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 6 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #21

Jun 092009


  • 121,000 miles


All of a sudden out of the blue my transmission started slipping and hard shifting. We drove it home to park it until we could figure out the problem. $1000 later and no thanks to Toyota it is fixed. It was the computer that needed reprogrammed. Thankfully the transmission wasn't shot B/C we didn't drive it after it started to hard shift and slip. Took it to Toyota and they were going to charge us $5000 for a new transmission. But we found someone to help us with the computer problem.

- Ozark, MO, USA

problem #20

Jun 152009


  • 106,000 miles
Faulty ECU in 2001 Rav4 automatic causes internal transmission failure. Slipping & double-shifting between 2nd & 3rd gear, longer ECU is used the worse the slipping occurs. Resetting ECU fixes problem for several hours and tranny will work perfect, then it starts acting up again.

- York, 00, USA

problem #19

Jul 062009


  • 81,000 miles
Our Toyota rav 4 is having electronic control module is a bust. It controls among other things our transmission, and the shifting of gears. The ECM has pretty much ruined our transmission. There has been many rav 4 owners with this same problem. And Toyota is (was) a reputable company. One would think they would make this right. Our warranty was up last year. And there was recalls on different computer things from them but, they will not help us. And we do not have the money to fix this. And this is our only family car. One we need to help us get to work. Any suggestions?

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #18

Feb 012009


  • 123,000 miles


I am one of the many unlucky people who own a 2001 Toyota rav-4 which has had check engine light issue for years. After brining to Toyota more than once to have them not be able to turn off I am now facing a failed transmission- over $2,500 to fix. As I see all these complaints regarding the faulty ECM and Toyota's lack of acknowledgement I am disgusted. Shame on Toyota and as a once loyal owner I will never buy a Toyota again and would not recommend to anyone.

- Northfield, NH, USA

problem #17

Jan 312009


  • 61,696 miles
Rav4 do not shift gear. Some times it was like jerked shifting and I searched about this problem in internet and found several problem reported in site. This is what happened to me. "I took car to a dealer - lombard Toyota, il, and told about gear shifting problem. At first they did not say anything about the known problem with Rav4. When I said, I researched about this problem in internet and found that Rav4 has a gear shifting problem and Toyota knows about it, and there is a tsr-tech service bulletin, and it needs to repair free. They told me let us take a look at. After half an hour, they told me I am lucky it is still under warranty 8yr/80000. I purchased this one on 2/??/2001. So I am luckily covered. I did a little argued that even if I am out of warranty, Toyota should take care of this problem because it is a defect. They did not care much. And I did not press on it. So here is the problem-according to Toyota service bulletin TC002-06 revised model 2001-2003 Rav4 equipped with automatic transaxle may exhibit a harsh shift and/or M.I.L "on" dtc P0750, P0753, P0755, P0758, and/or P1760. 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. Use the following procedure to repair the vehicle. They replace a R&R engine control module. My Rav4 drives good now. I still think my Rav4 is really not smooth. Or atleast that is the way I feel. This is it for right now. If anything comes up I will update later.

- Wheaton, IL, USA

problem #16

Dec 172008


  • 98,500 miles
My 2001 Rav4 developed a shifting issue, and eventually produced a check engine code, which indicated an issue with the transmission solenoid. The transmission shop tells me that I need a new transmission at the cost of $3200. They also tell me that this is a common issue with the 2001-2003 Rav4S, and that Toyota is aware of it. A techinical service bulletin was issued in 2006, indicating that there was an issue with some Rav4S, and that the ECM should be replaced - if not the transmission may be ruined. I was never informed of any possible issue, and now my vehicle is ruined. It is extremely dangerous to drive, and would not shift into gear correctly. This is a safety issue in that I was unaware that there was any issue, and until the check engine light came on, I was unaware that my car may not shift correctly at any given moment.

- Olean, NY, USA

problem #15

Nov 082008


  • 85,400 miles


On November 8, while traveling to worcester to see a friend recovering from a serious medical next I called two of the major transmission specialists in the area; cottman transmission in northampton and the tranny shop in palmer, where brian and scott told me that Toyota's reprogramming didn't work, and that I'd need to buy a new module out of pocket for $900-1100. They both said that if I caught it early, I wouldn't need a new transmission. It seems Toyota is aware of this problem, but unwilling to pay to make it right.

- Pelham, MA, USA

problem #14

Aug 012008


  • 124,000 miles
2001 rav 4 transmission not shifting right. Just started to happen. Cannot drive the car, I do not have the money to fix it. Dealer and another garage said it needed a new transmission. I guess that ravs have this problem and Toyota won't acknowledge the fact that they do and keep selling them and people keep getting ripped off.

- West Brookfield, MA, USA

problem #13

Jun 102008


  • 92,000 miles
I have not been injured, but believe the issue with my transmission is not only a manufacturer's defect, but poses a safety issue depending on the severity. There are hundreds of others experiencing this same issue with their Toyota Rav4S that were produced between the years 2001-2003. A defective computer part is causing damage to the transmission, ultimately destroying them if not caught early and replaced at a cost of $1200! in many cases, the transmission still needs to be replaced at an additional cost of around $3500 or more. It is sickening that a company such as Toyota would not recall this part and cover the cost of malfunctions! it is a safety issue, as you never know how severe the lurching and skipping of the transmission will be. It can come out of nowhere and that certainly creates the potential for accidents. I think this issue is on the rise because it tends to happen with higher mile vehicles. I truly hope more consumers will file complaints so that Toyota will be forced to stand behind their product. I am glad that I have heard of no reported injuries at this point-I hope that remains the case.

