ECU or Transmission: 2003 Rav4 Hard Shift/Slow Acceleration/Shaking

Asked by Nov 29, 2016 at 05:14 PM about the 2003 Toyota RAV4

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

My mother bought a used 2003 Rav4 with
automatic transmission a few years ago and, in the
past month or so, it has exhibited the hard
shift/shaking and slow acceleration associated
with the infamous Toyota ECU/ECM defect in the
resistors in the 2001-2003 automatic transmission
Rav4s. I have been doing a lot of research on the
topic and have learned about the ECU defect and
how it affects the transmission and shifting of
gears, the class action lawsuit against Toyota over
the defective ECU that was resolved a few years
ago, and how to fix the defect by soldering certain
resistors.

In doing my research and speaking to specialists
at one of the ECU repair companies, it sounds Luke
the first thing we should do is fix the ECU and see
if that resolves the problem. It sounds like it fixes
the problem in 99% of these cases. If it doesn't,
then we can have the transmission checked out.
But the Toyota dealership my mother took her
vehicle to is claiming she needs both a new ECU
and a new transmission because they got the 5
diagnostic codes showing a problem with the
solenoids' shifting. But according to my research,
those are false codes that occur when there is this
ECU problem.

I have also spoken to a local mechanic with a good
reputation in town who thinks the problem is both
the ECU and the transmission. He thinks either the
defective ECU made the transmission give out
prematurely or the messed up transmission
affected the ECU.

My question is, since we know if you keep driving
these vehicles with this ECU problem, it will
eventually ruin your transmission, how do I know if
it's just the ECU that needs to be fixed or if there is
now also a problem with the transmission? Is there
any way to tell myself, armed only with a
diagnostic code reader? Should we tell whoever is
going to make the repair to just fix the ECU and
leave the transmission alone for now?

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