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Toyota RAV4 Transmission Troubles



  • beaker30, Before Toyota fixed my Rav4 I was quoted $1300 to fix the problem with the shifting of gears (slipping and slow shift). This did not involve a new transmission. I also learned that some non-Toyota shops didn't know what they were doing on this front.
  • Just was so encouraged to see everyone's struggles with the Rav4. We purchased ours used- with no warning about the known transmission/computer issues- several years ago and have the 2003 model. It's been unreliable for a year now and we just drive it locally within 30min radius of where we live...don't trust it anymore than that. (have a second car thank goodness) Pretty much driving it-the RAV4- into the ground since we dont have the 6000 to throw into it to fix like we've been quoted.

    We're having all the problems afore said in the blogs with the computer/transmission jerking, slow acceleration at stoplights etc. Some days better than others dependent on the heat/cold but the slow acceleration seems to be a mainstay now. We really need our RAV4 as a second vehicle so that's why we've been on the road with it babying it carefully and cautiously.

    Where do we begin this process of getting it fixed WITHOUT OUR PAYING FOR IT????? We were told that we were over warranty and over mileage and that toyota wouldn't pay for it. We really need our 4WD for this coming winter's 2 hour commutes at times as it's just around the corner for where we live in snowland and we have an extra baby on the way in addition to a 3 year old so will be needing more passenger room sooner than later than the other spare vehicle/junker we are currently driving in the absence of the reliability of our 03 RAV4 for long distances and snowy weather.

    If anyone has any updates on the current status of the class action lawsuit that's been filed, please let us know...we don't really know much about how to get involved in this whole thing, we just want to have our RAV4 fixed before the snow flies in a couple months or have it replaced or something! It would seem to me that in a lawsuit, we wouldn't get it operational like it should be by this winter-which is our greatest push at this point...since lawsuits can take years sometimes? Well, we are totally open to advice on this subject as we are pulling for all sorts of options for the deadline of this winter and our commutes. Just not much "mulah"(money) to work with at all!!!!!!

    If we did get involved in the lawsuit, what would be the perks? Seems that sometimes people get next to nothing in the settlements after a case like this? ...Compared to all the money they sank into the payments for the vehicle not to mention repairs etc.???? and then there's the lawyer fees????? I don't know if we understand this all right, but we are open to suggestions---like I said earlier!

    Thanks for your help! :cry:
  • juliaann- Once Toyota fixed my RAV4 it ran really well -- I sold it a few months later and was surprised by how it held its value. I believe the extended warranty for that shifting problem was 10 years or 150,000 miles, so unless you are past the 150, you should be covered. In my experience, an independent shop didn't do well with this problem and it was the toyota dealer service that took care of it. The website below has an article about it and there are links to two jpg pages with a Toyota bulletin and a warranty extension statement. I printed that warranty extension and handed it to the dealer when I dropped off the car. transmission-and-problem-repair
  • Thanks "rrocks"!

    I just looked at the info you shared and discovered from my hubby that we are at 210,000miles! I guess that's way over the 150,000 miles limit! I am reminded now that is the reason we were turned down from toyota in the past, just the local dealerships we have had contact with. We might start looking into the lawsuit? Thanks for your was encouraging till I found out about our high mileage!!!!! :-) We'll keep pluggin away!
  • wilinmspwilinmsp Posts: 2
    edited September 2011
    On my 2001 RAV. So apparently someone already started one ... There is a four page leaflet on the ECM class action lawsuit so way too long to post here. However, if you don't get one soon, here is an address for info: Toyota RAV 4 ECM Settlement Claims Administrator, P.O. Box 905, El Segundo, CA 90245-0905. Here is a phone number for info: 877-235-4599. And website is: ;)
  • OMG, i think i might have the story to top em all. Please let me know how we can get invovled and save ourselves $5500 to replace this mess.

    June 2011 transmission cooked, replaced by Toyota quickly. THank you Toyota, it only cost us a week with no car and a huge headache.

    Sept 2011 Transmission slips on highway. Engine rods are likely COOKED. Dealer says it will cost me $1200 to take apart engine to build a case that the transmission faults caused the engine rods to bend and break.

    So now i can either pay $5500 to replace the engine. Or $1200 to TRY and prove that Toyota's Transmission problem (although fixed on their dime) also cooked my engine in the recent gear slip on the highway. I find it just to ironic after reading all these posts.

    I am calling the 877-235-4599 number and visiting at lunch break!

