Harsh shifting on Toyota RAV4 automatic transmission

If you own a Toyota Rav4 from 2001 through 2005 with automatic transmission and you are experiencing problems with the transmission, like harsh shifting, loss of power, launching on third gear and/or slamming into gear when it is put in reverse, then you should know that those problems are caused by a defective engine control module (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. Sometimes the problem is only in the morning and sometimes the problem is at nights.

Besides showing the issues mentioned here, it may also show trouble codes P0750, P0753, P0755, P0758 and/or P1760, though most of the times it shows no codes at all. Think that the trouble codes (check engine codes) that a vehicle shows when scanned, are generated by the very same computer that is failing. It is good for diagnosing things monitored by the different sensors connected to it, but it is not so good for diagnosing itself.

Description of what happens

Shifting on the “electronic” automatic transmission is controlled by the ECM by sending electrical pulses to a set of solenoids installed in the transmission’s valve body. Such solenoids, gradually open and close the path of oil transmission fluid pressure depending on the pulses they receive from the ECM, to do mechanical actions, like shifting gears, locking the torque converter and controlling the pressure applied to it.

A defective ECM can no longer correctly control the transmission and starts sending erratic pulses to the solenoids, which in turn, transfer the erratic behavior of the ECM to the transmission by doing equivalent erratic mechanical changes and movements inside the transmission. This is why some customers that have had problems with the ECM, describe it like if the transmission feels like falling apart. At this time, the ECM must be repaired before the transmission suffers an internal failure commonly caused by using defective ECMs for long time periods.

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

What the ECM look like?

Below is the 2001-2003 ECM box:

Where is the ECM located?

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

Common scenarios examples

You stop at a red traffic light and when continuing, your RAV4 hardly moves, like if it is carrying a very heavy load. This happens because at that moment, the damaged ECM failed to send the electrical pulse to the transmission solenoids to shift down to first gear, keeping it very often in the third gear instead. When you try to move your Rav4 vehicle and it hardly moves and feels very sluggish, our natural response is to accelerate harder to try to move it, while noticing that RPMs go up and your Rav4 is still moving slow or sluggish. It is not until certain speed that it picks up and moves normally. This situation, in no time, will burn the transmission internal clutches and not only the ECM will need service, but the transmission too. That is why, when you notice any of these symptoms, you must act quickly and have your Rav4 ECM serviced the soonest possible. If you do so, the problem will only be a damaged ECM. If you do not service it and instead keep using your vehicle with a failing ECM, soon a transmission repair or replacement job will add up to the bill, which at the time of writing this, may go up to $4000. For these models’ estimated market value, allowing the transmission to fail this way, would be practically uneconomical to repair it. SO DO NOT TAKE CHANCES AND ACT NOW! Repairing the ECM is not expensive. At  Rav4Repair.com, we charge less than $200 and on top of that, allow customers to offer a better price for them (Better Offer feature). If we accept the offer, we email them a coupon code to match their offer when ordering. Otherwise, we would send a counter-offer, still at a cheaper price than listed and offer a 2-year warranty.

This Rav4 transmission problem is very common and it is affecting more than a million Toyota Rav4 vehicles all around the globe. In the USA alone, 246,000 units are estimated to be affected. The units affected are the 2001-2005 Toyota models; Toyota Rav4, Toyota Picnic, Toyota Avensis, some Toyota Ipsum and some Toyota Gaia. Either four-wheel drive (4WD) or two-wheel drive (2WD) models. Either left sided or right sided steering wheel. Either 2.0L engine (1AZ-FE and 1AZ-FSE) or 2.4L engine (2AZ-FE).

Symptoms of the problem

Below is a list of the most common symptoms with a failing ECM in your 2001-2005 Toyota Rav4. You may experience only one of these symptoms or a combination of more than one of them:

  • Shifts erratically or slips gears
  • Slamming into gear when putting it 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

ECM Part Numbers – Below is a partial list of the Toyota part numbers affected by this issue, but there are many others 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
89661-44230
89661-44250
89661-44270
89661-44271
89661-44272
89661-44290
89666-28140

 

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

There is a reason why the word “PROPERLY” was in all-capitals at the beginning of this article. 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 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. This makes the ECM fail again soon.

We have received MANY ECMs that were previously “fixed” by any of our competitors. Those ECMs get here because of the owners doing a second attempt to have their ECM repaired after the service from our competitors failed. That’s how we know the quality of the job that they are doing. The most notorious cases are when they cover the circuit with epoxy resin, making it inaccessible for a second revision of the problem, as most of the times, it fails again (thanks to our friends in Davie, Florida for bringing this headache into the scene). I am not sure why they cover the circuit with epoxy, but when their “serviced” ECMs end up here in our shop, the epoxy needs to be removed and many parts replaced because the epoxy corroded those parts.

Removing the epoxy takes a lot of time and patience. We always do our best and while we have succeeded in most of these cases, there is always a chance of the ECM needing replacement. Below are examples of what has been found.

 

In the picture below, you can see three transmission’s solenoid control chips. All three are the same chip type but in different situations. These chips are mounted on the circuit board of the 2001-2003 Rav4 ECM. From the image below:

 

  1. This chip was replaced from an ECM with epoxy. Notice the corrosion in the solder tab. This solder tab is tightly soldered to the circuit board for heat dissipation and still, corrosion from the epoxy, which was in the other side of the circuit board, reached to it.
  2. The second chip form the top was a chip replaced from an ECM WITHOUT epoxy. Notice the difference. The chip is no good but was not corroded and still has clean solder remanents on its tab.
  3. The third chip from the top is an unused brand new chip for comparison.

So it is obvious that if you send your ECM to the shop doing this, or if you buy a replacement ECM from them, you can be sure that it will eventually fail if they used their epoxy “solution”.

