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:
97,442 miles
Total Complaints:
136 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (56 reports)
  2. rebuild the transmission, replace ECM (40 reports)
  3. replace ecm (18 reports)
  4. rebuild the transmission (12 reports)
  5. replace computer engine (6 reports)
  6. re flash computer (3 reports)
2002 Toyota RAV4 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 4 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #76

Jan 152009

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,723 miles


That's you can trust to exchange whatever experience you have and you want to know. It's because there's no conflict of interest.

- , Burnaby, BC, Canada

problem #75

Dec 272008

RAV4 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,600 miles

I starting experiencing shifting problems, seemed when the car was cold, on this particular Saturday afternoon my car just would not shift to third gear, it bucked really hard then went into gear, I knew I had a problem. I had and hour drive to get home, proceeded to get on the highway the car would not shift and the engine light came on, I ended up getting the car towed to my mechanics, they did a diagnostic and they knew it was a shifting problem but they were not sure exactly what the problem was, lucky for me they didn't jump the gun and say I needed a new transmission, long story short, I went online that evening and found this web sight that was so helpful, I contacted my mechanic told them about the Technical Service bulletin that was posted March 2006, they looked it up and told me to contact the Toyota dealer and that my car should be under the warranty, (8yrs or 80,000 mi)

I did contact Toyota, first service guy acted like he did not know what I was talking about until I proceed to tell him about TSB, told me to bring my car in, they did replace the ECM (engine control module) no charge and so far the car seems ok, I did read in the bulletin that even with the replacement I could possibly need a new transmission, I'm hoping not. I hope this complaint helps others that are experiencing the same problem.

- , Pembroke, NH, USA

problem #74

Jan 022009

RAV4 L 2.0L

  • Manual transmission
  • 113,000 miles

At 113,000 miles, our RAV4 developed the same problems mentioned on this site (clunk when shifting into reverse, starting out in 2nd rather than 1st gear, and problems shifting). I took the car to a dealership and their first recommendation was to replace the transmission ($4,000). I asked about the 2006 TSB and why they wouldn't replace the ECM first since it was the less expensive repair and they couldn't be certain that the transmission had been damaged (I also threw in a complaint that a known defect like this should trigger a recall). After some hemming and hawing, they came back with a $1,300 estimate to replace the ECM. Doing a little web searching, I came across a brand new ECM at Texas Toyota of Grapevine ( for $850.73 plus $15 shipping. I paid the $90 diagnostic charge at the dealership (I am now kicking myself for taking it to them to begin with), took the car home, and replaced the ECM myself (it's located behind the glove compartment). It took about 20 minutes using a 10mm socket and a short Phillips screwdriver. Car now works great. The trick appears to be to replace the ECM before any damage is done to the transmission. Good luck!

- , Richmond, TX, US

problem #73

Jun 102007

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,628 miles


After 3500 bucks the trans still sh*t ! I'm f*cked, I hope you still have time.

If someone try's to sell you a 2002 Rav4 punch them and run like hell !

It has been the worst car I have ever owned :(


- , Fairbanks, AK, USA

problem #72

Oct 082008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,733 miles

On October 8, 2008, I took my Rav4 back to the dealership with the same complaints about my transmission. How odd i thought it was that the transmission had been replaced twice and i am STILL experiencing problems! I loved this car and it was always so sweet and peppy, but now i had to make sure i had plenty of room before pulling into traffic since i never knew when it would finally kick into gear! To compound the issue, I live in Maryland and my emissions test was due. I had to get two extensions already because my car was always in the shop. Looked like I'd just have to get another extension.

so i brought it back to the dealership and had to go through the same routine, yet again. at this point, i was still very friendly with them, however, i think they were getting very frustrated with the whole situation...especially Jim, the parts manager at my warranty place (MacCare.) See, my mechanic, Allen, at the Toyota dealership and Jim, from MaxCare, disagreed with how to remedy this problem. Allen felt that the rebuilt transmissions thus far were inferior because they were not factory rebuilt. eventually Jim acquiesced, and the third replacement transmission was a more expensive Toyota rebuilt transmission. AND, instead of resetting the ECU (my apologies, but i have no idea what that is), the warranty company opted to have it replaced. They were really trying to fix this problem... and they put a LOT of money into it thus far!

