Toyota RAV4 Years to Avoid and Most Common Problems

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toyota rav4 trim levels

Toyota has been a leading automotive manufacturer for many years. They produce reliable and affordable cars that are perfect for families. However, not all Toyota models are created equal. Some of their vehicles have more problems than others.

In this blog post, we will discuss the Toyota RAV4 years to avoid and the most common problems with each one. We hope this information helps you make an informed decision about your next car purchase!

The Toyota RAV4 models you should avoid buying at all costs are produced in 2019, 2013, 2008, 2003, and 1997. On the other hand, the best models of Toyota RAV4 include the ones made from 2016-2018.

Toyota RAV4; An Overview

The Toyota RAV4 is a compact crossover SUV produced by the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota. This model made its debut in 1995 and was one of the first compact SUVs to be introduced on the market.

It was also one of the first vehicles to offer the option of all-wheel drive. The RAV4 has been very popular since its launch and has undergone several facelifts and redesigns over the years. The most recent generation was launched in 2019 and is available in both petrol and diesel versions.

The RAV4 is a very versatile vehicle and can be used for various purposes such as commuting, off-roading, or even light towing. It has a spacious interior and can comfortably seat five people. The boot space is also generous and can accommodate a family’s holiday luggage.

The RAV4 has various engine options depending on the model and trim level. The petrol versions come with either a 2.0-liter or 2.5-liter engine, while a 2.2-liter engine powers the diesel models. All engines are available with either manual or eight-speed automatic transmission.

The RAV4 is packed with a host of features and equipment, making it a very appealing proposition for buyers. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, vehicle stability control, and alloy wheels. Higher trim levels include satellite navigation, leather upholstery, and heated front seats.

The price of the RAV4 varies depending on the model and trim level but starts at around $25,000. This makes it one of the more expensive compact SUVs on the market, but its excellent build quality, equipment levels, and versatility make it well worth the money.

However, you can buy a used Toyota RAV4 for a much lower price if you know where to look. Buying from a reputable dealer is always the best option, but you can also find good deals on sites like eBay. Just be sure to do your research before making any purchase.

If you are looking for a versatile and practical SUV that is also good value for money, then the Toyota RAV4 should definitely be on your shortlist.

Toyota RAV4 Years to Avoid

Toyota RAV4 has a rich legacy and has been one of the most popular SUVs since its inception in 1995. However, as with any car, certain model years are better to avoid than others.

Following are the Toyota RAV models you should avoid buying at all costs:

Toyota RAV4 2019 (Fifth Generation)

The fifth generation of the Toyota RAV4 was first introduced in late 2018 for the 2019 model year. It is based on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform and features a significantly different design than its predecessor.

Standard features include automatic climate control, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and a reversing camera. Safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams.

Despite its many improvements, the fifth-generation RAV has been dogged by several issues since its launch. Let’s discuss these problems:

Transmission Problems

The 2019 RAV fourth generation was plagued with transmission problems right from the start. Most of these issues were related to the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), used on both petrol and diesel models.

Complaints ranged from the transmission slipping and jerking to sudden and unexpected acceleration. In some cases, drivers reported that their car would lurch forward when stopped at a red light or stop sign.

Sputtering Noise While Accelerating

Another common problem with the fifth-generation RAV is a sputtering noise that can be heard when accelerating. This is most often caused by a problem with the exhaust system and is most noticeable when the car is cold.

Sometimes, the sputtering noise may also be accompanied by a loss of power or acceleration. This can be very dangerous if it happens while driving on the highway.

Fuel System Problems

Several reports of fuel system problems with the fifth-generation RAV have been reported. These issues range from the car stalling and running rough to difficulty starting the engine.

In some cases, drivers have reported that their car will run out of fuel even when the gauge shows there is still some left in the tank. This can obviously be very frustrating and dangerous if it happens while driving.

If you are considering buying a fifth-generation Toyota RAV, then you should definitely be aware of these potential problems. It is always best to buy a used car from a reputable dealer who can offer you some type of warranty or guarantee.

Toyota RAV4 2013 (Fourth Generation)

The fourth generation RAV4 was unveiled at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show and went on sale in early 2013. It is offered in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The RAV4 is powered by a 2.5L four-cylinder engine that produces 176 hp and172 lb-ft of torque.

