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Oil Sludge Resulting In Engine Failure
CarComplaints.com 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.
- Typical Repair Cost:
- Average Mileage:
- 86,550 miles
- Total Complaints:
- 11 complaints
Most Common Solutions:
- replace engine (10 reports)
- not sure (1 reports)
- Milligan Vs Toyota - Class A lawsuit for people with Rav4 2001-2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T S
It was a dark and stormy night. Metaphorically speaking, that is.
It was a glorious autumn night in the wilds of North Carolina, and my husband and I had just left a friend's Oktoberfest celebration. We had spent the evening staring at the stars, eating brats, and then hit the highway to head back to our sleepy NC college town.
Unbeknownst to us, there was also a small deer leaving a fete of its own that night. Unlike us, he perhaps had a few too many drinks. (We don't drink and drive, people!) The deer stepped in front of our RAV-4 on I-40. We were able to slow down some but not miss it completely, and with a sickening thud, we pulled our Toyota to the side of the road and called the highway patrol in. The animal was dead, and so, alas, was our RAV-4. Or so we thought.
A day later and a long tow ride into East Durham, we got the good news: our car's damage was mainly cosmetic, and it would be back to us in a few weeks. I got a new right fender and new cooling fans among other minor things. Though it sucked to have to bum rides off of my colleagues for most of the fall semester, I was thrilled to know the car wasn't lost. Or so we thought.
After receiving it back from the body shop, the car drove fine for about a mile. And that's when the real horror show began. The oil light began to flicker and it felt like the car was shuddering. It was very cold out, but I immediately pulled over, turned the car off and called the body shop. They told me to drive it back to them and that it was probably just resetting itself after being put back together again in the cold. I remember doubting this, but I did as told, though that flickering oil light gave me the willies the whole way.
Three days later, I receive a call that goes something like this: "You need a new engine because you didn't take care of the car. It's going to cost about four grand to get it running again."
It was perhaps at this point in time that I had what we in the South call a "conniption."
Folks, I purchased this car from a dealer with 40k on the odometer. I performed every major required mechanical service on it and religiously had the oil changed. The 1996 Honda Accord I owned before the RAV-4 had 189k on the odometer when I sold it, and it was still running strong until the high school kid who bought it literally ran it into a ditch. Heck, I even kept a 1991 Ford Explorer alive to 120k. In short, I know how to properly take care of cars to ensure they last: I pay professional mechanics a lot of money to do all of that stuff it says to do in the owner's manual.
A quick search online for the 2002-03 RAV-4 models will show you all you need to know. Despite meticulous maintenance, a lot of owners have had their "infallible" Toyota engines fail at relatively low mileage. I got lucky: I got 90k on that bad boy before the engine went kaput. Others found themselves in the hole around the 45k mileage mark. Of course, Toyota claims no problems exist for this, and since my car was beyond the powertrain warranty it was "my problem to deal with."
I could live with that if Toyota had not recalled Camry engines from the same time period. "Hey," some folks will say, "you got 90k on it before it failed. Try driving a Pontiac beyond 50k with the same results." Touche, my dears, touché. The problem is I initially plunked down a heck of a lot more cash for a Consumer Reports all-star. Had I bought a Pontiac, I'd likely have expected the engine problems. Heck, I might have even thrown the car a party to celebrate the death of its original engine. But alas, the Pontiac is not what is in the garage right now.
I ended up spending $3,500 on a new engine for this thing. It came from Japan. It had 20k on it when I bought it. It's still going strong, and the RAV-4 has 210k on its body and transmission. But Toyota has designated my earlier problems as failure to care for my car. As if, jokers!
Will we ever know what truly caused the engine failure? Was it Spotty the Deer or did the Toyota gods simply frown on me? Perhaps this will be a mystery for the ages. Whatever the cause, this was an expensive problem on a car that was supposed to make it for the long haul. I'm driving it out of spite these days, taunting it to fail on me with each mile that passes so that this chapter can finally be closed.
- Kim N., Atlanta, GA, US