(more problems with my transmission!!! adding yet another complaint!)

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #71

Nov 142008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,823 miles

At around 60,000 miles, my Toyota Rav4 starting having transmission problems that went from bad to worse. I am currently in the throes of this issue, and am about to get my 4th transmission in fewer than 900 miles. (there are three previous complaints on this site)

Today is November 17, 2008. On November 11, 2008, I picked up my car from it's October 8th drop-off, thinking (hoping) I would not be back for a while. I drove it Wednesday to and from my commuter parking lot and again on Thursday. By Friday, it began exhibiting the same transmission problems it�s been exhibiting since July, 2008.

I am SO SAD!!! I can't afford a new car right now and Toyotas are supposed to last forever! I've had Pintos, Chevy's, Isuzu's, Nissan's, Escorts, and more. I have NEVER had this much issue with a car.

The third time the transmission failed, my mechanic strongly suggested to my warranty company (MaxCare), that the transmission be replaced with a Toyota re-manufactured transmission, and that perhaps it was the reasons for the continued failures.

The warranty company agreed, and even went a step further to give the car a brand new ECU unit.

I've called Toyota again, I called the dealership from whom I bought the car, and am getting ready to write a letter to Maryland's Attorney General.


- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #70

Nov 232008

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles


I noticed a problem with the transmission on Sunday 11/23/08. The vehicle all of a sudden felt like I was driving with the parking brake on. I took it to a local mechanic who felt the same. He thought I just had my parking brake stuck. Brought it back the next day because a shifting problem that was extremely dangerous (driving 20mph and unable to shift to pick up speed). I have the car at the same mechanic today (11/26) who now knows it is a transmission problem. I am awaiting my diagnosis and can already feel the pain. Toyota should have done something a while back when the first complaints came in. From what I read it seems like many 2002 Rav4 owners have had to go back many times to get it fixed for an average of about $3,000!!!! Why buy a Toyota? - Pissed in Syracuse, NY

- , Liverpool, NY, USA

problem #69

Oct 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

Minding my own business, vacation on California coast, tranny would not shift down or up without jerking. On Monday I take it to "best mechanics in Fresno" "AAA approved", they say needs new shift solenoid, only cost $300 plus labor, oops still doesn't work, needs new solenoid Valve body, only cost $625 for a REBUILT one!. Friday 4:30 pm,"come get it it works fine". only cost $1700 to fix. So I drive it two miles home and park it. Saturday I drove it another three miles, oops same exact problem. Next Monday call and had a chat with mechanic, take it back. He calls Monday, says his friend at Toyota told him about recall on Main Brain, causing tranny problem. They re-flash it and it cured the problem. (at least they didn't charge for that)

I bought the car new, it is serviced regularly at Toyota dealer, not once did I receive notice of the very common problem. Cost me $1700 to find out about it. NOT FAIR!

Last Toyota I'll ever own, and I will be finding a new garage.

- , Fresno, CA, USA

problem #68

Aug 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,934 miles

I would like to add my 2003 Rav4 complain in this because after hearing from my dealer that my Rav4 would possibly have the same ECU as the 2002 Rav4.

After reading this forum and the forum from 2002 Rav4, this is exactly what I've experienced.

Sometime in August 2008, we've experience the jerking mentioned in 2002 Rav4. Exactly the same for my model 2003 Rav4. I'm guessing that the early 2003 Model had the same ECU as 2002 Models. There were occasions where me and my wife almost got hit due to the jerking. Basically, the jerking slows you down and unable to pickup speed in time. When we were about to turn, we went so slow that almost got hit by another car.