It is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for the RAV4 is an EPA-estimated 24 mpg city/31 mpg highway for the front-wheel drive model and a 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway for the all-wheel drive model.

It is on our list of years to avoid for a few reasons. Let’s dive into these:

Steering Problems

One of the most common problems with the fourth-generation RAV is steering problems. In some cases, drivers have reported that their car will veer to one side when driving on a straight road. Or the steering wheel was vibrating excessively.

In other cases, the steering wheel may feel loose or disconnected from the wheels. This can obviously be very dangerous and can lead to several accidents.

Faulty Oxygen Sensor

Another common problem with the fourth-generation RAV is a faulty oxygen sensor. The oxygen sensor is one of the most important parts of the engine management system.

It monitors the oxygen content of the exhaust gas and adjusts the fuel mixture accordingly. If the oxygen sensor is faulty, it can cause the engine to run lean or rich and trigger the check engine light.

Poor Build Quality

Another issue that plagues the fourth-generation RAV is poor build quality. This is most evident in the car’s interior, where many owners have reported that the plastic trim and upholstery are of very poor quality.

Sometimes, the interior trim has been known to come loose or fall off entirely. This obviously makes for a very unpleasant driving experience.

Some exterior trim pieces are known to come loose or fall off. This is most likely because they are not very well attached in the first place.

If you are considering buying a fourth-generation Toyota RAV, then you should definitely be aware of these potential problems.

Toyota RAV4 2008 (Third Generation)

The third generation Toyota RAV4 was produced between 2006 and 2012. It was available in two- and four-wheel drive versions and could seat up to five people.

The exterior dimensions were slightly increased from the previous generation, and the vehicle had a more boxy appearance.

Under the hood was a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which could generate 168 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission and a five-speed automatic were both available.

All these features were great, but the third-generation RAV had a few significant problems. Let’s discuss these:

Braking Problems

One of the most common problems with the Toyota RAV4 2008 is braking issues. Many drivers have reported experiencing problems with the brakes, specifically with the pedal feeling “spongy” or “soft.” The brake pedal may even sink to the floor while driving.

This can obviously be extremely dangerous, making it much harder to stop the vehicle in an emergency. This problem is typically due to air in the brake lines, although it could also be due to a leak in the system.

In some cases, drivers have reported that their car will pull to one side when applying the brakes.

Car Burning Oil

One of the most common issues Toyota RAV4 2008 owners face is engine oil burning. This can result from various factors, but the most common cause is due to piston rings that have become worn out.

When this happens, oil can easily seep past the rings and into the combustion chamber, eventually getting burned off. Other causes for engine oil burning can include excessive driving, using the wrong type of oil, or simply not changing the oil often enough.

Whatever the cause may be, it’s important to get the issue fixed as soon as possible to avoid any further damage to your engine.

Automatic Transmission Issues

Another common problem with the Toyota RAV 2008 is automatic transmission issues. Many drivers have reported that their car will randomly slip out of gear while driving or refuse to go into gear altogether.

In some cases, the transmission may even start to leak fluid. These problems can obviously be very dangerous and lead to many accidents.

The cause of these problems is typically due to a faulty transmission control module (TCM), although it could also be due to several other factors.

Toyota RAV4 2003 (Second Generation)

The second generation RAV was produced between 2001 and 2005. It was available as a three-door or five-door hatchback and came in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive versions.

Two engines were available: a two-liter four-cylinder engine with 127 horsepower or a larger three-liter VVTi V six engine with 163 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission came as standard, with a four-speed automatic optional on the V six models.

Though it was an improvement on the first generation in many ways, the second-generation RAV did have a few issues. These were:

Gear Shifting Problems

There have been some reports of gear shifting problems with the 2008 model year. In some cases, the vehicle may not shift into reverse or drive.

Other times, it may get stuck in one gear and be unable to shift into another. This can be extremely dangerous, as it can prevent the driver from being able to control the vehicle.

There are several possible causes for this problem.

One possibility is that there is something wrong with the transmission itself. Another possibility is that there is an issue with the shifter cable or linkage.

