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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
97,087 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Toyota RAV4 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #14

Dec 312015


  • 107,000 miles


Rav4 check engine light on so had a diagnostic test done. Codes indicate there may a problem with catalytic converter. My vehicle only has 107K miles. I am the original owner and have maintained all service recommendations. Mechanic indicated I should have received a campaign notice for this problem. Now looking at a repair bill of approx. $2K. Toyota should be responsible for fixing this. I have had the same address for years.

- San Bernardino, CA, USA

problem #13

Jun 032015


  • miles
I am requesting that dot NHTSA recall the ECM in all 2002 Toyota Rav4S. When I contacted Toyota after a badly designed and manufactured ECM in our Rav4 failed and also destroyed our transmission, I was told that they knew the part was bad, but they had been allowed to avoid a recall by offering a short term consumer support program (csp 01-03my Rav4 transaxle ECM)--and that program is over. They offered no help, only an empty apology. Toyota made a bad part that cost my family over $3500 for parts and repairs┐and deborah a. houston of the Toyota motor sales executive office very clearly admitted that to me; yet because there was no recall, Toyota doesn┐T have to compensate us for the work. They made a bad part, yet they were rewarded for it when we had to buy a new ECM before we could have the transmission rebuilt. We never received a letter about the consumer support program, and Toyota also admitted that many people didn┐T due to address issues, etc. Hundreds of 2002 Rav4 owners have reported this issue, and as difficult as it is to figure out how to file a complaint for most of us, probability says that many more of the cars have been fixed or junked without the issues reported. A quick internet search yields numerous complaints. It should be cut and dry: Make a bad part--pay for the repairs. There is a difference between a worn out part and shoddy design and manufacturing. The transmission shop owner who repaired our car said that he'd been brought several Rav4S from 2002 with the same issue. That's several in one, small town. It is not too late to recall the 2002 Toyota Rav4 ECM. The people still needing these cars for transportation are the people who can┐T afford $3500 plus repairs.

- Tryon, NC, USA

problem #12

Jan 022015

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 95,000 miles
ECM malfunction.

- Saint Louis, MO, USA

problem #11

Aug 012011


  • 121,000 miles


Toyota 2002 Rav4, automatic transmission problem when switching into first / second gear, car will hiccup, and or not accelerate as expected. Aamco transmission specialists confirmed defective ECM module failure, and require a full transmission rebuilt. Toyota apparanty knows about this problem, and has issued service advisory, but no recall. Problem can resurface any anytime, very high potential for accidents as car will fail to accelerate or just stall when entering intersections and or freeways.

- Leesburg, VA, USA

problem #10

May 262010


  • 71,087 miles
Check engine light came on and transmission jammed. Vehicle towed to nearest dealer. Told it was ECM problem and repair cost was $1440.94.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #9

Jun 132010


  • 91,500 miles
I have a 2002 Toyota rav 4, started driving erratic, while foot on gas pedal, car would slow down, then speed up with banging sound. Local Toyota dealership says computer bad replacing it, which included a tow is$ 1, is 8 years old with 91,000 miles.

- Winston Salem, NC, USA

problem #8

May 242010


  • 56,000 miles


2002 Toyota Rav4 all of a sudden wouldn't shift between 3rd and 4th gear. To ok in immediately into dealership to be checked. Said it was the ECM. It was already taken in for recall and is another malfunction of same problem. If you drive it will ruin your transmission. I am very disappointed in the dealership as they only said to call Toyota. I have done that and am waiting a response. There are many complaints on this and 220,000 Toyota vehicle have issues. My car only has 56000 miles on it and should still be covered but they stop at 8 years. I am 25 days past warranty. Due to them knowing and already recalling them they should be liable.

- Palm Harbor, FL, USA

problem #7

Nov 012009


  • 82,170 miles
I have a 2002 Toyota rav 4 with 82K miles on it. At the beginning of November, 2009, I was driving my vehicle and it began to jerk violently when I accelerated between 1st and 2nd gears. I had difficulty maintaining control and avoided an accident. Subsequently, I took the car to the dealer and learned that I had a common problem for 2002 rav 4's -- a faulty engine control module. I researched the problem and learned that many people have also had this problem in 2001 and 2002 rav 4's. Toyota is not taking responsibility for this problem. This should be a recall item.

