The Worst Toyota RAV4 Years To Avoid: What Are The Major Issues?

Toyota RAV4 Years to Avoid

Everyone considers Toyotas to be highly reliable across most model years. Despite their reputation for reliability and low maintenance costs, some Toyotas do fall short.

Models from the early 2000s (2002-2003) and some from the 2010s (2013 and 2019) are known for issues like transmission problems and excessive oil consumption.

Consumers and automotive experts have noted these years as less desirable for buyers.

Key Takeaways

  • The worst years for the Toyota RAV4 were 2002, 2003, 2006-2008, 2013, and 2019.
  • These years for the model are linked to issues like transmission failure, whining noise from the engine, and steering problems.
  • The 2010 Toyota RAV4 is the best model year, along with other good years including 2004, 2005, and the 2020-2024 models.

Toyota RAV4 Overview

Worst-Toyota-RAV4-Years-To-AvoidBy 2019, the Toyota RAV4 had become the world’s best-selling SUV, with sales exceeding 10 million units worldwide. Since its inception in 1994, the RAV4 has seen numerous editions, variants, and generations.

RAV4 can mean either 'Robust Accurate Vehicle with 4-wheel drive' or 'Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive,' reflecting its versatility.

The Toyota RAV4's drivetrain options vary by model year, including seven-speed automatic transmissions and either V6 or I4 engines. The Toyota RAV4 offers impressive power across all trims and variants.

Overall, the RAV4 is a compact crossover SUV that combines affordability with a pleasant driving experience.

Which Toyota RAV4 Model Years Should I Avoid & Why?

Many praise the Toyota RAV4, but not every model year is a good buy, especially the used ones with high mileage.

Here are the Toyota RAV4 model years to avoid.

  • 2001 Toyota RAV4
  • 2002 Toyota RAV4
  • 2003 Toyota RAV4
  • 2006 Toyota RAV4
  • 2007 Toyota RAV4
  • 2008 Toyota RAV4
  • 2013 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 a lot 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, the stereo/infotainment system suddenly stopping working, Bluetooth connectivity issues, and the glove box being 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.

Which Toyota RAV4 Model Year Should I Buy?

Having covered the years to avoid, let's now look at the best model years to buy.

Below, we list the best Toyota RAV4 model years, selected for their superior build and features.

  • 2004 Toyota RAV4
  • 2005 Toyota RAV4
  • 2009 to 2012 Toyota RAV4 (especially the 2010 model)
  • 2014 to 2018 Toyota RAV4
  • 2020 to 2022 Toyota RAV4


The RAV4 is a popular car from Toyota, but you should avoid the years 2002, 2003, 2006-2008, 2013, and 2019. These years are known for issues like transmission failure, whining noise from the engine, and steering problems. If you want a RAV4, go with the 2010 or other good years including 2004, 2005, and the 2020-2024 models.


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.