The Toyota Rav4 is a compact crossover SUV. It was first launched in North America in 1996.
Many people love their Toyota Rav4 vehicle, but you might be one of those who ended up with an SUV with a problem. We will discuss common issues in the Toyota Rav4 and possible solutions that may help you.
Some of the common problems and issues with the Toyota Rav4 are battery drain and wiring issues, coolant leaks, roof leaks, suspension issues, cable corrosion, poor fuel mileage, and fuel tank issues. Not all Rav4s in a model have any issues. Recalls usually apply to only a few models of the Rav4. There are solutions to most of these problems that will be explained next.
It is discouraging to have problems with your vehicle. These problems can roll over into other areas of your life, such as not being paid when coming into work late because your Rav4 wouldn’t start.
You may need to spend money on repairs that you intended to use for something else. No one likes to have problems with their vehicle. We will try to help you know what could be wrong with your Rav4 and get it back on the road.
How Reliable Is the Toyota Rav4?
The Toyota Rav4 is considered to be a reliable vehicle. Toyota has a reputation for making reliable vehicles and the Rav4 is no different. It is rated 4.0 out 5.0 which makes it 3rd in reliability for compact SUVs.
The severity and frequency of repairs cost less than in other comparable vehicles. When looking at repair issues for the Toyota Rav4, we discovered that repairs for the Rav4 occurred less frequently and were less costly repairs than most other compact SUVs.
You can be reasonably sure that your Rav4 will start and safely take you where you need to go.
Most Common Issues with the Toyota Rav4
The most common problem with the Toyota Rav 4 is an Evaporative System issue. This problem might allow toxic fumes to seep into the environment. Jerky acceleration is another common problem, along with the vibration of the transmission.
There are other issues that we will discuss below. If there are solutions, we will be happy to share what we found to help solve your issues with your Rav4.
Battery Drain and Wire Issues (Recall Number PE21005)
A substantial number of Rav4 owners have had battery drain and wire issues, especially fifth-generation owners. The car won’t start when the battery is drained, and you have to have it jump-started.
Car batteries should last for 3 to 5 years, yet a drained battery has happened to cars with only 3,000 miles.
Vehicles affected are mainly 2019 and 2020 models.
Solution: Take your car to your Toyota dealership if it has been recalled. There might be an electrical short on the battery hold-down frame. This could result in a loss of electrical power, vehicle stalling, or a fire.
A Toyota Hybrid battery replacement costs between $2,000 and $5,000 depending on the Rav4 model. This includes parts and labor.
Coolant Leak (Recall Number 21SMD-029)
Rav4 models made between 2015 and 2018 sometimes have coolant leaks. Problems of leaking coolant can happen in any car, and these leaks cause your car to overheat. Here are some symptoms of a coolant leak:
- A puddle underneath the radiator when the vehicle is parked
- Squeeking belt – The noise comes from the serpentine belt slipping from the coolant.
- Overheating – watch your dashboard for overheating. If this is happening, take your Rav4 to your mechanic right away because if your radiator has a hole in it, it will get bigger.
- White smoke – If the coolant splashes on the engine or exhaust, it can produce a lot of white smoke under the hood.
- Radiators usually need to be replaced, not fixed.
- There are some radiator repair products that you can pour into your radiator. They are supposed to fix small leaks but can make the radiator not work as well as it should.
- Take your Toyota Rav4 to a radiator repair shop immediately.
- If your Rav4 has been recalled, have it replaced for free at a Toyota dealer.
The cost of a new radiator is around $439 for the replacement plus about $171 for labor.
Roof Leaks (No Recall)
Toyota Rav4 owners who have a roof leak have a very bothersome problem. Rain or snow could leak in on passengers, and the leak could cause interior damage to carpet, seats, or other interior components. Water damage may occur to the airbags and wiring.
Here are some solutions that other Rav4 owners have used to fix roof leaks:
- Take your Rav4 to your Toyota dealer if it is still covered under the 3-year warranty. They have provided clips for some customers to address the issue.
- You can replace the worn rubber seal in your sunroof because this solution has helped others stop the leakage.
- Take your Rav4 to a professional repair shop that has worked on Rav4 sunroofs for 2019-2021. Their experience may ensure a more professional job than if you do it yourself. If you are good at repairing things, then you can save some money by replacing the rubber seal yourself.
