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.

10.0

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 4 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #194

Mar 242010

RAV4 4WD 8-cyl

  • 80,000 miles

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

My car had a check engine light on, then it started jerking and was very hard to move after stops and in low speeds. Had it diagnosed and was told to change two oxygen sensors. Two oxygen sensors were changed but the jerking did not stop. I paid $853 for this service. The check engine light came back on after driving the car for only about 5 miles. Took the car back to the shop and was told that two additional sensors needed to be changed. I paid additional $600 (discounted) for this repair and was told that the ECM on the car is bad and that it needs to be replaced because the vehicle was not shifting correctly in low gear. After I had spent over $1400 to fix the oxygen sensors, I was told to spend additional $5,000 to $6,000 to fix the ECM and the transmission. I called Toyota and was told that the vehicle is out of warranty for both the transmission and the ECM. Toyota knew about this problem but they did not recall the cars that are affected: 2001-2003 Rav4. We don't want to wait till someone gets killed or hurt before we take action.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #193

Mar 202010

RAV4

  • 118,000 miles
I had the same issue that was supposed to be fixed by Toyota in 2007. It concerns technical service bulletin (TC002-06). After driving the car for thirty minutes, the car would then start to shift harshly/delayed shift causing a loss of acceleration. I had this service done in 2007 and then last month had to have the ECM replaced because of the same issue.

- Medway, MA, USA

problem #192

Jun 142009

RAV4

  • 97,666 miles
While driving my 2002 Toyota rav 4 with 97,000 miles, I experienced a sudden problem when shifting into 2nd gear. The car would stick and then suddenly accelerate as if the gear finally caught. After taking it to the mechanic I found out I not only needed to replace my transmission but also the ECM. This was a costly repair of over $3300 for a car that should have gone well over that mileage prior to needing a transmission change. Also it took 2 ecms before we found one that could work. The car worked fine and then suddenly had this problem.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #191

Aug 012008

RAV4 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles

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

2002 Toyota Rav4 with unintended acceleration. The consumer stated his daughter was driving the vehicle, and had difficulty stopping the vehicle, because the accelerator became stuck. The incident only occurred once to date. In August 2008 the vehicle was serviced for a harsh shifting within the transmission. A rebuilt transmission was installed. The consumer continued to experience problems with the transmission. The consumer stated he was given a copy of a tsb that had been issued regarding the transmission which stated if the harsh shifting persists after the ECM replacement, the automatic transaxle assembly may also require replacement. Updated 04/29/10. The consumer stated the computer in the vehicle was defective and eventually replaced. However the consumer believed the new computer is also defective in light of the recent Toyota recalls. Updated 05/04/10.

- Islip Terrace, NY, USA

problem #190

Mar 012010

RAV4

  • 120,000 miles
Rav 4 2002 owner. I started having trouble with shifting on my automatic transmission rav 4. when starting out to drive, it does not shift smoothly. It feels like the emergency break is on (it isn't) then it "jumps" or surges forward. Finally, after a week or two of this the "check engine light" came on and the car will L not shift thru all the gears. I went online and found that thousands of other owners of rav 4's (2001 thru 2003, but apparently especially 2002) have described my exact experience. The part required costs $1,000 ( and this does not include labor!). then, once it is put in, you get to learn if your gear box has been destroyed! if so, another $5,000 to $7,000 repair! and Toyota knew!!!!! this is outrageous!

- East Haven, CT, USA

problem #189

Apr 022010

RAV4

  • 103,497 miles
I own a 2002 Toyota Rav4 which was bought new. It has 103K miles. In the first week of April, 2010, as I pulled out of my driveway to visit a friend, I noticed an abrupt occurrence of transmission slippage from 1st -2nd gears. There was a feeling of downshifting that evened off at 3rd gear. This happened every time the car was accelerated after a stop, going up a hill. There was a clunk sound when the care was put in reverse. I did not know what was happening since this came about overnight. No warning lights have ever come on, even now. My boyfriend said it sounded like the transmission. I took the car to Toyota dealership for diagnostics and was told that the transmission was failing and needed to be replaced for $5100. I am unemployed and there was no way I could come up with that amount of money. I am afraid to drive more than a few blocks, to my boyfriend's, as the car continues to have slippage. I can not accelerate fast enough after a stop, and other cars come bounding down on me, honking and switching lanes at the last minute. I took the car home, researched the internet, and found out about the numbers of complaints people have on this issue. Then I find out about TC002-06, in which consumers were not made privy to. This is deliberate consumer fraud, costing trusting consumers to pay for defects the manufacturer was aware of, but refusing to acknowledge or correct their defect. This seems to me, just as illegal as insider trading, knowing something, making a profit, and not telling how they know.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #188

