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.

8.8

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,251.00
Average Mileage:
97,124 miles
Total Complaints:
135 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (56 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 6 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #35

May 132007

(reported on)

RAV4 LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

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

I am having the same problems as everyone else. The Toyota dealer told me I had a burnt transmission and needed to replace it for a cost of $3325. Instead I took the Rav4 to a reputable transmission shop in my area to have the problem examined, the problem did not repeat when they test drove it. They also flushed and inspected the transmission. They could not find any mechanical damage to the transmission. I have since emailed Toyota because the issue still exists. They replied to my email stating "Thank you for contacting Toyota Motor Sales, U. S. A., Inc. We apologize for your concern with the transmission in your 2002 RAV4. We do not have a Special Service Campaign for the transmission in the 2002 RAV4. Your email has been documented at our National Headquarters under file #200705110375. If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact us." Thanks to everyone�s comments I am going to my local dealer and demand this issue be corrected at no charge. I recommend everyone go to the

Toyota website under owner and contact us and start filling complaints. The more emails they get the more we benefit.

- , Beavercreek, OH, USA

problem #34

Feb 252008

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

Same as everyone else. Check engine light on. ECM reprogrammed. Few months later vehicle has problems shifting. Can't accelerate faster than 5 miles per hour into oncoming traffic. VERY DANGEROUS. Ended up costing $1500 to fix. Dealer replaced ECM and all is well. I am now talking with an attorney about a class action lawsuit. Toyota refuses to take ownership of this problem.

- , Prior Lake, MN, USA

problem #33

Feb 092008

RAV4 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 164,000 miles

I too, like many of you have issues with my Totyota Rav-4, which I loved til it started not going into gear at take off. I did take it in to the dealer to have the ecm module reprogrammed about a yr ago after problems with the check engine light off and on this seemed to correct the problem. After about 6 mos of having this done the ck engine light would come on then go off on its own. I had it checked did some maintenance thinking maybe changing the plugs filters etc.. would fix it and it did check engine light was off til about 2 wks ago so I had it checked again and was told scanner readings indicated it just needed a tune up which I did But this didn't fix the problem with the transmission going no where after at stop. The check engine light has been off but my fear as with some of you is that I may not be able to get out of the way at an intersection since my Toyota wont go at time and the problems seems to be getting worse, I took the day off from work and took it took a couple of transmission shops and was told scanner readings at one 02 sensor and the previous reading with the check engine light were the problem. At this point I wanted a second opinion so I took it else where and was told my transmission is actually the problem and that it would cost about $3000.00 to rebuild it

the first shop didn't charge me but they wanted something like $500.00 to replace the sensor and they didn't guarantee this would fix the problem saying they may have to rebuild the transmission for about the $3000.00 the second shop quoted me. I think Toyota should fix the problem, I bought a Toyota thinking I was buying a good thing and now I seem to be stuck with a vehicle with what seems an on going issues. It not not right they should make good on it. Let me now if someone is filing a class action I want in on it.

- , Cleburne, TX, USA

problem #32

Nov 042007

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

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

I found this site looking for Toyota parts online. I am having the same problem word for word as everyone else on here. I own a 2002 RAV4 bought new, loved the car until it starting have these problems. This RAV4 started to have shifting problems after the check engine light came on. The Toyota computers said it was a solenoid problem, 400$ didn't change anything. I then got a new transmission around 4000$, drove fine for two days. Then started having the same problem. Shaking the car, not shifting properly at all, loud noises ect. Changed a few other little things, bearings, sensors and such, changed nothing.

Currently I am still driving the car as cannot afford another one, very dangerous, I dread stopping at red lights as it takes the car a long time to reach the speed limit, shaking the car forcing me to let off the gas and try again. After reading every one of these complaints I called Toyota Canada (888 869 6828) and was told there was a recall to reprogram the ECM (main computer) the recall number was 613. I have had this car into Toyota dealerships on too many occasions to count over this problem, none mentioned this recall. On Monday I will make an appointment to attempt this recall but who knows if I haven't destroyed the new transmission that was installed a few weeks ago. This is beyond ridiculous, I will continue to attempt to fix this car hopefully this reprogram will fix the issue but who knows . I will update the issue at a later date.

