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 3 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #45

Nov 242008


  • 73,072 miles


In the fall of 2008, the factory installed cruise control on my 2002 Toyota rav 4 functions intermittently. It will work for a short period on any long trip then will cause vehicle to decelerate. Sometimes cannot get it to work again. Light will flash on and off on the dashboard. Have taken it in to local Toyota dealership who cannot get it to duplicate. The mechanic states everything is fine. Due to semi-functional cruise, the mileage on a long distance trip has decreased from 30-32 mpg to 24-26mpg.reported this to Toyota in 2009 and given a case # which I have misplaced. They did not appear to be concerned or admit they had a problem. Extended warranty (to 100,000 miles) will not cover the repair. There is indeed an electrical issue going on, but no one seems to solve the problem or care. In searching I have found other people who have posted comments regarding the same issue without resolution.

- Evans, GA, USA

problem #44

Nov 202008


  • 107,000 miles
Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6) I purchased my 2002 Toyota Rav4 from my dealer, rich Toyota of huntington, wv in spring 2002żit was his demo car, VIN#[xxx] ; model #4416A. At 107,00 miles, out of the clear-blue, the Rav4 check engine light came on for about two hours, then went out, but then shifting became erratic. I have serviced this vehicle faithfully since I purchased it and expected to get another 100,000 more miles, but, my dealership, where it has been serviced since purchase, said it was going to cost over $1,200 for the ecc/ECM (engine control computer/engine control module), and even if I replace just the ecc/ECM, it still may not work with the old transmission, so it was recommended that I replace the transmission too for another $3,500 because the defective ecc may have destroyed the transmission. They also suggested replacement of the air-fuel sensor for a total of $5,189 in repairs before taxes. I had never realized that there were ever any serious problems like this with the Toyota product line until I went online to research this transmission problem. What an eye-opener!!! there were many, many problems documented with many of Toyota's products! considering that this Rav4 was a $22,000 vehicle when I purchased it, doesn't it seem strange that after just 6 years it is inoperable and even dangerous! after E-mailing and sending a letter to Toyota usa in torrence California about this issue, I called the Toyota customer assistance center at 1-800-331-4331 and talked with a real person. Plus, I have been assigned a case number, which goes into their database and logs the issue should they have enough complaints to warrant a recall or other remedy. I have since replaced the transmission and defective ECU at a cost of about $4,500. After researching your complaint files on this Rav4 issue, why hasn't NHTSA done something about it with Toyota!!!!"??"

- Scott Depot, WV, USA

problem #43

Apr 102009

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. The contact stated that the ECU board failed on the vehicle and that the dealer said that they were aware of the failure. The dealer stated that the ECU board normally failed at 75 miles on his year, make and model vehicle. After the ECU failed the vehicle began to lunge forward when it shifted. The failure mileage was 82,000 and the current mileage was 105,000. Updated 05/10/10 updated 05/11/10.

- Blountville, TN, USA

problem #42

Jan 132010


  • miles


After having an oxygen sensor replaced in the exhaust system of my 2002 Toyota Rav4 on 02/02/10, I noticed that my car began accelerating sluggishly. Approximately 50 miles after the service was performed, I noticed my car jerked when shifting through gears 1-3 and the tachometer would rev to 3000 rpms. The car then ran fine for app. 4 days with no gear slippage. A week later the gears started slipping again without warning and the car seemed to have no power when the gas pedal was fully engaged during a right hand turn to merge with oncoming traffic. The car then bucked violently. This resulted with my passenger and I becoming anxious/scared because we didn't know if the traffic coming toward us would have hit us if we suddenly lost power. I immediately drove my car home where it has remained parked and set an appointment with a Toyota dealer explaining the problems. According to similar stories from fellow Rav4 owners, there is a problem with the electronic control module causing irreversible damage to the transmission. I am taking the car to the dealer to have it 'officially' diagnosed although it only codes to have the O2 sensor replaced, which I did.

- Jay, NY, USA

problem #41

Feb 042010


  • 114,225 miles
Was driving in a 55 mile highway car felt like was driving through sludge. Engine light came on. Then car stared jerking got to side of road and had towed to Toyota dealer ship said the transmission chip was bad cost around $1300.. and new transmission altogether would cost me $6000.

- Poinciana, FL, USA

problem #40

Jan 302010


  • 54,000 miles
Toyota issued a secret bulletin on 3/3/2006 (TC006-02), but failed to notify owners of 2001-2003 Rav4 vehicles regarding their hard shifting, ECM problems, and transmission failures. Despite my reporting this problem within warranty period at 54,000 miles in 2006, and again in 2007, Toyota claimed unable to duplicate problem. They are now charging me 1/2 the cost of a new transmission at approximately $2,000 including the cost of flushing the old one and diagnosing the problem.

