I have a 2002 MR2 Spyder with SMT transmission. Looking for an SMT expert for advice please.


Asked by Feb 01, 2010 at 01:55 PM about the 2002 Toyota MR2 Spyder 2 Dr STD Convertible

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 2002 MR2 Spyder with SMT transmission. I need some advice and/or information to rectify the problems I am having with it. The car itself is beautiful, clean, and in great shape.

The car has never been abused, raced, has had regular fluid checks/oil changes/maintenance/etc., no turbo, and vast majority of the mileage on the car is highway use largely in 5th gear.

The Hydraulic Pump Assembly and Shift Stick/Assembly have been replaced through local Toyota Dealership. This wiped out 11 codes and it appeared the car was fixed for about 1 1/2 week and shifted fine. (cost at this point is $3,500 parts/labor)

One night, car suddenly began lurching and did not want to stay in gear with squeal noises now coming from the back. Got it back to dealership - affter the next go-round of diagnostics/testing - they are now saying I need more part assemblies replaced with unbelievable costs associated to do it.

I am searching for help and advice on where to turn on either selling it outright, help on fixing it with advise/expertise in the Raleigh, NC area, etc.

Below are the dealership's diagnostic notes (they simply always want to replace entire assemblies and not the affected piece-parts - very very expensive way to go) IF ANYONE HAS IDEAS OR HAS HAD SIMILAR ISSUES WITH SMT - Please let me know. I NEED HELP!


22 Answers


Our 2002 MR2 has issues too. We took it in for a clutch replacement, then they told us it needed a new transmission. After the repairs were completed the engine blew up on the way home. The Smt light came on right after the transmission was replaced and I cannot get help from any toyota place around here. They are saying now that it needs an acuator "which was sent with the tranmission but wasn't installed." Another 4500.00 for that part installed. We have invested over 10,000.00 dollars in this car and it still doesn't run. Oh, we took them to small claims but cannot get anyone to testify against their own.. Please let me know how this goes!!

7 people found this helpful.

It's not the actuator at all, now they say its the pump. $2400.00 for this repair. Does anyone know how many mr2 spyders with smt transmissions were sold?

4 people found this helpful.

Correction 3400.00 for the hydraulic pump. Does anyone know how to fix this car?????

6 people found this helpful.

try the local better business bureau BBB, they have an auto-line lemon arbitration/mediation division that may be able to help. trans seems very damaged. if you like the car get an independent to put in used trans.

2 people found this helpful.

I also have 2002 MR2 with SMT and it's been back and forth Toyota shop 4 times this year. The repair cost is outragous and the problem is still not resolved. I am pretty pissed off.

3 people found this helpful.

My Mr2 spyder with a smt transmission will suddenly not go into gear. If I wait a whiile, it will. It is irritating if not dangerous. The warning light comes on when it won't go into gear. Naturally the manual says take the car immediately to the local dealer.... I did, but of course it was not fixed. Why do they make cars that does not have a body of people who know how to fix them.

6 people found this helpful.

the problem is that the car is based on a Ferrari design.I took mine to A Ferrari mechanic and he said 'what do you expect?" So i have up as he pointed to a broken Ferrari that looked similar to my MR2. 2 much tuning for me. Toyota discontinued this car for a reason, i had to junk my 85, but only put a few. if hundred in it. i now have a mx5 miata, which is a better design. as far as dealers not doing the job, i would contact the state lemon law group, sometimes at your state attorney general offices. the BBB, better business group should have an auto-line arbitration program. if not you can file a small claim (non- lawyer) at your local court or ask for free dispute resolution at the court. My dads Ferrari cost $15,000 for the fist tune and about $25,000 for the belts; they have to drop the engine down to work on it. it is a very complex design. The Japanese, they tell me turn them out at 25,000 miles due to pollution requirements. i was going to replace the engine but it was just too much trouble. there are design problems and American Mechanics are just not trained for this exotic build. i loved the car and it was fast--over 125 mph but sometimes love is just not enough......

2 people found this helpful.

We had to sell ours for pennies on the dollar. $11,000.00 in repairs and the car was still not operable. Went to small claims they squashed our evidence due to no attorney representing us because we could not find one that would take the case. I will never say never but I will try my best not to deal with Toyota again lots of bull. We took ours to two dealerships and the one that replaced the engine did not want to get involved. I did get one that did some investigation for me and it wasn't pretty for the two dealerships that were involved and then they went silent. Crooks and criminals. There mechanics are not trained to fix a problem but to just replace an expensive part. Cobb County Toyota deserve to lose all of their business and I expect they will with their crooked and deceptive practices. I tried and tried to get the car fixed but no one could come up with an answer except more money and they would try... Shame on you Toyota and your dealerships who conduct their businesses with such poor customer service.....

2 people found this helpful.

its probably the diaphragm in the fuel pump. you can put a bypass on. i would sell the car, as i said its a Ferrari at heart...the belt change on them is $5000 i switched to mazda mx5. actually, mine ended up in the junk yard after the last repair, not as extensive as yours.


Google MR2 Guru, its by NC area. Unfortunately I'm running into the same issue with my MR2, i have to error codes P1646 and P0860 - About the SMT transmission, i decided to change it to Manual transmission and now waiting to see what happens. Anyone with a similar error codes? where you able to fix it??

6 people found this helpful.

Hi I have the P1880 code for the actuator assy, and they say if I fix that for 3500 it will be ok. After all the reading online I conclude that no one know, not even transmission or Toyota specialists. Time to trade the car in!

1 people found this helpful.

All you need is to change the air filter and clean the intake tthrottle area your good to go

6 people found this helpful.

