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 3 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #94

May 142009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


I have been a loyal Toyota owner for 29 years because I have never had a problem with my cars until now. I bought my RAV4 new in January 2002 and have always done regular maintenance. 110,000 miles and I still loved this car until now. My RAV started to have the same problems complained of- shifting from first to second with the engine revving. Check engine light coming on. The transmission shop said they rebuilt the transmission but the problem continues. I had the diagnostic test done and it said to replace solenoid B. Transmission shop said they replaced it but I took it back the 4th time when it still wasn't fixed. Then they said it needed a new computer and that Toyota had done a recall on this because of the problem but that my car would not be covered because it had so many miles on it. WTF?

Still not fixed and my repair guy (who I trust) said will need to replace solenoid A too. I am now out $1425 and my car still does not run right and I can't afford any more repairs. I love my Toyotas but will never buy another one if the Company does not step up to the plate, do a recall and reimburse me for the unneceesary expenses that I would not have incurred had they done the recall in the first place!

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #93

May 302008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

My 02 rav4 was the perfect buy until this problem occurred. The transmission acts like it does not want to shift between first and second gear. When it finally does engage in 2nd gear, the engine has revved to 5000RPM and then clunks hard into 2nd gear.

The check engine light registers a problem with the transmission solenoids A & B.(where the shifting is controlled between 1st and 2nd gear). The dealership service manager said the tranny replacement would be $4000; and the ECM would be $1500. Needless to say this was way too costly and my rav4 had well passed the 80k mile warranty threshhold. I had the the guys at AAMCO check it out and said they could replace the transmission and the ECM for about &1000 cheaper than the dealer quoted.

To date July 2009, the problem still occurs, since I dont just have $5k under my pillow to throw at the problem.

I just want Toyota to reinstill in me and other owners the reason why we bought Toyota in the first place....the renowned quality and reliability. We all know that this is obviously a manufactering problem, since Toyota transmissions are supposed to be good for 200k miles without any issues(pending proper service intervals). They should issue a recall on all these malfunctioning lemon transmissions.

- , Orlando, FL, USA

problem #92

May 202009

RAV4 ES 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

I am experiencing the same problems the other 91 people complained about. It's poor design and poor engineering that has resulted in this issue. Lets step up to the plate toyota and "make a diffrence" because this individual will not purchase another vehicle from you. I truley hope that if you own a Toyota your transmission does not fail you while your family is in the car and a Semi runs you over. That vwould be a shame. Lets not let this happen. Lets be accountable and fix waht is clearly wrong..

- , Dallas, PA, USA

problem #91

Jun 102009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


This is a problem that the 2002 Toyota RAV4 have with the transmission and Toyota knows of the problem, but refuses to have a recall. The car is in a Toyota dealership and they have no idea what the problem is. We searched the internet and found that thousands of people have had the same problem. Toyota sent a technical notice to the dealers about the problem, but will not cover the problem. Many have spent thousands of dollars on repairs that were not necessary and did not fix the problem. If you have had the same problem, please contact Toyota in California to report the problem. The problem starts around 80000 miles.

- , Jonesboro, AR, USA

problem #90

Jun 142009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

I have the same problem as all these other victim here, I don't know why people don't know much about this site, it would have saved me a lot of problems with the car. I've been having problems with this car since I got it, I keep the car very clean, it looks like a 2005 or 2006 that's how clean I keep it but it's been giving me problems all the time on the transmission with shifting and speed.

Why do we keep buying Toyota crap, F@#$#$ those people, not under warranty either.

I am very frustrated with this car. Why didn't I get that Honda CRV I was looking at? man, too bad

- , Rockville, MD, USA

problem #89

May 102009

RAV4 L 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I have a 2002 Rav4 with 110 K miles and a few weeks ago the car started hesitating when stepping on the gas and the transmission revved really high before shifting from gear 2-3. I took it to the mechanic and he states it may be the ECM or transmission. He said I might need to replace the ECM first and see if that takes care of problem. After reading all the problems people have been having it's definitely a manufacturing defect and I think toyota needs to take some responsibility. I bought the car bring new and just got done paying for it. Now I expect a $25K car to have better quality than this. I am calling the customer service hotline to complain. 1-800-331-4331... I'll see what they have to say.

