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 6 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #154

Jan 062010

RAV4

  • 90,000 miles

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

The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. While at a stop sign, upon accelerating the RPM's increased rapidly; yet, the vehicle did not move. The contact noticed that the vehicle was not accelerating up to its normal speed which forced the contact to drive the vehicle to his residence between 15 and 20 mph. The contact wanted a local mechanic to drain the transmission fluid to confirm if the fluid was the cause of the transmission not shifting gears. Removing the transmission fluid did not remedy the failure. The mechanic informed the contact that the transmission was defective. The contact has not had the vehicle repaired at this time; therefore, she was unable to drive the vehicle. The failure mileage was 90,000.

- Danville, PA, USA

problem #153

Jan 222010

RAV4

  • 70,000 miles
One day out of the blue my truck had trouble accelerating each time I came to a stop, it then alternate between jerking forward and hesitating before it actually got going. I had to try not to hit anything in front of me and not get hit by the car behind me thinking I'm taking off. I was terrified merging onto the highway because it wouldn't accelerate and then did the hesitating and jerking thing. Went straight to mechanic, diagnostics showed possible transmission issue. Which would cost $4,200 new and about $3K used. Did online research and found hundreds of same complaints and recommendations to replace ECM before it did ruin the transmission. I took the chance and replaced the ECM and truck is running fine now. I had called my Toyota dealership who told me my warranty was up (5yrs/50K miles - and I am at 70K miles). Could not get thru to Toyota headquarters because of gas pedal recall. This is dangerous and research shows Toyota knew of this problem since 2006 and has not done a recall. Total cost: $1,300 for new ECM and $300 for car rental.

- Laurel, MD, USA

problem #152

Dec 312009

RAV4

  • 55,000 miles
My Toyota 2002 Rav4 with only 55,000 started having problems with transmission and I took it in as soon as problem started and was told at dealership I needed to replace the whole transmission and install a rebuilt. The repair cost $3400 and after a day of driving I had to take car back to dealer as it was still not running right and then I was told that the ECM needed replacing which they said they did at no cost to me which is very hard to believe. I am totally disgusted that after taking care of my car and at only 55,000 miles the transmission had to be replaced. Another disturbing issue is that Toyota issued a bulletin regarding this problem but the consumer is still stuck with the repair which is very costly. I also asked them to please return my old transmission and was told that I could not have it. If it was replaced and it is my property why could they not return the transmission to me so that I could be sure that it was replaced. When I took my car back as it was still not running right I was told that they could not figure out what the codes meant and why the car was not running and was told the harness needed to also be replaced and then they changed their story saying that the paint from the rebuilt transmission was too thick and that is why the cables were not making the connection. I took my car to a Toyota dealer for service and these people clearly were giving me the run around. I called Toyota corporation to file a complaint and they only gave me a 20% discount of $640 towards the !@#$% transmission which I still had to pay the dealer the full amount and I have to submit a whole bunch of paperwork so that I can get my discount. It seems Toyota cars are not are good as they claim to be.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #151

Jan 062010

RAV4

  • 73,697 miles

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

Transmission failure/ECM failure on 2002 Toyota rav 4, almost causing me to be in an accident. I had to spend over $4700 to have the transmission rebuilt and a new controller installed. Toyota dealer told me they were not aware of any problems with the ECM causing transmission damage. Then I research it on the internet to find multiple complaints. Toyota should have warned owners of the problem and allow owners to change the ECM before ruining the transmission and almost having an accident.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #150

Dec 152009

RAV4

  • 89,978 miles
My Toyota Rav4 (2002) with less than 90,000 miles has been slipping and it has caused me to be in some pretty risky situations, such as nearly getting into a fatal car accident when stopping and trying to proceed again at stop lights and stop signs. Apparently the ECM is causing damage to the transmission and instead of them trying to fix the problem as a company, they are recommending me to spend over 4,000 to fix a problem that they have fell to resolve. It has become a financial nightmare and I don't want to have to choose between my house and my car because I need both!

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #149

Jan 092010

RAV4

  • 79,500 miles
Toyota 2002 Rav4 transmission jerks, car doesn't run right, computer problem causes tranny failure.

- Otis, MA, USA

problem #148

Jul 012009

RAV4

  • 94,000 miles

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

About a month after having my 90,000 tune up at my local Toyota dealer, I noticed my transmission was slipping; from first to second and second to third. It started intermittently and then became more frequent to the point that I needed it to be inspected. On my way to the dealer my car stalled in the middle of an intersection; cars were honking and I was thankful no one rear-ended me since I was exiting off a ramp. At the dealer they said they could not duplicate my problem (don't know how they couldn't ;everyone driving in my car noticed!) and I drove it away without any problems for almost 2 weeks; the slipping started again. This time my check engine light came on. After taking it back for a second inspection they determined that my ECM needed to be replaced at a cost of $1,200. It has been almost 2 weeks and my car is working great after they replaced the ECM. What upsets me is the fact that Toyota knew there was an issue with the ecms. Back in 2006 I was notified by my dealership that my ECM needed to be reprogrammed. I had mine reprogrammed but it didn't help. I just hope that no one is injured as a result of these defective ecms.

