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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2002 Toyota RAV4:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 8 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #114

Sep 152009


  • 121,000 miles


Erratic transmission operation, e.g. severe slipping and improper downshifting which causes rapid deceleration of the vehicle with no warning or indication to following drivers. According to the dealer, the transmission failure resulted from failure of the engine control unit (ECU). This car's ECU was recently reprogrammed by Toyota in accordance with tsb EG010-02. This tsb addresses spurious catalytic converter error codes.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #113

Oct 022009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,500 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4 with auto transmission, 94K miles; transmission is not shifting between 1st and 2nd gear in a safe manner. The rpms reach 4000 - 5000 before transmission shifts to 2nd gear. This is dangerous when merging on a highway ramp as the car is not shifting to reach higher speeds in order to merge safely. Also, in stop and go traffic, car is not shifting into 2nd gear in a timely manner and could cause life threatening accidents due to rear-end collisions.

- Sterling, VA, USA

problem #112

Oct 022009


  • 109,000 miles
Yesterday, 2002 Toyota Rav4 transmission began to slip and hesitate jeopardizing passenger safety. I understand Toyota issued tsb 00206 but chose not to recall or otherwise inform customers. Further I understand replacement ECM is over $1,000 and a transmission rebuild may cost nearly $4,500. Toyota evidently is unwilling to correct or otherwise offer financial assistance to correct this dangerous defect.

- Pickerington, OH, USA

problem #111

Sep 152009


  • 96,855 miles


I have a 2002 Toyota rav 4. after experiencing some problems with accelerating, the check engine light went on (the same evening that I experienced the acceleration problem). I took it into an auto center and they reported that it was code # P0755 - stored in system solenoid B malfunction. I was told that I would need to replace the ECM. They told me that Toyota has been having alot of problems with this and that Toyota said repairs would be covered under the federal emissions warranty of 80,000 miles or eight years from the time the vehicle was sold. Unfortunately, my car has almost 97,000 miles on it so it was not covered. Here is a link to an article concerning this issue:

- Glendale Heights, IL, USA

problem #110

Feb 012009


  • 92,000 miles
2002 Toyota Rav4 92,000 miles transmission went out. Put over $3,400 into getting it repaired. Probably will have to put another $1,000 to get computer replaced. Still not working correctly. Very disappointed in Toyota for not offering any kind of fix to this solution.

- Flint, TX, USA

problem #109

Sep 042009


  • 118,000 miles
My 2002 Toyota Rav4 began intermittently bogging down and hard jerky shifting. IżM unable to accelerate when this happens and the car looses forward momentum. I encountered a close call when I attempted to pull out into traffic, the Rav4 bogged down, would not accelerate and I narrowly missed being hit by oncoming traffic. Fortunately I live in a low traffic area. My mechanic said the problem is the engine control module (ECM) and because of this faulty module there may be damage to the transmission. Toyota would not offer any financial assistance to repair or replace the problem stating my Rav4 is out of warranty by miles ( I have about 118,000 miles) and time. Something should be done before someone gets hurt.

- Interlochen, MI, USA

problem #108

Sep 182009


  • 151,000 miles


Transmission started to "roughly" shift. Almost lost power on freeway. This happened suddenly. No warning of transmission failure. Was working perfectly earlier in the day. Drove home in slow lane with hazards on. Afraid engine would shut down on freeway.

- Ontario, CA, USA

problem #107

Sep 112009


  • 47,717 miles
A safety problem occurred on our 2002 Toyota Rav4 when the transmission suddenly stopped engaged the gears correctly. This is a safety issue because when driving in traffic and or trying to turn when oncoming traffic was approaching and not knowing if or when the car would move or engage gears was frightening. This problem occurred overnight. With 47,717 miles on the car, the transmission had to be rebuilt. This problem occurs because Toyota has put a faulty computer into the 2002 Rav4 that makes the parts inside the transmission prematurely fail. Toyota will not pay for the repairs or issue a recall. Perhaps Toyota will when someone is injured or killed" Toyota claims there is not a problem with the computer but Toyota replaced the computer when the car was taken there by the transmission mechanic. Why would Toyota replace the computer if there was no problem" please have Toyota recall this vehicle and have them be responsible for the needed repairs so that the 2002 Toyota Rav4 will be safe to drive! thank you!

