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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
96,739 miles
Total Complaints:
57 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. new main computer and transmission (37 reports)
  2. not sure (7 reports)
  3. replace ecm module (5 reports)
  4. special service campaign for ecm- (3 reports)
  5. took ecm out myself and sent it to be repaired (2 reports)
  6. contact an authorized Toyota dealer (1 reports)
2002 Toyota RAV4 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #37

May 202010

RAV4 L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles


Like everyone else. 129K carefree miles then classic ECU/ECM problem & subsequent transmission damage (sound last Dec. and cleared by dealer) . When serious shutter & mis-shifting occurring, taken to trusted garage mechanic who though it was transfer case then replaced transmission solenoid. No better so to dealer getting the "bad news". Transmission toast and it will cost $5-6000 for new tranny & labor. It's pretty obvious that Toyota is stone-walling this and we only want an equitable split on the cost as we have been loyal customers for years with this vehicle & our P/U. A TSB was issued on this problem in 2006 as "harsh shifting" but never reached the recall threshold. Market value of vehicle which is otherwise in great condition about $8500. Time to walk away as salvage and/or a donation?

- , Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #36

May 112010

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

I'm very disappointed that Toyota didn't send info on the problem with the ECM,Guess they don't appreciate their customers well enough to keep them informed so it doesn't cost them more.Had they told everyone about the problem which they knew about I myself could have just gotten out of it before it happened it is still running but i am trying to see about cost don't know at this time if the transmission has damage until I replace EMC.I special ordered my Rav4 waited 4 months to get it now I have the same issue as everyone else TOYOTA SHOULD STAND BEHIND THIS PROBLEM WE PAID GOOD MONEY FOR THESE CARS I EXPECT TO HAVE KNOWN ABOUT THIS PROBLEM IN A TIMELY MANNER EVEN WITH HAVING MY CAR PAID FOR I THINK WE SHOULD TAKE THIS TO THE NEWS AND ADD THIS TO ALL OF TOYOTA'S OTHER PROBLEM THAT THEY ARE HAVING WITH THE GAS PEDALS WHICH THEY WERE COVERING UP.PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TURN ALL THIS OVER TO NEWS or 832-445-9386

- , Humble, TX, USA

problem #35

May 012010

RAV4 2.0L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

Tranny started slipping during shifts. Tried to manually shift and experienced a scary hard shift. took it to trusted award-winning garage and they gave me the bad news. Needed a replacement. they shopped and we decided on a $3900 Jasper rebuilt w/ 3 yrs or 100K warranty. They checked with Toyota and others, no one said anything about the ECM causing the failure or the possible mandatory ECM replacement. My luck continues and I have to replace ECM ($900). Garage talks to Toyota trusted serviceman. He tells story about the problems with the 2002 RAV4 transmission and the bad computer (ECM) that causes the failure.

Toyota had extended the warranty on the transmission to 96 mos / 80,000 miles. ( 10000 miles a year is very light use of an auto in the USA). My SUV is under the months but over the miles. Local Toyota dealer service dept told my garage that the car was out of warranty. For $5000 I think I will tend to differ with them and their practices. Maybe timing is on my side with the media all over their backside.The plot thickens.

- , Ozark, MO, USA

problem #34

Apr 192010

RAV4 L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,900 miles


At first my car didn't want to shift in first gear. I had to press down on the accelerator and the rpm's kept going high. I took it to a car repair and they indicated that it was my transmission. I also took it to the dealer and they said it was my transmission. I kept up with my regular service including doing a transmission service in March 2008. The rep at the dealer said that sometimes that happens. I took my car back to the car repair shop and they did another transmission service, hoping that would help, well it didn't help and it got worse. I took it to another car repair shop and they indicated that it was definitely the transmission and a computer problem that burns out the transmission. He said if I just got the transmission repaired without fixing the computer problem, it could happen again. Therefore I had to get both problems fixed for around $3300. I have about 90,000 miles on my vehicle. When I first got my car, everyone raved about how long this car would last and not give my problems, well, so much for that theory! I may go back to an American car. I will be filing a complaint.

