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:
98,648 miles
Total Complaints:
122 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (45 reports)
  2. replace ecm (35 reports)
  3. replace transmission (19 reports)
  4. replace ecm and transmission (6 reports)
  5. rebuilt transmission and reflashed (5 reports)
  6. Toyota has issued an extended warranty on this issue 10 year / 150k (5 reports)
2002 Toyota RAV4 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 3 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #82

Apr 192010

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


So sad, I really feel let-down. I have driven only Toyota's for many years and always felt secure in their reliability but like so many others out there, I have been horribly disappointed. This morning, Dunning Toyota in Ann nArbor Michigan told me the same story. First try re-programming the computer, then put in a new computer and if all else fails replace the transmission. After hearing everone elses experience, i don't think i will go down that road. Not sure what to do. I left the dealership after they "re-programmed the computer and of course the car was jerking and thumpping into gear.

Update from May 4, 2010: I feel so much better. We took the ECM out of the RAV4 and sent in to It was sent back, installed and now the RAV seems to be running well. The cost for the rebilt ECM was $250.00. This company is all that others have said they were. fast and professional. Of course I had to pay for a rental car for a week and all of the hassle that goes with having a car in the shop. I feel so deceived by Dunning Toyota in Ann Arbor who quoted me $1300.00 for what engine check did for $250.00. I will trade this Toyota in for a Honda and never deal with a Toyota car or dealership again. Their problems run deep.

- , Ann Arbor, MI, USA

problem #81

Mar 242010

RAV4 4WD 4 Cl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

My car had a check engine light on, then it started jerking and was very hard to move after stops and In low speeds. Had it diagnosed and was told to change two oxygen sensors. Two oxygen sensors were changed but the jerking did not stop. I paid $853.00 for this service. The check engine light came back on after driving the car for only about 5 miles. Took the car back to the shop and was told that two additional sensors needed to be changed. I paid additional $600 (discounted) for this repair and was told that the ECM on the car is bad and that it needs to be replaced because the vehicle was not shifting correctly in low gear. After I had spent over $1400 to fix the oxygen sensors, I was told to spend additional $5,000 to $6,000 to fix the ECM and the transmission. I Called Toyota and was told that the vehicle is out of warranty for both the transmission and the ECM. Toyota knew about this problem but they did not recall the cars that are affected: 2001-2003 RAV4. I am looking forward to sue them. If anyone who is experiencing this type of problem and wants to embark on this lawsuit, we should come together as a group and pursue this serious matter. We don't want to wait till someone gets killed or hurt before we take action. THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW!! LET'S SUE THOSE BASTARDS.

Update from May 7, 2010: I took the my car to the dealer and complained about the faulty ECM. The Dealership told me that the ECM was out of warranty and will not fix it because the car has 81000 miles so I called the Toyota of North America and complained about the ECM. They told me that they will call me within 48 hours with the approval for the replacement of the ECM since the car has over 80k miles but within the 8 year limit. The dealership eventually replaced the ECM for free without replacing the transmission and problems that the car was having are now gone. If your car is experiencing these types of problems and was told by the mechanic (from toyota dealership) that it is a transmission or ECM problem, demand that they replace the ECM at no cost to you because toyota knew about this ECM problem but they did not recall it.

- , Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #80

Apr 202010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,432 miles

I took my 2002 RAVE-4 in for service and a jerking going into gear problem. They showed me a service fix , dated 2006, for my problem. then told me my extended warranty was 4 moths passed even if the mileage was 2000 miles within. Cost will be $1333.00 to fix mt car. Why was I never told about the fix, sense the same dealer has done most of my service. I was told the notice was for service only. And they want us to go back to the same dealer.

- , Del Rio, TX, USA

problem #79

Jan 062010

RAV4 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,756 miles


This is an extremely dangerous situation. The problem didn't start until I got over 100,000 miles. The car has the problem mostly in 1st and 2nd gear and when starting from a stopped position. TIt happens mostly in bottleneck highway traffic which I drive every week. Someday a tractor trailer or a car will hit me in the back end while I am hesitating and jerking back and forth. They think you are going to move and you don't. I have had the transmission looked at and it is still in good condition. The ECM seems to be the problem but it isn't showing any numbers and no engine light comes on. I think this should be

replaced as it is definitely faulty before somebody gets hurt. This is another Toyota computer problem. This should have been recalled and I should get a reimbursement for this. I would like Toyota to get back to me on this.

