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 9 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #94

Apr 012008

RAV4

  • miles

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

Check engine light kept coming on; I would carry it to Toyota dealership and they would re-set. This happened more than twice. Finally, what I thought and was told that the transmission blew, but found out later that is just sounded and reacted as if the transmission was gone. But was the engine control module which had failed. Of course the warranty was off and after contacting Toyota I get no assistance. This is some of the information I found out: ) that Toyota hq has been aware for at least a few (2,3?) years that there was a defect in the design of the ECM installed in 2001/2002 Toyota Rav4?S > > 2) that the defect causes problems with transmission or gear-changing mechanism > > 3) that the resulting transmission or gear-changing problems are not due to "normal wear and tear" of the vehicles. They are caused directly by the defect in the ECM. > > 4) that the resulting transmission or gear-changing problems have caused Toyota Rav4 owners to spend significant amounts of money. (a casual read of owner complaints suggests many of them have spent anywhere between $3000 and $5000). > > 5) that Toyota has failed to compensate owners for costs of fixing the problems caused by a defect they were aware of. I have had to replace a transmission and a engine in this car.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #93

Aug 152009

RAV4

  • 65,000 miles
Car jerks and loses acceleration, almost caused an accident as I was entering an intersection.

- Audubon, NJ, USA

problem #92

Aug 142009

RAV4

  • 115,000 miles
2002 Rav4 jerks at low speeds while automatic transmission is trying to shift gears.

- San Carlos, CA, USA

problem #91

Aug 132009

RAV4

  • 96,000 miles

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

I have a 2002 Toyota Rav4 in which I recently replaced the computer for the transmission. My car would not accelerate from a stoplight, then would jerk from 1st into 2nd gear--a definite safety issue when attempting to gain speed on a highway. After I replaced the computer, the car ran fine for about a month, and now the "check engine" light went back on and it is starting to jerk again and not accelerate properly. The transmission specialty shop to which I took the vehicle indicated that if the computer replacement, at a cost of about $1300, did not fix the problem, they might have to replace the transmission at a cost of about $4,000. I do not have $4,000 to replace the transmission. I hope with enough complaints about safety issues related to faulty transmissions, you can force Toyota to recall their transmissions on these vehicles.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #90

May 092009

RAV4 4WD

  • 115,000 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4, 4WD, at transmission jerking and hashing, reporting code P0750, P0755... I called Toyota dealer in portland, or and speak to master technician. I've been told by the master tech that Rav4 2001-02 and 2003 Rav4 needs a new updated ECM for about $800 + labor. He warned me that without replacing the new updated ECM, my Rav4 transmission will be damage and it could cost about $5,500 parts + labor. Toyota warranty only 8 yrs or 80K miles since this is their flaw software programming and why don't they do a recall campaign to eliminate the possible safety problem. Instead they only notify their service center of their dealership. Please help Rav4 owners....

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #89

Aug 072009

RAV4

  • 139,000 miles
I have a 2002 Rav4 and the transmission is slipping gears. The car stalls upon takeoff and it is very dangerous. I pulled out into traffic with my son in the car and the car wouldn't take off. We were almost hit in the side.

- Newburgh , IN, USA

problem #88

Aug 042009

RAV4

  • 850,000 miles

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

After regular service, car began shifting poorly this week with just over 85K miles with no initial indication of problem including hard clunking/shifting in the lower gears.. I have had near rear-end accidents this week as a result of the intermittent behavior of the engine. After taking the vehicle to dealer whom diagnosed then un-diagnosed transmission/ECM failure have researched and found that there is a large community of users reporting this same issue.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #87

Aug 022009

RAV4

  • 107,000 miles
Sudden transmission failure in 2002 Toyota Rav4. This is a well known and well documented issue both with the thousands of consumers who have had it happen to and with the Toyota company. Toyota is refusing to be of any assistance whatsoever and this is known to be a $6,000 problem to repair.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #86

Jul 152009

RAV4

  • 116,000 miles
My 2002 Toyota Rav4 has been intermittently not shifting into gear. It balks and clunks, and eventually shifts. This is a safety issue when entering traffic, because you don't know if the car will be able to accelerate to the speed of traffic or not. It is also a safety issue at stop lights, because you don't know if you will be able to make it across the intersection before the light changes or not. This started in January 2009, but was not consistent. In July, it finally created a "check engine" condition. I took the vehicle to a reputable mechanic, and he changed the transmission fluid and replaced solenoids, which the engine code suggested. I then took it to a Toyota dealer, and they replaced the ECM, at a cost of $1500. That did not solve the problem, and they say I need to replace the transmission for $3500. Toyota has known about this problem since 2006, and at that time issued a bulletin. However, I feel they should have issued a recall due to the safety issues and the cost involved.