- Saint Paul, MN, USA

problem #39

Feb 012010


  • 79,951 miles


Purchased 2002 Toyota Rav4 new from Toyota dealer in October 2001. Experienced hard shifting several years ago when traveling uphill and a highway speeds. Told that the car was shifting fine. Now the engine control module needs to be replaced and possibly the complete transmission. Toyota issued a tsb in 2008 but I was never informed. This is a very dangerous situation since the car can stop at any time.

- Sherman Oaks, CA, USA

problem #38

Dec 152009


  • 89,978 miles
My Toyota Rav4 (2002) with less than 90,000 miles has been slipping and it has caused me to be in some pretty risky situations, such as nearly getting into a fatal car accident when stopping and trying to proceed again at stop lights and stop signs. Apparently the ECM is causing damage to the transmission and instead of them trying to fix the problem as a company, they are recommending me to spend over 4,000 to fix a problem that they have fell to resolve. It has become a financial nightmare and I don't want to have to choose between my house and my car because I need both!

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #37

Dec 172009


  • 101,000 miles
No problems were apparent until overnight the transmission appeared to be slipping. Independent mechanic cited failing transmission as probable issue. Toyota dealership stated the ECM/ECU was failing. Turns out ECM was defective in the model year of this vehicle. Toyota' response was to "reprogram/reflash" defective ECM. This only postponedthe failure of the ECM. The defective ECM would send incorrect codes to the transmission stuttering or halting shifts thus leaving the vehicle effectively in neutral. This stuttering/slipping quickly destroys the transmission. The failure of the ECM would not allow the transmission to shift which put us in danger of being in a rear end collision while trying to get onto busy highways or stalling in an intersection. This occurred multiple times in the trip to the dealership alone (the vehicle went in the next open business day after the first occurrence). The failure occurred in the first three gears. This is a very serious safety issue which was given an ineffective solution. The dealership replaced the ECM at a significant cost to the consumer. When asked about the defective ECM, the service department stated the replacement of the ECM, although agreed to be defective, was the responsibility of the consumer and not Toyota.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #36

Nov 012009


  • 50,000 miles
2002 Toyota, Rav4, my check engine light came on, the car only has 50,000miles on it, I have just recently hearing about this same problem with many other Toyota rav 4 owners.

- Marshfield, MA, USA

problem #35

Oct 102009


  • 96,000 miles


Approximately 3 weeks ago I began noticing hesitation, jerking, and slipping coming from what I thought was the transmission. When the problem continued, I took it to a local big ten tires to see what they thought. They thought it was a defective engine mount. That did not remedy the problem. I realized then it was a transmission problem. I took it to the dealer that sold me the vehicle, and they confirmed that it was a transmission problem, but they told me to live with it because it was intermittent! they did not tell me it was the same problem that at least hundreds if not thousands of 2001-2003 rav 4 owners are having as we speak, namely, a defective engine control module (see New York times article dated 8/26/09). The defectively designed ECM is sending the wrong messages to the transmission. This causes the transmission to malfunction. This presents two problems: Over time it destroys the transmission and more importantly, it is a safety hazard. On two occasions I pulled out in traffic and the transmission suddenly (without warning) refused to shift from first to second. This hesitation almost caused other vehicles to hit me. It finally "jerked" into gear and I was able to avoid the collisions. Had it not done so, I could have been seriously injured. It is an absolute disgrace that Toyota has known about this problem since at least as early as 2006 when it issued a tsb to it dealers pertaining to this exact problem. I am going to be honest. I also think it is a travesty that Toyota has not been forced to make a recall. To conclude that this is not a safety issue is flat out wrong. Just because it does not occur on the "open highway" is, with all due respect, ludicrous. I can be just as seriously injured if my car is hit by someone going 40 mph because I can't get out of their way. No parts have been replaced. Please do the right thing and make Toyota fix this problem do not let this become another pinto gas tank case. Thank you.

- Niceville, FL, USA

problem #34

Oct 082009


  • 137,000 miles
My 2002 Toyota Rav4 had issues with the ECU (computer) which controls the gear shifting. The symptoms are stalling/pausing between 1st and 2nd and/or 2nd and 3rd gear. When it happens, pressing on the gas has no effect - car does not accelerate. Occurs quite frequently after the problem surfaces. On 10/8, as I was taking a left turn onto a main road, I had a stall and could not accelerate. There was an oncoming car that had enough time to stop and did not hit me. I had my mother and 14 month old daughter in the back. I researched the issue online and found this same complaint for hundreds of Rav4 owners. The ECU (computer) fails after significant mileage (I'm at 135K), causing the transmission to be affected. If the ECU repair does not solve the problem, the transmission needs to be rebuilt. I had the ECU re-built for $1,413 ($1200 for the part alone) and it seems to have fixed my issue.

