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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
113,482 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

problem #2

Nov 222010

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 103,000 miles


My 2002 rav 4 check engine light came on at 96,000 miles; when the code was checked it related it to the catalyst system, but I called Toyota customer service and they informed me that the ECM had to be updated as part of a recall for my vehicle and I needed to take it to a Toyota dealer; doing this would cause the faulty check engine light to be reset. They performed the service, and now 3 weeks later the vehicle spontaneously pops out of 5th gear, causing the vehicle to dramatically decrease unpredictably at highway speeds. Dangerous!!! although after looking on the internet and discovering countless others with this same problem, Toyota has not yet issued a recall for the transmission problems; they have done nothing to address this dangerous and costly-to-fix problem. Supposedly in 2006 Toyota realized there was an issue with the ECM, (which could apparently damage the transmission). Instead of letting consumers know about this issue as soon as they realized, they sent a technical service bulletin to dealerships and service areas, but failed to let their own customers know. According to internet research, this problem generally starts around 90,000 miles.

- Rosendale, MO, USA

problem #1

Jul 152010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,965 miles
My 2002 Toyota Rav4 w/5 speed standard transmission pops out of 5th gear at highway speed causing sudden deceleration and engine revving if using cruise control. If I am in heavy traffic the car behind me comes close to rear-ending me because my brake lights don't come on. This first happened in February 2006 with 60757 miles on the car. At 757 miles past the 60,000 mile warranty, our local Toyota dealer refused to replace the transmission. But we were able to talk them into repairing it for free. In July 2010 at 123965 miles the same thing has happened again. At 65 mph on cruise control it popped out 5th gear and refused to go back in. Again I suddenly lost speed but luckily was almost by myself on the highway.

- White Salmon, WA, USA

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