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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
111,794 miles
Total Complaints:
57 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (25 reports)
  2. replaced electronic control module (ecm) also known as pcm (20 reports)
  3. replaced ECM and transmission (12 reports)
2001 Toyota RAV4 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2001 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #37

Jul 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,900 miles


Well I am another unhappy Rav-4 owner. Toyota has known about this problem since 2006 and we never were notified so that steps could be taken under warranty to fix this unsafe condition. I took to the dealer and as many others have said paid the 100.00 to have the ECM flashed with no results. I was told I needed a ECM or a new transmission and an ECM. Now this stinks! Why can't the dealer plug in the simple 5 plugs into a new ECM to be able to say what we need? They told me the just don't have them lying around,,,,oh please,,,,all the ones they are dealing with. I am sending my module to be repaired on a gamble 250.00. If this fixes it I plan to say goodbye to the Rav-4 and Never will I own another Toyota a company that put my family in danger and ignored my complaints.

- , Middletown, OH, US

problem #36

Mar 052008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Here I go with my deal. The ECM is said to have been replaced then the paperwork indicates it wasn't replaced, it's a big mystery so far. This was March 2008. The car ran ok for a year or so and then parked away. We took it to a trusted mechanic and the code it gave was for ECM. He quoted $2,000-$2,500. No work was done other than regular maintenance. It's May 2011 & we are taking it to the dealer on Wed. 5/11 to find out what they can own up to. Hopefully I'll check in later this week...

J & C Romo

- , Lakewood, CA, USA

problem #35

Nov 082010

RAV4 LTD Grey V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

The transmission is shot and I am having to borrow a car to go to work. i just finished paying for this awful car! Right at the last payment this happens! it's not fair! i always relied on toyota and now I dont trust them anymore. I have heard too many complaints and now its happening to me! I do not have any more money to buy another car! Please help!

- , Valrico, FL, USA

problem #34

Oct 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,225 miles


start to have this problem since last week , so i took the car to the mechanic and he said i have to change or rebuilt the transmission but its so expensive to afford it. i was surfing on the web and find about this recall letters but i didnt find one, probably because i bought thisused car 2 years ago and i an still paying so i am not the actual owner yet. I am so desperate because i see many people is having this problem and toyota has to pay for everything on each person because its not owr fault the manufactured this wrong cars. Everyone of us has to call toyota and put a complaint so they can hear us. I am so frustrate because i am still paying my car for 2 more years and the car its not working well, and now i have to pay for a reparation how sadddddddddddddd

- , Glendora, CA, USA

problem #33

Jan 312008

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,757 miles

I payed to have the problem fix which was CHECK ENGINE ON CODE P-0755 SHIFT SOLENOID 'B' MALFUNCTION REPLACED ECM. Now there has been a recall two years later waiting to be reimburse for the cost of a problem they knew they had.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #32

Aug 262010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

UPDATE: Took my car to my local Toyota shop because supposedly the transmission had gone out (per independant repair shop). Toyota stated they are aware of this issue and just within the past few days Toyota is extending the warranty on 2001-2003 Toyota Rav4 transmission issues to 150,000 or 15 years. They checked out my car and determined it did not need a new transmission, only the new ECM. They are replacing it for free.

- , Aurora, CO, US

problem #31

Jun 012010

RAV4 2.0L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,536 miles


Yet another complaint about a faulty computer in my 2001 Rav 4. It began with clunking in second gear, and then a total loss of 1st gear. When I took it to our normal mechanic, it didn't play up, but he made some calls to transmission specialists who said it's probably the ECM. He plugged the computer in, but no faults were displayed. I made some calls, and found a transmission expert who knew exactly what was happening. All I had to do was mention 2001 Rav, and he knew the problem. I had it towed over, and fortunately, a replacement computer costing under $1000 has done the trick for now - transmission wasn't damaged as I only drove it 2kms with the problem. I called Toyota Australia - who said it was not a problem in Australia, as we use different factories - yeah, right! Call any transmission specialist in Australia, and they'll tell you how common the problem is. The computer is an upgraded model, whether that means the problem is solved or not, I don't know. Worryingly, a friend with a brand new Rav has just had to have their computer & transmission replaced under warranty for exactly the same problem.

