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:
99,711 miles
Total Complaints:
69 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace engine control module (29 reports)
  2. not sure (16 reports)
  3. replace ECU (9 reports)
  4. replace emc/rebuild tranny (4 reports)
  5. replace ecm computer (3 reports)
  6. repair ecu $ 500.00 + shipping (2 reports)
2002 Toyota RAV4 engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 3 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #29

Jul 152009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles


Same problem as everyone else with a 2001-2003 Toyota RAV4 - manufacturer-programmed ECM failure leading to hard shifting, problems accelerating, misfiring, and ultimately burning out the transmission.

One of the best ways to get Toyota to take responsibility for this and force a recall is to file a complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If they get enough complaints, it will drive a good investigation and they can force a recall for safety issues. When I checked a few days ago, they only had about 5 complaints on this issue - I know there are more of us with this problem! You can file a complaint online or via phone; go to Takes about 10 minutes.

It's completely unacceptable for this manufacturer error to cost consumers upwards of $5K for repairs. Let's make Toyota accept responsibility for THEIR programming error!

- , Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #28

Jul 132009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

My check engine light was on in my 2002 Toyota RAV4 with the problem attributed to possibly the "gas cap" but nothing came up after the computer scan. I had the ECM serviced 04/24/2007(reprogrammed,not replaced) per the recall. Now there are 105,000 miles and the car started clunking and stuttering in the lower gears. My repair shop replaced the c20 based on the computer diagnosis but told me they were not sure that would solve the problem and if so I was advised to go to the dealer. The problem was not solved, the car still stuttered and shifted randomly. I went to the Toyota dealer and for $94 dollars (1 hr labor) they said the ECM needed to be replaced ($1,270) with a 60/40 percent chance that was the problem because it could be the transmission which would cost $3,000-$5,000 to repair. Reluctant to spend money and take a chance that it could turn into a money pit of repairs, I am waiting to decide what to do. I checked on line and this web site was a wealth of info and apparently a common problem. I called Toyota at 1-800-331-4331 as recommended and explained the problem. They wanted to know what I expected of them. I explained that obviously it is a known, serious problem and I did have the recommend recall repair made, I felt that even though the vehicle is over the 80,000 miles, the recall "fix" should be honored for more than a year since it obviously did not last and the dealer could not satisfactorily guarantee the problem would be fixed after spending $1,270. He stated what everyone else did that they need to receive numerous complaints before a "recall" would be made. The problem which I'm sure is the same for everybody, is being on a tight budget, I need a more definite guarantee that if I spend the money for a repair the vehicle will actually be fixed and not be a safety hazard. Thanks for listening, Any advice is welcomed.

- , Berlin, MA, Pacific Islands (US)

problem #27

Jul 092009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Unfortunately, I am yet another name to the growing list of victims of an ECM failure in the 2002 Toyota RAV4 vehicles.

Last Thursday, coming home from work and only a couple blocks from my house, my car would not accelerate when I applied pressure to the gas. Then, when it did accelerate, the car shifted violently. All of this happened within a matter of seconds.

When I arrived home, I Google searched "2002 Toyota Rav4 + Shifting Problems." To my sad surprise, I discovered this website and how many other people have dealt with the same problem.

On Saturday morning I had my car towed to the Toyota dealership. Today Monday, July 13, 2009 I received a call from the dealer notifying me that it is indeed the ECM and that it will cost $1,300 to replace. "However," the woman at the dealer said, "a lot of times when the ECM fails it will cause havoc with the transmission, causing it to need to be replaced, too. Unfortunately, we won't know if the transmission needs to be replaced (at a cost of $4,000) until we replace the ECM."

When I asked her if their dealer had a lot of experience with this problem and if Toyota had any plans on doing a recall on 2002 RAV4 vehicles, she said "Yeah... we see a lot of this in the RAV4's, but unfortunately it doesn't sound like Toyota has any plans of doing a recall for this."

Now... I'm deciding if I should roll the dice with a $1,300 repair and hope it doesn't turn into a $5,300 repair. I loved my Toyota. I loved my RAV4. I DO NOT want to get a new car. Sadly, however, if it comes to that, I think I will have to visit the Honda dealer, bypassing Toyota all together, out of principle.

