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Even the most technologically advanced and custom engineering can’t keep certain automotive problems from arising with your favorite makes and models. Take the Toyota RAV4, one of the most reliable and dependable automakers of all and consumer favorite SUVs. Even Toyota, synonymous with reliability, isn’t immune to mechanical and maintenance issues. 

According to reported repair and maintenance data, the RAV4 had some hiccups over the years. Here are the three worst Toyota RAV4 model years, along with prominent maintenance issues and details you’ll need to know.

1. The worst Toyota RAV4, from 2002, has the most problems overall

When you want to know the kinds of vehicle problems other Toyota owners have, you can find metrics and data from Car Complaints. And based on the Toyota RAV4 reported concerns, 2002 models had more than a few problems. In fact, it’s the 2002 RAV4 that has the most overall complaints of all the Toyota RAV4 model years. 

According to the Car Complaints reports, the 2002 RAV4 had more than 360 complaints about transmission problems and more than 100 engine-related issues. The remainder of the list spans a host of less-common complaints, like interior accessory problems, exhaust system failures, and electrical issues.

The most frequently reported concern involved problems shifting. There were 137 complaints from RAV4 owners at roughly the 97,400-mile mark. And estimated repairs average $2,250.

2. The 2007 Toyota RAV4 has one really big problem

The 2002 Toyota RAV4 might have the most complaints, but the 2007 model has the most reported problem of all. With 195 complaints, increased and excessive oil consumption is the most prevalent report, according to Car Complaints.

The average cost to fix this engine problem is $1,900. And the problem seems to present roughly at the 104,000-mile mark. So, while it’s not overly expensive, it is still fairly common and might be present in the used model you’re considering right now.

The most common solution for vehicle owners was to simply add more oil. But there were more than 20 reports of those who had to rebuild their engines altogether – a costly issue to work out.

3. The 2019 model has one expensive problem at low mileage

The third model year Toyota RAV4 is the 2019. Carn Complaints rates the 2019 model as the worst Toyota RAV4 because of higher repair expenses at lower mileage benchmarks.

RAV4 owners reported hesitation and lurching inexplicably at lower speeds. This transmission issue was reported by 57 vehicle owners. And the average cost to repair it is a whopping $20,000. The other nightmare is that those who reported this problem had only driven their cars an average of 3,000 miles.

Some of the common solutions included owners performing a software update while others had their dealership reprogram the engine ECU. But there is now a Technical Service Bulletin from Toyota addressing the issue. It’s TSB T-SB-0107-19, titled “Hesitation On Acceleration from a Slow or Rolling Stop.”

So, while Toyota is one of the most reliable automakers and the RAV4 is a dependable SUV, these are three of the worst model years. And with any used vehicle purchase, do your due diligence to make sure you know the vehicle’s driving and ownership history.


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