- Rapid River, MI, USA

problem #85

Jul 152009

RAV4

  • 103,000 miles
Engine control module (ECM) incorrectly programmed by manufacturer leading to difficulty shifting between 1st and 2nd gears, hard shifts, jerking, misfiring, problems accelerating. Can pose a definite danger to traffic due to failure to accelerate or shift as needed while driving. Can also lead to severe transmission damage and possible failure if ECM problem is not caught and ECM replaced immediately. Check engine light occasionally comes on and then goes off - registers a problem with solenoid a & B. Toyota technical service bulletin TC002-06 details the problem and recommended repair, including replacement of ECM and possibly of transmission. After 3-4 weeks of hard shifting, problems accelerating and stuttering, diagnostics identified problem. Vehicle is currently waiting for replacement ECM and possible transmission flush.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #84

Jul 092009

RAV4

  • 79,700 miles

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

There is a known problem with the ECM in 2002 Toyota Rav4S. This control unit causes the transmission to have problems shifting and can also lead to transmission failure. I state that the problem is known because Toyota extended the warranty period for the ECM, but any damage done to the transmission by the malfunction of the ECM is the responsibility of the owner. This issue should be considered for recall because a failing transmission can lead to serious or even deadly problems.

- Littleton, MA, USA

problem #83

Jul 072009

RAV4

  • 125,500 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4 - ECM/transmission failure - at 125,000 miles, driving last week, automatic transmission started bucking. Car slowed without cause in heavy traffic, and I had to pull off road in adverse conditions. Driving to dealer, then driving to transmission shop wrecked transmission. After paying $2700 to get transmission fixed, found out the transmission problem is really a ECM failure problem. Found 1000's of complaints online about this. Called Toyota customer svc., and Toyota is not recognizing as a recall problem. I am unemployed and this cost is overwhelming, and should be a recall.

- Parker, CO, USA

problem #82

Jul 012009

RAV4

  • 91,000 miles
In the beginning of June I noticed my Rav4 would slightly pause when I pres the gas pedal and would jerk when it's suppose to automatically shift gears, my registration is due & of course I need a smog certificate. The "transmission would slip" only sometimes. I'm just guessing it's the transmission. Not sure yet... of course my "extra care" expired 05/30/08 mileage 100,000 but my mileage is only 91,000. I figure this is going to cost me a load of money that I don't have and this car helps me get to work. With the economy being so bad this doesn't help out much at all it's always one thing after another especially when I thought I was buying a car that is actually worth it and I thought since I was buying it brand new I was making a good choice. My fiance and I were driving home and I was on the hwy 880 sb going about 65 mph my RPM seem a little high but I was on cruise control so I thought it was normal. When all of a sudden my engine light came on, than my car starting making a noise, than my oil light came on, battery light came on and something from underneath my car flew off and as I look in my rear mirror I saw pieces of an object went flying and I notice cars swerving to move from the flying objects that were burning and I was sooo scared as my fiance said to pull over slowly. I cut cars off and I couldn't press the gas pedal no longer the engine shut off and I stopped in the middle of the slow lane I called aaa and towed my car to my house and unfortunately I can't take it to the dealer/mechanic yet B/C I don't have that kind of money. I find it very strange that I had no warning lights before hand or no sensor. For example the oil light comes on when I need oil/change, etc. What type of paperwork do I need to send B/C I haven't took it to the shop yet and may I add that the lighter doesn't work. Once I find out what the actually problem is than I will mail copies.I I truly believe it's a manufacturer problem.

- Newark, CA, USA

problem #81

Jun 102009

RAV4

  • 95,000 miles
2002 Rav4 with 95,000 miles and routine service. Began jerking and hesitating when trying to accelerate, seems like shifting problems. Three different shops - two dealerships - unable to determine exact problem. Recommended flushing transmission fluids, replacing transmission, replacing solenoid - no one was able to guarantee these fixes would correct the problem. The internet is full of hundreds of similar problems. Many people replaced transmission with no fix. The car is dangerous to drive because of stalling during acceleration. Tsb #00206 issued in 2006 mentions replacing ECM. Many people who have done this have had success. Toyota should ensure all dealerships know about this problem and correct it before suggesting costly transmission replacements.