- , Brisbane, QLD, Australia

problem #30

Jul 192010

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,500 miles

The car started shifting hard and had a lot of trouble accelerating. When it dropped into third gear it sounded like the engine was falling onto the road. I took it to the Toyota dealership and got them to diagnose the problem for $40. The ECM needs to be replaced (which will cost $1050) and then I'll have to find out if I need a new transmission (they said that would be around $2500). I'd been planning on selling the Rav in the next couple of months, but the back of the car has some damage from a collision so I probably wouldn't have been able to get more than $3000 for it before the shifting problems started. This computer error has effectively totaled my car.

This isn't about general wear and tear on the car. I put enough money into that Rav every year to make sure that it is in good running condition. The body needs work that I've put off, but I've always been very careful about maintaining the engine. Now I am looking at a huge bill for something that could have been fixed for free if they had just issued a recall on the damn computer when they started getting complaints. This is incredibly frustrating.

- , Reno, NV, USA

problem #29

Jan 012009

RAV4 L 2.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Please, Please, Please Do Not Buy a Toyota Rav 4!!! I've had the same misdiagnosed 'transmission' problems that so may have described here and nearly lost my mind with frustration. Recommending everyone to STAY AWAY from this unreliable piece of S--T!!!

- , La, CA, USA

problem #28

Jun 102010

RAV4 L 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles

We too have the same transmission complaint with our Rav 4. Out of no where today. The car lost its acceleration and is jerking really bad from 1st to second gear. Almost caused an accident. Very disappointed in Toyota. It is obvious that they have become a deceptive company after seeing so many complaints on this issue. Not to mention all the recalls this year. I will never ever buy another Toyota!! This car was purchased with the dependence that it would last a good while. My husband share this car to get back and forth to work. Now Toyota wants me to rent a car at my expense when it is their problem. Like I said I will NEVER by another Toyota .

- , Akron, OH, USA

problem #27

Mar 272010

RAV4 L 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,000 miles


I'd like to recommend all Toyota 2001~2003 Rav 4 owners who have problem with ECM and transmission report to NHTSA to urge investigation and recall and contact with class action lawsuit attorneys for this issue. Class action lawsuit was filed in CA. last Nov.check

- , Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #26

Mar 052010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,033 miles

The check engine light came on in my daughter's 2001 RAV4 the morning after she told me it was jumping while shifting at low speeds. We took it to a mechanice who found the code PO755 and referred us to a transmission specialist at Aamco. Aamco said there was a 75% chance that a new control control module would fix the problem, so we paid $840 for that part. The check engine light went off but the car was still shifting badly. So now they saw the only option is to rebuild the transmission at a cost of $2600. I'm wondering, if I get the transmission rebuilt, will the car then give us another 100,000 miles? or is this just the beginning of things going wrong? Has anyone else kept their car after getting a new transmission?

- , Loveland, OH, USA

problem #25

Feb 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles

Would not shift to third gear. My local repair shop said they would not work on it because they believed there was a recall. Called Toyota dealer and they could not even look at it for at least 2 weeks due to other recalls. They denied there was a recall based on our VIN but we could wait our turn and maybe they could tell us something after a couple of weeks in their shop.

Toyota told us to take it to AAMCO. AAMCO said $2500 rebuild would fix it. They removed and rebuilt it twice before saying it was fixed. Paid AAMCO and there was no 1st gear so it was hard to start off. AMMCO took it back and did another rebuild and replaced solenoids. Over 3 weeks later AAMCO dropped it off at Toyota dealer and told us there was a recall on the ECM. Dealer said it would need new ECM for $1350 and there was no recall.

Over 4 weeks later we will try AAMCO offer to fix for $850 more for a 3rd party rebuilt ECM which will have it down now for a total of 5 weeks and $3500 total bill. AAMCO should have been aware of the service advisory and mentioned that sometime before 3 weeks had gone by. Toyota said we were lucky because the part was at central distribution.

Toyota should have stepped up and offered a recall for this commonly defective ECM that had caused hard shifting and excessive wear over the years. Look at all the ECM failures on the RAV4s!!! Also, the check engine light went on for O2 sensor right after warantee and we replaced all the parts several times too so that is another ECM symptom that we wasted money on. I have bought 5 Toyotas and there will not be a 6th.

The only good guy in this is twisted tale is my local repair man - now I know he is alot more reliable and smarter than the other guys.

- , Dade City, FL, USA

problem #24

Feb 192010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

I am one more victim of Toyota€™s greed and lack of care for the safety of their car owners.