- , Denver, CO, USA

problem #26

Apr 012009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


If you own a 2001 - 2003 Toyota Rav4 and are experiencing Transmission Problems (Jerking & Slipping) - STOP DRIVING THE VEHICLE, YOU WILL END UP DAMAGING THE TRANSMISSION. The Vehicle's ECU is the problem, you need to Repair or Replace it. I can have the ECU Repaired for $ 500.00 + Shipping Give me a call if you have any questions.

Performance Auto Collision & A/C, Inc. 2212 U.S. Hwy 301 South Tampa, Florida 33619 Jay Fleshman (813) 663-9399

- , Valrico, FL, USA

problem #25

Apr 242009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,621 miles

My check engine light came on a couple of months after I bought my car. I bought it used. If I knew what I know now I probably wouldn't have bought it. I received a recall notice on the Check engine light so I took it in to be updated. Now I just Had my transmission replaced. My car is still slipping In between 2-3 gear. The transmission shop now says My ecm needs to be replace too. I can't afford all this money I'm dishing out. I'm a single mother going to school. I bought this car because I heard Toyotas were reliable. They need to step the F** UP and take care of this problem. I'm writing Obama after I've finished complaining here. This S** DON"T MAKE NO SENSE! That's why people can't come up in the world because of people like TOYOTA. Always trying to Rape peoples pockets. I won't give up on this issue. Next step the NEWS.

- , Wdbg, VA, USA

problem #24

Apr 042009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,500 miles

We received a recall notice in the mail.Right after buying the RAV, the check engine light came on...took it to dealer immediately, and they reprogrammed the ECM. Then we received a recall notice from Toyota that the ECM needed reprogrammed again. I took this to local Toyota dealer and had it done. Within 2 weeks of reprogramming being done, there was hesitating, jerking and unsteady and unreliable shifting. I made decision to have it looked at by a ATRA Certified shop. He rebuilt the transmission; clutch and seals were bad in the third/reverse gear. Within one half hour of paying him and leaving, I noticed the trans was slipping even more noticeably than b4. I took back to the same shop, and 2 sensors were showing as bad on the diagnostic machine. Sensors were replaced, the more I drove it the WORSE it became with the shifting.

We took to local Toyota dealer for 2nd opinion; test drive; tech looked like a deer in headlights...he didn't know what to think; Toyota's diagnosis was bad trans to be replaced at cost of $5000. Frustrated, we took it back to the ATRA shop where the owner rode around with us with car hooked to diagnostic machine; computer showed car going into first into second and from second straight into fourth gear. Then the bucking began again; RAV was put on a shifting diagnostic machine (much more thorough and technically superior to Toyota shop diagnostics); indication was the transmission was mechanically sound. The owner asked for a day to do research. He came up with service bulletin BSB 002-06, from Toyota, which specifically states about "bucking transmission and slipping gears". The remedy is replace the ECM.

Our Rav has not been in our full time possession in 37 repair days! We were told by the local Toyota dealer, that they (Toyota) do not rebuild the transmissions. They merely "swap them out". We are still waiting for the ECM to come from California and are not in possession of the Rav. We have had to borrow our daughters car, inconveniencing her also. We wrote to Toyota and received a response similar to the previously submitted form letter already on this site. We wrote Toyota complaining that this letter was unacceptable and they have offered and have accepted a 3 day review of all the issues that we mentioned in the letter. The next day, we got call from local Toy dealer. Cust. service dept.said they are going to review the case and will get back to us with their findings. If I hear from them, I will post again.

- , Pittsville, MD, USA

problem #23

Mar 202009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,700 miles


Finally, after a month of trying to fix my 2002 Rav4 it is fixed for now. I tried to buy new ECU/ECM unit from parts stores, but couldn�t find one. Then I sent the ECU unit in my car off to be tested and rebuilt. The company sent it back and said the unit tested fine. Next, I took to a local transmission shop and they said that it wasn't the computer and that my transmission needed to be service. Well that didn�t fix the problem. Finally, I took it to the dealer and they said that it was either the computer or the transmission. The dealer wanted $2076 for a new ECU. I found a used unit for $540 and that fixed the problem for now. Since the computer was used, I wonder if the same thing will happen again. Toyota should issue a recall on the ECU and everyone needs to file a complaint with them.

