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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
96,751 miles
Total Complaints:
134 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (55 reports)
  2. rebuild the transmission, replace ECM (40 reports)
  3. replace ecm (18 reports)
  4. rebuild the transmission (11 reports)
  5. replace computer engine (6 reports)
  6. re flash computer (3 reports)
2002 Toyota RAV4 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 2 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #114

Sep 012010

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,944 miles


We incurred the same transmissions and ECU problem in Canada. Earlier, when the vehicle was new (within few month, in the winter months), it took forever for the vehicle shift from 1st to passing gear. I thought it was due to cold weather. However, the same problem occurred in the next spring/summer. At our next scheduled maintenance appointment at the dealer, I mentioned my concerns and they said that there wasn't anything unusual, everything was fine..... As a devoted car aficionado, I knew that it wasn't ok and was not normal.

Move forward to 2006, had the vehicle service for ECU recall, (ended up that I paid for it and never got a penny back from Toyota Canada because their internal issue between dealer and Toyota Canada). Now, the end result, need new transmission and ECU at approx $5,000 when all along should have been addressed by their warranty. We are NOT happy and very disappointed with Toyota! Why? because they knew all this time and wasn't doing anything about their customers concerns. We were proud owners of Toyota products for many years, but since they can't take ownership of their issues (major recalls in US and these kind of issues) and cannot address their customers concerns properly, why would anyone buy their products or even take that chance. After reviewing the New York Times article, "Toyota Extends Warranty on Troubled 2001-3 RAV4" by CHRISTOPHER JENSEN on July 13, 2010, 5:04 pm, I was happy that Toyota USA is moving up to the plate and extended its warranty. Only wish Toyota Canada would do the same. I intend to make a complaint to Transport Canada because I would hate getting hurt because their lack of compassion, reliability and integrity.

- , New Liskeard, Ontario, Canada

problem #113

Jun 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

Problem presented itself as a transmission issue with hard shift into reverse; starting off in 2d or 3d gear. Engine was bogging down dropping in and out of gear. At one point it was bucking violently (scared the crap outa me!) with a large truck bearing down on me. The check engine light never came on which made me wonder if it was really just the transmission. I brought it to the local Toyota dealership and was told (after a 2 1/2 hr. wait) that they couldn't find a problem with the car. No error codes at all and everything was fine. I even went out for a test drive with the mechanic and we couldn't reproduce the way the car had been running earlier in the day. Needless to say, I knew the car in it's present state was unsafe to drive. I decided to check out this site to see if anyone else had similar problems. What a revelation! I was able to get a local mechanic to pull my ECM out. I sent it along with a money order for $250.00(I insured the whole deal for $1,500.00 as a new ECM is about $1,200.00) to Check Engine ETC in Brooklyn N.Y.. Well it happened just like they said it would; my mechanic received it back in 2 days he installed it back in for me and my car is now running great. I asked him to drain the transmission fluid and check for metal filings. He told me I probably saved the tranny by not trying to drive it. Thanks to this site and Check Engine ETC I saved myself some huge money.

- , Attleboro, MA, USA

problem #112

Mar 242010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

I talked to toyota , they said to me that a bullitin went out in dec 2006 called a 60I to all dealers to reprogram ecm- so on my car it was never done so i have to call Toyota back and tell them it was never done... there in a meeting now lol i have to call later. But all of u should call them and tell them what happen... 1-800-331-4331 they do listen and help and good of all is they issue case numbers. so ill let u all know later what happens with Toyota.

i spent 3500 for my new transmission and ( part was a new computer because it does not reconize the new transmission $1,500)

- , Medford, MA, USA

problem #111

Apr 022010

RAV4 LX 4 Cl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 172,000 miles


Asked about not shifting to third when it was a cold start same week I bought it (NEW)! was told it was safety feature to not shift till fluids were warm. It has been a great car otherwise and accepted that answer. Now it almost got me killed by an 18 wheeler. When I pulled out it quit moving and the engine revved high then it banged into gear. Scared the crap out of me! went to the dealer, tranny flush,161.00. Left and it was still doing it. Called the 800 number and complained. They want me to take it to another dealer. Doing that Monday. Now I found this sight and they have known it all along?????!!! Always planned on another RAV, this is my second one. Now I'm scared!

- , EllwoodCity, PA, USA

problem #110

Nov 132008

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

I am a toyota cars family for over 33 year, since 1998 up to this point I realized that toyota plants are more worry about their production quantities rather then their qualities. I am currently have a 2002 toyota rav4 having problem with transmission shifting 1st and 2nd. gear, jerk when shift or when shift catches then it jump . It is very dangerous to follow someone close, I took to a Toyata dealer repair shop they told me that it is a COMMON problem for this type of vehicle. That meant they knew these problem along and toyota just wanted to neglect it until someone gets kill before they do something. It is a bad business part by toyota for not correct their problems.

