this computer/transmission problem for years and has chosen to do nothing about it. My receipt from AAMCO states "After installing transmission we found it was trying to engage two gears at once which is same condition as orginal failure (binding up). Found bad computer was sending bad info to trans is what caused original failure. If computer had not failed transmission would not have failed."

This is not the first problem I have had with my RAV. While I initially loved this car, I don't think I would ever buy another Toyota.

While I do understand that my car is 8 years old and things will go wrong, I don't believe these kinds of things should be happening. If they knew about this problem and chose to ignore it instead of recallind and correcting the problem, they should be held accountable.

I am a 52 year old grandmother. I am not rough on my vehicle. It has never been in an accident and I believe I have been doing all I can to maintain the vehicle but in the past 2 years I have had over $7000.00 in repairs.

I will write to Toyota and if I don't get any satisfaction, I will file a complaint. Class action suit, count me in.

- , Marciopa, AZ, USA

problem #61

Aug 142009

RAV4 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,500 miles

As many others have mentioned I too, have a 2001 Toyota rav4 that's having difficulty changing gears. It seems to happen between 1st and 2nd gear. While at a complete stop and then trying to accelerate the engine seems to slip as if you are free revving and or neutral. After the slipping it would catch up to the right gear after knocking the engine around. All other gears were ok and downshifting was no problem. While putting it in reverse and then drive seemed to be beating on the tranny.(loud clunking noise)took it to the dealership and they said my transmission was good & that it was the computer. Also took it to auto zone where they had hooked it up to there computer and came up with a code of P0755-low tranny fluid and faulty solenoid. And here we are trying to figure out what route to take. Why do I have a feeling if I get the computer fixed---that they are going to say that the tranny needs replaced also........

- , Westlake, OH, USA

problem #60

Aug 012009

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles

Guys i just paid over 3,100 today to fix my trans and it's still not right, there is precedence to a class action lawsuit being filed for engine sludge problems for other Toyota brands that was successful do a google search on it, i say we all ban together and do this now for the transmission

- , Cerritos, CA, USA

problem #59

Aug 012008

RAV4 Limited 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

this is really getting worst everyday and now i need to push the car because it won't go reverse anymore it just don't move and i can't drive more than 25mph and sounds so awful.

- , Honolulu, HI, Pacific Islands (US)

problem #58

Jun 012009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,778 miles

click to see larger images

problems shifting

I have a Toyota Rav 4, 2001, 2.0 with transmission problems for the ECM......only the ECM was the problem...they put an other ECU from the dealer $ 680 CN dollars, now the Rav 4 running good.

Thanks

Technical Automotive Centre

London, ON, Canada

- , London, ON, Canada

problem #57

Apr 172009

RAV4 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

I had never had any problems with my RAV4 until the check engine light came on in March 09. I took it to a local gas station and they found that there was an O2 sensor that needed to be replaced. During that visit, the gas station recommended a transmision flush so I had it done--- WORST MISTAKE EVER!!!! About 1 month later, my car started losing acceleration and spiking RPMs or jumping when shifting around 25 MPH. By the next day, the car did not want to accelerate and I had to have it towed to the gas station. They had no idea what was wrong with it other than 'it wasn't there fault', so I had it towed to a transmission shop. It ended up have a rebuilt transmission. After 2 weeks, I got it back, but within a few days, started have the same troubles and back to the transmission shop it went. After replacing the clutch and multiple other pieces that had been thought to be faulty, I got it back another 2 weeks later. As soon as I got it, it was having the same exact problem, so when we spoke to the transmission guy, he was at lost and recommended that we take it to the dealer to get reprogrammed because he having trouble doing it manually. After 5-6 days, the same problem happened for the THIRD time and it had to go back. This time they replaced the clutch and other possible faulty parts for a 3rd time, and when they ran the tests, found that the transmission would shift perfectly when done manually but still had the same problem when in automatic mode (it is an automatic transmission). The transmission shop called their tech people and was told that the problem is a faulty computer. Now, they are trying to find out from Toyota if they will cover the costs because it was there recalled piece or if I have to cover it. But it's at a point that I either pay for the computer or I can't even resell/trade the car in! SOOOO FRUSTRATING!!!

- , Lorton, VA, USA

problem #56

Dec 232008

RAV4 Limited 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,206 miles

Return from a trip to learn that my Toyota would not start after the engine was washed. A local licensed mechanic suggested it was the 'brainbox'. He managed to get a secondhand replacement and got the car started. A couple of days later came to realize that the gears were not really changing and jerks sometimes. The problem has been on and off but now seems to persists annoyingly. Local Toyota Dealer/Agency wants me to change the whole brain box at almost US$ 3,300.00. I feel like abandoning the car but I don't want to miss this smooth ride.

- , Accra, Gt .Accra, Ghana

problem #55

Apr 122009

RAV4 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,000 miles

My 2001 RAV4 is also acting up and I don't know where to start to get it fixed

it definitely needs a new transmission. When I took it to the mechanic he told me to

drive till it fails on me because it needs it anyways. He also warned me that once the transmission is fixed that I will need to take it to Toyota and have the new transmission flashed with the computer in my car. Nine out of ten times the computer does not register with that transmission so I will need to purchase a whole new computer. I don't think I have a warranty on it. I have only had it almost 3 years and put an extra 30,000 miles on it.

- , Merced, CA, USA

problem #54

Apr 242009

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,000 miles

I am very upset with my Toyota Rav4. I bought this vehicle used after my 1999 Honda CRV was wrecked. I thought it would be great as I had heard that Toyotas last a long time. Well I have had it for about 2 years and the engine light had been on most of the time. I had to have the Catalytic Converter replaced (over $1,000) then about two weeks ago, I pulled away from a stop sign and the car lurched into 2nd gear and 3rd. Almost every time I leave a stop it either won't go into gear at first then finally pop into 1st. I had the transmission fluid pumped out and replaced along with a new filter and pan gasket. It didn't help a thing. From the postings I see, this can be very expensive.....so my car is parked for the time being. I wish I had bought another model or another Honda CRV. Also when I turn a corner it seems to shift into neutral or low momentarily then pop back into gear...the transmission is just doing whatever!

- , Alameda, CA, USA

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