The first generation of the Toyota RAV4 was first introduced in the mid-1990s as a compact SUV. It was a hit with consumers thanks to its combination of a car-like ride and SUV functionality. The RAV4 has undergone several redesigns over the years and is now available in both gas and hybrid versions.
Reception to the latest RAV4 has been generally positive, with critics praising its comfortable ride and fuel economy. However, there have been some reports of reliability issues in recent years. Here are some of the common Toyota RAV4 problems you should know about before buying, especially a used one.
1. Jerky or Noisy Transmission
Among the commonly reported Toyota RAV4 problems concern the transmission. Drivers have reported that the compact SUV jerks or hesitates while accelerating or when shifting gears. Transmission issues can be extremely dangerous, especially when driving on the highway. In some cases, drivers have also reported that their RAV4s make strange noises when the transmission is in use.
More recently, the 2019 model year (fifth generation) Toyota RAV4 has gotten several remarks on Car Complaints from consumers regarding the low power of the transmission. In fact, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 is commonly considered as the worst model year of the RAV4. This can lead to the engine revving high without actually going faster and can be extremely dangerous when passing or merging.
Other owners also report that a faulty torque converter can cause jerking and shuddering.
How to Fix: Unfortunately, Toyota hasn’t issued a recall for any of the reported transmission problems. However, there are some things you can try to fix the problem. First, check your transmission fluid level and quality. If it’s low or dirty, replace it. If that doesn’t work, you may need to have your transmission system flushed and refilled by a professional mechanic. If the torque converter is the cause, it needs to be replaced.
2. Gear Slipping
Gear slipping is another of the Toyota RAV4’s reported transmission issues. When gear slipping occurs, you’re likely to notice some common symptoms, including:
- The engine revving without the car moving
- The car jerking or lurching when you try to accelerate
- A burning smell coming from under the hood
Gear slipping can be caused by several different issues, including low transmission fluid, a worn clutch, or damaged gears. It’s one of these transmission problems that you shouldn’t ignore.
How to Fix: If your Toyota RAV4 is experiencing gear slipping, there are a few things you can do to fix the problem. First, check the transmission fluid level and add more if needed. You may also need to have the transmission flushed and refilled.
If neither of these fixes works, you may need to replace the transmission. This can be a very costly repair, so it’s important to make sure that your Toyota RAV4 is properly maintained. Regular transmission maintenance can help to prevent this problem from occurring in the first place (but not always).
If you do have to replace the manual or automatic transmission, be sure to use a reputable and qualified mechanic. This is not a repair that should be attempted by anyone who is not experienced in transmission work.
3. Engine Oil Consumption
One of the Toyota RAV4’s most common problems is excessive engine oil consumption. This can be caused by various factors, including defective piston rings, faulty valves, and oil leaks.
If your RAV4 consumes too much oil, you may notice that the oil level drops quickly or that the engine is burning oil. You may also notice increased oil consumption when driving at high speeds or towing a heavy load.
How to Fix: If your Toyota RAV4 is excessive in oil consumption, there are a few things you can do to try and fix the issue. First, check the oil level regularly and top it off as needed. Next, change the oil and filter more frequently than normal. You may also want to add an oil additive to help with the problem.
Finally, have your Toyota dealer check it out to see if any other issues could be causing the excessive oil consumption, especially if the check engine light is on. There might also be another problem that needs to be checked and fixed.
4. Leaky Water Pump
Another commonly reported problem with the Toyota RAV4 is a leaky water pump. The water pump is responsible for circulating coolant throughout the engine to keep it operating at the proper temperature.
If it develops a leak, coolant can escape and cause engine issues, such as overheating. This can lead to significant damage, so it’s important to have the problem fixed as soon as possible.
Some common symptoms and signs of a leaky water pump include:
- Coolant leaking from under the car
- Engine overheating
- White smoke coming from the engine
- Coolant level in the radiator dropping
How to Fix: Fixing a leaky water pump is not too difficult, but it can be a bit time-consuming. The first thing you need to do is locate the leak. This can be done by removing the pump from the engine and inspecting it for cracks or leaks. If you find a leak, you will need to replace the pump.
If you have a Toyota RAV4 that is leaking water, it is important to get it fixed as soon as possible. A leaky water pump can cause the engine to overheat, which can lead to serious engine damage.
5. White or Smelly Exhaust Smoke
If you notice white or smelly exhaust smoke coming from your Toyota RAV4, it could be a sign of a bigger problem. It could mean that your engine is burning oil, which can lead to serious engine damage if not fixed. If you see this type of smoke, check to see if your engine oil level is low. If it is, add more oil and see if the problem goes away.
Some of the most common symptoms and signs of engine problems are:
- White or blue smoke coming from the exhaust pipe
- Engine is leaking oil
- Burning oil smell coming from the engine
- Check engine light is on
- Engine is making knocking or tapping noises
Some common causes of engine problems are low oil levels, dirty oil, faulty spark plugs, and worn-out engine parts
How to Fix: In order to successfully resolve this problem, it is important first to identify its root cause. Once the cause has been determined, the necessary repairs can be made. These repairs include checking and, if necessary, changing the engine oil, cleaning or replacing the spark plugs, and replacing worn-out engine parts. You may need to have your engine gaskets and exhaust system checked as well to ensure that there aren’t any other leaks in your Toyota RAV4’s systems.
6. Steering Issues
The RAV4 has had different steering problems, mostly on newer models. The RAV4’s electrical power assist system is susceptible to water contamination. This can cause the power assist to fail, making it difficult to turn the wheel. In some cases, the vehicle may even pull to one side.
Water can also enter into the RAV4’s steering column and damage the breakaway pins. These pins are designed to break away if the driver is in a frontal collision, allowing the airbag to deploy. If the pins are damaged, the safety technology that controls the airbags may not deploy them properly.
Some of the symptoms and signs of steering issues in the RAV4 include:
- Difficulty turning the wheel
- The vehicle pulling to one side
- The steering column making noise
- Airbags not deploying properly in a frontal collision
Toyota issued recalls for these problems, but many owners still report that the issues persist.
How to Fix: Since there are recalls on the steering system, the best thing to do is to take your RAV4 to a Toyota dealership and have them fix the problem for you.
Act Quickly If You Notice Any Problems with Your RAV4
If you’re thinking of buying a Toyota RAV4, then it’s important to be aware of some of the most common problems that owners face. Yet, it isn’t uncommon for any model to have car complaints. Some model years are likely to experience these issues. If you’re wondering, here are the Toyota RAV4 model years to avoid.
The Toyota RAV4 is still a solid vehicle all things considered, especially if you can chance upon one from the best RAV4 model years in good condition. If you are buying one used, just be sure to check the vehicle first or have a trusted mechanic take a good look at it before closing the deal.
Should you experience any of these problems in your purchased vehicle, just be prompt in fixing the issue. By doing so, you can avoid further damage and keep your RAV4 running smoothly and safely.