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 5 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #42

Mar 122009

RAV4 L 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


On 3/12/09, I started the car for work and it jerked when shifting from park to reverse. When in Drive gear, it hesitated even when accelerating! Then while driving, it would jerk and pause (like as if I had it in Neutral) when I am accelerating. Sometimes out of the blue, the car would jerk hard like as if I had just pressed on the brakes hard!

Tried to repair it by: replacing transmission mount, front engine mount, drain and replace transmission oil (twice), at a total cost of $400 not including labor and STILL the car is jerking and shifting!

ALL MECHANICS that were consulted said that many customers have come in with the same problems on their RAV4. They said that even with the transmission fixed, problems are still present. Obviously, this is not an isolated case, this is a problem with TOYOTA!

Please let me know if there is a recall as I too will check on this end. I am going to TOYOTA on Monday and they better have an answer. It's like this, if we all got sick from the same food at the same restaurant, then obviously there needs to be an investigation happening...something is wrong!!

I believe this is a manufacture problem, not user problem.

- , Hagatna, GU, Guam

problem #41

Apr 012009

RAV4 AWD 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,605 miles

National highway and traffic 1-888-327-4236 is looking for people with this problem to establish a need for an investigation and to implement a recall with monetary compensation. Also, you should call Toyota corporate at 1-800-331-4331 option 5 to voice your opinion of a problem that Toyota was aware since 2006 but did nothing. The damage according to my local host National H:7070 dealer was predictable and preventable. I have found multiple web sites relating to this specific problem. Pass this on and call the above numbers. Let's let Toyota know we are not happy!

- , Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #40

Jan 122008

RAV4 4WD 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,302 miles

click to see larger images

jerking and hesitating jerking and hesitating jerking and hesitating jerking and hesitating jerking and hesitating

Miserable and unbearable Toyota experience It’s not exaggerating –one year Toyota Poland still cannot fix our 2002RAV4