So, knowing that not to trust the dealers first, I went to Canadian Tire to get it fixed. Turns out that the solenoid is giving some error code. After calling Toyota to buy the solenoid so that my mechanic dad could fix it, Toyota needs to take a look to determine which solenoid is broken since there's 4 kinds. So I brought it in on August 2008 and they've found out that ECU needs to be replaced. So I paid almost $1000 for the parts/labor and was assured that the problem will go away. I didn't register the car until 2 weeks ago and found out that the problem is still there. So I came back to Toyota and complained. They've diagnosed it but found no problem. Test drove it and found out the poor acceleration and later determined that the floor mat was on the way of the gas pedal. As I went to pick it up, I was billed for $120 for the diagnostics. So I was so angry and wanting to complain but the service department is already closed and I'm unable to bring out my car without paying. So, I paid and wanting to complain the following day thinking that all I have to deal with is getting my money back. BUT as I drive it the following morning, problem re-occurs. Therefore, it's not the stupid floor mat that's causing my grief. So I came back and complained again. This time, I was really angry. I felt like I'm being fooled.

So, I went to the internet for answers. I feel so bad for service department clerks/managers to put up with complaining customers regarding this issue. But then it's their job. The result of my research was an eye opener and made me angry at Toyota as a company instead. This problem should have initiated a recall - causing a very dangerous vehicle to drive on the road. What I don't understand is why are the customers shouldering the expense if the ECU was defective in the first place? As per the other posts, this defective ECU would result the transmission to be replaced if not fixed right away.

So now, I'm stuck with the bill of ECU replacement ($1000), Transmission replacement($6000), diagnostics charge for checking the engine and moving the floor mat ($120), and lastly the frustration ($priceless).

So far, the dealership has treated me okay but would like for them to shoulder the costs for the ECU ($1000) and refund my $120 for moving the floor mat/doing diagnostics. As per the transmission replacement, I think it's something I have to accept but would really have been prevented if the ECU was recalled.

I'm going to file a complain through the Better Business Bureau and Toyota Corporate just to make Toyota aware that they should recall the damn thing. I need this car to be fixed so I could upgrade to another one i.e. Highlander. But it will all depend on how my issue with Toyota is going to be resolved. If it's not reasonable, I will send a mass email to everyone I know NOT to buy TOYOTA!!!

- , Richmond, BC, Canada

problem #67

Sep 242008

RAV4 L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I have absolutely loved my Toyota Rav 4. We have had a few strange problems with it-but I have loved it. I have told everyone to buy Toyota's and to even go see the dealer at our local toyota dealer-This was until this week when after getting my oil changed suddenly it was having trouble shifting from first to second gear. The ride was jerking and it was having trouble accelerating. I thought what is happening-I was planning on driving it until it had well over 200,000 miles-Having no car payment is wonderful and it has been so reliable. We were told it needs a whole transmission-debating on whether or not to get it fixed we happened upon this site and now am annoyed that seems to be a rather common problem and that it may have been known by the company who decided to not inform us or do anything about it. We are headed to the dealer to have words with them and then if it appears it is a problem with the toyota company you can be sure that we will no longer be recommending them!!

- , McComb, OH, USA

problem #66

Aug 082008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,300 miles


Dear All,

I would like to warn everybody about Toyota Rav4's 2002. As you can tell from all the comments below there is a serious problem happening with this specific Toyota model and year. Thousands of customer are suffering from this unfair manufacture's malfunction. My vehicle specifically got diagnosed with " engine code p0755 shift solenoid B malfunction, has a shift 2/3 harsh shift " Toyota suggested to start with updated ECU and possible transmission assembly. After reading all this complaint I feel Toyota is responsible for this malfunctions and should inform its customer before the purchase it done or at least agree to fix the problem. Since my vehicle is over the 80,000 mileage it does not qualified to get this problem fix. It's extremely unsafe to drive a vehicle under this conditions and truly unethical for Toyota to be selling this vehicles without at least offering an extended warranty when they know this problem will rise up.

