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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
90,147 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 2 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #65

Oct 172010


  • miles


I have a Toyota Rav4 and its computer broke. We took it to manufacture and they said the computer is free to replace under warranty, however, they charge us repair cost around $700. Is it legal to charge for the repair for anything under warranty?

- El Monte, CA, USA

problem #64

May 222010

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 87,000 miles
I have a 2002 Rav4 I purchased used in May 2010 for $9,000. A few days after purchasing it, the transmission started slipping. Almost had numerous accidents when needing to accelerate when pulling out into a busy road and the transmission failed to get out of 2nd gear into 3rd gear. Had the transmission replaced/rebuilt for $3,500, the ECM flashed for $265, 3 new oxygen sensors put in for $900. Now the car is still doing what it did even after all that money spent. Looking up on the web, found many owners had the same problem and almost all had to replace the ECM. I am now trying to get an appointment with a Toyota dealer to get this done. Very disappointed in Toyota.

- Kailua, HI, USA

problem #63

Sep 302010


  • 90,400 miles
My wife was driving our rav 4 with my son aboard. The car began experiencing trouble accelerating, car would hesitate, then all of a sudden it would lurch forward. It was totally unsafe to drive at that point. I have learned that this is due to a faulty ECM which has caused this vehicle to be extremely unsafe. II took the car to my mechanic and sure enough the car showed the P0755 obd II code which indicates that the issue is with the ECM. F left unattended, the transmission will require replacement at a cost of $4000 - $5000. I talked to Toyota about it and they said a repair was covered under a customer support warranty extension program (*case # 1010011845). However, now I talk to fitzgerald Toyota in gaithersburg (judith) and they indicate that they haven't even heard of this program.

- Bethesda, MD, USA

problem #62

Feb 112007


  • 93,000 miles


ECM/transmission failure on my 2002 rav 4. I ended up cleaning out my savings over this car. After recent bulletin from Toyota, I submitted necessary paper work for some reimbursement. I was told that I was not eligible because the car was made in puerto rico, not us!!!!!! I bought it used from a Toyota dealer in va. Why did Toyota send me the notice"???"

- Surry, VA, USA

problem #61

May 192007

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 59,494 miles
May 19th of 2007, my 2002 Toyota rav 4 4X4 was in an accident. It was hit in the front passenger side doing 25-30 mph. After struck, I applied the brakes twice, while the car continued to accelerate at an increasing high speed, resulting in hitting a glass bus stop ending up hitting a brick school. It continued to accelerate although I was unable to go anywhere. No injuries reported.

- Richmond, IN, USA

problem #60

Aug 252010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,543 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4. After stopping at an intersection I took off and the automatic transmission seemed to be in high gear, then it jerked and the engine raced and the transmission down shifted. This happened two other times within 10 miles. The ECM unit had failed. I researched this problem on-line and found that many other people had the same issue. Toyota claims that this problem was fixed in 2008 on this vehicle but we have owned the vehicle since may of 2007 and did not have any repairs done.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #59

Jul 122010


  • 129,040 miles


I have been a loyal Toyota owner with a 1995 Camry and a 2002 Toyota rav 4. I noticed the terrible jerking that started while driving the Rav4 on my way to work. I could not even attempt to speed up when necessary and once I did, the car jerked so much, I had to pull over and eventually get the car towed to the mechanic. They stated that the transmission was the problem so we paid to replace it and resolve that issue. Not even a week later, I had the same exact problems going home from work. I brought it back to the mechanic and now it's the ECM that needs to be replaced. I cannot afford to get it replaced since I just paid for the new transmission. The mechanic attempted to reset the ECM but that did not help at all. Now we are down to the 95 Camry and crossing our fingers that we don't have issues with our "old reliable".

- West Covina, CA, USA

problem #58

Sep 012008


  • 83,574 miles
I purchased my used 2002 Toyota Rav4 on 12/10/05 from South coast Toyota of costa mesa. Shortly after purchasing it, I received some kind of "adjustment notice" asking me to bring the car in, which I did. I asked what they needed to do to the car, they would not directly answer my question and said it "was nothing, just a minor adjustment." In September of 2008, shortly after my warranty had expired and my car was just over 83,000 miles, the transmission began slipping completely out of gear while I was driving it, and then it wouldn't shift into gear, and I would suddenly have no control over the car so I had to stop, and then try to get it in gear, or drive home in 1st. I had to drive from 1st gear or 4th. I was unable to drive it on the freeway to get to work, and had to stop driving it all together on the street. The dealer would not replace the transmission. The price he quoted me to "replace the transmission and ECU" was around $4,500. I was furious, as the reason I purchased Toyota was because they drove 200,000 miles as long as you properly maintained them, which I always did. I went and had to pay $2,593 at irvine transmission center in irvine, ca on 9/24/08. After replacing the transmission and test driving it, it was ready for pickup. When they got in the car to drive it up to me, suddenly the new transmission wouldn't shift. So, they researched the problem and told me the computer (ECU) apparently had to be replaced also, and they had discovered through online sites that Toyota was having problems with this vehicle. The dealer charged me $500 to replace the ECU. The dealer sold me a Rav4 they knew was having transmission and ECU failure. I wrote Toyota a complaint. I believe I should be reimbursed the money I am out, and this car should be recalled with the hundreds of complaints, if not thousands, that have been reported. I request you take action!

