What kind of problems does a Toyota Avalon Hybrid usually have? In this blog, we’ve outlined all the most important things you should watch for when you’re in the market for an Avalon Hybrid. However, let’s first start with a quick answer:
Most commonly, the Toyota Avalon Hybrid has problems with the failure of the power brake assist, the ABS actuators, or the vehicle speed control system; all issues make braking harder, more dangerous, or unexpected. Furthermore, 2013 – 2019 models have had recalls for malfunctioning airbags and seat belt tensioners. Finally, the 2016 – 2019 models have echo problems during phone calls.
However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the rest of the article, we’ll discuss every problem in detail. Furthermore, we’ll let you know how to identify it, fix it and how much it costs to fix. Read on!
1. Problems With Braking
Toyota Avalon Hybrids have several problems with regulating speed and with braking. We’ll discuss them all in this article. However, one of these problems in pre-2015 models of the Avalon Hybrid involves owners having trouble with braking. This can be due to an unresponsive brake pedal, a brake pedal getting stuck, or suddenly having a tough time pressing the brake pedal.
Camry’s have had the same problems. In the case of the Camry, this problem was caused by problems with power brake assist or a failing ABS actuator. In the case of the Camry, Toyota has issued recalls for specific models, but they never did for the Avalon Hybrid.
If you experience hefty braking, it’s most likely a problem with the power brake assist. In this case, the vacuum pump that’s part of the braking system will need to be replaced, which will cost $700. If you experience an unresponsive brake pedal or a delay during braking, it’s likely a failing ABS actuator. Replacing this element will set you back between $900 – $1,100.
2. Unexpected Acceleration
The vehicle speed control has been a problem on several Toyota for years. In an earlier article, we discussed the problems of a Camry Hybrid, and we already learned that this car also has problems with vehicle speed control. Further research taught us that the Corolla and the RAV4 also have vehicle speed control issues.
The problem here is that the car will suddenly accelerate or won’t accelerate when it needs to. Toyota has never done actual research on the situation and has never issued a recall. However, we know that they settled several court cases regarding the Camry, which involved the same problem. In these cases, lawyers argued successfully that the electronic throttle-control system software of the car is at fault.
Luckily, this is a problem that doesn’t happen too often; however, it’s a severe and risky problem when it does happen. Furthermore, we don’t know the true scope of the problem since Toyota hasn’t investigated it. However, we know that models manufactured before 2015 have reported this problem much more often than younger models.
3. Coolant Leaking From The Engine
At the beginning of 2020, Toyota recalled Avalon Hybrids of the same model year because of problems with coolant leaking from the engine. This was caused by porosity in the engine castings, which may result in cracks. These cracks would then allow coolant to leak internally and externally, which would increase the risk of fire.
Toyota issued a recall for this in April of 2020, and the solution involves inspecting the engine and replacing it (including the engine block) if necessary. This is done free of charge. We saw similar problems with Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid as well.
4. Seat Belt Pre-Tensioner Malfunctions
In 2020, Toyota recalled millions of vehicles because of malfunctioning seat belt pre-tensioners and airbags. This included Avalon Hybrid vehicles made between 2013 – 2018. The problem was caused by a faulty ECU (the main computer of the car) in the event of a crash.
The solution was the installation of a noise filter between the airbag control module and its wiring harness, which was done free of charge. If you’re looking at an Avalon Hybrid of this period, it’s a wise decision to see if the recall has been carried out.
5. Poor Visibility Due To Chrome Elements
Throughout the generations, owners of the Avalon Hybrid have complained about poor visibility during sunny conditions. This is because many Avalon Hybrids have polished chrome elements on their dashboard. However, it turns out that these elements reflect the sun very heavily, which blinds owners during driving. There’s no real solution to this, and the only option is to test it out for yourself.
6. Unexpected Braking Because Of Pre-Collision System
Avalon Hybrid, made between October 19, 2012, to October 27, 2015, had a recall in 2015 because of unexpected braking. The pre-collision system that some of these vehicles carried would identify steel plates on the road as obstacles. This would cause unnecessary and unexpected braking increasing the risk of a collision.
Certain parts of the pre-collision system were replaced free of charge, which fixed the issue. In total, this recall involved around 30,000 cars.
7. Lack Of Auto Shut-Off
The lack of automatic shut-off in all Toyota’s manufactured before 2020 has, as it turns out, been a risk for owners. There have been cases where people have left the car running in their garage. This is because people have, and still are, getting used to keyless cars, which can leave the car running.
