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 1 of 7)

problem #134

Jun 012016

RAV4 Sports 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles


i like my toyota never had a problem until my transmission started going from first to third gear and clunking when put in reverse. my next all wheel drive will not be a toyota now its in the repair shop i am waiting for the ecm that i sent out to be repaired. i hope when i get it back it solves the problem

- , Iron River, MI, USA

problem #133

Nov 102015

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 210,928 miles

I'm so pissed off. After this started happening, I find out that Toyota has known about these problems for quite awhile and they are still on the road unfixed. I know that buying a used car you always take the risk of there being some problems, but a problem like this that can cause serious accidents and serious damage to your wallet should be taken care of by car dealerships before they are put back out on the road.

- , Bremen, OH, USA

problem #132

Nov 282014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Just purchased the vehicle "as is" and the transmission is shot. After almost a year of dealing with it, I now have to pay $1800 to get it fixed.

- , Pensacola, FL, USA

problem #131

Apr 062015

RAV4 Cruiser 2

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,351 miles


Same as everyone! 2002 Rav 4, ECU failed, transmission got cooked, car lost power on the freeway and dropped speed rapidly before revving like crazy and jolting forward. Toyota totally uninterested, even had the nerve to stay "Toyota is unaware of any problems with the 2002 Rav 4 ECU"

- , Brooklyn, Australia

problem #130

Jan 202015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

I just bought a used Rav 4 and I already will have to go to a transmission shop. The car stays in 1st gear unreasonably long when you first start off in the morning. After it warms up, it doesn't continue, but I know it will cause damage if it is not fixed

I am sorry that I didn't see all the prior posts about this Rav 4 problem before I bought the vehicle. Very unhappy !!

- , Toms River, NJ, USA

problem #129

Aug 142014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles

Very disappointed at Toyota. Not the company it used to be and not building the cars the used to build. No my number one choice anymore, by far!

- , Round Rock, TX, USA

problem #128

Dec 152013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,114 miles


this vehicle complaint is out of the covered warranty period, however with such low mileage for a garage kept car that was in perfect condition i strongly feel that Toyota should reimburse me for the repair. This Transmisson should have gone 250 thousand miles with minimal problems. I just had to vent on this. $1200 is 12 $100 bills.

- , Dillard, GA, USA

problem #127

Nov 222012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 179,000 miles

Just got off phone with Toyota and of course the warranty of 10 yrs or 150,000 miles expired march 2012. I bought the car with 36,440 miles and the warranty applied to the first owner. Bought the car from a dealer in 2006 at which time I find out that the dealers had been notified of this shifting problem in2006. If owners had been aware of this, maybe we could have prevented the damage to our transmissions. It is a shame that Toyota will not step up to the plate and cover the expenses to fix this problem. I will never purchase another Toyota again, and I was just getting ready to trade this one in for a new Rav4, not now!!!!!

- , Ripley, TN, USA

problem #126

Sep 272012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,666 miles

The transmission was slipping going from gear to gear. Sometimes, when first accelerating, it would start in 3rd gear rather than 1st gear. Consequently, there was no power. This car was definitely a safety hazard on the road. Because of a class action lawsuit against Toyota for this problem, Toyota extended their warranty to 10 years or 150,000 miles whatever came first. Although my car only has 46,666 miles, the time exceeded the warranty by 5 months. Toyota refused to pay even though there was only 46,666 miles on the car! Toyota could care less about customer service. They have lost two customers--my husband and me. We both own Toyotas. However, we will not buy Toyotas in the future!!!

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #125

Jul 122011

RAV4 RAV4 L 4WD 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

I LOVE MY LITTLE RAV4 but my transmission started to give me problems a few months after I bought it. When I first start to drive I cannot go to hard on the gas because when the transmission goes from first to second gear it really jerks and jumps. I have to let go the gas and go easy and from there it will be A OK, but there is no way that I am going to stay with this car for the next 10 years with that problem.

- , Hialeah, FL, USA

problem #124

Oct 132011

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


It's very annoying that a Toyota transmission has so many mechanical problems

with the transmission. Shifting almost grinds. Have replaced two solenoid shifters,etc.

It's very frustrating that a car does not live up to it's reputation.

A class action suit may be in order. I also did not see any voluntary recalls by Toyota.

- , Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #123

Mar 102012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,500 miles

Toyota paid for ECM part I paid labor only after i went online and found out about this issue. Had I not they would have charged me $1,250.00 After putting in the new computer chip The dealership said it was good to go! After i got it back it still shifts hard and maybe slips between gears. I may need a whole new transmission but I can't afford it. They said it could cost $4,000 and not covered under any warranty. I'm really pissed because I have loved my car til this problem happened after owning it for 10 years and 1 month (not longer under toyotas extended warranty for this!) I'll never buy another Toyota given how they handled this problem!

- , Seattle, WA, USA

problem #122

Nov 072011

RAV4 4cl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

After doing an internet search of the transmission problems I was experiencing with my TOYOTA RAV (2002), I was amazed with the number of complaints that TOYOTA owners were experiencing. I was always under the impression that TOYOTA was a reliable and customer service company. It appears that their quality control of this transmission problem has never been addressed or acknowledged by the company.

I have recently purchased a 2010 Toyota RAV 4 and having known what I know today about how the company is handling this 2002 transmission problem, I would have never purchased the newer RAV 4. I am disappointed with the company response to this issue and fear that this is a known safety issued that has not be dealt with. Unfortunately it will take a serious bodily accident as the result of the transmission malfunction in order to acknowledge the problem.

- , Bangor, ME, USA

problem #121

Jun 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

click to see larger images

problems shifting

I paid 4200.00 for a transmission that I never needed. My rav4 wouldnt shift properly, it was shifting really hard so I thought it was the transmission. Well it turned out to be the ecm. Dealer quoted me 1565.00 for a new one. I found a company online and they fixed it in 2 days Its been one month since the repair and it seems to be working great.

- , Ferndale, MI, USA

problem #120

Oct 072011

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,500 miles

Like hundreds of other 2002 RAV4 owners I had the ecm fault wrecking the transmission problem. I caught it early in the transmission failure stage and my wise mechanic said. "Trade it in now while you can still drive it to the lot." Recommended solution! Worked like a charm to just buy a Realota. Alternatively try

Toyota has apparently caved on this problem and issues an extended warranty. Good luck to you all.

- , Salem, OR, USA

problem #119

Aug 062011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,000 miles

I also had the same issue with my 2002 Toyota, Rav4, transmission. Out of the blue, it was no longer shifting. It was fine past 60mph on the highway, but anything in low gear was very hard to shift. I would have to push down very hard on the gas and the engine would rev up and then finally jerk into gear. I also called Toyota about it to check on a recall and was told it was not covered. I could take it in and pay to have them figure out the problem, but at that point I already had it at a mechanic who had the transmission rebuilt and a rebuilt ecm put in all for $1695 including labor. I was thrilled, as I really wanted to keep it at least another 2 years. I did check into a new car but figured it was best to keep this one and fix it rather than start all over with car payments. If any of you live in south FL and have this problem, I have a great mechanic who can help for less than 1/2 the cost of Toyota!

- , Coconut Creek, FL, USA

problem #118

Feb 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,702 miles

Just developed transmission problems (slipping in lower gears) on my 2002 Rav4 with 220,000 kilometers. Took it to my local Toyota dealer and they have agreed to replace both the ECM and the transmisson at zero cost. Mind you I had to remind them that I'd read about all the problems with the 2001-2003 Rav4s (ECM / transmission issues) and that Toyota USA had extended the warranty on this problem to 10 years or 150,000 miles before they looked into it further and discovered that Toyota Canada was following suit.

- , Shediac, New Brunswick, canada

problem #117

Sep 292010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I was advised by many people when I decided to purchase a car rather than lease to go with Toyota. Now my transmission is hesitating, not wanting to go into gear and lunging forward. I never received ANY information from Toyota. I am the original owner and have taken excellent care of the vehicle.

If Toyota will not assist in fixing this problem I am not going to be a Toyota customer ever again.

All comments when I tell people is "I am surprised since its Toyota", but after reading the recall/problems, this transmission problem was significant.

- , Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #116

Jan 022011

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,500 miles

I have RAV 4 2004 and started experiencing "harsh shifting" problem mentioned in Toyota Service bulletin when my car was 8.5 years old and at 80,500 miles! That's really frustrating because the warranty expired at 8 years or 80K miles... However, there are lots of the same complaints in the internet and some people mention that Toyota has extended the warranty to 10 years or 100K miles, but I can't find an official Toyota statement on this. I called two Toyota dealers, one of them said it was extended to 8 years and 100K miles (which won't work for me), the other one said it is extended only for 2003 RAV4s. Can anyone in the world tell me what is really going on with this problem and where can I get the official Toyota statement on that?

- , Arlington, VA, USA

problem #115

Jan 102010

RAV4 2.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

We had a RAV4 2002 Model, and early this year, 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. Several times, 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 the next day that the transmission and the ECU need to be replaced, and cost estimated about $5000. Too expensive to afford. 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 to Check Engine ETC in Brooklyn N.Y..They rebuilt my ECU and my car is now running smoothly. I asked him to drain the transmission fluid and check for metal filings. Thanks to this site and Check Engine ETC I saved myself some huge money.

However, after a couple of months, we got a letter from toyota motor sales USA, inc., telling us that certain 2001 to 2003 rav4 vehicles with transmission problems and had repair before could have the expenses reimbursed. I sent all my documents and expenses receipts to Toyota, but was denied to reimburse to me, because I had my ECU rebuilt/repair, but not replaced. What a stupid policy. We are not happy with this decision and will never buy Toyota anymore.

The following is the letter we sent to Toyota customer service early this month.

November 06, 2010


Dear Toyota Customer Experience Manager:

On October 13, 2010, we mailed you a letter, briefly described the situation on the bad experience of harsh shift of the automatic transmission of our 2002 RAV4 vehicle, together with copies of repair invoices. (see attached document).

Unfortunately, today we got a letter from your company, declined our request for reimbursement. We do not understand why.

As a loyal Toyota customer, we have purchased three Toyota vehicles in past ten years. They are 2001 Corrola, 2002 RAV4, and 2008 Tundra.

The RAV4 ran well until early this year, we experienced harsh shift when the vehicle reached the speed about 20 to 30 miles/hour. At this moment, you have to pump the accelerate pedal several times to "gear in", after the vehicle reach over 35 miles/hour, it ran OK. Several times on the local roads, the car behind our vehicle almost hit our rear bumper due to the sudden slow down of the vehicle because of the harsh shifting. It was horrifying.

On May 11, 2010, we took the vehicle to the local Toyota dealer, Star Toyota in League City, Texas, after diagnostic, we were told that the transmission was broke and we need to replace the transmission and the ECU. The estimated cost would be $4835.40. We thought it was too expensive to afford, therefore, we paid $98.00 for the diagnostic fee to Star Toyota and took our vehicle home, trying to find a less expensive place to repair our car.

We stacked the vehicle for over a month in our garage, then we tried a local repair shop, Morrow's Transmission on June 21, 2010. They diagnosed that fault code 0755, solenoid "B" shifting malfunction. They cleaned the solenoid and tested other solenoids, and charged us $195.00. but the harsh shift problems still existed.

On June 28, 2010, we learned there was company called Check Engine, Etc. in Brooklyn, New York, they repair the ECU. We then shipped our ECU to this company and had it repaired. After we put it back on, the vehicle ran OK.

Not long after that, we received your letter of ZTL- Certain 2001 through 2003 Model Year RAV4 vehicles Customer Support Program. It tells very clearly on what to do if we previously paid for the repair of the vehicle due to the harsh shift problem. We then prepared the documents and mail to you, anticipating to receive a refund check. But to our astonishment, we got a decline letter.

We are totally puzzled that our vehicle "does not meet the criteria for reimbursement under CSP )1-03my Rav4 Transaxle Ecm Warranty Enhancement" as your decline letter stated. We need to know WHY??? We need a satisfactory explanation.

It is quite clear that every expense we submitted for reimbursement is directly related to the repair of the harsh shift problem.

Think it this way, if we had our vehicle replaced the transmission and the ECU on the first hand when we took our vehicle to Star Toyota dealer, we would have our refund check by now. That is $4835.40. almost five thousand dollars.

However, we only submitted a total expenses only $717.04 last time, but, you refused to refund. TELL US WHY??? We need a satisfied reply.

Do you really want to pay $5000, rather than $700???



- , League City, TX, USA

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