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Toyota RAV4 Transmission Troubles

..Subtitled, a very large piece of scrap metal.

My 2001 Rav4, with just over 80K on it, just went belly-up. TWO days before the extended warranty expired (bought it Certified Used), the transmission started slipping, disabling the car 2 hours from home (on New Year's Eve, no less, try getting repair or a rental car on a holiday). The dealer it was towed to said they couldn't find anything wrong with it, put in 3/4 QT of tranny fluid, called it good.

Now that it is out of warranty, it once again died on a trip, again 2 hours away from home. The dealer I had it towed to this time said it needs a new transmission, that'll be $3000, please. I'm currently in what I'll call "negotiations" with Toyota and the extended warranty company about who's going to pay for this, since I originally reported the problem prior to the warranty expiring.

I'm wondering if anyone is aware of any other 2001 Rav4's with a similar problem. If you've come across this, please let me know- I may need more ammunition in my arsenal to effect a warranty repair.

Thanks so much-



  • try for more info. i know o2 sensors were knocking out the catalytic converter, but never heard of the tranny going. i just traded my rav for a pickup and the only problem w/ my tranny was that it wouldn't shift into gear at times to go faster, so i'd have to release the pedal and depress again or just click on the overdrive button. that car rode great, too bad my dh didn't want to spend the $$ to keep it for me.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Read my latest post(s) over on the Camry thread.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    You just described, perfectly, the 1-2 second downshift delay/hesitation symptom seemingly common to all FWD Toyota/Lexus vehicles, and many other marques. Maybe you should also read the Camry post(s).
  • Thanks for the very detailed info on the Camry thread- unfortunately, I don't know all that much about auto mechanics, so not sure I understand it all. The bottom line for me is that we're not experiencing any sort of hesitation or delay- we have a busted tranny. After driving ~2hours, the car suddenly started to rev up and then the gears slipped, and it wouldn't move- like it was stuck in neutral. We'd pull over, stop, restart the car, go a few feet, and then it would do it all over again. The car was not driveable at all.

    The first dealer said it was 3/4 QT low on transmission fluid. I've had it maintained meticulously, including a tranny fluid flush just a few months before that. The second dealer (the one where it is now) said there was metal in the pan and it needs a new tranny.

    Any thoughts about how that relates to what you shared on the Camry thread (in English for those of us who don't speak car? ;)

  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Did the first Toyota dealer do the transmission flush and do you know if it was a simple drain and fill or a "power" flush?

    Not that I harbor conspiracy theories about power flushes, you understand. ;)
  • No, my regular mechanic did it, and it was a regular drain and fill, as far as I know.

    Actually, neither of the dealers who have had the car for this problem is MY dealer- the car dies 2 hours away from home. :cry:

  • Several years ago, we took our '99 RAV4 in to Appleway Toyota's service department for service, and two days later it started making terrible transmission noises. Stopped in at the other dealership in town (Downtown Toyota), and they discovered that there was NO tranny fluid! Fortunately, they called Appleway about it, and Appleway agreed to pay for any necessary repairs. We are still driving it today, and haven't had any problems at all even though it has around 170,000 miles on it now.
  • I received great news today- Toyota is going to stand behind their car and replace the transmission under the warranty!

    I can't begin to express my relief, and although we have had enormous difficulty and distress over the break-downs, Toyota's willingness to honor their warranty restores my faith in the make. I was feeling badly about the thought of avoiding all Toyotas in the future, up till this tranny problem, I've been a huge fan.

    Let's hope all goes well with the repair and that there are at least another 100K in that car for us!

    Lisa :D
  • dcarasdcaras Posts: 7
    have a 2004 nissan sentra ser4 SPECV. Transmission problems took to dealer and they say the the pen on the end of the rod that shifts gears broke due to jamming into gear, therefore gears are stuck between 1st and nuteral. They say due to operator misuse warranty will not cover this. They also said they can prove misuse. Any suggestions on this matter. My thought is how can they tell operator error and not wear and tear or poor workmanship?
  • Hello Lisa,

    I know it's been a year since you logged onto the website. But I couldn't help but see a reflection of the problem I'm now having with my own RAV4. It, too, is a 2001. At 75,000 miles, the transmission is going belly up on me. Who did you speak to at Toyota to get them to agree to fix your car?

    Best regards, Kirby
  • Hi, Kirby-
    Sorry to hear about your RAV4 transmission problem! I had the help of the service manager at the dealership with getting Toyota to fix it, but it was definitely a battle. He dealt with Toyota directly, and I went back and forth with the extended warranty company, as I bought mine as a Certified Used vehicle and they covered the initial tow for the problem (before the warranty expired).

