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Toyota RAV4 Transmission Troubles



  • You were lucky. The dealerships act like cheating spouses - deny deny deny even at times when faced with the truth. I bought a new Toyota and traded in my bad one and got full blue book for it. Now they will have to deal with it. I will check online for recalls every 6 months from now on. I was only at 75,000 miles on a 2001 RAV. They wouldn't budge because I was over the 10 year limit by two months. If the RAV wasn't such a good car (usually), I would never deal with Toyota again.
  • grngogrngo Posts: 2
    Tim N - Automotive Scientific Inc.

    I just left feedback on eBay, but only 80 characters doesn't do it justice so I want to tell you my whole story and encourage you to share it with potential customers on your website or any other way you wish.

    I purchased a 2003 RAV4 in Houston in January of 2011 with the intention of shipping it to Costa Rica after driving it in Houston for 8 or 9 months. It had just under 90,000 miles on it when I purchased and ran great. The transmission was a little rough shifting on cold mornings, but I didn't give it much thought. In September 2011 I shipped the RAV to Costa Rica with 100,000 miles on it and drove it here from October until last Saturday (3/16/13) when the transmission started to act up at 103,000. Hard shifting, not shifting out of first, down shifting on hills even though I had already manually shifted to 2nd. My first thought was low fluid since I had driven it really hard in the hills here using second gear most of the time to climb and brake on the downhill. Well I went straight home and parked the car. Checked the fluid and it was clean and full.

    At that point I went to the Google and discovered the ECU issue with this model. It sounded right on, and while my logical mind can't quite comprehend a computer failure of this nature based on higher mileage, I decided it must the problem. Although the Check engine light hadn't come on before, it did come on when I moved the car about 300 feet just to park in a better location. I didn't even bother checking the code. I just instinctively knew based on all I read that it was the ECU failure. Then I went back to Google and began shopping for a replacement. I found $1200 new, $1050 new at discount parts outlets, $250 to $500 rebuilt. Then I found Automotive Scientific Inc at $129 free shipping and no core charge. I have to say I was skeptical since I sometimes believe we get what we pay for, but the feedback was good and I felt it was worth a shot. I didn't even bother to shop here in CR knowing there is no way I would beat this price, even with added shipping and duty.

    First, I ordered on Sunday. You called and emailed me Monday morning for my VIN to verify the correct unit was shipped. Next, you shipped immediately. Since I am in Costa Rica and use a freight forwarding company, there are added expenses and time. One big added expense is import duty which of course is based on value. Obviously the lower price drastically reduces the duty. I use Aero Postal / Aero Casillas for shipping from Florida to Costa Rica. I ordered from you Sunday 3/18. You shipped 3/19. UPS delivered to AeroCasilles in Miami 3/21. The unit arrived in San Jose 3/22 and I picked it up here in Ciudad Quesada this morning 3/23 at 10AM. Shipping, duty and taxes were $40. Total investment $170. My wife asked on the way home from picking up the part if I was sure that was the problem. My response, even if it isn't, its worth the cost to get it off the list of possible problems since a transmission shop would want to sell me one anyway at a much higher cost.

    Installation took less than one hour thanks to a YouTube video by one of your pricey competitors. ( ) By 11:30 I was test driving and by Noon I was convinced the project was a success.