- , Hilo, HI, USA

problem #22

Apr 032009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,000 miles

ECM problem- hard shifting then it would slip trying to skip first and second. Took it to the shop the next day when the RAV was running fine so they couldn't find any thing wrong, but later that night it started acting up again, I parked it and started searching for what happened on this sight where everybody was describing this same problem. The ECM that was in the RAV4 was model 89661-42810 and when I got the new one through the dealer it was model 89661-42812. Seems Toyota has put out a new ECM to replace it, showing they know it's a hardware problem not a software problem (so flashing they did on the recall was an attempt to put a band aid on the problem). I installed the new ECM myself and everything seems to be working fine for now.

- , Fort Smith, AR, USA

problem #21

Feb 232009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,388 miles

Like so many people on this website, I am having issues with my 2002 Toyota RAV4. A few weeks ago, I noticed it bucking and then the "check engine" light came on. I immediately took it in to the Toyota dealership and was told that I needed a new computer. (Note: I had the computer "flashed" last year and have taken it in a few times before that due to the check engine light coming on for no apparent reason. I can't help but think that all those issues are now connected). Again, like so many people, I was shocked because I have always considered Toyotas to be so reliable. The real clincher though...the car had 80,338 miles on it and the warranty expired at 80,000. I went ahead and had the computer replaced (for about $1300) because it seemed like a huge safety risk not to. This appeared to fix the problem, but after reading on this website and others, I remain skeptical. I contacted Toyota and was told that they stand firm on their warranty and that even though I was only 388 miles outside that warranty, there was no help for me. They said they do issue Special Service Campaigns if there are enough issues with a vehicle to warrant them either paying for the fix or reimbursing people who have already paid out of pocket to fix the problem. They told me that every claim is assigned a code and that if the upper level people see enough of those codes coming in, they will take action. So, I urge everyone to PLEASE call Toyota if you have had or are having this problem. Additionally, if anyone has had any better luck with this issue, I would love to know. It is incredibly frustrating, especially in these economic times.

- , Seattle, WA, USA

problem #20

Dec 082008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles

I have a 2002 RAV4, 111,000 miles on it. Start the rough shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear in December. And within one week I stopped driving the car. I found online so many blogs about the ECM problem in the RAV4 that my mechanic suggested just to buy a new one and try. He flushed the tranny a week ago, and last night I got the new computer and replaced it. What a difference... no more slipping or rough shifting. I drove the car for one hour last night and this morning and ran smooth. Although this afternoon I felt a very slight slipping from 2nd to 3rd, only once... but now I am fearing that the transmission might need to be changed as well or will need to be changed soon... Anyone that can tell me if after changing the ECM experienced any sort of slipping? or was the problem fixed right away? Any information will be really appreciated.

- , Huntington Beac, CA, USA

problem #19

Jan 022009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 168,000 miles


hay i feel for all the rav4 owner Toyota had good sex with me i got f when i found out about the E C M was a factory defective flaw i call this # 1888-270-9371 California customer experience center that when i had sex with Toyota again i was told there was never a problem with the E C M two auto shop gave me the recall paper work i paid 75.00 twice to be shur it was the E C M but Toyota love me so much it F me one more time they said only a Toyota test unit that cost 35.000 could tell me the problem no one els onely at the deler 92.50 i paid and they think it the E C M or the transmission that the time i got to F the dealer i paid with my credit card and i will fight the bill because there not paying for a E C M i finding them for 810.00 + tax dont go to the dealer they like sex to izzy

- , Harrison Twp, MI, USA

problem #18

Jan 042009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles

I am having the same problems. Started two days ago at a stop light. (BP 150/90) Yesterday, I had the ECM flashed, which to my surprise, was covered under a recall. (BP 120/70) Sadly, it didn�t work. 24hours later the car did it again. (BP 140/80) Today I spent a good 30 minutes complaining to Toyota, and was informed that the fix was to replace the ECM, flashing it is only for the O2 sensors. Of course replacing it is not covered under the recall and will come out of my pocket. (BP160/100)

Toyota wa baka desu!

For those out there that did it�did replacing the ECM actually work?

- , Kent, WA, USA

problem #17

Oct 092008

RAV4 Limited 2.0L, 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

Problem: I noticed very rough shifting into reverse, out of the blue, never noticed anything like that before.

