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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
78,509 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.

2003 Toyota RAV4 fuel system problems

fuel system problem

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2003 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #2

Oct 142013

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 76,970 miles


2003 Rav4 with automatic transmission started having trouble accelerating from a stop. There seemed to be hardly any power when the gas pedal was pressed, and then about 5-8 seconds later the car would jolt into gear. This problem would happen also when increasing speed, or any time the gas pedal was pressed down. The car was taken to an auto shop where they said the transmission was broken and needed to be replaced. I am a very conservative driver (I never try to accelerate too quickly), and this trusty Toyota hasn't ever had any engine problems... ever! there are less than 77,000 miles on the vehicle.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #1

Feb 112009


  • 80,048 miles
I was at a stop sign no gas, turned down hill in snow car accelerated going straight into downed tree. My vehicle is not on the recall list and has had sticking accelerator, rear end clunking noise and power steering has made it where I am afraid to drive vehicle. My service animal hit the windshield that shattered when vehicle accelerated and had to slam on brakes at another time. I've had other near misses and two left of center tickets with power steering issues. I have taken into Toyota for steering and check engine light and they will not even write service ticket. They filled power steering fluid said no problem. They keep resetting check engine light stating its gas cap. This car is a lemon, transmission problems, electrical system, computer. This is the first new vehicle I ever bought and wish I would have stuck with used.

- Lowell, AR, USA

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