Dear Friends: You may like to hear this story. The fact is “Toyota Motor Corporation Ranks Highest Overall in Customer Satisfaction in Germany” and I do agree with the survey, but I have extraordinary experience in Poland. We bought our Toyota RAV4 with automatic transmission in 2002 in Denmark. The car was perfect until the harsh shift happened only once at 90,000km when I drove from Warsaw to Berlin in January 2008. It did not happen when I drove back to Warsaw few days later. I took to Toyota Chodzen in warsaw, they told me it could be control, or transmission or catalyst converter. I was not convinced by this or that guesstimate, so I brought to a transmission specialist. He sent the hydraulic clutch to Germany to rebuild, replaced friction discs, clean and change oil, and put transmission back. He informed me that there is a recall of 2001-2003 RAV4 for the harsh shift problem and it did show P0755 in his shop. Specialist told me that it is production problem and I should bring the car back to Toyota. He also reminded me “do not drive until the problem is fixed”. Otherwise it may damage the hydraulic clutch again or gear and ruin the friction discs. I took our car back to Toyota Chodzen on February 12, 2008 and informed them the T/M is refurbished and don’t drive until the harsh shift is solved. We did send them a copy of Technical Service Bulletin # TC002-06 for repair. (Note. we realized it is not cover under warranty, we will pay for the repair but we also informed them in writing that we will not claim the car until it is fixed). Toyota could not find anything wrong with ECM, and gearbox and suggested us replace solenoid valve since they believe when oil gets hot, the valve may act funny, we agree to replace. After one month and Toyota’s test drive 600km, we got our car back, then the harsh shift occurred the next day. We call Toyota and they suggest take car to a more experience Toyota dealer called Wolchy and they claimed they found metal pieces. Toyota Poland suggested fix gearbox up to the cost of 34,000PLN (about 8,200Euros) depending on the condition of gearbox. Toyota Poland also offered a new ECM free of charge as a good will in some way ECM computer is broken with one year additional warranty on replaced parts and service (It is an odd offer since ECM is the core of problem based on recall). We suggest them to check the harsh shift by following the TC002-06 but was turned down by Toyota because their reason is the harsh shift is US problem not European problem. I did internet search regarding to this problem and found the same problem at website: and found many people have the same problem and also found out the RAV42002 is among the 10 worst cars. Among the worst problems of RAV2002, 76% are on transmission problem. I also paid for solution by website of and and found out to solve the harsh shift problem for this model year is to follow the recall procedure even the VIN number is not shown in their recall list. I had all this information to Toyota Poland and suggest them repair by this approach and was turned down and ignored due to the reason again that is USA problem. In June while we were on vacation, Toyota towed our car to Embassy ground without our consent and further discussion of how to repair this car. We hired an independent inspector to verify the transmission in July, He asked me to drive for roughly 13km and no harsh shift occurred, then he drove after warm up, he duplicated the harsh shift condition less than 3km and discovered the problem and wrote a report. Toyota ignored this report and dismissed by saying different inspectors have different reports on the same problem. We requested a face to face meeting, but turned down by Toyota Poland. The reason Toyota claimed “we are too busy and we can communicate by E-mail”. Eventually we hired a lawyer and got our first face to face meeting on October 23, 2008. During the meeting, Toyota insisted the cause of harsh shift is due to the broken gearbox. We do not agree since the Toyota Chodzen representative was present in the meeting, their repair showed no problem with gearbox and no problem with ECM. Toyota Poland claimed that they did not discover the harsh shift problem while car was in their possession although they have driven 600km. Eventually we agree to have a joint inspection to verify the condition of transmission. Basically it is for the benefit of Toyota. Toyota Chodzen agreed to do it free of charge. It was carried out on October 31, 2008, with hiring independent inspectors from both sides. On November 5, there is a meeting between Toyota and customer. Toyota presented a photo of showing a small metal piece in the smooth surface of valve block body, (By the way valve body is immersed in the oil pan) but did not have evidence of the piece and other findings of any metal pieces in the oil pan, oil filter and the three magnetic. There is mud looking oil at the bottom of oil pan is due to the low oil pressure caused the powder grinding from friction discs. Our lawyer said there shall be another meeting when both reports are completed. Toyota claimed the customer interrupted the inspection otherwise they can find more metal pieces. During the meeting Toyota Poland accused the third party who wrongly repaired the gearbox is the main problem. But Toyota acknowledges the first time that it is the control problem and this is the first car they experienced with the harsh shift, and accused the third party has repair the valve body to cause the control problem. (In reality, it is Toyota Chodzen opened the valve body and replaced the solenoid valve, the third party believes it is production problem and leave to Toyota to fix). Two reports are translated into English by December. One report from Toyota inspector showed a photo with small metal piece on the smooth surface but not other places, the other report from our inspector showing the same photo at same location with no metal piece and no finding any failure of gearbox, I also took photo of the same location and shows nothing. We called for meeting, Toyota Poland replied with a letter accusing unauthorized repair of transmission, interruption of inspection by customer (did not mention this in both reports) and Toyota Poland is out of the picture, and instruct us to deal with Toyota dealer Chodzen directly to claim our car. Now this car has been idling almost one year (on January 17) and the transmission is on Toyota dealer’s shelf for 75 days. So we can get our car back with pieces of transmission. That is the service we got from Toyota Poland. I think it is a good story for you to find out there may be more unhappy Toyota customers in Poland and those who do not know the model between 2001 and 2003 has this production problem. The experience we have with Poland is that they believe they are the authority and you cannot challenge them and there is no room for discussion. We asked them why not put in a new ECM and give a try, they said we have never done that and refused to do it. If you need any documents or our communication with Toyota Poland, we are glad to offer, so you can make your fair judgment of Toyota service is not the best at all. Jesse Warsaw, Poland

- , Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland

problem #39

Jan 072009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,438 miles


Car would hardly move forward from a stop, then it would jerk / shake violently. We had a snow storm yesterday and it felt as if I did not have "all wheel drive" traction.

Brought the car to the dealer last night. He will report later on his findings and solution to the problem.

