Worst Toyota RAV4 Years To Avoid (Key Problems)

Toyota RAV4 Years to Avoid

Well, everyone believes Toyotas are super-reliable, and practically all model years of a Toyota car are reliable. Yes, Toyotas have a long history of high reliability and minimal maintenance cost, but not all Toyotas are built equally.

The RAV4 is one of the best compact SUVs from the company, and it’s really a cool ride. Portable, sturdy, appealing design, robust engine, and four-wheel drive powertrain are some of the interesting features of the Toyota RAV4.

However, it is important that you know the worst Toyota RAV4 years to avoid and the problems associated with them. Basically, you should avoid them because they develop problems at low mileage.

Toyota RAV4 Overview

Worst-Toyota-RAV4-Years-To-AvoidIn 2019, the Toyota RAV4 was the world’s best-selling SUV, with over 10 million units already sold across many countries and continents. Toyota started producing Toyota RAV4 SUVs in 1994, and there have been many editions, variants, and generations.

RAV4 stands for “Robust Accurate Vehicle with 4-wheel drive” or “Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive.” Depending on the model year you choose, the Toyota RAV4 offers several drivetrain options, up to the seven-speed automatic transmission and a V6 or I4 engine.

The Toyota RAV4 delivers quite a lot of power regardless of the trim or variant you choose to buy. It’s overall a cool compact crossover SUV – available at an affordable price and feels good to drive.

Toyota RAV4 Years To Avoid and Why?

While many different people may have lots of good stuff to say about the Toyota RAV4, we must admit that not all RAV4 model years are worth buying, especially as “used” with high mileage.

On a quick rundown, here are the worst Toyota RAV4 years to avoid.

  • 2001 Toyota RAV4
  • 2002 Toyota RAV4
  • 2003 Toyota RAV4
  • 2006 Toyota RAV4
  • 2007 Toyota RAV4
  • 2008 Toyota RAV4
  • 2019 Toyota RAV4

These Toyota RAV4 model years are linked with many problems such as transmission failure, whining noise from the engine, steering problems, and many others.

Common Toyota RAV4 Problems

All problems indicated below were reported by people who own/drive various Toyota RAV4 models. The complaints were recorded on top websites like consumer reports and CarComplaints.

1. Transmission Problems

  • Affected Model Years: 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2019 Toyota RAV4 years.
  • Estimated Repair Cost: $2,500

Transmission problems reported in the above-indicated Toyota RAV4 models include ECM failure, hard shifting, jerking & shuddering, hesitations at slower speeds, and fatal transmission failure.

These transmission problems typically occur at high mileage - above 100k miles, and the average repair cost is $2,500.

2. Engine Faults

  • Affected Model Years: 2002, 2006, 2007, and 2008 model years.
  • Estimated Repair Cost: $4,000

The Toyota RAV4 made in the above-indicated is linked with multiple severe engine problems that cost very high to fix.

Commonly reported problems included excessive oil consumption, plug failure, engine entering the limp mode, engine dying prematurely, sensor failure, and control module failure. These issues typically occur after 100,000 miles and cost an average of $4,000 to fix.

3. Body and Paint Problems

  • Affected Model Years: 2009 to 2015 Toyota RAV4 models
  • Estimated Repair Cost: $2,000

Surprisingly, body and paint problems were reported for many Toyota RAV4 models, mostly the ones produced between 2009 and 2015.

The most common issue is paint peeling; the paint peels off on its own. Also, there were a few complaints about the roof rack leaking water into the car. Toyota RAV4 body and paint problems cost an average of $2,000 to fix.

4. Interior Accessories Problems

  • Affected Model Years: 2013 and 2014 Toyota RAV4.
  • Estimated Repair Cost: $750

Over 1,000 complaints were recorded for the interior accessories in 2013 and 2014 Toyota RAV4 models.

Commonly reported issues included navigation display problems, stereo/infotainment system suddenly stopped working, Bluetooth connectivity issues, and glove box unable to open. These issues typically cost $750 to fix.

5. Steering and Wheel Problems

  • Affected Model Years: Mostly reported in 2006 and 2007 Toyota RAV4 models.
  • Estimated Repair Cost: $2,000

Quite a lot of 2006/2007 Toyota RAV4 models allege that they hear clunking noise while steering and also experienced power steering failures.

Wheel problems include banging sound in reverse, driveshaft failure, and vibration while accelerating. These problems typically occur at 100k miles with an average repair cost of $2,000.

Best Toyota RAV4 Years To Buy

Okay, we’re done with the worst years to avoid; let’s discuss the best model years to buy in this modern time. You certainly won’t enjoy riding a pre-2000s Toyota RAV4; the build and design are obsolete now.

Therefore, here are the best Toyota RAV4 model years to choose from.

  • 2004 Toyota RAV4
  • 2005 Toyota RAV4
  • 2009 to 2012 Toyota RAV4
  • 2013 to 2018 Toyota RAV4
  • 2019 to 2022 Toyota RAV4

These Toyota RAV4 model years are more reliable, hold their value, and won’t give you lots of problems frequently (if you keep up with the maintenance).


Summarily, explained in this blog post are the best and worst Toyota RAV4 years to avoid or buy. Notwithstanding, Toyota RAV4s are generally unproblematic when driven well and maintained properly.

You can always land a great deal for a used Toyota RAV4 and still get many miles from the SUV without major repairs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Toyota RAV4 a Good SUV?

Yes. The Toyota RAV4 is a good crossover SUV for a small family. It has a friendly infotainment system and comes standard with quite a ton of safety features and driver-assistance technologies. It is also fuel-efficient and drives smoothly across many paths.

How Long Will a Toyota RAV4 Last?

Toyotas are known to last long; the RAV4 is not exempted. A Toyota RAV4 that is properly taken care of can last over 15 years or 250,000 miles. RAV4s have above-average ratings on multiple auto review platforms and websites, including Consumer Reports, RepairPal, J.D. Power, and U.S. News & World Reports.

Why Is The Toyota RAV4 So Popular?

The RAV4 continues to prove Toyota’s legacy of building solid cars that are yet affordable across markets. It is a really decent ride with enough space/provision for up to five passengers. Toyota RAV4 is reliable and costs very low to maintain annually.