Engine Overheating

The 2008 Toyota RAV4 model may be prone to engine overheating. One possible cause of engine overheating in the RAV4 is a faulty radiator cap. The radiator cap is responsible for keeping the coolant in the radiator from boiling over. If the radiator cap is not functioning properly, the coolant can boil over and cause the engine to overheat.

Another potential cause of engine overheating is a faulty thermostat. The thermostat is responsible for regulating the temperature of the engine coolant. If the thermostat is not working properly, the engine coolant can become too hot and cause the engine to overheat.

Faulty MAF Sensor

A common problem with the Toyota RAV 2008 is a faulty mass airflow (MAF) sensor. The MAF sensor measures the amount of air that flows into the engine.

If the MAF sensor is not working properly, the engine can run too lean or too rich. This can cause several problems, such as decreased fuel economy, increased emissions, and even engine damage.

Toyota RAV4 1997 (First Generation)

The first generation of the Toyota RAV4 was launched in 1997. It was a compact SUV and was one of the first vehicles of its kind.

The RAV4 was designed to be capable both on- and off-road and had a body-on-frame construction. It was available with either front- or four-wheel drive and came with a 2.0L four-cylinder engine. In 1999, a diesel engine option was added.

Being the first generation, it’s no surprise that the RAV did have a few issues. These were:

Poor Safety Ratings

One of the biggest problems with the first-generation RAV was its poor safety ratings.

In fact, in 1998, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the RAV it’s lowest possible rating for frontal impact protection. This rating meant that the RAV was one of the most dangerous vehicles on the road.

The IIHS also gave the RAV a “Poor” rating for side impact protection. This was because there was very little padding on the door panels inside, and the seats did not offer much support in a collision.

These poor safety ratings were one of the main reasons Toyota completely redesigned the RAV for its second generation.

Faulty Catalytic Converter

Another common problem with the first-generation RAV was a faulty catalytic converter. The catalytic converter is responsible for reducing harmful emissions from the engine.

If it is not working properly, the engine can produce high levels of carbon monoxide and other pollutants. In some cases, the catalytic converter can become so clogged that it can cause the engine to stall.

Under-Inflated Air Bags

Another safety issue that affected the first-generation RAV was under-inflated airbags.

Sometimes, the front driver and passenger airbags would deploy with too little force.

This could cause serious injuries or even death in a collision. Fortunately, this problem was fixed in later models.

Best Model Year of Toyota RAV4

Now that we’ve gone over the years of Toyota RAV that you should avoid let’s take a look at the best model years of Toyota RAV.

Toyota RAV4 2016 (Fifth Generation)

When it comes to choosing the best Toyota RAV4 model, the 2016 (fifth generation) is hard to beat. It’s packed with features drivers love, including a spacious interior, comfortable ride, and excellent fuel economy.

Here’s a closer look at why the Toyota RAV4 2016 is the best model yet:

Spacious interior: The Toyota RAV4 2016 boasts plenty of space for passengers and cargo alike. It has a roomy cabin with plenty of head- and legroom, plus a large cargo area perfect for hauling shopping bags, sports equipment, or luggage.

Comfortable ride: The Toyota RAV4 2016 offers a smooth, comfortable ride thanks to its independent suspension and well-cushioned seats.

Excellent fuel economy: One of the best things about driving a Toyota RAV4 is that you don’t have to sacrifice fuel economy for power. The 2016 model gets an impressive 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, making it one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs on the market.

Stylish good looks: The Toyota RAV4 2016 is one of the most stylish SUVs on the road, thanks to its sleek, modern design. It’s available in various colors, so you can find one that perfectly suits your taste. Plus, with its LED daytime running lights and available 19-inch alloy wheels, the RAV4 turns heads wherever it goes.

Packed with features: The Toyota RAV4 2016 comes packed with all the features you need for a comfortable, convenient ride. It offers standard amenities like automatic climate control, a six-speaker stereo system, and upgrades like a sunroof, a navigation system, and a premium JBL audio system. No matter what your needs are, the RAV4 has you covered.

Toyota RAV4 2017 (Fifth Generation)

Our second pick for the best Toyota RAV4 model is the 2017 (fifth generation). It’s packed with features drivers love, including an updated design, comfortable interior, and impressive performance. Plus, its advanced safety features make it a top choice for families.