- Branford, CT, USA

problem #147

Nov 152009

RAV4

  • 145,000 miles
I have a 2002 Rav4. About 2 months ago, I noticed that when I accelerated, my car hesitated and then jumped into gear. The problem worsened, and when I took it to be looked at, the mechanic informed me that the repairs to the damaged transmission would cost close to $4,000. After researching Toyota rav 4 + transmissions, I quickly found many sites stating that many people are having this exact same problem with their Toyota 2001 - 2004 rav 4 transmissions, and that the problems are due to a faulty computer that Toyota has know about for years.

- Cornville, AZ, USA

problem #146

Dec 152009

RAV4

  • 90,420 miles
Transmission has failed on my 2002 Rav4. 2 mechanics and 1 transmission specialist state that it needs to be completely overhauled and ECM is bad also. Car will not shift out of 2nd gear and hesitates.

- Watertown, MA, USA

problem #145

Dec 222009

RAV4

  • 88,000 miles
On the evening of December 21, 2009, I was driving our 2002 Toyota Rav4, exiting a major shopping center, in a long line of vehicles at a slow speed. Suddenly the engine stalled (something that never happened before). I restarted the engine and moved a few car lengths, still in a long line of slow moving vehicles and the engine stalled again. I restarted the engine and was able to proceed home (about 10 miles) without further difficulty. The next day, December 22, 2009, my wife used the vehicle to do some shopping. During her trip she made 4 uneventful stops and restarts. At her 5th stop, at a traffic light at an intersection (on a very busy highway) she stopped for a red light. She then proceeded from the red light - but the engine stalled again. My wife was able to restart the engine, but as soon as the gear shift was put into drive, the engine stalled again. Repeated attempts to restart the engine and move the car were unsuccessful. My wife was stuck in the middle of an intersection with trucks and cars passing around her with horns blowing. A passing motorist ultimately came to her assistance and pushed the vehicle out of the intersection to the shoulder of the highway out of potential danger. When I arrived at the location, I also could not drive the vehicle. The engine would start, but engaging any drive position (D, 2, 1, R) would cause the engine to shut down. The vehicle(with 88,000 miles) was towed to my repair shop. The shop diagnosed an ECM/transmission problem - and then transferred the vehicle to a transmission shop for further diagnosis and repair on December 23, 2009.

- Fort Salonga, NY, USA

problem #144

Dec 212009

RAV4

  • 116,000 miles

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

One day, out of the blue, my 2002 Toyota Rav4 started having trouble getting full power in 1st gear, and often slipped when going from 1st to 2nd, and 2nd to 3rd. Since this was so sudden, I often had trouble getting up to speed when pulling into traffic. There were no accidents, but a few close calls. I had the ECM (engine control module) replaced the next day because my mechanic said that this was a fairly common failure for the Rav4, and Toyota had put out a tsb for this problem. Unfortunately, I was well past the mileage needed to get this done under warranty.

- Medway, MA, USA

problem #143

Dec 172009

RAV4

  • 101,000 miles
No problems were apparent until overnight the transmission appeared to be slipping. Independent mechanic cited failing transmission as probable issue. Toyota dealership stated the ECM/ECU was failing. Turns out ECM was defective in the model year of this vehicle. Toyota' response was to "reprogram/reflash" defective ECM. This only postponedthe failure of the ECM. The defective ECM would send incorrect codes to the transmission stuttering or halting shifts thus leaving the vehicle effectively in neutral. This stuttering/slipping quickly destroys the transmission. The failure of the ECM would not allow the transmission to shift which put us in danger of being in a rear end collision while trying to get onto busy highways or stalling in an intersection. This occurred multiple times in the trip to the dealership alone (the vehicle went in the next open business day after the first occurrence). The failure occurred in the first three gears. This is a very serious safety issue which was given an ineffective solution. The dealership replaced the ECM at a significant cost to the consumer. When asked about the defective ECM, the service department stated the replacement of the ECM, although agreed to be defective, was the responsibility of the consumer and not Toyota.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #142

Dec 062009

RAV4

  • 980,000 miles
Transmission failure.

- Roseburg, OR, USA

problem #141

Dec 072009

RAV4

  • 67,000 miles
Check engine light came all of sudden while driving vehicle regular to work, when checked, the transmission sensor bad error came up, then drove vehicle back home.while driving back gear started slipping, could not able to pick up speed. Later check engine light gone and vehicle started working fine. Next day check engine light was again on. When took the vehicle to mechanic, transmission bad diagnostic came. Costing more than 3500. It was hazardous drive while coming back home at a such low miles.