- , Ontario, CA, USA

problem #33

Apr 232010

RAV4 4 WD V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles

Well my car started having problems shifting in 2nd and 3rd was going to go to a transmission place for service then did some research. The ECM causes the shifting problems and will destroy transmission if not car was out of warranty by 18 days. I found a Technical bulletin sent ONLY TO DEALERS IN 2006 about this problem and called 1-800-331-4331 and gave Toyota a very hard time...mentioned the several class action suits pending ect...there is now a Special Service Campaign to reprogram the ECM, mine is being replaced under this program...luckily I found out before my transmission went south...many are not so lucky...GET IT FIXED ASAP...LIE ABOUT THE PROBLEM IF YOU HAVE A 2001-2003 RAV 4, they lied to us since 2006. Watch the dealers they play dumb ...don't know anything about that Google TC002-06 and get a case called into your dealer by Toyota from the above number. They will also find lot's of other "computer code" problems from what I have read most of these are catalytic converter codes that should resolve when the computer is reprogrammed/replaced. I am not a mechanic by any not positive about the last part, but read it several places so no...not paying almost $500 for that fix right now..I WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER TOYOTA...THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN DEALT WITH BY LETTING OWNERS KNOW ABOUT THE PROBLEM, but for now I need my car and with a working tranny...hope this helps others. DON'T LET THEM TRY AND GIVE YOU THE RUN AROUND...after Toyota calls the case # in they may need the TSB to fix dealer did...hope this helps

- , Murray, KY, USA

problem #32

Sep 112009

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

I contacted Toyota Corporate direct when the transmission problem began. The rep advised me that I needed to take my vehicle to a Toyota Dealership to verify that this was indeed a transmission problem. I had already had the problem diagnosed by my mechanic, although was told by the Toyota Rep that in order for Toyota to consider paying for the repair of the problem whatever that was, that it would have to be analyzed by a Toyota Dealer repair shop. I had to rent a car and had my vehicle towed to the Dealership close to my home. The Dealership confirmed that it was the transmission.

I tried to contact the Rep and he was not in when I phoned. He contacted me the next day to advise me (Thursday) that he would contact me no later than Tuesday of the following week. He never contacted me, so I tried to contact him and did leave a message for him to call. Meanwhile the clock is still ticking on the rental car and no dispostion, and the Dealership is also asking me if I had heard from the Corporate office as they were still holding the car and waiting to hear from Toyota.

- , Foothill Ranch, CA, USA

problem #31

Mar 052010

RAV4 4x4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,000 miles


If your Rav4 is not shifting properly, and Toyota wants $1300 for fixing the ECM, then maybe another $3,000 for fixing the transmission, first, quit driving it. You will ruin the tranny with a bad ECM - it is the computer that runs the transmission. If you have the money, have your mechanic do the following. There is a picture on the internet of how to remove the ECM. It is easy when you take the screws out in the order the picture says; you'll need a 10mm socket wrench. Send it to Dave, the ECM guy on EBay. He sent it back maybe the same day as he got it. Pray. Maybe that is all it needs, Maybe the transmission is still a little jerky or slow. Buy some new transmission fluid, and Lucas. Drain the transmission and clean the pan and put in Lucas, then fill it with the regular Toyota transmission fluid. It can ruin the transmission if you put in too much fluid. Put the ECM back, and hope your car works great.

I've read that Steve, founder of Apple Computer, says the Toyota computer system is flawed. Getting is flashed by Toyota did not fix it. Toyota, how about hiring some good programmers? I'd be glad to fix it for you.

- , Austin, TX, USA

problem #30

Oct 052009

RAV4 L 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,500 miles

Like several others who have had problems with their RAV4 Transmission, mine started suddenly and without warning. I left a parking lot of a Verizon store and went to a grocery store. As I was parking I had to back up, and when I put the transmission in Reverse I heard a loud "THUNK". My RAV was still driveable, but I did have some shifting problems going into 3rd gear, but I made it home. I set up an appointment with the Toyota Dealership to see what the problem might be and I was told that my ECM and transmission needed to be replaced to the tune of $4600. $3600 for the transmission and $1000 for the ECM. I basically told them they could shove it up their A$$ and brought the RAV back home.