Here’s a closer look at why the Toyota RAV4 2017 is the best of the best.

Design: The Toyota RAV4 2017 has a fresh, new look that’s both stylish and modern. Its sleek exterior lines and athletic stance give it a sporty appearance, while its spacious interior is comfortable and practical.

Comfort: The Toyota RAV4 2017 is designed with comfort in mind. Its spacious cabin offers plenty of head- and legroom, while its seats are both comfortable and supportive. Plus, its climate control system keeps the cabin cool in summer and warm in winter.

Performance: The Toyota RAV4 2017 is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 176 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and comes standard with front-wheel drive. However, all-wheel drive is available as an option.

Safety: The Toyota RAV4 2017 comes standard with various advanced safety features, including lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. Plus, its optional blind spot monitor is a great way to keep an eye on your surroundings.


The Toyota RAV is a great SUV for drivers who need plenty of space, comfort, and performance. However, certain model years are better than others. Models from 2019, 2013, 2008, and 2003 face issues like poor fuel economy, delayed gear shifting, engine, and transmission issues.

The 2016 and 2017 models are the best of the best, thanks to their updated designs, comfortable interiors, and impressive performance. Plus, their advanced safety features make them top choices for families. There are fewer complaints regarding these model years.

So if you’re in the market for a Toyota RAV, check out these two model years. You won’t be disappointed.

Do you have a Toyota RAV? What model year is it? Let us know in the comments below! And if you’re looking to buy a new Toyota RAV, be sure to check out our list of the best Toyota RAV models to buy.

Frequently Asked Question

Is it worth buying a Toyota RAV4?

The Toyota RAV4 is a great choice for those looking for a reliable and affordable SUV. It offers plenty of space for passengers and cargo and has a long list of standard features.

Its fuel economy is also very good, making it an excellent choice for road trips or commuting. Overall, the RAV4 is great and should be considered by anyone in the market for a new SUV.

What year Toyota RAV4 should you avoid?

There are certain model years of the Toyota RAV4 that you should avoid. These include the 2019 model year, as well as the 2013, 2008, and 2003 model years. The main reason to avoid these model years is that they are known for having several problems and defects.

Some of the most common problems include transmission issues, as well as problems with the engine and suspension. Additionally, these model years also tend to have a higher rate of recalls than other model years. As such, it is generally best to avoid them if possible.

What is the average annual repair cost of a Toyota RAV4?

Based on Toyota RAV4 repair cost consumer reports from RepairPal, the average annual repair cost for a Toyota RAV4 is $441.00. Annual repair costs are estimated using data from more than 1 million vehicles across the United States.

This means that, on average, repairs for a Toyota RAV4 will cost you about $37 per month. However, depending on the severity of the repairs needed, this figure could be much higher or lower. For example, major repairs such as transmission and engine components will obviously cost more than simple oil changes or tire rotations.

The good news is that Toyota RAV4s are generally very reliable cars and don’t require a lot of repairs over their lifetime. In fact, Toyota RAV4s rank near the top of RepairPal’s list of the most reliable vehicles on the road. So, if you’re looking for a dependable and affordable car, the Toyota RAV4 is definitely worth considering.

How long does a Toyota RAV4 last?

This is a difficult question to answer, as there are a lot of variables that can affect the longevity of a vehicle. However, based on our research and customer feedback, it appears that the Toyota RAV4 typically lasts for around 200,000 miles before needing major repairs or replacement parts.

This makes it one of the more reliable and long-lasting SUVs on the market today. So if you’re looking for a vehicle that will last you many years and miles and has a good reliability rating, the Toyota RAV4 should definitely be at the top of your list.

What year Toyota RAV4 have transmission problems?

The Toyota RAV4 has had several transmission problems over the years. The most common issues have been reported in the 2019 and 2003 models.

These transmission problems can manifest themselves in several ways, such as delayed shifting, hard shifting, or even complete failure of the transmission.

Do all Toyota RAV4s have excessive oil consumption issues?

No, not all Toyota RAVs have excessive oil consumption issues. However, it is a problem that has been reported in several RAV models over the years.

The most common years for this issue are 2008-2009. If you own one of these model years, be sure to have your oil level checked regularly and top it off as needed.

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