    Any other advise? :sick:
  • I have a 2003 rav with 150k miles and all the same crazy symptoms. To make long story shorter... I just took out my ECU myself. (there is a step by step instructional video on YouTube that inspired me.I then bought an upgrade service from
    It cost me $250. Plus shipping to Puerto Rico
    It took about a week to get back. I put it back in last night and so far so good. All the symptoms seem to be gone. The check engine light even came off for the first time. I need to get my inspection sticker tomorrow. The car now even goes in reverse like a normal car. No slamming into gear.
    I then will fill out a claim form to try to get reimbursement from Toyota .
    Good luck people.
    P.s. The ECU is behind the glove compartment and not too hard to get to.
  • I have an 2001 RAV4 purchased as a lease trade in from a toyota dealer in 5/2003. Has 109,000 and is maintained 100%. On Thursday, September 15, 2011 (yes, 2011) i rec'd the class action suit letter regarding the ecm. Can't even believe the car began exhibiting signs of issues just a couple of days later on Satuday. Stopped driving it as it was at the mechanic. It through the ecm code and as per the service center at the deal it was towed it as it was covered. Got a call stating that the new date of the car was 5/31/2001, so i missed the conditions of the class action suit and extened warrantly by just 5 months.
    they basically said i was SOL as i did not use the deal for maintainence. It didn't matter to them that we have purchased 3 toyotas from them, just that i didn't do service there. they will gladly do the ecm for over $1000, but, it that doesn't work, it will be my financial burden to cover the transmissiom repair. It made no difference that i had received the letter or that they told me to have the car towed there for repair. suck. anyone having similiar issues, i'd jump on board. I can't understand how i didn't get notification until 2011 for a known problem for at least 5 years. the time line of warranty extention of 10 years on a 2001 is curious.
  • wishewwishew Posts: 2
    What happened with your case?
    I just dealt with a similar situation, but in my case it was only 9 days over the warranty period! Mine is a 2002 car and was bought on Oct.1 2001(which I didn't know beforehand, because I'm not the original owner). The transmission problems started on Sept 30, 2011 only ONE DAY before the enhanced warranty expired! Unfortunately, I was going out of the country on Sept 30 for 9 days, so couldn't bring it in until Oct 10. (IF I had known when exactly the car was purchased, I would have tried to get in before I left!)
    When I brought it in on Oct 10, what they ended up doing was, Toyota covered the cost of the ECM, but I paid $240 for labor. I didn't know if I should try to argue the point and try to get them to pay the entire amount, but I need to have my car working, so I agreed to the $240 and was happy to not have to pay the full amount (which would have been over $1100, according to them). But the timing was sooo close to the deadline I feel the pain!
    I also feel that $240 was a lot for the labor, since it only took them an hour to do the work.
  • wishewwishew Posts: 2
    In my case it was only NINE days over the warranty period.
    Mine is a 2002 Rav4 and was bought on Oct.1 2001 (which I didn't know beforehand, because I'm not the original owner). The transmission problems started on Sept 30, 2011 only ONE DAY before the enhanced warranty expired! (talk about timing!)Unfortunately, I was going out of the country on Sept 30 for 9 days, so couldn't bring it in until Oct 10. (IF I had known when exactly the car was purchased, I would have tried to get it in before I left!)
    When I brought it in on Oct 10, what they ended up doing was, Toyota covered the cost of the ECM, but I paid $240 for labor. I didn't know if I should try to argue the point and try to get them to pay the entire amount, but I need to have my car working, so I agreed to pay the $240 and was happy that they didn't try to make me to pay the full amount (which would have been over $1100, according to them). But the timing was sooo close to the deadline I feel the pain!
    I also feel that $240 was a lot for the labor, since it only took them an hour to do the work.
    What do you think? Did I get a good deal, or should I have tried harder for the full warranty coverage?
  • There's a class action settlement letter floating around. I don't have a copy of it but my mother received it while we were reading our fight. She's covered under that letter. You probably are too. Toyota is paying for all related costs, is my understanding.
  • I just received a letter from Toyota saying that I am eligible to be included in a class action lawsuit against Toyota for those who had to replace or repair the transmission on a 2002 Rav4. Unfortunately, in August of 2007, I had my Toyota towed to the dealership and followed behind it because my instinct told me that this kind of thing shouldn't happen on a vehicle that's only 5 years old and had been well maintained. As with many of you, I was told that I would have to pay for the replacement of the transmission AND that the warranty had expired, so I had no recourse.

