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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.

1.6

hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
101,994 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2001 Toyota RAV4 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2001 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 2 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #41

Jan 202014

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 189,000 miles

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

Car had no spark when cranking, my mechanic checked and traced the problem to the car's main engine and transmission computer (ECM), I ordered a used ECM for the same vehicle, car started but transmission was shifting was very abnormal, shifting was harsh making a loud thump when put into drive or reverse and starting off on third gear. The damage on the transmission was already done so I went and ordered a transmission and a new ECM since I found out that all ECM's had been updated due to all ECM's being damaged from factory. A lawsuit took place back 2012 in the case that was entitled milligan V. Toyota motor sales U.S.a in which Toyota acknowledged that the problem existed Toyota has ever since extended their warranty to 170,000 miles, even when they know the problem is there they still won't recall these vehicles for proper repairs.

- Sumas, WA, USA

problem #40

Jan 022014

RAV4

  • 95,000 miles
Traveling at 30 mph or less the vehicle will stumble. This is a road hazard as traveling through an intersection the vehicle could have an incident whereby the ensuing traffic could cause a crash.this is a manufacturer defect that involves the ECU(electronic control module) that is the computer which controls the transmission. The problem is verified by Toyota as they extended the warranty for this vehicle for this problem that is 10 years or 150,000 miles. The vehicle age is beyond the 10 year limit. Therefore, I wish to pursue a recall for this problem. Thank you.

- Manchester, NH, USA

problem #39

Sep 272013

RAV4

  • 95,000 miles
Just purchased this vehicle in September of 2013 with only 95,000 miles. Two days after purchase, the check engine light came on. Dealer said it was the catalytic converter. So it was replaced at a cost of over $600. Then two days later, the check engine light came back on. Dealer said it was the O2 sensor, that bill was nearly $350. Now for the icing on the cake. Four days after that repair, I was pulling out of my driveway to go to work and the vehicle did not want to shift in to gear, lunged forward and I nearly ran over some children at a bus stop! the dealer said the issue is with the ECM and possibly the transmission. The ECM was replaced at nearly $1100 and the problem still exists! dealer said next step is to replace transmission. That cost is $5700 and I can't afford it.there are so many complaints about this vehicle for similar problems. Why can't the government mandate that Toyota has to stand behind this problem? children were nearly ran over because of this problem and Toyota will not do a damn thing about it. Very sad.

- Festus, MO, USA

problem #38

Sep 082009

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 150,000 miles

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

I was sent a letter about the class action suit on the 2001-2003 Toyota Rav4. I asked to have my vehicle fixed, but was denied, because I did not request until after the extended warranty and the 150,000 had passed. I appealed their decision and I was denied again. I did have the module replaced with a new Toyota one, which was installed by a mechanic that does not work at a Toyota dealership. This module worked for a short period of time, but my rav is back to the same hard shifting safety issues it had before. I can't afford a new transmission or the new module to completely fix the safety issue. Even if they replaced the module again, I believe it has done too much damage to the transmission that will not be repaired by the replacement of this part. You pay for an extended warranty and maintain it like you are supposed to and Toyota does not take care of their customer. They made their money and that's that.

- Mead, CO, USA

problem #37

Sep 232013

RAV4 6-cyl Diesel

  • 104,568 miles
Was entering a limited access highway and wanted to merge onto highway. When I pressed down on gas pedal to speed up, the car hesitated, lurched forward, stopped, and then shifted harshly once again. I had thought I gave myself plenty of room to enter but because of the possible transmission problem, my car almost ended in a car wreck - an approaching car had to take drastic moves in order to avoid hitting my car. I then found out that Toyota knew about this problem with their ecms ruining these cars transmissions - something I was not aware, nor notified about. When I called them up - their Toyota customer service line, I found out they still had my old address from 2005! even though I've been going to my local Toyota dealership for years and they had my latest data. Toyota says they can do nothing to help with a possible $6,000 bill. My car is only worth about $8K if that. Their negligence caused these problems, and almost caused a serious accident and human injury and/or death.

