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:
81,682 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 fuel system problems

fuel system problem

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2001 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #4

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

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

Feb 012002


  • 19,000 miles
Converter, replaced at 19,000 miles, was under warranty but burnt out my sensors and had to pay for them. This made it the second converter for this vehicle replacing the original. 50,000 miles replaced again under warranty and he sensors blew which I had to pay for them. Next one went at 80,000 miles and was told it wasn't under warranty that I had to pay for it. This made four in this car!! I was told once I purchased one the part would be covered for the rest of the time I owned the vehicle. Again had to pay for the sensors. Guess when I purchased the vehicle I didn't pay for the converter "!?!?!? transmission went at 105,000 miles and was told it was out of warranty that was one year before they extended the warranty and I paid $5000. For transmission. Of course no notice went around saying they would reimburse if you paid for it, only found that out when I had to buy another converter at 130,000 miles plus sensors! when I called of course they said that converter is only good for one year! I was told the part was covered for lifetime! they wouldn't give me a copy of the transcript at the time nor now. I wouldn't have done it by Toyota as they charge double!! I fought for two weeks on the phone with them and finally they told me I was right that it was lifetime and they would call the dealer. Well they called the dealer and called me back in half hour and said it wasn't again! then I was told when I demanded a supervisor there is no manager on duty at their corporate headquarters, they would 'out of good faith' give me one with one year warranty but I had to pay for it and I would get reimbursed!! good faith?! I have put thirteen thousand dollars into this vehicle of their defective parts! even other mechanics have said that!! where are the recalls on the cat converters"!

- Marlboro, MA, USA

problem #1

Feb 112010


  • 83,650 miles
2001 Toyota Rav4 started car put in drive applied gas and car leaped forward. Put transmission in neutral, engine was heavily racing, stepped on brake but could not stop car. Shut engine off and stopped in a snow pile. Took car to dealer for evaluation. Dealer could not find any problem.

- Mount Laurel, NJ, USA

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