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Toyota RAV4 pre-2006



  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    On any FWD without TC you can spin the tires in rain/snow when cranking the wheel under hard acceleration. AWD will make a difference.

    It has not been my experience that narrow tires are better in inclement weather, exactly the opposite. Wider tires are always better due to increased contact with the pavement. I do agree that cars with narrower tires have a softer ride.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    There's a thread from 2001 that says that at a given tire pressure and vehicle weight, you have the same area contact patch regardless of tire width.

    dudleyr "Tires, tires, tires" Nov 20, 2001 10:54am

    And another post of interest:

    hpulley4 "Tires, tires, tires" Jan 21, 2003 10:39am

    Steve, Host
  • petlpetl Posts: 610
    I does sound illogical, but narrow tires are better in inclement weather particularly in snow and ice conditions. Something I learned about 35 years ago. The less tire touching the ice and snow, the better the traction. I wish my memory was good enough to remember why.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Steve - I wish I could find the photos I've run across of different width tires taken on a clear plate from underneath. A picture is worth 1K words.

    Having grown up in the snow belt of NY with a couple of different cars my observations are as follows:

    1. Handling narrow tires.
    2. starting and stopping wider tires.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    My narrow Tercel tires seemed to do better in my 20 Anchorage winters than my bigger minivan tires did. Anchorage is nothing like Buffalo though (and a Tercel is nothing like a Caravan either <g>).

    I couldn't find any photos either, but I think I've seen them before. And the contact patch isn't static either and will change in various conditions (hard cornering comes to mind).

    There's probably some more info over in the Snow/Ice winter tires discussion.

    Steve, Host
  • 719b719b Posts: 216
    narrow tires have more weight per square inch to the contact point.
  • capriracercapriracer Somewhere in the USPosts: 855

    Tire contact pressure DOES change with width.

    To demonstrate: Let's assume you have several tires that have the same maximum load rating and are inflated to the same pressure. It turns out that these tires would have about the diameter overall diameter.

    Now load them to the same load. Does it now make sense that the narrower tire would have a longer footprint? No! The overall diameter's are the same, and the deflection is the same, why would the footprint length be different?

    Put another way, inflation pressure doesn't equal footprint pressure.

    Hope this helps.
  • petlpetl Posts: 610
    In simple terms, I believe you have it. Thanks for jogging my memory.
  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110
    To repeat what I wrote back in 11/01 (just a couple posts before the dudleyr post that Steve_Host linked us to above), the way the magazine (R&T? C&D? Autoweek?) article described it was as follows:


    A constant vehicle weight and a constant inflation pressure will lead to a contact patch that is the same area (total square inches), no matter what the tires' aspects are.

    The thing that varies is the shape or configuration of the contact patch (narrower/longer v. wider/shorter).


    And narrower/longer is better in the wet stuff because it has to fight its way thru less of it, and disperses it out to the side of the tire better than a wider/shorter tire.


    Net result: If you are more concerned about wet traction, the narrower tire is the better choice.
  • I agree. We love the car but get only 18-19city and 23 hwy. We have a 2004 Rav4 L type. I thought this is a little strange too.
  • Just got new 2005 L package two weeks ago.


    I like the car but the standard audio equipment sucks of course.


    I'm having the speakers replaced with MB Quart components in front and Infinity's in back. Also installing an Alpine XM-Ready Head Unit CDA-9833, and a four channel amp. The Good Guys will be installing this Sunday. No issues with replacing the factory equipment Im told.


    I am wondering if anyone can speak to the replacing the 215/70R16's tires with the larger 235/60R16's? If anyone has done this can they explain the difference in ride and handling characteristics? And can I keep my factory alloy wheels? The dealer gave me the Toyo Tranpath A-14's, which seem okay so far. However I may change at 15-20 K miles if the handing and ride is signifcantly better with the larger tires.


  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    My experience with 20 some odd years of driving in snow is this, I don't really care about the theoretical, here is the reality.


    In snowy conditions, starting and stopping go to wide tires, handling goes to small tires. Agreed hitting a patch of deep snow from a dry road is much easier to navigate with narrow tires. Getting out of a deep patch on a steep hill is much easier with wide tires.


    So since most of us don't drive around 24x7x365 in a foot or more of snow, wide tires are the better all-around choice.
  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110
    "So since most of us don't drive around 24x7x365 in a foot or more of snow, wide tires are the better all-around choice."

    For you, maybe.


    I agree with the first part, about not needing a tire for driving in the snow full time.

    But what about in the rain? Narrower tires are better for this too because they have to displace less water/snow than wider tires, as already explained.


    And the better dry grip that is provided by wider tires, that matters more to someone driving a vehicle at 9/10ths of its limits. Doesn't matter much to me in my everyday driving.


    As is often stated, all tires are a compromise.

    I'd rather have the benefit in the sloppy weather.


    Narrower tires are the better all-around choice for me.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    I forgot emergency handling. The wider the tires the better the skidpad, the better the handling in emergency lane change situations.


