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.

CarComplaints.com 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.

8.4

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,066.00
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 1 of 6)

problem #120

Mar 262016

RAV4 SW

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,639 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

i HAD BOUGHT THIS RAV4 FROM A VERY CLOSE FRIEND AND SHE WAS GOING TO TRAD IT IN ON HER NEW RAV 4. BUT SHE DIDN'T ! SHE SAID SHE WOULD SELL IT TO ME FOR THE TRADE IN PRICE THEY WERE GOING TO GIVE HER BUT SHE SAID SHE DECIDED SHE WOULD SELL IT TO SOMEONE WHO NEEDED A GOOD CAR! i HAVE BEEN O DISABILITY AND THOUGHT SHE TOOK GOOD CARE OF HER CAR AND IT WAS GARAGE KEPT BUT i WANTED TO TEST DRIVE IT FIRST. WELL THE DAY I WASD GOING TO TEST DRIVE IT SHE SAID IT WAS TOO WINDY????? i WAS REALLY HESITANT TO BUY IT FROM HER BECAUSE SHE IS A VERY DECEITFUL PERSON BY WHAT i KNOW SHE HAS DONE TO OTHER FRIENDS! sHE HAD CALLED ME A MONTH EARLIER THAT EXPECTED AND ASKED IF i WAS READY TO BUT THE VEHICLE! i REALLY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO BECAUSE I DIDN'T TRUST HER BUT NEEDED A VEHICLE FOR MY SON TO TAKE HIS DRIVING TEST IN! a DAY AFTER i BOUGHT IT iT STARTED BUCKING AND WOULD BE HESITANT TO SHIFT BETWEEN 1 AND SECOND GEAR. i SENT HER A MESAGE AND ASKED HER IF THAT HAD HAPPENED TO HER AND SHE GOT REALLY SMART WITH ME AND i TOLD HER I WANTED TO MEET HER FACE TO FACE TO DISCUSS AND SHE DELETED ME AS A FRIEND AND HASN'T SPOKEN TO ME SINCE SO i KNEW SHE KNEW ABOUT THE PROBLEM WHEN SHE TOLD ME IT WAS IN TOP CONDITION!! SHE KNOWS i AM ON A LIMITED INCOME BUT AS LONG AS SHE GOT HER NEW rAVE 4 SHE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT ANYONE ELSE! iT IS MY PROBLEM NOW! i HAD A MECHANIC WHO HOOKED IT UP TO SOMETHING AND SAID THE A AND B SOLENOID NEEDED REPLACED AND CHANGED THE TRANSMITTION FLUID AND HE SAID IT WAS REALLY DIRTY UP IN THERE! i TOOK MOST i HAD SAVED 800 DOLLARS AND A DAY AFTER i HAD THAT DONE IT IS BACK TO THE WAY IT WAS! i FEEL SO DEFEATED AND DEPRESSED i DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO! i WENT TO THE DEALER WHO SHE GOT HER NEW RAVE THROUGH AND TO SEE WHY SHE DIDN'T TRADE IT IN AND THEY HAD TOLD ME THAT THERE WAS A PROBLEM WITH THE TRANSMISSION! i SEE WHERE THIS IS A PROBLEM WITH THIS YEAR OF THE TOYOTA AND A RECALL ON IT BUT DON'T KNOW WHY SHE DIDN'T HAVE IT REPAIRED!! i AM AT A LOSS BECAUSE i DON'T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO DO THE REPAIR THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE BECAUSE IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE ALREADY!! i AM HAVING A HARD TIME IN MY LIFE HERE AND WANT MY SON TO GET HIS LICENSE AND NEED SOME HELP WITH THIS! i AM ABOUT READY TO GO GET A PUBLIC DEFENDER TO HELP ME WITH THIS BECAUSE i WOULD HAVE NOT DONE THAT TO HER IN A MILLION YEARS AND i THINK TOYOTA SHOULD STAND BY THEIR PRODUCTS!! mY SON WANTS TO EVENTUALLY BY A TOYOTA TUNDRA AND FEEL LIKE i'M LETTING HIM DOWN! wITH MY HEALTH PROBLEMS THIS IS JUST MAKING THEM WORSE!! i AM PRAYING FOR SOMEONE TO HELP ME AND DON'T KNOW WHERE TO TURN!! wOULD APPRECIATE ANY ADVICE OR INPUT YOU COULD GIVE ME! i DO LIKE THE VEHICLE OTHER THAN THIS PROBLEM! i HAVE HAD THE DRIVERS SIDE WINDOW BUSTED IN AND THAT COST ME 250 OUT OF POCKET AND THINK SHE PROBABLY HAD SOMEONE DO THAT TOO! i KNOW WHAT SHE HAS DONE TO OTHERS AND SHE EVEN SPENT TIME IN JAIL FOR KEYING HER EX'S CAR AND SLICING HIS TIRES SO i THINK SHE IS CAPABLE BUT NEVER THOUGHT SHE WOULD DO THAT TO ME!! i HAVEN'T CAUSED HER ANY PROBLEMS BUT ABOUT READY TO1! PLEASE HELP! tHANK-YOU FOR YOUR TIME!! pATRICIA FRENCH!! IF YOU NEED TO CALL MY NUMBER IS 717-765-4227!