Update from Aug 19, 2009: Finally replace the ECM $900 and now the car doesnt even go into gear 1 anymore. The car still jerks when putting transmission into reverse. Engine light is still on. I think the transmission may need replacement too. Wow never thought a 6 year old car with only 115K would have this kind of problem. My 15 year old 94 Honda civic transimission is still going over 180K miles with no problems. Will not consider rebuying Toyota again....................

- , Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #88

Apr 242009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,159 miles


Went packing to the TOYOTA dealer nearest me and was told that they could not do anything unless the check engine light came on. So I decided to leave the car with them and they would drive it around until the check engine light came on and plug their electronic reader and check the code. Went home and checked the Internet and discovered the horrors of other owners who spent thousands more and had their transmissions changed but came across a helpful person who suggested to replace the ECM and fixed all his problems. Went and picked the RAV4(baby) up from the dealers on the weekend and my husband removed and cleaned the ECM. Seemed to work a bit better but still revving and no Over Drive. He ordered the ECM and replaced it AHHHHH!

Purrs like a kitten.

Thanks for the ear or eyes in this case.

Marina from Montreal

- , Ile-Perrot, Quebec, Canada

problem #87

Apr 032009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,159 miles

Issue # 2 check engine light came on and transmission guy said replace the solenoid according to the code from electronic reader. Changed the solenoid but problem was worse he mentioned that there may be a problem with the mechanical parts of the transmission. When I went to pick up the car and refused to pay for solenoid that did not correct the problem, he charged me for labour and sent me packing to the Toyota dealer down the street and mentioned thet it was most likely the ECM that needed replacing according to the Toyota dealer he spoke to that morning.

- , Ile-Perrot, Quebec, Canada

problem #86

Mar 272009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,973 miles

First noticed shifting problem when engine would rev to 6000 rpm and then engage with a nice kick in the rear. Went to transmission specialist who said the shifter cable needed replacing ( $ 600.00).

- , Ile-Perrot, Quebec, Canada

problem #85

Apr 172009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

PLEASE ALL 2002 TOYOTA RAV4 OWNERS WHO ARE EXPERIENCING THESE ECM/SHIFTING PROBLEMS, CALL THE TOYOTA CUSTOMER LINE AT 1-800-331-4331 AND VOICE A COMPLAINT...I called them and they said they have to have a certain number of complaints before they can do a recall or the testing necessary for a recall (they wouldn't tell me how many). They need to take responsibility for this travesty.

There are too many of us experiencing the exact same problems with this car. My 2002 RAV4 started having the shifting problems last week. I had the transmission fluid flushed...I had a top engine cleaning to remove buildup in the throttle (my dumba** dealership even told me at first that my car mat was getting in the way of the accelerator and that was adding to the problem, what a joke). Then they finally came back and said that the ECM had to be replaced but it was only under warranty up to 80,000 miles and my car is at 84,000 miles. It will cost $1300 for the repairs. Then they actually told me that I should think about trading the car in. Apparently, they know how serious this problem is and that it may never be truly fixed.

How are we supposed to trade in a "lemon" and get any decent payback? I just want Toyota to reimburse me for these repairs when they recall this piece of sh**!!! (They told me they would reimburse for these repairs if this problem is recalled by them so hold on to your receipts, fellow 2002 RAV4 owners).

- , Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #84

Apr 182009

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,500 miles


I am in the process of locating the Technical Service bulletin to support the 8yr - 80,000 mile warranty coverage. My major problem is shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear as it "flares" (a term used by a transmission repair company) meaning it the engine races and the speed does not increase. I have been told that a new transmission was needed at a cost of $4,000 by Aamco and another repair shop. Neither mentioned that the problem may be caused by the power control module.

- , Port Charlotte, FL, USA

problem #83

Apr 202009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

How come you, Atlanta Toyota Dealer Technician, are not sure about the problem. Here they said , Customer state engine seems to jitter on accel.. road test found rough shift 2nd to 3rd..needs shift ECU replacement first$1166,50 if that doesn't fix it will also need transmission.

This the second time already, and two months ago when my check engine light came on, they said Catalyst converter needed replacement for $ 960 no warranty, but after two hours the guy came back and said this is under warranty so you must pay $ 288,50 for the labor only (was real Cat Converter really bad and replaced??????or technician's diagnosis wrong and cost me $ 288,50) and now the real problem is coming???? .This toyota 2002 needs to be MORE buying toyota cars, HONDA is much better.

- , Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #82

Apr 072009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 200,000 miles

I want to know if there are any law suits going on with Toyota about the transmission or ECM problems on the 2002 RAV4. I'm staring to have the same jerking shifting problems with my 2002 RAV4 but I also have almost 200,000 miles on it. I want to try to get it fixed but after reading all the horror stories I don't know where to begin or who to take it to. It started last night then when I drove it this morning it seemed much better but i still know there's a problem and, by the way, my check engine light has not come on. Can anyone help me decide what to do?

- , durham, nc, USA

problem #81

Mar 132009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

I am experiencing the same problem as you guys. I took my 2002 RAV4 in for the recall. Two months later I have spent $380.00 at Elmhurst Toyota for flushing the transmission and cleaning the fuel injection system. $2,700 for a rebuilt transmission and I am still experiencing the same problem. car will not shift and gears. I called the Toyota customer service and spoke to them about the issue and all I received was an apology. I agree with all of you - Toyota should upgrade this recall from placing a bandage on the festering ECM problem and just replace the ECM. Toyota should want to become known for going the extra mile and solving our problems instead of ducking us on such a small matter. The name and integrity (TOYOTA) of the company should mean more to them than saving a few thousand dollars.

Mary A. Brown

Chicago, IL

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #80

Mar 122009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

As a customer of Toyota, my wife and I are disappointed in the vehicle we have purchased. The Toyota Rav is only 7 years old and we need a new transmission. I have had 5 brand new cars in my life so far and never needed a new transmission installed as a maintenance problem with my cars. The Toyota was not in any kind of accident. I was told by my the technician it was due to transmission fluid being low. Kindly do not call my phone number unless you will do something for me to financially compensate for my repair costs. I do not want an apologetic phone call. I'm sure you want to hear from customers input. I just think Toyota could do a better job of building their products than this. To have bought this brand new and it only has 79000 to this date, I can't believe we need to replace the transmission. After the transmission was replaced 4 days ago, driving home today, it started going thru the same thing, the gear mildly started slipping off and have to give some acceleration on gas and started jerking then drive off okay after that but hesitate to drive further so brought it back in to the Toyota dealership where they replace the transmission 4 days ago and have it check again!!!!!!!!! I can't believer I paid $3100 and problem still exists. I have to wait for their call today to see what is going on. Very frustrated and disappointed about the Toyota product. I can't believe there is no recall on the transmission for this since a lot of people have complained about the same problem.

- , South Daytona, FL, USA

problem #79

Mar 032009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Our 2002 Rav4 started "freewheeling" sometimes between 1-2 and 2-3 shifts, usually under normal, steady acceleration from a stop. There were no stored codes in the PCM. After proper diagnosis was made (by me), I determined that the PCM drivers for the "SL2" solenoid were not passing enough current to keep the solenoid in the correct position, therefore after one holding device (internal to transaxle) was turned off, the followup holding device wasn't engaging at the right time. Luckily this didn't go on long enough to cause any noticeable internal damage to the trans. I replaced the PCM and now the trans shifts normally. The PCM has recently changed part numbers (again) and has come down in price from about $1200 to about $750 MSRP. I would like to see this issue become involved in a recall as Toyota has a strong history of recalling known issues (unlike the Big Three); sadly I think too much time has passed to expect a helping hand, and the collateral damage done to transaxles that have been driven in this condition for too long would make this a mighty big endeavor dollarwise. Add to that the incredible number of expensive misdiagnosis that have made the mitigation of this defect much more difficult and expensive than it needs to be, and I'm quite certain Toyota will never release a recall for the 01-03 U140F shifting issues.

The overwhelming bulk of the stories here -- about 75 of them just for 2002 Rav4s -- detail incompetent diagnosis, wasted time, wrong/expensive parts thrown mindlessly at these problems until there is only one part left to throw. This is sad testament to the state of training, competence, and concern within the auto repair trade. I say this based on the fact that there could have been a large percentage of entries detailing a simple PCM replacement and the resultant complaint of how the $1200 part plus diagnosis and labor should have been covered under a recall. Instead, most of the entries start off with how much they paid for a transaxle that didn't fix the problem, or a valve body, or solenoids, or fluid flushes, or whatever. Perhaps saddest is the advice from some shops to "have the dealer reflash the PCM". Exactly how is a re-flash (updated logic or ROM) that's designed to cure one of several driveablilty issues going to fix the failed driver(s) or damaged PC board on the PCM? Further, why would a shop take in a Toyota and pretend to be able to diagnose it when they can't? If they were properly equipped, they would already own one of at least a dozen reasonably priced tools on the market to reflash Toyota PCMs, and if they had stepped up to the plate by purchasing said tooling, it stands to reason that they would be competent enough not to suggest a re-flash to fix a computer hardware issue.