The cost to have a water leak repaired in your sunroof by a repair shop is about $350 and up.
Suspension Issues (Recall Number 20V286000)
Rav4 Hybrid models from 2019 and 2020 have had many problems with suspension issues. There is a lower suspension separation risk involving over 9,500 vehicles.
Here are some symptoms to check to see if your Rav4 has suspension issues:
- Bumpy ride that is not comfortable because you feel every bump in the road
- Lower sitting of the car closer to the road on the front, back, or sides
- Noises from the vehicle – Some of these can be very loud and this is usually the first sign of suspension problems. Suspension issues are quite common among Toyotas such as the Toyota Corolla as well.
- Difficulty steering
- Uneven tire wear – Tires may be completely bald on one side but have tread on the opposite side of the tire.
Here are some other things to consider:
- Take your Rav4 to your Toyota dealership if it has been recalled. You will not be charged for this.
- Have a mechanic at your shop repair your suspension.
The cost of suspension repair is between $350 and $850.
Cable Corrosion (Class Action Suit in Canada)
Many owners of 2019 and 2020 Toyota Rav4 Hybrids have had problems with cable corrosion. Toyota issued a bulletin stating that these vehicles have been experiencing corrosion of the high-voltage hybrid system wiring.
- A warning light may light up on your dashboard.
- There may be interference when listening to the radio due to corrosion in the hybrid cable wiring harness.
- It could cause your car to not start.
Toyota has stated that the corrosion of the cable is because of dust and debris in the connectors.
- If the Rav4 is still under the 3-year, 36,000-mile warranty, Toyota will replace it for you.
- You can see how much it will cost to have a private mechanic replace the cable.
It will cost you $5,000 to replace the wiring harness.
Fuel Tank Issues
Some 2019 and 2020 models of the Hybrid Rav4 vehicle owners are not able fill their gas tanks completely. Instead of filling up to the 14.5 level, fuel pumps stop automatically around 10 gallons.
This is not a safety issue but an inconvenience for owners who have to stop to refill their tanks more often. They have less driving distance than their vehicle should have, and Toyota blames this on the redesign of the hybrid fuel tank.
No recall has been issued for this problem, but Toyota will replace the fuel tank on some models of Rav4s. Toyota says that the problem may happen again, even with the replaced fuel tank.
- Contact Toyota at 1-800-331-4331 to see what they will do about your fuel tank problem. Be sure to have your VIN handy because they will need it.
- Toyota recommends that customers do not top off their gas tank when filling up at the gas station.
The cost of replacing your fuel tank including your fuel pump costs from $800 to $1,000.
Poor Fuel Economy
Some Toyota Rav4 owners do not get the mileage that was promised when purchasing their vehicle. You may only get 28 miles per gallon instead of the 35 MPG you were told the vehicle would get when you bought it.
Fuel economy is often reduced in the winter because of oxygenated gasoline. During this season, you might get fewer miles per gallon of gas.
Over time, you are spending more money on gas than you should due to the poor fuel economy.
- Drive economically. Do not push hard on the accelerator pedal when the light turns green and use coasting when possible.
- Set your radar cruise control below 75 MPH.
- Check your tire pressure often and keep the pressure at the recommended levels.
What Years Did the Rav4 Have Problems?
The 2011 Rav4 had more serious problems than any other model, along with its poor safety ratings. Stalling suddenly while driving and sudden acceleration were other issues that the vehicle has.
There is little doubt that the 2019 and 2020 models of the Rav4 have some problems. Here is a list of them:
- Fuel tank problems – Thefuel tank does not fill completely.
- Loud engine noises – This happens most frequently when accelerating.
- Equipment – This includes trims and various interior and exterior problems.
The 2019 Rav4 had over 200 complaints.
- Gas tank problems – Dash showing that fuel is low when it isn’t and the fuel tank cannot be completely filled.
- Brake failure – Brakes overheat and this can affect fuel mileage.
- Electrical problems – Issues with warning lights either coming on needlessly or not turning off when fixed.
All other years of the Rav4 have excellent or very good reviews.
Recent Recall Numbers: Here are 2 recalls on 2022 Rav4:
22V519000 – Incorrect detection of a passenger may result in airbag not operating properly during a crash.
22V239000 – The Visibility Control System (VCS) may not turn on automatically.
