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The words Toyota and avoid aren’t often seen together but if we’re honest, there are some years of certain cars, including the Toyota Rav4, that just isn’t as good as other, better, years. Have you ever read up on a vehicle, excited about it potentially being your next big investment, only to have someone tell you to avoid that car, brand, or year?
The Toyota Rav4 years to avoid are in the second and third-generation release of this popular compact crossover SUV. The most negative reports and complaints about problems in the Toyota Rav4 come from owners of the second generation which is years 2000 – 2005 as well as some grumbles from 2008 – 2009.
Although the Toyota Rav4 is one of the best-selling and most reliable compact crossover SUVs on our roads today, it has unfortunately had some minor downfalls. These downfalls haven’t been enough to stop this unstoppable vehicle from being bought by many and is still one of the most popular cars in the world.
Carry on reading below to get the best and worst years of the Rav4.
What Toyota Rav4 Should I Avoid?
If you’re in the market for a used vehicle and the Toyota Rav4 is on your list, rightfully so, you’ll want to know which years of the Rav4 you should avoid based on consumer reviews and reports and which years might be better suited to you.
As popular as the compact yet spacious Rav4 is, it has had some common issues in the past that have made people avoid certain years and trims to ensure they don’t suffer the same concerns.
According to Vehicle History, the second generation of the Toyota Rav4 averaged over 500 complaints per model in its second generation from 2000 to 2005.
Here are the years you should avoid when looking into buying a used Toyota Rav4:
Common Issues with the Toyota Rav4
Now that you know the common Toyota Rav4 years to avoid you might want to know why.
Most of the issues are similar and are easy enough for a garage to fix. The problem is that they can be costly and can see you out of pocket quicker than you can say the words “I still love my Rav4.”
Here are the most common issues found in each year of the worst Rav4 models to date:
The 2001 Toyota Rav4 had ongoing transmission issues that lead to transmission failure in multiple 2001 Rav4 cars around the world.
Owners complained that the Rav4 would lurch or hesitate and slip out of gear when at a slower speed or when slowing down.
2002 and 2003 might be the worst years for the Rav4 with over 258 transmission problem complaints, over 92 engine problem complaints, and 89 electrical issue complaints.
According to Car Complaints, if you’re looking for a vehicle with some of the most complained about transmission problems in the road, you won’t need to look any further than the 2002 – 2003 Toyota Rav4 models.
There were 160 listed complaints on Car Complaints in 2006 for the Toyota Rav4 which also puts this at one of the worst years for the Rav4.
Engine problems were the worst with 195 listed complaints while steering problems came in at second with over 41 complaints.
It might not sound that bad considering how many of these cars are pumped through the factory and onto our roads every year. But the problems didn’t stop there and there were also multiple issues listed with the following:
- Exhaust systems
- Interior accessories
- Body and paint problems
- Air conditioning and heating issues
And much more. Sounds like a frustrating car to own now, doesn’t it? It only gets worse in 2007.
Coming close to the so-far worst year of the Rav4, 2002, the 2007 Toyota Rav4 had over a thousand listed complaints with Car Complaints.
Mainly the engine saw the worst of the complaints with the main issue being excessive oil consumption. This followed on from the 2006 model and Toyota had not fixed the problem before releasing the latest Rav4.
Other engine issues included:
- Engine failure
- Cold start engine rattle
- Oxygen sensor failure
- Engine knocking
- Cracked head gasket
- Engine ticking
- Rough idle
The 2007 Rav4 had seven recalls and rightfully so with stats like this.
Other complaints about the 2007 Toyota Rav4 include:
- Steering problems
- Exhaust system problems
- Cooling system problems
- Transmission issues
- Suspension issues
- Windows and windshield problems
- Issues with brakes
- Fuel system concerns
And the list kind of goes on. We’re not entirely sure what happened at Toyota in 2006 – 2007, but the Rav4 was not an ideal car in those years, and we wouldn’t recommend anyone buy these years as a used car either.
2008 saw the complaints dwindle, but they were still there. 2008 saw a huge number of recalls, 14 to be exact, and around 872 complaints.
The complaints were all like those reported in 2007 which makes it clear that Toyota did not fix previous concerns and issues with the Rav4 lineup.
However, these issues don’t seem to have stopped people from buying the Rav4 and it was still an extremely popular car despite its many concerns and complaints.
The Rav4 upped its game after its numerous recalls and complaints in 2008 and there have only been some minor issues since. Until the release of the newest generation, the 2019 Rav4.
Car Complaints has the 2019 Rav4 listed as the worst year for the popular compact crossover SUV even though it has fewer complaints than previous years. The reason for this is the higher cost in repairs and maintenance which make the 2019 problems more than just a slight inconvenience or hassle.
There have been over 609 complaints listed for the 2019 Rav4 and again, a huge 7 recalls.
Yet again the main concerns are with the engine and the transmission.
Here are the main complaints about the 2019 Toyota Rav4:
- Hesitates and lurches at slower speeds and while slowing down
- Rough shifting
- Loud acceleration
- Excessive oil consumption
- Strong burning plastic smell
- Gas gauge never shows petrol as full
- Issues with the fuel system
- Parking brake malfunction
- Electronic stability control
And numerous other complaints made by owners, drivers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Admission (NHTSA). 2019 is another Rav4 we would not recommend you buy due to its various concerns and complaints that are costly to fix.
What is the Best Year for the Toyota Rav4?
According to multiple online vehicle platforms, the Toyota Rav4 2016 models are the best Rav4 cars by far and the latest 2021 Rav4 is a close second.
Any year not listed above as the worst years for the Toyota Rav4 would be a decent and reliable vehicle to add to your driveway or garage.
Toyota prides itself in safety and technology innovation and the making of a Rav4 is now a highly complex and thorough process that has safety, design, reliability, practicality, and durability in mind.
Although it has had some issues in the past, over the years the Toyota Rav4 has been redesigned and developed into something we can today call a reliable and trustworthy car. Minus the bad years of course.
The worst years for the Toyota Rav4 should not and do not damper the reputation of the Toyota Rav4 and it is still one of the best-selling and trustworthy cars on our roads today. Avoid the second generation, some of the third generation, and the 2019 years of the Rav4 and you can still get yourself an extremely decent and reliable Rav4.