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:
6 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
106,019 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 11 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #54

Nov 212007


  • miles


2002 Toyota Rav4, 207,000 miles. Auto transmission suddenly shifting hard from 2/3 gears, hard into reverse, slow to engage after full stops, jerks abruptly. Contacted dealer/ Toyota service center, will have them inspect the vehicle. Well maintained, recently had routine service done by dealer, transmission flush. Fluid levels all topped.

- Richland Center, WI, USA

problem #53

Oct 152008


  • 90,000 miles
I was driving my fathers 2002 Toyota Rav4 AWD when the transmission suddenly shifted from 2nd to 1st gear and then the drive line locked-up causing the vehicle to stop suddenly. A car following me tried to stop but "tapped" my rear bumper. No damage to either vehicle. Diagnosis of the problem was a bad vehicle computer and new transmission was needed. Costs were $4500.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #52

Oct 092008


  • 97,000 miles
Suddenly, my car starting shifting very roughly into reverse. It happens every time I put the car into reverse. I was told the ECM needed to be replaced because it was defective. This is the same ECM that had a factory recall issued that I had serviced last year.

- Redondo Beach, CA, USA

problem #51

Oct 052007


  • 144,100 miles


Car began to slip out of second gear to first gear during acceleration. I took the car to a Toyota dealership and they told me that the engine control module (ECM) was inoperative and that the transmission was damaged as a result. I was told that the extent of the damage to the transmission could not be determined until a new ECM was installed at a cost of $1500 but that the cost of the transmission could be between $3,000 to $5,500. I was informed by the dealer that the parts are out of warranty.

- Wyoming, NY, USA

problem #50

Sep 092008


  • 88,000 miles
Our Rav4 began to have problems shifting, and the check engine light was on. Took to local dealer. First visit resulted in tune-up items. Dealership treated it as an engine-related problem. Check engine came back on again the same afternoon. On second visit, dealership kept car overnight to drive it while it was cold. We were told that we had a bad catalytic converter, and that this would have to be replaced before any further diagnosis could occur. The cc was only three years old, already having been replaced under warranty. They had already reprogrammed the ECM. Per a Toyota service campaign. After the cc replacement, car is still not shifting properly, and is getting worse. Dealership advised us that we need an ECM replacement, at a cost of $1300. After the fact, we found Toyota tsb TC002-06, which describes the exact issues our Rav4 is having. Toyota admits in the tsb that the ECM of the '01 through '03 Rav4's can cause the harsh shifting that we are seeing, and that Toyota made changes to the "manufacturing process to reduce the possibility of this condition occurring". the recommendation is the replacement of the ECM. It cannot be reprogrammed to eliminate this problem. The result of this ECM failure is that the car is no longer drivable, as the transmission does not shift properly at all, and it constantly looses tension on its clutch pack, resulting in loss of power to the road. The condition gets worse over a short time. In only two weeks, the car will not stay in any single gear when driving. A search of this issue on the internet found many other people having the same problem. Often, the ECM failure causes physical transmission failure. The dealership will not stand behind their faulty diagnosis, nor will they make Toyota honor the warranty, which is 80,000 miles or 8 years. We are under the years, but over by 8,000 miles. How can this not be treated as a safety issue" is it not serious enough when your car slips out of gear in traffic unexpectedly"

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #49

Sep 162008


  • 71,500 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4 transmission - transmission is not working properly in shifting. Rough shifting from 2/3 gear. Had to find information on federal 8year/80K mile mandated free reprogramming to try to fix this. But reading accounts this may not work and even then the transmission may be damaged already. There should be a recall regardless of miles driven as this is a constant problem on this year/model. Thank goodness I was low mileage but this problem occurs regardless of mileage. This is a Toyota defect in the transmission.