Hi, i have quite same problem as well, i have my 2001 smt which i gave to mechanic to change the clutch because my old clutch was slipping, they changed the clutch and since then my car Goes only in third gear and if insert rear gear it also goes forward in 3rd, before when gear is inserted, it produce very funny repetitive noise, and i need to wait before it goes. I know its not a lot of information but that's all i can say.

4 people found this helpful.

We have one with the exact same issue and error codes. Same dealer issues, etc. Finally, our mechanic was able to locate a 5- speed manual transmission and replaced it, adding a clutch. WORKS PERFECT and lots of fun to drive! The SMT is a POS, though.

The Ferrari analogy is pretty silly. Yes the MR2 Spyder has an engine and transmission. Just like a Ferrari. The SMT components are made by LUK in Germany...just like, um, a BMW. Toyota outsourced the entire SMT to LUK, but Toyota wrote a nasty contract, where LUK will NOT sell any component parts of the system. You cannot buy a rubber seal, or a screw. All you can buy is the entire assembly. Stay away from the dealer if you need any repairs. Their troubleshooting charts lead to large (expensive) component replacements. Look up people who have actually repaired the cars in the past (like myself). It's not rocket science. The cars can be repaired with used parts.

I have a MR 2 Spyder 2002 motor was rebuilt out of Victoria Iand Canada. The guys there know there stuff. It's fast and no problems. They also changed the exhaust with stainless heads. Got it up to 127 miles an hour on the 401 !

@GuruDDD1K, who in Victoria did your car? I'm in YEG and need some decent work done and the shop I used I was less then happy with. My SMT is acting up and looking to either upgrade or convert to manual. Also what is the stock clutch good for to the wheels both whp and torque?


you can call me on 0450297432 and ill give you your answer ,im john leave a message for me and i will get back to you.


since you didn't call ,you say you replaced the gear stick and the hydraulic power unit , there are 4 units in total , the transmission control ecu is no 1, the gear stick is no 2 , the hydraulic power unit ( HPU ) is no 3, the gear shift actuator is no 4 , all these units work together , normal wear and tare to these items , only the 3 normally stuff up and the transmission control ecu learns from the owner or driver ,its very rare that an error comes from there unless water hits the ecu it would malfunction, so all the problems are in the first 3 with sensors, and the solenoids and sensors on the actuator that controls the clutch and gears, these are the only problems on a smt gear box . its very simple to fix, change the actuator and you have already changed the gear stick and the hydraulic unit , dont go back to Toyota ,they dont know how to fix them ,its cheaper to buy all the items on line and fit them your self and dont forget to order the right oil for the hydraulic unit , and make shore you disconnect the battery before you start the process , once you change the actuator ,everything should go back to normal .you can order theses parts from England or the from states ,or hunt down used parts of a working Mr 2 thats been in a hit or someone out there has those parts for you ,the cost on line for all four items complete with sensors, come to or around between 800 hundred dollars and all 4 are easy to fit . john, good luck



1 people found this helpful.


1 people found this helpful.

Been reading posts on MR2 SMT shift problems.. My '02, with 44k original miles, has been in storage for almost 2 years, started and driven infrequently, always disconnecting the battery between "runs". Took it out the other day, which started and ran fine for about 2 miles, then developed a red trans light on dash, with unreliable shifting via the stick or paddles. Aborted the run and tried again a few times over the last week, same results .. no problem until temp starts coming up to operating range, then trans light pops on, shifting gets problematic. I'm thinking sensor, grounding problem, gear actuator, or such. Or even bad wires due to mice chewing .. seen it happen on my old 'Vette. Suppose it could be the trans ECU but I always look for the easy fix first. Also wondering about possible bad contacts/relays due to condensation/moisture problems being in eastern NC (wet & humid here). Troubleshooting is difficult without a wiring diagram or manual. Can anyone help in that regard or offer simple checks? Don't have a lot of experience with this specific vehicle but I'm an old gearhead with lots of troubleshooting experience on various cars and other. Appreciate help and thoughts on where to start. Be happy to keep all posted on progress/findings. Thanks

Your Answer:

MR2 Spyder

Looking for a Used MR2 Spyder in your area?

CarGurus has 92 nationwide MR2 Spyder listings starting at $4,850.


Toyota MR2 Spyder Experts

  • #1
  • #2
  • #3
    Michael Kane
View All

Related Models For Sale

Used Mazda MX-5 Miata
50 Great Deals out of 4,598 listings starting at $1,900
Used Honda S2000
5 Great Deals out of 321 listings starting at $5,600
Used Nissan 350Z
30 Great Deals out of 982 listings starting at $3,999
Used Toyota Celica
268 listings starting at $1,495
Used Chevrolet Corvette
91 Great Deals out of 15,032 listings starting at $3,620
Used Porsche Boxster
15 Great Deals out of 1,075 listings starting at $3,495
Used Ford Mustang
273 Great Deals out of 37,435 listings starting at $1,350
Used BMW Z4
22 Great Deals out of 902 listings starting at $3,994
Used Chevrolet Camaro
233 Great Deals out of 27,298 listings starting at $2,077
Used Toyota Tacoma
410 Great Deals out of 47,342 listings starting at $2,994
Used BMW 3 Series
856 Great Deals out of 31,256 listings starting at $1,250
Used Toyota Corolla
600 Great Deals out of 66,186 listings starting at $900

Content submitted by Users is not endorsed by CarGurus, does not express the opinions of CarGurus, and should not be considered reviewed, screened, or approved by CarGurus. Please refer to CarGurus Terms of Use.