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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
91,898 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #13

Jun 102010


  • 87,178 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. The contact was driving less then 5mph when the vehicle stalled without warning. The contact was able to restart the vehicle. The dealer performed a diagnostic and advised that the engine control module would need replacing. The vehicle was repaired yet the failure recurred. There were additional repairs made to the throttle position sensor yet that did not remedy the failure. The dealer then advised that they were unable to diagnose the failure and advised they were unaware of how to correct the failure. There were no further repairs. The failure mileage was 87,178 and the current mileage was 88,515.

- Hendersonville, NC, USA

problem #12

Jul 062010


  • 61,000 miles
I was entering the highway and my car would not accelerate... was almost killed and had to drive in emergency land before building up speed..... the problem is the ECM in my 2002 Toyota Rav4 failed.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #11

Mar 142010


  • 73,747 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. On March 14, 2010, the contact was driving at approximately 20-25 mph when she depressed the accelerator pedal and the engine suddenly began to rev. The vehicle would also not shift into gear. She noticed the problem started to occur on an intermittent basis following the initial failure. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealership where she was informed that the electronic control module needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired at that time. The failure mileage was 73,747. The current mileage was approximately 73,800.

- Struthers, OH, USA

problem #10

Mar 092009


  • 162,000 miles


Engine seize at 162K miles. This vehicle has had regular maintenance. Oil changes every 3-5K miles. Apparently oil pump went out and took the engine with it. Owned this vehicle since it had 7 miles on it. It left me stranded in the middle of nowhere. Put in reman. Jasper engine. After about $7,000 the engine light is still on. The mechanic said I could take it to a Toyota dealer and they'd "flash" it to get it to go off, but it would cost me a few hundred. The engine light has been on since about 28K miles. Took it to the dealer for that and they just undo the battery and put it back on. That "resets" it. Within 100 miles it goes back on. I just leave it and if the car blows up I'll leave it where it dies this time. I paid 28K for the car in 2002, 8 yrs ago. 28K+7K(engine)=$35,000 $35,000/8(yrs)=4375(per year to own.minimum) 4375.00/12(mos)=364.58 per month. Very expensive to own and regular maintenance isn't even included..... too many people have had this problem.

- Louisville, GA, USA

problem #9

Jul 232009

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota rav 4. while driving 15 mph the vehicle down-shifted and stalled. The contact is aware of the safety risk involved. A transmission specialist replaced the transmission to correct the failure; however, the failure resurfaced. The current and failure mileages were 74000. Updated 12/7/09 the consumer stated when she attempted to make a turn, the vehicle downshifted erratically. The consumer was informed the engine control module needed to be replaced. Updated 12/08/09.

- Kensington, MD, USA

problem #8

May 182009


  • miles
I purchased a new 2002 Toyota rav 4 in 2002. Last year, a few years after the purchase date, Toyota had a recall for the check engine light. I took it back to the dealer and the light was fixed. Maybe a year or two after, the light began to come on and has stayed off and on for years. Last year, my truck began to "hesitate" while driving and finally it began to stop all together. I took it to a transmission shop and an air conditioner belt was replaced and the agent told me that he could not find a problem with it. For a day or two, I had no problems with the truck. But shortly after, the problem came back and I was stuck without transportation. I was told it was a $2,500 computer engine problem. I do not have that kind of money. So, I had to rent a car. My insurance would not pay rentals. Externally, it is a beautiful truck, even today. But, internally, it completely let me down. When I purchased my truck, I thought I was getting a dependable truck that would last for years after it was paid off. I paid off the car in January of this year and it is sitting in front of my house. How bad can this get? my truck has over 140,000 miles which according to my research, exceeds warranty dates. If the repair cost is high, I will have no other choice but to try to sell the truck. I went out and bought an american made used car the other day. It cannot compare with my Toyota when it was in good condition. Now I am back in debt again. This time I got a three year warranty. To make a long story short, I am so disappointed in the Toyota Rav4 trucks. According to the web, a lot of us are.

- Merrillville, IN, USA

problem #7

Oct 192007


  • 110,000 miles


I have a Toyota Rav4 2002-in May 2006 I went to military training school, I got back Oct 2006 while driving my engine failed on the hwy. I took it to Toyota and they told me it was 420 miles over the warranty and it was not covered. I did all my required upkeep and maintenance and to my surprise it had oil sludge. He claims its from sitting but alot of vehicles sit and do not have problems especially military members that are deployed. I had to pay $3989 for a used engine. After researching and finding out 2001 -03 Camry and Lexus had the same problems and were recalled. I fought got and attorney and still no recall. I hope to have a civil lawsuit with Toyota because of this but it never happened. March 2007 my transmission went out while on the hwy. I was driving and notice it kept jerking. Then it would hesitate getting into gear and reverse. I took it to a Toyota dealer and they told me my transmission is going out and it would cost $4980. Ok let me break down the existing problems up until this point. The drivers door electric locking system went out it was repaired 4 times, the check engine light never goes off said its a electrical problem. The alarms comes on and will not go off even when door key or key pad is indicated. So I had to unhook. Yesterday March 31st I was done with the rav 4. I have notice that more than 35 % of owners have this problems and Toyota refuses to recall.

- Wichita, KS, USA

problem #6

Jul 172008

RAV4 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,846 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. While driving approximately 10 mph, the vehicle stalled and lost power while attempting to make a left turn. The contact applied pressure to the accelerator pedal numerous times before the vehicle gained power. In addition, the gears shifted roughly and the automatic transmission was jerking and vibrating. There were no warning lights illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and they stated that the failure was related to the engine control module. The vehicle repair was covered by the manufacturer warranty. The contact was concerned of the safety risk involved. The failure and current mileages were 78,846. Updated 09/24/08. Updated 09/26/08.

- Morrisville, NC, USA

problem #5

Jun 152008


  • 141,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. While driving approximately 55 mph and depressing the accelerator pedal, the speed reduced. The vehicle began jerking and hesitating without warning. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and they stated that the engine control module failed. The vehicle is currently being repaired. The failure and current mileages were 141,000.

- Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #4

Jan 282008

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. The vehicle was serviced for a recall regarding the engine light. A NHTSA campaign id number was not found. After the vehicle was retrieved from the dealer, the vehicle shook while driving between 2-50 mph. There were no prior failures or warning indicators. The dealer stated that the ECM needed to be replaced. The failure mileage was 144,000 and current mileage was 144,411.

- Minnetonka , MN, USA

problem #3

Sep 092006

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 88,000 miles


Check engine light came on intermittently. Dealer said nylon gear on camshaft had damaged teeth, allowing timing chain to jump back and forth, and thereby changing ignition timing. Cost of repair was $1,600.

- Monroe, NY, USA

problem #2

Nov 272005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles
Oil was changed regularly on the car. Oil and engine light came on but mechanic could not find a problem and stated there was plenty of oil in the car. Driving on the expressway. The engine, then oil lights came on, as I pulled over there was a loud noise, and every thing froze. I was told the engine had seized and it would have to be replaced (for $6000).

- Highland, NY, USA

problem #1

Aug 092006

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,900 miles
: the contact stated while driving 45 mph the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was taken to a service dealer where the dealer encountered sludge in the entire engine. The dealer determined the sludge was from poor maintenance. The contact stated the vehicle was regularly maintained by service dealers. Updated 9/22/2006 -

- Atlanta, GA, USA

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