- Bellingham, WA, USA

problem #57

Apr 102010


  • 110,000 miles
My 2002 Toyota Rav4 began having problems shifting in April 2010. It was intermittent, and wasn┐T cause for concern until my check engine light came on in May 2010. The symptoms of the problem with my vehicle are that it stalls, hesitates, and has a stop / go (jerking) type of action while driving it. At that time, I took it to a service technician at my local Toyota dealer where I purchased both of my Toyota. They told me that the ECM had to be replaced and would cost around 1,300 dollars. Mind you, I had to pay 75 dollars for the diagnostic check. The following week, I took my Rav4 to a local transmission shop, had it diagnosed for a second opinion and he confirmed that the ECM unit was bad and needed to be replaced, which cost me yet, another 75 dollars for the diagnosis. He also instructed me not to continue to drive the car because it could possibly harm the transmission. Since doing so, I have been down to one car for two and a half months because I simply don┐T have the money to have it repaired. After doing some research online, I found out that Toyota has known about this problem since 2006. It is a serious safety issue when entering traffic, or trying to move from a stop light or stop sign, as you don┐T know when the car is going to shift into gear or not. Toyota has not issued a recall, nor has not done anything to resolve the issue. I am disgusted that in 2006 Toyota realized there was an issue with the ECM, which could ruin the transmission. Instead of letting consumers know about this issue as soon as they realized, they sent a technical service bulletin to dealerships and service areas, but failed to let their own customers know. According to internet research, this problem generally starts around 90,000 miles and causes considerable danger with jerking and shifting problems. According to internet research, this problem generally starts around 90,000 miles and causes considerable danger with jerking and shifting problems.

- Saint Louis, MO, USA

problem #56

Jul 032010


  • 111,000 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4 started jerking and shaking, , then slowing down at 111K miles at in the middle of traffic concerned for safety, had to pull over and call for a tow truck to tow car home. I took the car to the dealership, but they said that it could be ECM, which is $1500, but no guarantees it would work. Researched issue, and found out that this is known issue since 2006, but Toyota didn't notify owners.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #55

Jul 022010


  • 90,000 miles


I recently had a failure of the control module (ECU), I was told by my mechanic that this problem came up frequently for rav 4S of years 2002 and 2003 and that Toyota was aware of this issue since 2006 ┐ but never recalled the cars! after searching on the internet I noticed that there were hundreds of complaints regarding exactly the same issue and even a class action lawsuit for the same matter filed in 2009. The replacement cost me $758.50 to replace (with a refurbished one) and I had to rent a car during the replacement process ┐ which cost me $131.32 ┐ therefore a total of $889.82.

- Glendale, CA, USA

problem #54

May 152010


  • 142,000 miles
Whiplash and cervical disc herniation due to negligence of Toyota rav 4 2002 transmission and ECM problems. Around 4/20/10 I took my Toyota to this dealership due to ongoing jerking and forward thrust when starting from a stop position, also the engine light was on. They kept my Toyota from 4/19/10 till 4/21/10. Reset the engine stating that it is O2 sensor problem and replaced it. Also diagnosed transmission problems but I was told by the dealership persona, L" I don't want to stamp your car as condemned, take it back and when problem gets worse bring it back" he did not warn me that if I did not get it corrected right away, I can be jeopardizing my safety and safety of people on the road. It is apparent from the paperwork they handed me that they had diagnosed a serious problem and should have corrected it right away. Around middle of may the problems with the transmission got worse, on 2 occasions the car stalled completely while going at 30 mph and then severely thrust forward again. In another 3-4 days I started experiencing severe muscle spasms and headaches. Since then I had been to er, received ct and mri showing disc prolapse and tear of my 2 vertebral discs. I have been receiving physical therapy, cervical traction, pain medication, cervical collar, and am scheduled to receive an epidural injection in 2 weeks. I have seen my pcp twice, a neurologist, 2 neuro surgeons and have received numerous medication, some with serious side effects and have detailed information about these visits. I am a physician and due to this problem have missed days at work jeopardizing my clinical care. Yesterday almost got in an accident when my car slowed down instead of accelerating and I almost hit another car, this incident made me realize I can hurt other people if I continue to drive this car. I took it in to dealer today and they are going to run a diagnosis on it again, and it might cost me 6,000 dollars. Please help.

