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:
98,842 miles
Total Complaints:
49 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (34 reports)
  2. not sure (8 reports)
  3. replace ECM and/or transmission (6 reports)
  4. replace clutch and transmission (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 #29

Sep 152009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles


ECU was reprogrammed in April 2009 to address spurious PO420 (Catalytic converter) errors. In September, transmission began slipping, downshifting, etc. Dealer says new ECU and transmission will be required and offered to do it for 'half price' ($700 + $2200).

- , Austin, TX, USA

problem #28

Sep 192009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 151,000 miles

If you have a 2002 Toyota RAV4 and the transmission has failed, PLEASE file a formal complaint with The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It will take a few minutes online. The more complaints, the better. Toyota will get pressure to step up and do what is right! My transmission failed on the freeway and I nearly died! PLEASE file a complaint so we can all get our money back! $4800 to fix...ouch!

- , Ontario, CA, USA

problem #27

Aug 182009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I have had this Rav 4 for 2 years, bought it from the same place I bought my last toyota corolla which I kept 12 years. Should have kept it , no problems. So far have replaced the gas tank, hole in neck, replaced catalytic converter, stopped up, and now the transmission, all since November 2008. I wish I had found this web site when my car first started acting up. It just started one day jerking and bucking, and getting stuck in high gear, the first local place I took it to said shift sensors, kept if for 8 days, did nothing, My brother said take it to AAmco, they said $3605. 67 and probably still need computer, have brought it back to my hometown, and am trying to find a rebuilt or transmission. but did not know about these problems. The Aamco woman did say it was a technical issue Toyota knew about but was not bad enough to issue a recall. I feel like such an idiot. Now I am stuck and do not know the best or right thing to do. When I first bought the car, the engine light did come on after a couple of weeks, I called the dealer, he told me to just unhook battery cable and it would reset itself. What an idiot I am. If anyone else with this problem has resolved this issue, and can tell me where in NC to find a transmission, please feel free to contact me.

- , Taylorsville, NC, USA

problem #26

Aug 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles


I bought a Toyota because I wanted reliable transportation for a long time. I treated it well: all service was done according to schedule, oil was changed religiously, drove it gently... and now the transmission needs to be replaced. I do not have $4,000 sitting around and not sure if I want to sink that kind of money into a 7 year old car anyway. Evidently this is a known issue with 2002 RAV4s because I see many complaints about this problem online. The people at Toyota even acknowledged it but will not fix my problem. Hate, hate, hate this car now!

- , Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #25

Jul 202009

RAV4 2.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

We are an auto shop and found out about this website just thought id let everyone know that we got another rav4 with a bad trans and computer

- , San Juan Capistrao, CA, USA

problem #24

Jun 172009

RAV4 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Well I want to add my complaints to the others. My transmission starting jerking, etc and I took it to the shop and they say I have to have to replace my transmission and will probably have to replace the computer too. I am shocked. This is a Toyota that should go to at least 200,000 before it starts with any major problems like this. I called our local Toyota dealer here in Clanton, AL again This time I (Talked to the Assistant Service Mgr, ) and he said they have only had one recall on my car and that was something to do with the computer (SSC60I) which I had fixed just before my car reached 70,000 miles. This was the 2nd time I had talked to them about the Rav4 transmission problem. I asked him for the Toyota Hdqs Number and he gave me the Toyota Customer Experience Center in Torrance CA. I talked to a representative there and he denied that Toyota was aware of any problem with the 2002 RAV4 transmission. He said even if there had a been that my car was way past the warranty and they wouldn't do anything now. I asked him if he was aware of all the complaints on this vehicle on the web and he said there was no way anyone could prove that they were valid.

Well I can because I was given a case #. Make sure you call the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331 and voice your complaint and get a Case Number. There is no doubt in my mind that the Toyota Folks are well aware of this problem but knows that in most cases the transmission will hold up through the warranty. I will be willing to joiin in a Class Action Case. I think we should write ads to our local newspapers and let folks that have these vehicles know what to look for before their warranty expires.

- , Clanton, AL, USA

problem #23

Apr 272009

RAV4 2.0L I4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


My wife insisted we buy Toyota based on Consumer Report and other sources touting reliability. In fact, I just checked their website and the RAV4 is still on the top of their list! Hello?! Are they getting pay-offs? We bought a certified used vehicle from the dealership which included a 2 year warranty. One month out of warranty our ECM and transmission crapped out. A quick google search for rebuilds reveals this is an obvious problem. The reliability sucks, the interior quality is a joke for an "L" model, and now I'm stuck with a $5200 repair bill on a car we hate. Thanks for nothing Toyota, and CONSUMER REPORTS GET A CLUE!