- , London, Ontario, Canada

problem #31

Jan 162008

RAV4 Limited 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 162,800 miles

I just started experiencing problems shifting, like all of the other complaints. Of course, the ECM was just reprogrammed, but after reading everyone else's complaints with the transmission shifting, we all seem to have the same problem. Toyota states, I need a new transmission. I just took it to AAMCO, and they have not noticed bad shifting yet, but said it should return soon. I just had the transmission fluid cleaned out and synthetic put it, and this did seem to help somewhat. I also brought it ot AAMCO and they are telling me that Toyota needs to replace, not reprogram the ECM or the transmission will burnout. They are telling me, this is probably what has happened to me and would need to take apart the transmission to make sure it is not that too. All and all, the cost is about $3,000 to fix, and that's only if it is the transmission and not the ECM too. I am still contemplating what to do and waiting for the problem to begin again - I really cannot afford another car right now, but the $ it might take to fix this one is crazy too. The scariest, is when you are at a light, and the car hesitates. Anyway, I also reported the problem to Toyota Customer Experience Center - we ALL need to do this, and then maybe, they will recall these cars a,dn replace the ECM's transmissions at no cost to us, which is the way it should be. I know I have a lot of miles on my car (mainly highway), and have been luckier than some, but these problems should not be happening to so many of us. Please CALL Toyota and put in your complaint and state the problem going on eith your RAV at (800) 331-4331 AND PRESS 5. If more of us do this, they will have to look into it further. If anyone has any advice on what to try and fix first, please let me know!

Update from Mar 8, 2010: If anyone knows of a way we can ALL contact Toyota together and send a complaint all at once, maybe they would take us seriously. I still feel that I paid over $4k to fix this problem, that is a SAFETY issue that Toyota should've fixed out of their pocket. Toyota has a lot of problems right now, and this should be ANOTHER one they need to fix if we all could get through to them. It should not matter how many miles a vehicle has - this should never have happened and their re-programming of the ECM could have resulted in our probelm. I currently have 216K on my car now, after replacing the ECM as well as rebuilding the transmission and often wonder if this will happen again.....

- , Monroe, NY, USA

problem #30

Jan 012008

RAV4 ES

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

Same problems as everyone else. Car was pretty much undrivable. Started with slipping between 2/3 and then starting from a dead stop it would nearly stall. Felt like it was starting in 3rd gear or something. Very dangerous situation. I took to dealer, immediately told them it sounded like was the service bulletin stated. They pretty much ignored me. They first wanted to look at tranny, for a $250 charge. I questioned why not do the ECM. So, we looked at tranny and they said it looked fine, no metal debris. Probably cuz I luckily just had it flushed recently. They called back and said, the tranny looked fine, so we had a new ECM here so we put it in to check it, and it fixed the problem. Duh, why didn't you do that before charging me to look at the tranny. In any event, it runs great now, I'm sorry to those who replaced the tranny etc. Reading your posts informed me to not go down the same road so I thank you. Any in the future have this problem, replace the ECM first. My tranny was running absolutely horrible, I mean, barely driveable, most would say not driveable. The new ECM has the car running like new overnight. ECM charge was around $1350. Now I'm off to complain to Toyota and NHTSB. 84K miles and just out of warrantly, of course.

- , Lincoln, CA, USA

problem #29

Sep 172007

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

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

Here is the response I received from Toyota after placing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau: I cannot believe their obvious disregard for customer satisfaction.

On December 13, 2007, the business provided the following information: sorry for the delay in response. complaint faxed to owners office who has been out of town. walker Toyota could not duplicate concern so no remedy (by law) was suggested. cust. took to independant shop and they gave her an estimate for overhaul trans. to fix problem. they had access to same bulletin also but performed overhaul anyway. after transmission rebuild problem still present. at that point customer was sent to me from trans. shop accusing walkers of doing customer wrong. i gave customer free labor and deep discount on part to complete repair. the bulletin in question that all repair facilities have access to states clearly that "upon verifying customer concerns" an e.c.m. should be replaced at customers cost. then if condition returns a transmission repair should be performed. independent shop performed steps backward costing customer 2,600 dollars. walker Toyota operated within Toyota policies and procedures as well as industry standards. customer chose to not pursue issue with us but instead another facility. if walker misdiagnosed the problem and charged her for trans. repair first we would have stepped up and taken care of the computer. unfortunately the company she chose to do business with wouldn't do that. walker declines any further assistance with this situation and requests customer not contact in future. John Moss Toyota Service Manager Toyota Customer Relations Manager.