I will be sending complaints specifically to Toyota about this, and I urge everybody else with this same problem to do the same.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #65

Jun 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

I have the same problem on the gears seems to jump/skip gears/jerk harshly from time to time.......the check engine light also on, cant get the inspection to pass.....I haven't bought it to the toyota dealer yet.

I did bring it to a mechanic, they changed the tranny fluid and to no avail its still doing the same.

Im guessing its the ECM or Shift SOLENOID, since most on this forum is having the same symptoms as my Rav4.

Its been VERY DANGEROUS while driving in that condition...

also doesn't help living in NYC having being HONKED at cause the car wont get accelerate into gear!!!

Now its just put in family members garage to see what we can do to have Toyota foot the bills to replace THEIR FAULTY PARTS!

- , Bayside, NY, USA

problem #64

Jul 102008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

I have had the same problem others have had on this site. Transmission started slipping from 1st to 2nd, took it in to a shop and they told me the fluid was "burnt" and after further checking the valve body was cracked. I thought "what??? on a Toyota???" and they started to tell me up to $3000 to repair it. I talked them into a $1750 (plus tax) cap and they began repairs, but the manager mentioned a bulletin for reflashing the computer that may need to be done. After I got my car back it started doing the same thing within a week, so back to the repair shop I go. They tell me they think it is the computer and they take it to the dealership for the programming. Well surprise, that didn't fix it, I need a new computer to the tune of $1,200. I am of course out of warranty so that is now my expense. I did call Toyota from a number I found here from a complainant and they told me there weren't any recalls (duh!) or notices (what about the bulletin at the repair shop??) so there is nothing they will do. She even had the nerve to tell me that "at some point the owner has to take responsibility"! GRRRR!!! So here I am with a bad transmission that was caused from the faulty computer and I am stuck with the bill. I WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER TOYOTA AGAIN!! If anyone takes this any further please let me know, I am onboard.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #63

Aug 022008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

I have had problems with hard shifting out of park into reverse.

I scheduled diagnostic testing with Toyota, then found this website.

So far, I emailed (Toyota_cares)

They basically said we issued a Technical Service Bulleting (TSB) which is not the same as a recall and the TSB would have provided a "repair" for 80,000 miles/ 8 years whichever comes first.

"There is a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) that was issued on March 3, 2006 regarding a harsh shift in the transmission. Improvements have been made to the Engine Control Module (ECM) manufacturing process to reduce the possibility of this condition occurring. This repair is covered under the Toyota Federal Emissions Warranty. This warranty is in effect for 8 years or 80,000 miles, whichever occurs first, from the vehicle�s in-service date.

Based on the information you provided, your vehicle is outside of these parameters by miles. Once a vehicle is beyond the warranty parameters, responsibility for the cost of repair falls upon the vehicle owner.

For your information, a TSB is a communication between Toyota and its dealerships that can serve as an update to Toyota publications, describe parts updates, or relay enhanced or new service procedures. Service procedures may explain diagnostic steps, implementation of recommended updates, or how to perform certain repairs. A TSB is not a recall or a Special Service Campaign (SSC) and there are no recalls or SSCs relating to the transmission for the 2002 RAV4. If the cost of a TSB service or repair is eligible for warranty coverage, it will be specified in the TSB, and requires that the vehicle be within the original warranty parameters. A TSB does not extend the warranty.

Toyota does not mail TSBs to our customers but we make them available to the public through the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) view and print TSBs on a subscription basis through our Technical Information System."

(too bad, so sad,!)

So I filed a complaint with the national highway traffic safety administration.

I also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, via links on this site.

I called Toyota Customer service at 1-800-331-4331. You can hit the customer service vehicle problem / failures prompts. I told him that thousands of 2002 rav4 consumers and HIghlander '01-03 and R300 Lexus Trannys have failed and Toyota knows about it, and did they intend to help fix the problem b/c it's a safety issue.