    cc: Friends, Facebook, Costa Rica Living
  • tmmortmmor Posts: 1
    Hi everyone,
    So I just learned about the transmission problems with the select 2001-2003 models, a little late unfortunately. I took my car into Aamco to get it looked at b/c it wasn't shifting properly and they told me they needed to rebuild the transmission and remove damaged parts and replace the ECM, for an estimated $2700-3500. My car has 157K miles so it's past the enhanced warranty. I still called Toyota HQ to see if there was anyway they could help. I had never received any notification about the problem, they claimed to have sent it out July 2010 and I never go to dealerships b/c they're so expensive. They said no. I said I was willing to pay 50%, a compromise, since it's a defect in the system. They didn't care. My car had been jerking into reverse for awhile but I didn't think anything of it. When it started to rev up when I pushed on the gas and it took a while to shift and did so harshly, I decided to take it in. Has anyone had better luck with Toyota? Any suggestions? Is that price reasonable? I am a full-time student on loans so money is really tight and I know nothing about cars. Thanks!
  • grngogrngo Posts: 2
    If you didn't drive much after symptoms started the transmission may not be damaged. Good luck.
  • a friend of mine has a 2003 Rav4, her transmission went out 3 months past the 10 year limit, Toyota won't do anything to help. any suggestions on what she can do? Dealer quoted her $5k to repair
  • I got my ECU reprogrammed online at It cost me approximately $250. And I had to send the ECU to Puerto Rico. It came back in less than a week. I watched a video on You Tube that showed me how to remove it. It is located behind the glove compartment. Once I put in the reprogrammed ECU the car drove awesome thereafter. No more Check Engine light, jumping in reverse, clicking, etc. the best money I ever spent. The icing on the cake? I got reimbursed by Toyota for the $250 because I was right under the 150,000 miles by a couple hundred miles! I will never buy another Toyota after all this because they were so sneaky... It should have been a recall in the 1'st place.
  • donewithtoyodonewithtoyo Posts: 6
    edited September 2013
    After I spent 4 grand at a local transmission shop, it was still giving me trouble because there is an issue with the EGM computer I think is what I remember and the dealer swore that wasn't the problem. I tried everything and toyota was not helpful one bit. I only had 71,000 miles. I went to a local dealer and traded it in for a brand new RAV. I made sure I got no less than 80% value for my car off the sticker price. It was my weird way of forcing THEM to deal with their own mess, while I walk away with a new car. What else was there? I've done my part about warning other people. That's all I can do. However, my next car will be from another company, maybe Honda.
  • I have the same 2002 just started having tranny issues shifting in 1st &'s at the mechanic. In 6/08 Toyota did a "Perform Recall SSC601" on the ECM but no repair/replace was done. I am wondering if this qualifies as an original service date as specified in the settlement?
  • Well it finally happened to me. The transmission has been hanging then jerking for about 2 weeks on my Rav 4 2001. Put in the shop this morning and just go the sad news. The trans needs replacing (they do not rebuild) for about $2000, maybe more once they find an available trans in our area.

    Oh yeah. I wasn't surprised just still in sticker shock. Can't complain. The car has been WONDERFUL. I've spent practically no money on it the entire time i've had it - 6 yrs. It was my aunt's car before and she didn't spend money on it either except for oil change, tires, brakes, etc. just like me.

    I didn't know anything about these probs though until i began researching a couple of nites ago. How come we didn't receive anythng from Toyota on this?
  • I'm sorry. You didn't say how many miles you had on it. I'd just be interested in knowing that if you want to tell me. The RAV4 transmission is controlled by a thing they call the ECM, Electronic Control Module. According to my research, a faulty computer program is responsible for the transmission failures before their time is up. Supposedly, Toyota sent out a Recall notice but I never got one. I hope your repairs are only $2,000. After spending more than that, the same thing happened and Toyota said it's not the ECM. I am sticking to my story, "I think it was the ECM".
  • I have a 2011 Rev 4WD and was wondering if maybe u could tell me what years are affected by this poor programing or ECM problem?? My 2011 4WD Limited 2.5 to be exact. I hate to say tranny has been acting up in the past two weeks or so. It only happens on hills at slow speeds so far. I live at the very top of a mountain, 12,082 feet above sea level, and here lately it shifts really hard, only after seeming to be slipping or bumped into neutral. Although I`m no Master Mechanic by fair, I do however, understand the basics of an automobile, but let me tell u something right now!! This Rev is something else when it comes to diagnose of problems!! Like why mine makes an offal roar, roar, roar, roar, coming from the front end that gets louder and faster as speed increases. Sounds really terrible I`d say and I want it fixed...............just tell me the source of the noise and stand back cause I`m bout to make something happin!!
  • the posts! Toyota has not been forth coming in advising of problems......though mine is a 2002 it only has 87k on it...a drop in the bucket for a Toyota....or at least should be!
  • My car has 144,000 miles on it. Like I said, it's been a great car. I am a little upset with the transmission shop. They've had the car since 10/7 - very slow but today i was told they ordered an ECM so the price just jumped to $2300. I reminded him that I mentioned that part also when i turned the car over to him.

