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:
6 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
106,019 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 13 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #14

May 022008


  • 187,000 miles


I bought in 2002 a Toyota rav 4 brand new, I have been the sole owner, just about 3 to 4 weeks ago (May 2008) and with 87,000 miles it started to haul while driving, I took it to a certified Toyota mechanic who ran a computer diagnostic giving a signal that the transmission could be damage, when he took it apart the transmission filter was filled with metal particles and when he dismantle it the planetarium was broken. I was in shock to find out that a 6 year old car and specially a Toyota could have a bad transmission, the mechanic spoke to Toyota to see if there is any warranty and they told him the car was covered up to 80,000 and since mine was 87,000 it is not under the warranty and now I have to pay well over $2,000 unbelievable, could you tell me if there is anything I can do to have Toyota cover for the damage because I definitely believe is a manufacturer defect.

- Cidra, PR, USA

problem #13

May 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,200 miles
I have a 2002 Toyota Rav4 L; auto transmission; ODI 82,200 miles. The car began having hard shifting problem. Shifts erratically from 1st to 2nd, sluggish from start. I feel it's become very dangerous, especially when I am on the highway. The car didn't want to accelerated, and then would shift very hard. So I took my car to the Toyota dealer and was told that it would need at the least a new ECM, and possibly even a new transmission. The cost for the ECM $1300, and perhaps the transmission $4000. That's $5,300!!!! how could I even find that kinda money. I am just a student who tries to make it through day by day, supporting myself through school while working full-time. I can barely pay my rents or even tuition. And I am solely deepening on my car to make it to work and school; without it I would be in a big mess. Certainly, I wouldn't be able to fix it and I really had no idea what to do. If Toyota knows about this problem, they should repair or recall all ECM's before more people end up spending this kind of money. I'd like to also refer to my other following Rav4 drivers like me who have the same problem on the link below.

- Richardson, TX, USA

problem #12

Dec 182007

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 111,000 miles
The automatic transmission of my RV4 failed at 111,649 mileage. However, the mileage is the problem, aamco technician reported that the following vehicles ; Lexus ex 300, Lexus RX300, RV4, Toyota Camry and Toyota highlander are all equipped with bad transmissions U140F and U140E. Those transmissions are made for failure. Toyota company is aware of the problem but refused to take responsibility to either repair it or reimburse customers. It cost me $2,760.58 dollars to have my transmission rebuilt. Also within two months, the computer engine failed and was replaced for $1,403.53 dollars. Once again, that was another matter Toyota had to be accountable. The same model had a recall in March 2007 and nothing was done.

- Yardley, PA, USA

problem #11

Mar 152008


  • 78,000 miles


Vehicle would hesitate from a stop creating a potential hazard. Brought car to dealer who claimed nothing was wrong with car, changed transmission oil as part of 75,000 maintenance. Next day car broke down completely with my six year old grandson in car. Dealer said I needed a new transmission for $4000. It was not until I started reading on-line complaints that I learned that it is a common problem with 2002 rav-4 and can be fixed with a new ECM for $$1,200. They do however have a technical bulletin that addressed the transmission hesitation to the faulty ECM?

- Sylvania, OH, USA

problem #10

Mar 202008


  • 88,000 miles
I have a 2002 Toyota Rav4, I had to have the transmission rebuilt because from what I have read Toyota found there was a problem with the ECM. But there was never a recall for this problem and the warranty was for 80,000 mine when at 88,000. I had the transmission rebuilt but the vehicle is exhibiting the same problem. I have since learned that the ECM needs to be replaced and can damage a new transmission if not done. No notice from Toyota about this I had to find this out on the web. I also learned that the ECM cost $1200 and Toyota is not offering any discounts even though they knew of the potential problem and damages that may occur.

- Utica, NY, USA

problem #9

Mar 282008

RAV4 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles
Car started to hesitate and jerk into 2nd gear when accelerating. This created dangerous situations at intersections, going around corners and trying to merge into traffic. Check engine light came on. Dealer said needed to replace an ECM module in the transmission hoping this will fix it (cost 1350) if it doesn't I will need a transmission (3500). Found 38 similar complaints on exact same thing on internet. Why aren't we made aware and why not a recall before someone gets killed.

