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 3 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #214

Jun 132010


  • 91,500 miles


I have a 2002 Toyota rav 4, started driving erratic, while foot on gas pedal, car would slow down, then speed up with banging sound. Local Toyota dealership says computer bad replacing it, which included a tow is$ 1, is 8 years old with 91,000 miles.

- Winston Salem, NC, USA

problem #213

May 172010

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,450 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. The contact stated while driving at 40 mph and attempting to accelerate onto the highway, the vehicle would not respond and began decelerating. The contact was advised by both an independent mechanic and an authorized dealer that the transmission was failing. The failure and current mileages were 60,450. Updated 07/26/10. Updated 08/03/10

- Springfield, PA, USA

problem #212

May 302010


  • 112,000 miles
The main computer in the transmission on my 2002 Toyota Rav4 malfunctioned causing my vehicle to begin shifting on its own while driving. The mechanic informed me that it was attempting to shift into reverse while driving. The first incident happened the last weekend in may, 2010. I have not been able to drive the car for 3 weeks now, it is currently waiting repair. Total cost thus far $1,586 to replace the computer so that the computer can tell them what other damage has been done to the transmission. We have not been able to locate a functional used computer for repair.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #211

Jun 052010


  • 115,100 miles


I have a 2002 Rav4 which it almost had my family life taken. Last weekend we were getting in the highway and the car didn't speed up a rollback maneuver his way out luckily the driver acted quick at scene. My vehicle transmission fail to proceed, it wouldn't speed up. We were like baits for the oncoming traffic not knowing if to get out of car or get hit. We were terrified so we all scream. Later the transmission rep up. We pulled over to the side to relax. Now I'm trying to figure out what happen, what went wrong" but now I now I know is the freaking car. My question is why Toyota did not gave us a warning about the defects of the vehicle" I hope for others families not to go through this terrifying experience. Please informs to others to take action with this vehicle or it may be to late. I do not know where to go or what to do now with this vehicle. I'm not driving it and putting my family at risk again!!!. be careful driving this vehicle. But please le me know what to do next. Should I junked the car or go to the dealer and deal with them. I'm not going to give away to to her. That will be like given them a ticket to the cemetery.

- Annandale, VA, USA

problem #210

Jun 112010


  • 0 miles
2002 Toyota rav 4 electronic control unit has a manufacturer's defect that cause the car's automatic transmission to disintegrate with little or no warning.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #209

Jun 072010


  • 112,000 miles
Toyota Rav4 (2002) jerked uncontrollably into traffic while preparing to make a left turn onto a busy boulevard. Cars screeched to a halt. Could have been fatal. Rav4 has faulty computer (ECM) that Toyota did not recall and holds consumers responsible for replacing (appx$1400). Faulty computer often destroys transmission also. I am facing $5500 in repairs and Toyota has admitted that the car has a problem. This is totally unfair and people will lose their lives. I am lucky I didn't.

- Topanga, CA, USA

problem #208

May 252010


  • 61,000 miles


On May 25th, my wife was merging into traffic on a local bypass (speed limit 55 mph). As she began to merge, our 2002 Toyota Rav4 hesitated and wouldn't shift into second gear. My wife had to swerve off the road to avoid being rear ended by traffic. I brought my car to the repair shop the next day and they flushed the transmission and added new fluid. They tested the car and it was ok so I picked it up and brought it home. By the next day the car was hesitating again so I brought it back to the shop and they took the car to the local Toyota dealership to have them check the problem. I then received a call from my repair person stating that I needed a new transmission. The car is only 8 years old with 61,000 miles on it but all warranties have expired. I then find out that Toyota has known about the problem with 2002 Rav4 transmissions but have never contacted the buyers or had a recall due to expense. Now I'm stuck with a car that doesn't work or a repair bill for $5,000 plus. I bought a Toyota because I thought that it was dependable. The dealership said that nothing can be done to repair it without cost to me since I have no more warranty coverage. I'm now looking for a new car since I'm not putting $5,000 into an 8 year old one. Do I have any legal alternatives since Toyota knew about the problem but said nothing?

- Springfield, PA, USA

problem #207

Jun 032010


  • 99,000 miles
Check engine light came on and transmission started to shift hard, going into reverse from park with a huge clunk. Also, slipping at times. When making a left/right turn from a road to another, car would sluggishly move-very dangerous. Took it to a dealer and was told a new computer was needed to verify if the problem was ECU related or the tranny..I asked why a new computer wasn't available to test whether it was the computer or tranny."we don't stock computers". I was quoted $1200 for "new" ECU to see if it fixed the problem. If that didn't work then a "new" tranny for $4000 to $5000 would be required. This is a 2002 2wd with 99K miles worth about $5000(in great shape otherwise). Also learned that the ECU tends to throw codes unrelated to the tranny issue. When I brought my Rav4 in I told them about my issues with the tranny and that there was a tsb to install new software to try to fix the issue. I was then told no, you need to try a new ECU for $1200. Why not throw a "new" ECU in to see if it fixes the problem" why don't they acknowledge a defect instead of easter egging at my expense" charge me $1200 for an ECU(or any part) that may or may not solve the issue is criminal and to hear that the ECU problem eats the tranny is also criminal quick to take your cash but to deny a very common part defect (ECU) that ultimately destroys another expensive needed component. This is a safety issue. I have made left/right turns and the transmission decides to buck/hesitate as oncoming traffic is expecting my vehicle to move appropriately.

- Hyde Park, NY, USA

problem #206

Mar 262009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles
Toyota Rav4 automatic transmission went crazy and car started lunging forward and then not going when it should. It caused a minor accident some time ago, but is very dangerous and unsafe and we have not felt safe enough to even keep the car on the road. If people are not as fortunate as us to have another vehicle or can not afford to get this problem fixed, it could very well cause a fatal accident. We are surprised that the transmission problems was not included in the recall business with them. Ours only had 60,000 miles when it happened to us and from what I read on the internet there is major cause for concern.

