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:
97,472 miles
Total Complaints:
120 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (44 reports)
  2. replace ecm (35 reports)
  3. replace transmission (18 reports)
  4. replace ecm and transmission (6 reports)
  5. rebuilt transmission and reflashed (5 reports)
  6. Toyota has issued an extended warranty on this issue 10 year / 150k (5 reports)
2002 Toyota RAV4 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 2 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #100

Oct 122010


  • 85,000 miles


This just started happening, taking it to the mechanic today!

- , Warwick, RI, USA

problem #99

Sep 242010

RAV4 ES 2.0L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,500 miles

So, Fri. September 24, 2010 I take the RAV4 to the dealership for service. No problems pulling out of my driveway, or for the first 4 blocks. I was stopped at a traffic light, first car in line. Light turns green, I hit the gas. And the car "lurches" and "bucks" before accelerating. Luckily the guy behind me was ancient and wasn't right on my ass, like most drivers here usually are. I made it the 4 more blocks to the dealership without further incident, theank the Goddess.

They had the car ALL DAY, drove it 15+ miles. Ran the computer diagnostics, and FOUND NOTHING WRONG. They called me and told me this, and told me "perhaps you are doing something wrong." REALLY??? I've been driving for 25 years, know how to drive, and am driving and AUTOMATIC! Not like I am doing anything besides pressing the gas peddal. No clutch or manual shift involved here folks.

So Their courtesy shutle picks me up, I get to the dealership, sign the paperwork ( no charge- new purchase, so it still has a 1 month/1000 mile warranty on it...). The ervice tech gets the car from the lot across the street, pulls into the service area parking lot, positions the vehicle a few feet from the exit, and gets out. I get in, put it in D, hit the gas, go 3 FEET, and the car STALLS OUTR AGAIN!!!! I should have left it there, gone in and given someone HELL! But I was so tired and frazzled, I just wanted to get home. Started it up, put it in gear, and had no further problems on the way home, besides having trouble seeing through the tears of rage clouding my glasses' lenses. Called the service dept as soon as I got in the door, and they asked if I would bring it back in immediately, "so they could have a service tech ride with me to see what i was doing wrong". OK- TOTAL RAGE AND AGGRIVATION!!! I was not about to get back in and drive in rush hour traffic, to have it lurch, buck or stall again and get me hurt or killed.

The vehicle is being TOWED back to the dealership on Monday. I found out about the ECM problems tonight from my Mom, who did some online research into the problem. Either they replace it or they get to take they car back and refund the money- it was PAID OFF IN FULL when we bought it. And I want the money applied to the price from my trade in given to me, since the truck I traded in is already signed over to them and sold for parts by them, so no way to get my truck back and have the repairs done that it needed.

I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO pissed off at Rohrich Toyota for selling me this LEMON and trying to deny and cover-up the ECM/transmission problem, and for trying to make me think I suddenly FORGOT how to drive a car. Calls will be made to my Stae Representative and perhaps the State Attorney General about this, regardless of whether they replace the ECM or not. Add the BBB to the call list too- the dealership knows (or should know) about this problem, since they got the Service Notification from Toyota. They get a big fat F for trying to deny the problem. And Toyota, who I once loved, is on my sh*t list too for trying to deny and hide a SERIOUS SAFETY ISSUE that could have gotten me hurt or killed, and could still do the same to an unknowing RAV4 owner out there. DESPICABLE!!!!

- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #98

Aug 262010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 152,000 miles

i have been very happy with my rav4 for 10 years.had to have the ecm fixed on it in it has happened again and toyota doesn't want to fix it because they already fixed it one time.not my problem they can't fix it right.americans need to start buying american made cars.this is my first not to buy american but you can bet your sweet booty i will from now toyota service agent said my rav is dangerous to drive.i don't have a choice,i can't afford their price to fix,if i have an accident and get killed it will cost toyota more than the cost of replacing an ecm on my car.then again,toyota doesn't give a hoot about their customers just their money.BUY AMERICAN!!!!

- , Deatsville, AL, USA

problem #97

Jun 182010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


I have had my Toyota 2002 Rav4 since 2002 when i first bought it new, i have been driving it since. I had never had a problem with it until late June of 2010 when the car started to violently jerk, shake, race, and hesitate and also it randomly started to shift gear too. So i brought my car to a mechanic for a diagnostic test. Soon afterward, the problem was the transmission due to it being damaged and to fix it was about $5000-$6000... I thought it was too much, so i had a mechanic try to rebuild the transmission but in the end, it couldn't be fix.... And trading it in in this condition, is not even worth it.

Sooooo now, i have a useless car in my driveway. Also, after doing online, I find out that Toyota has known about this type of problem since 2006. It is a serious an issue when entering traffic,or trying to move from a stop light or stop sign AND Toyota has not issued a recall, or has not done anything to resolve the issue even if lots of people are having this same problem as me which apparently Toyota has been aware of for years.

