RAV4 Owners Angry Over Transmission Problems

02Rav4 Owners of the Toyota RAV4 have expressed outrage at the automaker’s failure to warn them about a potentially serious transmission problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has logged more than 120 complaints about transmission problems with RAV4s from the 2001-03 model years. Consumer complaints to the Center for Auto Safety have included a $4,000 repair and a transmission failure on the highway that nearly led to a fatal accident.

The problem seems to be with the engine control module, which tells the transmission what to do. Toyota sent its dealers a technical service bulletin in March 2006 that warned consumers might complain about rough shifting, but it only instructed dealers to replace the ECM or — if that didn’t work — the transmission. The automaker did not notify vehicle owners of a problem.

This warning is important, according to Lance Wiggins of the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association. He told the New York Times that if problems like this occur with the transmission, RAV4 owners should immediately stop driving the vehicle and have it repaired.

Toyota has said that while it acknowledges the glitch in some ECMs, it did not notify consumers because it was not considered a safety threat, and the repairs are covered by warranty. Now Toyota is studying the issue further and deciding whether to send out notices.

Meanwhile, owners are turning to the NHTSA, saying the safety hazard posed by the faulty transmission warrants a recall. The agency has yet to set up a defect investigation, which is what triggers a recall. A NHTSA spokesman told the New York Times that the agency must decide if the problem is a clear safety threat or a “consumer inconvenience,” but that the situation is being watched closely.

RAV4 Owners Fume Over Toyota’s Handling of Transmission Glitch (Wheels)

By Stephen Markley | August 27, 2009 | Comments (42)



What the hell is going on with Toyota these days? They are slipping into a pit of unreliability on so many models and it's very sad. They keep this up and they're going to lose their seat as the #1 automaker.

Hyundai is closing in! (=


GR: They're talking about 01 to 03 models - cars that are 6 to 8 years old.

The article notes 120 complaints. How many Rav 4s were sold between 01 and 03?

The simple fact is that there is no such thing as perfection in any brand of car. You have to keep things in perspective.

"it did not notify consumers because it was not considered a safety threat, and the repairs are covered by warranty." . . . . what warranty?!?!? on a car that's at best 6 years old.

Original sheth


they may not even be #1 by the end of 2009. If they arent passed this year it will happen within 5 years. VW is hot on their tale and Hyundai is moving up every single year.


So,Toyota now is no better than Chrysler and its 41TE minivan transmission which Chrysler still claims there is nothing wrong with.
I always knew Toyota was no different than any other carmaker in response to customer complaints,but now the non believers know it firsthand.Thru hype and TV ads,any maker can make you believe anything.....When Toyota claims their vehicles last forever and never need repairs...check online...they are far from troublefree.


This is also an issue with honda trannies. my civic has eaten two auto's in the past two years ive owned it. first one went at 56K


Say it isn't so! Say it isn't so! A Toyota having issues??? I won't believe it! (sarcasm)


@Sam ... there have been a plethora of other models by Toyota that have suffered reliability issues. This instance with the RAV4 is only one model of many and in this case, there may be plenty more people experiencing problems than the 120 who reported it.

There may be no such thing as perfection in any brand of automobile but there was a day when Toyota scraped the ceiling on that silver lined cloud ... remember the advertisements for the Corolla where they stated you could weld the hood shut and just drive ...

"Legendary Toyota reliability and quality"

Yeah, I guess if that was touted in my face on every Toyota ad I saw, I'd be pissed too.


OMG! Toyota pulled a Chrysler!

Original sheth

Toyota and Honda have never been prone to admit problems. Nothing new here. When your reputation is staked on perfect quality you cannot admit you have quality problems. Toyota just issued another recall the other day for Corollas. My sister in law has a 2002 Camry and had numerous problems in and out of warranty.

Chad P

Everyone: please join this site so we can all be together, united against Toyota.


I believe Toyota pushed too hard to become the largest automaker in the world and their quality slipped.

In hindsight, all they needed to do was wait for GM to announce bankruptcy.


My wife and I are now experiencing transmission problems with our '03 rav 4. We have no warrantee on our car and now we'll have to face the cost of repairing this problem. I think being that this is now an epidemic with a whole lot of them, Toyota should have a recall, it's the right thing to do! Think of all the people who are having the same problem and chose not to report it!


A CLASS ACTION complaint on the 2001-2003 Toyota RAV4 TRANSMISSION / ECM PROBLEM WAS FILED ON Nov. 17, 2009.



