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 4 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #61

Jan 052010


  • 68,860 miles


I have an automatic 2001 Rav4. While driving we noticed the hard shifting into different gears. Then it started to lurch and stall. It happened sporadically. Then within a week's time every instance you drove it this happened. It took two times before my mechanic saw that it needed a new transmission, and a new computer that talks to the transmission(ECM engine control module) which they installed.

- Des Moines, WA, USA

problem #60

Jan 202010


  • 134,000 miles
My transmission needs to be replaced on my 2001 Rav4 due to a faulty computer.

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #59

Jan 022010

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,500 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Toyota rav 4. while driving 30 mph, the contact heard a noise in the rear of the vehicle. The contact also observed that the vehicle was driving abnormal. The dealers diagnosis confirmed that the transmission and computer needed to be replaced. A check engine light has never illuminated on the dashboard indicating that there might be a failure. Regular maintenance has consistently been maintained by the dealer. The contact stated that the manufacturer should be responsible for the repairs since this was a manufacturers defect. The failure mileage was 110,500. Updated 03/04/10. Updated 09/30/10

- Herndon , VA, USA

problem #58

Jan 122010


  • 90,800 miles


Harsh shifting in 2001 Rav4.

- Oak Forest, IL, USA

problem #57

Dec 302009


  • 61,000 miles
I have 2001 Toyota Rav4. I brought this vehicle in 2001 at molle Toyota, Kansas City, mo 64114. I am the first owner of this vehicle. Transmission suddenly failed while driving this vehicle, and it is snowing on that day. Luckily there are no vehicles behind my SUV. This vehicle only has 61000 miles. This is the first time I had any problem on this vehicle and it's a big one. I use this vehicle daily to drop my kid at school. I am filing this complaint as a safety concern. Reported this problem to Toyota. They told be to file a complaint here as well.

- Overland Park, KS, USA

problem #56

Dec 292009


  • 139,768 miles
2001 Toyota rav 4 with faulty ECM causing jerky and unresponsive shifting, leading to dangerous highway situations when vehicle is not responsive and forward motion is unsure necessitating pulling over onto the shoulder. Toyota response is replacing the ECM for $1135 and possibly replacing transmission for $4032. This is the same complaint as many other Rav4 owners. Please investigate this situation. Pauline olson salinas, ca.

- Salinas, CA, USA

problem #55

Dec 242009


  • 92,000 miles


Experiencing transmission problems (jerking & slipping) with my 2001 Toyota Rav4. Took it the northway Toyota dealership in latham, NY. Was told that ECM needs to be replaced ($1300) and potentially a transmission ($3400). Taxes and labor are to be added. Googled dct (error code) P0755 obtained during the checkup and found Toyota's technical service bulletin TC002-06 from March 3rd, 2006 describing this problem and indicating the need to replace ECM. This repair would have been covered under Toyota federal emissions warranty (96 months or 80,000 miles). Why Toyota did not contacted me to let me know about this problem in almost 4 years making me to pay almost $5000 for their mistake?

- Watervliet, NY, USA

problem #54

Apr 032009


  • 145,000 miles
2001 Toyota Rav4. While driving on the interstate vehicle suddenly lurched and jerked, coasted then lurched again, suddenly losing speed, then stalled. Engine revved and transmission kept jerking, would not engage fully. Traffic was heavy and was nearly run over by truck. Extremely dangerous! managed to pull over to shoulder. Eventually, managed to drive home at reduced speed on back roads. Dealer replaced computer chip, $1,000 bill. Toyota notified dealers in 2006 of faulty chip, not me. Now, 12-11-09, transmission will not go into gear at all. Began hesitating in traffic, as if cutting out.

- Murfreesboro, TN, USA

problem #53

Nov 052009


  • 110,400 miles
As I tried to accelerate through an intersection where the cross traffic did not stop, my car would not accelerate beyond 25mph and my family and I came dangerously close to a pretty serious accident. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to replace the transmission right now, which is what is needed, so I do have to continue to drive the vehicle. I have to utilize little used roads and hope that I can get a little more life out of my current transmission!

- East Lansing, MI, USA

problem #52

Nov 092009


  • 108,000 miles
Going at below 40mph car on the expressway in rush hour traffic to take my son to school my 2001 Toyota Rav4 began to jerk repeatedly under acceleration. This was extremely frightening as I felt the car would lunge forward out of my control and hit the cars in front of me! it would stop if over 40 could be maintained. A few days prior I experienced this 2 single jerks while driving through a parking lot. The car was taken in to a nearby dealer for diagnosis. I am being told that I need to replace the car's computer and may possibly need to replace the transmission. Toyota has issued a service bulletin on this some years ago but I was never notified. The jerking represents a very serious safety and consumer liability and there should be some recourse for prevention.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #51

Nov 162009


  • 69,000 miles


I have a 2001 Toyota Rav4 and have a problem with the transmission. The car lost its ability to drive because the ECM for the transmission broke. It cost about 1,000 dollars to fix and the car still doesn't sound or drive like it used to. I am afraid the transmission will fail in bad weather or on a hill and I will hurt people. The mechanic told me that other cars with this ECM problem later do have transmission problems and calls to Toyota are not fruitful. There is approximately 69,000 miles on this car and I am the original owner of this car. The power train should not be a problem to a relatively young car like this it should be under warranty to 100,000 miles not 60,000 miles. This car and the other Toyota I am reading about should be recalled they are dangerous.