- , Franklin, OH, USA

problem #28

Nov 122007

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

First my transmission ran out - my mechanic said due to clogged transmission fluid colling system (he said he haven't seen that before). After about 2 months driving to work I'ge got problems with transmission shifting hard or not shifting at all on lower gears (1st and 2nd) - 3rd and overdrive were OK at all time. My mechanic took a car to 2 transmission specialized places as well as to a Toyota dealer shop. and they couldn't find out what was wrong, but all of them said it wasn't transmission problem it was rather transmission control issue. I have really professional mechanic, so all that didint cost me a penny. Few days ago I went on WWW and found out what is a problem. All dealers are aware of it, but none of them will admitt it. They know they make big $$$$ by selling ECM unit for well over a 1,000.00 USD. Few days ago I, also, called Toyota customer service trying to get some assistance - it is one of the most ignorant and arrogant places I've ever dealt with. I tried to buy ECM unit at the good discount, but all I've got was an offer to help me to buy new car. It was like conversation between blind and deaf - blind talking how beautiful view they have from the hotel window I think it is a good ground to take Toyota to court -to many people having same problems with the part should never fail and does not require any maintenance. I also think, it is a mattrer of time somebody will get hurt because of ECM malfunction.

- , La Crescenta, CA, USA

problem #27

Jul 012007

RAV4 L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 220,000 miles

I was happy to find out that it wasn't only my RAV experiencing this problem. I had gotten the recall done on the ECM and within the same month the Transmission starts acting up, shifting hard, slow acceleration from stop, etc. Took it to AAMCO and they ran diagnostic, replaced solenoid 2 and ran ok for few days, than bang right back to the same problem, they said $4000.00 for rebuilt. My RAV has 220,000 miles on it and I am the original owner, no serious problems until now. I blame Toyota for reprogramming the ECM and then messing up my transmission. I take it on short trips and I was going to replace the transmission but not now. After seeing all these complaints I am calling Toyota and complaining. A recall should be done and the problem fixed free of charge. This is ridiculous for a company that prides itself on quality to not accept responsibility.

- , Merrimac, MA, USA

problem #26

May 242007

(reported on)

RAV4 L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

Car started having shifting problems after I put gas. Thought bad gas but I am 5 tanks over that and put in injector cleaner. Engine light was on after few days. Dealer checked it for a fee of 80 something dollars, said it was transmission solenoid problem, turned off the light and gave the car to me the exact way it was. they said they need to replace the transmission for 2750 dollars. Let me know if any of you guys have a solution.

- , New Haven, CT, USA

problem #25

Nov 282007

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

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

I am very upset about the shifting problems with my 2002,RAV 4.

I absolutely Loved it. Until now!!!

I am outraged that Toyota hasn't recalled them for REPLACEMENT of the ECM instead of just putting a " Band-Aid" on the problem.. There is clearly a problem

with the ECM. which in turn messes up the transmission. A consumer group for the TV station might be interested in this for a story. I am just starting this process. My car is in the shop. I will report this to the mechanic. and talk to my Toyota dealer

where I purchased my car. I don't see very good results from all the other complaints

though. Wish me luck.

- , Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA

problem #24

Oct 202006

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Like other folks in this group we also had a check engine light on and had it reset at Toyota. Then after several months we started having problems with the shifting and slipping when you start to go from a stand still. We took the car to a transmission repair shop which cost us 2525.00. After driving off with the car we had the same issue occur within 15 miles of the shop. Again, we took the car back the shop and was told we had to pay an additional 300.00 for a computer that was causing the problem. The car lasted 10 months before the same problem occurred. We called back the repair shop but were told that they were not responsible since we had the car for 10 months and he did not know what we did the car in 10 months. We then called toyota in pennsylvania who we trust but was advised not to chance it by driving that far so we took the car to another transmission shop and they gave us a price of 2600.00 for the work. Again, we drove off and after some 20 miles we experienced the same as before. Currently the car is back in the shop and now they tell us that we must pay an additional 1013.00 for a computer since the last shop put in a used one. I believe they should be responsible for the additional part and told them so but have not herd any feed back as of yet. In addition, I had to rent a car in order to get to work. I don't know what direction to go in and would appreciate any help that can be given.

- , Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #23

Nov 192007

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

Problems shifting have started occurring just like the others reported here. The car gets stuck in gear and makes a "clunk" noise when it finally shifts. I believe this is the ECM and/or transmission problem that seems to be afflicting this model, will take to a Toyota dealer and experience the same reaming everyone else seems to be getting.

- , Needham, MA, USA

problem #22

Sep 172007

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

update on what has resolved my problem. After having transmission rebuilt car was still experiencing 2/3 shift problem. Transmission shop suggests that I talk to dealership and get them to replace ECM which should resolve problem, after searching their transmission database and finding a known bulletin about this problem. Transmission shop has talked to tech at dealer and they are certain this will resolve problem. Dealer offers to sell me new ECM for "cost" with tax 1003.81 and let transmission shop install. Transmission shop suggests that dealer install ECM so it is covered under a warranty and then they will honor their 24 month warranty for the rebuilt transmission. Talk dealer into installing ECM and finally my car runs correctly. I am convinced that if dealer would have read the bulletin put out by Toyota in March 2006 and suggested I replace the ECM I could have been saved the cost of a rebuilt transmission (2,639.81). On initial visit to dealer on 9/17/2007 I explained the problem, they said they were unable to duplicate it. Said I needed to make another appointment and they would tear transmission apart and try to see what they could do. Dealer would give me no estimate on cost for this and said it would depend on time involve to pinpoint problem. That is when I took to transmission shop , had transmission rebuilt then had to have dealer replace ECM. I talked to tech at dealer and asked why they did not check the bulletin when I brought the car in on 9/17. Was told that there are too many bulletins for them to keep up with and they don't look for them. I asked what they would do if they had another 2002 Rav4 come in with the same problem and they said immediately that they would suggest replacing the ECM now that I brought the bulletin to their attention. I watched the tech pull up the bulletin on his laptop and it took him about a minute to find it. I am trying to get some resolution from Toyota for this expense but am getting no where. Have received emails from Toyota that bulletins are available to owners to purchase. If I would have known that don't you think I would have done so? My suggestion to others .. when taking car to dealership ask that they show you any bulletins available for your vehicle. Insist that you get in the car when it is test driven so they cannot say they can't duplicate the problem. I am continuing to try to get resolution and would be happy to share my documentation with others.

- , Franklin, OH, USA

problem #21

Nov 092007

(reported on)

RAV4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

Sounds like I have the same problem as others with Toyota Rav4 transmission. Received recall re engine light. Had just noticed hard shift from 2 to 3. Took car to dealership on 9/17. Asked them if they could check the problem while they had car hooked up to computer diagnostics. No problem. Waited several hours then they called and told me car was ready. I asked what they did re shift? They said nothing came up on scan and they had fixed the problem with the check engine light. I asked what I should do and they said I would need to make another appointment they would tear the transmission apart and look for problem. I wanted to know what that would cost and they were unable to provide me with any idea. Something like we won't know until we look at it. So.. I took car to Brownies IT transmission in Dayton. They have rebuilt my transmission and now think that hardware failure in computer is what caused the problem in the first place. The transmission runs fine when not hooked up to computer but they say it still has hard shift when hooked up to computer.. So.. they say they cannot honor the 2 year warranty I was promised. They say if I come in and pay for transmission work they will tow the car to the dealership. The computer in the car will need to be replaced. They seem to think I should talk to the Toyota Service manager and explain the situation and they will take care of it. Well I plan on calling Toyota Resolution dispute and see where it gets me. Any comments or suggestions are appreciated.

- , Franklin, OH, USA

problem #20

Sep 172007

RAV4 L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

Like some of the other postings on here...one day I was stopped at a red light, light turned green, tried to drive forward and the car just barely crept along. On the way to have the diagnostic test done the check engine light came on. It coded as a shift solenoid. Next day took it to the Toyota dealership where they reprogrammed the ECM, per recall. They said it would need a new transmission, $4300.00. Took it to a transmission place and they said they could rebuild it for $2700.00 and they suspected that a faulty ECM was to blame for the malfunction. Paid the $2700.00 after being without a car for a good week and a half. Drove to work the next day, got almost home that night and the car started doing it again. Took it back to transmission place, they said to take it back to the Toyota dealership since it was an ECM issue. Dealership took 2 days to replace the ECM, car has worked fine ever since. Toyota Customer Care rep said to mail in documentation and they'd reimburse. Of course, when we did that they will not reimburse us and they claim that this problem is un-heard of to them. We are in the process of filing a complaint with the Highway Safety Commission. It is unsafe to be driving a vehicle when it's like that. What if a car ran a red light and was quickly approaching my Rav and because of this issue I couldn't accelerate to get out of the way? It's ridiculous that Toyota is denying a problem.