- , Stroudsburg, PA, USA

problem #78

Nov 022009

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

I will never ever buy a f*cking Toyota Rav 4 again in my f*cking life... same problems with everyone else... had to get a new transmission... doesnt want to pass the smog checks.. need a new ECM ... etc etc....

- , Lakewood, CA, USA

problem #77

Mar 022010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

Yesterday my RAV4 2002 began behaving erratically. At times it would seem like it was in neutral, but then suddenly it would connect in gear and speed ahead. It clunks really loudly when engaging into R or D. Also, when starting up it would shudder and jerk and loudly. I had just had the transmission fluid changed a month ago. Currently, it is being checked by my neighborhood auto repairmen. They haven't figured it our yet, but they didn't seem to think it was the ECM.

Update from Mar 28, 2010: Well, my neighborhood auto repairmen disconnected everything from the battery and then reconnected it all again. Transmission was fine for about 2-1/2 weeks. Then it all started again and was so bad I had to be towed to a dealership. The service manager seemed very knowledgeable and said it sounded like the ECM and confirmed it after going through their diagnosis. The cost would be $1,403.00. Since my warranty had ended November '09, they could not cover the entire cost. However, Toyota did cover $450.00 of the repair and replacement of the ECM. I'm not thrilled because Toyota knew it was a faulty part, but it does run fine now.

- , Sterling Heights, MI, USA

problem #76

Feb 122010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


I had my fluids and engine checked regularly at Suburban Toyota in Troy, Michigan, so transmission fluid was not a mystery. When I took it in for this problem, I thought I had bought bad gas because the car was shifting from 1st into 3rd. I thought this was something that could be taken care easily. It probably isn't a surprise since the engine light would not cut off at 40,000 and 50,000 miles when I took it in. Apparently, no body at Fox Toyota or Suburban had the knowledge to fix this. It eventually went off. Now the dealership wants 1,600 to fix the computer in the transmission so that they can diagnosis engine damage. I am definitely going to buy German cars from here on out.

- , Rochester, MI, USA

problem #75

Jan 222010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Last Friday after leaving work I noticed my truck was not accelerating when I pressed the gas pedal after coming from a stop. I would have to hold it down and wait for it to get going. Then besides not wanting to accelerate, it would then alternate between jerking forward and hesitating before it actually got going. I was scared because I had to get on the highway and merge into traffic. I immediately drove to my mechanic, He test drove it and also felt the hesitation and jerking. I had leave it to be diagnosed the next morning. He called and said the diagnostic test was not showing anything outside the transmission and with the actions it was most likely inside the transmission. By Monday I found out a new transmission was $4,200 and used was $3K. I bought this truck brand new and always took care of it, I was not pleased. My sis mentioned it might be under warranty and to also check the web. I saw all the posts on this site with the same problem and recommendations to REPLACE THE ECM. Go figure!? I called my Toyota dealership who told me my warranty was up (5yrs/50K miles - which confused me because I read posts that it was 80k miles). of course I could not get thru to Toyota headqurters because of this massive gas pedal recall. I felt very confident and told my mechanic to replace the ECM (at a cost of $1,300.00) since I immediately stopped driving it and therefore my transmission should not have been damaged. I just picked it up yesterday and it seems to be doing fine! will keep you posted! I just read a post that the ECM can be "repaired" for around $250 which I wish I had seen before but oh well. I will be pursuing this with Toyota since from what i see they knew about this problem since 2006. I will be filing complaints with the BBB, the Attorney general and whoever else i can. Total cost to me: $1,300 for new ECM and $300 in car rental fees.

You MUST NOT keep driving it because then you WILL ruin your transmission!

