Which Toyota Rav4 Years to Avoid and Why? (Explained)

Toyota is reputed for making reliable SUV cars for years and RAV4 has been their bestseller in recent times. The reliability score of 4 out of 5 tells a lot about Toyota’s trustworthiness. However, even with the bestseller models, they have their worsts and bests.

Some models (like 2006-2008, 2013, 2019) are prone to different defects and damages and those damages need very expensive repairs.

In this article, we’ll inquire into the Toyota RAV4 cars and their worst years which are worth avoiding. If you are to buy a Toyota RAV4 car, this is a must-read for you.

Toyota RAV4 Years to Avoid (List of Year)

RAV4 commenced its journey in 1996. So far there have been five generations of RAV4 with the latest one ranging from 2019 to the present.

The other four generations were 1st Generation (1996-2000, 2nd Generation (2001-2005], 3rd Generation (2006-2012), 4th Generation (2013-2018).

Each generation has some years when the models’ amassed myriads of complaints and you should avoid those. Years you should avoid goes as follows:

  • 1996-1997
  • 2001-2003
  • 2006-2008
  • 2013
  • 2019

What Makes These Toyota RAV4 Years Worth Avoiding?

1. 1996–1997 Years Toyota Rav4 Problems

The initial models of RAV4 had strong looks. But it lags behind in terms of safety issues. It has underinflated airbags which were problematic.

Another common problem with this old model was false catalytic converter alert which was also a problem with third-generation cars.

2. 2001-2003 Years Toyota Rav4 Problems

The third-generation cars were inundated with complaints in the first three years.

They had various problems that include frequent failure of air to fuel ratio sensor, worn-out steering rack, and issues with tire pressure.

But the most crucial problem was with the transmission that made them avoidable.

However, the later ones that came in 2004-2004 were upgraded and got rid of most of these problems.

Transmission Shifting:

The weakest spot in these cars was the faulty transmission. At high speed, the automatic transmission may not shift properly.

The ECM (Engine Computer) needed to be replaced with updated parts to solve this issue which may cost you a good amount. 

Engine problems:

In the third generation, RAV4 was upgraded with a 2L I4 engine. The engine struggled with improper acceleration and faced powertrain problems in the early years. 

3. 2006-2008 Years Toyota Rav4 Problems

3rd generation Toyota Rav4 cars received hundreds of complaints from the customers in these three consecutive years.

The complaints were mostly regarding engine and comfortability issues.

 Among these three years, the 2007 model was the worst.

Excessive Oil Consumption:

This was a constant complaint in every model from 2006 to 2008. Almost 15% of the complaints were about excessive oil consumption.

Sometimes the consumption reaches so high that the oil alert gets turned on.

Although the number of complaints lessened in 2008, the improvement was not to the satisfactory level. 

Steering Issues:

The main problem with these year models was the steering problem. The repair is also very costly. 

Other Issues:

There was also dissatisfaction about the car’s comfort and driving experience and exhaust problem. The design of the 2007 model was poor. 

4. 2013 Toyota Rav4 Problems

RAV4 showed some great improvements in the fourth generation. But the 2013 model came up with some issues for which we think it’s safe to avoid this one.

Although it got a perfect score in the reliability rating, the user satisfaction was down to 2 out of 5. That was due to the poor interior quality and bad ride experience.

There were also issues with fuel economy and a lack of trunk space. But the most problematic part is the safety issue.

Safety Problem:

Owners complained that their RAV4 sometimes sped up suddenly and did not stop even after pressing brakes. This is a serious issue as it directly hampers your safety. 

Oxygen Sensor Failure:

Another common problem is the failure of the oxygen sensor. The check engine light comes on as a symptom.

This failure can breed so many other problems like poor fuel economy, rough idling, and engine misfires. A pungent smell from exhaust also comes out due to this.

5. 2019 Toyota Rav4 Problems

This is one of the models from the latest generation. Unfortunately, the latest models could not satisfy the users that much like the fourth-generation ones.

However, it has minimal issues compared to the other models in the list. Poor owner satisfaction is the reason why it is here.

The complaints were against fuel system problems, lack of trunk space, noise while driving and some transmission problems also.

Overall, we do not recommend buying the 2019 RAV4 to stay safe.

Toyota Rav4 Which Years are Safe to Be Used?

In terms of being safe with the purchase, you can buy any model but the cars we suggested to avoid. However, if you ask for the best ones from RAV4 cars, you should go for the models of the following years.

  • 2016-2018
  • 2009-2012
  • 2004-2005
  • 1998-2000

4th generation cars from 2016-2018 had the best features so far. They received an excellent reliability score and the mileage was also greatly improved compared to the previous years. They did a great job with the exterior design and aesthetic also.

The 2018 model received a perfect reliability score from consume4 reports and an overall score of 88 based on the J.D power 100-point score. The 2016 model had almost the same ratings.

However, these models are not flawless. But most of the problems are minor which are common with any model.

The other models were also the best in their generation. They are worth the value. If you want to buy RV cars from those generations, you can go with them without any hesitation. 


Over the years, Toyota has reduced its shortcomings a lot. Their recent models have shown improvements and minimized the problems to a great extent. Still, no vehicle can ensure a 100% satisfactory rate.

The Toyota RAV4 cars also receive more or fewer complaints in every model year. Keeping that in mind you always should opt for the best and that needs good research over the car models.

The article has a good insight into the best and worst years of this model. So, go through the article before you decide on your preferable model.

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