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. 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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
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 5 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #33

Oct 162008

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


our rav4 auto, started hard shifting,not going into low gear,rev. up going into 3rd gear.real piece of crap and when i read the forums here with $$$$.when i read about dealer resetting emc. i disconnected battery cable ,left it off for 11/2 days (wasn't going anywhere anyways) I'm not advertising for them in any way, but i added a bottle of lucas trans treatment.was told it would take about 200 miles to see if it worked. i then went to a trans shop to tell my woes they did a code scan with nothing showing up.(battery was disconnected and cleared all codes)guy at trans shop told me it would take about 30 miles for computer to reset its self and rav4 would work like s--t til it did reset.well my tale is a happy one so far.s rav4 started shifting like it problem went away just about as quick as it came and i sure hope it lasts.i at least have some hope now while i still think of those $$$$ NO REPAIR costs. hope this helps someone.

- , Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

problem #32

Oct 062008

RAV4 2.0L 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

I am so glad we found this site - at least I know I am not crazy! I am experiencing the same symptoms: not shifting properly between 1st and 2nd AND 2nd and 3rd gears, lurching when moving from Park to Reverse, jerking in traffic, not moving when I let off the brake (from stop, to the chagrin of all drivers behind me) - all makes me scared to drive this car that has been so great! I can't believe Toyota...especially with the large number of complaints about this SAME issue on 2001-2003 models. My husband is looking for a rebuilt transmission and also ECM thanks to the other posts on this site. I had a Honda before and will definitely go back - never buying a Toyota again, and warning everyone I know not to buy either! Please contact me if there is a class-action lawsuit - I will definitely be involved.

- , Richlands, NC, USA

problem #31

Sep 252008

RAV4 L 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

hard shifting in my toyota 2001 rav4 cost me 1042 $ from my pocket i was lucky because it didn't damage my transmission .toyota wont cover ecu because i am over 80000 miles if Does anyone know if there is a class action suit regarding the transmission/ECM problem? If so,let me know please

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #30

Oct 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


I see a common ECM/tranny theme here that I can relate to. The dealer charged me $100 to tell me that the bad shifting and red light meant a $1300 ECM cost. As I was crying the blues at my church group, a guy that owns a garage said, "I could have given you that info for free. The real problem can sometimes be what they don't tell you." I took it to him to read out and he said the code said it was a problem with the #2 shift solenoid in tranny. He said the dealer knows odds are you'll go to an outside tranny dealer cuz they're much cheaper, so they are just trying to extort money from you before they lose you as a customer. Well, all that sounded so harsh to me that I just dismissed it as someone who had a really biased opinion and economic resentment. WELL GUESS WHAT! He was absolutely right! I went back to the dealer and paid the $1300 ECM cost and there is NO IMPROVEMENT in the shifting and NOW THEY'RE TELLING ME it's the tranny. They won't cover the tranny, so has anyone found any way to pressure them into covering these trannys that should be lasting longer?

- , Murrieta, CA, USA

problem #29

Sep 282008

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,500 miles

I have owned this one for almost 8 yrs with no issues. Yesterday noticed sudden jerk while shifting from 1st to second gear. Today it has become worse, car hardly moves in first gear and suddenly slips to 2nd. Then it is normal until I have to stop again.

Fortunately lady driving behind me had lot of patience and didn't honk even once.

Check light has also come on. I thought of checking web and found I am not alone.

Its difficult to believe that only solution is $spend 6000 on ECM + Trans.

I have written to toyota and plan on taking to dealer once I hear something form toyota.

- , Elk Grove, CA, USA

problem #28

Aug 212008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

Like everyone else i have the same problem with the car jerking so i took it in to get checked out. They told me i had a bad transmission. I can't believe it, i thought Toyota suppose to last. i brought the car without doing much research, but who knew they would put a car on the market when they know there's problem with it. feel like i got ripped off. so i am shopping for a car, but i will not consider buying a toyota again.

