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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
90,768 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2001 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #16

Nov 142009


  • 76,677 miles


The ECM on my 2001 Toyota Rav4 stopped working at 76K miles and needed to be replaced. I did not experience an incident because I stopped driving it and got it fixed quickly within a few weeks of the failed transmission symptoms - lurching and jerking and lack of power in the engine. I have done the research and realize this is a significant problem with this make, model and year and am hoping if enough people complain, Toyota will own up to the problem of a major defective part. Toyota claims this is not an issue and, since the warranty on my ECM expired as of March this year, they also claim it is not their problem.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #15

Jun 152009


  • 106,000 miles
Faulty ECU in 2001 Rav4 automatic causes internal transmission failure. Slipping & double-shifting between 2nd & 3rd gear, longer ECU is used the worse the slipping occurs. Resetting ECU fixes problem for several hours and tranny will work perfect, then it starts acting up again.

- York, 00, USA

problem #14

Jul 062009


  • 81,000 miles
Our Toyota rav 4 is having electronic control module is a bust. It controls among other things our transmission, and the shifting of gears. The ECM has pretty much ruined our transmission. There has been many rav 4 owners with this same problem. And Toyota is (was) a reputable company. One would think they would make this right. Our warranty was up last year. And there was recalls on different computer things from them but, they will not help us. And we do not have the money to fix this. And this is our only family car. One we need to help us get to work. Any suggestions?

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #13

May 232009


  • 83,150 miles


My car is Toyota Rav4 2001 2wd automatic. Recently, the car on acceleration started doing hard shift. Many people have complained about it. when I purchased the car from private party, I had asked Toyota of kirkland (wa) to check for ECU module. I was told it is the right module and not the recalled one. So, I purchased this car from the private party. After 9 months of using this car, I get the same problem which so many people have experienced. The car jerks when accelerating. Sometimes it refuses to accelerate. Toyota extended the warranty on the car but when I purchased it was not under warranty. I think it is a faulty part in the car. If replacing ECU does not fixes the problem then we have to fix the transmission which will cost me additional $4000. To replace new ECU or ECM, it costs $1100+. please ask Toyota to recall the Rav4S. This is a big blow to us in this economy.

- Bellevue, WA, USA

problem #12

Nov 082008


  • 85,400 miles
On November 8, while traveling to worcester to see a friend recovering from a serious medical next I called two of the major transmission specialists in the area; cottman transmission in northampton and the tranny shop in palmer, where brian and scott told me that Toyota's reprogramming didn't work, and that I'd need to buy a new module out of pocket for $900-1100. They both said that if I caught it early, I wouldn't need a new transmission. It seems Toyota is aware of this problem, but unwilling to pay to make it right.

- Pelham, MA, USA

problem #11

Oct 202008


  • 96,000 miles
2001 Toyota Rav4 trouble code P0750. When consulting mechanics and Toyota dealership unable to help fix the problem efficiently. I was told replacing shift solenoid a might take care of the problem but then again unknowingly could be a ECM issue or even the whole transmission that needs to be replaced. Dealer should be able to solve this problem at the costumers best interest, with an importance of such magnitude expense is an issue that must be considered to guarantee satisfaction of outcome. Research shows this is a common issue of this vehicle with maker aware of the problem and still yet have not done enough to address it accordingly.

- North Hills , CA, USA

problem #10

Jun 032008


  • miles


I have a 2001 Toyota Rav4 which until recently had been what I thought was a good purchase. In December 2007, we received a letter instructing us to bring our vehicle in to have the ECM (engine control monitor) reprogrammed which we had done in January 2008. On Tuesday, June 3, 2008, I experienced a sudden stutter followed by a loud noise while driving, almost like what I would imagine a muffled backfire might sound like. Then the following morning while driving to work, the vehicle started to stutter and almost felt like it was going to stall. It would hesitate when I would accelerate. I made it to work and the check engine light came on. I immediately called the dealership for servicing and took the vehicle in that afternoon. The advisor told me that I would need a replacement of the ECM and my transmission. It would cost $4900! he explained that I could not have prevented this from happening; that the service recommendations had been followed and the transmission fluid looked fine. He added that Toyota would not replace the ECM without replacing the transmission. He also explained that the service codes indicated that the transmission had failed. I obtained a copy of the Toyota technical service bulletin (TC002-06) from March 3, 2006 which indicated that improvements had been made to the manufacturing process of the ECM and to repair this problem, R&R ECM, which was not done in my case..since I did not receive this information until December 2007, the transmission was exposed to a faulty ECM that subsequently caused its failure. There is a direct relationship between the two which I have confirmed by speaking to ase certified Toyota automotive repair mechanics.

