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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
22,500 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2001 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #4

Oct 052009


  • 90,000 miles


I was traveling on a highway to work and it had been raining when I pressed my brakes to stop ( I barely pressed them) and my brakes locked and I couldn't stop. I tried to press a couple of times and even pumped them. I tried to get onto the shoulder and my steering locked. I was traveling 55 mph before I tried stopping, and was never able to stop, and when I hit the car in front of me my airbags never deployed. My front end was smashed end and my vehicle was totaled. The lady I hit had just a dent in her bumper. I didn't have major injuries but I had some bruising and a knot on my knee. I never went get checked out but I still have pain sometimes in my neck and back. The police did file a report and even though the lady I hit told the officer that I wasn't close to her and had plenty enough time to stop he gave me a ticket for following too close. It took me way longer than 4 seconds to hit her.

- Breaux Bridge, LA, USA

problem #3

Jun 072008


  • miles
First my 2001 Rav4 started shifting really hard (the lower gears) and I could see the RPM going up high. After a day of having this problem my check engine light came on. The transmission fluid is at a good level and it's nice and pink.

- Anaheim, CA, USA

problem #2

May 192001

(reported on)


  • miles
The steering pulls to the left intermittently and does not respond when attempting to correct it. Nlm

- Livonia, MI, USA

problem #1

Apr 012001


  • miles
Steering problems; while travling 45 mph steering jerked to right side, and she could not get back in place. Contacted dealer, and dealer was not willing to do anything.

- Richeton, MA, USA

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