 

 

A reliable and Affordable Solution

We offer a professional service for repairing your 2001-2005 Toyota Rav4 ECM where you may check in the link below. While it might take a little more time, we do accept ECMs even if they have been tampered with or have previous repair attempts. That is how confident we are about our skills and knowledge about this job. Even the price will be the same:

2001-2005 Toyota Rav4 ECM Repair Service

Do you own a 2001-2005 Toyota Rav4? Having problems with the transmission? We can help!

For more details you may access our information and ordering webpage in the link below::

 

Our Facebook page for information and unsolicited testimonials is:

Facebook: Rav4Repair.

The service includes FREE shipping to the USA. The labor rate covers the repair job, any needed parts, programming, and testing.

Warranty

Our warranty on the job is 2 years. About Toyota warranty, at this date their original extended or “enhanced” warranty is over, as all vehicles included in such warranty, are either more than 150,000 miles or the most logical reason, are more than 10 years. If you are interested in the original warranty documents anyway, you may download it in PDF format from here:

2001-2003 Toyota Rav4 Bulletin on Harsh Shifting

2001-2003 Toyota Rav4 Warranty Extension

Some geeky information for techs

A partial schematic of the wiring of the solenoids on the RAV4 automatic transmission from the ECM.

 

Do you need the wiring diagram for these models? By subscribing for FREE in the box below, you can download the full 2001-2003 Toyota Rav4 ECM wiring diagram

 

Location of the solenoids in the automatic transmission.

(Most asked: 2001 Toyota rav4 shift solenoids location)

Solenoids terminal connector and solenoid coils resistance

Is my rav4 a 2 wheel (2WD) or 4 wheel drive (4WD)?

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 VIN number 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 the immobilizer system active?

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?

What other users are looking for:

[what is the faultcode p0758 for toyota]  [avarias de raf4]  [causes of hard shift in rav4 2000 model]  [rav4 transmission issues]  [toyota rav4 automatic gearbox problems]  
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27 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:

    http://www.partsgeek.com

  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?

  17. Carolyn hefner says:

    I’ve had the ecm replaced on 03 rav4 automatic tranny now it says sl2 needs replaced it doesn’t start in 1st gear otherwise everything else seems fine can i drive it like this? How much does it cost to have sl2 replaced?

  18. zilog357 says:

    Hello Carolyn. The replacement ECM was a brand new one or from an authorized dealer? I am asking because if the ECM is used or poorly repaired or “refurbished”, it will have similar problems. This is happening to ALL those ECMs unless they are properly repaired. I have even received ECMs from the “new batch” replaced by Toyota itself that failed after a couple of years. The thing is that the solenoid could be bad, as it is a mechanical part as many, but I have yet to see one damaged and I have been working with the ECMs of these models since 2009.

  19. Yunusa Michika says:

    Hi C, someone advice that I should add another ecm that will control the transmission separately. Would that work? What is the effect of using 2 ecm instead of one please?

  20. zilog357 says:

    Adding two ECMs is not possible. There is no provision in the circuit for doing that. Besides, the ECM in those models is two controllers in one. It controls engine and transmission with two different microcontrollers (MPU) in the same circuit. If you are having problems with your ECM, just let us know the details. We might offer you a good price on the repair service. info@Rav4Repair.com

  21. Erik says:

    Is there a way to tell if an ECM is an already replaced one?

  22. zilog357 says:

    Hello Erik.

    Unfortunately, there are only two ways when it comes to the 2001-2003 Rav4.

    The first possible way of knowing if the ECM was previously repaired or replaced, is if the part number belongs to the ECM replacement part numbers used exclusively for these transmission-issues cases. Such part numbers are different from the original ones. It starts with “04009” and looks like:

    04009-41242
    04009-41342

    While the original part numbers always start with “89661”, like:

    89661-42650
    89661-42890

    The second way would be by opening the ECM, but it would take a trained eye to see if it was previously repaired or modified.

    There really is a third option, but it is rare and would only be true if the job was done by a shop of an authorized Toyota dealer. They should attach a “Authorized Modifications Label” to the underside of the engine hood. Such label should contain the following information:

    Modified ECU part number
    Calibration ID if updated
    Dealer code
    Date
    Change Authority

    So as you can see, not too many options here.

    If you are in doubt, we can take a look at it for you and even repair it if you wish to.

    If interested, please email us at info@Rav4Repair.com for the details

    Regards,

    Richard

  23. Nirmari Mercado says:

    Hello.

    Do you know how can I find the part number of the SL1 solenoid of 2001Toyota Rav4.

    Thank you!

  24. zilog357 says:

    Hello Nirmari.

    To be honest, I have hardly seen one of those damaged. Most of the times the transmission problems with 2001-2005 Rav4 vehicles are caused by the ECM (Engine Control Module) and in fewer cases, the transmission.

    Anyway, here is the information:

    SL1 (A.K.A Solenoid A or SSA) – Part No. 35210-21010
    SL2 (A.K.A Solenoid B or SSB) – Part No. 35220-21010

    Prices range from around $300 (brand new and overpriced) to around $50 (remanufactured or refurbished).

    Kind regards,

    Richard

  25. Nirmari Mercado says:

    Thanks Richard! Really aprecciate tour help!

  26. Martin Chilaka says:

    Good Morning Please I have a 2008 Rav4 and I also having this delay in response and sluggish move, I was wondering if this could also be an ECM issue. The fuel pump has been changed a couple of times and Im still experiencing the same issue. Help please the engine management light and 4WD light are both on. Help please

  27. Betsy says:

    Hey there! I just would like to offer you a big thumbs up for your excellent information you have got here on this post. I’ll be coming back to your website for more soon.

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