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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
42,141 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 exhaust system problems

exhaust system problem

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2001 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #3

Apr 232007

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles


On the 2001 Toyota rav 4 the check engine light came on. I had it checked and the fuel-oxygen sensor needed to be replaced. If the sensor was not replaced, I was told it would damage the catalytic convertor. Unfortunately, it was out of warranty when the problem occurred.

- East Moriches, NY, USA

problem #2

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 #1

Jul 162001


  • 15,000 miles
I bought a brand new 2001 Toyota Rav4 from cox Toyota in burlington, nc in November of 2000. The vehicle had 28 miles on it when I bought it. In may of 2001 I had my 15,000 mile service done at cox Toyota and everything was fine. In July of 2001, the check engine light came on and that day,7/16/01, I went to cox Toyota to have it checked out. They told me it was just the O2 sensors and I didn't need to worry about it. Being that I have a degree in english and not auto mechanics, and I was dealing with the dealership, I took their word and left it alone. They were able to turn the check engine light off, even though they didn't fix anything. Later in 2001, the check engine light came back on and I went to Toyota of durham to have it checked out. I went to them twice about it and they told me that nothing was wrong with the vehicle and it was just the light itself. So the light just stayed on, and since I was told to basically ignore the light by two Toyota dealerships, that's what I did. Now I am having a problem passing the nc vehicle inspection, because of this problem. Fred anderson Toyota in raleigh, nc told me in may of 2004 that it'll cost $1,945 to fix my car in order to pass inspection, and the O2 sensors are the root of the problem. My car isn't performing as it should and it may have permanent engine damage. I am working with a mechanic in elon, nc to get the problem fixed. He has taken the time to learn what will solve the problem with the sensors, so it can pass inspection. If cox Toyota had fixed my car when I brought it to them in July 2001, I wouldn't be having these problems now.

- Durham, NC, USA

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