Harsh shifting on Toyota RAV4 automatic transmission and problem repair



If you own a 2001 – 2005 Toyota RAV4 automatic vehicle and you are experiencing problems with transmission shifting, like harsh shifting, loss of power, launching on third gear and/or slamming when it is put in reverse, then you should know that those problems are caused by a defective engine computer (ECM or ECU), which also controls the automatic transmission.

These problems are erratic and may only show at intermittent intervals or when the vehicle is warm or have been driven for a specific time. Sometimes it shows up one day and the next morning it works flawlessly.

Besides showing the issues mentioned above, it may also show trouble codes P0750, P0753, P0755, P0758 and/or P1760.

The Problem

The defective ECM, stops to correctly control the transmission shifting solenoids, activating and deactivating them erratically. This must be repaired before the transmission suffer any of the common internal failures caused by this problem.

Reprogramming or updating the computer software will NOT fix the problem. It must be PROPERLY repaired.

What is the ECM? What does it look like?

Below is the 2001-2003 ECM box:

Where is the ECM located?

Location of the ECM in your 2001-2003 Toyota Rav4:

Many times, as mentioned earlier, the vehicle presenting these issues, will exhibit loss in power when launching. This is when for example, you stop in a red traffic light and when continuing, your RAV4 hardly moves, like if it is carrying a very heavy load. This happens because the ECM failed to send the command to shift down to first gear and it left the transmission in third gear instead. This situation, in no time, will burn the transmission internal clutches. When you try to move your Rav4 and it does not, you may unconsciously try harder, forcing it by accelerating more, while noticing that RPMs go up and your Rav4 is still moving slow or sluggish.

When you notice any of the symptoms listed here, you must act quickly and have your Rav4 ECM serviced. At this time, the problem is only the ECM, but if you do not service it and keep using your vehicle with a failing ECM for considerable time, soon a transmission repair or replacement job will add up to the bill. Repairing the ECM is only $197.00 in this link, but if you wait until the transmission is wasted, repair or replacement of the transmission is around $4000 for these models and that is scratching near the estimated market value of these models now a days.

This is affecting the 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and some 2005 Toyota Rav4 models with automatic transmission, either four-wheel drive (AKA: 4WD or AWD) or two-wheel drive (AKA: 2WD or FWD) models, either sold in USA (246,000 units) or internationally (200,000+ units), either left sided or right sided steering wheel or, either 2.0L engine (1AZ-FE and 1AZ-FSE) or 2.4L engine (2AZ-FE). This is also affecting other Toyota models from same years, like Toyota Picnic, Toyota Avensis, Toyota Gaia and some others.

Below is a partial list of the Toyota part numbers affected by this issue, but there are many other that are not included at this moment.


89661-42620
89661-42621
89661-42622
89661-42650
89661-42651
89661-42652
89661-42653
89661-42654
89661-42660
89661-42661
89661-42662
89661-42663

89661-42664
89661-42680
89661-42681
89661-42682
89661-42683
89661-42700
89661-42701
89661-42702
89661-42720
89661-42760
89661-42761
89661-42810

89661-42811
89661-42812
89661-42820
89661-42821
89661-42822
89661-42840
89661-42880
89661-42890
89661-42A50
89661-42A80
89661-42A90
89661-42A91

89661-42A92
89661-42B00
89661-42B01
89661-42B40
89661-42B90
89661-44250
89661-44270
89661-44271
89661-44272
89661-44290
89666-28140

What about those very low cost services offered on eBay and other Internet places?

I am not sure if you noticed earlier in this text that I put in all-capitals the word “PROPERLY“. Well, the next step after noticing the issues with your Rav4 is to service your ECM. If you search the internet, you will stumble upon an ever growing list of individuals and companies offering this service, including on eBay. The problem is that they are doing a very poor or incomplete job, maybe due to the fact that many of them do not fully understand the problem and causes of the failure in the ECM’s circuit and are fixing either the problem or part of it, but not the cause of the problem, making the ECM to fail again soon. Some are only doing some soldering by watching some instructions videos, only to learn that the soldering will need to be done over and over in shorts periods of time if the cause of the problem is not fixed.

We have received MANY ECMs that were previously “fixed” by other companies or individuals and we know what we are talking about when we mention that they do a very poor job. Sometimes, including covering the circuit with epoxy resin, making it inaccessible for a second revision of a problem they did not fix (thanks to our “friends” in Davie, Florida for bringing this headache to the scene). They do this in hope that the epoxy will prevent the problem from happening again, which has proven to be wrong. Rav4 ECM units they “serviced” and ended up here in our shop, have clear indications of the epoxy making its way beneath the electronic components covered by this compound, oxidizing the connections.