    To some, that may make a difference.
  • spleckspleck Posts: 114
    The conversation is 3 years old, but it ignores a number of factors, enough to basically make it incorrect. Only changing the width of the tire will not help. Changing the sidewall height (larger rims), using better materials (stiffer sidewalls), and better tread patterns (contact tread vs water channels, etc) WILL affect the contact area.


    In order for the contact patch to be the same regardless of tire width, all tires would have to be made of the same material and have the same sidewall height. Hence the original statement: "Wider tires don't have a larger contact area" is a very conditional one. Switching to a wider tire of the same material and keeping the same sidewall height (not ratio, actual height) will widen the contact patch and shorten it (even then, that ignores the fact that the tire will deform slightly differently due to its different shape and the tread pattern will probably be stretched width wise, but not shortened length wise).


    Stiffer materials will cause the tire to deform less, decreasing the contact area and increasing the PSI applied to the ground. A shorter sidewall will also allow the tire to deform less with the same result. These are probably the reasons that you want a wider tire when you switch to a larger rim and sportier tires: you're making up for the lost lengthwise contact with widthwise contact. Hopefully you will also realize that getting a "stiffer" (sportier, etc) tire may improve handling, but unless the tread is better, you will lose traction (due to smaller contact area) and therefore lose braking ability and be easier to spin the tires.


    If you still don't believe, use extremes to disprove:


    Assume that tire rubber is in fact rigid steel. In this case the contact patch over a flat surface is a line the width of the tire. This is regardless of the pressure of the air in the vehicle. A wider tire will have a larger contact area.


    Now assume that the tire rubber is similar to a balloon and is easily capable of elongation and stretching. At the same air pressure, the air will move to the top of the tire, elongating and stretching the tire leaving none at the bottom and allowing the rim to touch the ground. The contact area is only as wide as the rim, while the "tire" angles up from the edge of the rim.


    How about a bicycle tire? The actual rim would have to deform to make the contact area long enough to match a tire 10 times wider.
  • Finally got around to taking my wife's 2003 RAV4 2WD back to the shop for the dash-rattle which first started to mainfest itself a little over a year ago (I was hoping it'd go away... it didn't).

    The sound was registered and heard by both the Service Manager and examining tech.. The TSB dash noise-rattle kit was used to fix. On the way home, noise came back worse than ever in the dash. Took it back 2-weeks later and they applied a complete dash noise reduction kit per Toyota. They kept the vehicle overnight, took apart the dash completely to apply the foam-pieces

    and spacers. This seemed to have solved the problem as of yesterday. This work is covered under warranty and if recognized the dealership will fix-it (at least mine did). They did not argue or attempt to pass this off as 'normal', because it was clearly audible. Apparently this seems to be more of extensive problem with RAV's

    than Toyota wishes to admit. Don't know about the 2005's, but 2000's - 2004's have had the issue with the cowl/dash noise. My wife

    loves her RAV4, but the noise was driving her crazy. As frustrating as this is, I refrained from being confrontational with the dealership.

    Instead both times I used firm but soft(er) tones

    explaining the problem and that I would be disappointed if Toyota had this issue that couldn't be fixed... yada, yada. In this case positive measures prevailed and for now the RAV is noise-free from the dash. We even got a couple of coupons for free-oil changes thrown in for our patience.


    Actually, I'm disappointed that Toyota has not fixed the problem at the factory from the 2000 model-up, but at least this dealership didn't seem to run from the issue.
  • rav4urav4u Posts: 21
    I agree with you about the dash rattle. Why hasn't Toyota fixed the problem at the factory? That's pretty lame if you ask me. It's known problem for years that should be addressed and fixed before it reaches the consumer. It gives me the idea that Toyota doesn't care. My dash rattle was supposedly fixed and now is back with a bad squeak to go with it everytime I hit a small bump in the road. It's totally annoying. Did anyone find a fix for the squeal sound the RAV4 has? The dealers claim it's normal intake noise, but it wasn't there when I bought the RAV4. If it was I wouldn't have bought it.
  • My wife's RAV4 has been ultra-dependable to date

    other than the dash-rattle which is a major annoyance over rough surface roads. Ironcically, the dash rattle did not start immediately after purchase. I think my wife first heard it and then me about 1 yr. ago. Then is started to become more intrusive. I will admit that it seems to be worse during the colder-winter months.

    I printed off the cowl-rattle cure for the RAV4

    that someone had thoughtfully written, with pictures. I've filed it but may get it out just to review the procedures for the permanent-fix

    (aftermarket) fix that was formulated just in case it's needed again. Again, the final fix was

    a dealer applied complete dash-rattle kit from Toyota. I'll try and supply the kit number from the work order sheet next time I post.