- Glen Allen, VA, USA

problem #33

Oct 012009


  • 59,897 miles
I have a 2002 rav 4 with 60K miles and the ECM is faulty and is causing my transmission to slip, flare up, and almost got me killed in car accident ad my vehicle would not move in traffic until it finally grabbed and went forward. Now, I have to spend $4000 to have my transmission fixed at 60K miles. I am outraged that Toyota has not recalled this faulty computer ECM. It's dangerous and defective and needs to be recalled. I will be contacting an attorney as 1000's of others are having the same problem and discuss a class action lawsuit.

- Van Nuys , CA, USA

problem #32

Aug 282009


  • 80,800 miles
My 2002 Toyota Rav4 has a known defect with the electronic control module which causes the transmission to go bad which results in the car hesitating and jerking which almost caused an accident. I had the car towed to Toyota dealership and they refused to fix anything because they will only fix this faulty ECM if the car in under 80,000 miles, mine had 80,800.

- Herkimer, NY, USA

problem #31

Sep 072009


  • 115,000 miles
I have a 2002 Toyota rav4L. My problems started yesterday. The car is not shifting properly. It stalls as if the car were put into neutral at 20mph and again at about 40mph. I was almost hit by another car because my car would not move when the gas was pushed it just revved the engine. I am afraid to drive this car. I purchased it in Dec of 2006 and am still paying for this car. From what I have read I have the same type issue as most others- the ECM. This is unsafe and Toyota needs to fess up. They knew about this problem in early 2006 because a tsb was sent out to all Toyota dealers. If we had been notified of this at the time of purchase or in 2006 the 2002 would have most likely still been under warranty. They kept it quiet until now and people are catching on. I have sent a complaint to the dealership where my car was purchased and am waiting to hear back what they intend to do in this case. I am willing to take it as far as I need to go to make them repair the car at no costs to me. From what I have read it would cost more to repair the car that what the value of the car actually is at this point. I am very disappointed and will never buy another Toyota again because of the deception and the inconvenience and lack of concern of the safety of the consumer from Toyota.

- Jefferson, GA, USA

problem #30

Jul 012009


  • 104,000 miles
Around the 1st of July my Toyota rav 4 starting jerking and refused to go into second gear. The rav 4 has had all of the regular required maintenance and showed absolutely no signs of failure. The transmission and the ECM were going out. I had my 16 year old grandson in the car when this happened. I did not realized that Toyota has been aware of this problem for around 3 years until I started doing some research. This is definitely a safety hazard and should have been addressed by the Toyota company immediately. I am just now learning that there are several hundred Toyota customers that have filed complaints concerning the same issue but of course the Toyota company will not remedy the situation. If my grandson and I had been on a busy highway I do feel the outcome would have been much more devastating.

- Afton, TN, USA

problem #29

Aug 242009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,438 miles
ECM failed on 2002 Toyota Rav4 causing erratic auto transmission shifting and car speed to vary widely while in traffic. No 'check engine' light warning. Toyota knows of the problem and did not provide any warning. I had to pay a repair bill of $5358 to replace the ECM and transmission.

- Sussex, WI, USA

problem #28

Mar 102009


  • 83,000 miles
Check engine light came on. Took to Toyota. They told me I needed a new ECM that there was a tsb on the make model and yr of my vehicle Rav4 2002/I drove home and told my boyfriend that the ECM replacement is 1600 dollars. One week later I was driving to Toyota to have fixed and my car would npt accelerate. It would stop and go and I barely made it through a very busy intersection.. I was at 83,000 miles and out of warranty when this happened. Of course I had to absorb the cost..

- Owings Mills, MD, USA

problem #27

May 012009


  • 80,300 miles
1. Toyota 2002 rav 4 starting jerking uncontrollably at 80,300 miles while driving on highway at around 60 mph. 2. took it in the next day and Toyota dealer stated that it was an engine control module failure which was making the transmission jerk. 3. they replaced the engine control module and stuck us with the bill since our car was 300 miles over warranty although we had brought it in 4 times prior for engine control module problems.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #26

Aug 102009


  • 100,500 miles
The car does not respond properly when attempting to accelerate. The car jerks/transmission jerks and remains at a slow speed, responding much later. This is dangerous when merging or simply driving on a highway. I bought this car for my teenage daughter from a major Toyota dealer. When I test drove it, it seemed fine. The dealer apparently, did not know what was wrong. I took it to another Toyota dealer who identified the problem. This car was apparently in excellent condition, obviously a falsehood. I have had the car checked over - this is the only problem - a deadly one.

- North Plainfield, NJ, USA

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