During the day that the RAV was in the shop, I searched the internet for solutions and found out that there is a technical service bulletin on 01 - 03 RAVs for the ECM causing transmission problems. Of course my RAV was out of their window for age and mileage to repair it for free. I found this website contacted them and the next day I express mailed my ECM to them for repair. They fixed it and I had it back the next day, re-installed it and I haven't had a transmission problem since.

I personally will not ever buy another Toyota vehicle, especially now with all the other problems that are coming out from the investigation. I think they are trying to RIP people off by charging so much for an ECM repair, but that's if they suggest only replacing that. Most posts I have read, the customer is being told or has followed the Toyota technician suggestion and had both replaced for several thousands of dollars, and some have even done this twice!?! Toyota needs to send everyone that has had these problems some sort of refund for the crappy product they produced and have long known about the problems it was causing.

- , Lakeland, GA, USA

problem #29

Oct 302009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,935 miles

My situation with the transmission happened with the gears slipping. I took the car to Christian Brothers Auto Repair, a very reputable place in Bartlett, Tn. They told me not only would I need a new transmission but I would need the computer replaced. The cost of the repair made me sick. I was more frustrated when I learned that this was a common problem for this model. I was then really frustrated when I called the Toyota headquarters in CA and was told that they would not give me any help on the problem since I didn't have a warrenty. I WILL NEVER BUY ANY TOYOTA PRODUCTS. I WILL TELL ANYBODY I KNOW THAT IS INTERESTED IN BUYING A CAR NOT TO BUY TOYOTA PR0DUCTS AND I WILL JOIN ANY CLASS ACTION SUIT THAT I KNOW ABOUT.

- , Memphis, TN, US

problem #28

Dec 032009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

Toyota knows about this problem and acknowledged it in an internal TSB in 2006. Unfortunately they do not disclose that they are selling you a defective piece of crap. Apparently the computer module tells the transmission to shift at incorrect times causing excessive internal wear. I drove it to Ammco and it was shifting hard but it had just started. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected the damage in this transmission without any real previous warning. All I can say is Toyota sucks. They care about their bottom line and do not want to take responsibility for producing an inferior product. Hell, they even still encourage dealers to sell them used to unsuspecting customers. At least if I would have bought american, I could have been screwed by americans instead of the Japanese.DON'T BUY THEIR JUNK

- , Rainier, WA, USA

problem #27

Oct 152009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles


Toyota has known of the ECM issue for 2 years but failed to take any steps to notify owners. They replaced ECM under warranty acknowledgeing it is the cause of the problem but refused the also replace the transmission which failed as a result. Toyota's with 40k miles should not need a new transmission. The service manual doesn't even call for the fliud to be changed before this time. Dealer took 3 weeks to complete the work and I paid for rental the whole time.

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #26

Oct 192009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles

Back in September I started to notice some hesitation when I was traveling at lower speeds (about 20-35mph). I kept driving and by October the problem was unbearable. My car would practically stop going up hills, hesitate to start moving when starting after a complete start. A few times I thought I would surely crash into the car in front of me because it would hesitate and then all of a sudden jerk into gear (with a loud click and boom). The problem became too dangerous to drive. I took my car to a transmission shop near my house. The service man informed me that my transmission needed to be rebuilt and that I was going to need to replace my car's computer as well since it was the computer causing the transmission to fail. After doing research online I learned that this is a very common problem for 2001-2003 Rav4's to experience and although Toyota is aware of the problem they are unwilling to make a recall or notify their customers in any way about the issue. Considering how dangerous this problem is the fact that Toyota is not owning up to the problem tells me that Toyota does not care about the well being of their customers.

- , Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #25

Oct 102009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I just wanted to inform that I had a similar problem with my transmission. At first I thought it was the transmission. My wife research the web and came about the website. I started to shift the idea of the transmission being the problem to the ECU. We took the car to an auto repair shop where the hooked up a scanner to the ECU and they pulled up a code "P0755 shift solenoid. Any way making a long story short we replaced the ECU and thank god the problem has been solved.

- , Kingshill, St. Croix, Virgin Islands (US)

problem #24

Oct 012009

RAV4 L 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,500 miles

I loved my car until last week when my 2002 Rav4 would not shift properly. I took it to the dealer and they want $4500 to change the transmission and the EMC.

Currently, I'm researching the possibility of sending my EMC for re-programming.

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #23

Jul 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

I bought a Toyota Rav 4 because my daughter insisted that I could not buy a better car due to Toyota's great reputation for building excellent automobiles. She has owned 3 Toyota Tacomas and they were all great trucks. My Rav 4 has 104,000 miles on it and now they are saying that I need to replace the transmission and the computer on it. I have always maintained the regular maintenance on the Rav 4 at the Toyota dealership. I had it towed to a transmission repair shop to get an estimate on repair. They ordered a new transmission from the Toyota dealership and put the new transmission in and it did not fix the problem. The Rav 4 was then towed once again to the Toyota dealership so they could check the computer and the Rav 4 had absolutely no codes. The Toyota dealership then called me instead of calling the transmission shop to also tell me that there could also be an engine problem. The owner of the transmission shop called the dealership and spoke with the mechanic who was working on the Rav 4 and the mechanic gave a completely different story than the lady who had called me from the dealership. This automatically told me that something shady maybe going on. I am a widow living on social security and I purchased this Rav 4 so I could avoid such devastating repairs. I will now have to take a loan out in order to have a car to drive, that is if it is even possible to repair it. This repair will cost me almost what I owe on the Rav 4. I am very disappointed with the service and the quality I have received from the Toyota Company. Neither me nor my daughter will ever purchase another Toyota!!!!!!!!!!

- , Afton, TN, USA

problem #22

Aug 102009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,130 miles

When i bought this car i was so happy, never imagine all the problems i was getting just when i got above 80,000 miles, first the computer had problems took it to Toyota they claims that they fixed the problem at no cost. Wow i was happy, until a week later

my transmission started slipping on first. took it back get what now im told i am not under warranty they gave me an ouraged quote i complaint but they didnt want to listen the repair has cost me over 4,000.00, cause now its not just the transmission but i had to get a new computer, now i find out that that Toyota knew about this problem and i am out of all that money. I just feel so helpless cause i dont know what to do

- , Woodhaven, Queens, NY, USA

problem #21

May 262009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

I have had this car since November 2001 with no real problems. When I felt what seemed to be the transmission slipping, and the "check engine" light went on, I immediately took it in. Well, they replaced the computer, hoping that would fix the problem. Today, my "check engine" light went on again and it felt like it was jerking again. I have read the other complaints and I am in the same boat as many of you--no more money to have car fixed. I will join any class action law suit, and plan on writing letters to my state AG, Toyota, the BBB, and elected officials. Hopefully something will be done about this if we all stand up for what is right.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #20

Jul 092009

RAV4 lx 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,700 miles

A transmission failure should not happen at 80k miles. My wife told me the transmission was doing funny things in her car and was going to bring it to the dealer that evening. On the drive to the dealer the transmission went and required the vehicle to be towed.

First thing the next morning the dealer calls to tell me the ECM needs to be replaced as well as the transmission. When I asked how a transmission could fail at 80k, the phone went silent. After 10 or 15 seconds he simply asked if we wanted it fixed. I said I would call him back. 5 minutes later the phone rings and it is the dealer telling me that the ECM is covered under warranty and that will reduce the $5700 job by $1300.

I asked again, how can this happen and got no answer. Then I asked if Toyota knew there was a problem with the ECM and it could lead to transmission failure shouldn't something be done. Again silence.

All I know is that I will never own a Toyota vehicle again.