- Bloomington, IL, USA

problem #140

Nov 012009

RAV4

  • 110,000 miles
I have a 2002 Toyota Rav4 with 110,000 miles on it. The transmission has just failed. What a dangerous situation, doesn't want to go, so you take off from a stop sign & you're in the middle of traffic & there you sit trying to get the car to move. To correct the problem the transmission needs to be replaced & I don't have $5000 to repair this. It is my understanding that Toyota was aware of this problem and has done nothing about it. Nice

- Stevens Point, WI, USA

problem #139

Nov 052009

RAV4

  • 150,000 miles
In March 2006, Toyota sent dealers a technical service bulletin 002-06warning them that some consumers might complain about harsh shifting. It said improvements were made to the computer "manufacturing process to reduce the possibility of this condition occurring." It then told the dealers to replace the module and if that did not work to replace the transmission. But consumers owning the vehicles were never notified about the problem. This is exactly what my car is doing, I was never informed of this defect when I bought my 2002 Toyota Rav4 used in Nov 2007 from Toyota of butte mt. And of course it isn't covered under any warranty or recall now - only up to 80,000 miles before the ECM starts to malfunction. I was quoted the fix to be around $900 and that's if it hasn't caused damage to my transmission by now. I'm a single working mom of 3 kids on a very limited income - I can't afford to have this fixed and now I'm without the only car my family has because driving it is an extreme safety hazard with it's current problems. As I pull out into traffic the car decides to not shift (as if it were in neutral) right in the path of oncoming traffic - nice job Toyota. I think that this should be a covered recall on these vehicles before someone is killed!!!!!!!!

- Helena, MT, USA

problem #138

Jul 102009

RAV4

  • 79,950 miles
Toyota 2002 Rav4 problem with automatic transmission hesitating and jerking in low gears. Problem started in July 2009 and within one week was occurring all the time. Rav4 was well past its warranty of 50K or 5 years. Ourisman chantilly Virginia Toyota dealer said it needed new transaxle for $5,500. Miller Toyota of manassas Virginia replaced ECM module which was still under emissions warranty of 80K or 8 years. This has corrected the problems so far.

- Centreville, VA, USA

problem #137

Nov 172009

RAV4

  • 48,600 miles
While starting up from a red light, I felt the trans slip, then bang into 2nd gear. It would continue to buck and slip, than would catch and run smooth. I thought something had happened to the trans, although I only have approx 48,000 miles on the car. Turned out to be a faulty ECM which Toyota is apparently aware of and was replaced under warranty. I fell this could have potentially been dangerous and I very easily could have been in an accident, but did not really drive the car after the initial incident.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #136

Sep 152009

RAV4

  • 93,000 miles
After having problems with my transmission I found out that there was an electronic control module that was defective and caused damage to my transmission. Toyota dealers in my area would not offer any help other than to say that it will cost me ~$5,000 for new emc and new transmission. From all of the complaints so far I would guess that Toyota is making more money on replacing transmissions then they make on actually selling the car. The emc is a well know problem. Now my wife and I are taking the bus to work because I do not have the money to fix this car as it is above the 80,000 mile warranty. It"S bad enough that we all have this problem, but it makes things worse to know that Toyota intentionally left consumers in the dark about this underlining problem. They conveniently let people go on driving these cars with this potentially dangerous condition and hope that statistically most of us will drive past the 80,000 mile warranty limit?.which many of us had. I guess their statistics department made them some extra bonus money. Well, I?M ticked off and no more Toyota for me. I?M taking my business else ware and I am going to tell everyone that I can what I think of Toyota. It"S too bad because I used to think that it was a good car manufacture. Now I know that they do not care at all about us. They are too happy to take your money and let you drive a car that will eventually need huge repair costs, hopefully by them.

- Scotia , NY, USA

problem #135

Nov 132009

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,245 miles
Problem appeared without warning. The transmission became sluggish at low speeds and from a stop at stop signs and stop lights, creating a hazard of being hit by other vehicles in intersections. Also a rough shift (automatic transmission) between first and second gears, resulting in same hazard as above. These problems match Toyota's technical service bulletin TC0002-06, 3/3/2006. Immediately took it to dealer shop, they replaced transmission. Problem persisted!. shop replaced ECM, and problem fixed. Toyota had implied a problem existed w/ ECM in the tsb back in 2006. They further admitted fault now by providing via the local dealer a "one time good will warranty" on the ECM. I believe that if Toyota had recalled the ecms or extended the warranty back in 2006 and replaced mine at that time, I would not have had my transmission replaced for $4126 parts and labor. I assume dealer disposed of old ECM.

- Fresno, CA, USA

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