What I did: I took the car to Toyota the next day to have it diagnosed for $90. They called me the next day telling me it would be $1600 for parts and labor. Then I went on this website and found all the different complaints about the ECM/transmission, etc.

What have I done as of today: I told the service people at Toyota about the website and all the various complaints I have read about and am going back to talk with them tomorrow about a potential solution. I am hoping to have them cover the cost. I was also part of the 2006 ECM reprogramming recall, so this should be an existing condition. I also decided to call Corporate Services at 1800-331-4331. They logged my complaint, and had records that I had followed the recall procedures and this is still an issue regarding the ECM. I am currently waiting for the local customer relations manager to contact me and see what type of agreement we can reach.

My 2 cents: If you have any type of transmission problem on the 2002 rav4, call and make a formal complaint to Corporate Toyota. It takes 5 minutes and will help our case for getting Toyota to cover the costs of these repairs. Wait for the customer relations manager, be as polite as possible throughout the whole process, and go from there. That is my plan. I will keep you posted and let you all know the outcome once we reach one.


- , Redondo Beach, CA, USA

problem #16

Jun 182008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

Around 2 months ago our car started to bump, we did diagnostics paid 75$ and they said its the 2nd gear costs $2,000. So if this is a toyota mess up why are they not taking care of it? Please help

- , Richmond Hill, GA, USA

problem #15

Jun 232008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

While driving, my car decides to jerk and not accelerate, and of course almost causing an accident where I would have been killed or severely injured. I took it to a Foreign car specialist to have it diagnosed. There where no other symptoms like the engine light coming on or anything else. Anyway, he said it was the transmission. I then did research online, and stumbled across this website. What a blessing, that I'm not alone in this. I then went to the Toyota dealer where I bought my new car six yrs ago and had them diagnose the problem. First they tell me no code or shifting problems could be found. I was ticked that they wanted their $85 and couldn't even tell me what was wrong, but suggested it MIGHT BE the ECM. At $1500.00 they could replace it for me. Needless to say I spoke at that time to the General Manager, and had the tech person ride with me, and of course my car rode just fine. Left my car there for the week to have them drive it and figure out what the hell is wrong with it, they just called saying it was the ECM, and I get a discount of 250.00, so now I'm looking at only $1250.00 for their piece of work. I NEED TO KNOW FROM SOMEBODY WHO HAS JUST HAD THE ECM REPLACED, NOT REPROGRAMMED IF THEIR STILL HAVING PROBLEMS, AND IF SO DID THEY HAVE TO GO AND REPLACE THE TRANSMISSION AFTERWARDS???????? EVERYONE NEEDS TO FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) THE MORE COMPLAINTS WE HAVE FILED THE MORE LIKELY OF HAVING TOYOTA PAY FOR THEIR DEFECTIVE AND DANGEROUS TRANSPORTATION. IF ANYONE KNOWS OF A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT GOING ON, PLEASE LET ME KNOW! GOOD LUCK EVERYONE, GOT A FEELING WE WILL NEED IT.

- , St. Johns, MI, USA

problem #14

May 152007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

7-18-2002. I just had a transmission failure that Toyota refuses to cover, although there are numerous others with the same problem. Now I understand that the ECU issue is connected to the transaxle failure?!

Last year in May/June, I started having a problem with the "check engine" light. I took the car into my dealer in Winston-Salem NC (Modern Toyota) and they fixed it, but it came right back on. The second time I went in I asked them about it and they did nothing. Then I moved to Kansas, and I took it to Emporia Motors in Emporia. They didn't say or do anything about it, either, although I asked the mechanic about it at least twice at routine oil changes.

Finally, my dad got out his diagnostic tool and found out in about one minute what the issue was. I took it to another mechanic, NOT Emporia Motors, because I wanted the problem diagnosed and handled effectively. They diagnosed it and sent me back to Emporia Motors because it was an ECU issue and they could not reflash it. Emporia Motors reflashed it for no cost to me, as it should be.

So... to sum up: For a year I drove around with that stupid light on, no Toyota service people would diagnose it even though I asked them to, I had to get my dad and another mechanic to identify the problem before they would respond, and now the transmission has to be completely replaced and it might be connected to the ECU problem, but Toyota is not taking responsibility for their faulty product.

