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 2 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #234

Jul 122010


  • 129,040 miles


I have been a loyal Toyota owner with a 1995 Camry and a 2002 Toyota rav 4. I noticed the terrible jerking that started while driving the Rav4 on my way to work. I could not even attempt to speed up when necessary and once I did, the car jerked so much, I had to pull over and eventually get the car towed to the mechanic. They stated that the transmission was the problem so we paid to replace it and resolve that issue. Not even a week later, I had the same exact problems going home from work. I brought it back to the mechanic and now it's the ECM that needs to be replaced. I cannot afford to get it replaced since I just paid for the new transmission. The mechanic attempted to reset the ECM but that did not help at all. Now we are down to the 95 Camry and crossing our fingers that we don't have issues with our "old reliable".

- West Covina, CA, USA

problem #233

Aug 142010


  • 74,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. The contact was driving approximately 10 mph, approaching a stop sign. While accelerating from the complete stop the transmission failed to shift into the first gear. The vehicle was towed to the residence. The contact stated there was technical service bulletin, number 00504 related to the transmission failure. The vehicle had not been diagnosed or repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 74,000.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #232

Jul 302010


  • 51,000 miles
My 2002 Toyota rav 4 started having problems for about 2 weeks now. It only has about 50,000 miles and I am truly disappointed. It was running smoothly and all of a sudden it started making noise while I am driving. It feels like it is having difficulty and is experiencing harsh shifting to second gear.

- Norfolk, VA, USA

problem #231

May 262010


  • 71,087 miles


Check engine light came on and transmission jammed. Vehicle towed to nearest dealer. Told it was ECM problem and repair cost was $1440.94.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #230

Aug 032010


  • 85,000 miles
During acceleration Toyota Rav4 would shift hard, and slip between high and low gears rapidly cause car to buck and slow abruptly. Issue began all at once and has continued. Car is undrivable.

- Loveland, OH, USA

problem #229

Sep 012008


  • 83,574 miles
I purchased my used 2002 Toyota Rav4 on 12/10/05 from South coast Toyota of costa mesa. Shortly after purchasing it, I received some kind of "adjustment notice" asking me to bring the car in, which I did. I asked what they needed to do to the car, they would not directly answer my question and said it "was nothing, just a minor adjustment." In September of 2008, shortly after my warranty had expired and my car was just over 83,000 miles, the transmission began slipping completely out of gear while I was driving it, and then it wouldn't shift into gear, and I would suddenly have no control over the car so I had to stop, and then try to get it in gear, or drive home in 1st. I had to drive from 1st gear or 4th. I was unable to drive it on the freeway to get to work, and had to stop driving it all together on the street. The dealer would not replace the transmission. The price he quoted me to "replace the transmission and ECU" was around $4,500. I was furious, as the reason I purchased Toyota was because they drove 200,000 miles as long as you properly maintained them, which I always did. I went and had to pay $2,593 at irvine transmission center in irvine, ca on 9/24/08. After replacing the transmission and test driving it, it was ready for pickup. When they got in the car to drive it up to me, suddenly the new transmission wouldn't shift. So, they researched the problem and told me the computer (ECU) apparently had to be replaced also, and they had discovered through online sites that Toyota was having problems with this vehicle. The dealer charged me $500 to replace the ECU. The dealer sold me a Rav4 they knew was having transmission and ECU failure. I wrote Toyota a complaint. I believe I should be reimbursed the money I am out, and this car should be recalled with the hundreds of complaints, if not thousands, that have been reported. I request you take action!

- Bellingham, WA, USA

problem #228

Jul 072010


  • 154,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. The vehicle was intermittently experiencing trouble accelerating in which the vehicle would momentarily pause before shifting gears. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the transmission fluid and filter were replaced. The mechanic also advised having the electronic control module (ECM) replaced the failure continued to recur intermittently. The manufacturer was contacted but advised the vehicle was not under recall and would not provide any assistance. The ECM was not replaced. The failure mileage was 154,000 and the current mileage was 155,000.

