Which years of Toyota RAV4 should you avoid?

This blog will answer the following questions: which years of Toyota RAV4 should you avoid? What are the common problems in the Toyota RAV4? What are the best years of Toyota RAV4? What are the specifications of the latest Toyota RAV4?

Which years of Toyota RAV4 should you avoid? 

The Toyota RAV4 manufactured in the following years must be avoided, there are too many customer complaints and the cost of repair is also high.

  • 2006-2008 
  • 2009-2012 
  • 2013 

Let’s take an in-depth look at the problems in each of the production years:


The second generation of the Toyota RAV4 was on sale during this period. Toyota launched a facelift model in 2003 which included changes to the exterior design and the inclusion of the electronic stability program as standard equipment.

In terms of reliability, the models produced in these years are the worst. There are concerns related to engine failure and poor performance. The cause is excessive engine oil consumption which leaves black carbon deposits on the spark plug electrodes.

The soot deposits also increase the resistance and the spark cannot jump the gap between the spark plug electrodes. The piston rings prematurely wear out due to incorrect piston ring end clearance. Engine oil remaining on the cylinder walls burns in the combustion chamber.

The cost of the piston rings itself is not expensive but replacing the piston rings requires complete disassembly of the engine. Overall the cost can be between 2000-4000 USD, many customers decided to trade the car because the consumption was more than 1 liter per 1000 miles.

An alternate method to rectify the problem is to use higher-grade oil engine oil. It is possible to use a 10W 30 engine oil that can reduce the oil consumption but it is not a permanent fix. The performance of the engine also goes down significantly.

There is also a known issue in the power steering system of the Toyota RAV4. The power steering assist is controlled by a control unit. It uses input signals from the engine control unit and the anti-lock braking system control unit to determine the power provided to the steering column.

A communication problem between these three control units causes the steering to become hard to operate. The parts required to rectify this problem are a new electric power steering control unit and in some cases a new steering column. 


The  Toyota RAV4 models in 2009-2012 are third-generation models. Toyota finally fixed the engine oil consumption issue in the 2009 model. The main problem in the period is sticky throttle.

The customer faced dangerous situations where the throttle is stuck in the wide-open position. The vehicle even overcomes the braking force and collision is unavoidable. Some cases were found to be driver error or floor carpets getting stuck on the pedals.

However, the majority of the affected vehicles have faulty throttle pedals. The materials inside the pedal prevented the pedal from returning to its initial position. Toyota modified the design of throttle pedals and issued a recall to replace the pedals in the affected vehicles. The repairs took only 30 mins and customers were not charged for the cost of the new throttle pedal.

Some of the other common issues in the 2009-2012 models are whining noise coming from the final drive and paint peeling off. Only the clear coat peel-off complaints are there, base layers are fine so there is no rusting of the body.

The clear coat is protected from minor surface scratches so avoid Toyota RAV4 produced this year as a lack of clear coat means expensive dent and repaint repair work is needed.


The 2013 Toyota RAV4 has more serious problems than the 6-speed automatic transmission. Customers faced delayed or harsh shifting of the gears, the cause for the poor shift quality is a faulty solenoid valve or the electrohydraulic valve body inside the transmission.

A more serious issue in the transmission is the violent shuddering and vibrations faced by customers at slow speeds. The fault is reproducible if the vehicle is driven at partial load condition; the torque converter lock clutch causes the whole car to vibrate. 

The problem is so severe that Toyota has to dive into an extended warranty over the transmission to the customers of the Toyota RAV4. The number of affected vehicles is more than 400,000.

Customers facing these issues can report to any authorized dealership and get the torque converter replaced free of cost. The software of the transmission control unit is also updated after replacing the torque converter.

Less serious problems like minor coolant leaks due to faulty water pumps or coolant hoses are common in the high-mileage Toyota RAV4s. The media system is also very bad, many customers reported that it is not possible to connect the smartphone to the media system.

If the vehicle is not under warranty, the cost of a new media system can be around 1000 USD. although there are plenty of aftermarket media systems available that work better than the stock media system.

What are the common problems in the Toyota RAV4?

The following problems are common in the Toyota RAV4, they can occur according to the age and mileage of the vehicle.

  • Poor fuel Economy- the fuel consumption of the Toyota RAV4 is not good considering Toyota makes some of the most efficient engines. The average fuel economy is 25-27 MPG which is significantly less and it is even less in the models affected by excessive oil consumption.
  • Coolant leaks- the problem is more common in the models with the 2.5-liter engine. The coolant system leaks coolant from the cracks in the engine block. The casting of the engine block in some vehicles is not good. The coolant leak can even cause engine stalling and overheating due to damage to the moving components.

What are the best years of Toyota RAV4?

The best years of the Toyota RAV4 are given below:

  • 2010
  • 2016
  • 2017 
  • 2018
  • 2020-2022

What are the specifications of the latest Toyota RAV 4?

The specifications of the latest Toyota RAV 4 are given in the table below, the latest RAV4 is the fifth generation model and features the most advanced features in the RAV4 product line.

Specifications2022 Toyota RAV4
Engine 2.0-2.5 inline 4 Petrol  
Transmission8-speed automatic, CVT
HybridYes, Plug-in
Battery capacity (Hybrid)18.1 kWh


This blog explained various problems in the Toyota RAV4 that reduce the reliability and increase the cost of ownership of the vehicle. RAV4 stands for recreational activity vehicle with 4-wheel drive, it is also the first crossover compact SUV. As long as the worst years are avoided it is still a good car with great off-road capabilities.