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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
97,209 miles
Total Complaints:
55 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. new main computer and transmission (37 reports)
  2. not sure (7 reports)
  3. replace ecm module (3 reports)
  4. special service campaign for ecm- (3 reports)
  5. took ecm out myself and sent it to be repaired (2 reports)
  6. contact an authorized Toyota dealer (1 reports)
2002 Toyota RAV4 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #15

Mar 232009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles


The car was slipping gears going from 2nd to 3rd. I took it to get the transmission looked at. They thought that it may be a computer problem and so I took it to the Toyota dealer who said it wasn't. They rebuilt the transmission and we picked it up yesterday only to find that the car is in the same situation it was when I took it in last week. We are back to the beginning.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #14

Jan 302009

RAV4 LX 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Be sure to purchase the extended warranty for the 2002 RAV4 since it will cover replacement of the computer module. The underlying problem is not with the transmission as some people wrote, it is with the computer improperly wired to the transmission. Also drain & fill or flush the transmission fluid more often than required. Toyota replaced my computer free under an extended warranty at 50,000 when I took it to dealership for the shifting problem (stalling and not going into 2nd gear). Luckily the transmission was okay and still is. Still, I won't keep this car past 75k miles.

- , Northville, MI, USA

problem #13

Mar 122009

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

I bought this car used from a private party with 78K miles on it last year and had the Toyota dealership check it out before I purchased it. I specifically asked if there were any problems with this model/year and was told it was a great car. My transmission started acting up (starting off in 2nd gear, not shifting, shuddering, etc.) a couple of weeks ago and I brought it in to my local shop. They diagnosed it as a bad solenoid in the transmission. This was replaced but the problem didn't go away. As the same code came up when they did a diagnostic, they then realized that it was the engine computer, which controlled the transmission. I will take this in to Toyota Dealership to try to get them to honor the TSB about this issue and hope that my transmission hasn't been damaged. I had a Previa for 10 years (250K miles) without a major issue. I would have been a Toyota customer for life. This is going to be some very bad PR and will cost them customers as it appears this problem is only going to grow with time.

- , Santa Barbara, CA, USA

problem #12

Apr 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,000 miles


With a name like Toyota and the quality reputation that they have carefully built and nurtured over the years is on the line. They could lose it all because the problem appears to large, somewhat understood by the customer and has legs. A big stink may roil up and bite'em in the ass if they choose to bullshit individual customers and walk away from us.

- , Gahanna, OH, USA

problem #11

Feb 152009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,600 miles

I discovered this web site after the 2002 RAV4 was in the local auto repair shop in Mill Valley,CA. The price of a rebuilt transmission was $3200. However, when I got the car back and drove it a few days the same problems of missed shifts, bucking and loss of power. I returned the car to the shop and it took them a week to figure out that the Module had to be replaced also for another $860. The shop owner had to get the true info for repair from the Toyota dealer in San Rafael. Now a week later it runs OK. If there is another failure I'll see them in court. Will I get another Toyota? NO!!

- , Sausalito, CA, USA

problem #10

Oct 122008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,261 miles

2002 toyota rav4 bought new after 911 to help the economy. First new car ever. One day suddenly started bucking and jumping. Pulled it over to check the tranny fluid. Drove it to mechanic near job that charged me $100 to evaluate the problem. He called me to tell me my transmission needed to be replaced for $3000. I looked up bad transmission toyota online and found this website. Called the local toyota dealership to explain that I had a car that was virtually worthless seeing as I had to pay for a new transmission and brain. They put in a new brain, drained the burnt fluid and told me to drive it like a racecar. So far it's working. I feel lucky. I'll never buy another toyota.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #9

Dec 232008

RAV4 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


I am furious that Toyota can't manufacture an automatic transmission that lives up to their reputation. My 2002 RAV4 has all the standard symptoms that others have reported, slow and hard shifting from 1-2 gears. Of course, warranty ended at 80,000 miles and now I'm stuck paying $5000 to replace the computer and transmission.

- , Sandy, UT, USA

problem #8

Aug 052008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

Do NOT purchase a 2002 RAV4...EVER! At 79,000 miles (4K over our warranty) our transmission 'died'. Chose NOT to purchase a 'used' transmission (why would we want to pay over $3K to put in a used/36+K transmission, only to have the same thing happen again?), but had it re-built instead. Very long story short; I contacted dealership, Toyota of America (filed a complaint) and received a 'circle jerk' from a supposed 'reputable' car manufacturer!!! Dealership, specifically the Service Manager, made it clear they no longer valued me as a Toyota customer after 18+ years, okay so I only bought 2 cars from them. I took our car elsewhere for servicing, have had the transmission torn apart/rebuilt, have had the car back twice, only to return it again to have the transmission torn apart again/ECU reset and now it's probably a 'computer' problem as well. The place I took it to has been working on transmissions for over 25 years and the owner has never seen anything as 'challenging' as our 'project'.