Update from Aug 30, 2016: I recieved your reply and even though they extended the recall for 10 years it is still under the mileage of 150,000 and I just bought the car and think it should be fixed under the recall because they knew of the problem! Will be taking this further!

- , Waynesboro, PA, USA

problem #119

Oct 012015

RAV4 HD 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,526 miles

I saved the money for years in order to buy this but now I am totally disappointed the way it is, I have no other car and I need to reach my working place on time.

I have no choice but to save again more money just to replace the auto gear box and the ECU as well.

- , Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

problem #118

Jul 032013

RAV4 ES 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,342 miles

MY QUESTION IS WAS THERE A RECALL ON THIS VEHICLE /IN 2013 A TOYOTA DEALERSHIP TOLD ME THE TRANSMISSION NEEDED REPLACING. I HAVE DRIVEN 12000 KL. SINCE THAT STATEMENT. STILL ONLY 147000 KL ON VEHICLE BUT THERE IS A CLUNK IN TRANSMISSION .

- , Wetaskiwin, AB, Canada

problem #117

Oct 092015

RAV4 Limited 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Harsh down shifting, hesitating on take off as if the transmission is slipping really has not been a problem until last Friday when my wife was dropping our kids off in front of school when the vehicle did not want to go. The vehicle just set there in gear and revved up but not going anywhere.

My opinion, Toyota should back up this problem not matter how old or how many miles are on the vehicle this is their reputation and could be a serious safety issue that they are very aware of!

- , Walnut Cove, NC, USA

problem #116

Aug 072015

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,500 miles

I purchased my Rav4 in Aug. 2002 and have loved it forever. Never a problem and I take very good care of it. Plus the mileage is low -- well under 67,000. I took my car to my Toyota dealer the same day this began, Aug. 7, 2015, and was told I needed a new computer for the transmission to the tune of $900. If that doesn't work, I need a new transmission for a total of $4200.

- , Spokane, USA

problem #115

May 082015

RAV4 L 2.0lV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,850 miles

I have owned this car since Sept, 2006 as I bought used from the dealer. The car recently starts hesitate sometimes when I push the gas gear from stop (not always). The mechanic said the transmission may need to be checked.

From the internet, I learned that this particular car is one of three cars with the defect transmission problem (RAV4 2001-2003 with automatic transmission). Toyota noticed this problem even as early as 2006. There is a class action lawsuit against Toyota which was settled in 2012. There was a notice from Toyota to the owner of this car to be checked. However, I have never received any notice regarding the transmission defect from Toyota.

I called Toyota customer service looking for the help from them. I was told that my car is over 10 yrs and Toyota can not assist since it is out of warranty provided by Toyota. I told them that I should be informed by Toyota regarding the transmission defect long time ago so that the transmission could be fixed by then. Toyota said that they do not have any of my record saying that I own the car even I have owned this car since I bought it. They might have sent the notice to the previous owner. However, I received recall notice from Toyota years ago to fix the "engine light on" problem and they fixed it by re-programing the computer of the car suggesting they have my record.

Thus, I believe that Toyota should pay for the checking and repair (if needed) of my transmission. Because they did not inform me (owner) about this transmission defect and I, as an owner, missed the right time to check and fix the problem.