It is extremely unsafe to drive your 2001, 2002, 2003 Rav4 with these acceleration and transmission issues (and you will ruin your transmission).

I have had the same problems as many other 2001, 2002, 2003 Rav4 owners. Mine is a 2001 and at 92,000 miles my car would struggle to accelerate from a stop – then all of a sudden it would connect in the wrong gear and speed ahead (like someone had stomped on the gas pedal). Also, shifting was very harsh when shifting from park to reverse. These problems were intermittent and you never knew when it would happen.

My garage (not a Toyota dealership, as I don’t trust them) put my car on the computer and no codes came up showing a problem. They flushed the transmission and told me to drive it. After driving for 2-3 miles it began to change gears erratically and had the same lack of acceleration problems. I drove it a few more days and while turning onto a 4-lane highway my car was struggling to accelerate and all of a sudden it was if someone stomped on the gas pedal. – I immediately took it back to the garage and left it there. I did not have a spare vehicle to drive – but was too afraid to drive mine. This is a very serious safety issue, especially when pulling out onto a highway or interstate.

The next step was to have the transmission rebuilt ($$$$). I searched the internet and read about others with the same issues. Many had spent thousands of dollars rebuilding or replacing their transmissions and were still having the same problems.

A few people mentioned that they had success with CHECK ENGINE, ETC. fixing the ECM (it tells the transmission what to do). That made sense to me that if something is wrong with the ECM – then fixing the transmission is a waste of time and money. I was very hesitant and apprehensive about using a company I knew nothing about and that was located in another state. But, it was easier to come up with a few hundred dollars and try Check Engine, Etc. than a few thousand on a rebuilt transmission that would probably have the same issues.

I called Check Engine, Etc. and spoke with Sergei about the problem. He said if I had not driven my car too much (less than 500 miles) then my transmission would probably be okay. I had driven less than 100 miles. I sent the ECM to him in New York from South Carolina via USPS Express Mail. If they receive it by 12 noon – they can usually fix the part and send it back out the same day via USPS Express Mail. In a couple of days I had the ECM back in my car and have had no problems with the acceleration or shifting and it now glides into reverse from park with no clunking or jerking. Bless you Sergei and Check Engine, Etc.! You saved me thousands of dollars (that I didn’t have) and many headaches. Thanks also to those that mentioned Check Engine, Etc. in their online comments.

Sergei’s web link and contact information: Check Engine, Etc. 2731 Stillwell Ave Brooklyn, NY, 11224 Phone: 718-449-1734 E-mail:

I called Toyota and filed a complaint - but they refused to do anything because of the 80,000 warranty (but the probably doesn’t usually start until after 80,000 miles). I also filed a complaint with the NHTSA and with the Better Business Bureau. We all need to bombard Toyota, NHTSA and the BBB with complaints.

- , Charleston, SC, USA

problem #23

Nov 192009

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 162,000 miles

Please note Toyota Cares response to a possible ECU (ECM) or transmission problem: (No help to me)

Sent: Sat 12/19/2009 11:39 AM From: Ask Toyota [] Recently you contacted Toyota. Below is a summary of your contact message and our response.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

Subject 2001 RAV4 Engine Control Unit (ECU) / Transmissions issue

Discussion Thread Response (SBak) 12/19/2009 08:39 AM Dear Mr. Miles,

Thank you for contacting Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

We are sorry to hear of your transmission concern regarding your 2001 RAV4, and apologize these components of the vehicle did not meet your expectations

We appreciate you researching your vehicle's concern, however we are unable to weigh the merits of the results of your research.

We work really hard to put out the best vehicles we know how, and we strive to constantly improve every aspect of their operation. As many of our customers are aware that the name Toyota stands for quality. A huge part of this effort is driven by the honest, frank opinions of our customers, because the last thing we want to do is to make products that drive people away from Toyota. So please be assured that what you've told us is taken very seriously by Toyota management, it is just this sort of feedback that drives our effort to make our vehicles better and better.

At this time with 162,000 miles, your RAV4 is out of warranty, and once a vehicle is beyond the warranty parameters, responsibility for the cost of repair falls upon the vehicle owner. We apologize we are unable to assist you in this matter.

Please be aware the information you have provided is used in combination with warranty claims and other customer contacts to track trends with our vehicles. If in the future a Special Service Campaign (SSC) or recall is issued that would cover your specific issue and you have already made repairs to the vehicle, Toyota would review your repairs for reimbursement at that time.