Toyota cust svc said the same thing as the email" there's a TSB". So I stopped him and said, if you can't help me, let me talk to a supervisor.

That resulted in him telling me the name of my local city's dealership Customer Service Manager in Toyota of Redlands, California. Therefore, he said, that these "Customer Relation's Managers" are the "corporate liaison" in the field and have the authority to help me get this fixed.

This Toyota rep also said that b/c 97,000 is not too far off of 80,000, The Cust Relations Manager could probably work on being able to go ahead and approve the fix based on the TSB.

-write your local congressman(woman) --file a BBB complaint --file with NHTSA --call Toyota Corporate ---webcomplaint with Toyota Corporate --call your local dealership's customer relations manager

update 11/2014 - problem resolved and in I think 2011 a recall was issued for <90K mile cars. car is fine today.

- , City Name, State, USA

problem #62

Jul 132008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

I brought my RAV brand new in 2002. Have had no problem with it up until a few days ago. It was running just fine Saturday but the next day I noticed that it would jerk when I shifted in/out of reverse. Not only that but it had trouble accelerating and would jerk from 1st to 2nd gear. I brought it to my mechanic with hopes that it wasn't anything serious. He calls me the next day saying it was my transmission! WTF? Hello! I have a Toyota. Toyota's are supposed to last a lifetime. I have never heard of a Toyota needing a new transmission at 68k miles. He said it was going to cost $2400+. He also told me that he's heard of this problem with the RAVs and that Toyota is aware of the problem but it's not enough of a problem for Toyota to do a recall. Gggrr!!! WTF?!

- , Lynnwood, WA, USA

problem #61

Jun 232008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,633 miles

As much as I love Toyota product I hate the company for not compensating us on something that is their fault.Almost every day me and my husband fight because we can not afford to pay for $3000.00 expense this car brought to our life.they have no heart to see we gave them business instead they gave us problem.I had the same symptoms and had to take the car to local mechanic since I was on the way taking my husband a heart patient to they are ignoring me because I have repaired it not in Toyota.!!please find a way to get our money back.I will co-operate with everybody on this matter.

- , Mississauga, ON, Canada

problem #60

Jun 282008

RAV4 L 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I believe that Toyota is responsible for this because I agree with some of the reports I've read, this is a safety issue. When I was driving on the highway, My car jerked and I couldn't pick up any speed. I, myself, almost got into an accident with an infant inside the car due to this problem. I think that Toyota dealerships should consider looking into this problem and find a solution for it because this didn't happen until I got a recall for the computer chip. Everything was running fine before. Again, I think Toyota Dealerships should consider fixing the problems for their customers for no fee at all because the problem isn't caused by the customers but the company itself.

- , Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #59

Jun 152008

RAV4 L 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

I have the shifting problems after buying 85 octane gasoline.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #58

May 232008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

Don't understand why Toyota doesn't check out this site. The transmission was replaced and it didn't fix the issue. I called Toyota dealership and they said Toyota was aware of the issue and has extended the warranty to customers that brought their vehicle in, They agreed that a re flash was just as good as a new computer but once I had the vehicle at the dealer they told me that it needed a new computer and it would be at my expense. Toyota wouldn't give me a replacement.

- , Bloomfield, KY, USA

problem #57

May 232008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

the dealer lied about the re-flash. Once I brought the vehicle in they wanted to sell me a new computer. Their statement was that because I had previously had the transmission rebuilt it would take a new computer. I told them that it was a Toyota computer problem & they should replace. They said they could for $2400. I told them I could buy a new computer and have someone else put it in for alot less. They informed me that your everyday shade tree mechanic couldn't work on a Toyota. So the piece of junk sets in the drive way taking up space. I won't purchase another one unless Toyota stands behind this vehicle. If they agreed to reflash a computer why wouldn't they agreed to stand behind a replacement?

- , Bloomfield, KY, USA

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