People, stop going to crap shops. Get second opinions. Dealers aren't all good nor are they all bad. The same is true of independent shops. Find the shops in your area that charge on the higher side of average, then rule out the ones that aren't neat and orderly looking, then find one of the remaining ones that can prove that they buy the proper tools and employ/train good, caring techs to work on the make of car that you drive. I promise you will spend much less $ over your lifetime by using a high quality, conscientious shop verses a bottom feeder independent or a poorly run dealership.

- , Dallas, TX, USA

problem #78

Feb 162009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

my car started jerking in & out of gear in February. i called about my warranty & San Francisco Toyota told me to bring it in & they would check it, cost $152. when i went to pick it up, it now needed a new transmission at the cost of $4800, not covered on warranty. i remembered that there was a recall on the engine control module in 2007, which they re calibrated. they said the ecm was now working fine.

i paid my $152 bill, took the car out of there, and went to an automatic transmission shop. the owner tested it & said it was the emc. he then took it to another Toyota dealer & even took the service manager on a test drive to show him the problem. they agreed & replaced the ecm, which was covered on warranty, up to 80,000 miles.

i contacted san francisco Toyota for a refund on my bill & also money that i spent on a rental car for a week. they were extremely uncooperative until i 'yelped' them & also wrote a letter to the main office in Torrance, California. i immediately got a check for $152 & a gift certificate for the $210 i spent on a rental car.

right now my Toyota is running fine, but i'm not sure i trust it to stay that way. i also think Toyota should do a recall on this make & model.

- , San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #77

Jun 242008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

In June of '08, I took the car in for the hard shift to 3rd and the check engine light was on. They gave me the story about the ECU needing to be replaced. I told them I didn't have the money. I then went to a recommended mechanic who read out the check engine light and printed out for me a TSB about the #2 solenoid in the tranny - THEY NEVER MENTIONED THAT AT THE DEALERSHIP!, I went back to the dealer anyway figuring maybe that guy had a beef with them. They just took my money for the ECM and THEN told me, "Sorry, it must be the tranny". Now I don't have the money to get a tranny and numerous calls to corporate gave me nothing cuz I'm at 96,000 miles so I'm just going to have to sell the car as is. They clipped me $1,300 for the ECM and THEN told me it must be the tranny. They never disclosed the code about the tranny solenoid, instead they lead me to believe that the ECU interfaced with the tranny and it would probably fix the problem. I suspect they could tell from the code that it would probably need the tranny and since most people probably go to an independent tranny specialist for half the price, they thought they would at least clip me for the $1,300 before they lost me as a customer.

- , Murrieta, CA, USA

problem #76

Jan 152009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,723 miles

That's you can trust to exchange whatever experience you have and you want to know. It's because there's no conflict of interest.

- , Burnaby, BC, Canada

problem #75

Dec 272008

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,600 miles

I starting experiencing shifting problems, seemed when the car was cold, on this particular Saturday afternoon my car just would not shift to third gear, it bucked really hard then went into gear, I knew I had a problem. I had and hour drive to get home, proceeded to get on the highway the car would not shift and the engine light came on, I ended up getting the car towed to my mechanics, they did a diagnostic and they knew it was a shifting problem but they were not sure exactly what the problem was, lucky for me they didn't jump the gun and say I needed a new transmission, long story short, I went online that evening and found this web sight that was so helpful, I contacted my mechanic told them about the Technical Service bulletin that was posted March 2006, they looked it up and told me to contact the Toyota dealer and that my car should be under the warranty, (8yrs or 80,000 mi)

I did contact Toyota, first service guy acted like he did not know what I was talking about until I proceed to tell him about TSB, told me to bring my car in, they did replace the ECM (engine control module) no charge and so far the car seems ok, I did read in the bulletin that even with the replacement I could possibly need a new transmission, I'm hoping not. I hope this complaint helps others that are experiencing the same problem.

- , Pembroke, NH, USA

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