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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
6 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
1,743 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2001 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #7

May 252007

RAV4 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,200 miles


I was driving home one night, I was driving a 2001 Toyota rav 4. ai was in the right hand lane, a deer ran in front of me, I swerved to the right and missed the deer, however I hit a guardrail on the right side, overcompenciated across road straight up a bank, approx 20 ft. The acr turned to the right and rolled over twice down the bank. Since the air bags did not deploy, I suffered a deep laceration to right side of head and the gear shift fractured 4-7 ribs. There was a police officer nearby who saw the whole thing, he stated he clocked me at 35mph, and stated also in the police report the airbags did not deploy. If you can help me in this matter I would be very grateful. Respectfully--billy jack harrell

- Johnson, TN, USA

problem #6

Jan 022004

RAV4 4-cyl

  • miles
Frontal crash traveling at approximately 35-40 mph. Airbags did not deploy.

- Auburn, MA, USA

problem #5

Aug 262003


  • miles
While driving at 30 mph consumer's vehicle rear ended another vehicle. Upon impact, driver side air bag did not deploy.

- North Highlands, CA, USA

problem #4

Jul 292003

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


The customer stated that the vehicle was involved in a frontal collision in which the air bags failed to deploy and the seat belt did not properly restrain the driver. The driver hit his head on the steering wheel and sustained multiple injuries.

- Stewartstown, PA, USA

problem #3

Jun 302002


  • miles
Consumer's vehicle was involved in a frontal collision with another vehicle, and both frontal airbags did not deploy. Vehicle was travelling between 30-40mph. Consumer stated that owner's manual clearly stated that airbags should deploy at 15mph in a frontal collision.

- Pleasant Valley, MO, USA

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problem #2

Jan 152002


  • miles
Was driving down a hill when the vehicle swerved and jumped side walk. Vehicle hit concrete wall and airbags didnot deploy. Dealer contacted.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #1

May 122001


  • Manual transmission
  • miles
Consumer started vehicle up and airbags deployed. Vehicle had been sitting all night. Door automatically locked once vehicle had started up. Consumer was pinned to seat and couldn't get out for a few seconds. Dealer inspected airbags and couldn't find a problem. An airbag specialist looked at vehicle to determine fault.

- Elkton, MD, USA

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