- San Mateo, CA, USA

problem #53

Jun 262010


  • 118,817 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4 transmission failure. This vehicle has been maintained excellently with all recommended services performed at Toyota dealers or authorized facilities. In 2009, Toyota sent a recall notice about a "faulty ECM" (electronic control module) and the vehicle was taken in and the ECM was reprogrammed. After this service, the car started shifting erratically and as of June 26, 2010, the transmission suddenly failed with 118,000 miles on the car. Toyota knows that the ECM causes the transmission failure and is refusing to make this right. Toyota needs to be held accountable and responsible for this lack of integrity and for putting consumers at risk of death or injury, due to transmission failures in 2002 Rav4's, Camry's and corollas. Google this information to see that this is becoming more common with this model of car, now that they are reaching 100,000 miles.

- Cottonwood, AZ, USA

problem #52

Jun 112010


  • 0 miles
2002 Toyota rav 4 electronic control unit has a manufacturer's defect that cause the car's automatic transmission to disintegrate with little or no warning.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #51

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 #50

Apr 222010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,500 miles
I purchase my vehicle a 2002 Rav4, automatic, new. The vehicle has been well maintained. Approximately in March of 2010 my vehicle starting jerking, I look at my gas gauge and thought I must be lower on gas then the gauge is showing. I got gas and the problem stopped. About 2 weeks later the same problem. I got gas and the situation stopped. Sporadically, in the 2 week time frame my vehicle seemed to lose power. I did take my car into my mechanic and he had the car and did test drives with no problems. Again, in April the problem arose again and the car when to my mechanic and again they could find no problem. On April 22, 2010 upon leaving work I started my vehicle and there was a horrible jerking, shaking and at times seemed to have no power I finally was able to make it home (1 mile away) with the tires barely rolling down the road. Immediately, the next day I took it to my mechanic and as we were doing a test drive the vehicle began the jerking, shaking and lost power, the car was not operable any longer. The diagnosis: Transmission burnt and new ECM (my third in this vehicle). The vehicles engine check light never came on or any other sensors in the vehicle. When the ECM was tested it did not display any codes or problems with the vehicle. I contacted the dealership and explained the situation and was advised I needed to bring it in for them to look at it. I explained to them it does not run and not going anywhere and would these (I would have had the vehicle towed with an expense of anywhere from $250 to $300, a hours drive away) expenses be covered. Response "warranty expired 60 days ago." After many days of an agonizing decision, I advised my mechanic to go ahead and fix the car at the tune of $3500, replacing the ECM and transmission. The vehicle is still being repaired and I will have it back next week.

- Bullhead City, AZ, USA

problem #49

May 032010


  • 60,021 miles
My 2002 Toyota Rav4 check engine light came on. The light went off a few days later, but my husband took it to a mechanic to have it looked at. The mechanic said the ECU (computer) failed. A few days later the car had problems shifting, and it started bucking on the highway. I did some research on the internet, and came to find out that this is a known defect with the 2002 Toyota Rav4. There was a Toyota internal memo written in 2006 admitting the defect. My husband and I bought this car brand new. The car has only 60,000. Miles on it. We called Toyota to see if they would honor the warranty (we are three months over the warranty) and the dealership said no, and Toyota headquarters gave us a case number, and referred us back to the dealership. We have been loyal Toyota customers. We also bought a 2007 Toyota sienna. It is unconscionable that a company is putting its customers at risk with a defective part, and then hiding it from the vehicle owner. We never received a memo about the danger of this vehicle. Does someone have to be killed in order for our government to get involved? Toyota should be ordered to replace the defective parts that it willfully sold to its customers and then tried to cover it up!

- Whitestone, NY, USA

problem #48

Apr 192002


  • 89,900 miles
Starting the end of April 2010 my 2002 Toyota Rav4 starting giving me problems with shifting gears and when I pressed the accelerator it didn't want to move and really sluggish and would jerk. I was afraid that someone would rear end me. I kept up all my maintenance on the vehicle. I had a transmission service done March 2008. The dealer said I needed a new transmission. My car has 90,000 miles. I had another transmission service done, but it just got worse. I took it to another repair shop and they said there was a computer defect and the transmission needed to be replaced. My car is in the shop for repairs.

- Ontario, CA, USA

problem #47

Apr 112010


  • 79,000 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4: ECM computer problem causes the transmission to burn out. The ECM has a design blunder which causes it to lose its ability to control the solenoids. The transmission is damaged quite suddenly.

- Frisco, Tx 75035, TX, USA

problem #46

Oct 012008


  • miles
I have a 2002 Toyota rave 4, I have even complained to the dealership where I bought the vehicle. I complained about it speeding out of control when I used the cruise control and it still does and I can reproduce it every time on the same road. I also had complained about steping on the breakes and the car not wanting to stop. Dealership told me "it was in my head, and that they couldn't find anything wrong with it." I was actually in a car accident on my way into the dealership to have them check the same problem again. I reported it several times to them an I have had the car since 2005.

- Paris, OH, USA

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