- Dacula, GA, USA

problem #9

Sep 062008


  • 104,500 miles
2001 Toyota rav 4 started with check engine light coming on and off then Toyota sent ssc-601 in March of 08 that I needed to have ECM reprogrammed which I did{took tech 2 times to get it right} now my transmission started slipping so I took it in to Toyota and they did a diagnostic and sure as pie they said ECM has failed and they want $940 to replace it. This is a widespread problem that has been seen by Toyota and is a manufactures defect that they expect us the consumer to eat I've had nothing but runaround from both local dealer and their corporate office. No one seems to care and is unwilling to do anything about this.

- Mckean, PA, USA

problem #8

Mar 012008


  • 117,000 miles
Own 01 Toyota rav 4 that has faulty computer, Toyota will not admit that these models are faulty. Vehicle is no longer under warranty. Replacing computer can also make transmission go out. A very expensive mistake by Toyota at my cost. I paid 12,400 for this vehicle less than 2 yrs ago. It is shifting so hard that it is dangerous to drive. I wish I had read car before I purchased it, there are tons of owners with 01-02 rav's with same problem. I think Toyota need to correct at their cost. This is my 3rd Toyota but will be my last!!!!

- River, KY, USA

problem #7

Jun 072008


  • miles
First my 2001 Rav4 started shifting really hard (the lower gears) and I could see the RPM going up high. After a day of having this problem my check engine light came on. The transmission fluid is at a good level and it's nice and pink.

- Anaheim, CA, USA

problem #6

Sep 252007

RAV4 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15 miles


Rough shift in low gears causing engine to rev but car does not move. Had solenoids replaced, problem still exists. Told ECM needs to be replaced but other owners said this has not corrected the problem. Car revs but goes no where and creates dangerous situation especially in dense traffic with big trucks.

- West Haverstraw, NY, USA

problem #5

Mar 232007

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
My wife drove the 2001 Toyota rav 4 to work this morning. It was a 5 mile drive. After parking the car a fellow employee told her the car was on fire. The fire department responded and put the fire out. But the car was a total loss. The fire inspector located the origin of the fire, along the firewall directly in the middle of the wall, but said he was unable to determine the cause. He said no accelerant was used, and that the fire was probably the result of a cracked fuel-line or some other fluid leaking onto the engine. We noticed no fluids leaked onto the driveway at home. I am posting this in case any one else had a similar situation.

- Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA

problem #4

May 012006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles
: the contact stated while attempting to enter the highway, with the accelerator pedal applied the engine revved, but did not move forward. The vehicle operated at a reduced speed in a jerking motion. The vehicle was seen by a dealer for inspection. The dealer determined the computer needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was alerted.

- Providence, RI, USA

problem #3

Dec 112003

RAV4 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,423 miles
The consumer stated that the engine light kept illuminating in the 2001 Toyota rav 4. the vehicle was taken to the dealership three times. The first time they reprogrammed the computer, the second time they replaced the oxygen sensors and the third time they determined that the catalytic converter needed to be replaced. The consumer planned to replace the catalytic converter in the future. Currently the contact was driving the vehicle with the engine light on. The vehicle was not driving differently. The consumer contacted Toyota and they urged the consumer to work with the dealer, and maybe they would help her with the cost. (11/21/05) the consumer was aware of other same make model and years that have experienced this same problem.

- Upper Tract, WV, USA

problem #2

Jul 172003

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,700 miles
The vehicle has a hesitation during acceleration making it difficult to determine if I can safely merge into traffic. I took the vehicle to the dealer, and they said that they had to clear the onboard computer's memory, and the problem should be cleared up. Nothing was said on how or why this would fix the problem but it did not. The day after the clearing of the memory the vehicle did this again. I was told to bring it into the dealer again for another clearing of memory. What measures can I take to resolve this issue? I cannot be expected to bring this in every week.

- Stephens City, VA, USA

problem #1

Dec 252001


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Premature wearing of brake pads, making vehicle hard to stop. The vehicle makes noise. At first the dealer turned pads, second the dealer installed updated front brake pads, then replaced both rear drums but the problem remains unsolved. While driving with the A/C fan on there was a vibration in dash area. The roof rack screw was loose and fell out. The center seat belt was missing trim piece. The rear door rattles while closing.

- Fresno, CA, USA

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