- York, PA, USA

problem #12

Jul 212008


  • 75,000 miles
Acceleration frequently hesitates causing driver to pull out into traffic without power. This problem has recently gotten worse and happens every time I drive. Internet research suggests a bad ECM is causing the problem.

- Midlothian, VA, USA

problem #11

Jul 062008


  • 117,000 miles


I have a Toyota Rav4 2001 car. Its an auto transmission with 117,000 miles on it. Suddenly about 10 days ago I started feeling the harsh shifting / bucking / jerking while taking the car. I then went to a near by Toyota dealer for diagnostic test and what they have found was a fault code P0755 (harsh shift and/or M.I.L. "on" dtc P0750/P0753/P0755/P0758/P1760) which is basically recommending to replace the engine control module. I then searched about this fault code on the internet I ended up on a website ( where I could see numerous similar complaints. It looks like Toyota has made a fault ECM and have installed in so many Rav4 (B/w 2001 - 2003 model year), which made so many customers like us to go through a lot of service expenses. Please do the needful so that Toyota makes a reimburse the expenses for all the customers who has gone through some financial burden due to this.

- Montvale, NJ, USA

problem #10

Jul 072008


  • 83,000 miles
Our 2001 Toyota Rav4 recently started shifting very hard and the check engine light came on. I took the car to the dealer and started to do some research. The car was very dangerous to drive as there were large hesitations before the next gear would catch. I found out that Toyota put out tsb TC002-06 in regards to a defective ECM computer that controls the transmission. Our ECM did need to be replaced, but Toyota needs to take responsibility for this serious safety issue. They should be replacing this part for free. Toyota has admitted the part is defective, yet will not stand behind their product. The damages to our car due to this computer could have cost in excess of $5,000 to repair.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #9

Jun 162008


  • 134,833 miles
My '01 Toyota Rav4 began experience shifting problems in aug07, it would not shift properly, and would suddenly slam into gear. This happened sporadically on and off, check engine light would go on and off. Due to this problem, it made it very dangerous to merge onto highways, as I'm trying to accelerate and the car won't go beyond 1st gear, and then once I'm running, it slams into gear, almost causing me to hit the car in front of me. In nov07, based on a notice from Toyota, I sent car to dealer to get ECM reprogrammed. Apparently this was causing the problem. Well, it did nothing. So in june08, as the problem got even worse, I sent it back to dealer. They said I needed the ECM replaced, this caused my car to get worse. So a week later, I took it to a transmission specialist to get transmission rebuilt.

- North Bergen, NJ, USA

problem #8

Apr 242008

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 68,000 miles
As described by many others that own a Toyota rav-4 (2001), my car experienced major problems shifting. After researching the problem, I discovered that it was described in a service bulletin released by Toyota. I took my car to the dealership and demanded that they replace the ECM instead of simply resetting it as they were planning on doing. The problem has not returned to date, but had it not been for the information provided by others (on various websites), I would not have known to make this request. I was lucky that my vehicle was under the specified mileage and that the costs were covered by the warranty.

- Cuvler City, CA, USA

problem #7

Apr 032008

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles
2001 Toyota rav 4 has premature transmission failure causing slipping, and delayed shifting.

- Woodinville, WA, USA

problem #6

Mar 082008

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles
Transmission slipping on 2001 Toyota Rav4. Service bulletin issued requiring replacement of computer to fix this problem. Bulletin extended warranty to 80,000. Consumer never notified of this problem. Computer went bad at 87,000 miles. Toyota and consumer currently going round and round over whether Toyota or consumer must pay for computer replacement. Consumer also told that transmission may now need to be replaced. Toyota has received numerous complaints about this problem from Rav4 owners and in many cases the shift problems related to the computer failure has resulted in damage to transmission which Toyota will not pay for.

- Providence, RI, USA

problem #5

Sep 252007

RAV4 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15 miles
Rough shift in low gears causing engine to rev but car does not move. Had solenoids replaced, problem still exists. Told ECM needs to be replaced but other owners said this has not corrected the problem. Car revs but goes no where and creates dangerous situation especially in dense traffic with big trucks.

- West Haverstraw, NY, USA

problem #4

Mar 312007

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
- the contact stated that while driving the 2001 Toyota rav 4 at 65 mph (with 80000 failure mileage the vehicle began to make a clinking noise. The contact pulled over to the side of the road and turned the vehicle off. The vehicle would not restart. The vehicle was towed to a mechanic, who stated that there was a sludge build up, and the transmission had to be replaced.

- Andover, MA, USA

problem #3

Aug 202004

RAV4 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,000 miles
Vehicle hesitates frequently when engine cold. Will not accelerate even with accelerator pedal fully depressed. Hesitation last for several seconds. Extremely dangerous pulling into traffic because one is never sure if vehicle will accelerate normally or limp along for several seconds.

- Boxford, MA, USA

problem #2

Feb 132002

(reported on)


  • miles
The vehicle doesn't respond to throttle pressure and transmission doesn't shift down properly. This is noticed as a hesitation. When the transmission finally down shifts it shifts all the way to first gear, then roars for a few seconds, then shifts quickly.

- Bourbonnais, IL, USA

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