What kind of problems does a Toyota RAV4 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 a RAV4 Hybrid. However, let’s first start with a quick answer.
The most critical problems of the RAV4 hybrid are loss of stability control and brake assist, coolant leaks, and failing suspensions. These problems diminish control over the vehicle and increase the risk of crashes and collisions. The issues mentioned earlier along with drained batteries and defective fuel tanks are problems primarily found in the 2019 to 2020 model years.
That was the most straightforward answer possible and it’s enough to get you started at the dealership. In the article below, we’ll discuss every problem in detail. This includes identifying it, fixing it, and how much it costs to fix. Read on!
1. Loss of Stability Control and Brake Assist.
Toyota’s 2019 RAV4 had a recall to fix the loss of stability control and brake assist. Stability control uses some components from ABS and Traction Control systems to prevent the vehicle from skidding, and brake assist helps fully activate brakes in an emergency. With these systems failing, the likelihood of severe or fatal injuries due to collisions increases significantly.
The loss of stability control and brake assist can be traced back to a failing brake booster pump. A deformed part within the booster pump causes an electrical connection failure resulting in multiple dash lights illuminating. What’s interesting to note here is that these braking problems already occurred in the 2017 model year but that these were never recalled.
If you’re in the market for a 2017 or 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, it’s best to check if the brake booster pump has been replaced. Toyota had a recall for this issue, and dealers would inspect and replace the brake booster pump free of charge if needed. If you had to change the brake booster pump on your own, it would cost you anywhere from $300 to $1250.
2. Battery Drain And Electrical Problems
Drained batteries are a problem that started with the 2017 Toyota RAV4 hybrid and have continued in one way or another in other model years. There were complaints and discussions on many forums, such as RAV4World and CarGurus, about cars that wouldn’t start after being left for mere days in the parking.
In most cases jumpstarts were required every time the problem presented itself. In other cases, the battery was declared dead multiple times and needed to be replaced. In some cases, there are even reports of fire because of an exploding battery. The NHTSA is currently still running an investigation on this particular issue.
The RAV4 hybrid uses a conventional 12V lead-acid battery to start. The issue of excessive battery drain is most likely caused by a software bug. A system left running in the background when the cars are parked could drain the batteries in just a few days.
On the other hand, the issue of the exploding battery that catches fire hasn’t been resolved yet. For this, the investigation of the NHTSA will have to shed more light on the matter.
3. Coolant Leak
Toyota recalled a number of its hybrid models, including 2019 – 2020 RAV4 hybrids, to inspect the engine block for cracks or defects. Coolant leaking through these cracks could cause engine stalling, leading to accidents and crashes. Other issues experienced by the coolant leak could be internal mechanical damage and overheating shown by engine smoke or noise.
If this problem aggravates, you might witness your engine overheating, hear squealing sounds from your engine (this is because of the serpentine belt slipping from the coolant), and see white smoke from under the hood. A coolant leak is the most likely culprit if you notice any of these problems.
It was reported by Car & Driver magazine that the recall was primarily to inspect the vehicles. They expect to repair much fewer vehicles; if a repair is required, they will replace the engine block completely free of charge. We saw similar problems in the Avalon as well.
4. Failing Suspensions
A recall was made for failing suspensions in 2019 and 2020 RAV4s, including RAV4 hybrids. The suspensions might fail because the front arms could come loose due to a manufacturing defect that made the arms weaker than required. Another likely cause of failing suspension might be rough driving habits.
This would result in a loss of control over the RAV4 and significantly increase the risk of an accident. This problem was explicitly more rampant in the 2006-11 make of the Toyota RAV4. The automakers recalled the car three times to rectify this problem.
This problem primarily stems from improper tightening of the nuts for adjusting rear wheel alignments, causing rust to form on suspension arm threads. The recall replaced the suspension free of charge. It’s best to check if your RAV4 hybrid is a part of this recall and if you’re getting a 2019 or 2020 RAV4 hybrid, check to see if the required replacements have been made.