- , Saint Louis, MO, USA

problem #27

Sep 082008

RAV4 4WD 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles


Hello everyone with a toyota RAV4. I always loved my car and always wanted to stay with toyota. After my wonderful adventure today I am not so sure now. I got a recall notice back in march to reprogram the ECM. Not only did it take 2 hours out of my time it still did not fix the check engine light coming on. Well starting today shifting out of first gear scared the sh*t out of me. I have never had the jerking, no power in the gas pedal, clunking noise EVER. Well with doing some research i found that NUMEROUS complaints about the ECM and the transmission. I called the customer care center of toyota and he stated that there are no reports that the two problems are related. He told me I have to convince the dealership that they are one in the same problem. I WILL NOT PAY for this problem considering they are so many complaints about this. How can you tell me there is not a direct relation? Hopefully we can do something about this and make Toyota replace the ECM and fix the transmission at not cost to the consumer. If you have any information regarding this problem PLEASE let me know. Thanks

- , Mckean, PA, USA

problem #26

Sep 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,503 miles

My 2001 Rav. 4 seems to have the exact same problem with the ECM and Transmission. This to the tune of $6,000!!!!! I am going to get the car back from Toyota and take it to the Triple A diagnostic center (for $35) and see what they come up with. I'm pissed - Really pissed!!! I have 105,000 miles. It was helpful to see everyone else's post. Now at least I'm armed with a bit of info when i deal with the dealer tomorrow. Wish me luck!!

- , Ardmore, PA 19003, USA

problem #25

Jan 232007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

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. Once engine (transmission) warms up it appears to stop.

- , Saucier, MS, USA

problem #24

Jul 102008

RAV4 L 2.0L Vvti

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I just brought my car to have my oil changed. After a few days the transmission starts skipping and not able to shift up (from 1 to 2) Check engine came on a week later ..

I think Toyota Dealerships should consider fixing the problems......

there are too many complaints with transmission & ECM.

I'm no longer a Toyota fan.

- , Schiller Park, IL, USA

problem #23

Jul 072008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles


I have got the same problem (fault code P0755 - Harsh shifting) what everybody else are reporting here. I did not do any repair yet other than spending one hundred dollars for the diagnostic test from the dealership. Dealer is recommending to replace the Engine Control Module and if that does not fix the problem, replace the transmission itself on my own cost. As everybody else reports here this is not acceptable as this inconvenience that we are all are going through was created by Toyota (by installing faulty ECM's at the first place on 2001 - 2003 RAV4's). I have reported to NHTSA and have also called Toyota customer service. They did not want to listen to any of our / customer concern. She is keep saying your car is out of warranty and Toyota cannot do anything about it. Where else we should report about this so that Toyota will recall the ECM's for all RAV 4's, which has this complaint and reimburse the expenses for people who had spent the money from their pocket already? Did anybody filed a law-suit already? If yes i am willing to join.

P.S. Its good that i have landed on this website before working on the transmission which was recommended by an AAMCO transmission tech. As some of you have suggested let me just replace the ECM first and see if that fix the problem.

- , Montvale, NJ, USA

problem #22

Jul 142008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

While I enjoy meeting new people with common interests, this is not exactly the place I'd like to be doing it! A few days ago, the check engine light on my '01 rav4 popped on, but I wasn't experiencing any mechanical difficulties. Was hoping maybe a faulty gas cap or something minor, but then yesterday, started experiencing some "skipping" and hesitation while driving. Checked fluids, topped them off, etc..thought maybe bad gas..

This morning the skipping and hesitation lasted all the way to work. I remembered getting something in the mail that i thought may have been a recall, which lead me to the internet and all of you lovely people with lint in your pockets where money used to be! Forgive me for making light of this, but if i don't i may loose my mind...I DO NOT have $5000 to replace these things, particularly when they are the fault of Toyota. I am alway bragging about how dependable my rav is..yeah..not so much!

I spoke to a guy at one of the dealerships and he told me probably $1200 for ECM replacement and I couldn't bare to hear the rest! He said he had one other woman with the same problem, but said she drove her care for a very long time with Engine light on (guess that made it her fault). He also said that it can just happen naturally...I told him we both know it is a defective part and b/c i am over 80,000 miles, I am SOL!!!

I am bringing to my mechanic tonight..if I make it there..and letting him put it on the computer to see what he thinks. I feel like I am just throwing away $90 to get bad news, but what else can i do??

I will post again with the findings and if I am one of the unluckies, I will be more than happy to jump on the legal bandwagon---This is ridiculous and I am tired of getting screwed by companies/people like this. It's bad enough our government does it and we pay through the nose for gas and anything made from, transported by or serviced through petroleum (which is everything)....