    At that time, I was in no position to be without a vehicle. They promised me that they'd take good care of me. By this point, I was in tears and told the manager my concern about getting a decent deal on another car because I was obviously stuck. Of course they reassured me and seemed very nice at the time. My mom co-signed for me on a new vehicle since I was upside down still on my load for the RAV4.

    Once I saw that legal action was impending, I started to wonder if they gave me the value of a 2002 RAV4 utility with upgrades minus a working transmission or not. (I'm guessing not.) So I found my original bill of sale. I purchased a new vehicle on August 4, 2007. The only thing wrong with my RAV4 other than the transmission was a small dent in the rear bumper. Everything else was in great condition. They gave me $5000 for the vehicle. I've researched online to try to find the 2007 version of Blue Book so I know whether or not I should pursue legal action. Any advice out there? Is anyone else in the same boat?

    Thank you so much!
  • jnb757jnb757 Posts: 3
    Well $5k was not a great deal...BUT? The dealer knew it needed $5k of work(their cost was maybe $3k) and it was trade in value which is always lower...
    I had mine done.. they repaid me.. the new ECM failed 2 years later Toyota sent another fefective ECM to replace a defective one .....But new ones was Out of warranty (1yr) but it damaged the trans AGAIN and I got the class action suit that says Sorry we only pay once... but now? I had to buy new ECM & $3600 for new trans... so my only recourse is small claims court..
  • jnb757jnb757 Posts: 3
    Hi... Toyota replaced the ECM & trans and paid me for it... The problem? The new ECM failed 2 years later and damaged the trans... so now I have to pay for both(settlement says when they pay? Thats it... and my mileage is now past their 150k warranty but the ECM only had 40k on it.. same with trans.Toyota said sorry... not our problem The dealer is GREAT and has been trying to help but to no avail..
    ..anyone have any ideas what to do? Small claims court>
  • gonz3gonz3 Posts: 5
    Well, I received this reply from Richard from RAV4 Repair when asking him about this new issue.

    "Yes, I have heard and seen that new ECMs are failing for the same in about one or two years. Unfortunately, odd as it may sound, this is happening some times. The truth is that Toyota improved the process of manufacturing those ECMs, so this problem does not resurface again and it is a good thing, but it is also true, that while those newly manufactured ECMs will not fail again, there are plenty of ECMs from the "old batch" in the shelfs, awaiting to be sold.

    I have seen both upgraded and not upgraded ECMs and there really exists a difference between both. So I can not tell for sure, but I guess that ECMs that failed again were from the "old batch".

    The problem is the cost of a new ECM from the "new batch" and the fact that there is no easy way that we know, for identifying one from the other, unless opening it and an experimented technician inspects the circuit.

    I guess that the best thing to do is "properly" repairing and reprogramming the one that you already have and it will not fail again. Just do it before the transmission fails and you will be save from many headaches.