I am not considering purchase another toyota in the near future and I wanted the world to act the same due to a poor responses by toyota. their mechanics even push the button about the problems with the transmission. By the way I also have a 2002 Sienna along with my brother, both vans having Oil sludge problems that causes the engines to blown up. There is a recall and I took my van to the dealer and was not honor. Both vans are in scrapes metal and travel halfway to Japan to manufacture another bad product on floor again. This is the reason why I am not satisfy for toyota not standing behind products.

- , Palmetto, FL, USA

problem #109

Jan 012002

RAV4 L 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100 miles

I brought my Rav4 to the dealer within 100 miles of buying it for the Transmission. I always felt like it was slipping and not shifting right. They told me I had "Special Transmission fluid and it's very expensive to replace and it would be on me to pay for it". They said it would be about $200.00 to change it. I said no thanks. The damned thing was within a week of having it and under 100 miles....WTF! Every time I brought it back for scheduled oil changes, I'd tell them about it, they told me I could pay and they'd fix it. I started taking it elsewhere for oil changes. I now have 172k miles and the transmission sticks from 1st to 2nd, especially when it's cold. It takes about 1/4 ile before it shifts. I had to put an engine in it this past June(09) and spent about 7k on the engine and other stuff like battery, wiper blades....that kind of stuff. If the transmission goes out, I'll take out the remanufactured Jasper engine I had put in and junk the rest. I spent 28k to buy this car 8 years ago. Not a very good investment. Hubby told me "Get a Toyota, you can't kill them" Boy was he wrong. Let's see....28k + 7k= 35k. I could have bought a Cadillac for that amount....... 35k/8 years=$4375.00 per year or $364.58 a MONTH! Wow looking at it that way, I realize they RIPPED ME OFF! DAMN...........

- , Louisville, GA, USA

problem #108

Dec 232009

RAV4 4WD L 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,830 miles


I have just got a 2002 Rav 4 with 76835 miles on it. I have the same issue as all of you. It takes a long time for the engine to shift from 1st to 2nd. I thought that I needed a tune-up until I realized that it was a common problem in those Rav4. Do you have an idea of what I can do?

- , Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #107

Feb 072006

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles

Walser Toyota in Minnesota claims there was never a public recall TC002-06, that I should never have seen that bulletin because it was in-house and intended only for the dealerships. As such, they're charging me 1/2 cost of a new transmission job. Outside of warranty (allegedly) at 81,000 miles, but Toyota repair receipts twice documented my concerns at 54,000 miles in '06 and '07. Neither time could they duplicate the transmission problem. Now they also claim my ECM 428421? didn't qualify for replacement, only re-flashing, because it's a new ECM number, meaning I've always had the latest ECM. What do I do? They're fixing the car today after I've been fighting them all week. And with the Toyota accelerator recall flooding phone lines, they will not deal with me. They've just simply said, "You're welcome to seek your own alternatives, but we just want to make you happy."

Update from Jul 14, 2010: Walser Toyota, Bloomington, MN, allegedly acting on directive of Chicago regional manager Joe (last name their secret), representing Toyota USA, charged me 1/2 of transmission, then refused to acknowledge ECM as cause. Inver Grove Heights Toyota then replaced ECM at no cost. I took Walser to Hennepin County Court to recover my half of transmission job, and lost. One week later, yesterday, July 13, in the NYTimes Wheels blog, written by Christopher Jensen, I see this,

and I now hope to recover my money. There's no way to recover court costs or pay me back for anxiety of driving a Rav4 that slips out of gear in the middle of intersections or on-ramps to freeways, with a brand-new transmission, but I'm hoping to recover my money stolen by their corporate piracy.

- , Saint Paul, MN, USA

problem #106

Aug 042009

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I was told several times to buy a Toyota, that they are very reliable and practically bullet proof; however, I am seriously disappointed and going broke. My Rav4 started to give me problems with the transmission shifting poorly around 80,000 miles. I am a single mother, work two jobs and drive a lot. When the problem began, I took it to a friend of mine who is a Toyota Certified mechanic. He read the code and replaced the solenoid ($400.00). The problem still wasn't corrected. I then took the car to another mechanic who told me that the code was reading wrong and that I needed to take it to a Toyota dealership to have it diagnosed correctly. Toyota told me my engine computer needed to be replaced but I was now out of warranty. Luckily, I knew somebody and had it replaced without a charge, still same problem and getting worse.

