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:
98,333 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2001 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 2 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #101

Aug 202010


  • 89,476 miles


I bought a used Toyota Rav4 in 2007. Last week my ECM (transmission) computer malfunctioned. I got the car fixed by my Toyota dealer, but found out that this is the 3rd ECM computer replaced. My car did not accelerate. It would not move. And if the shift is bumped the shifter will move to another rgear. I am scared to drive it now. What if it completely stalls. I could see one computer but 3!!! I will not buy Toyota again. After finding articles on this on the internet-seems like Toyota still has not figured out how to fix it. And now the question remains-how good is my transmission at this point?

- Sisters, OR, USA

problem #100

Jun 052010


  • 154,000 miles
On 06/05/10, my personal vehicle (2001 Toyota Rav4) began to experience transmission slippage which developed into "harsh shifting"; this problem worsened over the next several weeks but, due to the car's electronics failure (from a known malfunction which Toyota was aware of but failed to ever notify me about) this was not immediately identified as a transmission-related issue. Upon finally reaching dangerous levels of jerking and decelerating on major highways, etc., I finally took the Rav4 to a Toyota dealership, where they informed me of an ECM "recall" related to the transmission -- of which I had never received notification. The reprogramming did not work and the harsh shifting worsened. I had to take the vehicle back about a week later, at which point the dealership told me I would have to pay to replace the computer. I did so, only to receive a notice 3 weeks later from Toyota headquarters stating that they knew about a "harsh shift" malfunction related to the ECM in 2001-2003 Rav4 models. However, all Toyota did was extend the warranty to 150,000 (my repair was done at 154,000) rather than issue a safety recall. This is utterly ludicrous, as my car had the potential to just suddenly stop moving in the middle of heavy highway traffic, which could have resulted in my severe injury or even death. The issue apparently developed around 06/05/10 and led to the vehicle needing transmission replacement as of 08/21/10. The harsh shifting took place over several weeks between those dates.

- Eldersburg, MD, USA

problem #99

Aug 182010


  • 96,000 miles
Driving my Toyota 2001 Rav4 and it decides not to shift in to gear, leaving me to pull over barely on the side of the road with 2 small children.

- Waukesha, WI, USA

problem #98

Jul 072010


  • 157,292 miles


My Rav4 2001 motor 2.0 has harsh shift of automatic transaxle for almost one month is park. I do not use because almost cause an accident while I was driving with mi two kids and mi wife, please help me I need to repair and it cost 1200 dollars. Is dangerous to drive. Please stop before will be to late.

- Santa Rosa, CA, USA

problem #97

Mar 242009


  • 80,000 miles
March 2009 vehicle check engine light came on and I took vehicle to autozone for a diagnostic check. Check indicated that the shift solenoid was bad. I took vehicle to Toyota of bedford and was told I had to get another diagnostic because they don't take diagnostic from other places, so that cost me $100. After their diagnostic check was performed, they claimed it was just the gas cap and turned the light off. Within a couple of weeks the light can back on while I was driving on the freeway. In June 2009, the car started having shifting difficulty, getting stuck in a gear then jerking out of it. I took it to a foreign car specialist shop and they changed the transmission fluid, I drove it for a few weeks again, then it shifted hard while driving and the check engine light came on again. I have to get off the freeway sometimes when the car gets stuck in a gear and won't accelerate!!! I read complaints exactly like mine with the 2001 Toyota rav 4 and can't believe nothing is being done. This is dangerous and not a driver error, this is clearly a manufacturer error. Why do you have to wait until someone gets killed before a recall can be ordered. This a part that should never be defective and if it is it should be fixed without question.