- Colchester, VT, USA

problem #6

Jun 032009


  • 83,396 miles
During a recent rain I was transporting my grandkids from school when I noticed that my car seemed to slip and jolt forward each time I accelerated. Each time the car would hesitate and the slipping and jolting was significant. I was afraid that my car would stall in traffic. I was very glad to get my grandkids home safely. I called the Toyota dealer where the car was purchased and made an immediate appointment. I was told that my transmission had to be replaced as well as the ECU at a cost of over $6,000! I was very upset because my extended warranty had expired the year before and during the warranty period I had complained about transmission problems and the "engine" trouble light which kept coming on. Each time they told me that either an adjustment was made to correct the problem or that they could not find anything wrong. I also called Toyota headquarters and was told that there was nothing they could do for me. I was referred back to the local dealer who told me to call headquarters again. I felt like a ping-pong ball. In the end no one could or would help me. I ended up going to another Toyota dealership to have just the ECU replaced at a cost of $1500. The car still jolts whenever I accelerate, however I am retired and cannot afford $4000 for a new transmission at this time.

- Lanham , MD, USA

problem #5

Jun 032009


  • 98,371 miles
I have a 2002 Rav4 that started having shifting problems. When I would put the car into reverse it would jerk and jolt this is how it started. Then about a week later it started doing this when the car shifted from 1st to second and so on. After about 3 weeks of this I took the car into the dealer and told them to please look at it. They called me later that day saying that they thought I needed new engine mounts. That they were causing car to jerk when it changed gears. He said that they needed to be ordered and that they needed the car overnight. So the next day got a call from the dealer saying that they drove the car some more and realized it was my transmission. That I needed to replace the transmission and the computer that controls it. This would cost me $5200. I called a very good friend of mine who has been a mechanic for 30 years and he called a friend of his who works parts at Toyota. The person who works for Toyota told my friend that they have been having these problems with the rav and that it is only the computer that needs replacement, not the transmission. So, he sold us the part and my friend the mechanic replaced the computer. Now my car drives perfectly. So, I instead spent only $1100 as opposed to the $5200 that the Toyota dealer wanted to charge me when it was not my transmission at all. I have all the paperwork from the dealer showing what they wanted me to replace and spend. I am very upset that an accredited Toyota dealership was going to have me spend that much money on something when it was not the problem. I bought my car there and I have had it serviced there ever since- 7 years!

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #4

Jul 012009


  • 143,700 miles


My 2002 Toyota Rav4 is having a hard time shifting and sometimes it almost doesn't want to move with an A/C on... but when I turn off the A/C it runs fine... living in Arizona we need as much A/C as we get... and Toyota won't make any recall about this issue. Hope you guys will be able to help us regarding this issue.

- Glendale, AZ, USA

problem #3

Jun 162009


  • 183,000 miles
The Toyota Rav4 (year 2002) indiscriminately speeds up and maxes out the rpms (6000) for not reason. I was going 65 and all of a sudden the rpms went up to 6000 from 3000 and the car sped up to 85 and then went into neutral with me touching any gears or any pedals. Luckily I was allowing enough distance between me and the other vehicles to safely get it pulled off to the side. There would have been no way to control the vehicle to keep it from crashing into someone directly in front of me and both sides and the rear had vehicles in them. The ECM, transmission and vss (variable speed sensor) were replaced and the problem still occurs. Toyota disavows any knowledge of these types of issues; however, there are hundreds of thousands of complaints for the same issues and millions of dollars being spent to solve them and it's not being solved. There are lives at stake here. Toyota should be held accountable for these problems. The models effected are the Toyota Rav4's from 1999 to 2009. And it appears that it's still an issue and still being pushed under the rug so to speak. Action or lives....that's what it all boils down to now. Incident date is most current. Numerous past dates.

- Tolleson, AZ, USA

problem #2

Jun 152008


  • 144,000 miles
I would like to file a complaint on Toyota Rav4 2002. I almost got kill a couple of times while drive this car. The ECM module failure. This is a safety issue, please step in and have Toyota recall on the Rav4. Thank you!

- Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #1

May 012008

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 83,000 miles
I am writing to complain about a defect in the 2002 Toyota Rav4 that I feel could be very dangerous. I just finished having my car repaired, and I know that Toyota is aware of this problem, yet refuses to recall the model. The ECM is defective, which is causing the car to stall out when accelerating and then shift very hard. I myself, with two children in the car, went to pull into oncoming traffic when my Rav4 decided to present this problem. I was almost hit. Upon researching this, I have found numerous complaints on the internet with this make of car, and Toyota has even put out a mechanics statement which shows they are aware of the problem. My concern: Others who do not know they are driving a ticking time bomb, and pull out into oncoming traffic when their Toyota decides to malfunction. Just as an fyi--even though Toyota is aware of this situation, I had to pay $1300 for a new ECM, and if my transmission was ultimately damaged will have to pay to repair that as well for a cost of another $3,600.

- Louisville, KY, USA

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