Mar 092009

RAV4

  • 52,000 miles

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

2002 Toyota rav 4 transmission problems. Purchased the vehicle used with 20,000 miles on it in Sept. 2006. Noticed sometimes a slippage but it did not occur regularly so I ignored it. Went to get inspection the following year and the check engine light was on and was told there was a recall on the vehicle and I took it to Toyota and they fixed the ECM or something to that effect because it was still under warranty. Now the vehicle has been inoperable since March 2009 because I need a new transmission. I am still paying $380 a month plus insurance on this vehicle that I cannot drive and I see where hundreds of others have reported the very same complaint with the transmission in their 2002 Toyota rav 4. why is Toyota not liable for this defect? I need my vehicle fixed and I cannot afford to continue paying $500 a month for a car I cannot drive and definitely cannot have repaired at a cost of $5000!!! please help!

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #187

Mar 162010

RAV4

  • 101,000 miles
Having issues with Toyota rav 4 gear shifting transmission issue vehicle diagnostics report indicates P0750 failure Toyota release a tsb in March 06 and yet my dealer did nothing to replace the ECM even in my service done in 2008 I am now at 101K miles

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #186

Mar 292010

RAV4

  • 67,000 miles
My 2002 Toyota Rav4 began suddenly jerking when I slowed down then would lag when I tried to accelerate. It had less than 67,000 miles on it. The local Toyota dealer told me I would need to have the transmission replaced at the cost of $4800. I called Toyota national customer service and asked for an extention of the warranty, having been told by the dealer that this problem was not covered by my warranty any longer. I got absolutely no help. I am astounded that at 67,000 miles this was not covered. I had to get rid of the car when I didn't want to and am asking for restitution.

- Shaker Hts, OH, USA

problem #185

Sep 152009

RAV4

  • 145,000 miles
In 2006 my transmission just disintergrated with 103000 miles, had it rebuilt the transmission shop said that the computer was not doing it's job than come to find out that Toyota had a tsb on it and never notified anyone. Now about in March of 2009 at about 145000 miles 2nd to 3rd gear started to slip again. Now so this is my second time I'm having this problem it seems I can't get more than 100,000. Sad these should last longer, at this rate $3500 each four years, someone is making $$$$$. thanks

- Hubbardston, MA, USA

problem #184

Mar 182009

RAV4

  • 77,000 miles

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

I have a 2002 Toyota Rav4 with only 77,000 miles. It was Monday last week (March 15) when I noticed my car kind of lost it's accelerating power when I cruised up the coronado bridge (san diego, ca) but it was Wednesday that same week when I experienced this slipping/ jerking/ harsh shifting movement of the transmission while accelerating even on a regular highway. I thought at first it was the engine but to find out that it was the transmission. I took the car to Toyota that Friday morning which they told me that they have to replace the computer and maybe the transmission but few days later I was told that the transmission was still good. (don't know how true that is and how thorough they've conducted their inspection). With this incident at 77,000 miles, Toyota should extend the warranty coverage of their computer and transmissions given the fact that they had a tsb released March 2006 which I just found out researching for my car's possible defect. Now I'm worried that since my transmission was already subjected to this harsh problem, it'll no longer last... and with just 6K miles warranty for the new computer, I'm not financially ready to buy another transmission or yet, another car. I've read so many complaints regarding computer problems with 01-03 Rav4 (www.carcomplaints.com) that I am hoping NHTSA can come up with something demanding Toyota to extend its warranty coverage for this specific problem. Thank you.