    Oh well i will be very happy to get my little Rav back. We'll see how she performs then.
  • jpaul6jpaul6 Posts: 1
    My girlfriend has an 02 rav4 with 203000 miles on it. It started to make a buzzing noise from under the hood a month or so ago. I work at a GM shop and thought it was the P/S pump making noise, wasn't to worried about it until she called me and couldn't get it to go forward or reverse. No check engine light or codes stored in the ecm. Toyota says the trans is out needs a new one. They don't think the ecm is bad. When she bought this it it had 140000 on it and she had the ecm and tranny replaced then. They won't back it up with 60000 on the reman they put in 4 years ago. Do you guys think with it already having a reman ecm from toyota in it, should we have it sent in and rebuilt again?
  • The Rav4 transmissions are a piece of garbage... We had a 2002 for about three (3) months. I was driving on the Interstate in the fast lane coming up a hill when the entire tranny went. Thank goodness a truck wasn't behind me or I may have been killed.... After extensive research, found out these vehicle have serious problems. Not only do the trannys go bad due to faulty ECU's/TCM's, however the differentials shred. Cost to fix..... seven grand (7K). The vehicle sits dead in my driveway. There is an Class Action Lawsuit to fix these issues on any Rav4 under 150k miles/10Yrs. Google it. You can also contact the attorney and they will tell you how to proceed. In our case, we were "TOAST".... The warranty ran out two months after the incident. Called Toyota Corporate in California and got no satisfaction. Toyota makes EXCELLENT products like the Camary (saved my daughter and grandson's lives). The Rav4 SUCKS.... DON'T BUY!!!!! You're just asking for problems they won't acknowledge. Call Toyota Corporate. The more calls they get, the more they will pay attention to this severe issue. Someone is going to get seriously injured or killed.

  • jim644jim644 Posts: 3

    Just recently purchased 2001 RAV4 (low miles/VG condition thru-out) subsequently learn of tranny/ecm probs. No occurrence as yet. 62000kms. What do I have 2 look 4ward to. Jim, in Philippines.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,596
    edited June 2014

    Probably nothing to worry about. What we hear on the Internet may or may not even be accurate, and if it is true, it might have affected a very small percentage of cars. Also, most "defects" occur early in a car's life, and be confined only to certain years of the model, or even only certain VIN #s within a given year.

    My feeling is that you should be more worried about what happens to a 13 year old car in general (corrosion, leaking seals, worn out brakes and suspension parts) rather than a few complaints you read about.

    I checked on RepairPal, which catalogs the most frequent complaints about a car by year and make, and there's nothing there about ECM problems. Most complaints were about failures in the EVAP system (leaks) and no-starts due to corroded contacts in the starter motor.

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  • jim644jim644 Posts: 3

    :) Tnx for your reply, and yes, ur right about "old" parts. Unbelievably, almost like new(minus tires and brake pads).

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,596

    Well good for you. That means the car has had excellent care its whole life. A very good sign.

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  • My problem is the transmission(Toyota RAV 4 2003) starts to shift erratically, it becomes hard to shift into reverse gear, it starts out in third gear instead of first and it becomes very sluggish when taking off from a standing stop
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,596
    Have you had a scan done for trouble codes?

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  • trouble code P0754 for some kind of solenoid
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,596
    Yes, that could be a short in one of the shift solenoid circuits or it could be a wiring issues going to the ECM or a defective ECM itself. You'll need to have this diagnosed further to narrow down where the problem might be. The rough shifting is probably due to the fact that the ECM is shutting down one of the defective solenoids, or can't control them properly due to an internal fault.

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  • a dealer told me that i had to replace the ecu and the transmission.. it was going to be $$$. maybe anybody knows about repair
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,596
    You need to take it somewhere that actually diagnoses problems component by component. The solution offered by the dealer sounds hard to justify.

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  • Ha-ha! I think I don't need the dealer anymore . Online I found guys from Module Repair Pro Inc in Van Nuys CA I called them and told my problems. They were fast efficient (diagnostic and repair) and I also did not lost any money.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,596
    So did that fix the problem?

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  • Of course! there is all information about their service
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