- , Olympia, WA, USA

problem #96

Apr 052008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

To everyone who has had a hardshift problem w/this vechicle, is it code 1349?

- , East Islip, NY, USA

problem #95

Jul 272010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 191,000 miles

First of all I thought I was getting a great car because of what I heard about toyota and because I'veI worked for them years ago and they seemed to be great cars but now that i own one and have been going through Hell, it all happened when I purchased the car about two day's later while driving , because a mechanic told me while trying to get a Inspection sticker that the computer code was telling him the car was not ready to inspect and i had to drive another 100 miles in order to clear the computer from the old owner and while driving and in traffic almost getting hit by a tractor trailer and a few cars while driving here in NY because from a speed of about 50 or 53 miles a hour the car dropped down to about 30 miles a hour in a matter of seconds and then wouldn't shift up or down kind of stayed in nuetral while in gear, it was really scary and I drive for a living , so I went back to this inspection station and was told car still could not be Inspected and that it was inneed of changing computer or even transmission , I went to another meck. and was told maybe it needed oxygen sencors replaysed along with transmission flush,

so in the last few weeks trying to get someone to fix the problem and for less than maybe $1500. to $3000. for what may be a transmission I am hating this car , I can't get it passed for Inspection , the engine light won't go out and every mechanick I talk to tells me somthing different and I'm at my last and final move, I will take it to Toyota Monday morning and hopefully they can tell me what the real problem is and make it all better, if not I will be posting somthing more and going to the better buissness buerea,

- , NewWindsor, NY, USA

problem #94

Jul 142010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles


Called Toyota dealer and was told there were no recalls. Had repaired at local transmission shop.Required a new ECM. Looked at your website again today and saw someone had called the 800 number for Toyota. What did I have to lose? Was told today that there is a recall for that model and how to send paperwork to get reimbursed.

- , Glen Ellen, CA, USA

problem #93

Jul 082010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

I have been experiencing the same issue slow to accelerate, hard changing gear and all the horrible stuff, I took the advice as stated previously and called toyota main number and was told by the representative that answered. Toyota has just sent out an extended warranty on this issue it is 10 year/150,000, they have sent email to all the dealers -- hope this helps

- , Orlando, FL, USA

problem #92

Jul 102010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

I've had my '02 rav4 since 2003 and same as many of the complaints above, a few days ago my car started hesitating and jerking ouf of the blue. After stopping at lights, I noticed that at first I had trouble accelerating, car would hesitate, then all of a sudden it would lurch forward jumping to 3000-4000 rpms. I'm taking my car to the dealership tomorrow and insisting that they replace the ECM or transmission if needed at no cost.

*According to the NY Times, on July 13, 2010 Toyota extended the warranty nationwide on automatic transmissions and ecms for 2001-3 Rav4s! The new policy will cover 10yrs or 150000 miles. Also Toyota is offering to reimburse owners who already paid for repairs!

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #91

Jul 112010

RAV4 L 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

We bought our RAV 4 in 2002. We have 65000 miles on it. Which is pretty good for an 8 year old car. The transmission needs to be replaced. I never owned a car that had a transmission replaced , let alone a Toyota of all brands. Toyota would not even cover any of the expenses and the warranty had expired. What is Toyota doing to help out the people who trusted their product because of its reliability. Well it was reliable till now. If this was a design flaw, Toyota should be liable and compensate everyone who had a problem with their vehicles. I would NOT and NEVER recommend anyone I know to buy a Toyota. Used to be my favorite car but not anymore.

- , Roselle, IL, USA

problem #90

Jul 022010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 202,000 miles


this is the second time i have an issue with the transmission. At about 95,000 miles i had to replace the first transmission on this car. The car has now 202,000. miles and it's happening again.I have always been a faithful toyota consumer, but after this i will never purchase another Toyota again. Im awaiting the shop's dreadful news.


- , Visalia, CA, USA

problem #89

Apr 212010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,800 miles

This will be my third EMC in my vehicle. The first was in 2004, I was on an outing with my grandchildren at Grand Canyon Caverns. We arrived with no problems, upon on return trip as I started my vehicle the engine check light came on, I had no choice but to drive the vehicle to the closest toyota dealership. The ECM was replaced at no charge. I was told this is a part which is being recalled for replacement and I am one of the first and that is why I had not received any notice of the problem. Approximately one year later I received a notice in the mail for replacement of the ECM. I immediately called the dealership and advised I think this must be a mistake as the ECM was replaced last year at there dealership and was advised, "THIS IS A RECALL ON THE RECALL." I immediately made another appointment and had the ECM replace at no charge and was assured NO MORE PROBLEMS!