We again sincerely apologize for the situation you encountered with your vehicle and we are sorry for any inconvenience or additional expense you may or have incurred.

Your email has been documented at our National Headquarters and remains available for review by the appropriate department under case file



Sandra Baker

Toyota Customer Experience Customer (Harry Miles) 12/15/2009 07:25 AM

I hope this is an appropriate place to send important information. My Rav4 recently developed "shifting" problems. I went to an internet website that hosted owners of Rav4s with what can be conceived as factory defects (depending on your point-of-view). The forum is called "RAV4World - Forums". This is just one of the many sites where Rav4 owners discuss their problems. I do really think that Toyota should look into the problem of engine control units/modules (ECU/ECM) going bad (without warning) and causing transmission problems. I have owned 3 Toyotas', a Corona, a Supra, and a Rav4. It is of serious concern to me and other toyota owners, because it is forcing us to abandon Toyota purchasing and turn to Honda and Nissan ownership. We are also at the point of "bad mouthing" Toyota because of problems that Toyota fails to acknowledge and fails to do anything about.

I own a 2001 Toyota Rav4, automatic transmission, 4WD, with 162, 675 miles on it. I bought it new. I have had the problem of hard shifting in 1st and 2nd gear diagnosed at a local toyota dealership here in Durham, NC. They said that the engine computer definitely needed to be replaced (diagnostic codes said it was bad), and if that did not fix the problem then I would have to replace the transmission.

- , Durham, NC, US

problem #22

Jan 212009

RAV4 LX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

Rav 2001 is my 3rd new Toyota purchase. I wanted to buy a new car in 2008, but the stock market cost me a fortune. At the top(Jan.) of 2009, my car took a crap around 90,000 miles costing me about $4,500 in repairs and rentals. I took out a home equity loan to pay for it. In November and Dec. 2008, I called the dealership and took my car to a local service station. The problem could not be diagnosed because the engine light would not go on. The dealership wanted $95 dollars to diagnose it. They failed to tell me about the ECM.

In January after two dangerous situations on the road, the car finally died. I called the dealership. They were still inconclusive because the engine light never did go on. I researched the Rav 4 2001 on line. Only then did I find out through blogs about the ECM failure and the ruination of the transmission. Toyota headquarters failed to agree to take care of the problem. 2 Dealerships that I called would not cover any of the expense. I did not trust the dealership to fix it after I got the run around from them.

The transmission or throttle still sticks around 22-25 mph. I am seeking a class action because I am still dealing with a debt and a defective, unsave,TOYOTA automobile.

- , Grosse Pointe Farms, MI, USA

problem #21

Feb 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

HELP! Transmission started acting up in first gear. Flushed and changed tranny fluid - did not help. They ran a diagnostics and said ECM sensor should be replaced for $1300 and HOPEFULLY that will solve the problem - but no guarantees. Looks like many others had this same issue.

Should I pay the $1300? Has that helped some of you?? Or just junk the car?

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #20

Apr 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

2001 Rav 4 started bucking, as if it had bad gasoline. Long story short, check engine light had gone on several months prior and dealership reprogrammed it in accordance with a Technical Service Bulletin relating to the problem. when the trans bucking began, the dealership suggested replacing the ECM, with no labor charge to me as a favor, but the part cost was mine at about $485. I was lucky to not have ruined the trans and the car has been fine since. Toyota should have covered the entire cost. Toyota's customer care phone support people actually chastised the dealer for offering the $485 fix! This is a great coverup. Can't help but wonder if the current gas pedal sticking problem isn't really from the bad ECM. Makes more sense than a bad piece of plastic, huh??

- , Milford, MI, USA

problem #19

Jan 202010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

Well it seems I don't have to elaborate because everyone has had to replace their transmission and ECM. In this economy, this has the ability to leave me homeless. I'm at a loss for words...

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #18

Oct 012009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles

first i went to the dealer they told me it was the transmission that it would cost me 4500+ tax so it was better for me to take it to a transmission shop. well i did and they did the transmission job for $1800. two day later the same problem in first and second gear so i called the 1-800 number they told me my warranty had expired 3 months ago. since it covered 8 years or 80,000 miles i only have 66,000 so that i would have to buy a new ECM that it would cost me an extra $1500 not including the installment. does anyone know where can we complain about this matter or who to call? toyota knew about this problem and did nothing to help us if u can help me email me at

- , Miami, FL, USA

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