- Covina, CA, USA

problem #183

Mar 252010

RAV4

  • 85,000 miles
My 2002 Toyota Rav4 had TC002-06 performed on it in January 2007. The recall was to address issues with the ECM and transmission shifting issues. My vehicle is out of warranty and has 85,000. I contacted Toyota and they informed me that a logic update was performed to resolve this issue. From what I have read online, the ECM should have been replaced and not updated. I also found that the ECM carries an 80,000 mile warranty. The problem I am having is now the transmission has failed and I was informed that the problem was due to the ECM not being replaced. All major service work on this vehicle has been performed at a Toyota dealership. The independent service agent has informed me that the transmission needs to be rebuilt and the ECM replaced at a total cost of over $4200. I contacted a Toyota dealership and a rough estiamte for this repair is $5000-$6000. When I contacted Toyota and asked about this tsb, they informed me that it is simply a manual addendum and nothing else. They refuse to help with this issue at all. It is serious because the vehicle begin to fail and would not accerlerate when I was trying to drive onto a major road from being stopped at a red light. I have researched this issue on the internet and I have found that many people have had this same issue around the same mileage with this model year vehicle. Please help!

- Bolingbrook, IL, USA

problem #182

Feb 102010

RAV4

  • 103,000 miles
We have a 2002 Toyota Rav4. The transmission started acting up due to the ECM valve not allowing gears to change. Slipping gears & no power at take off from stops. It has 103000 miles on it.we bought this car used at a Toyota dealership in 2004. We have not repaired it yet. It is to costly and the car isn't paid off yet. Something needs to be done. Car has been parked we are afraid to let our daughter drive it.

- Newton, NC, USA

problem #181

Feb 242010

RAV4

  • miles
I have a 2002 rav 4 with 139K miles on it. Lately my car has been having trouble shifting from first gear to second gear. I noticed it within the last two weeks of February. But there would be days when it would act normal and it was fine and some days it had its problems. Within this past week it has become worse. Now when my car comes to a complete stop and tries to shift it would hesitate, jerk, shift again and become almost idol and then go. This would make me not want to stop at all when driving because I don't know if it will just die on me. I would get really afraid if I would get rear ended for my car having trouble shifting. The problem is the transmission and the ECM. In order to fix the problem I have to get the transmission fixed which costs over $1,000 dollars. I did some research and noticed I am not the only one with this problem. I think that Toyota should recall all 2002 rav 4 because of its faulty transmission and I shouldn't have to pay so much. I could've caused an accident with my car but that's not my fault and Toyota already knows it's a problem but is not doing anything about it.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #180

Mar 082010

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles
The automatic transmission in my 2002 Toyota rav 4 failed suddenly and unexpectedly. Engine power was lost as the vehicle's shifting became erratic; starting from stop in 3rd gear, then downshifting to second. Merging with traffic difficult and dangerous at best. I took the car to a transmission shop. They diagnosed that the ECM caused the transmission to fail. Their estimate to replace the computer and repair the transmission was over $4000. I have since found numerous similar complaints online from other Toyota rav owners. And I found that Toyota knew about this design flaw over 7 years ago, which I believe is a safety issue as well as a major consumer product issue. Now out of warranty (97K miles) the costs to repair my car are almost equal to its value. I don't know at this date if I will fix it as loan payments remain. Considering the number of similar complaints over Toyota rav 4 transmission failures I wholeheartedly request your Agency review this situation closely. I don't know where else to go for help.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #179

Feb 252010

RAV4

  • 150,000 miles
On February 25th 2010, while attempting to enter 105 freeway, my 2002 Toyota Rav4 refused to accelerate, almost resulting in my car been rear-ended. This progressed into erratic shifting.