Sorry for the rant..just freaking out!

- , York, PA, USA

problem #21

Jul 102008

RAV4 LE 2.01

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles

I bought this 2001 Rav 4 with 123,000 from single female owner in Feb 08. She had it regularly serviced including trans. flush at 90,000 and 120,000. No problems noted on invoices other than replacing cat. converter at 40,000. I brought car into Toyota dealer after a few weeks to have them reset ECU or something according to a recall bulletin that I found when registering the car. Have to admit, I always thought the transmission shift from 1st to 2nd seemed weak, but it always engaged. Having never owned a Rav before, thought is was just a design quirk. As in previous complaints, same symptoms of erratic and underpowered shifting appeared out of blue a few days ago. Managed to limp home. After dropping transmission pan at local shop found small bits of metal sticking to magnets in bottom of pan...and cloudy fluid. $3500 quote to install rebuilt transmission....but I am concerned that the problem will reoccur if the malfunction was perhaps electronic in origin. I am not sure how to proceed, before the work begins. What caused the damage internally? ...........totally disappointed.

- , San Francisco,, CA, USA

problem #20

Jul 072008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles

I recently had my check engine light go on. Unfortunately, it was over 4th of July weekend and a little hard to get the car into the shop. On Monday morning, I was on my way in to work and the car started shifting really hard. Needless to say it was a tense ride. I would stop at every intersection wondering if the car would start rolling again. I drove straight to our neighborhood mechanic. I found this website on-line and decided to take the car to Toyota when the code P0755 came up on the computer. I went to Toyota armed with the Technical Service Bulletin TC002-06 because of the ECM computer issues. Luckily, the transmission had not yet been damaged!!! However, when it came to the warranty Toyota will only cover 1/2 of the replacement of the computer because it was 3,000 miles out of warranty. I find this appalling! We had customer service representatives admit that the part is defective, but Toyota only covers manufactured defects until the warranty period is up. We also had the service manager tell us not to contact customer service because they would pull the offer! I can't imagine a company not standing behind their product knowing that they are putting customers' lives in danger. They have been completely unhelpful in connecting us to anyone at Toyota that could help us. If this happens to you make sure you take the TSB with you to Toyota. I am sure the slime balls would have sold us a new transmission if we hadn't been aware of the ECM issues.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #19

Jun 202008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

Have a history of problems with the ECM... check engine light first appeared when we purchased the vehicle (used) in November 2005. Dealer checked it and told us this was caused by the gas cap not being securely tightened.

Always had problems with getting up steep driveway... engine whines and not much power going up hill. Daughter drives the car to and from school (about 4 miles each way), so never experienced any major issues.. .kind of lacks power and we got used to the whining when shifting. We received the recall notice on the ECM and took the RAV to the dealer to have that problem addressed, but no mention of any other known issues with the ECM.

Over the past few weeks I have been driving the car longer distances, just recently took the RAV over the mountains to Reno and did some shifting in and out of overdrive... not sure if this contributed to the problem. This morning, I drove it about 1-1/2 hours to the airport and back, when backing into the driveway, the transmission "slipped"... this happened twice today, both after driving for more than 30 minutes... when we tested it in the driveway with the engine "cool" this did not happen.

I found the TSB regarding this problem and hope that replacement of the ECM will fix the problem.

- , Newcastle, CA, USA

problem #18

Jun 022008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,700 miles

I took my car to get the ECM Reprogrammed in Nov 2007 based on the letter I got from them stating there was a defect in '01-03 Models, and the software needed to be reprogrammed. Around this time, the shifting problems started. It would slam into gear, and cause a jerking motion. I figured this would fix it. Well, it did absolutely nothing. I lived with it for a few months. In June, the problem was getting progressively worse, the car was shaking above 40mph, and the RPM's were going to 7000, almost redline. So I took it back and was told by the dealer that my computer needed to be replaced, it was not responding at all. The week before I had a transmission flush done in hopes that this would fix the problem. It didn't. So I told them to go ahead and replace it. Anything to get my car moving properly again. Cost me $1,100. On top of that, the dealer claimed I needed a transmission flush (yes, when I just had it done the week before). Got my car back, and it was WORSE THAN BEFORE!! Before, it would eventually kick into gear, but now, it would not shift beyond 2nd gear. I decided, I'm done with the dealer, they don't know crap. So I took it to Aamco to check out the transmission. Well, it couldn't make it on its own, had to get it towed there, for an additional cost. Aamco rebuilt my transmission for $3,500 and now it's running much better. It still has a little kick when changing gears. Total cost to fix this POS, around $5 grand. If anyone is planning a class action lawsuit against Toyota, PLEASE let me know. They should be held responsible for putting in defective ECM's which caused the damage to the transmission.