- , Logan, UT, USA

problem #22

Feb 242009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

Toyoya knew that there was a problem with their computer module that created a problem with the transmission. I am a single woman trying to make due during tough times and this just wiped out my savings plus i had to borrow to pay for these repairs. The fact that Toyota does not stand behind their product is inexcusable. The government sends bailout money to you which translates into my money and yet you pass on your product failure to me. I had to rent a car so my car could be serviced only to find out the amount of damage this compute module created and the price tag of $4452.54 needed to fix it. That this is not cover even in part by warranty is a down right crime. You don't mind taking my money through the bailout plan and then take it thru a product defect that you knew of. I would never recommend Toyota has a honest up standing company. If you would honest you would assume some of the cost of a replacement computer module and transmission. I doubt if I should hold my breathe for that rebate check from you. It might eat into your bonuses. Can't have that happen can we? Please review your policy and do the right thing for all the customers that have shown you loyalty.

- , Bridgewater, MA, USA

problem #21

Oct 172008

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

First of all, I would like to say that Toyota is doing nothing to fix this problem. I am filing a class action law suit against them.

Back on 07/07, my check engine light came on. It was right at about the time I needed to have my car inspected. I took it to the Toyota dealership and they did a reprogramming of the ECM (engine control module) at no cost. My car had 67K and was still under warranty. In Oct. 08, my wife was driving the car and it started sputtering. The check engine light was also on. I took it into a shop and they said based on the codes that it was misfiring. I changed the spark plugs and everything was fine. I drove our car to the coast for vacation a few weeks later and noticed what felt like the transmission slipping. Check engine light was back on. I brought the car back home and took it to a transmission shop and they said that the second gear was damaged and the transmission would need to be replaced. He pulled up a code "P0755 shift solenoid b faulty4."

I took it to another transmission shop and he told me basically the same thing but he also gave me a TSB (bulletin) stating that the ECM may exhibit a harsh shift condition and that improvements have been made to the ECM that will reduce the possibility of this condition occurring. The shop told me that it wasn't a recall and because the vehicle is no longer under warranty that I will have to have this fixed at my expense. I asked him as to whether or not the faulty ECM could cause damage to the transmission and he said yes. I went back to the other shop and he told me the same thing, that it could cause damage to the transmission. I then took it to a near by Toyota dealership. and they concluded that the transmission was in fact damaged and it would be up to about $4,000 to fix it. I believe they said that the computer needed to be replace also. I'm assuming they were referring to the ECM. I then called Toyota corporate and filed a claim with them. After review, the District Service Manager over at the dealership denied the claim stating that the car was no longer under warranty. I never spoke with him. This came down through one of the Toyota personnel at corporate. Very elusive. Unable to contact the person who makes the final decision.

I have since continued making payments of $319 a month on a car that I can't drive. I don't have $4,000 to fix this and I feel that Toyota is completely responsible in this matter and should claim 100 % liability. I am filing a class action law suit. I will post with further details and would like to advise you all to do the same.

- , Austin, TX, USA

problem #20

Jan 232009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

Thought toyota was a good product will never buy one again..transmission crapped out.

- , Denver, CO, USA

problem #19

Jan 072009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles


much like the other owners of a rav 4 i have trouble with transmission. Out of the blue it felt as if i was driving with the parking break on or was trying to pull a heavy trailer. Shifting between first and second gear slammed. Took to dealer and they wanted to charge me for an expensive diag. check. On the way home the car shifted without problem and for about a week i had no problem. After being on the expressway one day my luck changed. my check engine light came on and the gear change was terrible. i crippled into a parking spot and took it to a transmission repair shop. they told me i needed a new ECM and that they had found damage to the trans because of it. I do not have the money to repair it especially if the repairs wont fix this toyota problem. Any advice would help, should I just get a new ECM or spring for the whole 4000.00 repair, help

- , Sylvania, OH, USA

problem #18

Jan 172009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,312 miles

I bought my used 2002 Toyota Rav 4 in October of 07. In the 14 months that I have owned the car, I have only put about 4000 miles on it. So, you can imagine my disgust when my car started about 6 weeks ago to violently shake, jerk and race at any given time. I took it to the dealership today and it needs a completely new transmission and the computer is fried. This is going to cost me $4,100 and it would have cost $6,100 but fortunately, the computer is covered under some 8 year/80,000 mile warranty. I am even more disgusted to find out about all of the problems that have been ongoing with the 2002 Toyota Rav 4 transmission from reading complaints on this site and Toyota has done NOTHING about it and dealers still continue to sell these cars. Now, I can't even trade it in because it's only worth $1,000. It's RIDICULOUS! I will be writing a complaint to Toyota and the dealership where I purchased it and demand that they do something about this. If anyone out there is reading this, trying to determine which car to buy, take my advice....STAY AWAY FROM A TOYOTA AND IF YOU LIVE IN PITTSBURGH, DO NOT PURCHASE YOUR CAR AT #1 COCHRAN!!!