    Admittedly my wife literally starts the car and within 5-mins. she's at work. Not too good for engine warm-up and carbon-deposit build-up. So at least once per week I take it for real warm-up

    for at least 1/2-hour or more on the freeway somewhere.
  • mcdawggmcdawgg Posts: 1,679
    Our '01 Rav had the dash (cowl) rattle, the dealer fixed it and it has been silent ever since.
  • rav4urav4u Posts: 21
    My 2004, started rattling at about 2000 miles. The dealer installed the kit and it was quiet for about another 1000 miles. Now it rattles on and off, but the loud squeak is there after every bump. At 2300 miles the charcoal canister failed, then the vent hose to the canister cracked a week later, the catalytic converter needed replacement after that and then the air mixture fuel sensor failed at 3300 miles. The squeal sound started at 400 miles and is still there. At 4500 miles now no new problems, but I'm disappointed with the RAV and wonder what will fail next.
  • escapenutescapenut Posts: 117
    As promised, here is the kit # that the dealer used to fix the complete dash rattle : 08231-00801, Noise Kit.


    So far so good on my wife's '03 RAV4 with the kit.

    It's been over a week now and seems to be working.


    The RAV4 has so far been good otherwise,; sorry to hear that some of you have had mechanical problems. You normally don't think of a vehicle

    assemble in Japan as having that many problems, but it does happen. I've got an '01 Ford Escape

    and don't have the rattles that the RAV had. But

    I've had other issues with my Escape too, but it's been a good vehicle so far for me.
  • rav4urav4u Posts: 21
    I'm beginning to believe that is doesn't matter as much where a vehicle is built as it did in the past. With widespread outsourcing and globalization, parts and other preassembled units can come from just about anywhere. It's pretty much the luck of the draw as to what you will get. This vehicle has more initial problems than my two last Chevy vans put together, yet my brother has an older RAV that has had no problems at all. I do believe that this dashboard problem is a lack of refinement by Toyota. It should have been addressed at the factory level long ago, not just passed off at the dealer level with a kit.
  • cbmortoncbmorton Posts: 252
    Two years ago I was very close to getting into a new '03 RAV4, but I soured on it after reading owner comments about the dash rattle. It was bad enough that the problem continued into the '02 model year, but when '03 owners posted that their RAV4s still had the rattle, it was a turnoff. Who wants to buy a vehicle knowing that it most likely has an annoying problem right off the showroom floor? A co-worker let me take his '02 for a test drive at the time and sure enough, his had the rattle. I believe he ultimately did get it fixed after at least two trips to the dealer.


    Only a month or so ago I did finally get a RAV4 as a second car, but it's a used 2000 4WD. Still surprisingly tight after almost 50k miles. Hope the '01+ ones age equally well.
  • mcdawggmcdawgg Posts: 1,679
    '01 Rav (very early production), 45,000 miles, had cowl (dash) rattle, completely fixed 3+ years ago, brakes were squeaky at 5,000 miles, Toyota issued a TSB and replaced them with quiet pads for free. The brakes were functioning perfectly, but were noisy. Note that consumer reports for the '01 lists everything perfect except brakes (see above) and body integrity (cowl rattle). Both these two minor problems (noises, not safety or driveability problems) were completely fixed with the TSB under warranty, and it continues to be a perfect vehicle.
  • yooper53yooper53 Posts: 286
    I've narrowed my choices to the Rav4 and CR5.

    I'd appreciate knowing what kind of real world Highway mileage you're all getting.

    Thanks in advance.

  • My daughter drives a 2004 RAV-4 AWD. Can traction be improved by buying better snow tires? (She misses her '99 Mountaineer which was great in the snow, but had terrible mpg.) I searched the site and didn't find anything posted. Does this mean that everyone's happy with their traction?

    Ned - Massachusetts
  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110


    My '01 RAV4 with the 2.0L engin, auto trans, AWD, has gotten 24.6 overall since 1,300 miles (now at 59,000). This is suburbs/highway, say 60/40, in a state with winter gas (penalty 2+ mpg, I've found). I have a light foot.

    All day on the interstate, I top 28 mpg.

    It was e.p.a. rated 22/27, I think. I'm satisfied.


    The new 2.4L RAVs are e.p.a. rated about the same, I think, even with the bigger engine. Getting more efficient, I guess.


    Good luck.
  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110
    I'm satisfied with my '01 RAV's traction, currently with Yokohoma Geolanders, and previously with OEM Bridgestone Dueller 687 H/Ts. But I don't see a lot of snow, just occasional 2-6 inches.


    Sure, better tires will give better snow performance, if you're willing to pay for it.
  • rblelandrbleland Posts: 312
    If you live where there is a lot of snow, buying 4 snow tires makes a lot of sense in terms of increased traction and safety. Amortized over 4 or 5 winters, the cost is not that bad. Just be sure to take them off before you're running on dry pavement a lot.
  • My wife has a 2002 FWD. We just bought four Bridgestone Blizzaks winter tires. She still stays home when it snows. I read, I think in Consumer Reports that a AWD should be sufficient in snow. A friend of mine is a ER doctor. He has a AWD AND four snow tires since he has to go to work no matter the weather.


    The four blizzaks INCLUDING the wheels cost about $600. I think worth it. Bought them from, which I recommend.
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