Most automakers have introduced automatic shut-off of the car at the beginning of the 2010s. This is a wise decision because leaving your car running can result in carbon dioxide deaths. However, Toyota has failed to implement this solution for a long time, which means it only implemented it in 2020 (after the death of another two people).
It turns out that especially senior citizens are at risk here. That’s because they’ve had metal keys their whole lives. Combine this with a garage door going down, the silent engines we use today, and maybe some hearing loss, and you can see why this is dangerous.
8. Airbags May Not Deploy As Expected
at the end of 2018, Toyota recalled specific 2019 models of the Avalon Hybrid (this model year was already being sold at the time) for an issue with the non-deployment of airbags in a crash. The ECU of the airbags would detect a fault during the self-check it performs at start-up. This would deactivate the airbags causing dangerous situations.
The solutions involved updating the software of the ECU unit since the fault that it detected wasn’t a fault at all.
9. Echos During Bluetooth Calls
One problem focused on more recent models of the Avalon Hybrid is a loud echo during a hands-free phone call. According to owners, this problem was quite severe in the 2016 – 2019 versions of the Avalon Hybrid, rendering the whole system useless.
The problem was so bad that Toyota even issued an instruction video on minimizing echo during these phone calls. The main takeaway from this is that you need to adjust the phone’s audio all the way up while adjusting the audio of the head unit down to below 45.
However, since this ‘tip’ involves picking up your phone while driving, it does take away from the whole hands-free aspect. Luckily, this problem was resolved in 2019 models that were manufactured later in the year and models from 2020 onwards since these have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
10. Soy-Based Wires
This is not necessarily a Toyota problem, but Toyota Avalon Hybrids have had issues with their soy-based wires. This is because Toyota (like many other car manufacturers) started using soy-based wiring in their cars at the beginning of the 2000s.
However, it turned out that many animals, such as rats and other rodents, like to use soy-based wiring for their nesting. Therefore, they would chew through the wires of the Avalon, resulting in the malfunctioning of whatever wire they were destroying. There are multiple ways to fix or prevent this problem, from using peppermint oil to storing your car inside.
Lawsuits have been filed against Toyota; however, these have been unsuccessful. This is because the courts have judged that soy-based wiring is not a manufacturing default, and instead of that, rodents and other animals are something we’ll have to deal with in life.
What’s The Worst Year Of The Toyota Avalon Hybrid?
After all this, you’re probably wondering what model year of the Toyota Avalon Hybrid is best and which ones you should avoid. First, it’s a good idea to establish that the Avalon Hybrid, overall, is a very decent and reliable car that can last you 240,000 – 270,000 miles on average, click that link to see our research on the Avalon.
However, if there’s one thing our research has taught us that the older the Avalon Hybrid is, the less reliable it is. Therefore, we would say the following:
Toyota Avalon Hybrid manufactured between 2013 – 2015 are best to be avoided. These models have problems with unresponsive braking or difficult braking, as well as problems with the vehicle speed control, which causes sudden acceleration.
This is on top of the other problems that most models have, such as soy-based wires and the numerous recalls the cars have had concerning the safety of the airbags.
The best models of the Toyota Avalon Hybrid are the cars manufactured after 2015. However, if you opt to go for a 2016 – 2019 model, you’ll have to deal with the echoing of the Bluetooth connection during hands-free calling. If you want a 2020 model, make sure it has been recalled for coolant leaks if it was part of the recall.
Finally, although the transmission of the hybrid version of the Avalon is really solid, other versions of the Avalon do have some transmission problems to be aware of. Click that link to read an in-depth article about these problems.
Wrapping things up, being aware of common issues with the Toyota Avalon Hybrid, such as the power brake assist, ABS actuators, or the vehicle speed control system, can equip you with the knowledge needed for a safer and smoother driving experience.
Understanding these problems, knowing how to identify them, and having an idea of potential repair costs all contribute to making a well-informed purchase decision or ensuring proper maintenance of your Avalon Hybrid. Just like you wouldn’t hit the road without knowing the right type of fuel for your ride, you shouldn’t make a big purchase without knowing what common problems other owners have reported.
Whether it’s a recall issue or an annoying echo during phone calls, being forewarned is being forearmed. Here’s to secure and educated ownership of your Avalon Hybrid! Safe travels.
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
Read more about our fantastic team on our about page!