- , North Bergen, NJ, USA

problem #17

May 102008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Hello as you can see I'm a joining the List of MANY Rav 4 owners...

I need some Help I really don't know what to do.. I can't afford this... And it seems like it's not our problem... They Built the car they should be fixing it know that there are this many problems.. I bought my car to the transmission shop the Man looked at my Husband and told him 3,000... because he already knew what they problem was said there was a woman that came in a view months a go with the same problem... The Transmission man told my husband that When Toyota Remodeled the Rav 4's of 2001-2003 that they built them with computers in the Transmission.. and that they are three computers standing alone.. but when one stops working it is the cus of all the other computers and that they can't just repair one they have to change all three.. what a CRAP OF BULL....


- , Stamford, CT, USA

problem #16

Aug 102007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

This 2001 RAV4 is the 3rd new and 5th Toyota I've owned - all 3 new cars were purchased at the same Toyota dealership. Although I had no success with getting any help/cooperation from the dealership when the problem first started in August 2007 (at approx. 95,000), I take a copy of the complaints found on line to the dealer and spoke to the Sales and Servicing Customer Service manager and insisted that they work with me to resolve this issue before I become a part of a class action lawsuit against the corporation and the dealership as well.

- , Federal Way, WA, USA

problem #15

Apr 242008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,436 miles

Like everyone else my Rav began having problems shifting gears and stalling when trying accelerate from a stop. It occurred for the first time Thursday evening, and I dropped off the car Friday morning. Thanks to the posts placed by others, I was armed with Technical Service Bulletin and demanded that they replace the ECM and not just reset it. I can't figure out the cryptic language they use on their invoices, so I'm not sure what exactly was done. I've left messages, but I have not been able to speak with anyone at the dealership. I've driven the car for nearly 3 days and the problem seems to be "fixed." I guess we'll have to wait and see.

- , Culver City, CA, USA

problem #14

Apr 102008

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

My wife calls be at work one day and says our 2001 Rav 4 is having shifting problems. I tell her to check the fluid, so she does and says it looks ok. A couple days later, I took it to AAMCO, and they tell me that it is very low on fluid, and the transmission is fried. Now this car had just had a major tune up a couple weeks before and all the fluid levels were checked. Either this happened very fast, or AAMCO is feeding me a line. After searching the web, I suspect there is an ECM issue, so I take the car from AAMCO to the dealer. I gave the dealer the TSB referenced here and tell him it looks like the problem and I need at least an ECM and maybe a transmission as well. The dealer re-flashes the ECM, and says it seems fine. No codes logged, but the car still isn't shifting right. I questioned their analysis but I just got a 20 minute lecture about ECMs, and they say I need a transmission. After calling around, turns out this transmission fails so much that there are no used ones available, and the rebuilt ones are crazy expensive. Reputable transmission shops can't rebuild it for less than about $3000 because it's so complex, so if you get a lower estimate get it in writing, as AAMCO tends not to give you all the bad news until they have your transmission in pieces. Since a new remanufactured toyota unit is only 4,000$ I'm going to go with that and hope to get some good life out of this car. My fear, based on the experience here is that once they get this new transmission in, it won't fix the problem and perhaps the entire issue was ECM only from the beginning. My advice to those with this problem is this:

If you need a transmission, it's going to cost $3k plus for that, even if the initial estimate is less than that.

So don't take it to a transmission shop at first!!! They WILL find all kinds of horrible things in your transmission, they allways do. Try the ECM first, even though its kind of expensive. Remanufactured ECM's are only a few hundred bucks. This is what's recommended in the TSB from Toyota.

The transmission in the RAV is the same one as the Lexus RX, and it fails frequently too. This has made this transmission one of the most expensive to replace. We all paid an up-front premium for Toyota reliability, if you're reading this, you lost that bet. I will open a complaint with Toyota and see if they will do anything.

- , Woodinville, WA, USA

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