- Boston, MA, USA

problem #48

Sep 112008


  • 64,000 miles


I have a Toyota rav 4 2002. It has 64,000 miles. It has had all it's recommended services, new tires and is clean. The transmission needs replacing and possibly the computer. Toyota will not assume any responsibility for the transmission and it costs $3500 to replace the parts. On there are 120 complaints re the transmission and the 2002 Rav4. People are talking about a law suit. They have said that I despite replacing the transmission it still needed repairs.

- Santa Monica, CA, USA

problem #47

Aug 232008


  • 83,800 miles
Automatic transmission started thumping/jerking when shifting from park to drive or reverse, despite having foot on the brake. Within a month, the transmission started slipping and would not shift from first gear. Engine races at 4,000+ rmp and does not shift to other gears.

- St. Louis, MO, USA

problem #46

Aug 292008


  • 52,000 miles
I brought my rav brand new in 2002. Have had no problem with it up until a few a year ago when the engine light came on intermittent. Every time I was going to take the vehicle into get checked it would go out. When I arrived at my present duty station I was deployed almost immediately. Within two months of my deployment my wife told me that car was having a hard time moving and could hear the transmission slipping. She then took the vehicle to the mechanic and they told her that the transmission was broke and needed to be repaired. Only 52000 miles on the vehicle. The mechanic also told my wife that there could be a tsb out on the vehicle pertaining to the electronic control module, part that tells the transmission to shift gears, "ECM"and there was several that pertained the problem and what needed to be replaced. Being in italy she contacted the states rep for Toyota and was told that they couldn't locate our car because we bought it from a licensed dealer "american spec vehicle" from germany. She then contact the Agency that is authorized to sell "american spec cars" and was informed that the vehicle fell under the warranty and that they "american Toyota" should pay for it based on an american tsb. Called Toyota again and nothing. When I came home, we took the vehicle to local dealership and because it was an american tsb they would consider the replacement. In the mean time they assured us that the vehicle was safe to drive and being our only vehicle my wife was forced to drive it. Toyota "rome" oked the replacement of the ECM, the actual fault of the vehicle but has refused to replace the transmission the result of the faulty part. Now the transmission is completely shot and looking on line thousands of american consumers are paying thousands of dollars out to replace a product that is the result of Toyota's engineering flaws. I personally feel that they are responsible the transmission and the replacement. Further investigation is requested.

- Apo, AE, USA

problem #45

Jul 022008


  • miles
The check engine light comes on continuously. At stop signs and traffic lights the vehicle begins jerking and hesitating when you push on the acceleration peddle. When you press down on the acceleration to go forward that is when the hesitation and jerking begin. Once the vehicle takes off it continues to jerk. Which is dangerous when you have passengers and small children in the vehicle because the jerking pulls your neck forward abruptly. The diagnostic said that it is the computer which cost roughly between $800 to $1200. Several complaints have been made regarding this problem to Toyota but there have not been any recalls for this particular computer part on the 2002 Toyota rav 4.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #44

Aug 212008


  • 112,697 miles


2002 Toyota Rav4 just stops, it doesn't shift 2nd and 3rd gear, the engine light turns and some times it work correctly with no problem but in the middle of a drive the Rav4 it just stop jerking almost to a dead stop. Dealer said "you need a new transmission and it will cost you $4,989 dollars."

- Bakersfield , CA, USA

problem #43

Aug 192008


  • 150,000 miles
Accelerating and shift failure in automatic transmission -Toyota issued tsb on March 2006 to change ECM which controls shift sequencing. Defective ECM could cause transmission failure. As a Toyota owner I think this should be a recall item. My opinion is this is a safety issue.

- Meriden, CT, USA

problem #42

Aug 132008


  • 148,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. While the vehicle was stopped, the contact began to remove her foot from the brake pedal and the vehicle suddenly jerked forward three times. While driving 15 mph, the vehicle jerked forward three times again while making a left turn. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that the transmission needed to be replaced. There were no warnings prior to the failures. The VIN was unknown. The current and failure mileages were 148,000.