March of 2010 while driving my car it starting jerking, thinking I must be lower on gas than my has gauge was showing I got gas and no problems. Approximatley, 2 weeks later the same problem, I took my vehicle to my mechanic and thought perhaps it was the gas pump or gas filter, the car was in the shop for 2 days, and no problems for the mechanic. Then again 1 week later, same senario. Approximately, 3 weeks later upon leaving from work I started my vehicle and the car immediately started shaking and jerking and kept hesitating, I almost didn't make it home (1 mile away) it kept losing power, at times the tires were barely rolling. The next day I took the vehicle to my mechanic and as we were doing a test drive it started shaking, jerking and lost power. THE CAR RAN NO MORE.

I have NOW been told by my mechanic I need a new EMC (MY THIRD). I called the toyota dealership to see if they would cover the cost but I was told I needed to bring the vehicle in for them to look at it. I informed them the vehicle won't go and I am 45 minutes away. Nothing was resolved with the dealership. At the time it was thought I just needed another EMC. A few days later I am told by my mechanic I Now need a transmission. I again called the dealership and asked if this issues would be covered and was informed my warranty expired 60 days ago and again advised to bring the vehicle in for them to look at the vehicle and they again were infromed my vehicle is not running. At that time voiced my discussed and disappointment with the way this is being handled, I was then informed, "WE HAVE PLENTY OF CARS ON THE LOT TO CHOOSE FROM." My reply, "I BET YOU DO!"

This has been one of the most frustrating and worst experiences I have ever had. Clearly Toyota does not care and is just trying to wash theri hands of this whole mess that has been created. I have owned several toyota vehicles for approximately 20 years. I WILL NEVER AGAIN OWN A TOYOTA!!!!!

- , Bullhead City, AZ/USA, USA

problem #88

Feb 082010

RAV4 2.0L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 154,000 miles

Ravr4 would not take off from a light and just reved up to about 5,000 rpms and crawled forward and check engine light came on. Called dealership, they checked it out and said it was that cylinder # 1 was misfiring so they charged $250 for diagnostic and spark plugs. Not shifting right so I took it back and asked them to check the transmission. They re set the light checked transmission fluid level and said let's have you try fuel injector cleaner. I tried that for a week with no real improvement. Called dealership and they suggested I try it again but said it's tough on hoses so don't do more than twice. Didn't work again so they suggested they change fuel injector # 1. Changed 1 and they said it ran worse so they needed to change all - costing me $1,200.00. Picked it up and had problems on the way home again. Called dealership and they suggested to do a transmission fluid flush which I had done with their company but different location 6 months prior. Service rep suggested I do it again just in case they didn't put in the right fluid. I thought what??? These monkeys have no idea what they are talking about. I took my vehicle to a different dealership where they actually test drove my vehicle and agreed that it was not shifting correctly and suggested I put in the $1,300 ECM chip. Did that and helps starting out in first gear and in 2nd gear but now very consistently rev's up between 2nd and 3rd /overdrive. $2,800 spent and I'm wondering if my transmission is burnt up b/c I screwed around with fuel injector cleaner and fuel injectors with company # 1 b/c they said oh yeah it'll shift real crazy and jerky if your misfiring. Even after I told them it revs way up but doesn't feel like it's in gear and seems to down shift on it's own. Dumbsh*ts @ dealership # 1 may have cost me a transmission. So with the new chip is it worth now getting a rebuilt transmission or can someone program this chip to shift correctly from 2nd to third? I've got 3K in already... suggestions anyone?

- , Appleton, WI, USA

problem #87

May 012010

RAV4 L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

I've started having issue with my 2002 Toyota RAV4 hesitating to accelerate and jerking last week, check engine light came on. I took it to my trusted mechanic and he said that this is a known issue with RAV4 and had dealt with similar issue in the past. Toyota knew about the issue and suggested to try one or all of the following.

1) Toyota recommend to flush the transmission fluid (That did not fix my problem) 2) Reprogram the ECM ($120) 3) Replace the ECM (Approximate cost $1600) 4) Rebuilt the transmission (Approximate cost $4000)

What should I do? Of course I opted to do the first two and praying to have my problem fix without dishing out another $1600 or $4000.

What gets me is that Toyota knows about this ECM issue and is doing nothing to resolve it. The car hesitating and jerking to accelerate can get someone killed while driving. Does Toyota have to wait until someone gets killed because of this known issue with their faulty ECM, before they do anything to recall this type of problem? If someone die because if this issue and Toyota has not done anything to resolve it, I swear to god that I won't buy anymore Toyota and will continue to bash their product for the rest of my life.

