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.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
74,812 miles
Total Complaints:
11 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (4 reports)
  2. replace catalytic converter (3 reports)
  3. replace ECM (3 reports)
  4. had to replace bad camshaft (1 reports)
2002 Toyota RAV4 engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #11

Mar 202016

RAV4 RAV 4 2.00

  • Automatic transmission
  • 178,200 miles


Since the ECM of this Toyota Rav4 model is well known problem then Toyota need to fix this engine check light with out charge or fix it so that the cause of this problems will not exist again. When the light engine check is on the car is running very poor, burning a lot of gas smell gas, will be stall at the stop sign and stop light. The shifting gear is jerking and making very loud noise between gear, not running smooth. Most of all when the engine light is "Check engine is on" the car will not safe to share the road it just not run right it will dead or slow down any time. Thanks for reading

- , Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #10

Dec 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

My check engine light has stayed on for the past 2 years. I have received information from the manufacturer to take my car to the dealership twice to have something vacuumed out of the engine. When I picked up my car both times, the check engine light stayed off for one day. I called back the dealership about this, and the customer service was poor. Basically, I was told I could bring it back in, but it would cost me to repair the problem even though I was told it was corrected. I was later told I should ignore the light, and there is nothing wrong, but I still worry. Have too many bills to invest in repairing this problem like the dealership suggests.

What are my options?

- , Christiansted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands (US)

problem #9

Mar 152013

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 79,650 miles

Just had the ECU and ignition coil replaced. Car drove pretty well for about a week, although it ran a bit rough at times very briefly. After 8 days, the engine light came on again while driving back into town & it stayed on. Toyota service rep pulls the code that indicates the catalytic convertor is shot and that it's probably a by-product of the ECU going down about 10 days earlier. I asked him what else can go wrong as a result of the ECU going out. He said there shouldn't be anything else. Of course, my vehicle is outside the extended warranty that Toyota issued on this model year. So, having never had a problem with this car in the 9.5 years I've had it, I'll be into it for $3,000 est. and the service rep is starting to say ". . . .unless you want a new car."

And of course, this happened on a Friday evening, so the rep says it's OK to drive around town until Monday, when I have the cat. converter replaced. I hope there won't be a sequel to this complaint.

- , Salem, OR, USA

problem #8

Nov 012011

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 91,250 miles


Oil passages plugged per technical bulletin released in 2003. Would have been nice to know before I drove around thousands of miles.

- , Boise, ID, USA

problem #7

Mar 232011

RAV4 Limited 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

Had a local shop check it out. The catalytic converter $692, 4 sensors o2 $478 & air fuel $365 must be replaced other odds & ends gasket and computer reset $140 & labor $170 brings the total to $1,900. First and last Toyota I'll buy. My mazda Miata has 292,000 miles and has had one converter replaced at 170,000. The Toyota didn't make it to 100K. I may buy A hyundai Stanta Fe next go round. I plan on trading in the Toyota.

- , Summit, NJ, USA

problem #6

Oct 082009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,229 miles

I had to replace the cat converter (when the engine light came on) code p0141 oxygen heater code p0420 and p0430 (replaced all oxygen sensors downstream) because the super-crappy ECM had been sending a "too rich" mixture which caused (maybe) failure of my cat. converter 11/2014 - since thin I've realized that this could be more or less the time at which the c.c. breaks.

- , City Name, State, USA

problem #5

Oct 102010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


We have check engine light on and car was trembling. Toyota found that it was a computer problem and fixed it and and said they would replace the computer with warranty, which makes it free. However the labor cost $700 which is awful.

I think I saw many people had this problem too.

The question is, is it legal to charge customer for the repair of anything that is under warranty?

- , El Monte, CA, USA

problem #4

Jun 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,300 miles

I was told a new ECM would cost $1400 and they would need to order it. The service agent said they would call and check to see if they could get a reprogrammed ECM at a cheaper price. Same problem as others on this web site, hesitates and runs rough at low speed, engine light on. Toyota should correct this problem since it seems to happen on many models.

- , Honolulu, HI, USA

problem #3

Jan 102003

RAV4 L 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100 miles

My check engine light has been on since the car had about 100 miles on it. I bought it with 7 miles on it. I brought it many times to the dealership that I bought it from and they told me there was nothing wrong with it. I quit bringing it in for that problem. Found out they were just resetting it by unhooking the battery. I can do that..... Then my engine goes out at 163k miles and the shop that replaced it said the check engine light needs to be "Flashed" by a dealership and they'd charge me $100.00. After spending over 7k for the engine/new battery/wipers/balance/rotate/other minor stuff, I'm not about to spend 100 dollars to turn a light off. If something happens to it now, it'll go to the junk yard. I'm going to add my transmission problem too.

- , Louisville, GA, USA

problem #2

Jul 122002


  • Automatic transmission
  • 200 miles

This is an ongoing problem with this car. It has cost me thousands in repairs over the year. Everytime I went to Toyota Service the problem was rarely or never covered by the warranty. This car will be the last Toyota I will ever purchase.

- , Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #1

Nov 202008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

check engine light on for about a week now, today mechanic says problem with my catalytic convert or wiring issue. to save me money he suggest I replace the neutral safety switch first to see if that solves the problem if not catalytic converter will have to be replaced. cost of NS switch and labor $328.00

FYI: in past year had major issue with other wiring. Bad wire harness in January 2008.

- , Laurel, MD, US

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