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:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
90,147 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.

2002 Toyota RAV4 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 5 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #5

May 072008


  • 89,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. While idling or driving at very low speeds, the vehicle would consistently fail. The dealer stated that the electronic control module needed to be reprogrammed. Immediately after the repair, the failure recurred. The dealer replaced the ECM at the cost of $1,225.69, without the contact's approval. The repair was not included in her extended warranty. She called the manufacturer, but they referred her back to the dealer. The failure and current mileages were 89,000.

- Hyattsville, MD, USA

problem #4

Mar 282007

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles
ECU or engine computer unit. This computer is bad. When shifting.the automatic transmission in the computer does not know what gear to shift in. This is scary when in traffic. It would start in lets say 2nd gear then bang back to 1st gear. What a jolt for you and the driver behind you.

- Perkiomenville, PA, USA

problem #3

Nov 172006

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
November 17, 2006 - after being parked in my driveway for approximately 30 minutes the engine caught on fire. The Rav4 engine compartment and entire interior was demolished, tires exploded, glass exploded over at least a 20 foot radius. Two engine trucks and 10 responders later the fire was out. 63,000 miles, no prior problems, 50K maintenance completed by dealer Jan 2006. VIN has zeros and letter O which are indistinguishable. Try both.

- Santa Fe, NM, USA

problem #2

Oct 072005

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,100 miles
I have a 2002 Toyota rav 4. I have taken my car to the dealer for the changes of oil and filter. Twice they suggested a wynns system engine cleaning which we paid for. The last one was done on April 2005. Last October 7, 2005 I was driving my car on the expressway and all of a sudden the oil light lit up and the car stopped. The car was towed from the highway to our house and the next day was towed to the dealer adriel Toyota in rio grande, puerto rico. About two hours later they called me and stated that the motor stalled and the warranty was not going to pay since I had not taken the car to them for the last oil change. I reminded them that just nine months earlier a wynns motor engine cleaning had be done by them and that it was impossible for the motor of the car to have sludge if they had done the job correctly. The Toyota company of puerto rico called to tell me the same thing. I made a complaint at the consumers affairs in puerto, I am waiting for a decision. Today I showed the pictures to an automotive expert who states that the motor have not had any oil changes and the worst was that there was no way that the engine had be cleaned. The dealers states that they have not had any motor sludging on any rav 4 in puerto rico but consumer report states that Toyota has this problem most commonly with Camry's. today I found out that rav 4 have the same engine Camry's have. Am I supposed to be punished for whatever problem Toyota engines have?

- Carolina, PR, USA

problem #1

Jan 012002


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
When driving for more than 15 miles and stopping the vehicle shakes. Took vehicle to dealer and they stated that it was normal for vehicle to shake. Consumer states that the engine is loud, when stopping, it feels like the brakes lock up and when the vehicle is turned off the power windows continue to work and the lights go on and off.

- Long Island City, NY, USA

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