During Christmas break, I decided to take the car to a transmission shop as the dealership told me that the transmission needed to be replaced. The transmission shop owner told me he could have it fixed in a couple days. He took the transmission apart and said it was chewed up. Many parts in the transmission were damaged and it would have to be completely replaced in order for him to warranty it. He found me a used transmission with 70,000 miles on it for $1675.00. I had to pre-pay for it and wait a week. I am now out $275.00 in rental car fees and borrowing cars to get around. He finally installed the transmission and told me to send it back to Toyota to have the computer re-flashed. The Toyota technician reported that the computer was fine but the transmission he installed was faulty and needed to be sent back. Now the transmission shop is blaming Toyota and Toyota is saying the transmission is bad AND I have had no car for 3 weeks. I am at my wits end. I am out $1675.00 and still have no vehicle. We are at a stand still. Any suggestions?

It seems that the used transmission I bought is a victim of the same computer problem that ruined my transmission. After reading all the other complaints, it would seem that this car could be considered a lemon. Not sure how all this works but any help would be greatly appreciated.

Update from Feb 4, 2010: I have posted to this blog about a month ago and here is my update: After 5 weeks in the shop and going back and forth to a Toyota dealership in the area, I finally have a running car. However, the engine light came on about 3 days after getting it back. I hesitate to take it back after what I hear now on the media about all the other recalls. Despite the car running fine now, I am hesitant to take it back to see why the engine light is back on. Could it be that Toyota has some serious electronic ( software) problems stemming back for years as a report on the a news talk radio show which quoted Steve Wozniak, founder of Apple Computers, stating that he believes that Toyota has a problem with their software system not a mechanical problem. How long has this gone on without action until now? Who knows what the real problem is--could it be the biggest auto seller in the world has been lacks in there engineering? Hopefully, they can remedy their problem. Otherwise, it's open game for another auto maker to come in and take their place. Integrity people.

- , Clearwater, FL, USA

problem #105

Dec 132009

RAV4 L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

My 2002 Rav 4 needs a new transmission. I took great care of my brand new car. This is totally unacceptable.

- , Watertown, MA, USA

problem #104

Apr 232008

RAV4 LX 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,885 miles


I helped my niece purchase this vehicle new in 2002. She started experiencing problems with shifting in 2008. She spent $1,086.23 at Cottman Transmissions in Charlotte NC. The replace Valve Body and solenoids to correct the shifting problem If problem recured they recommended and overhaul and also said that the ECM may need to be replaced. That did not solve the problem. It has been checked by Firestone, May 2008 (check engine light on shift solenoid malfunction and fluid dark /burnt code (P0750) in Charlotte NC . She was frustrated that what she spent did not solve her problem.

I have owned 3 other Toyota's in the past and had great service with them except for my 2002 2wd pickup that also had a transmission problem at around 117,000 miles. I thought that she would get great service from this vehicle. It is now my problem since I purchased the Rav4 from her last year. I have driven it about 500 miles and in that time the check engine light came on, code (P0750). Problem started when driving up short upgrade, jerking, slow take off, not shifting into passing gear, skipping past or starting in higher gear but then shifting into passing gear. Check engine light did go off before skipping gears and came on before the problem of not shifting into the passing gear. I will repair it but can't afford it right now.


- , Rocky Mount, NC, USA

problem #103

Dec 212009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,000 miles

Started having check engine light problems, Codes P0750 & P0755 replaced faulty sensors and fluid w/ filter change out, road test problem still exist, shows same sign as before, help, running out of funds

- , Pasadena, TX, USA

problem #102

Oct 282009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,876 miles

I purchased my Toyota Rav4 in 2002 new from the dealership. My husband noticed a slight slip in the transmission in 2005 and it was mentioned to the toyota service center, however the service tech said he did not notice any slippage at that time. Now four years later and 40k past the recall mileage, the Rav4 is acting up with the transmission jumping and jerking with a ecm diagnosed problem which will cost in the neighborhood of $1287.00 to repair. Not only is this an inconvenience but should not be coming out of our pocket. Toyota knew there was a problem and set limits on their recall. Mileage or age should have nothing to do with it. The problem exists, therefore they should fix it.