- , Tacoma, WA, Pacific Islands (US)

problem #7

Jan 172006

RAV4 Limited

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

I see lots of people had this same transmission/computer problem. I was under warranty by 300 miles and refused to take the car home until they reproduced and fixed my problem. Now at 72,000 miles i have to get the engine replaced. I read a complaint from another owner and it's the EXACT explanation of what I just went through. So next complaint will be that I need a new engine due to metal shavings in the oil.

- , Denver, CO, USA

problem #6

Aug 102008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

I have a copy of Toyota Service Bulletin TC002-06, dated March 3,2006 which describes the problem I had with my Rav4, and cost me a total of $4,500 to get fixed. Toyota apparently denies that this bulletin exists, so I have a pretty good jump on them when I go after them to try to get my money back. My story should be familiar to Rav4 owners who have had bad transmission problems; stutters in low speeds, shifts very hard in reverse. Then you get the bill for having it fixed! I will pursue this with Toyota, and I encourage everyone else to do the same. In the meanwhile, when somebody asks me how I like my 2002 Rav 4, I have to reluctantly steer them away from purchasing one. Great car till 94k then"POW" huge expense.

- , The Dalles, OR, USA

problem #5

Aug 142008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles


My wife and I have taken very good car of this car since we purchased it. The average mileage to her work is approximately 4 miles; occasionally we do high way miles when going to the beach.

During our vacation this year, the transmission decided to act up. The warranty was just up, and our mechanic informed us that transmission problems are very common with the RAV4. Then, he also informed us of computer problems as well. The total cost was quickly rising to fix this vehicle.

Do not buy this car...not worth the money to fix! We had our fixed (five thousand miles beyond warranty of course) and it is only guaranteed for 90 days!

Apparently, transmission problems are extremely common in the RAV4, which is totally uncalled for in today�s society. Spread the word so others do not have to suffer this financial strain in challenging economic times!

- , Phila, PA, USA

problem #4

Aug 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Same issue as so many folks on this forum are having...hard shifting in low gear, engine light came on, Toyota dealer replaced tranny to tune of $2900, then said it was the computer. They also replaced the motor mounts for $600 because they said they were loose! I am the original owner, and the car has been well maintained. What a run around.

- , Portland, OR, USA

problem #3

Jun 092008

RAV4 Limited

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,685 miles

my car started acting weird when shifting into first and second gears. so we took it to a transmission place and had it rebuilt for $3000 and it never fixed the problem. they had my car for about a month and never knew the problem after i took it back the day after i got the transmission rebuilt. then they just told that i had to get a new computer for around $1100. when i can take it and have it upgraded for $150. and i still don't have my car fixed.

- , Lucernemines, PA, USA

problem #2

Jul 022008

RAV4 L 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Misery loves company - but it doesn't make it feel any better.

LAST YEAR, jerking as it shifts from 1-2 gear. awful sounds. $4000 (new tranny and computer) to get me mobile again. I went to Mr. Transmission since Toyota wanted $5000+. A LITTLE over a year find out that it won't switch to 4th gear.

Mr. Transmission's warranty has expired (missed it by 2 months). I called Toyota and they sounded upset I didn't go to them to pay the $5000+. When I asked if they knew if this was a big problem with others - the mechanic sounded like this was such a rare and unknown thing but would be happy to "look at it" for a $108.

We all need to put a big sign on our car windows like: "Toyota quality: BAD TRANSMISSIONS and NO ACCOUNTABILITY" or "DON'T BUY A TOYOTA - CRAPPY TRANSMISSIONS TOYOTA WILL ONLY FIX FOR $5000+". I'm going to park my car in front of a few Toyota dealerships. Take pictures and send to Toyota corporate and ruin their PR until they make an effort to fix this.

These are rough years for the automobile industry - hit them where it hurts. If they can't fix it.. let's just get even.

(rant off)

- , Nashville, TN, USA

problem #1

Jun 012004

RAV4 Limited

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles

I'm in the same vote as all the others. Check Engine light with Toyota dealer

adjusting and replacing other parts. And now we barely got back to the

dealer with this vehicle at only 83,000 miles and he tells me you have a

"main computer failure" and the transmission "shift solenoid B" bad. The

only fix is a new computer and transmission. $4998

If you read all the other complaints they describe this rav4 beautiful.

- , Baton Rouge, LA, USA

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