    If it helps, here's the code it was throwing: P0770 for solonoid malfunction. I was certain I'd find others with bad transmissions to make my case that it's a known defect in the car, but as it turned out I didn't have to research too much because they agreed to fix it. I was lucky- it died the first time the day before the extended warranty expired, and since the dealer who eventually fixed it could make the case that it was the same problem, they covered it.

    I wish you luck, the process was NOT fun- took weeks, lots of phone calls, and plenty of stress to get it worked out.

  • RAV4 and Internal Engine Control Module” failure.

    My RAV4 2003 (100K miles) actually kicks out of gear on re-acceleration, for stoplights, and heavy stop and go traffic situations.

    It revs up to about 2000 rpm before it engages when I accelerate to proceed.

    The dealer told me that it was the “Internal Engine Control Module” CODES P0755 and PI760. To replace that module costs 1200 dollars.

    My question is:

    Can I get that module and install myself?

    If yes, where I can get that part and the instructions to install it?

    Any help is appreciated, because with the economic downturn of the economy is difficult to pocket out 1200 dollars and I would like to do it myself.
  • hey i have the same problem with the trans. you neet to go to ( type in search toyota rav4 ecm than search for ( Engine computer 2000-2003 Toyota Rav4 ECM, ECU REPAIR 0 Bids $390.00
    $400.00 6d 18h 46m ) this guy can help you
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    I just heard about this:

    Reports of Toyota RAV4 gearbox woes mount as owner anger grows (Autoblog)

    "Long story short, owners are miffed that Toyota has internally confirmed the issue (a TSB was issued to dealers in March of 2006), but has failed to notify consumers who are facing costly repair bills to replace transmissions when all many needed was a simple electronic module."
  • :mad: Anyone who is or has experienced ECM and transmission problems on their 2001-2005 RAV4, please comment on this NY Times article: -draws-customers-ire/#comment-119465

    And file a complaint with NHTSA:

    Please make sure to tell NHTSA that the defects in these cars are VERY unsafe and put everyone at danger!!

    Thank you!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Does anyone know when, what year, the RAV4 went to DBW, E-throttle. That was the technique Toyota used in an attempt to fix this same problem, seemingly, with the RX330.

    Flawed transaxle design modifications incorporated in the early RX was migrated to other FWD vehicles within just a few years.
  • I used to love my RAV4 until it died with only 107,000 miles on it. I took meticulous care of it only to have the transmission fail due to the defective design that Toyota has been aware of for more than three years. This has been one of the most stressful experiences of my life. Toyota on the national and local levels has been awful to deal with. These cars are very dangerous; the transmissions are failing at an alarming rate; and the fact that Toyota has chosen to do nothing about it, leaving us all with the risk of injury or death, is mindblowing.

    Please complain to the NHTSA and FTC. These cars are very dangerous.

    HATE the RAV4!
  • I have a 2003 toyota rave4 no car payment. my mother who passed away help me buy it and she said if she dies i have no more payments.

    She passed away and i dont want no more car payment headackes however, I will never purchase a toyota again. The news article in newyorktimes they need to own up to this. the situation hey new about and it can cause accidents i almost caused 2.

    OMG. ITS happening to me too and i am mad as well. TOYOTA Stevens CREEK isn't doing anything about it. They want me to take my car to them to charge me 130plus to look at it and I have a mechanic he takes care of my car. instead of the rip off dealers.

    I am so damn mad. My car has been away from me 5 weeks

    I am trying to find a rebuilt ecm or a new ecm for 600 where can i go? Please call. my mechanic rebuilt the transmission for $1500. I been his customer for 10yrs
  • Dear damashata0430,

    You can go onto eBay and search up "Toyota Rav4 ECM Repair", it is the cheapest and the ratings for the sellers prove the repair works. What you have to do is send them your existing ECM and they will repair it for you.

    I'm so sorry to hear what had happened, I hope things will get better for you after this.
  • hlm1hlm1 Posts: 1
    10-25-2009. I own a 2001 Toyota Rav4 4WD with about 160,000 miles.I just today had my first experience with transmission problems. I stopped at a traffic light but when it turned green the car would hardly move forward on level ground. I managed to get it home, about one mile from the light. I have had no previous problems and absolutely no warning concerning the transmission. I need help and need to find out if Toyota has issued any bulletins? Thanks.
  • 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.

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