- , Flat Top, WV, USA

problem #101

Sep 192007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

I have replaced my engine computer ONLY.(The Toyota Dealer did not cover this cost $1,300.00). But something told me this is the problem. Well after 13,000 miles. See My comment below Mar31 2007. I have NOT had shifting or any transmission bucking problems since. Oh by the way This part number is 89661-42820 Toyota Engine Control. And Thank You Toyota for a refund check in the mail for this failed Part. I hope I have helped all of you out there that have this problem. Sincerely, John F of Perkiomenville Pa. P. S. I had to use my visa card to pay for this computer. I could not afford to pay cash. SEE MAR31 2007 for my story.

- , Perkiomenville, PA, USA

problem #100

Nov 022009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,500 miles

A few weeks ago the Rav started shifting hard and jerking. That evening I drove the car home and parked it. I started my internet research and found out that this is a common issue and Toyota has issued a bulletin on it (TC002-06). The next morning the wife and I had it towed to the local Toyota dealer just to see what they would say/diagnose. I also gave them a copy of Toyota's Bulletin on the issue which they were very aware of already.

In the meantime I contacted a shop in Brooklyn, NY which specializes in this particular trouble (Check Engine Etc.) ( The guys there explained very clearly, what to look for and what to expect when the Diagnostics come back. Well, the next day Toyota called us with their diagnosis. They said the diagnostic which came up was P0755 (shift solenoid valve B) and that the transmission would have to be replaced!! $5400 is what they would charge!! OUCH!!

This code (P0755) is one of the false codes which may or may not show up during diagnostics, as explained the day prior, by the guys at the shop in Brooklyn.

I asked Toyota why do they not think the ECM is defective and the code false? They explained that my ECM part # is the replacement ECM from the factory (part# 89661-42821) as shown on the bulletin. Huh? I explained that the ECM has never been replaced, and had Toyota pull the history just to verify this. Toyota dealer said that maybe it came off the assembly line with the good ECM. HUH? I couldn't believe it so I decided to have it towed back home for further contemplation and check the ECM part # myself. Was the dealership full of "you know what"? Well, upon extracting the ECM it turns out that it was in fact the so called "Good ECM part". Now what?

I again contacted Check Engine Etc. and explained what Toyota had told me. The Tech assured me that the diagnostic code was false and that the Part I had (89661-42821) was indeed still defective. I decided to take a chance on the guys in NY and overnight the ECM to see if their fix works.

I recieved the the ECM about a week ago from the shop in NY and it works like a champ! As a matter of fact, the vehicle shifts better than before the issue! BOOO on Pueblo Toyota,( Pueblo, CO ) for wanting to charge me $5400 on a fix that wouldn't have solved anything!!

I have to thank, and give a plug to Sergei and the guys at Check Engine Etc. ( Nice work!

- , Pueblo, CO, USA

problem #99

Sep 042009

RAV4 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,300 miles

I want to mention this first- If you think your RAV is not shifting properly, even if it seems like a slight problem, do not drive it or you will ruin the transmission.

Like many other people with a 2002 RAV4. We started noticing that our vehicle wasn't shifting properly. I had suspected something was wrong for months. Sometimes it seemed like at the 2nd-3rd shift point there would be a slightly longer engagement than normal. Then in September while I was driving home from a short trip after getting off the hwy and back into town, I noticed a slight slip going from 2-3rd gear after being stopped at a stop light. I knew then that there was definitely a problem. It was just a slight slip with no harsh engagement. I was totally puzzled as to why the transmission would be failing. I know Toyota manufactures great transmissions and I had done proper maintenance. I've successfully rebuilt several automatic transmissions. I did some web searches for rebuild kits, because I knew the trans would soon be toasted. It doesn't take very much slippage to ruin the friction plates. And the friction material clogs the valve body causing more problems. I stumbled upon this website and a huge amount of other info about the ecm causing the trans to operate improperly and ruining the transmission. I found the Toyota TSB(technical service bulletin) TC002-06 that explains the problem. We've had other problems, some out of warranty, which our local Toyota dealership has taken care of at no cost or substantially lower cost than normal. To say the least, they are a very good dealership. So I was optimistic that they would take care of the problem, especially since we were still within the warranty period. We went to the dealership armed with the TSB and printed web pages showing the amount of problems with the ecm. And we were planning on filing a complaint with the IL State Attorney General if they would't agree to replace the ecm. To our relief they agreed to replace the ecm under warranty at no cost even though the RAV was showing no trouble codes, nor could they replicate the problem. The new ecm remedied the problem. We were relieved, because the warranty coverage doesn't include the transmission. It had been shifting improperly for quite awhile, just not bad enough for it to be blatantly obvious. We can tell the difference now, it shifts like new. Even though we had a positive outcome I wanted to post in case it may help in some way. I guess my complaint is that they didn't do a recall. I am mad that Toyota is willing to let this slide. This problem could very well cause someone to get killed. I'm mad that we were driving an unsafe vehicle and didn't have a clue. I know from reading other posts that there have been close calls. And a lot of people have had to shell out thousands of dollars.

