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Toyota RAV4 Transmission Troubles



  • My wife's 03 RAV4 is experiencing this issue. She's at the dealership right now, and I have JUST discovered that all of this could be fixed with a refurbished ECM.
    What I worry about is has she driven it too much already and the transmission is now fried.
    I am so fed up with Toyota. I sang their praises for years, but after the frame rotted out on my Tacoma and I didn't qualify for the buyback but a frame replacement instead, I got rid of the truck immediately after they gave it back.
    What happened to this once great company? When they put their bottom dollar ahead of the lives and safety of their customers, they can officially kiss my customer a$$ goodbye.
    How do I know the transmission isn't shot without forking over the $400 to have my ECM rebuilt?
    Oh this sucks, we can NOT afford a new car or payment right now. :mad:
  • A CLASS ACTION complaint on the 2001-2003 Toyota RAV4 TRANSMISSION / ECM PROBLEM WAS FILED ON Nov. 17, 2009.

    Here’s the link. MAKE SURE TO CLICK ON THE ICON ON THE LINKED PAGE TO READ THE CLASS ACTION in its entirety: nia.htm

    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.

    (I had the same transmission/ ECM problem.)
  • Do the ECM/Transmission problems affect the MANUAL transmission RAV 4 too?
  • The people at Check Engine, Etc., repaired my 2001 RAV4 ECM for $250, and it fixed all my transmission woes. It had the typical problems described in this forum, hesitation pulling out from a stop - then lunging suddenly forward, hesitation between 2nd and 3rd gear - then free reving until it lunged again. As described on their site, I parked the car pretty soon (about a week) after the problems started. The car has 185,00 miles and after the ECM fix, the transmission now shifts like new.
  • A lot of shop's don't know what is going on with these vehicles and will sell you a transmission, not knowing there is even an ECM issue. The damage that is done is almost always done to one particular clutch in the transmission. (Direct Clutch) This clutch CAN be repaired without remove trans from the vehicle. A cover on the end of trans can be removed, two tubes removed and the clutch drum pulls out..Replace a few clutch plates & steel plates and go back together. Be informed. could save you lots of $$$.
  • is there a place where we can sign up for the class action ?
  • I am having the exact same problem and have learned that the cost for new ECM is $1200 and that Toyota refuses to fix transmission until I get the ECM changed. If that doesn't work, I can get transmission repaired at $5500! I was a wreck after driving from Toyota repair to another repair center as vehicle jumped and hesitated all the way across town through busy traffic. I stood by Toyota with all the gas pedal issues but after finding out this is something they knew about, "good riddance!". I had made multiple trips back to dealer stating that it seemed as if power was lagging and every other fix they could bill me for, I find out they knew all along. I would like to know if I can be part of the class action suit also.
  • gonz3gonz3 Posts: 5
    Yeah, I searched ebay and get one of those auctions for servicing my computer. My RAV4 was doing the same as what is been largely described here and was diagnosed by a mechanic as I thought it was the tranny. These guys from ebay told me to send my RAV4 computer (ecm, ecu or whatever they name it) and after a few days it came back and the problems were not exactly the same but they were as annoying as it was before. They told me that it must be the tranny and I told them that it was diagnosed already.

    I was about to give it up and try to buy a new computer (about $1250), but a friend of mine recommended me to get the service from another website ( since he bought it for his wife's RAV4 that was doing the same. I though I would give a last chance to the computer and sent it to them.

    Now my RAV4 is running nice. I am glad I was recommended another service since I was about to spend my savings for a new computer. By the way, I did not get a refund from the ebay guys for the first attempt, so I guess that people should be aware of some sellers offering this service for cheap.
  • almyraalmyra Posts: 1
    I had The same problem !!!! I have a 2002 Rav at 75,000 I took the car to the dealer good that it still covered by warranty they replace a lot of stuff and it looks like they dont knw what their doing at first they replace my i forgot what its called i rthink its the sollenoid and then they replace the whole transmission but its still the same so figure out its the computer thats is doing it so they replace the computer. now my rav is running good but now i have another problem the valve seal i took it back to them it will cost me 2300 to replace it .
  • gonz3gonz3 Posts: 5
    I was looking for the website I mentioned. I finally found it here:

    I really recommend it. You should give the car computer a try first, before the shop attempt to replace or repair the transmission because most of the times the problem is the computer, unless the car is been used with the problem for long time, which will also damage the automatic transmission in the long run, specially when it is launching in second or third gear instead of first gear.

