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When it comes to building vehicles, automakers know that sometimes they get it wrong. On the flip side, not every model is going to please everyone. There almost certainly will always be a complaint or two for each new line. However, when buying a used vehicle, it’s typically best to first take a look at past ownership experience and reviews. When it comes to older model Toyota RAV4s, there’s one glaring problem that doesn’t go unnoticed.

What the RAV4s are doing right

Toyotas are notorious for being a hearty brand, and many RAV4 owners praise the longevity of their vehicles. Overall, many reviews cite how great the SUV is on fuel efficiency, tons of driver assistance features, and its smooth ride.

It also has bragging rights for increased cargo space, with its redesign for 2019. While the newer models are doing well among the experts, some of the older model RAV4s were attracting more far more negative attention.

The problem years for the Toyota RAV4

For the RAV4, there were a few model years that earned more notoriety with problems than others. In taking a look back, most complaints came for the 2006-2008 models.

  • In 2006, the SUV issued over 300 technical bulletins and had 11 recalls.
  • For 2007, the RAV4 issued 14 recalls, had four investigations, and over 300 technical bulletins issued.
  • In 2008, it was much of the same with 14 recalls and 319 technical bulletins.

The #1 complaint of all

Many of Toyota’s RAV4 problems over those few years, came from various transmission issues, and steering problems. However, one critical problem prompted thousands of claims — the engine.

This hearty little SUV that lasted for miles and miles was burning and leaking oil. Some of the most common solutions suggested for those issues included replacing seals and pistons. In some extreme cases, vehicle owners had to replace their engines entirely.

The class-action lawsuit

In August of 2011, Toyota issued an official technical service bulletin about the oil-burning engine problem. They cited those Toyotas within the 2006-2011 model range that had the 2AZ-FE engine might experience oil consumption. By then, it was a little too late for some consumers. A class-action lawsuit was drafted against Toyota, for defective engines.

Is it really that big of an issue?

Burning a little extra oil, especially at a higher mileage range, to some is a common side effect. However, for these engines, on these RAV4s, the consumption was far more pronounced. Owners saw their pressure lights come on early on. Some reported engines burning a quart of oil every 1,000 miles or so. That kind of loss can cause engine failure in a moving vehicle.

Doing your homework first

Not all Toyota RAV4s have these engine problems. In fact, the 2019 SUVs are so reliable, they’ve been voted Best Compact SUV for Families award. If you’re not buying a brand new RAV4, just be prepared to do your homework on the used models.

It’s a smart move to buy used, and typically the dependability of the Toyota RAV4 means you’ll be driving them for years. Reported complaints shouldn’t keep you from considering them all together. Knowing about potential issues, particular to a year or mileage range, can help ensure you’re buying a safe and reliable used SUV.

Toyota, more often than not, gets it right. It builds quality vehicles with top safety and reliability ratings. The RAV4 is no exception. But, as you would with any new purchase, checking the reviews and common problems before you buy, can keep you from joining the ranks among the critics, or paying a fortune in avoidable repairs.