- Raymond, NH, USA

problem #227

Nov 102008


  • 140,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. The contact was driving approximately 20 mph, approaching an intersection. The transmission began to hesitate in an intense jerking motion. The vehicle was taken to an auto transmission shop where the transmission was replaced with a rebuilt transmission. The identical failure occurred after the repair. The vehicle was taken back to the auto transmission shop where the technician replaced the electronic control module. The manufacturer offered a free remedy under the customer support program related to the electronic control module defect; however, the VIN was excluded. The contact experienced the same failures that were mentioned in the program. The failure mileage was approximately 140,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Midlothian, VA, USA

problem #226

Jul 052010


  • 86,850 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. The contact stated that she had difficulty shifting gears. The vehicle would stay in third gear and the check engine light was illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the contact was informed that the computer needed to be replaced so that they could determine whether the entire transmission needed to be replaced. The contact did not notify the manufacturer. The current mileage was 86,954. The failure mileage was 86,850.

- Saint Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #225

Jun 242010


  • 96,000 miles
About three weeks ago my 2002 Toyota rav 4 transmission/shifting between 1st and 2nd gears acted up. It wasn't a small, nagging issue that built up, it was pretty sudden. One week it was fine and then I had 2 small shifting incidents (shaking) in a 2 week period, and then the next week, after about 5-8 days of more local 'stop and go¿ driving, my lower gear's shifting would not work properly - every shift from 1st to 2nd was delayed and harsh. My 2002 Rav4 has 98K on it. I may need to get a new transmission and/or ECM and I don¿T think Toyota will cover any of the costs of either. I have thought about trading it in so I wouldn¿T have to deal with these issues, but I do like my rav 4. I am hoping (after doing all the online research and making some official complaints to cr, BBB and other safety groups) that maybe Toyota will provide (or be forced to provide) payments or coverage in some way for this serious safety issue (essentially "stalling" in the middle of intersections, when needing the acceleration from a stopped position.) when speaking with Toyota service and having had them perform their $100 computer diagnostics (before the ¿check engine¿ light came on - the light has since come on and remains on- obviously I haven¿T driven it for a few weeks now) I was told that the transmission would "most likely¿ need to be replaced. I had only driven it for 3 weeks after first noticing the problem and really only 1 since the trouble was continuous and the engine light came on. I hope to fix the problem by either having the ECM rebuilt ($500) or purchasing a new one ($1000). Hopefully, L didn't drive it too much before the ECM ruined my transmission ($5000). Since the car is only worth about $6000 total anyway.

- Lindenhurst, IL, USA

problem #224

Jul 102010


  • 81,000 miles


I've had my '02 Toyota Rav4 since 2003 and a few days ago my car started hesitating and jerking out 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 was afraid that I would get rear-ended and then I almost slammed into the car in front of me. I am afraid to take my car on the highway with the slow accelerating and then sudden jerking and speed. I'm taking my car to the dealership tomorrow to get the ECM and transmission checked out given the Toyota technical service bulletin that issued in 2006 involving faulty ecms (TC002-06). Although my car is just experiencing the early stages of this malfunction, this is very unsafe and dangerous. Toyota knows about it and should issue a recall.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #223

Jul 022010


  • 95,000 miles
I have had my 2002 Toyota Rav4 since we purchased it from the dealer back in 2002. At about 90,000 miles my transmission had to be replaced. Now at 202,000. Miles my transmission needs to be worked on again. I feel that this problem needs to be addressed as its very dangerous to drive in the freeway and be exposed to your tires locking up. And/or your car not go in gear at a light exposing yourself and your children to an accident.

- Visalia, CA, USA

problem #222

Jul 032010


  • 111,000 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4 started jerking and shaking, , then slowing down at 111K miles at in the middle of traffic concerned for safety, had to pull over and call for a tow truck to tow car home. I took the car to the dealership, but they said that it could be ECM, which is $1500, but no guarantees it would work. Researched issue, and found out that this is known issue since 2006, but Toyota didn't notify owners.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #221

Jul 072010


  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. While the contact was driving approximately 55 mph, the transmission began to hesitate with an extremely slow delay in the power response. The contact was able to continue driving with caution. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for an appointment which was scheduled prior to the failure. The scheduled repairs were performed, that were not associated with the transmission failure. The transmission failure was not diagnosed and the technician advised the contact to continue driving the vehicle until the failure recurred. The contact was displeased with the response from the technician and was concerned about the potential safety hazard. The failure mileage was 75,000.