- Shady Side, MD, USA

problem #205

May 242010


  • 101,620 miles
I have a 2002 Toyota rav-4. I have taken proper car of the car, like oil changes, tune-ups, the whole nine yards. Except recently the transmission in the car has failed. It just recently started happening and I don't understand how this issue has come about. I am almost at 102K miles on my car. I was almost hit by another SUV due to the transmission failing. I have recently found articles by usa today and cbs5 stating how owners of Toyota rav-4's 2001-2003 models have had transmission failures.

- Naples, FL, USA

problem #204

May 192002


  • 88,000 miles


Toyota Rav4 2002 transmission failure at 88,000 miles with a perfect maintenance. Since two days ago a problem with the transmission began. I search in the internet and Toyota knew the problem since 2006 without telling the owners, now to fix the transmission could cost around 5,000 and its suppose to be the computer.

- Cayey, PR, USA

problem #203

Apr 252010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles
Automatic transmission on a 2002 Toyota Rav4 SUV began slipping and shifting hard. Took it to trusted garage and they determined that transmission had failed and was unsafe to drive. It had to be replaced. In researching the vehicle and the model's service history for recalls and service bulletins they determined that the transmission involved was only used for 16 months by Toyota before it was replaced because of poor performance and safety issues. The ECM (engine control module) was found to be faulty and was causing the transmission failures. (Toyota tsb TC002-06). Toyota deemed not to alert vehicle owners of this condition or to offer any preventive action to be pursued to prevent the ultimate transmission failure resulting in replacement. Warranty on replacement transmission not valid if the ECM unit is not also replaced. Total cost = $5,000. Original warranty was extended to 96 months or 80,000 miles. My vehicle has 119,000 miles in 90 months of use. Toyota dealer service department stated the vehicle parts were out of warranty.

- Ozark, MO, USA

problem #202

Apr 192002


  • 89,900 miles
Starting the end of April 2010 my 2002 Toyota Rav4 starting giving me problems with shifting gears and when I pressed the accelerator it didn't want to move and really sluggish and would jerk. I was afraid that someone would rear end me. I kept up all my maintenance on the vehicle. I had a transmission service done March 2008. The dealer said I needed a new transmission. My car has 90,000 miles. I had another transmission service done, but it just got worse. I took it to another repair shop and they said there was a computer defect and the transmission needed to be replaced. My car is in the shop for repairs.

- Ontario, CA, USA

problem #201

May 032010


  • 91,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. While entering a busy highway at speeds of less than 5 mph, the vehicle would not accelerate. The vehicle would not shift gears and within moments, the failure seemed to correct itself but became progressively worse as he continued to drive. The manufacturer advised the contact that there was a technical service bulletin that addressed the failure and would not provide any further assistance (NHTSA item number 10019667). The dealer had not yet been contacted nor had the vehicle been repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileages were 91,000.

- Fort Mills, SC, USA

problem #200

Apr 302010


  • 110,000 miles
2002 Toyota rav 4 transmission slips and jerks at odd times. Especially though, when trying to merge or pass in traffic.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #199

Jan 032010

RAV4 8-cyl

  • 147,000 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4, while putting in drive the car stalls for a second then jerks into gear...I had ECM work done for $1300 dollars and the car still jerks into gear and sometimes there is no power...I am worried that my wife will be in traffic and the car will lose power causing an accident.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #198

Apr 052010


  • 128,000 miles
Have a 2002 Toyota Rav4 I was driving near home - began to accelerate on area highway and experienced a jolt or hard shift while the car was accelerating between approx. 25-30 mph. Caused car to decelerate rapidly. Consider myself blessed children were not in the car and no one was immediately behind me as would most likely have been involved in a rear end crash. Check engine light came on - immediately contacted mechanic who advised to take to Toyota dealership due to a faulty ECM computer that controls the transmission. Currently still sitting there waiting for response from Toyota on how they will remedy.

- Lakeway, TX, USA

problem #197

Apr 212010


  • 109,235 miles
While trying to merge on an interstate, the Rav4 would not shift gears and would hang for a moment. Emergency maneuvers had to be made to avoid getting rammed by a semi-truck. After pulling over and checking the car, although there was now a cel, it did not seem like anything was wrong until I shifted from park to drive. The transmission made a clunking noise. Driving home, the car would not shift properly. Without a properly shifting car, I had to get the vehicle towed to a shop. That is when my mechanic pulled up tsb number: TC002-06 from Toyota which states the exact problem that I have. I have never received this tsb or any other notices from Toyota about this problem. Even though my 2002 Rav4 is under the "age limit" for the warranty, I am over the mileage limit which means that Toyota has denied my claim. It currently sits unfixed until I can come up with the money to get it repaired according to the tsb.

- Wilmette, IL, USA

problem #196

Apr 182010


  • 900,000 miles
When pulling into traffic transmission slipped and car stopped in middle of intersection.

- Mentor, OH, USA

problem #195

Apr 182010


  • 70,000 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4 jerking and lunging into gear from a stop. Car drops into neutral causing a sudden slow down and dangerous condition for cars behind me who have to stop suddenly for me. 70,000 miles, took into dealership this a.M. and was told they would try re-programming the computer and then if that did not work they would replace the computer for $1,100 and if that did not work they would replace the transmission for $3,000-$4,000. Left dealership after "re-programming" the computer and immediately car started lunging into gear, shifting into neutral, thumping into gear and the engine light came back on.

- Ann Arbor, MI, USA

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