If you are out of warranty and your dealership won't help you, print all of these complaints, the TSB, etc...and file a complaint with your State Attorney General. This is definitely a consumer safety issue. I think this becomes a consumer fraud issue too, when Toyota is selling replacement transmissions for thousands of dollars because of a manufacturing defect that they are completely aware of. Just follow the money.

- , Carbondale, IL, USA

problem #98

Sep 112009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,717 miles

I am the latest victim of the Toyota Rav4 transmission problems. Our car started experiencing problems with shifting gears overnight. The cars gears would not engage in traffic and was outright dangerous. This problem occurred on a car that has been kept in excellent condition and has been driven a total of 47,717 miles. The transmission had to be rebuilt on the Rav4 to the tune of $2,284.56 and Toyota will not reimburse for the repair cost. At the Toyota corporate office, the reply has been, "I am sorry the car is out of the warranty period".

I will never purchase or recommend the purchase of a Toyota product again. I has been loyal to the Toyota brand for over 13 years and have owned 3 different Toyota vehicles. The reason I purchased the 2002 Toytoa Rav4 was because I expected reliability and dependability for a very, very long time. Toyota obviously does not stand for legendary dependability and reliability any longer.

The mechanic that rebuilt my transmission told me the transmission failure was due to a faulty computer that Toyota puts in the Rav4. The computer tells the transmission to shift at the wrong intervals and the parts inside the transmission wear out prematurely. When our Rav4 was taken to the dealership to have the computer re-programmed by the transmission mechanic, Toyota replaced the computer under warranty. But Toyota corporate told me their was noting wrong with the computer and the computer did not make the transmission fail?

We now have a 2 year warranty on our rebuilt transmission but I intend to sell or trade in both of my Toyota cars and choose a brand that will be reliable, dependable and stand behind their product. I am extremely disappointed in the Toyota brand and the response to my complaint.

- , Loves Park, IL, USA

problem #97

Sep 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,100 miles

Like everyone else on this site, I had the exact same problem. My 2002 Rav4 would not shift properly. After transmission flush, talking to dealer (4500.00 quote), and searching the net for solutions, I found the answer. The website is and they are located in New York. They have figured out that it is a design flaw. (Toyota knows this and that is why they only warranty it up to 80,000 miles). I was skeptical to say the least, but I figured the $250 they required would be a drop in the bucket compared to $4500++ from the dealer. I just put the repaired ECM in and it WORKS!! I am very pleased. It shifts like it is brand new. Their site shows you how to take out the ECM. It was very simple. I strongly suggest you all do the same as I did. You will not be disappointed. Good Luck, and feel free to contact me regarding questions, comments, concerns.

- , Shoreview, MN, USA

problem #96

Jul 082009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,210 miles

Just like everyone else that has a Rav 4, transmission problems and my dealer would not help me. I took it in when I started having the jerking, stalling out ( almost got rear-ended ) not shifting. I had no idea what the heck was going on. It was going to cost me over $4000 with the dealer and they did not tell me anything about having problems and tried to blame it on where I have my oil change. Still cost me $3000.00 to get it fixed.

Took it to a transmission shop and still had to fork out $3,000. As of 9/8/09 I am having to spend another $200 on sensor my check engine light came on. Took it to Advanged Auto Parts where they didn't charge me to check it. But with Toyota I had to make an appointment and I forget how much they were going to charge me. Will not ever buy another Toyota anything. If they won't stand behind there vechicle when they know that they have a problem, lets get the word out. There will be on sign on my rav 4 soon.


- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #95

Jul 052009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

Add me to the list of 2002 transmission problems with the Toyota Rav 4. I had 104,000 miles when mine started acting up & not wanting to if the emergency brake was on. Sometimes it run smooth & other times not. When I had it looked at, nothing showed up on the diagnostic test. I had the throttle positioning sensor changed & it still didn't fix the problem. This is my 3rd Toyota and my family have had several so we are very loyal customers. Not now though. I did contact Toyota's 800 number along with emailing them but that was no help. I got referred back to the dealer where I bought it. That did me no good since I don't live in the same town anymore. Luckily too I found this website with all the complaints so it's a good thing the internet gives us options like this now to find things out. I ended up trading the vehicle in and didn't get a good trade in because of the situation. It was very upsetting. You'd think a company like Toyota would do something. They lost a good customer...

I traded it in on a Honda CRV.

- , Chattanooga, TN, USA

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