- New Orleans, LA, USA

problem #220

May 152010


  • 142,000 miles
Whiplash and cervical disc herniation due to negligence of Toyota rav 4 2002 transmission and ECM problems. Around 4/20/10 I took my Toyota to this dealership due to ongoing jerking and forward thrust when starting from a stop position, also the engine light was on. They kept my Toyota from 4/19/10 till 4/21/10. Reset the engine stating that it is O2 sensor problem and replaced it. Also diagnosed transmission problems but I was told by the dealership persona, L" I don't want to stamp your car as condemned, take it back and when problem gets worse bring it back" he did not warn me that if I did not get it corrected right away, I can be jeopardizing my safety and safety of people on the road. It is apparent from the paperwork they handed me that they had diagnosed a serious problem and should have corrected it right away. Around middle of may the problems with the transmission got worse, on 2 occasions the car stalled completely while going at 30 mph and then severely thrust forward again. In another 3-4 days I started experiencing severe muscle spasms and headaches. Since then I had been to er, received ct and mri showing disc prolapse and tear of my 2 vertebral discs. I have been receiving physical therapy, cervical traction, pain medication, cervical collar, and am scheduled to receive an epidural injection in 2 weeks. I have seen my pcp twice, a neurologist, 2 neuro surgeons and have received numerous medication, some with serious side effects and have detailed information about these visits. I am a physician and due to this problem have missed days at work jeopardizing my clinical care. Yesterday almost got in an accident when my car slowed down instead of accelerating and I almost hit another car, this incident made me realize I can hurt other people if I continue to drive this car. I took it in to dealer today and they are going to run a diagnosis on it again, and it might cost me 6,000 dollars. Please help.

- San Mateo, CA, USA

problem #219

Jul 012010


  • 95,565 miles
I have a 2002 Toyota Rav4 that is also experiencing the ECM problem. The engine revs and slips in and out of gear. It also lunges forward without warning. This is clearly a safety issue. It is criminal that this problem is not being addressed by Toyota and that a safety recall has not been issued.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #218

Jun 292010


  • 73,000 miles
2002 Toyota rav 4 having issues with the ECM in the transmission. My mechanic and sanport auto broken arrow, ok found the bulletin and advised me my car was within the 96 months 80, 000 miles. She even called the Toyota dealership I purchased my car from and advised them of the issue. She spoke with kyle at jim norton Toyota he said he was not aware of the bulletin so my mechanic made a copy and put it on my seat to have the car towed to the dealership. Kyle said they would have their mechanics look at it and let me know. If someone could call jim norton Toyota and lean and bit on them that would be great. He acted like he was not sure that was the issue but there is documentation all over the internet about the problem so I am not sure how they could not know about the issue. My mechanic at sanport auto said if I need any help to let her know. She said it is definitely the issue and they should fix it. Thank goodness for good honest mechanics like sanport auto in broken arrow, ok. They did the right thing and will always get my business. Let's hope jim norton does the right thing.

- Broken Arrow, OK, USA

problem #217

Jun 252010


  • 124,000 miles
Toyota Rav4 2002- 50mph on a road when an emergency vehicle had to go around me- after the vehicle passed, I attempted to accelerate and was unable to get into 3rd gear- cars were accelerating past me causing an immediate danger along with the car jerking and pulling- Toyota issued a "service bull." For this but will not replace faulty ECM- and now there is possible transmission damage- very dangerous as I would not be able to accelerate- this is a intermittent issue- multiple complaints on the internet- no recall as of yet-.

- Bedford, NH, USA

problem #216

Jun 262010


  • 118,817 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4 transmission failure. This vehicle has been maintained excellently with all recommended services performed at Toyota dealers or authorized facilities. In 2009, Toyota sent a recall notice about a "faulty ECM" (electronic control module) and the vehicle was taken in and the ECM was reprogrammed. After this service, the car started shifting erratically and as of June 26, 2010, the transmission suddenly failed with 118,000 miles on the car. Toyota knows that the ECM causes the transmission failure and is refusing to make this right. Toyota needs to be held accountable and responsible for this lack of integrity and for putting consumers at risk of death or injury, due to transmission failures in 2002 Rav4's, Camry's and corollas. Google this information to see that this is becoming more common with this model of car, now that they are reaching 100,000 miles.

- Cottonwood, AZ, USA

problem #215

Dec 102008


  • 75,000 miles
I was coming home and waiting for my garage door to open when my 2002 Toyota Rav4 suddenly accelerated (even though I quickly put my foot on the brake) and crashed through the bottom half of the garage door side-swiping another vehicle in the garage. I took the vehicle to a body shop to get fixed and also took it to a service shop, and neither place could find anything wrong with the car. Since then, I have noticed on a few rare occasions that, upon shifting the car into reverse, there is a sudden jerking action. I am beginning to think that this all my be related to the ECM transmission module that I've been reading about lately.

- Pearl, MS, USA

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