- Twinsburg, OH, USA

problem #96

May 012009


  • 80,000 miles
Toyota Rav4 transmission problem, hard to shift the transmission when acceleration. This problem puts myself and my family on risk of being hit by other cars.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #95

Apr 012010


  • 71,000 miles


I was driving my 2001 Toyota Rav4 (71K miles) with my daughter in the backseat and as I attempted to accelerate to get onto the freeway onramp the vehicle would not accelerate and the cars in back of me almost rearended me. The cars behind me begin honking and the vehicle continued to lunge, buck, and hesitate the whole way home(fortunately I was only one exit away); my daughter and I were very shaken up. I immediately took it in to my mechanic, who did a transmission service. The car drove fine for a couple days then again out of nowhere began hesitating and lunging/thudding. My mechanic recommended I take it to aamco, who rebuilt the transmission for $3129. A few days later, it displayed the same symptoms. Aamco drove it around but said it drove fine and gave it back to me. A week later, the vehicle lost acceleration again in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears, and I took it back to aamco. They opened the transmission up and said the same parts they replaced are bad again, and now I have to pay for another rebuild plus a valve body and ECM. I don't have additional $ for this so my vehicle has been sitting (not in running condition) for 3 months. I have researched this issue and found that hundreds if not thousands of 2001-2003 ravs are having similar transmission/ECM failures. This poses a serious safety issue and Toyota needs to take responsibility for this alarming defect.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #94

May 152010


  • 128,000 miles
Toyota Rav4 2001 - computer problems & total transmission problem my Rav4, 2001 model initially started giving "check engine light" and having hard time accelerating from stop signal. The BBB approved service center checked it and found out the error code as P0750 and advised the replacement/rebuilding the transmission to fix the problem. They charged me approx $3000 for this transmission rebuild work/fixing the error code issue. Two days after, I got the same problem again and when I took it to the same service center, I was told that the computer system is the culprit for causing the problem. Now, based on the details available on the internet (, I understood that this is the common problem of Toyota Rav4 cars. When I spoke to Toyota customer service on 800-331-4331 (case # 1006150572), they said they are helpless. I am interested to file a complaint with carsafety to take this up with Toyota as to why this common problem of Rav4 is not being addressed/recalled, though there are customers facing serious safety problems with the car. The problem can even lead to accidents resulting in the loss of the lives. As an example, on freeway, while going at 60mph, the speed suddenly falls down to 30 or even 20mph and continues like that for few minutes before it goes automatically to higher speed. This failure occurs every 10-15 minutes if not earlier.. the whole transmission was rebuild (including the solenoids, geartrain components, torque converter etc), the computer was replaced with a total of approx $4500, though there were no deaths/injuries yet. This problem needs to be taken up seriously with Toyota and needs a quicker resolution. Thanks in advance.

- Irving, TX, USA

problem #93

Apr 052010


  • 100,000 miles
Toyota rav 4 transmission shifting problems after several thousand miles, shifting from 1-2 will hesitate and cause engine rev, will also jerk while shifting hesitation could be hazardous and cause accidents. And sometimes the vehicle will not accelerate properly due to this problem.

- Rosenberg, TX, USA

problem #92

May 232010


  • 83,001 miles
Erratic shifting of gears in Toyota Rav4. Shifts hard or slowly, causing safety issue while driving. Had to replace the transmission and computer.

- Kennesaw, GA, USA

problem #91

May 142010


  • 101,000 miles


Toyota Rav4 car jerks upon accelerating from stop. Car is sluggish to accelerate. Could case wreck when turning left across a street or hit from behind if Rav4 does not accelerate correctly. Failure started to occur suddenly without prior problems. Dealership states ECM needs to be replaced based on tsb from Toyota (tsb # 000206), tsb states "improvements have been made to the engine control module (ECM) (sae term: Powertrain control module/PCM) manufacturing process to reduce the possibility of this condition occurring" -- this indicates that it is a known issue, that is occurring due to a poor manufacturing process. There are several websites where other 2001-2003 Rav4 owners are complaining about the same issue.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #90

May 202010


  • 67,400 miles
When driving my 2001 Toyota Rav4 L, I started to notice that after taking off from a stop light/sign or basically accelerating, it acted as if it did not want to go into gear, there seemed to be no power, then the engine would revved, finally it lunged and jerked into gear. It felt as though the transmission was slipping. I took it to my mechanic who has serviced my car religiously every 3000 miles. He could not find the problem, in fact the diagnostic test showed nothing. After doing much research online I read all the other complaints regarding the same issue, including one from the New York times--I'm upset to find out that Toyota Corp. A company who I have trusted for many years has know about the problem with the ECM. Driving this car in this condition poses a very frightening situation whereas this is an "accident waiting to happen" with serious injuries and/or death.