- Jonesboro, AR, USA

problem #80

Jun 162009

RAV4

  • 183,000 miles
The Toyota Rav4 (year 2002) indiscriminately speeds up and maxes out the rpms (6000) for not reason. I was going 65 and all of a sudden the rpms went up to 6000 from 3000 and the car sped up to 85 and then went into neutral with me touching any gears or any pedals. Luckily I was allowing enough distance between me and the other vehicles to safely get it pulled off to the side. There would have been no way to control the vehicle to keep it from crashing into someone directly in front of me and both sides and the rear had vehicles in them. The ECM, transmission and vss (variable speed sensor) were replaced and the problem still occurs. Toyota disavows any knowledge of these types of issues; however, there are hundreds of thousands of complaints for the same issues and millions of dollars being spent to solve them and it's not being solved. There are lives at stake here. Toyota should be held accountable for these problems. The models effected are the Toyota Rav4's from 1999 to 2009. And it appears that it's still an issue and still being pushed under the rug so to speak. Action or lives....that's what it all boils down to now. Incident date is most current. Numerous past dates.

- Tolleson, AZ, USA

problem #79

May 282009

RAV4

  • 94,000 miles
Coming from a full-stop, the car jerked when I stepped on the gas. RPM was increasing however the car was barely moving once it started moving it jerked a few more time. Toyota did a recall previously on the ECU, it was reprogrammed however the same problem resurfaced and cause damage to the transmission.

- Hilliard, OH, USA

problem #78

May 012009

RAV4

  • 108,000 miles
Toyota rav 4 2002. A month ago, my car started jerking and bucking and stalling mid intersection. I immediately took it to my local Toyota dealer for servicing. The service dept. Could not determine the problem so they changed transmission fluid (charge almost $200) and sent me on my way with notice that if the engine light came on I should return. Two weeks later, I was driving on the highway approaching a double merge driving 60 mph when my car suddenly downshifted into first gear causing me to lurch and lose control of vehicle while one tractor trailer truck was merging to my right and another directly behind me causing truck behind me to lay on brakes and veer off the road...I managed to get myself off the road...no accident occurred but the threat to my life was serious. I did investigation on line carcomplants.com and found that there was a service bulletin issued to all dealers in 2006. I was never informed of defect therefore was endangering myself and my family every time I drove the car without any knowledge. I took the car to a different local Toyota dealer and paid $150 for diagnostic: Faulty ECM (see carcomplaints.com). Quoted a cost of replacement at ($1,200) that might solve the problem but they would not know condition of transmission until after they replaced the ECM. I was uncomfortable with this answer and felt I might have better service with original dealer so I paid for car to be towed ($100) and rented a car. Original dealer determined ECM needs replacement no guarantee that transmission would be okay. I asked that dealer speak on my behalf to Toyota to see if they were willing to share some of the responsibility and cost of replacement of faulty ECM. Toyota refused. After being without family's only car for 2 weeks, paying for rental (over $200) the ECM was replaced ($1,000) car seemed to be okay for one week. 4 days ago engine light came on again. Returning to yet another dealer tomorrow. Do you value my safety?

- Yarmouth, ME, USA

problem #77

May 252009

RAV4

  • 96,000 miles
My 2002 Toyota Rav4 start to have gear changing problems in first and/or second. I think Toyota should do a recall on this make & model.

- Laurel, MD, USA

problem #76

May 052009

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4 has defective ECU which has in turn fried transmission...my wife noticed problems when the shifting automatic transmission on a merge and was almost run over by a semi-truck. We then took the vehicle to the dealer who told us the engine light was not on so they could not diagnose and advised us to drain the transmission fluid. 2 weeks later, my wife was on the highway and the transmission spontaneously shifted into low gear causing her to swerve off road. We have been told that we need to replace the ECU and transmission at $5,000. I have gone online and read that Toyota has been aware of this problem for over 2 years and will not issue recall as not enough people have complained...this is a safety issue my wife was almost killed!!! please address with Toyota!! updated 03/22/10.

- Yarmouth, ME, USA

problem #75

May 102009

RAV4

  • 65,000 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4 began jerking and stalling. Car wouldn't accelerate from a stop. Was turning left into traffic when this first occurred and oncoming traffic had to stop. Was stuck in the middle of a major intersection for five minutes, until after multiple attempts at pressing the accelerator pedal did the car begin to crawl in a jerky motion. Drove 2 miles with the jerking and stalling on stop and with no acceleration. Literally rolled into local mechanic's shop. Found out that the transmission has totally failed and must be replaced. There were absolutely no problem indications, no warning lights, engine lights or an other previous problems. The car has only 65,000 miles on it. I am very disappointed and dishearten at the response from the Toyota manufacturer. The 2002 Rav4 transmission report in consumer reports sticks out like a sore thumb. My daughter was in the passenger seat when the car stalled in the intersection. I thank god she wasn't hurt. What will it take to have these automobiles recalled" a serious injury or death"

- Dunwoody, GA, USA

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