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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
33,774 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #2

Jul 132009


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


2003 Toyota Rav4. Consumer requests ramification to unsuccessful attempts to fix the manufacturer's defect in workmanship the consumer stated the check engine light illuminated. Prior to the engine light illuminating, the consumer noticed the vehicle would stall as she applied the accelerator pedal after a red light and it would surge with force once it accelerated. The consumer was charged $664.87 for a sensor and V-ripped belt. On March 24, 2010, the check engine light illuminated again. Upon researching on the internet, the consumer discovered a tsb for the PCM and ECM. The consumer also complained of a squeaking noise coming from the front of the vehicle at the slightest road bump and hearing a thump when turning the wheels to the far right. The consumer stated the dealer never mentioned the tsb's regarding the ECM/PCM.

- New York, NY, USA

problem #1

Jun 162009


  • 67,548 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Rav4. While driving 30 mph, the vehicle would not shift into gear. After a couple of seconds, the vehicle returned to the correct gear, followed by a loud banging sound. The vehicle also jerked during this time. There were no failures or warning indicators prior to the failures. The vehicle was taken to a local repair shop and the mechanic stated that the transmission was failing. The vehicle was not repaired. The dealer confirmed that the transmission and tcm failed, and stated that the repair would cost $6,500. The manufacturer would not provide compensation because the vehicle was out of warranty. The contact was later informed that if she had the vehicle repaired at the cost of $6,500, the manufacturer would reimburse her in the amount of $2,500. The contact discovered a technical service bulletin for the failure with the transmission, which stated that a warranty was offered that would cover the emission failure of the transmission for up to 80,000 miles. The manufacturer stated that they will investigate and call the contact back. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure mileage was 67,548 and current mileage was 68,270.

- North Babylon, NY, USA

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