- Loves Park , IL, USA

problem #106

Aug 152009


  • 89,000 miles
I have a 2002 Toyota rav 4. about 1 month ago, the car begin shifting hard into reverse and second gear. At some times the shifting would stall, I.e. it would not shift into second gear right away and when it would, it would shift hard. I did research online and learned about the ECM/ECU problem that is causing 01-04 Toyota rav 4S to have trouble with shifting. I took it to Toyota and they followed the procedures on their service bulletin. They tested the ECM and said it was fine and told me I had to replace the transmission for $4,100. I took the car to a transmission care center. I had the solenoid B replaced for $560 because this was malfunctioning. The car still had the same problems after the solenoid was replaced, so I had the transmission overhauled for a total of $3,100. The tech stated there was about 200,000 miles worth of wear on the transmission, the car itself only has 90,000. There were various pieces that were not functioning properly due to wear on the transmission; these were replaced. The car is still having difficulty shifting-the same problems are occurring. I believe that it is the ECM/ECU malfunctioning. Many other people have had this same problem, where they are told the ECM/ECU is fine, have their transmission replaced and then the car still malfunctions and they have to have the ECM/ECU replaced.

- Cape Neddick, ME, USA

problem #105

Jul 082009


  • 71,210 miles
Because there is problem with the computer sensor systems that causing it to stall. And Toyota knows about this problem. I almost got rear-end twice. I had to have my transmission fixed at a cost of $3000 which could have been avoided with a recall was done. Because the stalling out scared me so bad. I have it fix.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #104

Jul 232009

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Toyota rav 4. while driving 15 mph the vehicle down-shifted and stalled. The contact is aware of the safety risk involved. A transmission specialist replaced the transmission to correct the failure; however, the failure resurfaced. The current and failure mileages were 74000. Updated 12/7/09 the consumer stated when she attempted to make a turn, the vehicle downshifted erratically. The consumer was informed the engine control module needed to be replaced. Updated 12/08/09.

- Kensington, MD, USA

problem #103

Aug 222009


  • 64,000 miles
I own a 2002 Toyota Rav4. On August 22nd, 2009 I noticed that when I would come to a complete stop, it would take a while for the car to accelerate and pick up speed. Once it did get moving, the car would jerk forward and eventually pick up speed. Everytime I would come to a stoplight, I would be deathly afraid that my car wouldn't start up again and that I would be hit from behind. When driving on the highway, it would slow down all of a sudden and then jerk violently forward. This happened everytime I drove. On Friday, August 28th I took the car to my mechanic and he said that it was a transmission issue and recommended a shop. My car is currently at the transmission shop getting rebuilt at a cost of $3,000+ I called the Toyota dealership where I bought my car and they said they would not rebuild the transmission but would send it to be remanufactured at a cost of no less than $5,000. Further research on the web indicates that this is a huge problem with 2002 Rav4 owners and that Toyota has known of this for a while but done nothing about it. Apparently the issues is with a faulty ECM that causes the transmission issues. Unfortunately, by the time the transmission goes out, most of the cars are out of the warranty period and the cost is left up to the consumer. My fear is that even with the transmission replaced, if the problem is with the ECM, it is going to re-occur and I am going to incur another staggering repair bill. I called Toyota's corporate number and spoke to a customer care rep who advised me that there are no recalls at the time on this model year and that I could not speak to his manager as they do not talk to consumers. I want Toyota to be held responsible for this issue. Had they notified their buyers to replace their ECM's ahead of time, this would have prevented these costly repairs down the line.

- Tampa, FL, USA

problem #102

Aug 082009


  • 99,835 miles
The car just began jerking after I put gas in one day. I waited a week to see if the problem would go away, but it got worse. The day I brought it to the shop, the car would barely drive. It would hesitate shifting from first to 2nd gear and the check engine light came on. I brought the car back to the dealership with only 150 miles before the power train warranty expired. They told me it was the ECU and it wasn't the first time they heard about this problem. The dealership fixed it and I only had to pay a deductible. However, this problem masked that there was an issue with the O2 sensor, and the check engine light came on again after 2 days. So I brought it back and the dealership fixed it under the power train warranty even though it had already expired.

