Skip to Content

Toyota Rav4 Locking: Does It Lock Automatically?

Toyota loves fancy features. But what they’re more in tune with is their safety features. One of the safest specs invented for cars has been the automatic door locking system. So, if you’ve ever been worried that one of your kids is going to accidentally open the car door and go flying out on the highway, you no longer have to be so nervous about that happening when you own the Toyota Rav4.

The Toyota Rav4 has an automatic door-lock function as a standard feature in all trims. The automatic locks are linked to the shift gauge which locks when the vehicle is driving at a specified speed limit. When the vehicle is shifted back into Park (P) the doors automatically unlock again.

A common question for automatic door lock systems is what is the point? Believe us, we asked too when we weren’t too sure about this feature. But as it turns out, it has some benefits, and we’ll go through them all with you below. Keep reading to find out more about Toyota’s shift-linked automatic lock/unlock feature.

Does the Toyota Rav4 Lock Automatically?

The Toyota Rav4 has what’s called a shift-linked automatic lock/unlock feature Available as a standard feature in every trim from 2019 to 2021.

Every Rav4 trim also comes with either a remote key-less or smart key system which drivers can use to remotely lock and unlock each of their car doors including the liftgate.

Rav4 owners with a smart key system have access to the automatic lock and unlock features but Rav4 owners with the simple remote FOB do not have this feature.

  • The LE and the LE Hybrid are the only two Rav4 trims with a standard remote keyless FOB
  • All other trims have a smart key FOB

Each of these remote keys also includes a panic button function for scaring off possible criminals, alerting others in the area that you need help, and also for those who find themselves a little lost in the car park and can’t seem to find where they parked their car. Don’t be embarrassed, we’ve all been there!

To activate your panic alarm, hold the panic button down for one-two seconds. To deactivate the alarm, press any other button on your smart key.

There are numerous automatic lock and unlock functions on the Toyota Rav4 and we’ll go through how to operate each one as well as how to adjust the system to match your preferences.

How Does the Shift-Linked Automatic Lock/Unlock Feature Work in the Rav4?

The shift-linked automatic lock and unlock feature is an automatic door locking system that works when the car is driving.

Once everyone is settled in the car and you’ve reached a speed of 12mph, every car door is automatically locked. They will unlock again when the car is put into park (P).

Toyota along with various other car manufacturers has added this feature as a safety element for numerous reasons.

Here are some of the safety concerns and benefits of automatic lock and unlock doors:

  • Police say that driving with locked doors might help to keep you safer in an accident
  • Locked doors keep the people inside a vehicle safe in forceful and possibly harmful situations (e.g., road rage)
  • Children have been known to pull on door handles mid-drive, opening the doors and exposing themselves and other passengers to danger
  • If doors remain locked in the event of a car accident, the car absorbs the impact better which prevents passengers from being thrown out of the car
  • Doors are automatically unlocked if airbags are deployed in an accident
  • Quick and easy access to your car

You can change the automatic unlock system so that instead of the doors unlocking when you shift into P, they only unlock when the driver pulls the handle of the interior driver’s side door. This will unlock all doors in the car so everyone can exit when the driver is ready.

This system can also be shut off if the driver chooses too and if you don’t want to take it to your local dealership you can simply do it yourself (please note, this may not work for every Rav4 trim and we recommend taking it to a dealership):

  • Ensure your shift lever is in park and all doors are closed
  • Turn your car on
  • Push and hold down on the driver’s side power door lock until the dome light flashes
  • The flashes indicate the mode the auto-lock/unlock system is in.
  • To turn off the shift-link connection and disable the automatic door lock, push the button until the light is flashing twice to indicate “mode two”
  • Mode one will switch this function back on

How Does Toyota’s Smart Key System Work?

The smart key system is standard in some of the upper trim levels of the Rav4 and is fairly simple to use.

Just by carrying the smart key on your person, (e.g. pocket, purse, bag) when you touch the lock sensor at the back of the door handle your car door will automatically unlock.

To unlock all the doors, you need only hold the handle for two to three seconds.

When exiting the vehicle, to lock all passenger doors, the driver needs to touch the lock sensor on the upper part of the exterior driver-side door handle. Once you’ve heard a single beep and the hazard lights blink a couple of times the car is locked.

Not sure if you have the smart key system? Check out this YouTube tutorial by Toyota Dealer Steven Welch to see if your Rav4 FOB matches the smart key fob. Steven also goes through how to open and lock the 2019 Toyota Rav4 XLE without using the buttons on the smart key.

Afraid you’re going to leave your keys inside the car?

Another thing not to be embarrassed about is locking your keys in the car, again, this isn’t an unusual situation for many of us to be caught in!

With the Toyota Rav4 smart key system, the Rav4 and the smart key team up to make sure this does happen.

If you happen to leave your key inside the vehicle, when attempting to lock the car using the door handle lock sensor, your car will sound an alarm and the doors will not lock. Nothing too loud, but loud enough to grab your attention so you know something isn’t quite right.

How Do I Turn Off the Automatic Lock Feature on the Toyota Rav4?

You can reprogram the settings of your automatic locking doors so that they are more accommodating to you and your family.

You can switch your automatic door lock settings on and off with three different options:

  1. Your smart key

Watch this video to modify the automatic door lock settings from your smart key.

Press and hold the lock button then hold down another button on the FOB for five seconds while still holding the lock button. This should change the settings.

  • Your touchscreen multimedia system

To adjust the settings from your multimedia system, follow these easy steps:

  • Press the menu button on the screen
  • Select setup and then settings
  • Scroll until you reach the vehicle setting
  • In vehicle settings, you will find and tap on vehicle customization
  • Select door lock settings
  • Select your preferred door lock/unlock settings
  • See a Toyota dealer

You can simply take your car back to the dealership or to a local Toyota dealer by making an appointment and getting a professional Toyota dealer to set up your preferred settings.


Another thing to keep in mind with the Toyota Rav4 automatic door lock system is that if you press the unlock button on the FOB and no car doors have been opened, the doors will automatically re-lock after a short period.  

Toyota has won numerous awards over the years for their safety technology in cars and the Rav4 is no exception. Automatic door lock systems are becoming standard elements in 21st-century vehicles and we highly recommend this feature on the Rav4.