- Westminster, MD, USA

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problem #36

Sep 032013

RAV4

  • 193,000 miles
I am newly employed with the post office so I need my car. I was out driving my route when all of a sudden it was lagging a little when I went to take off. Then when I was able to get some speed between boxes it was like it slipped into neutral and then jerked really hard and kicked into gear, I took it to a mechanic and also the dealership. After I took it to the mechanic I found out that there was a bulletin put out in 2010 about the same exact issue, so I called the dealership and made an appointment. They told me the same thing the mechanic did and that my car wasn't covered under the bulletin because it was outside the 10 year or 150,000 mile range. I cannot afford to have to pay this out of pocket and I need my car. The estimate that I got was $1536 from Toyota and then there is the possibility that I might have to have the transmission changed too. This is crazy especially seeing as Toyota knows about the issue and notified some people but not all Rav4 owners. I am out there driving my car and could pull out at the wrong time and get hit because of the fact that there is no pick up and go in this car anymore. I love my car and need my car.

- Cameron, NC, USA

problem #35

Jul 192013

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 129,000 miles

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

ECM/transmission failure at 129000 miles. Cant say much more than has already been said by so many others. Out of pocket expense of about $3500. In the shop now but as I read these I'm wondering if I should be fixing it as it seems to reoccur. No help from Toyota and they wanted over $5000 to fix it. Received no notification from Toyota. Missed the warranty by 9000 miles. Seems if you own one its just a matter of time and it will happen....stand behind your product Toyota!!!!!

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #34

Jul 292013

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 119,510 miles
ECM/transmission failure...called Toyota..refused help..owned vehicle over 10 years...known defect that Toyota has not addressed properly...need to replace ECM and transmission out of pocket because of their defective production.

- N Huntngdn, PA, USA

problem #33

May 292013

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 105,431 miles
I have a 2001 Rav4 that in 2010 had a problem with the gear and the dealer change the reman transaxle assembly but know I can't drive the car because the car need a new transmission and some other part and the dealer would not fix it when the know that the car had all these problem when I bough the car for 28,000 dollars they were happy if these is the way that Toyota get rich stealing from people that believe that they are buying a good product.

- Danbury, CT, USA

problem #32

Feb 202013

RAV4

  • 82,045 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Toyota Rav4. The contact stated that the vehicle shifted very hard and jerked. The contact also stated that the vehicle accelerated very slowly. In addition, the contact mentioned that the failure also occurred when accelerating from a complete stop. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer and it was confirmed that there was an internal failure and that the transmission and transmission control module needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 82,045.

- Newton, NJ, USA

problem #31

Dec 062012

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 119,000 miles

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

Harsh vehicle jerking with bad automatic shifting/acceleration. Used emergency lights and narrowly avoided accident with badly performing vehicle. Problem is diagnosed as failed ECM. Manufacturer is aware of this issue (Toyota document T-sb-0156-10) but did not inform owners. ECM failure in my car caused a very dangerous driving situation. This could have been easily avoided by pro-actively replacing the factory installed ECM if I had been given the T-sb-0156-10 information. I was driving with my 2 and 4 year old daughters at the time. This part failure is a recurring problem for this car. Please have Toyota notify owners before this happens to them. Thanks.

- Morrisville, NC, USA

problem #30

Oct 082012

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 114,800 miles
October 11, 2012. On or about October 8 2012 I began having hesitation and jumping into gear as I am driving my 2001 Rav4. This happens mainly when accelerating from a stop sign/light. I am aware there has been a recall on many 2001 Rav4 vehicles. I bought my Rav4 from carmax in North attleboro mass on April 19 2012. So, I have not even had my vehicle for 5 months yet. On Thursday October 11 2012 I took my Rav4 back to carmax in attleboro with my complaint--I will be leaving the vehicle with them on Friday October 12 2012 so they can diagnose the transmission and the tcm (the transmission module which has had the recall). If it is found that my Rav4 is one of many under this recall, I will hope that Toyota will honor its' commitment and fix my rav. I do hope that lodging this complaint with you will help me in this plight, as I do not have the money to fix this problem and nor should I have to as to the above, and due to the fact that is was a recall with Toyota. Thank you.

- Woonsocket, RI, USA

problem #29

Aug 132012

RAV4

  • 200,000 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Toyota Rav4. The contact stated that the transmission was exhibiting behaviors of a manual transmission when it was an automatic. The engine rpms would increase excessively before shifting and then the transmission would fail. The contact took the vehicle to a mechanic and was told that the engine control module needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 200,000.

