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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
114,658 miles
Total Complaints:
4 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission-ecm (3 reports)
  2. not sure (1 reports)
2003 Toyota RAV4 transmission problems

transmission problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Toyota RAV4:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #4

Dec 252016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


click to see larger images

transmission failure transmission failure

2003 Rav4 with only 110,000 miles and started having problems with Tranny. Come to find out that was bad defect from Toyota and because its been a 10 year warranty or 150k miles, which ever came first, they'd fix the prob. It passed that 10 year mark. WELL it says tranny starts after 100k miles where it starts acting up, therefore my turn.. I called Toyota said you passed the 10 year mark and cannot help you. Well to me that's totally not fair for us customers who do not drive their cars much and after that get surprises. I believe if they knew they had a big mistake making their cars they need to repair all affected by their garbage. Very upset and disgusted by their actions. I want Justice.

- , Hayward, CA, USA

problem #3

Aug 042016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,999 miles

I have been a Toyota person since about 1978. We have had 7 Toyota's in that time. This does not set well with me. I will now be much more open to other brands of Vehicles in my future purchases. Especially since I just had my seat mounts, in my 1999 4Runner welded as they ripped out under very normal wear and tear. And Toyota also knew this was defective. I just love how large companies put profit before quality. I won't soon forget.

- , Littleton, CO, USA

problem #2

Jul 092016

RAV4 2.0L L4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles

Warranty has run out. ECM replaced in 2011 at 76K. Transmission failed just under 120K. Evidence that the faulty ECM ruined transmissions. No help from Toyota at this stage.

Update from Jul 18, 2016: Had the the transmission replaced by a local independent mechanic. Cost was over $3K.

- , Half Moon Bay, CA, USA

problem #1

Dec 022011

RAV4 Chili 2.0L V4

  • Manual transmission
  • 105,633 miles

The fifth gear pops out at any given moment... so if you're accelerating the transmission goes in neutral position and your engine just go wild and give you an unpleasant wake up call... I have not yet figured the problem but according to other similar complaint i will have to change the transmission completely... Until then I hold the gear stick in position so I don't have to stay in 4th gear... a pain in the ass! I was looking at buying a used transmission but how long will it last if they are all made with the same weakness... Whatever i decide to do it will cost me a few stacks...I am not too pleased with this... I really love the car so I wont get rid of it... Sometimes love is painful. What can you do...

- , Rouyn-Noranda, QC, Canada

Not what you are looking for?