- , Bolingbrook, IL, USA

problem #86

May 272010

RAV4 2.0L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

About 2 weeks ago my wife was merging into traffic on a local bypass (speed limit 55 mph) and as she merged, our 2002 Toyota Rav4 hesitated to where she had to swerve off the road to prevent from being rear-ended. I took the car to Tires Plus and they said that it was the transmission and they flushed it out and put new fluid in. I took the car home and in a day or so still had the hesitation problem. I took the car back to the shop and they brought it to the local Toyota deakership to test the car on their computer. I then got a call from my mechanic stating that the car needed a new transmission and that it would cost between $6,000 and $6,500 at the Toyota dealership. My car has only 61,000 miles on it.

I tried contacting Toyota's USA headquarters with no satisfaction and was told to contact the dealership where I bought my car. I'm still waiting to hear back from them. I bought my Rav4 brand new back in April of 2002 so any warrenty has expired. The reason that I bought a Toyota was so I wouldn't have this type of problem. Never again!

- , Springfield, PA, USA

problem #85

Dec 032009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

Rav4 would hesitate then slam into gear. I took it to the local Toyota dealer and he told me I would need a new transmission, Engine, and ECM. Total cost between $6,000 - $9,000. He told me it was not worth fixing. I had him replace the ECM for $1,125. When I drove it home it still did not work but the next day after the computer reprogrammed itself to the truck, everything was fine. I tried to call Toyota back to let them know this is the fix but they would not take my calls. I will never buy another Toyota again. They are clueless.

- , Warwick, NY, USA

problem #84

Feb 102010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,500 miles

Same problem like others, during a normal drive suddenly the car refuse to go on, and hesitates for a short time, then it runs, which can cause an accident with somebody who is driving behind.

- , Cornet Chehwan, Beirut, Lebanon

problem #83

Jun 152007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Back in 2007 my rav4 (2002) was jerking and hesitating took it to the dealer they had to replace the ECM paid $1000 the problem stopped but now it started to do the same thing again. Please I need an advice what should I do. If you had any luck fixing this problem without having to pay let me know.

- , El Paso, TX, USA

problem #82

Apr 192010

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

So sad, I really feel let-down. I have driven only Toyota's for many years and always felt secure in their reliability but like so many others out there, I have been horribly disappointed. This morning, Dunning Toyota in Ann nArbor Michigan told me the same story. First try re-programming the computer, then put in a new computer and if all else fails replace the transmission. After hearing everone elses experience, i don't think i will go down that road. Not sure what to do. I left the dealership after they "re-programmed the computer and of course the car was jerking and thumpping into gear.

Update from May 4, 2010: I feel so much better. We took the ECM out of the RAV4 and sent in to It was sent back, installed and now the RAV seems to be running well. The cost for the rebilt ECM was $250.00. This company is all that others have said they were. fast and professional. Of course I had to pay for a rental car for a week and all of the hassle that goes with having a car in the shop. I feel so deceived by Dunning Toyota in Ann Arbor who quoted me $1300.00 for what engine check did for $250.00. I will trade this Toyota in for a Honda and never deal with a Toyota car or dealership again. Their problems run deep.

- , Ann Arbor, MI, USA

problem #81

Mar 242010

RAV4 4WD 4 Cl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

My car had a check engine light on, then it started jerking and was very hard to move after stops and In low speeds. Had it diagnosed and was told to change two oxygen sensors. Two oxygen sensors were changed but the jerking did not stop. I paid $853.00 for this service. The check engine light came back on after driving the car for only about 5 miles. Took the car back to the shop and was told that two additional sensors needed to be changed. I paid additional $600 (discounted) for this repair and was told that the ECM on the car is bad and that it needs to be replaced because the vehicle was not shifting correctly in low gear. After I had spent over $1400 to fix the oxygen sensors, I was told to spend additional $5,000 to $6,000 to fix the ECM and the transmission. I Called Toyota and was told that the vehicle is out of warranty for both the transmission and the ECM. Toyota knew about this problem but they did not recall the cars that are affected: 2001-2003 RAV4. I am looking forward to sue them. If anyone who is experiencing this type of problem and wants to embark on this lawsuit, we should come together as a group and pursue this serious matter. We don't want to wait till someone gets killed or hurt before we take action. THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW!! LET'S SUE THOSE BASTARDS.

Update from May 7, 2010: I took the my car to the dealer and complained about the faulty ECM. The Dealership told me that the ECM was out of warranty and will not fix it because the car has 81000 miles so I called the Toyota of North America and complained about the ECM. They told me that they will call me within 48 hours with the approval for the replacement of the ECM since the car has over 80k miles but within the 8 year limit. The dealership eventually replaced the ECM for free without replacing the transmission and problems that the car was having are now gone. If your car is experiencing these types of problems and was told by the mechanic (from toyota dealership) that it is a transmission or ECM problem, demand that they replace the ECM at no cost to you because toyota knew about this ECM problem but they did not recall it.

- , Alexandria, VA, USA

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