20V734000 – A loss of power steering could cause a crash.
Check To See Whether Your Vehicle Has an Open Recall
You can check this website to see if your vehicle has an open recall:
You will need your vehicle’s VIN which can be found on the lower left side of your windshield. This number is 17 digits and it identifies your car and the reason for the recall. Be sure to have other information such as the year, make, and model of your car.
How Is It Compared to Similar Cars?
There are other vehicles to consider if you are thinking of buying a Rav4. Here are some SUVs that are similar to the Rav4:
Here are some pros for the Kia Sportage:
- Great warranty and low starting price
- Option for a turbocharged engine
- Great Stereo
Cons for the Kia Sportage:
- Uses a lot of gas
- Not a lot of interior space for groceries, sports equipment, etc.
- Rough ride in some models
The Subaru Forrester has many features in common with the Rav4. We will discuss the pros and cons of the Subaru Forrester below.
- All-wheel drive
- Very good safety features
- More headroom for front-seat passengers
Here are some negative things that we have found about Subaru Forrester:
- Luxury features cost extra
- Poor acceleration
- An underpowered engine is not as efficient as most customers would like to have in the SUV.
The Chevrolet Equinox is also a lot like the Rav4. Here are some good points about it:
- Lower starting price with fewer features than the Rav4
- Teen Mode for beginning drivers
- Built-in Wi-Fi Hot Spot so passengers can use their phones, tablets, and other devices
- Low starting price
- Interior is not updated, so it’s not as much fun to drive.
- Not as much cargo space as Rav4
What Are the Life Expectancy and Mileage
The Rav4 has a long-life expectancy of 200,000 to 250,000 miles. This is around 13 to 16 years depending on how much you drive each year.
There are not many cars with a life expectancy and mileage that the Rav4 offers.
Is It Worth Buying Used?
Yes, a Rav4 is worth buying used for several reasons. We will discuss those below.
- Since the Rav4 has such a high life expectancy and mileage, buying a used Rav4 with 100,000 miles means that it still has plenty of life left. This depends on the model and whether the previous owner met the maintenance schedule.
- Used Rav4s often have the same benefits as models made a few years earlier. You are getting some of the same pros in an older model for a substantially cheaper cost.
- New cars lose a lot of value the moment they are driven off the dealership’s lot. This means that you can get a model that is only a year or two old for much less than it originally cost.
What Is Good and Bad About the Car?
There are far more good things about the Rav4 than bad, but we will discuss both types of features below. It is worth considering that most people are quick to reveal the negatives about the car while hesitating to acknowledge its benefits.
- Fuel economy – Although some models have had fuel economy issues, the Rav4 gets great gas mileage.
- Great interiors – The Rav4 has many more interior features than comparable models.
- Updated technology – Some Rav4 models have up to 5 USB ports for charging your devices.
- Apple Play and Amazon Alexa – Newer models have convenient internet access for drivers and passengers.
- Gas Mileage – Many owners do not get the advertised gas mileage from their Rav4.
- Small Cargo Area – The cargo area is less than in comparable Honda and Nissan models.
- Loud Cabin Noise – This is especially true when driving on the highway.
What Do Owners Say About the Car?
Here are some reviews from owners of the Toyota Rav4:
“Toyota rebuilt my engine for free because of a recall. I like the amount of space the car has to store things. I also like the gas mileage. It drives pretty well also.” – Matthew N.: June 1, 2021 Via vehiclehistory.com
“Get 48 MPG. My recommendation is to use the adaptive cruise control (dynamic cruise control).” – Srikanth: Via torquenews.com
“I got my 2019 Limited Rav4 on February 4, 2019. On the road for two hours, the engine light came on. The PKSB light also came on. I have driven only 80 miles. I drove today and the engine overheated alarm came on and told me to stop driving immediately. I feel bad with a new car having so many problems already.” – Leo: February 19, 2021 Via Edmunds.com/Toyota
The Rav4 is a very good vehicle that most owners are happy to own. It has a sleek body and is fun to drive.
The model of the Rav4 determines how satisfied customers are with this SUV. If they own or have owned a model that gave them a lot of trouble, then, of course, they did not appreciate it.
1996 and 1997 are generally good years for the Rav4 and 1998 and 1999 are considered to be the best years for this vehicle. If you want to buy a used car, find one of these models.