- Paterson, NJ, USA

problem #101

Jul 232008


  • 103,000 miles
As I pulled out into traffic the transmission started slipping and my 2002 Toyota Rav4 hesitated and would shift into gear. I took it to Toyota on dixie highway, louisville, ky where I had purchased the vehicle and took it for every service. They put some type of fluid said that this may fix the problem. I went to get it and once again would not run. They then told me that it was probably the transmission and that I probably would not be back to see them. They quoted me a price of $4,000 to have the transmission fixed.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #100

Mar 102009


  • 115,936 miles
I am having shifting problem of the transmission on my Toyota Rav4 L 2002 while driving. When driving on the road, the tranny began slipping, hesitatingand jerking. I can't afford to get it repaired yet. I am concerning someday someone will hit behind me during driving due to shifting problem that I can't keep on speed limited. I get online and did some research. I found out most of the Toyota Rav4 owners describing same shifting problem because of the defected engine control module that can damage the tranny.

- Suisn City, CA, USA

problem #99

Jun 032009


  • 83,396 miles
During a recent rain I was transporting my grandkids from school when I noticed that my car seemed to slip and jolt forward each time I accelerated. Each time the car would hesitate and the slipping and jolting was significant. I was afraid that my car would stall in traffic. I was very glad to get my grandkids home safely. I called the Toyota dealer where the car was purchased and made an immediate appointment. I was told that my transmission had to be replaced as well as the ECU at a cost of over $6,000! I was very upset because my extended warranty had expired the year before and during the warranty period I had complained about transmission problems and the "engine" trouble light which kept coming on. Each time they told me that either an adjustment was made to correct the problem or that they could not find anything wrong. I also called Toyota headquarters and was told that there was nothing they could do for me. I was referred back to the local dealer who told me to call headquarters again. I felt like a ping-pong ball. In the end no one could or would help me. I ended up going to another Toyota dealership to have just the ECU replaced at a cost of $1500. The car still jolts whenever I accelerate, however I am retired and cannot afford $4000 for a new transmission at this time.

- Lanham , MD, USA

problem #98

Aug 012009


  • 107,000 miles
2002 Rav4 that I will need to replace the transmission and ECM on - despite the fact that this is a known issue with these cars. Repair cost $5,000. Although there were no injuries associated with this there very well could have been, as transmission went out as I was merging onto a very busy interstate highway. These cars are a deathtrap and Toyota needs to recall them and fix the problem.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #97

Jun 032009


  • 98,371 miles
I have a 2002 Rav4 that started having shifting problems. When I would put the car into reverse it would jerk and jolt this is how it started. Then about a week later it started doing this when the car shifted from 1st to second and so on. After about 3 weeks of this I took the car into the dealer and told them to please look at it. They called me later that day saying that they thought I needed new engine mounts. That they were causing car to jerk when it changed gears. He said that they needed to be ordered and that they needed the car overnight. So the next day got a call from the dealer saying that they drove the car some more and realized it was my transmission. That I needed to replace the transmission and the computer that controls it. This would cost me $5200. I called a very good friend of mine who has been a mechanic for 30 years and he called a friend of his who works parts at Toyota. The person who works for Toyota told my friend that they have been having these problems with the rav and that it is only the computer that needs replacement, not the transmission. So, he sold us the part and my friend the mechanic replaced the computer. Now my car drives perfectly. So, I instead spent only $1100 as opposed to the $5200 that the Toyota dealer wanted to charge me when it was not my transmission at all. I have all the paperwork from the dealer showing what they wanted me to replace and spend. I am very upset that an accredited Toyota dealership was going to have me spend that much money on something when it was not the problem. I bought my car there and I have had it serviced there ever since- 7 years!

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #96

May 012009


  • 80,300 miles
1. Toyota 2002 rav 4 starting jerking uncontrollably at 80,300 miles while driving on highway at around 60 mph. 2. took it in the next day and Toyota dealer stated that it was an engine control module failure which was making the transmission jerk. 3. they replaced the engine control module and stuck us with the bill since our car was 300 miles over warranty although we had brought it in 4 times prior for engine control module problems.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #95

Jan 152009


  • 90,934 miles
Purchased vehicle from daughter. Had it for 2 years and once it hit 90,000 miles, started shifting into 3rd gear from stop position. After towing to Toyota dealership, was told need new tranny $3290.27 and ECM $1211.13. Toyota has monopoly on ECM/programming and it must be changed with rebuilt/new tranny. Went to website and it seems that this is standard for 2002 Rav4's. manufacturer says not their problem, dealership doesn't care and won't help in any way!

- Fort Myers, FL, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?