Courthouse News Service
Thursday, November 19, 2009

Toyota Faces 2 Class Actions in California

“Toyota knew its 2001-2003 RAV4 sports utility vehicles have “a dangerous safety defect that causes the engine control modules and/or automatic transmissions to fail prematurely,” but sold them anyway and won’t repair or replace them, a class action claims in San Francisco Federal Court. Another class action, in L.A. Federal Court, says Toyota concealed a dangerously defective throttle control system in its 2001 Lexus and 2002-03 Lexus and Camrys.”

The complaint lists four attorneys for the plaintiffs, and their contact information.

Let’s hope for the best.

(Had the same problems as everyone else.)


Does this ECM/Transmission problem affect the MANUAL transmission RAV 4 too?


these ecm's are covered under a warranty for 96 months or 80k which ever comes first it is a federal emisions control warranty don't let them bs or bully you

stephanie williams

A i want to know is where do i sign for a class action lawsuit! i bought my used 03 rav 4/09 thinking they make reliable car. now im paying over 2000$ to fix it and having to pay the note every month! its CRAP


i'm having the same problemwith my 2001 rav4... the car was working great, then one day coming from work the car started jerking a little and wouldn't shift. i don't know much about cars so i started to do my research online and found that a lot of rav4 owners were having the same problem. i took the car in and had it checked out... a mechenic told me that i had to replace the ecu and the transmission.. it was going to be 1500 for a rebuilt transmission and another 500 to get the ecu rebuilt... all for about 2000.... what gets me upset is that i read online was that toyota knew this problem and they did not notify any owners.... what if i was on the freeway with my two girls both under the age of 5 and the problem happened... if there is any lawsuits with getting this problem taken car of let me know... (txam01@hotmail.com) ...


Ok sorry, I dont like toyota, but this is silly, im sorry your 7-8 year old car is having problems, welcome to owning a car. Stop belive that toyotas are solid gold and cannot
have a problem. its FALSE, go choke up your repair bill cause you HAD to have a japanese car that costs 2-3 times more for parts. And you mechanics are lying if they say it needs an ECU and Transmission, its one or the other, not lets throw parts at it till it works. The ECM will not ruin the trans, just keep it from shifting.




2005 toyota rava4 has problems of gear shifting more esp in low gears.missfire and missing signals.


i need to repair myn car rave4 2005 in automatic transmission where to get tech bullentin? shouting in slow motion and difficult to start after stoping long time what is that?

Althea Lowe

I have a 2001 Rav4. Started slipping 2 days ago. Mileage 150,614. Toyota wont do anything. I'ts out of warranty by 614 miles.Just paid it off in december. Quite disgusting. Not sure what to do.

Julie-Ann Desilva

My 2003 started a few wks ago with the exact same problem. After doing some research I found out that a lot of people had similar complaints. Took it to the dealership, my ecm is on the warranty list that ended at 80,000 miles and the the extended warranty
for 150,00, my vin number doesn't fall on their list of vin#'s . Toyota knows exactly what they are doing and they know darn well that all their rav 4's 2001-2003 have the same problem..some people just doesn't report it..that doesn't mean that the problem doesn't exist.. I am OUTRAGED.. THey can't even gurantee that if u pay to change the ecm that the problem will be fixed..You might still need to pay for a new transmission.. BULLSHIT

Debbie Paillette

I have a 2003 rav4 and at 83,000 miles starting haveing the shift problem also, $2800 for a rebuilt transmission and i still have the same problem, not sure what to do now

One of the biggest problems with the 2001 and 2002 rav4 is the transmission hard shift between 2nd and 3rd gear. This is a problem with the ecm not the trans. There is more info here http://www.ecmoutlet.com/rav4-ecm.html Once the ecm is replaced the transmission will no longer slip its gears.

chris chang

believe it.. i got a 02 rav4..in 07..within a year.. i have to replace my transmission and the ecm..they replace the ecm first and it did'nt work. so they reaplace the transmission after..and it work..the whole things cost about $8000.00..lucky i got brought a warranty for it when i brought the car.. cost me out of packet $100.00..

Kay Bryant

I replaced my 2003 RAV4 transmission just three weeks ago at 96,000 miles — nearly one year after the extended warranty expired. My transmission seemed "sub-standard" compared to my husband's Honda, but I did not know about the "harsh-shift" RECALL?!? having NOT received a notice from Toyota. I am bummed...

Michele Vaughan

I have a 2005 Rav 4 and it has the same issues as the 2001-2003. How come the 2005 are not covered in the settlement?

Rose Champagne

My 2001 Rav4 is now in the shop facing a $4500.00 transmission problems.

