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 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.
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:
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.