  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,010
    Thanks for the updates.

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  • buzz2020buzz2020 Posts: 1
    edited August 2010
    Just got a letter from Toyota extending the warranty to 10 yrs/150K miles. They also say if you send them proof you already replaced the ECM and tranny that you should apply for "reimbursement consideration".
    We almost sent that in but then we saw the Class Action so I wrote to the lawyers to get their opinion first.
    At least Toyota's doing something...
  • cgd21cgd21 Posts: 1
    edited August 2010
    Thankfully I got the same letter last week, because my 2002 Rav with 82K miles started shifting hard/bucking felt like the tranny was going to break apart!

    I took the Rav into the shop today, I didn't mention the letter upfront waiting to see what they say. The shop told me the ECM and/or transmission will need replaced and I should replace the ECM first for $900 since my warranty expired. I then mentioned the letter, they said they will get back to me. They called back stated their service bulletin only covers the issue to 80k miles, and that its not covered however they will "comp" it, so no charge.

    Either the dealers didn't get the latest memo, or the policy is to only fix for free if customer complains.

    For anyone who doesn;t have the letter, for reimbursement requests must include copies of repair, proof of payment, proof of ownership. The address for reimbursement is below.

    But Buzz you are correct to consult a lawyer. I have sent an email as well to attorneys building a class action on the prius and steering issues.

    Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc
    Toyota Customer Experience, WC10
    19001 South Western Avenue
    Torrance, CA 90509
  • I got my letter also, but for toyota it is like too late because I filed a law suite last year and the attornies requested the same thing but more miles and peoples money back for this, their transmission ect.. So my law suit is still pending the class action any.
  • Im currently thinking about trading in my civic coupe (no room at all in the car) for a 2002 Rav4 Automatic with 44k miles on it. Ive been reading about the problems but should the car be avoided all together or is it something that can be avoided before it happens?
  • I Had an appt. with a toyota rep on Sept 2 for a very annoying noise I have had since I drove the car off the lot. Well after all I was right. It is the transmission and they are going to replace it. I thought one of the reasons people bought new cars is so they dont have to go back and forth for repairs. Well let me tell you I have been back to the dealer so many times in the 5 weeks that I've had my 2010 rav 4 they probably wish they never sold me the truck. I have owned a camry and avalon for the past 15 years and had no problems which had led me toward the rav 4 but boy am i disappointed. I will keep you guys posted they tell me it will take 3 weeks for the transmission to come in. Good Luck to everyone else driving a rav 4 I hope you dont encounter the problems I have had.
  • I had the same transmission problems as everyone else. Transmission fluid was full and still red(not burnt). I took my 2002 Rav4 77k miles to transmission shop who found not mechanical problems(while I was there another Rav4 came in with the same issues) Shop called Toyota dealership who said they would "Flash the memory in the computer" .Toyota fixed it for FREE!!!
    Recall 60I Reprogram ECU
    ecu reprogram 6621j2-99-99 .6
    Car is running great!! :)
  • Hello, good news, toyota recall all check engine and transmission problems!
    The did replace my ECU today gladly my tranny still good? They send me a recall notice good for 100k miles or 10 years which ever comes first? In case your ECU is not covered, look for they rebuilt ECU (computer) for your car at $189. These will solved your problem, most likely the tranny is ok, unless you end up with bad mechanics who doesnt understand ECU & transmission toyota has?
    Even if you are a second owner you should get a recall from the mail? check your local toyota repair? Good luck Philip
  • :mad: Those people are purely CROOKS! Took my 2001 RAV4L with a recall from factory, they refuses to take my care for any repair unless I pay them $100. in advance? Took my car to Glendale Toyota, they were GREAT....! They order my part and schedule me to pick it, in just 2.5 hours my car is like new! They never ask for any money? STAY AWAY FROM HOLLYWOOD TOYOTA !!!!!!!! Ca.
    Philip Wayne
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,010
    edited October 2010
    Call Toyota and complain. There shouldn't be any diagnostic or other fee for getting a recall fixed. You may want to notify the NHTSA too.

    And please write a review for both dealers:

    Dealer Ratings and Reviews

    And please don't post your email address on forums; you'll get spammed if you do.

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