5. Fuel Tank Defect
Many consumers complained that they were unable to fill their fuel tanks completely. This problem started in the 2019 model, which has a fuel capacity of 14.5 gallons but, in most cases, is unable to store more than 11 gallons. This dramatically drops the advertised 580 miles range by 140 miles or more- no matter what type of fuel you put in your RAV4.
Toyota is aware of the issue and states that it is caused by a defective fuel tank shape that prevents a full refill. Toyota has now rectified this problem by changing the shape of the fuel tanks in the latest models.
The issue affects a small number of hybrids from 2019 to 2021, so if you’re interested in getting a RAV4 hybrid from said years, it’s best to check if it can get a full refill.
This problem was also the subject of litigation. RAV4 hybrid owners went to court to rectify this problem. After several months of court hearings, the automaker agreed to provide an Extended Customer Support Program to all eligible members, including free repair of the fuel tank issue.
6. Fragile Windshields
Cracking windshields seem to be a big problem in the RAV4 hybrids. Although windscreen cracking isn’t usually a mention-worthy problem, it is for the RAV4. There are reports that the RAV4 utilizes a special windshield and that even in replacing the windshield, there is only one option to avail.
This special windshield seems to be more fragile than other windshields since there have been multiple complaints about needing to replace the windshields 2-3 times within the year for new RAV4s. Most consumers complain that there was no significant debris that caused the cracks; many claimed that the cracks developed without anything noticeable hitting the windshield.
Replacing the windshield will cost you anywhere from $800 to $1100 and we’ve seen this same problem in other Toyota vehicles like the Prius Prime.
7. Soy-Coated Wiring
Soy-Coated wiring has become a common issue for most brands, including Toyota. Most automakers switched to soy-based coating for their wiring because it was more biodegradable and so more eco-friendly. Although it’s better for the environment, it’s also better for the automaker as these soy-based coatings are cheaper than their plastic counterparts.
The problem with these soy-based coatings is that they attract rodents which then like to chew on them and use them as nesting material. This could cause an array of problems, any system that utilizes wires accessible to these rodents is at risk of failing. This has become quite the problem since there is no easy solution, and it’s a problem found in most vehicles by most automakers.
There are some simple steps to include into your routine to try and catch these rodents before they cause an expensive problem. This includes regularly opening the hood and looking for signs of rodent activity, looking for shredded pieces of wire where you park your cars, and cleaning out all the food in your car.
What’s The Worst Year Of The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Toyota RAV4 Hybrids are very reliable cars that should last for at least 200,000 miles and could even last over 300,000 miles. Nevertheless, we wanted to give you an idea of what model years of the RAV4 hybrid to avoid.
The worst years of the RAV4 hybrid would have to be 2019 to 2020. Most of the problems faced by RAV4 owners are found in these model years. This includes issues like drained batteries, which require constant jumpstart, and fuel tank defects that prevent full refills; these problems don’t have any easy fixes, and consumers usually learn to live with them.
Many recalls are also focused on these model years, so you’ll have to worry about replacements and dealership visits. Recalls found in 2019 to 2020 models are fixes for the failing suspensions, coolant leaks, and loss of stability control and brake assist. In general, other major components like the transmission are considered reliable.
All other model years of the RAV4 hybrid are excellent options as they have Toyota’s great reliability and don’t share the annoying recalls or problems of the 2019 and 2020 models. Some units of the 2021 model have a fuel tank issue that prevents full refills; this limits the range by 140 miles or more. It is best to watch out for these units when getting a 2021 RAV4 hybrid but other than that; there should be no significant problems.
Understanding the most common issues of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, including stability control loss, brake assist difficulties, coolant leaks, and suspension failures, is a crucial aspect of vehicle ownership.
With this knowledge, you can more effectively navigate potential problems, whether you’re making a purchasing decision or maintaining an existing vehicle. While the RAV4 Hybrid does present certain challenges, particularly in the 2019 to 2020 models, being informed prepares you to confront these challenges directly, ensuring a safer and more reliable driving experience.
His interests in cars, motorcycles, and machines led him to the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore where he is currently a mechanical engineering sophomore.
His future aims include the development of an energy-efficient prototype vehicle for the Shell Eco-Marathon competition and getting a Master’s Degree in Automotive Engineering from Germany.