- Gahanna, OH, USA

problem #8

Feb 092008

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,078 miles


Transmission problems (shifting) with my 2002 Toyota rav-4, although it has auto transmission it wont go into gear after a stop and I have safety concerns since I drive mostly on the freeway and for long distances and traffic is always and issue to and from work.

- Cleburne, TX, USA

problem #7

Sep 252007

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,059 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Toyota Rav4. While stopped at a traffic light, the contact depressed the accelerator pedal and the vehicle would not move. A few seconds later, the vehicle began to move. The vehicle shifted completely out of gear and then went shifted back on its own. The failure continued during the drive. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that there was a recall on the ECM and it was reprogrammed. The failure recurred the following day while driving 30 mph. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer and they rechecked the ECM. They stated that the transmission needed to be replaced. The contact took the vehicle to an independent mechanic and he stated that the ECM was faulty, which caused the transmission to fail. The vehicle experienced the same failure when the contact retrieved it from the mechanic. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer and they discovered that the ECM was faulty and made the replacement. There is a tsb for the ECM. The current mileage was 61,800 and failure mileage was 61,059. Updated 02-13-08 updated 02/13/08

- Spokane, WA, USA

problem #6

Oct 202007

RAV4 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles
Repeated problems with transmission, ECM that have cost in excess of $4000 and still the car is dangerous to drive. Toyota refuses to acknowledge the fact that someone will soon be killed from this problem. When pulling into traffic and they should be accelerating, these cars stall. This is my second report and no one responds from here or from Toyota!!!

- Dawsonville, GA, USA

problem #5

Jun 142007

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles
I started to have intermittent issues with my Toyota 2002 Rav4 transmission; concerning hard shifting and lose of power during acceleration. I have been informed by the dealer that I require a new transmission. After searching the internet (,, & I was able to find quite a few instances of people having the same issues with their 2002 Rav4. Each story ends up with the individuals paying an average of $4500 to have the transmission replaced then having to go back and have the ECU replaced ($1000). After all was said and done, the problems still existed. After speaking with Toyota they feel there is no issue and do not plan on investigating the issue to determine if a recall is required. I just had my transmission replaced and the issue is still there. I am in the process with my local amoco transmission co. To resolve the problem. The problem can occur at anytime without notice during acceleration from a stopped condition or during normal driving causing the car abruptly slow down in traffic, which could put the driver in a life or death situation.

- Beavercreek, OH, USA

problem #4

May 152007

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


2002 Toyota Rav4 transmission not shifting or shifting inappropriately nearly causing crashes as drivers pull into traffic or drive in traffic.

- Dawsonville, GA, USA

problem #3

Apr 102006

RAV4 0-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,000 miles
Vehicle was plugged in to a charger, charging normally. Driver returned to the car, and neglected to remove the charging cable. Driver turned the key, and shifted from park to reverse. Vehicle rolled away from the charging station and damaged the cable and the charging station, disabling the charging station until it could be repaired (at a cost of $1200 to $1500). Vehicle should not be able to shift out of park when connected to a charging station. (date is approximate.)

- Folsom, CA, USA

problem #2

Feb 192004

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,500 miles
On February 19, 2004, I took my 2002 Toyota Rav4 to the dealership for a problem that involved the vehicle unexpectedly surging forward. And failing to shift gears. I was told that the speed sensor was replaced and the vehicle was released to me. The problem continued that day and I returned the vehicle to the dealership on February 20, 2004. I was told that a part had to be ordered and that they would call me when the part was in. I was told that in the meantime, the vehicle was safe to drive. On February 23, 2004, my husband drove the vehicle and was stopped at an intersection when the vehicle surged forward into the intersection. We immediately phoned Toyota, telling them that vehicle was not safe to drive and requested that they tow the vehicle to the dealership. The vehicle was towed and has been at the dealership since February 23, 2004. Principle complaint: My vehicle suddenly and unexpectedly surges or accelerates and fails to shift gears.

- Newnan, GA, USA

problem #1

Oct 062003


  • miles
When driving up a hill vehicle began to stall.

- Muskego, WI, USA

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