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:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 0
Average Mileage:
40,909 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 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #3

Jun 262015


  • 33,000 miles


I was driving my Toyota and my wife was a passenger. All of a sudden, a lady ran a stop sign and swerved and hit us head-on. We could not get out of my vehicle, the doors were jammed and the vehicle was on fire. The fire dept. And police came and quickly put the fire out and pried the front doors open. None of the airbags in my vehicle deployed. I incurred severe injuries to my head, chest, neck and left arm. My Toyota was totaled and the other driver was cited for the wreck. I have been in and out of the hospital several times since the wreck happened and if my airbags would have deployed, I might not have been so severely injured. My Toyota was totaled and the other driver was cited for the wreck. I would like to know why none of the airbags deployed in my vehicle. I probably have takata airbags in my 2002 Toyota Rav4 which did not work.

- Elkview, WV, USA

problem #2

Nov 142012

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 89,727 miles
Returned car to dealer due to experiencing handling difficulty a few days after dealer performed four wheel alignment. I was informed that rear wheels were once again out of alignment due to being frozen with rust and both rear lower control arms and cam kit/plate needed replacement. My dealer tells me that since mine is an earlier model, it is not covered under a safety recall of later models experiencing the identical problem. The service person did say that they had recently performed this repair on a number of pre-2006 Rav4 models. Since this is a potentially dangerous condition, it seems to me that the "rear lower suspension arm "recall notice ought to be extended to include earlier year models.

- Valley Cottage, NY, USA

problem #1

Jun 212002

(reported on)


  • miles
While traveling 35 mph tires somehow got caught between pavement/grove on side of road. Truck then pulled to right, and owner tried to maintain stability. Truck went off the road, rolling over several times. Seat belt became loose, and no air bag deployed. This is was a rental vehicle.

- Lake Los Angeles, CA, USA

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