- Knoxville, AR, USA

problem #28

Jun 012012

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 137,000 miles
Apparently there was a tsb issued on this and a customer care ticket issued and a recall but being as my car is 11 years old and 137,000 it falls outside of the parameters Toyota set of 10 years or 150,000 miles Toyota will not fix this problem that will cost upwards of $4000!! I cannot understand how a problem that they acknowledge will happen has happened and they don't want to fix it. I don't know what else to do.

- Columbus, GA, USA

problem #27

Feb 042012

RAV4 4-cyl

  • miles
When attempting to accelerate from a stop, the car stalls. Automatic transmission does not hold on to a gear and when a gear is finally engaged, the car jerks violently forward. This is extremely frightening; I thought I was going to be hit because I stall in dangerous situations. Trying to enter a fast paced road is highly risking the chance of being read ended, and at times I would attempt to accelerate from a stop light only to crawl into the intersection and sit in horror. Sometimes higher gear would judder the car. Apparently Toyota knows the ECM is faulty and damages the transmission, but the actions they took on this matter were too late and barely caring. I was not notified of the danger. I had to come into the dealership to learn and by then my car is already out of warranty and my car is in no working order. No proper steps were taken to warn drivers of this hazard. The warranty they provide is incapable and restrictive of addressing the faulty ECM that will inevitably put unwary drivers in danger. I am still trying to learn more about this matter but Toyota representatives insist I pay out of pocket for a defect that would have been solved by a recall years ago.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #26

Dec 092011

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 115,807 miles
The transmission suddenly began slipping and jerking when accelerating from a stop or while in low gear and shifting from a low speed. I became aware of the ECM problem known to occur in my make and model of Toyota upon calling the dealership; however, I am being told that the warranty only covers ten years from the date of purchase (I purchased my car 11 years ago) despite the fact it is known that the ECM, the computer that controls the transmission, is defective and causes transmission problems. This is a dangerous problem as the car will not accelerate and the transmission slips. It is difficult to understand how Toyota cannot ethically cover this knowing it is defective and is probable to cause owners problems in the future, regardless if it's 8, 10, or 12 years down the line.

- Bakersfield , CA, USA

problem #25

Dec 092011

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 115,790 miles
The transmission suddenly began slipping and jerking when accelerating from a stop or while in low gear and shifting from a low speed. I became aware of the ECM problem known to occur in my make and model of Toyota upon calling the dealership; however, I am being told that the warranty only covers ten years from the date of purchase (I purchased my car 11 years ago) despite the fact it is known that the ECM, the computer that controls the transmission, is defective and causes transmission problems. This is a dangerous problem as the car will not accelerate and the transmission slips. It is difficult to understand how Toyota cannot ethically cover this knowing it is defective and is probable to cause owners problems in the future, regardless if it's 8, 10, or 12 years down the line.

- Bakersfield , CA, USA

problem #24

Dec 012011

RAV4 4-cyl

  • miles
My vehicle was experiencing harsh shifting and hard engagement. I took it to the dealer today and was told the ECM needed to be replaced. I did some internet research and discovered Toyota received thousands of complaints regarding this issue as far back as 2006 in the 2001-2003 models. They extended the warranty to 10 years and 150, 000 miles. However, my vehicle is 6 months beyond the date (only 103,000 miles). I contacted Toyota and they will not pay for any repairs. In addition, I discovered that owners had issues with the replaced emc unit within 2 years-causing transmission failure or repeated ECM failure. I questioned Toyota as to why this was not a recall issue. They couldn't tell me. If it had been a recall issue, Toyota would be responsible for the repair and not me. In addition, how do I know that once I have my car repaired today, that I won't have the same issue or worse in 2 years--like many other customers? Toyota should be required to make this a recall issue--especially since there are thousands of people with this issue.

- Macomb, MI, USA

problem #23

Oct 212011

RAV4 4-cyl

  • miles
Failed to speed up when I was merging into traffic.

- Cheyenne, WY, USA

problem #22

Oct 172011

RAV4

  • 132,000 miles
Transmission slippage/failure did not allow me to accelerate to highway speeds on an on-ramp.

- Houston, TX, USA

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