Removing the epoxy resin will most of the times, damage the circuit beneath and peel off small electronic parts as long as break minuscule copper traces of the circuit. Believe me, you do not want that on your ECM. Below are examples of what they do.

A real, reliable and affordable Solution

Needing for a real professional service? You may check the Rav4 ECM repair service link here or see our Facebook page for information and testimonials on Facebook: Rav4Repair. The service includes a 2-year warranty and free email or phone support. The rate of $197.00 covers the repair job, any needed parts, programming and testing.

Symptoms of the problem

Not sure if the problem with your Toyota Rav4 is the problem discussed here? Well, first of all, you should now that this is the #1 problem affecting that model and 246,000 units are affected in USA alone, plus near 250,000 more around the world. The good news is that our service fixes the problem for good. Going back to the question, below we are listing most of the issues you may experience in this case. You may experience only one symptom, a combination of more than one or all of them:

  • Shifs erratically or slips gears
  • Slamming into gear when put in reverse
  • Starts in 3rd gear instead of 1st gear
  • Too sluggish to get it moving after stopping
  • Rattling or clicking noise coming from the front
  • False solenoid DTC error codes (P0750, P0753, P0755, P0758 and/or P1760)
  • Sometimes feels like it is applying the brakes by itself
  • In many cases, low fuel economy

What about Warranties

Our warranty on the job is 2 years. About Toyota warranty, their original extended or “enhanced” warranty is over at this date, as all vehicles included in such warranty, are either more than 150,000 miles or the most logical, more than 10 years, as Toyota enhanced warranty was issued only for the 2001-2003 models. We now know that 2004 and 2005 models are affected too and we are servicing those models too. If you are interested in the original warranty documents anyway, you may download it in PDF format form here:

2001-2003 Toyota Rav4 Bulletin on Harsh Shifting

2001-2003 Toyota Rav4 Warranty Extension

Some geeky information for techs

Partial schematic of wiring of the solenoids on the RAV4 automatic transmission from the ecm.

Position of the solenoids in the automatic transmission.

Solenoids terminal connector and solenoid coils resistance

Is my rav4 a 4 wheel drive? Is my rav4 awd?

If you have no idea if your RAV4 is a 4×4 vehicle or a 4×2 vehicle, it is easy to identify by looking at your RAV4’s VIN number. All 2001-2003 4×4 RAV4 vehicles, will have a VIN number that starts with JTEHH20…, while 4×2 vehicles’ VIN number will start with JTEGH20. The significant figure in this case is the 4th character. An “H” means 4×4, while a “G” means 4×2.

How do I know is my Toyota Rav4 has immobilizer?

You may know if the immobilizer is enabled or disabled in your Rav4 by looking at the article in the link below, which was published for that purpose.

Does my 2001-2003 RAV4 has immobilizer or not?

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16 Responses

  1. Guest says:

    I have a toyota rav 4 2003. I had to have the computer that runs the transmission (ECM) replaced at BOCH Toyota on July 27 2013.

    The price was 1398.86. The car only had 70391 miles at the time. I have just found out that this has been a known problem and that the warranty has been extended 10 years or 150000 miles.

    I believe I should get reimbursed by Toyota even though it was 6 months after the 10 years because of our low milage. We have bought 3 Toyotas from Boch. We believe Toyotas are one of the best cars out there. We would like to continue buying Toyotas but this problem kind of set us back because we were never notified this was a known problem.

    We believe it was Toyotas responsibility to notify us of the problem and they never did-even when we went to get it fised. My name is Francias Beauparlant.

  2. Guest says:

    Francias, I just posted the information you sent me, without your address. If you wish to put it or if you wish to add anything to your statement, you can do it here. Thank you!

  3. Ken Jackson says:

    My daughter’s 2003 Rav4 was in both of our names but neither of us ever received a notice from Toyota that the ECM or the transmission had a condition requiring repair and or recall to be fixed. Is there any recourse for me now?
    Please advise if you are in a similar situation and have found a way forward. Thanks!
    Ken Jackson at ken_jackson@sil.org

  4. Guest says:

    Hello Ken. Unfortunately, the only way was by having fewer than 150,000 miles or fewer than 10 years, whichever comes first. Also, the owner needed to be the original owner of the Rav4. In top of that, the Rav4 must have been sold in USA, not bought somewhere else and then imported.

    All owners that were inside those parameters, were refunded by Toyota for what they spent repairing their 2001-2003 Rav4 vehicles, no matter what shop did the job and how much did they spend.