I want to get a hybrid for my next car, but hellz no I will NEVER, EVER buy another Toyota!

- , Emporia, KS, USA

problem #13

Jun 022008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

My problem with my beloved Toyota began on a recent trip to Florida. The day after we arrived, my 2002 Toyota rav 4 started jerking and not wanting to shift into 1st and 2nd gear as normal. The next day I took it to a dealership and they came back with a dreadful prognosis. New tranny, new ECM, and O2 sensor replacement; approximately $5k for the whole thing.

Obviously could not afford that, so I decided to get a second opinion on it. I then took it to AAMCO. After having them diagnose the problem as a bad O2 (reason for check engine light)sensor probably causing the ECM to malfunction, therefore causing the transmission to malfunction, they replace the O2 sensor for $250. After this supposedly fixed the problem, the rav 4 started doing the same thing again. So we took it back again, and this time AAMCO said that the problem now has to be the ECM causing the solenoids in the transmission to shift slow and hard between 1st and 2nd gear. ECM replacement will run about $1200. and even then a new ECM would still have to be programmed for another "nominal fee." I did not even ask about cost of replacing the solenoids.

I am upset with this problem because I trusted the quality and reliability of Toyota. Even thought My car has over 100K miles, I have faithfully maintained the vehicle since day 1 with regular oil changes and transmission fluid changes. Even a safeguarding transmission flush at 98k miles.

Since so many other Rav 4 owners have this problem, I hope that Toyota will step up to the plate and keep their loyal customers happy by ordering a recall for the ECM and transmission.

I am in the process of formally complaining to toyota about this issue, hoping possible for some recompense.

- , Apopka, FL, US

problem #12

Apr 262008

RAV4 2WD 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,680 miles

To continue, I took the car to my mechanic and he scanned the car's computer and confirmed my finding. He went to an online database for Tech Bulletins issued by Toyota and found their recommended fix which ios to reprogram or replace the ECM with an upgraded ECM. The mechanic obtained the ECM from a Toyota dealer and installed the unit. He inspected the transmission and flushed the system for good measure to ensure no damage was sustained.

Prior to this Toyota issued a letter to bring the vehicle in for ECM reprogrammiing which I did. This was in December 2006. My questions are: Was it actually reprogrammed? If it was, why did this occur just the same? Could it be that the ECM was a lemon at the outset? If Toyota issued an upgraded ECM to replace the originally installed unit isn't it an acknowledgment that a lemon was installed?

I would really be interested in what consumer advocates say in a case like this.

- , Princeton, NJ, USA

problem #11

Apr 262008

RAV4 2WD 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,680 miles

One day I was driving and the car was running smoothly. After parking for a short period. I started the engine and when I shifted to drive I felt a sudden jolt when the gear passed thru "R". And when the shifter got into "D" the transmission was jerking. I repeated the process to confirm and it did feel like a transmission problem. From stop I and on "D" I stepped on the gas to move and I noticed a distinct hesitation by the transmission as if the gears did not engage.

This went on for about 20 miles until I reached home at which point I noticed the Check Engine Light was already on. I used my Carchip (a OBDII computer reader) to pull out a trouble code. The trouble code said the source of the problem is the transmission shift solenoid.

I took the car to my mechanic

- , Princeton, NJ, USA

problem #10

May 122008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,264 miles

I own a RAV 2002 and I have the same problem as all other complaints for this particular model... the transmission is not shifting good it's bucking! Especially in smaller gears. I took it twice to Toyota dealer but each time they took it on a test drive it doesn't happen to them so the problem is... I'm crazy! A few months ago the check engine light was on but it went off by itself so I don't know what to tell them... I have read all other complaints about this problem but it's not clear to me what I have to replace to fix the problem forever. Do I have to replace the ECM or the whole transmission or computer. It's still under warranty for a few miles but I would really like to fix everything before it's over. The guys at dealer don't seems to have heard anything about that kind of problem when I explained it to them... or maybe they just pretend. Anyway if could walk in there and tell them that I have made my research and tell them what they need to do in order to fix the problem that would be just great... so please someone let me know exactly which part needs to be replace???? thanks!

- , Edmundston, NB, Canada

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