- Aberdeen, MD, USA

problem #41

Jul 052008


  • 137,000 miles
Check engine light came on - slippage of transmission. Evaluated by dealer and informed that it was the ECM/transmission. ECM was adjusted and failed to alter problem. Recommendation replacement of ECU/ECU.

- Dover, DE, USA

problem #40

Jun 012008


  • miles
Vehicle suddenly started hesitating and has difficulty shifting from 1st to 2nd gear in an automatic transmission. The first repair, transmission flushing, did not correct the problem. Near accident due to erratic shifting problem of Rav4 2002. Apparently related to the ECM. The vehicle has a very sluggish start from a standstill as if the emergency brake is on. Attempting to turn across oncoming traffic and vehicle would not move and almost hit by oncoming traffic. Vehicle also shifts erratically when driving. Very dangerous to drive. Toyota does not appear to be aware of this very serious and dangerous problem that should be recalled before someone is injured. Other complaints of the same nature at

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #39

Aug 012008


  • 96,000 miles
I drove my car Saturday 8-1-08 and noticed that from park to reverse the car was shifting very hard. I had the tranny drained and filled and additive placed. The shifting was so violent that I called around and did internet research. After reading and it has become clear that a documented history of malfunction exists with this toytoa transmission. I have thus far had the drain and fill performed and am going to see a diagnostic test from the dealership. I am concerned for my safety. I worry that my car will have the shifting and jerking and failures during the travel, as is described elsewhere. Because of my safety concerns and inability to pay for $4,000 in repairs, I intend to sell this vehicle and experience a hardship as a result.

- Redlands, CA, USA

problem #38

Jul 202008


  • 55,000 miles
I bought my 2002 Toyota Rav4 new at Toyota of hollywood, fl in 2002. My wife has been driving the vehicle and I have performed all service at the dealership. The car has only 55K miles on it. Recently the car has been experiencing hesitation when shifting. We took the vehicle to the dealership and they replaced the computer "under warranty". this is something that should have been done 2 years ago when the tsb was first put out. The tsb would have prevented this transmission problem from appearing. Now the dealership is saying that it didn't fix the problem and that they must replace the solenoids but the are not sure if that will fix the problem. Had they fixed the problem with the computer 2 years ago, we wouldn't have a problem now. The car only has 55K miles. The transmission on a Toyota should not fail in 55K miles. That's the reason I bought a Toyota. This is well know issue. Thousands of people ar writing about this issue on the internet every day. These are just some of the links. Toyota should replace the transmission under warranty for free since I wouldn't have this problem now if the dealership had performed the work that was supposed to be done.

- Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

problem #37

Jul 272008


  • 97,000 miles
2002 Toyota rav 4 2 wheel drive, driven for 2 years by my wife, last week started shifting from first to 3rd. Also it slips now.

- Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #36

Jul 042008


  • 68,000 miles
This "certified, pre-owned" vehicle suddenly started hesitating and has difficulty shifting from 1st to 2nd gear in an automatic transmission. The first repair, transmission flushing, did not correct the problem. It is now in the shop with a transmission specialist for a "check engine" code for solenoid/transmission problem, code 1760 and/or 770 - not covered under warranty. The first mechanic stated the transmission fluid was "burnt." There are an unbelievable amount of documented complaints about this same problem, there needs to be a recall. I have only owned this car for 20,000 miles and owe alot of money on it. According to the complaints I have read, people are losing thousands of dollars, out-of-pocket trying to fix their vehicles. I am next. It is extremely dangerous to attempt to accelerate onto the highway when the transmission won't kick in. I have had several close call accidents.

- Gloucester, MA, USA

problem #35

Jul 102008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles
Automatic transmission shifts erratically and completely loses power at any given time. I was coming off of the freeway and slowed down for my exit when it lost all power. When I got power again it began jerking and shifting on it's own. It was really a dangerous situation as there were many vehicles behind me that had to basically stop on the exit of the freeway. Please help us Rav4 drivers get a recall for this problem from Toyota.

- San Rafael, CA, USA

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