- , Laurel, MD, US

problem #74

Jan 132010

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

own 2002 toyota rav 4. about 2 weeks ago noticed that while stopping and then hitting gas peddle felt transmission was shaking also while driving at low speed tranny would shift into neutral. called toyota seems problem with ecm appt made to have car checked

Update from Jan 22, 2010: update on my complain regarding problem with my transmision on my 2002 toyota rav 4 called toyota 1-800 # appt was made with service dept and diagnose problem was ecm ecm replaced no more problems also no out pocket expense from me thank you toyota

- , New York, NY, USA

problem #73

Nov 152009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

I have a 2002 Rav 4 that began having problems with it's transmission about 2 months ago. When I accelerated my car would hesitate and then jerk into gear after some time. When I merged into traffic this was especially unsafe. It was looked at by four different mechanics, three of which could do nothing to fix it, and the third telling me I need a complete overhaul of my transmission which will cost close to $4,000. And now I find out online that lots of people are having this same problem which is really caused by a computer malfunction that Toyota has been aware of for years.

- , Cornville, AZ, USA

problem #72

Nov 012009

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


I am a single person & don't have the money to fix my transmission - they're telling me that there is no way of getting a rebuilt Toyota transmission so it either has to be "used" or new. Yeah, used with 80,000 miles on it. So if I do that, what's to say that the same thing won't happen? I am so frustrated as now I am without a vehicle & have to get rides. I will file a complaint with Toyota, for all the good it will do, & with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If anyone has any other suggestions, I'm willing to hear them. How can we all get together & file a class action lawsuit?

- , Stevens Point, WI, US

problem #71

Nov 182009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,800 miles

The trans on my 2002 RAV4 went bad yesterday. I started to accelerate from a stop and the car is hesitating between 1st and 2nd gear. I was very surprised as the car only has 48,000 miles on it and was going to chalk it up to bad luck until I found this WEB site. So tomorrow I will call Toyota and see what I can do.

Update from Nov 23, 2009: So, after talking to my mechanic (an independent), I called my local Toyota service department and asked about the ECM. The service manager agreed it sounded like an ECM problem and told me to stop by today to verify. I arrived at 12:15 this afternoon. He took my information asked me how long I continued to drive the car after the symptoms appeared (hardly at all, it's been less than one week and I don't drive the car every day), he said they would check the ECM and if they had one in stock would go ahead and replace it. One hour later I was driving out with my new ECM, which was still under warranty.

The service manage was very familiar with this problem he said he had heard from people who had already changed the trans, but not the ECM, or continued to drive the car to the point the trans was shot.

I am very glad I found this site, because I was ready to change the transmission. Thanks for the information on the ECM, I was able to have the problem corrected under the warranty.

- , Chicago, IL, US

problem #70

Nov 102009

RAV4 4 cyls

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

I just wanted to say Thank you so much! to everybody that posted their complaints,without reading about the problem, we could have end up paying a lot of money. We started having problems last week, and we thought it was the transmission. So, I started looking on the internet and I came across this site. I copy the bulletin and I took the car this morning to the dealer (Baytown Toyota in Tx.). They told me they did not know anything about it, and I told them about the many complaints. They said they would call me with the result, well not even a half an hour later, they called and say that it was the ecm. They say the cost was going to be $1,200.00 but in good faith it was not going to cost me anything. I was really glad about it, they would get it fixed in two days.

My rav-4 was about 89,000 miles so the warranty have expired, but the dealer is doing it for free!.

Thank you for you wonderful help!

- , Baytown, TX, USA

problem #69

Oct 262009

RAV4 Limited

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles

I am a single parent of two children living alone with no family in San Diego, CA putting myself through school so that I can hopefully go off to law school in about another year and a half. I bought this car used in 2003 with 28,000 miles. I fell in love with how cute it looks but just recently I started to feel the car shift slow and hard from 1-2 gears, shifts very hard in reverse, stutters in low speeds, engine light comes on and it has given me nothing but misery. I can't keep taking time off of my busy schedule nor afford all these rental car fees to take care of this issue. I took it to the dealership the were going to charge me (with a nice student discount) approx. $3400 for the replace and/or repair of the ECM, Timing chain cover, Motor mounts, Timing chain tensioner. But with a very limited warranty. So I took it to three other places and finally ended up at Aamco. I spent over $3,500 in parts and labor and when I went to pick it up the very next day it is up to the same old thing, only this time it feels so much worst. I am afraid to drive it because I am afraid of getting into an accident. I haven't heard that there is a computer problem yet but after reading all these complaints I am very afraid of what to do next. I do not want a car note. My car is paid off. I want to sell it and have been told its worth about $8,000 but who would want to buy it now? How do I go about getting a down payment for a new vehicle?