Nelson Garcia

03 Toyota rav4 check light on, the car has no power and accelerate by self, and when change the gears 1 to gear2 the car is kick, so is shift problem. Toyota has no warranty on it. I paid $2800.00 to rebuilt it and fix the engine control module as well. I am very disappointed with Toyota.
What reliable, durable is this car? BS.

Sandie B

Bought my Rav4 new in 2010, now the transmission came out and of course the warrant is out. Called the dealership to complain but they have yet to call me back. After my transmission came out, I am finding that other have had the same problem. I can't find a rebuilt one because of others having the same problem. A new one cost #3500 and to buy one that has been junked is $2500. Can't trade it in because I still owe on it. Toyota needs to fix the problem. This will be my last Rav4.


I am having transmission Problems with my 2010 Toyota Rav4 , the dealer is asking me for 2400.00 to give me a re billed one.
what do you think I should do I do not have the money and I need my car looking for help. Thanks


My 2003 is having the same shifting problems...it's past the warranty and I hope fixing the ECM works. I just paid my loan off :(

Jerry Stevens

If Toyota told me in 2006 that the ECM might be bad and that I should replace it to avoid ruining my transmission, I would have done so. I didn't find out about this problem on our 2001 Rav4 until this past weekend. The ECM is bad and now I may also be looking at a new transmission... well, if I get it fixed at all. I'm probably going to be looking at new Hondas instead!


My 2001 RAV just had the ECM issue surface October 1. And because I'm beyond my warranty coverage, I'm now on the search for a replacement vehicle because of the price involved to replace the ECM and a possible transmission overhaul. Unfortunately, I've made the decision to go back to a Camry versus a newer version of the RAV because I'm concerned that even newer models such as the 2010 as mentioned above are having this issue too. I'm disappointed in Toyota that they didn't do a massive recall and replacement of the part versus only replacing on an as needed basis or when an issue did appear. Most of us are now outside of our warranty coverage and unless you have the $1700 for the ECM and $3500-$4500 for the transmission overhaul, then you have to purchase another vehicle.


Just started having the problems on my RAV4 at 93000 miles and trust me, I saw the light with the dealer's service long before this issue. I stopped taking my car for service there about two years ago. Thing is my mechanic is telling me there's a difference between the slipping and the hard shifting but I had both! He seems to insist that replacing the transmission will do it. He had no codes on the ECM. So we'll see. I think I'll get rid of TOYOTA after this and perhaps try another brand. This is very sad since I thought at 93000 miles I would be just breaking my Toyota in. What a massive disappointment.

Today driving home the transmission went out on my Rav4 2002 I lost the drive gears and made it home in Low 2nd. Went online and discovered it is a common problem and is actually caused by a bad ECM . I called the dealership in the morning and they said it would be nearly $5,000 to replace the ECM and transmission. Somebody know about repair


Actually I found very interesting and good deal. Thanks the internet! those guys are in Van Nuys CA ( Module Repair Pro Inc ). I had called them and described the problem. Next day I have been shown already my car. Their specialization are repair and re-manufacturing of car components. Perfect service and reasonable price. If you have some question , ask me

Interesting that our 2001 RAV4 also had to be towed to the shop first week of October! We had no problems before this! The shop said transmission was shot, and we replaced it with a good used one with low miles (2003). However, problem was still there after. So had ECM repaired, and ran ok for a few days then problems again. Now I am stuck with $4000 in repairs but have no clue what is wrong! Someone said I needed to get a remanned transmission instead of a used because the ECM can't reprogram a transmission that came from a different vehicle, only the original. Re-manned will be as if it is original. I am hopelessly confused. HELP!

hi, I am in Australia and have had the same problems. My car's ECU died in February 2014 and when I spoke to Toyota Head Office here in Sydney they said they would send my complaint to Head office, Japan, but any decision would take months and the guy doubted I would even get a reply. he said the recall in the USA was because the cars there are made in Canada and use different spare parts- Australian cars are made in Japan so thats why there will be no recall here.....hmmmm. Today, I could have had a major accident as the transmission failed as I was merging into peak hour traffic. I have been on the phone all afternoon to Toyota, explaining the dreadful situation I am in due to this disaster and they just didn't care. Said I need to get the car towed ( $150) to a dealership for assessment..and kept telling my why my car is different to that in the USA. Today, I filed a formal complaint to our Consumer Watchdog as I believe if Toyota had replaced the faulty ECU's when they knew about the problem in 2006, my transmission wouldn't have been damaged in 2014/2015. I will make a prediction: Toyota will look at the car and say the problem is not related to the ECU.....I will post back next week with any news. There is a blog in Australia where a lot of RAV4 owners complain of the same problem.

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