- , Gatineau, PQ, Canada

problem #38

Dec 132008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,000 miles

It did not get fixed; the problem has worsened. It is not only hesitating and jerking, it is crawling and furting. I am only hoping that it will not die on me before I put together some more money to bring it back to the repair shop. These days, I pray each day that I drive this car.

- , Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #37

Jul 092008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,946 miles

i bring my awesome RAV2 into the Toyota dealership because it was hesitating strangely. I instinctively knew there was a problem with the transmission but the dealership needed to prove it for themselves, as well as my extended warranty company. I didn't have a problem since it only cost me $75. I finally got the car back on July 29, 2008 with a new transmission. (more complaints to follow! trust me, this is not the only transmission my car will have! also want to add that the dealership and my warranty company have been great. i believe this is a systemic problem with this car!)

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #36

Nov 012008

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


i'm experiencing the same problems as other toyota rav 4 users. Mine is jerking and hesitating and I'm afraid to drive it. My mechanic said it was the solenoid that needs to be replaced, I did a search on solenoid and found this site with all these complaints similar to mine. So is the real problem that the ECM needs to be replaced?

- , Belize, Belize, Belize

problem #35

Nov 062008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,992 miles

2002 Toyota Rav4;140,000 KM;automatic transmission started to hesitate when stopped at lights, the revs would go up and the vehicle didn't move..I knew there was a engine light came on..only hesitation from 0 to 20km on the speedometer. One dealership noted, no computer problem and no leaks(even though levels were low). Two days later, took it to another dealership that diagnosed the problem as being the ECU needs replacement at $150.00. I am not paying to have this fixed, this is a design flaw in the vehicle that causes it to be unsafe and needs to be taken care of by Toyota Canada...I await feedback from them on how this will be handled. The transmission is covered under the warranty, however, the ECU that causes the transmission to fail is not covered. Am I supposed to wait until the transmission totally fails for them to honor the warranty?


- , Ajax, ON, Canada

problem #34

Nov 072008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,751 miles

I obviously have the same problems as everyone else on here (I think there is another list going where there are 70-some complaining about it on this website). Toyota has issued a Technical Service Bulletin the problem, so they obviously know that it is an issue. I would be interested in filing a class-action lawsuit to force them to issue a recall. We need to get organized.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #33

Nov 052008

RAV4 L 4 cylindar

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,750 miles

Wednesday morning on the way to work it jerked and shifted hard into gear a couple times. I kind of thought what the heck? Then after work that evening it started really jerking and hesitating from taking off from a stop, like it didn't want to go even though I was pressing on the gas. Then all of a sudden it would slam into gear and jerk the whole car. I thought to myself, oh great my transmission is going out. Anyway I took it to the shop today and yes, they say it's my transmission. I was sure it was going to be covered under my extended warranty (I just had in my mind I was covered up to 100,000 miles), but no, 72 months or 100,000. Guess what my 72 months expired in April, just my luck!!! He said it will cost about $3,400 to fix, but maybe he can get it for me for about $3,000. Which, I am trying to decide if that is what I want to do. And low and behold, my husband found this website. Now after reading all these problems that everyone is having with the transmission and the computer brain, etc., I don't know if I should have it fixed or see about trading it in. I have totally LOVED my RAV 4. No problems at all until now and reading this website is making it sound like my problems are just beginning.

I too, bought this vehicle brand new and have had it serviced faithfully at the same Toyota dealership I purchased the vehicle from. It was 6 years old in April and is just now within about 150 miles from turning the 65,000 mark. What to do?...signed dazed and confused!

- , Ceres, CA, USA

problem #32

Nov 042008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


Right after vote and going to work. When transmission started acting strange on me.

I took it to my mechanic and he just call me and let me know that he think (98% sure) that it's a transmission problem and gave me rough estimate. (about $4000.00). I guess I have to fix it. I do not want to buy a new car at this time. What a day?

- , Burtonsville, MD, USA

problem #31

Sep 302008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,275 miles

First of all, Thank you for allowing consumers the opportunity to complain about the problems with our vehicles.