- , Worcester, MA, USA

problem #114

Feb 172014

RAV4 Limited 3.2L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Sure there's a TSB report on the harsh shift issue on the transmission and an extended warranty was offered for the DTC P0750 but it does me no good!!!! THANKS!!!! The extened warranty is a 10 years or 150,000 miles from date of first use!!!! I've got 97,000 and I'm "S.O.L!" What about those of us that just don't drive their vehicles as much as others?!!!! Why are we punished for being more on the casual side of driving! This is B.S.! Now I'm stuck with an excellent vehicle that's a piece of "crap" because I'm over the 10 years!!!! NOW I WISH I COULD THROW THIS PIECE OF CRAP OFF THE BRIDGE! It's going to cost me $1800 to change the ECU for the transmission issue "BUT" (as the Toyota dealer stated) "IF" this doesn't work and the problem persists I have to replace the TRANSMISSION!!!!! AGAIN ALL ON MY DIME!

HOW IS THIS DEFECT NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CAR COMPANY!!!! THIS IS A KNOWN ISSUE AND SHOULD BE "BY DEFAULT" TAKEN CARE OF FOR ALL 2002 TOYOTA RAV 4 OWNERS!!!!

I know I'm just venting but I DON'T have this kind of $$$$$$$! Hmmmm.... what kind of car will I buy next... I KNOW ONE THAT WON'T BE ON MY LIST!

- , San Leandro, CA, USA

problem #113

Feb 172012

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles

fyi...............Toyota fixed the problem for FREE!!! Toyota was aware of he problem and it was a part of an extended warranty campaign!!! The problem was the computer and Toyota replaced the computer for FREE!!! Per Toyota if the computer problem damaged the transmission that will be replaced for free as well.

So far so good with just the computer being replaced on March 12, 2012!!!

- , Morton, PA, USA

problem #112

Jul 042013

RAV4 LX 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,675 miles

This is the only problem we've had with what has otherwise been the best car we've ever owned and it still was driving just like it did when it was brand new until we were heading to the grocery store day before yesterday and the car felt like I was putting on the brakes hard as I gently slowed to a stop at a stop sign. Upon taking off from the sign, the car was very sluggish & then again felt like the parking brake was on for a second or two when it shifted. I immediately drove it home & parked it.

At home I googled the problem & discovered all the horror stories about 2001-2003 RAV4's Engine Control Modules and how they malfunction, ruining the car's transmissions.

After several hours research I decided, since I'm handy, to replace the Control Module in my RAV4 with a rebuilt module, since I could get one for $100, rather than risk driving the car to my nearest dealer, which is 25 miles away and risk more transmission damage than I might already have. The stories I found of folks being charged thousands of dollars by dealers also helped my decision, as my dealer certainly likes to charge!!

If this works, great! If not, I'll only be out $100 & apparently a module replacement is the first thing they try anyhow.

The replacement module should be here in a couple of days, so I'll post my results after I get it installed & drive the car enough to see what happens.

Update from Jul 11, 2013: Received a supposedly rebuilt module from Auto Module Source in Davie, Florida yesterday and installed it. Something is wrong with it as the car won't start now, so pulled it back out & sent it back. They are supposed to be sending another. Car has been out of service for a week at this point. Guess we'll try installing another & if that doesn't work put the original ecm back in have the car towed to the local Toyota dealer...

Update from Jul 15, 2013: Received the 2nd rebuilt ECM model from Auto Module Source awhile ago & installed it. (Getting pretty good at pulling these things in & out by now!) The car started immediately and seems to be running and shifting perfectly now! Actually, it is shifting smoother than I ever remember it shifting before the trouble began.

Auto Module Source was great to quickly send a replacement for the defective module they had sent and I see they have issued a credit on my credit card. I'll drive the RAV4 for a few days & make sure everything continues to work great before I send my car's original module back to them, but it looks like it's fixed for $99.00!

I'll post any further developments, but hopefully this car will be good for another 124,000 miles!

Update from Jan 27, 2014: 129,000 miles & 6 months later it's still running & shifting great!

- , Sparta, TN, USA

problem #111

Dec 102012

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 181,000 miles

I have been told by mechanics that the car needs a new transmission after it started shifting hard. I have been seeing lots of complaints about this same issue and that Toyota is not recalling them. I still owe on the car-I bought it used and cannot afford to get it fixed.

- , Saint Johns, MI, USA

problem #110

Nov 162012

RAV4 Cruiser

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,662 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I was really disappointed when I found that this was a known problem and Toyota recalled it in USA but not Australia. If they had warned me, I would have happily replaced the ECU before it totally stuffed the transmission without warning. I found it extremely dangerous and I had my seven year old daughter in the car who was frightened by the sudden jerking. I will be selling the vehicle immediately, that is when I finally get it back, it has been in the shop for over a week. I will never purchase a Toyota again. The original price for a new Toyota transmission was quoted at $8,000, what a joke. I hate you Toyota.