- , Spokane, WA, USA

problem #19

Oct 312007

(reported on)

RAV4 LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Website that might be useful - apparently, Prius might be having similar problems and Toyota doesn't know about that either. Link is http://www.vehicle-injuries.com/prius-stall.htm. Maybe this is the way to get them to listen/

- , Dawsonville, GA, USA

problem #18

Oct 312007

(reported on)

RAV4 LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

We spent $4000 previously to fix this trans/shifting/ecm problem about 6 months ago, only to have the same probs again now. I called Toyota customer no service today only to be told they are "not aware of any such problems in these vehicles". I now have a 12 digit case number "in the event they become aware of any of these problems, they will contact me". SURE!! I believe everyone needs to report these problems to them. Perhaps the only way they listen is a class action suit like the sludge problems they only responded to after one was filed. If someone files, please let me know so I can participate. I'm afraid someone will be killed in these vehicles at the rate we are going not being able to repair them and no one listening. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET TOYOTA TO LISTEN???

- , Dawsonville, GA, USA

problem #17

Aug 272007

(reported on)

RAV4 4WD 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles

We got a recall for the ECM AND PUT IT OFF FOR A MONTH THE DEALER IS 60 MILES AWAY no problems with the car. After they did their thing on the ECM they told me they took it for a test and everything is A-OK. As we are leaving the car starts to shudder like its running on 3 cyl, still in their lot! They check it out tell me its the ECM doing some adjustments it will be fine and send us on our way. Next attempt to leave their lot I have to stop for a car, when I step on the gas the tack goes to 2500 before the car starts to move( like slipping the clutch on a std. trans.) Both service manager and his best mechanic take it for a spin when they return, we are told that 1st gear is totally torn out of the trans, in antisapation of my next question the service guy hands me a print out for a new trans for 3600.00 and said they dont have good luck with rebuilding them so they want to put a new one in.

In reality 1st gear does work because it has reverse It wants to slip shifting into 3rd, get off the gas then it will go into 4th.

Like the rest of you guys I dont want to pay 3600.00 for a repair that I think is a ripoff, Toyota has a problem that they dont know how to fix so they just replace everything at our expence, even their best tech. doesnt know what he is talking about. We are still driving the RAV because we dont have a choice right now. The tranny fluid is not burnt or dirty and I think that it is ok. I am checking on some servo issues with the valve body, but I could use some help with the ECM ISSUES I was a good mechanic till the computers started to run the engines, If and when I get ours fixed I will get back with you, and if some one wants to take Toyota to task in the courts count me in.

- , Reading, MI, USA

problem #16

Oct 082007

(reported on)

RAV4 LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

We are the original owners of a 2002 RAV4 and now are faced with maintenance cost of replacing the Auto Transmission due to hard shifting and high revving during acceleration. We have taken the RAV to Aamco for diagnostic and repair to determine what went wrong. We were informed that there was a hardware failure in the transmission; not due to driving conditions or lack of maintenance. We have always kept up on the maintenance on our vehicles and driven them with the upmost care. The transmission techs have informed us that a thrust washer failed internally causing serious damage to the transmission. After rebuilding the transmission the shifting problems still exists. The techs at Aamco disconnected the ECU from the transmission and found that the transmission runs like a brand new transmission. So it seems the ECU was the problem the entire time, which eventually destroyed the transmission. I am currently dealing with the Customer Relations Manager at my local Toyota dealership to resolve my problem. The down fall is they seem very hesitate to even try to help. I can see this is going to be a battle. I have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the NHTSA. By looking at everyone�s complaints we all have the same issue. If your problem has not been resolved contact Toyota headquarters and file a complaint. They will put you in contact with your local dealership�s Customer Relations Manager.

- , Beavercreek, OH, USA

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