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 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
97,901 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2001 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #7

Jan 072016


  • 135,000 miles


When I change gear or press accelerator to give gas, my car doesn't pick up race and doesn't shift the gear. It will do on its own. The engine light keeps coming turned on, even though thisngs have been replaced.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #6

Jan 202014

RAV4 4-cyl

  • miles
While in cruise control on an incline my Rav4 accelerates out of control so I have to apply the brake to get it out of cruise control. I had this on 2 Rav4S, both 2001, one was 4WD and the other 2wd. Toyota tried to repeat the problem in the first vehicle by sending it home with a tech who drove to modesto. They could not repeat it...on my current car it does the same and Toyota best answer was not to use cruise control after he asked why I was using it anyways. I was worried about the ecus in these cars and before buying it, sent the private dealer to Toyota to remedy this. Now I find out they only flashed the ECU under the recall which they new didn't fix anything. Now 2 years later I face the harsh shifting condition....all on me. Im lucky not to have been hurt by either of these issues not addressed properly by Toyota, and thank god my 9 year old wasn't with me when the car stopped shifting properly.

- Pleasant Hill, CA, USA

problem #5

Dec 112014

RAV4 4-cyl

  • miles
I purchased my 2001 Toyota Rav4 in July 2012, . now 2 years later and still owe a good amount on my car I am having the same issues with the ECM as the others. I called Toyota and there is nothing they can do to assist people that are purchasing these cars that have not been taken care of. This issues I am dealing with include the transmission slipping and revving higher, or the loss of power when going from a complete stop. Toyota helped the owners, with an " extended warranty" 10 years / 150000 miles. That is all good but the warranty was from the first date. Basically from day 1. that is not fair to the people who purchase these cars second hand with no knowledge of the issues. This is a huge safety issue and could case an accident cause you don't know when it is going to happen.

- Minneapolis , MN, USA

problem #4

Sep 092014

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 166,000 miles


I was driving along and came to a stop. When I started to go, my rav had no power, then it lurched and almost stopped. I had to nurse it-slowly accelerate-in order for it to move. Every time I stopped and started it did this. Once it made a noise like a hard shift from the rear of the car. I had to put my emergency flashers on to drive it safely, and drove to a transmission shop. In speaking with them, they said that Toyota has a known recall on this situation! the computer locks up the transmission. They called Toyota and gave them my VIN, it has not been replaced. Its going to cost anywhere from $1500 to $5000 to fix, depending on if the transmission is actually messed up or if it is the computer causing the problem. He has to pull the transmission to check it first. If it is the computer they said about $1000. Who do I contact to get reimbursed for this recall? when I put my VIN number in your site, it says there are no known recalls. The internet says differently. I need help!

- Broomfield, CO, USA

problem #3

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 #2

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 #1

Apr 232012

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Toyota Rav4. The contact stated that he heard noises coming from the tires when driving through curves. The contact inspected the vehicle and noticed that the front end of the vehicle, near the engine and wheels, started to rust. The vehicle had not been taken to the dealer. The failure and current mileages were 150,000. Updated 6/4/12 the consumer stated the engine cradle rusted, which caused the steering to fail

- Shelton, CT, USA

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