- Downey, CA, USA

problem #178

Feb 192010

RAV4

  • 150,400 miles
I am the original owner of a 2002 Rav4 and have been taking it to Toyota for service. As I was leaving work at 5pm one Friday, my car would hard-shift into first and struggle even more to get to second, etc. I drove it straight to Toyota carlsbad. They contacted me the following day after changing the transmission fluid. They said I needed a new transmission and computer. Come to find out there had been a service bulletin in 2006 that only Toyota knew about that recognized the potential for transmission problems. I was not informed of this when I had the transmission serviced by Toyota in 2007. The total cost to me would be $4800 without tax, which I could not afford. Since I needed my car for work and I take care of my elderly mother, I scrounged together the nearly $2000 for the computer replacement as well as the thermostat replacement (the idiot light code said it had a loose wire, and not total replacement!). I was told the transmission would definitely need to be replaced in a very short time, and they suggested I purchase another car very soon. The service bulletin should have been shared with me, the client. They knew about and kept the potential problem from me and now the problem is a costly one to repair. I would like Toyota to replace the transmission for free and reimburse me for my costs to replace the computer. After researching this Rav4 problem, I have learned that this has been a big and continuing problem for 2002 Rav4 owners and should be investigated. I believe that the computer (or ECM) was the cause of this problem. I am hoping the transmission will not have to be replaced. I purchased this expensive (for me) Toyota because it was said to last longer than other vehicles. I truly think this problem needs to be brought to the light and included in the federal investigation of Toyota.

- San Marcos, CA, USA

problem #177

Feb 262010

RAV4

  • 114,000 miles
Hesitation accelerating from stop. Lack of power going up a steep incline. Improper shifting from one gear to another.vehicle became undrivable 03/01/2010. PCM/ECM module defective- needs replacement at a cost of $1693.41.

- Waldorf, MD, USA

problem #176

Feb 252010

RAV4

  • 160,000 miles
My wife was driving our 2002 Rav4 last week, she pulled away from a stop sign and our 2002 Rav4 started jerking and then slowed to a sudden stop right in the middle of the intersection. After a "scary moment", it started driving normally again. We took the car to our mechanic the next day to have the transmission serviced, it was about due. We were told the transmission is probably "shot". while shopping on-line for a replacement, I came across numerous web sites with hundreds of Rav4 customers experiencing the same transmission problems! turns out he problems were identified, by Toyota themselves a few years ago, as a malfunctioning ECM (electronic control module) causing the failures of the transmissions within 50 miles of driving. Toyota notified their service techs, but did not notify it's customers of this problem. We maintain our vehicles routinely and have never had any problems with the rav. But this is a serious safety issue. A car stalling in the middle of an intersection is extremely dangerous if not deadly. Toyota motors has known about this safety issue for years, and they have the responsibility to inform their customers of such dangerous situations and to repair and/or replace any malfunctioning parts in their customers cars that could cause such a situation.

- Sutter Creek, CA, USA

problem #175

Nov 202008

RAV4

  • 107,000 miles
Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6) I purchased my 2002 Toyota Rav4 from my dealer, rich Toyota of huntington, wv in spring 2002żit was his demo car, VIN#[xxx] ; model #4416A. At 107,00 miles, out of the clear-blue, the Rav4 check engine light came on for about two hours, then went out, but then shifting became erratic. I have serviced this vehicle faithfully since I purchased it and expected to get another 100,000 more miles, but, my dealership, where it has been serviced since purchase, said it was going to cost over $1,200 for the ecc/ECM (engine control computer/engine control module), and even if I replace just the ecc/ECM, it still may not work with the old transmission, so it was recommended that I replace the transmission too for another $3,500 because the defective ecc may have destroyed the transmission. They also suggested replacement of the air-fuel sensor for a total of $5,189 in repairs before taxes. I had never realized that there were ever any serious problems like this with the Toyota product line until I went online to research this transmission problem. What an eye-opener!!! there were many, many problems documented with many of Toyota's products! considering that this Rav4 was a $22,000 vehicle when I purchased it, doesn't it seem strange that after just 6 years it is inoperable and even dangerous! after E-mailing and sending a letter to Toyota usa in torrence California about this issue, I called the Toyota customer assistance center at 1-800-331-4331 and talked with a real person. Plus, I have been assigned a case number, which goes into their database and logs the issue should they have enough complaints to warrant a recall or other remedy. I have since replaced the transmission and defective ECU at a cost of about $4,500. After researching your complaint files on this Rav4 issue, why hasn't NHTSA done something about it with Toyota!!!!"??"

- Scott Depot, WV, USA

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