    As I always mention, these RAV4 vehicles are excellent. Their only flaw is at its ECM computer. Do not dump it for something that can be easily solved.
  • So sorry to hear that. I think I'm done with Toyota after all of this. The reliability scares me, not to mention that the resale is probably horrible now with all of the bad press. Good luck in small claims court if you pursue that.
  • I received the paper asking me to enter in the lawsuit, but have lost it. Does anyone have the information. I had a Rav 4, 2001 and it started about 160,000 miles, they told me that it had to be 150,000. Seems like if it was a defect it was a defect. And after I brought it to the dealer to check on it, it was immediately worse, and then totally gone 3 days later. Funny how that happens.
  • Hi, I am new here, have a question. Are all these transmission/ECM problems (2001-2003) limited to only AUTOMATIC transmission (2001-2003), or also MANUAL transmission? Reason I ask -- I am interested in purchasing a MANUAL transmission 2003 RAV4L, and want to make sure that I will not be encountering this problem, and thought someone on this discussion would know/best.... Thank you in advance for any replies.
  • I have a 2001 RAV and and at only 72,000 miles the transmission went out. Toyota quoted me $4,500 for a new transmission and a $1,000 for a new ECM. I took the car to a recommended transmission shop and had it done for less than $3,000. They then told me not to drive it until Toyota replaced the ECM so we towed it there. Two days later they tell me the ECM doesn't need to be replaced. I drove it home and 4 blocks from home it started doing the same thing again. No first gear, then a pop, then the car shimmies, then it regains first gear long enough for me to get home the rest of the way. I am so frustrated I can't even think straight. I'm into rental cars about $600. Two tows from home to the transmission shop and from the transmission shop to the dealer. Two weeks of up and down scheduling to get repairs done. Toyota says, "you don't need a new ECM." and here I am. I am p***ed! This is an AUTOMATIC transmission. I will NEVER buy another RAV or a Toyota and I LOVE MY RAV. They are crooks!
  • So, the transmission on my 2001 RAV4 seems to have gone out- Only has 81,000 on it...but now is 11 years just a few months out of warranty...but my question is this...would I be covered under the settlement/ enhanced warranty? The website says "Toyota will continue to provide a warranty enhancement to any class member for a period of 10 years or 150,000 miles from the class vehicles in service date, whichever occurs first..." Today would technically be my "in service date" as I brought the vehicle in this Help anyone?
  • Oh I feel so sorry for you. I saved money by having my transmission rebuilt. The transmission shop owner told me to get the ECM fixed before I drive it. However, two Toyota dealers says that without the error code they cannot replace the ECM. Since they are the only ones who can touch the ECM, I am SOL. Between tows, rental cars and transmission rebuild I am into this for over $4,000 and now am faced with the transmission at risk because the dealer will NOT replace the ECM, even though I offered to pay for it. The corporate office said they would NOT pay for any of the transmission repairs or the ECM. I will submit my transmission repair bill along with my story to the Class Action Lawsuit which stays open until 2014. That's the only chance I have to get my money back.
  • I read your post and was wondering how to go about getting a check on my 2002 RAV4's transmission. I was just told by a reputable transmission company that I needed a new transmission.
    My car started bucking and gasping for gas everytime I slowed and excellerated or came to a complete stop. I immediately took it to my mechanic who had the pan dropped and transmission checked. But to no avail; I was told it was shot & needed to be replaced.
    I have been checking online for any information about recalls on this make & model (RAV4 2002).
    Can you give me any help ?
  • I have an opportunity to purchase a 2002 RAV4 with 57,500 miles on it. The dealership has confirmed that the engine control module was reprogrammed in August 2007. According to the Carfax, the vehicle has been driven for more than 20,000 miles since that repair. Is this enough to ensure that I will not experience these transmission issues or is it possible that I could still experience them? Please let me know, as I am really interested in purchasing this vehicle. Thank you.
  • i have a 202 RAV 4 - how do I find out if it's still under warranty
  • 10 years or 150,000 miles. I had 10.4 years at 71,000 miles.
  • My 01 Rav4, 72000 miles is awesome, always has been. I took it to trade up to a Tacoma and when they test drove it, found a clunk when putting it in reverse. I was astonished. I had done the recall for the computer a couple years ago, asymptomatic. Why, the day I go to trade it in, do we find a problem....?

    So my question is, after consulting the and listening to the frequently asked questions from the toll-free line.... How long is it taking to get reimbursed? I haven't actually gotten it fixed yet, but is sounds like I have to fork out a lot of money!
  • Update: I traded my Rav4 in with the broken transmission back in May 2012, they gave me $9985 trade in for it toward a new Tacoma, I was/am overly satisfied!
  • Hi
    I am driving a 97/98 plate rav 4 for the last 6b months with no problems. But last night driving on the motorway, I started to hear a high pitched squeal from behind my dash which changed in pitch whenever I put or took my foot on the gas. I was thinking possible fan belt issue. However, about 20mins later, it popped out of 5th gear which was a bit scary on the motorway at 70mph!!

    Now, it won't stay in 5th gear but all the gears work fine and there is no apparent change in how it handles. The high pitched whine is still there also.

    Any ideas what this is

    Thanks in advance.
  • My 2007 RAV 4 sometimes Jumps out of Reverse when I hit the accelerator harder than normal. The transmission is an automatic and does not slip and changes gears fine otherwise. Any ideas. I don't want to have to rebuild it for one mechanical problem. Does anyone know what may be causing this?
  • We had a problem with our 2003 rav 4 transmission. It was the computer sending the wrong signal to the transmission. After the dealership told us the thing cost over $1000 and also said the transmission would have to be repaired. We called toyota. National. They said there was a bulletin about and that the dealere should know about it. the dealer suddenly remembered the bulletin after we said we called toyota. They replaced it for free because if it was less than 10 years old and had less than 150,000 miles. At that point the dealer couldn't find anything wrong with the transmission. It works like new now.
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