- , Pittsburgh, PA, US

problem #17

Sep 262008

RAV4 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,673 miles

I purchased a used toyota rav4 six months latter i had transmission problems . My dealer said they had a recall on transmission problems . I called toyota and they said I had to many miles on it . They did nothing . So ended up replacing it . 2000 miles latter my rav is back in the shop getting another transmission in it . Not only the cost but no one would furnish a car for me I now have 500.00 in rental fees . This happened four days before Christmas . No one from toyota will help me at all . I am very sad and upset .

- , Potter Valley, CA, USA

problem #16

Aug 182008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,256 miles

this is the second of 4 separate complaints that will encompass 4 new transmissions in as few as 900 miles...

On August 18, 2002, my car was exhibiting the same transmission banging and gear shifting delay as it did when i brought it to them on July 9, 2008. Regardless of it being the exact same problem, I still needed to go through the wait of having the extended warranty company come out and approve it. On September 22, I got another new (rebuilt) transmission for the car.

again, my dealership and warranty company were great, but i decided to call Toyota out in California to see what they had to say. I got a case number and everything, but, it was really a waste of my time. (It's absurd to think back now on how unusual i thought it was to have 2 transmission replacements...! Now i'm on my 4th!) 2 more complaints to follow!

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #15

Nov 132008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

I took the Toyota RAV4 2002 to the dealer and they said that to fix I will need the ECM and Transmission totaling $5000. After looking through all the 2002 RAV complaints about the transmission problem. It sounds like Toyota has a defective product and they recall and fix the problem.

- , Minneapolis, MN, US

problem #14

Nov 052008

RAV4 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

I used to be a staunch Toyota supporter until this little escapade. The car suddenly started having difficulty shifting between 2nd and 3rd gears. We immediately drove to Dublin Toyota (California) where we have had every piece of work done on the vehicle since it's purchase from that dealership. We were told that the Rav had to have the transmission replaced at the cost of $5700. I contacted my husband who questioned the dealership asking if this was symptomatic for the Rav4, if there were any other reported occurrences, any recall, etc. We were told NO! Dublin Toyota stated no cases at all. Later that afternoon the service tech contacted me again and stated that they would give us a break on the transmission itself and that all we had to pay for was the labor. We thought we were so fortunate. However now after reading all of the other instances of this same problem AND some of the other quotes of cost of repairs, we feel that they "just took us for a ride" and basically we're paying for the entire repair, they just initially over quoted.

Please let me know if anyone was successful in getting Toyota to cover the entire expense. We're not giving up and intend to visit Dublin Toyota tomorrow with copies of all of these complaints. Does anyone know if there been a class action suit filed? I didn't find any through my research to date.

- , PLeasanton, CA, USA

problem #13

Aug 182008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

A long time Honda owner, I decided to buy a Toyota and have been happy with the Rav4. Recently, the car began to "hiccup" when going from 1st to 2nd gear. I took it to the Toyota dealer and they told me that it needs a new ECM for $1230 and a new transmission for $4600. Are you KIDDING ME? I am not about to put $6000 into a car that has 92,000 miles on it. I offered to pay half if they pick up the other half since this appears to be a known problem. I am awaiting their decision as the dealer has to go to Toyota corporation to see if they have any "goodwill" money available. I am very disappointed because I really thought that Toyota stood behind their products and prided themselves on service quality. I have no faith that they will agree to the 50-50 split. I found a transmission place that will rebuild and put in a new ECM for $2700 but Toyota tells me that it won't be fixed right because the clutch package required is simply not available and that is why a whole new transmission is needed. They tested my transmission fluid and found metal chips which means my transmission is already damaged and can't be rebuilt. I don't know who to believe. I guess I will write to Toyota's president, file a complaint with the Better Business folks, call the Lemon Law group and do some other things; however, I don't feel optimistic. Has anyone pursue this matter legally? What other options do we have???

- , Quakertown, PA, USA

problem #12

Jul 182008


  • Manual transmission
  • 71,500 miles

While driving to work in the morning, my RAV4 suddenly locks out cold turkey in the middle of the highway, thank god no accidents like a big whammed from behind.. got a Tow truck to haul it because it won't move at all, only to find out that even the wrecker truck can't tow it. The rear wheels are locked.

Call the Toyota gurus and they came and left. Paid the Tow TRUCK, THANK YOU FOR COMING OUT TO HELP ME AND HE LEFT That's $55.00 off my pocket. Toyota gurus came back and decided they had to removed the rear axle shaft on the spot to Tow it to their Shop, another tow service this time with Toyota, now they got me in their pockets. They couldn't diagnose the problem that day because their schedule was filled for the day. Tomorrow they say. Well, came back the next day to see if there are any findings but It was to early in the day. Well, so they say.. but I really need a car, my daughter needs her car back for the weekend; I've driven it for the past 24hrs.

