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:
58,576 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 miscellaneous problems

miscellaneous problem

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2001 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #9

Aug 112016


  • miles


Aquired my 2001 Toyota Rav4 about 4 years ago. And now I am having the same issues with the ECM as the others. In fact my Toyota is currently in a automobile repair shop. After nearly 3 weeks the shop finally determined the ECM needs replacing and possibly transmission also. The repair shop informed me that Toyota issued a recall for the ECM but the recall has since expired. With this imformation I called Toyota motor Corp and was told 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. It is my opinion that any and all recalls should not have limitations and should never expire!!! if a Toyota is "on the road" (licensing is up to date), then it should automatically qualify for all warranted recalls!!!

- Enumclaw, WA, USA

problem #8

Dec 202012


  • 114,000 miles
Defective ECM causing the transmission to shift harshly. My car is in the shop right now getting fixed because of this problem. Not only am I paying over $1,000 for the new ECM from the dealer I am having to get a rebuilt transmission put in. That is costing me over $2500. I feel like this is Toyota's problem. I shouldnt have to put out over $4000 to get it fixed. Why doesnt Toyota own up to this and pay me and everyone else that has had to get these very expensive repairs done?

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #7

Jun 062006


  • 84,717 miles
Engine control module (ECM) first failed & was replaced 6/6/06. ECM replaced 2nd time under open recall 10/25/07. Under enhanced warranty program, ECM & transmission replaced 3rd time after 3 month repair time 12/21/10. Vehicle traveled 300 miles when ECM & transmission failed again. Vehicle returned to dealership for 4th repair to ECM & transmission on 12/21/10. To date (2/22/11) vehicle is still at dealership awaiting parts to repair. Vehicle has been our of service approaching 5 months. We have no confidence Toyota can successfully repair vehicle. Safety issue arises when harsh shift condition occurs causing the vehicle to slow down as it shifts from 2nd to 3rd gear, creating possibility of rear-end collision.

- Lowgap, NC, USA

problem #6

Sep 052009


  • 177,700 miles


My 2001 Rav4 had been exhibiting a harsh shift when put in reverse, very poor acceleration from a stopped position, loss of power, unusual sounds and finally a P0758 trouble code. I have taken it to stonecrest Toyota 3 times and was told on 9/28/09 that the ECM needed to be replaced with no guarantee that the problem would be solved. Before taking the vehicle to the dealer, I've had a tune up, oil change, a new battery and a computerized engine diagnosis. The problems occur quite often and in heavy traffic poses an injury risk as they are unpredictable, cannot be controlled and other motorists are unaware that there is a problem vehicle beside, in back of or in front of them. Since the required repairs are so expensive, I have stopped driving this vehicle until I can have it fixed.

- Stone Mountain, GA, USA

problem #5

Jun 202008


  • 120,000 miles
My 2001 Rav4 began having transmission slippage issues. I researched it online and found numerous issues regarding a defective ECM being the cause of the slippage. All the symptoms that were described in the forum matched mine exactly. I have spoken with my local Toyota dealer and the only thing he can do is discount the new ECM by 10%. I need to use my car so I reluctantly agreed to the repairs. Once the ECM is replaced I am hoping this will fix the issue. If not I will have to pay for a rebuilt or new transmission. Toyota knew of this issue in 2006 but decided not to inform their customers of the issue but instead only issue a technical bulletin on how to fix the issue. I will never buy another Toyota product again!

- Olathe, KS, USA

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problem #4

Sep 182001


  • 17 miles
On many occasions the vehicle wandered when the wind was blowing. The consumer stated that she nearly lost control of the vehicle due to the wind pushing the vehicle around. The dealer claimed that the vehicle was handling perfectly.

- Coppell, TX, USA

problem #3

Nov 162003

RAV4 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,749 miles


I have a 2001 Toyota rav 4 that chugs and since the changing of the catalytic convertor is getting between 12 and 14 mpg. It is going in to the Toyota dealership on 010504 for the 4th time. In Nov. The check engine light came on and that is when they replaced the catalytic convertor and some sensors. Since the replacing of the items is when the gas mileage has decreased. The previous owner also had the chugging problem and was told they could not find anything.

- Fargo, ND, USA

problem #2

Jul 252001


  • miles
Front brakes squeal when coming to a stop on a constant basis, windshield rattles at low temps less than 60 degress, rear suspension creaks when accelerating after stop

- Berkeley, CA, USA

problem #1

Nov 062000


  • miles
The squeezing / rattling type of noise at dash / instrument area. I took my car to maita Toyota service center for more then 6 times and they couldn't get it done right.I am aware of many of 01 Rav4S have this kind of problem.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

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