Anyhow, my car is still in the shop today and I am just patiently waiting and hoping that they will come up with a solution for me soon. So far Aamco has been very understanding and helpful with the discount and additional service done to my car like the brakes, the tensioner, but rebuilding the transmission only makes it feel worse off than what it did when I first took it in. Has anyone been lucky enough to get this issue resolved with Toyota? I can only pray it gets back its spunk after all the repairs are taken care of..........<:o(

- , San Diego, CA, US

problem #68

Sep 162009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

My moms rav4 is a 2002 and has 72,000 well pampered miles on it, i have all the service records and it's still supposed to be under warranty. This truck is jerking and hesitating when trying to accelerate from a complete stop and when shifting the first couple of gears. This is very dangerous for her , she pulls out in traffic only for the truck to stall and it jerks and sputters before it takes off. First one guy at the dealership tried to come up with $2200 worth of crap that wasn't under warranty, had nothing to do with the problem, and had just been done on the last service visit...except a maf sensor they said would cost $390, we paid $80 from parts store and I it installed. It was good for a couple of days. So, she took it back to a guy there that knows her and usually handles her truck when she comes in. He says the maf sensor again, he mentioned nothing of an ecm, probably because its covered under the warranty. We went to autozone, because they test check engine lights free and it read (p0758) shift solenoid b, something else toyota failed to mention. They are terrible (toyota) this is the second brand new truck she has bought from them, you'd think toyota would treat their customers a lot more like customers.

- , Delray Beach, FL, USA

problem #67

Oct 192009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,600 miles

I also have a complaint about the RAV4. I had a work-related event that required me to travel two hours from my home. My transmission had given me slight problems a few days prior, but I thought that the fuel injectors needed cleaning. While I was on a major highway in New York, my Toyota RAV started to jerk and stall. The RPMs went all the way up and it began jerking and shifting. It barely got me up a hill, and even when I floored the gas, it did not go above 20 miles per hour. The car has roughly 76,600 miles on it! I have had other vehicles of other makes, and none has ever given me the headaches that my Toyota RAV has given me. The "Check Engine" light came on, and I was told that there was a Solenoid problem. Still, I was told, two hours of labor would be required to fully diagnose the problem. I'm in a hotel without a car, and the bottom line is, my Toyota RAV let me down. I don't think I will purchase a Toyota ever again.

Make your complaint known.

- , Rocky Point, NY, USA

problem #66

Sep 252009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

Yes, I'm another person with a 2002 Rav4 with automatic transmission problems. Right after my 90k service it started happening. Jerking into gear, downshifting for no reason, not engaging completely in first gear. Took it into my dealer, and they reported no problem. The check engine light has not come on. Quoted me ~$3500 for new transmission, which I thought odd, since they claimed they didn't see the problem. Just starting to look around to see what the solutions are.

- , Portland, OR, USA

problem #65

Aug 162008

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,400 miles

Keep going after Toyota! We rebuilt our transmission and had the ECU replaced. We sent our own warranty claim to Toyota Canada, denied the first time. Warranty claim resent through the Toyota dealer asking if there was any correlation with the failed ECU and the transmission failure. Toyota Canada agreed to a good will claim for 60% of the repair cost.

If anyone wants any info or a copy of our claim feel free to email us at

Larry & Donna Coe

- , Turtleford, SK, Canada

problem #64

Apr 012007

RAV4 ES 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

My Rav 4 - the transmission sticks in first gear then bangs into second. Sometimes it will slip other times it will work great, This has been going on for sometime. While reading everyone else's complaints sounds like I am in the same boat. Only that mine is still drivable and has been for thirty thousand miles. But it is a pain in the ass and I am not happy driving it like this.

- , Oswego, NY, USA

problem #63

Sep 022009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,000 miles

WHY the hell hasn't TOYOTA recalled the problem this can cause an accident in trafic when your car actually jerks foward and you have to hit your breaks hard. I am sure they new this was a defect. Once again the consumer has to pay the $$$, because I doubt very much if the warranty covers this. I will find out on friday when I take it to the mechanic.

- , St. Croix, VI, USA

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