- Syosset, NY, USA

problem #50

Sep 122009


  • 120,000 miles
After not having problems for nearly 4 years, the cil came on and the transmission began hard-shifting from 1st to 2nd gear. The ECM code was for an O2 sensor heater. Changed the sensor, light came back on calling out a gear and the shifting was worse. Took it to the dealership. They flushed the oil and flashed the ECM per tsb. Ran fine for one day. Cil came back on and hard shifted horribly while on the freeway on the way home. Pulled over and checked fluids. All fluids looked clean and were at appropriate levels. Headed for dealership again. Got on the freeway and low gear hard-shift went away, but suddenly lost all power and narrowly avoided an accident at 60 mph! car regained power and shifted fine in low gears but would not shift above 3rd. Drove rest of the way to dealer at 35 mph and dropped it off for diagnostics. I have spent almost $2K in diagnoses, parts, and labor and the problem is not fixed. Now, we nearly were killed on a major freeway! this is dangerous! this problem manifested in September and peaked yesterday (11/17/09). We cannot afford to keep paying to repair this obviously unsafe defect.

- Magnolia, TX, USA

problem #49

Oct 192009


  • 172,438 miles
My 2001 Toyota Rav4 shifts gears erratically and stalls while being driven. It started while I was driving on the interstate by suddenly surging while I was driving 70mph. Now it occurs daily while trying to take off from a stopped position or even while driving speeds of 25 to 40 mph. I had the transmission flushed but this did not alleviate the problem and I've been getting estimates in regards to the transmission.

- Jackson, MS, USA

problem #48

May 102009


  • 82,000 miles
The computer in my Rav4 failed. It was giving my transmission intermittent commands to drive in the wrong gear. For example, my mechanic said there were times the car was essentially in 2 gears at the same time. I was nearly in an accident because the car bucked and almost stalled as I tried to move forward from a stop. Once it started happening I drove to the nearest mechanic I could find and only made right turns because I was afraid and didn't know what the car would do. It burned up the transmission and I had to have it replaced. When the computer was reset (as when the battery is disconnected) the car would drive normally for a few miles and then the ECM would begin giving the wrong commands again. The mechanic had to drive the car to the nearby Toyota dealer to get the ECM repaired and he got to experience the problem. He said it was a scary ride, which it was. When I spoke with Toyota's customer service the rep denied that the Rav4 has a history of this problem. When I told him that I had researched on the internet and had found many people with my problem he stated that anyone could create fake internet postings, including myself. Please, please research this. Toyota takes no responsibility and I worry what will happen. My car has been fixed but I don't want other people to go through what I did. I don't want someone to be injured or killed because their car has the same issue mine did. It comes on very suddenly, it is not the case of a small problem gradually becoming worse. If I had known that I could make a report like this I would have done so sooner.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #47

Jan 012002


  • 4,000 miles
Not easy to explain, I have been having this problem on going mildly for the past four years but every time I would bring it in nobody could see the problem. I have been having a problem mostly starting the car and then after braking it almost feels like a clog. I was told about two years ago it was the cat converter, had it repaired for $1000 and it did not cure the problem. I just brought it in because it is getting so much worse, I was told it was my spark plugs and cylinders so I had that repaired and after driving for 5 minutes experienced the same problem was told it was the computer and it had to be replaced for $1300 dollars. (was told that this problem did not show before I had the cylinders repaired.) I live in the northeast and am terrified when the snow and ice begin because when in clogs or bucks I am open to losing control of the car.

- Tewksbury, MA, USA

problem #46

Nov 042009


  • 106,000 miles
2001 Rav4 transmission just failed today. Read anytimes article about ECM problem. When I called Toyota, I was told that nothing could be done even though they knew that ECM problem would cause transmission to fail. This should have been recalled or at the very least notify owners so that we could have the problem fixed before truly expensive repairs need to be made. This is not the first issue I have had with my car that Toyota failed to notify me of in time to correct.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #45

Oct 012009


  • 68,000 miles
I was driving to work when I stopped at the red light when it turned green I tried toaccelarate but my was stuck and there was a heavy traffic I took this car to the Toyota dealer they told me it was the transmission I took it to a transmission place I changed it but two day after it gave me the same problem only this time on the highway I started looking for answer and found out that most of the 2001 rav 4 ECU came out with a problem but never got a recall now the Toyota company are not taking any responsibility for this is there anyone that can help me with this pro thank you there is a website where you can see all the people complaining bout the same problem I had it seems that Toyota has known about this problem but never did anything about

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #44

Oct 262009

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 142,000 miles
2001 Toyota Rav4 2wd 4 cylinder. The transmission is stalls at take off, I was told I have to replace the ECM and transmission. My car stalled in the middle of an intersection almost causing an accident, leaving our car in the middle of the intersection while there was on going traffic.

- Fontana, CA, USA

problem #43

Oct 102009


  • 120,000 miles
My 2001 Toyota rav 4 would not shift when I pulled into traffic and almost caused accidents as I pulled onto the interstate, it seems that service bulletin was issued for transmission problems and I never got it and now Toyota wont fix it, I have small children in the car daily.

- Ripley, WV, USA

problem #42

Oct 152009


  • 170,098 miles
I own a 2001 Toyota Rav4 and the transmission started acting funny this morning. In reverse it started jerking. I also noticed some hesitation in 1st and 2nd gears. I decided to leave the car at home and took a ride to work. My wife took the car to school to pick up the kids and it was driving fine. When she picked up the kids from school and she got on the freeway all of the sudden the transmission started jerking my wife almost got hit by a SUV. She managed to pull over and turn the car off. When she turned it back on after 2 minutes and started driving it was fine. I searched online and come to find out this is been a known problem with this truck. I just like to know how come some one never took any action including Toyota. When I called the local Toyota dealer they advise me to have the car checked and the ECU needs to be replaced because apparently there has been 14 cars in their service department which had the same issue.

- Sugar Land, TX, USA

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