    This was never mentioned before, but many 2004 models are affected by a similar problem too. It is not surprising that all the 2001-2003 and also 2004 Toyota Rav4 models, have an ECM or ECU which was manufactured by the same Company (Fujitsu Ten) for Toyota.

    Unfortunately, the latest models covered by the enhanced warranty from Toyota are the 2003 models, which already have more than 10 years.

    The only way right now is to repair or replace the ECM (Engine Control Module). In the case of the repair option, prices varies from $79.00 to $300.00 from shop to shop and unfortunately, price of the job is often closely related to quality of that job.

    The only one I can recommend is the following:

    https://qcwo.com/otherdeal/Services/2001-2003-Toyota-RAV4-ECM-Repair-Service

    Best wishes

  5. Jonathan says:

    Hello.

    Do you know how can I find the part number of the SL1 solenoid of 2002 Toyota Rav4.

    Thank you!

  6. Guest says:

    Hello Jonathan.

    It would be as follows (parts are Denso):

    SL1
    W0133-1939689

    SL2
    W0133-1939691

    SLT
    W0133-1740885

    Prices swing from $100 to $200.

    Below is an example of a third party seller, but parts are OEM. The link below is a listing of the solenoids you are looking for (I am not affiliated to them, this is just an example):

    http://www.partsgeek.com/mmparts/automatic_transmission_solenoid/toyota/rav4.html

  7. Michel says:

    Hi,
    I’ve read this with interest. I have a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, year 1997 with similar symptons as above. Is the fix the same as the one described for the Rav4?

    Thank you.

  8. Axll says:

    hello, the shop that you are recommending is closed til july 27th. do you know, what is the cost for the service? I need to repair my ecm, thank you.

  9. cathy says:

    i have a 2002 rav 4 ,its been in the tranny shop for 3 years waiting for me to find the money to fix it.we did not know about ex warrenty. is there any imfo you can give me to get the transmission fixed.

  10. Guest says:

    Hello Cathy.

    I am sorry, but unfortunately all extended warranties from Toyota are not valid at this date. The only thing I can tell you about it, is to make sure it is the transmission, because many, many transmission mechanics does not know the common issue with the ECM (Engine Control Module). When the ECM fails, it is exactly as if the transmission is damaged, but the truth is that in most cases we have seen, the problems has only been a bad ECM. Since the ECM fails first and it is what causes all the issue from the beginning, it would be wise, more economic and convenient at the same time to service the ECM first. A damaged ECM will damage a new or repaired transmission, but not the other way.

    If you are interested in our service in any future, below is the information and ordering link:

    https://qcwo.com/otherdeal/Services/2001-2003-Toyota-RAV4-ECM-Repair-Service

    Best regards,

    Richard

    http://www.OtherDeal.com
    http://www.Rav4Repair.com
    http://www.facebook.com/Rav4Repair

  11. Brian says:

    I had the same issue with my 2003 rav4. I got a rebuilt ecm and put it back in my car. My car no longer has issue going from stop to start, but it stuggles to shift from 2nd to 3rd gear and then again from 4th to 5th gear. I have already driven the car for over 50 miles. Do I need to drive the car for a longer period of time to let the computer relearn how to shift? Thank you.

  12. Soroman says:

    Hi,
    I recently bought a used RAV4 2003 model (mileage on it 101800 miles) and have been facing the similar issues and really need assistance. I wish to have my EMU repaired but realized the distance between where I live (Papua New Guinea) and the location of where it will be repaired. Am not to sure if you do provide service to countries almost half a world away

  13. Guest says:

    Hello Soroman. Thank you for writing. We provide the Rav4 ECM repair service all around the globe.

    Please email me at info@otherdeal.com for the details.

    You may see unsolicited testimonials in our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Rav4Repair

    Regards,

    Richard

  14. Jaime-Ann says:

    Is there a way to find out if the ECM was replaced? Bought my rav4 used and 2 weeks ago it felt like the transmission (or something) was breaking into a million pieces in the low gears. I have it with a mechanic friend of the family who is telling me it needs a new transmission. Like you said, he ran it for code errors, nothing. I’m paranoid to pour money into this and then it happens again because its the computer vs actual transmission problems

  15. Tom Devereaux BC Canada says:

    Richard Hi
    I have had the ECM replaced at my local tranny shop new ECM from Toyota it chanded nothing . Is it possible if i send you my original ECM that you can repair . Or at this stage is the tranny done/dead period

  16. zilog357 says:

    Hello Tom, what exactly are the symptoms of your Rav4?

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