- , Canberra, ACT, Australia

problem #109

Sep 032012

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

Engineering problem not a problem of wear and tear.

- , Evergreen Park, IL, USA

problem #108

Jul 282012

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,138 miles

I purchased a 2002 Rav4 July 15, 2002 and basically have never had any other problems other than a water pump go out and that was still under my warranty so Toyota did not have any hesitation to fix the problem. Problem I have now is the ECM which has gone out and will be costly to fix. I actually got onto the computer to troubleshoot the problem on Saturday 7/28/2012 when I started having this problem and this carcomplaints site popped up so I started to read about all the Rav4 from 2001-03 that had these ECM problems. I took my car to the dealership on Monday 7/30/12 and they ran a diagnostic test and "Wow" it was the ECM (go figure). I was told that it will cost 1035.46 to fix and that maybe it wont fix the problem if it is the transmission too but they wont know that until the new ECM is installed. Toyota knew of these problems due to a class action suit which they settled with an extended warranty to these vehicles that has this problem but it is 10 years or 150,000 miles which ever comes first. Well I purchased the Car July 15, 2002 and it started acting up on July 28, 2012 which according to toyota is past the 10 year mark even though it is 13 days and still in the same month as originally purchased. I called toyota's customer service number that the dealership gave me and not just 1 time but 3 times in a hour and a half period and spoke with 3 different representatives. They all said the same thing even though my point was valid since I am a LOYAL toyota owner having purchased 3 cars from this dealership. They (Toyota Customer Care Service) don't care if it is one day past the 10 year mark, they will not pay a dime to have this "known problem" taken care of for LOYAL owners. I was told information had to been sent regarding the extended warranty but that would not take care of the problem before it happened, what they should have done is recalled the vehicles to prevent thousands of dollars in repairs to their LOYAL customers and uphold their reputation for "Customer Satisfaction" which they have not done for me. If it was a safety issue it would have been addressed like the floor mat situation with the gas pedal but since its mechanical and doesn't pose a "Safety" issue then you basically are on your own and hope your vehicle didn't get the "Lemon" part. I am waiting on a phone call back from a supervisor in the Toyota Customer Satisfaction Dept to see what their explanation will be.....hopefully not the same as the 3 others however my dealership has been very "helpful" and will give me a percentage off of the part and labor since I have been their "LOYAL" customer and they have no control over what "Corporate" dictates to them. I was looking to trade in my Rav4 for another toyota but now I am very hesitate and may look to buying either Kia or a GM vehicle. After this experience with Toyota I have a bad taste in my mouth for them and how they treat their "LOYAL" customers.

- , New Haven, IN, USA

problem #107

Mar 102012

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I have a 2002 Rav4. About a month ago it starting jerking and sticking in gear, Some days it hardly does it at all, other days it does. I took it to two Toyota dealerships which the first one told me there is an extended warranty on the ECU, and both dealerships told me that because there is no check engine light on the cannot get any codes and to bring it back when the check engine light comes on. I contacted the Toyota company which basically told me the same thing. The extended warranty is for 10 yrs or 100,000 miles whichever comes first. My vehicle 10 yr anniversary is in two weeks. If the check engine light doesn't come on before then I am not covered. What can I do?

- , Fairmont, WV, USA

problem #106

Jan 302010

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

My daughter purchased a used 2002 Rav4 mid January 2010. Within DAYS her check engine light came on. We drove it from Chicago to Camp Pendleton and stopped in Nebraska to have a diagnostic done. They fixed the issue, no charge, and engine light went out. Within a month, it came back on. Took it to a Toyota dearlership June 30th for another diagnostic - transmission was "shot" - nearly $6,000 to replace with ECM. My daughter was in the Navy at the time and did not have $6,000 plus it was not in the existing extended warranty period. She took to a local transmission shop and had a rebuilt transmission put in for $2,300. Although this didn't solve the jerking and hesitating it didn't feel like the transmission was going to fall out! Long story short, she left the Navy and we drove the car to Pennsylvania - terrible, terrible condition with the transmission, but we made it. Took it to a local shop who said they had another one in there not long ago, same year, and heard that there was a recall or something about this vehicle. I searched the internet and found that there was another extended warranty! Took it to the local Toyota dealership and they ran a diagnostic - she met ALL the codes and they replaced her transmission and ECM with the warranty. Runs great now! The problem? The warrantly expressly says that they will reimburse any vehicle owner who previously paid for repairs by way of a claim. We submitted the claim - DENIED by Toyota. I found there is a Class Action Settlement for this very vehicle and very same problem. We are submitting an Appeal to the Court. I am very disappointed in Toyota for not standing behind their warranty and product. This was a young girl, in a new town, driving on freeways in a vehicle that wouldn't shift properly, putting herself in more danger than working at the Navy on an Assault Craft Unit! I feared for her safety and they will not even reimburse her for the $2,300 she spent to try to fix this condition so it was driveable. I am currently in the market for a new vehicle.....it won't be a Toyota product!