The problem with my vehicle started about over a week ago. My vehicle is 6 years old, I have always taken care of the vehicle, and take it in for the maintenance. A few years ago, I was charged by one of the dealer shop in Silver Spring, MD almost $500.00 for brake shoe (front), and oil change maintenance, and to make matters worse, the brakes were put on wrong. Therefore I found a creditable mechanic shop where I now takes my vehicle. My vehicle have almost 50,500 miles, and is having transmission problems,which shouldn't be. The vehicle would suddenly start jerking (describe it as a leaping frog), and goes into a shutting down state. Also, at times when shifting gear, it would trumble/sound so loud making the vehicle feels as though it is going to fall apart. I have always have problems with gear shifting, but not as severe as it is now. I trully believe that there are some malfunction with this vehicle. It is a six year old car, which doesn't get abused. I bought the car new, and has been the only driver, and has not exceeded the recommended miles per year. The vehicle is not near the 72.000 miles, It's only 50.462 miles.

- , Hyattsville, MD, USA

problem #30

Oct 012008

RAV4 LX 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,000 miles

After reading others complain, I realized I'm in the same RAV. Fortunately, I've only paid my mechanic $35.00 to find nothing. My RAV just recently started with the same stuttering/jerking problem going from 1st to second. At this late stage I don't want to spend any more $ to fix these problems. I really like my RAV. How should I proceed? I'm thinking about trading it in and getting a MATRIX.

- , Dunstable, MA, USA

problem #29

Sep 082008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

I was both astounded and very pleased to see the litany on this website describing the same exact problem, and similar Toyota response, that I have been having for the past month with my 2002 Rav 4. I have kept all of the maintenance up to date, have driven it carefully and with respect, and @4 weeks ago, out of the blue, it started shuddering and hesitating between 20 and 30 mph, and sometimes after I had just started out, sometimes when coming to a stop. Some days it was fine, some not. I took it to my local service guys who do my oil changes, etc, and they diagnosed a need for the Reflash. I took it to the dealer, and they did the reflash (I don't remember getting a service bulletin on this, but in any case the reflash was covered). It worked great for a week, then the shuddering, bucking like a rodeo bronco action started again. I took it back to the dealer this morning and, lo and behold, they diagnosed the need for a new transmission. I called the manager of the service dept. after reading this website, and he said, "if you can put together paperwork to show that you have been loyal to the Toyota dealership with your maintenance needs, I can take that to my factory rep and maybe we can find a way to work with you." This is my third Toyota. Loyal to the brand, yes, and loyal to the dealerships when the cars got old and needed extra tlc, but this car has been no problem till now, so it went to my local small business person for regular maintenance. I am deeply, deeply disappointed in Toyota right now, and this experience further supports my taking cars to small business people who give a damn about their customer base. I am going to file a complaint with the BBB and anyone else I can find.

- , St. Paul, MN, USA

problem #28

Aug 252008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

Hi every one,I have a 2002 Rav 4 with 68000 miles ,almost new and never thought i will see a mechanic soon but few days ago and driving on the freeway with my 4 year old and the car suddenly start jerking and almost stopping and then shifting gear in a strange way so i took it to the mechanic and he just dropped the bomb and told me the bad news and it's a transmission problem and it's gonna cost me at least 2000 dollars and up to 4400 if the computer system is messed up.Then just to make sure i take it to the toyota "money making machine "and he simply told me that my car was never been recalled and it's fine!!!!!!!

I think toyota should be responsible for all the damage that we the people are paying for.

Just like any body else I work my A@@ off just to pay for this piece of SH&&T.Never again buying a toyota!!!!!!!!!!

- , San Bruno, CA, USA

problem #27

Sep 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles

I bought this car in June of this year. The car was running perfectly fine until one day after work, I noticed that my car started jerking and not picking up speed as before. I figured maybe because it was really hot that day, but that was far from the truth. Since then the problem has progressively gotten worse. I've made an appointment to have a diagnostic test done and I am dreading to hear what they have to say. I have it checked by a local mechanic and he said that most likely it's the transmission. If toyota knew of this problem, they should have recalled this vehicle. I strongly believe that it should be their responsibility to fix this problem. This problem has caused nothing but headaches. I only have one vehicle and I have to get work everyday and God knows I don't have the money. One thing I've learned is to never buy a car without a warranty because you're stuck with the expense.

