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:
5 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
86,137 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #11

Aug 012008

RAV4 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


2002 Toyota Rav4 with unintended acceleration. The consumer stated his daughter was driving the vehicle, and had difficulty stopping the vehicle, because the accelerator became stuck. The incident only occurred once to date. In August 2008 the vehicle was serviced for a harsh shifting within the transmission. A rebuilt transmission was installed. The consumer continued to experience problems with the transmission. The consumer stated he was given a copy of a tsb that had been issued regarding the transmission which stated if the harsh shifting persists after the ECM replacement, the automatic transaxle assembly may also require replacement. Updated 04/29/10. The consumer stated the computer in the vehicle was defective and eventually replaced. However the consumer believed the new computer is also defective in light of the recent Toyota recalls. Updated 05/04/10.

- Islip Terrace, NY, USA

problem #10

Oct 012008


  • miles
I have a 2002 Toyota rave 4, I have even complained to the dealership where I bought the vehicle. I complained about it speeding out of control when I used the cruise control and it still does and I can reproduce it every time on the same road. I also had complained about steping on the breakes and the car not wanting to stop. Dealership told me "it was in my head, and that they couldn't find anything wrong with it." I was actually in a car accident on my way into the dealership to have them check the same problem again. I reported it several times to them an I have had the car since 2005.

- Paris, OH, USA

problem #9

Mar 022010


  • 86,900 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. While sitting idle, he depressed the accelerator pedal when there was an atypical sudden increase in engine rpms of up to 4,000. The vehicle then attempted to stall without warning, however suddenly the vehicle shifted gears and abnormally accelerated. The contact continued to depress the brake pedal in an attempt to decrease vehicle speed. He was able to stop the vehicle and the vehicle was taken to the dealer where they verified the electronic control module (ECM) was the cause of the unintended acceleration. The contact advised this was not the first time he encountered unintended acceleration in this vehicle. There were no repairs made to the vehicle. The failure mileage was 86,900 and the current was 87,000.

- Lowell, MA, USA

problem #8

Nov 242008


  • 73,072 miles


In the fall of 2008, the factory installed cruise control on my 2002 Toyota rav 4 functions intermittently. It will work for a short period on any long trip then will cause vehicle to decelerate. Sometimes cannot get it to work again. Light will flash on and off on the dashboard. Have taken it in to local Toyota dealership who cannot get it to duplicate. The mechanic states everything is fine. Due to semi-functional cruise, the mileage on a long distance trip has decreased from 30-32 mpg to 24-26mpg.reported this to Toyota in 2009 and given a case # which I have misplaced. They did not appear to be concerned or admit they had a problem. Extended warranty (to 100,000 miles) will not cover the repair. There is indeed an electrical issue going on, but no one seems to solve the problem or care. In searching I have found other people who have posted comments regarding the same issue without resolution.

- Evans, GA, USA

problem #7

Apr 092009


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. While driving 25 mph on a local road the vehicle suddenly accelerated from 25 mph to 85 mph. She quickly made a left turn to avoid a collision and crashed into an island and a cement retaining wall. The insurance company didn't give her a report on what could have caused the failure to occur. The vehicle was destroyed. She broke her right ankle, and her lower back was injured. One of the passengers sustained a broken left hand and injuries to the neck. The other passenger received injuries to the neck. The police report information was not available. The VIN was unavailable. The failure and the current mileages were 60,000.

- Wodurn, MA, USA

problem #6

Oct 262009


  • 111,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. While shifting the vehicle in drive the vehicle would not accelerate past 4 mph. Then without warning the vehicle began to rapidly accelerate. Eventually he was able to gain control of the vehicle. The vehicle was then taken to the Toyota dealer and the technician stated that the computer was overriding the transmission. A new computer was installed in the vehicle. All the repairs have been done under the owners expense. The failure has been reported to the office of consumers affairs and to Toyota. The failure mileage was 111000. The current mileage was 111400. Updated 02/18/10. Updated 03/04/10.

- Auburn, CA, USA

problem #5

May 102009

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 84,000 miles


At 84,000 miles the car started surging for no reason, stalling while moving on the highway, and stalling while approaching intersections. Happened two to three times daily, causing a number near miss accidents, rear ends. Took it to the dealer who replaced the computer. This was very dangerous and easily could have caused an accident. The consumer stated he experienced sudden acceleration. Updated 07/26/10.

- West Orange, NJ, USA

problem #4

Nov 252007

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. While driving 2 mph in reverse and with the brake pedal depressed, the vehicle accelerated. The contact applied more pressure to the brake pedal, but the vehicle did not stop. The vehicle crashed into a parked vehicle and was then towed to the dealer. A police report was filed. The vehicle was destroyed. The road conditions were dry. The current and failure mileages were 70,000. Updated 3/5/08

- Bakersfield, CA, USA

problem #3

Feb 152002

RAV4 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,000 miles
When the brake was applied, the vehicle surged foward due to fuel throttle leakage. Dealer notified.

- Crystal, MN, USA

problem #2

Jan 052003


  • 13,408 miles
Vehicle accelerates on its own without pressing accelerater. Vehicle was involved in two collisions because of this problem.....

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #1

Feb 052002

(reported on)


  • miles
Re: fuel throttle linkage failure: High idle speed; unpredictable idle speed oscillation / surges, unpredictable acceleration / deceleration (particularly when engine is cold). Car will sometimes fail to decelerate after taking foot off gas when at low speeds (10-25 mph), for example, when turning a corner or driving down a residential street. This manual transmission car will sometimes drive/lurch forward on its own without pressing on the gas pedal when in 2nd or 3rd gear, once rpms drop to about 1500. Told by the dealer and Toyota that this is the result of a new emissions control computer, and that the car is operating as designed. Re: structure - roof rack: Piece of the covering to the roof rack fell off when driving down the freeway. Could have been dangerous if there would have been a car driving behind me at the time.

- Columbus, OH, USA

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