Update from Aug 20, 2009: So Toyota of Acton replaced the transmission but would not say how or why it happened. The work they did was pretty poor because the transmission leaked oil all over the place and had to be brought back. I once again asked for an explanation and got nothing but silence. The service rep strongly suggested that I pursue this with Toyota USA in CA. So I called them again. The kid that answered the call explained to me that the computer issue was an emissions issue and that it is covered by and paid for by the Federal government. When I asked to speak to his manager he told me that he did not have one as he worked directly for the President of Toyota. This shows how much Toyota cares about it's customers.

I then went back to the dealer and tried to talk to the General Manager or the Service Manager. After two days the SM called me back and said that the problem was not caused by the computer, but actually there servos in the transmission. He said when those let go, they took the computer with them. He also said that they have done "a bunch" of these and the only solution is to replace both the computer and the transmission.

So much for Toyota Quality.

- , Littleton, MA, USA

problem #19

Nov 202006


  • Manual transmission
  • 125,000 miles

Had car in July 2006 for FULL maintenance, over 3000.00 worth of items I wanted done. Toyota knew at that time (since March 2006 that a tech bull on the ECM/Trans issues released to all dealers....I have a copy of the release), there was a problem and supposedly told all dealers to flash the ECM during the next big scheduled maintenance.....which my dealer did not do (Camelback Toyota in Phoenix, Arizona ---they've cost me over 15,000 in 7 years....I never learn). Well, by Nov 2006, it started. Exactly what everyone else is having with their transmissions/ECMs. In short, it cost me over 5,000.00 to get both replaced AT THE SAME TIME and it solved the problem for a while. Then the check engine light started coming on again. Now it appears that the VSS -vrialbe speed sensor (which bolts into the transmission) was going bad. I took it to a new dealership one which took great care of my Camry when I had it. They looked at the trouble code, it states either an open circuit, bad sensor or electrical break or a malfunctioning VSS which controls the changing of gears in the transmission. We repalced the VSS. They drove it 40 miles. Clean readings. I got it back and drove it 5 miles and's back! Took it back and they kept it for two days and drove it an additional 17 miles with no problems. I got it back and drove it 12 miles and's back. Taking it back tomorrow. So, far the EMC, Transmission and VSS have totaled 5500.00 and the problem is getting worse. I agree with everyone else. The RAV4 Needs to have the Federal Trade Commission investigate Toyota for potential dangerous vehicle and personal liablility safety on American Highways. I've told my family, if something happens while I;m driving and I die, take all the documents, the emails, all the research I've got and take Toyota down!!!! Do whatever they can to get the RAV4's off the highway. As far as I'm concerned, the RAV$'s are a hazard to the highways. And I'm only talking about the RAV,s, not the other models. And, it's my thoughts only. We are looking at getting another car, the RAV4 is paid for already and keeping the RAV 4 for what it is.............a piece of trash that can be used to haul crap around in LOCALLY! Well there's my story so far and it's not over yet. I've totaled what I've paid in maintenance fees and actual repairs (valve job at 55,000 miles, catalytic converter and all 4 O2 sensors, timing belts, transmission, ECM, etc........I could have bought another RAV or at least a fully loaded Corolla. And I've only had it 7 years and not 2000,000 miles yet. I sold my old Camry at 235,000 miles with the original engine and transmission and only one new timing belt for 500.00 because I thought I didn't need it anymore. What a dumb#$% I was. Good luck to all of us.

- , Tolleson, AZ, USA

problem #18

Apr 142009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,252 miles

I have an 02 RAV4L with 130,000 miles. 2 weeks ago it stumbled twice one day. the next day stumbled again and on way to AAmco pulling away from a light the transmission started slipping. When I was towed in there were 4 other Rav's with the same issue. The computer went & damaged trans, so after trans was fixed it was towed to dealer & computer replaced for $1200. There is a service bulletin on this but unless you complained within the first 80,000 miles(I bought mine used with 42,000) Toyota is saying"Sorry" it wasn't a recall so no help. PLEASE will everyone with this problem write to Toyota National customer relations 19001 southwestern ave Dept wc11 Torrance ca 90509

And maybe a class action suit unless someone already has started one

- , Westwood, NJ, US

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