Key Takeaways

  • The Toyota RAV4 has some simple problems. The vehicle is fairly reliable.
  • There are small issues with the engine and excessive oil consumption in the Toyota RAV4.
  • Transmission problems like slipping or slow shifts pop up at low speeds.
  • The steering wheel on the Toyota RAV4 has the potential to become loose.

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The Toyota RAV4 is a very popular and common SUV on American roadways. What problems should you know about before buying a RAV4?

Major problems include the potential for major oil leaks. Left long enough, an oil leak can lead to engine failure. Another problem is hesitation or lurching at slower speeds, which can be frustrating and even dangerous in certain situations.

We’ll help you make a good decision about buying a Toyota RAV4 based on the research we’ve done about the vehicle’s history. We’ll also let you know what to do about the check engine light.

Table of Contents

Toyota RAV4 Common Problems

Transmission Issues

According to Engine Patrol, jerky acceleration is the most frequently reported problem associated with the RAV4. This issue  a faulty torque converter or transmission control module. Another common transmission problem is a missing second gear. Issues with hitting the second gear mean that the vehicle can still be driven but not as easily as normal.

Other transmission issues include when the car jeans because of difficulty shifting gears, slipping gears, and transmission fluid leaks. Transmission problems are generally a big deal. If you notice an issue with your Toyota RAV4, or other compact SUVs, get a mechanic right away to prevent further damage to your vehicle.

Engine Problems

The RAV4 can experience an issue with a faulty evaporative system. The check engine light will come in because the canister involved in this system has a problem. Thankfully the issue is fairly easy to fix. replacement within the faulty evaporative system. An EVAP system issue isn’t that big of a deal.

In some cases, RAV4 owners may also experience engine stalling or misfiring. This stems from a variety of issues from a bad coil to spark plugs or an oxygen sensor.

You might like to know that this list of engine problems is rather short. The Toyota RAV4 has a good engine as Toyota is known for engineering reliable mechanical parts.

Electrical Issues

According to Vehicle History, a malfunctioning backup camera is one of the most frequently reported electrical issues. This can be caused by a faulty camera module or wiring issues. Another common electrical problem is a dead battery. A bad device within the RAV4 can cause a battery drain and in some cases the alternator itself may fail and produce electrical problems.

Less Common Toyota RAV4 Problems

While the Toyota RAV4 is generally a reliable vehicle, there are still some less common problems that owners may experience.

Suspension Issues

The average RAV4 owner has a small chance of facing suspension issues. This can include problems with the shocks, struts, and other suspension components. These issues can cause a bumpy ride, poor handling, and even safety concerns. You may be able to feel suspension issues starting with hitting bumps on the road all the way to the feeling of looseness in the steering wheel.

Get suspension issues checked out soon. A problem with the suspension of the RAV4 can lead to safety issues in part because the suspension holds a lot of weight.

Brake Problems

RAV4 owners report brake problems, though not especially frequently. This can include issues with the brake pads, rotors, and calipers, as well as the brake lines and master cylinder. Brake problems are a big issue in part because the vehicles need them to stop while traveling.

If you are experiencing brake problems with your Toyota RAV4, it is important to have them addressed as soon as possible. Ignoring these issues can lead to more serious problems down the road, and can even put your safety at risk.

Fuel System Issues

Finally, some Toyota RAV4 owners have reported issues with the fuel system. This can include problems with the fuel pump, fuel injectors, and fuel lines, as well as issues with the fuel tank and filler neck. These issues can cause poor fuel economy, rough running, and even safety concerns.

If you are experiencing fuel system issues with your Toyota RAV4, it is important to have them addressed as soon as possible. Ignoring these issues can lead to more serious problems down the road, and can even put your safety at risk.

While these problems are less common than some of the more well-known issues with the Toyota RAV4, they are still important to be aware of. If you are experiencing any of these issues with your vehicle, it is important to have them addressed by a good mechanic as soon as possible. By doing so, you can ensure the safety and reliability of your Toyota RAV4 for years to come.

Recalls and Known Issues on the Toyota Rav4

As with any vehicle, the Toyota RAV4 has had its fair share of recalls and known issues. It's important to be aware of these potential problems before purchasing a RAV4, so you can make an informed decision and take any necessary precautions.

One recall that affects multiple model years of the RAV4 is related to the backup camera failing to turn on, increasing the risk of a crash occurring. Another recall involves cracks in the front lower suspension arms, which can lead to a loss of control while driving.

If you're considering purchasing a used RAV4, it's a good idea to check the vehicle's history report to see if it has been involved in any recalls or if any of these known issues have been reported.

We also urge you to take your vehicle to get a specific inspection called a pre-purchase inspection. The purpose of this inspection is to find any small issues you might experience right away. They are valuable in arming you to negotiate and to decide if you even want the vehicle.

While dealerships do inspect a vehicle like the RAV4, they only do what is legally required. They won’t likely know about excessive oil consumption signs or even check to see if the steering wheel is loose.

How to Deal with Toyota RAV4 Problems

Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is vital to keeping your Toyota RAV4 in good condition and preventing problems from arising. This includes changing the engine oil and oil filter, checking the brakes, and inspecting the tires regularly. It's also crucial to follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule, which is within the owner’s manual. This schedule will outline when certain parts of the vehicle should be inspected or replaced, such as the air filter, spark plugs, and timing belt.

All of the above can help prevent that dreaded orange or yellow check engine light from popping on. A check engine light is a sign that there is an issue that you don’t know about yet.

DIY Fixes for the Toyota Rav4

If you're experiencing minor issues with your Toyota RAV4, there are a few DIY fixes you can try before taking it to a professional mechanic. For example, if the car is making a strange noise, try pinpointing where the noise is coming from and inspecting that area of the vehicle. If you're comfortable with basic car repairs, you can also try fixing the problem yourself. Online forums and YouTube tutorials can be great resources for DIY repairs with step by step directions.

We generally do not suggest trying to fix problems like transmission issues without some serious knowledge of your RAV4. Other issues a dealer or mechanic should approach include safety technology, like the radar systems that assist with automated braking.

Professional Repairs on the Toyota Rav4

If you're experiencing more serious problems with your Toyota RAV4, it's best to take it to a professional mechanic. They will have the expertise and tools necessary to diagnose and fix the issue. When choosing a mechanic, make sure they are experienced with Toyota vehicles and have a good reputation. You can also check online reviews and ask for recommendations from friends and family.

Is there a bad model year for the Toyota RAV4?

Thankfully, Toyota is consistent with its engineering. There isn’t a particularly bad model year. We might trust the fourth generation most of all though with its lack of problems. The fourth generation refers to 2013-2018. As far as compact SUVs go, the RAV4 is actually a nice vehicle and we wouldn’t hesitate to buy one.

Toyota RAV4 Problems & Complaints: Are The Issues Worth Buying?

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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