- Villa Hills, KY, USA

problem #89

May 122010


  • 82,500 miles
Transmission failure due to faulty ECM on 2001 Toyota rav 4. Toyota issued a service bulletin in 2006 to the dealers but failed to notify me, the only owner of the vehicle.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #88

Apr 292010


  • 81,000 miles
2001 Toyota Rav4 with 81,000 miles. ECM failed causing transmission to fail. Safety issue created due to poor acceleration and erratic shifting. Toyota will not accept responsibility of the transmission failure due to the ECM failure.

- Westerville, OH, USA

problem #87

Mar 042010


  • 90,000 miles
My spouse has a Toyota Rav4, 2001 and it experienced major stalling problems while driving, almost like the transmission was going out. We took it to the Toyota service team in berkeley, ca three times for a potential fix. First it was the engine control monitor (ECM at $1,040), then it was the transmission fluid at $266, then it was a bend pipe/tube leading to the transmission. The bottom line is we're still experiencing the same problem one month later.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #86

Apr 172010

RAV4 4WD 8-cyl

  • 144,480 miles
2001 Toyota rav 4 transmission suddenly started slipping, shifting hard at low speeds. Has 144,480 miles. Aamco shop diagnosed it as a known computer defect, sent faulty information that fried the clutches in the transmission. The repair is underway, takes 4 days and costs $3,900 for new computer and transmission repair.

- Hampton, NH, USA

problem #85

Mar 012010


  • 125,000 miles
My Toyota Rav4 2001 model, 125000 miles on it. I stopped at a stop sign, when turned green tried to move, but the car wouldn't move. It just did a little, then I some how parked in the road side. Took it to different garages, mieneke said 6000 dollar repair on the transmission, another said 4800 dollar for refurbished transmission, aamco did a transmission repair for 2800 dollar.... all these places they are not sure whether it is transmission or ECM problem. I just choose to get it done with the cheapest one. I feel like it is a problem with ECM and the transmission of Toyota. Being a customer I have no way knowing who says the right thing" now I hear that Toyota rav 4 has defective ECM that can cause transmission problems? now I am worried is it safe to drive that car any further"

- Wallingford, CT, USA

problem #84

Dec 102009


  • 99,500 miles
Transmission started jerking and slipping in second gear then jumping to third gear, then taking off in third gear, flush tranny and reprogram ECM, din"T 'help also check engine light is on for code P0758, I was told I need a new ECM and a new transmission. Toyota knew of this ECM problem and fail to notified its customers

- Hobbs, NM, USA

problem #83

Mar 142010


  • 71,000 miles
2001 Rav4 transmission did not want to change gears. Took to dealer, denied problem. Took to another shop, changed to new ECM in transmission. Problem fixed. Toyota needs to own up to bad parts.

- San Luis Obispo, CA, USA

problem #82

Mar 232010


  • 98,000 miles
My 2001 Toyota Rav4, 98,000 miles, has a problem. Transmission shift around 30miles and engaging shift 2nd to 3rd, RPM gauge jumping up 5,000~6,000 RPM on every driving and finally check engine light came up. Dealer ship said it was out of warranty and needed reprogram ECM. After fixed it happened again they said it needs new ECM and reprogram. And had same problem. Now they say it needs transmission rebuild too. They already knew these problem through their bulletin some years ago and didn't noticed owners. It would be very dangerous if shift was changed when RPM gauge jumped up. It should be a recall issue. Also I read some article for class action lawsuit was filed for this.

- Grand Rapids, MI, USA

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