Here's the last straw from something else I discovered. We had her car in on June 30th. All the dealerships were sent notification of the extended warranty on JULY 9th! One would think that she would be contacted to bring her vehicle back in, but they did not and Toyota did not notify her of this extention as they clam they did. I was able to contact this dealership to get the results of the diagnostic (just last month) and they still had it in their system! I heard that the dealerships were not "permitted" to notify any car owners of this extention. Not surprised. I must say, however, that all the dearlerships were great to work with- but not Toyota Corporate! They should take some tips from their franchisees.

- , Meadville, PA, USA

problem #105

Jan 232012

RAV4 EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 137,500 miles

JUST MAYBE I AM LUCKY GOT A LETTER THIS YEAR FROM THE LAWSUIT GOING ON WITH TOYOTA ABOUT THIS PROBLEM. FEEL FOR UNLUCKY ONES WHO EITHER HAVE MORE MILES THAN 150,000 OR HAD A WHOLE TRANNY REPLACEMENT AT THEIR EXPENSE. I HOPE THE DEALER DOES NOT GIVE ME GRIEF TOMORROW AM ABOUT IT NO CONFLICTS OR ARGUMENTS NEEDED. THE PERSON ON PHONE SOUNDED AS THOUGH HE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT THE LAWSUIT OR ANY WARRANTIES BUT I AM UP FOR THE BATTLE IF NEED BE. GOOD LUCK TO ANYONE ELSE I STILL WOULD NOT HAVE ANY OTHER VEHICLE THIS IS MY SECOND AND I LOVE IT....

- , Deer Park, WA, USA

problem #104

Oct 142011

RAV4 2.0L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

I'm very up sad about this problem as I was planning on buying another Toyota in the future, I spent $ 1400 on repair and the car is still not running ,has problem shifting and is jerking and hesitating. I own 2 Toyotas now, but I have a feeling this is my last ever. I will take my car to Toyota and see what they say again...

- , West Palm Beach, FL, USA

problem #103

Jul 252011

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

My 2002 Rav4 was having trouble shifting and was very jerky, but it wasn't a consistent issue (weeks went by when it was fine). I thought I was going to get hit recently when I was trying to cross an intersection and I couldn't get the car to shift as I accelerated. Very scary. I took it to a dealership, and they told me I needed to replace the transmission (quote of $4600). They made no mention of the extended warranty. I called the Toyota customer support after discovering the extended warranty (on the internet) to see if I qualified, and I was told that my VIN # didn't qualify for the extended warranty. I posted my request to be covered on both my Facebook profile page, as well on Toyota's FB page last night. I got a reply and a phone call this morning, stating that I was told in error that I didn't qualify due to my VIN #. I was told that it doesn't matter what your VIN # is if you are under the 10 year/150k miles. They are going to call a dealer on my behalf to ensure that my repairs will be covered by Toyota. If others have received information that they don't qualify, I'm recommend calling again or letting them know what's going on via their Facebook page.

- , Syracuse, NY, USA

problem #102

Dec 102010

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 198,000 miles

I have a 2002 Toyota Rav4 and had problems with the transmission shifting. Dealer wanted $4500 for new ECM and repair transmission. Instead, I sent my ECM with $250 check to be repaired by Check Engine Etc. I packed this unit up in a box and in bubble wrap within an inch of its life. Could have dropped it off the Empire State building and it would have been ok. My only complaint is when the unit was repaired and sent back, it was placed in a cardboard envelope with no bubble wrap or protection. Other than that my car works fine now. I am grateful to the people on this site that recommended this company. Saved me a bunch of money. In mechanical terms - "Screw the Dealership"

- , Slidell, LA, USA

problem #101

Jan 132011

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

I think I might need a new car! I think that my transmission might be bad... should I replace or fix the transmission or just get a different car? I'm not done paying for it. What to do? Please, help with advice!

- , Brooklyn Park, MN, USA

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