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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
84,316 miles
Total Complaints:
5 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. installed a remanufactured engine (2 reports)
  2. not sure (2 reports)
  3. new engine (1 reports)
2002 Toyota RAV4 engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #5

Aug 242009

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles


I wqs driving the car and the oil light came on. I religiously had the oil changed and it was just changed in May, 2009. When I took it toyota dealership they said they saw shards of oil in oil filled cap and the engine was full of sludge. We contacted Toyota national customer service, but sent us back to dealership. the dealership's only help was to cut the price back $1000. Their estimate to look at the car to figure out the problem was $2500.

- , Metairie, LA, USA

problem #4

Oct 132008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,582 miles

I just read the complaints for the same problem I am having with the RAV4, I love my car and i have been taking care of it. I had it checked today for the loud knocking noise coming from the lower engine, my mechanic, told me that the most likely problem is the bearings in the car knocking against something and to fix it i would have to replace the entire engine. It was to his and my surprise that this would happen esp since he knows i do regular maintenance on it. He told me it would had been another factor if i never did any oil changes, or do any sorta of maintenance on it. The check engine light has come on three times since I have bought the car back in 2001 and it was covered by the warranty and they told me it was only a defect in the EC computer chip and then something about replacing some cap, but I think the entire time it had to deal with this engine problem. I am just glad to know that I am not the only one who faced the problem. I looked for a trade in value and they told me that in this condition, I would probably get little to nothing for it and to replace the engine its going to cost me a little less than what my car is currently worth

- , Sacramento, CA, US

problem #3

Aug 312008

RAV4 Limited

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

While driving on Vail Pass, my 2002 Toyota Rav4 with 72,000 miles spontaneously began revving a lot, making a loud knocking noise and lost significant power. I immediately pulled off into the emergency lane. When I stopped the car, the oil light came on. This was the first sign of any problem. Upon having it towed (get premier AAA if you own this horrible car) have been told by 3 mechanics Rav4 needed a new engine. I'm very disappointed that there has been no recall to my knowledge of the Rav4. I will NEVER buy another toyota. I also had the transmission/computer replaced in Jan 2006 (that was at least under warranty). Also spent $1500 on some steering problems that was not covered by warranty in 2006.

- , Denver, CO, USA

problem #2

Feb 072008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles


My engine light went on at least twice since I have had the car. Toyota has charged me for repairs. I was never told of any recalls! Now my engine has died and just so you know the engine light didn't come on! Toyota wants to give me a used engine for

$5,100 with 51,000 miles and only a 6 month warranty! How about that!

I called Toyota headquarters and they will do nothing!!!!!!!! I am trying to get them to make some kind of deal to buy it back. I have been praising Toyota for years and now I will only own a Toyota if they make a deal with me. Otherwise I will no longer buy a Toyota again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You will be sorry if you do what I did!

- , West Nyack, NY, USA

problem #1

Sep 042007

(reported on)

RAV4 L4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

While driving on the interstate, our 2002 Toyota Rav4 with 73,000 miles spontaneously began making a loud knocking noise. I immediately pulled off into the emergency lane. When I stopped the car, the oil light came on. Oil has been changed on a regular basis. This was the first sign of any problem. Upon having it towed and having a certified mechanic look at it, metal shavings were found to be in the oil. We were told that the Rav4 needed a new engine. I'm very disappointed that there has been no recall to my knowledge of the Rav4. I find it hard to believe that it was all our fault, when we have taken care of it, and had it serviced on a regular basis. To go from no problems to a $6,700 bill is utterly disgusting.

- , Sunman, IN, USA

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