- , Oakland, CA, USA

problem #26

Jul 312008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,740 miles

I purchased my 2002 Toyota Rav 4 in May 2005. I just recently started having a problem July 30, 2008. I noticed some jerking then when trying to accelerate I noticed the car went at a very slow pace. I took my car to Fairfield Toyota on July 31, 2008. I received a call from the dealership stating then will need to look into having the car diag. by the transmission experts. The dealership advised me the cost would be $ 226.00 just to diag. the problem. After paying the $ 226.00, they gave me the same paperwork that I have been reading about on this site which states "TSB" Technical Service Bulletin which judging by my mileage I'm not even in any shape to have that service covered considering I'm way over the 80,000 miles. The dealer also mentioned that the codes in the system states to replaced the ECM which will cost $ 850.00, then if that doesn't work then they would replace the transmission at a running cost of $ 4,256.00. So needless to say...I left the dealership with my car. I then took my car to an independent automotive shop on 08/06/08 who states the codes PO755 which indicate SOLENOID SHIFT B MALFUNCTION" VEHICLE STARTING OFF IN 4TH GEAR, CAN NOT UP OR DOWNSHIFT BY OVERRIDING TRANS THROUGH COMPUTER WILL NEED TO REMOVE PAN AND TEST SOLENOID B. I allowed them to do the work to replace the Solenoid B. I received a call from the automotive shop stating they have tested the new Solenoid on my car and the new Solenoid was still testing out of range which indicated to them that it was the transmission. The automotive shop stated they would charge me the work that they have done which was labor or replacing the old Solenoid with the new Solenoid which still did not fix the matter, the mechanic advised me to let them figure out what the problem was... and as frustrated as I was without thinking I said yes. I received another call stating it was a "crack in the value body" which is located in the transmission. So now I'm like WTF!!!! So after a grand total of $ 530.00 later I have a POS car that I'm still paying the note on that I can't even drive. I'm so glad to have found this site now at least I have found other people who have shared in my frustrations. Also I forgot to mention the Independent dealer made mention that he was for sure it was not the ECM it was 100% the transmission and that if I paid $ 3,789.00. my problem would be solved. After reading all of the complaints I'm pretty sure it won't be. I have taken notes from some of the complaints and I start my part by writing to the BBB and the to express my situation. But just like the rest of you if any one is going forward I'm with you on this matter! Please let me know of what your next steps have or will be.

- , Suisun, CA, USA

problem #25

Aug 122008

RAV4 L 2.0L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Why I have to pay $170 for diagnostic? Toyota should announce a recall of the ECM.

I will never buy toyota again.

- , Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #24

Aug 212008

RAV4 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Same symptoms as others have listed -- problems shifting into and out of 2nd and 3rd gear. Toyota dealership recommended new ECM at $1,200 with labor. I guess that's good compared to some of the other prices I've seen. Other complainants mentioned this happened after the check engine light "problem" was fixed. I took mine in for that. I wonder if the check engine light comes on in all 2002 Rav4s at a certain point (it is a recall item) and when they fix it, something soon after happens to the ECM. Is this built in obsolescence (part failure) to increase business? Could the system be designed so that the ECM will need replacing?

Does someone know where to buy a reliable ECM; the dealership quoted $150 labor if I can bring one in. Or is that too impractical? Should I count by $1,200 "blessing" and go with it? I will search for an ECM...

- , Greenbelt, MD, USA

problem #23

Aug 192008

RAV4 2L I4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

This is the first problem i've had with this car but it could be really expensive and dangerous.To me accelerating and slamming into gear is a safety issue and should be covered under a recall! I downloaded TSB for this problem(released 2006) and brought to local Toyota dealer, they said yes (after test drive-maybe)the ECM should be replaced! Okay how many ECM'S out there are going to fail and destroy your tranny's? I know because of high mileage i will have to eat this bill, but with enough complaints maybe Toyota will treat this as a safety issue.

- , Meriden, CT, USA

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