Toyota didn't get back to me and they had to close shop. The service Advisor tells me it might be a good idea to find transportation for the weekend. There were no courtesy cars.. I had to rent one. So it is the weekend, I am stuck with a four day rental at ridiculous price and even perhaps and arm and a leg for a problem that is common in RAV4's.

Within the first year of purchasing the RAV4, I complaint about a rattling noise the RAV makes especially in the morning's when warming up. The problem would go away when the clutch is engaged or after the vehicle has ran for a few miles. Trips to TOYOTA GHURUS resulted in replacement of pulleys and bearing in the engine compartment, the second complaint resulted in the replacement of the Throw out bearing in the transmission, and finally at about 50 plus thousand miles and complete transmission replacement under warranty... Thank gracious. Those Gurus are having a training program on my RAVVY 4.

My comfortable driving didn't last long thought, as the rattling noise came back only this time worst because it doesn't stopped. I gave up and monitor it hoping for a cure. My warranty is out and I can afford the luxury service anymore in toughen economic times of today. Worst yet my 2008 Stimulus Check has been exhausted.

Out here in the Tropics were I lived the price to fix this kind of car problem doubles what it cost in the good old mother country. The cost of residing out here is four times higher than over there. This the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, The newest member of the American Political Family. Hail USA! Hooray!

Hope someone can share or provide solution at an affordable prize. And Yes Sign me up for the Class Action Suit. We deserve a better customer service than it is being practiced by the Toyota Service Centers Worldwide. After all "We Are Driven!"... Or does that actually connotates a different note like Driven out of our Minds and Dollars for Driving A Toyota...

Cheers and Peace from the Saipan, CNMI in the Pacific Ocean...

James Bodig

- , Saipan, MP, Northern Mariana Island

problem #11

Aug 042008

RAV4 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Just found out my RAV (which only has 50,300 miles, mind you) needs a new transmission. Huh?! This screams DEFECT to me.

At my last (faithful) oil change, my mechanic said I needed new tranny fluid asap. So I took it to a specialist in Culver City, who drained & replaced the fluid (which was black -- very bad news). He informed me the ECM (computer command module) is just fine...the prob is the tranny, which "is about to be blown" . He said there are metal particles in there (which I guess is the kiss of death). I called Toyota HQ (their # is: 800-331-4331) who said they give a 5-year or 60,000 mile warranty, whichever comes first. Well, I passed the 5-year limit last year . The HQ rep said to take it to my local Toyota dealership, and if they agree it needs a new tranny, to ask them for "out-of-warranty assistance." I guess this means they might cut me a break (if I luck out & happen to get a cool Sales Manager?).

I'd love a recall to happen but HQ says there's been no pattern of reports of failed transmissions. Pls call Toyota HQ to report your problem!!! -- apparently: "if they get enuf complaints, they turn it into an investigation, then possibly a recall. Also, if there ever IS a recall in the future, you can try to get reimbursed for past tranny $ spent." That's Toyota HQ talking, I hope it's all true. Peace, out. ~Julie

- , Santa Monica, CA, USA

problem #10

Jul 182008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

In October 2004, I purchased a 2002 Toyota RAV4 from Modern Toyota in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on a six-year payment plan. I also purchased out what was left of the three-year warranty, and a one-year maintenance plan. I have continued to get oil changes and tune-ups at regular intervals.

The car is at about 93,000 miles. On Friday, July 18, I was driving to a doctor's appointment, and quite suddenly, it began shifting improperly. In the lower gears, it lurched and bucked as if it was having trouble catching. Immediately, I drove to Emporia Motors, the local Toyota service center. It was about 11 AM. Emporia Motors was too busy to diagnose the problem by the end of the business day. The car was not drivable, so I had to do without a vehicle over the weekend.

On Monday, July 21st at 8:30 AM, I was informed that the transaxle/transmission would need to be replaced. The part and work needed was quoted at $3.450.00. After running an Internet search at, I found that there were 103 complaints about transmission problems on the 2002 RAV4, most of which were focused on problems with shifting, often occurring after the vehicle's mileage reached the 90,000 mark. This is clearly not a random problem, the costs of those repairs to other consumers are comparable to mine, and yet, Toyota has not taken any responsibility whatsoever for this problem.

The vehicle is only six years old and I have not even finished paying it off, and now I'll have to make additional monthly payments for the transmission replacement. The high cost of this unexpected repair is a serious burden in these difficult economic times. I am extremely disappointed with the quality of this car. I live in a rural state and I need to know that my car is reliable and that its quality is backed by the manufacturer. It was my plan to make my next car purchase a Toyota hybrid, but I can assure you that this is no longer a consideration.

- , Emporia, KS, USA

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