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:
31,460 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 #4

Mar 262010


  • 125,841 miles


Toyota 2001 Rav4: Check engine light has been on since at least August, 2004 (documented). Toyota claimed to fix per a recall notice. From February 2002 to date, there has been intermittent groaning beneath car, whining in first gear, and what felt like clunking. Could not pass smog tests because of check engine light code. In October, 2009, car died. Could not restart, had to wait for tow (midnight on a dark road). Had work done in Oct, 2009, and I requested the parts. They replaced my coils, plugs and air filter for $1,330. I have had brakes replaced, fluids changed, O2 sensors replaced ( since then, the car is mis-shifting, clunking or groaning, rough engine. On 3/25/2010, I took it in and Toyota service recommended that I "let it go" and buy another car. They told me to just come and get the car without any work done, because it would cost me between $6,000-$7,000 for repairs. I was never told that I had ECM and transmission problems throughout all of these visits to Toyota service. I believe that Toyota "waited me out" so that they could just sell me another car instead of revealing the true cause of my problems. The ECM and transmission for this car is no longer available as a new item, so I would have to get a rebuilt transmission, which the defective ECM would end up destroying. I am afraid to drive the car because of the possibility that the transmission will fail.

- Walnut Creek, CA, USA

problem #3

Feb 032004

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Engine light on two different times. Repaired 2nd time on warranty for $1500 for catalytic conv, 4 egr sensors etc. I fear I will pay next time out of warranty. Bought new. Well maintained, by the book.

- Woodland Hills, CA, USA

problem #2

Jul 302001


  • miles
I am experiencing a 5 to 10 second dead spot in the acceleration of my new Rav4 several times a week. Based on internet web page forum postings, I have found other new Rav4 owners that have the same problem. I have been told by the dealer that sluggish accleration is the result of a new emmisions control computer. This is beyond sluggish, the car barely moves. Pulling into traffic, accross streets and intersections, I am at risk and never know if the car is going to move or not. A new emmisions control computer has been installed in ravs since 4/01 so this problem appears to be new. I'm not getting anywhere with Toyota on this, and neither are the other owners that have this problem.

- North Attleboro, MA, USA

problem #1

May 192001

(reported on)


  • miles
Consumer states exhaust fumes could be smelled inside vehicle.

- Livonia, MI, USA

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