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Toyota RAV4 (pre-2006): Problems & Solutions

steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
This discussion is for learning how to solve issues with 2005 and earlier Toyota RAV4's.

Please see the 2006+ Problems discussion for the new generation RAV4.

Steve, Host


  • electricdesignelectricdesign Member Posts: 681
    I've been looking at RAV4's and I don't see the Rear Bumper. I noticed some that seem to have a small add-on rear bumper. I saw one the other day, going down the road with the rear hatch door smashed in all the way to the rear tires.
    Where is the Rear Bumper?
  • mayerstmayerst Member Posts: 3
    Can anyone help with these two codes? In advance Thanks

  • typesixtypesix Member Posts: 321
    There is no rear bumper in pre 2006 models unless you count the two small corner pieces as bumpers.
  • mercaramercara Member Posts: 291
    1133 Air Fuel Sensor Circuit Response Malfunction
    1135 Air Fuel Sensor Heater Circuit Malfunction (Bank 1, Sensor 1)
  • fifthwheel21fifthwheel21 Member Posts: 2
    I noticed I am not the only one with the problem. I got the car back from Toyota Dealer in Hamburgh NY. They claim car is operating great, scans all good. They do not notice any hesitation. I told them look again. Now they flush the trans and replace air filter with diagnostics $200.00 Car hesitates as I leave the parking lot. Does any one have any knowledge of the problem and what is being done. I have on several occasions pulled out into traffic and had what feels like third gear the car could not get out of its own way. Some one in another message mentioned the "AIC"?
  • electricdesignelectricdesign Member Posts: 681
    You explanation does not give us much to go on. The "hesitation" and the "feels like third gear the car could not get out of its own way" are two entirely different symtoms. Can you explain further in more detail?
  • punkin1punkin1 Member Posts: 2
    My 1999 Rav-4 is hesitating on acceleration. It seems as though the car has stopped. When "pumping" the accelertor, the car suddenly acts as though it has fuel to go on.
  • jammin0925jammin0925 Member Posts: 1
    My 2004 Rav4 makes a high pitch rattling sound between the speeds of 40-60mph. The dealership replaced the MAF Sensor, but the sound is still there. It sounds like a metallic rattle and is louder later in the day (I assume due to increased heat). Any one know what this could be?
  • electricdesignelectricdesign Member Posts: 681
    How hard have you looked for this problem? Do you just hear it, and take it to the dealer and ask them to look? You need to listen under the hood and under the car, and find out WHERE the noise is coming from. Is sounds like this could be a number of different things, sometimes the exhaust system has heats shields that may come loose and rattle, or the exhaust may sometime touch against something and make the rattle. Or it may be something else, you have got to listen close to hear where it is coming from.
  • markbcmarkbc Member Posts: 4
    I have a RAV4 2004, automatic w 4wd and I notice the hesitation when the engine temp is cool. When first starting out with a cool engine I will press the gas and there will be a lag of perhaps 2 seconds before the engine responds and accelerates. This is not uniform and seems to disappear when the engine reaches normal operating temp, but it is a problem that I have had almost since I bought the the car (new). I did mention it to the dealer once who said there was nothing wrong with the car. . . :cry:
  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Member Posts: 1,110
    Did you ever get this problem sorted out?
  • drobsondrobson Member Posts: 1
    when you take out the dip stick smoke pumps out how can i fixit
    thank dave
  • electricdesignelectricdesign Member Posts: 681
    Replace the engine
  • badgtibadgti Member Posts: 3
    i have the same car and the sam problem and its distroying the cat i replaced one new and used an after market on the on under the car now the cat get cherry red what did you find out or did you
  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Member Posts: 1,110
    Sounds like you are taking the oil dipstick out with the engine running.

    If true, why would you do that?
  • badgtibadgti Member Posts: 3
    no im not touching anything just normal the car also has a hesation under acceleration its dumping fuel in the car the cat were eating away before fuel psi was good no leakage by injectors
  • badgtibadgti Member Posts: 3
    why the rav 4's dump fuel into the cat not from O2 sensor not from tps and not fuel pump system dumps fuel in even after disconnecting both sensors
  • 04rav404rav4 Member Posts: 1
    My 04 RAV (85K miles) has a rattle - Mechanic believes it is a bad bearing on belt tensioner - He also suggested replacing water pump at the same time, Is this typical?
  • olavolav Member Posts: 3
    Ckeck the MAF sensor placed at the air filter. Clean it it and try the car . :)
  • olavolav Member Posts: 3
    Try to cahnge the chain tensioner. That will solve your problem. It is not the waterpump.
  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Member Posts: 1,110
    Just an FYI:

    After 6 yrs and 81,000 easily-driven miles with me as the only driver, dealer services, and no towing, I had auto trans troubles in my 2001 AWD RAV4 (purchased new).

    Dealer said a trans replacement was necessary,
    and put in a re-manufactured unit.

    Out of standard warranty (5yrs/60k miles),
    I am now out of pocket US$3,660 plus state tax.

    Obviously I'm not happy about it.
    I now have a different view of Toyota reliability and durability.
  • azearguyazearguy Member Posts: 1
    On my 04 Rav 4 the vsc and check engine light comes on. The dealer said just wait until you start the engine four times, and it goes away. Can't this be fixed? It also hesitates some times and I have to push the acc. down, and it then jumps.
  • 3canoers3canoers Member Posts: 1
    1997 Rav4 engine blownMy 1997 rav4 engine blew while climbing a pretty good mountain in western North Carolina. There was no warning light, no smoke, and I had personally changed the oil 4 weeks before. I bought it about 5 months ago from a private party. I have no reason to suspect they were selling a lemon. Any ideas why this engine blew? Any ideas on how to avoid it happening again to the rebuilt engine I am about to pay a lot to put in it? Any ideas on where to obtain reliable rebuilt engines?
    Thanks to any one who can help shed light on this mystery.
  • electricdesignelectricdesign Member Posts: 681
    One of the best places to buy a rebuilt engine from is Jasper, find them on the internet. They do quality rebuilds with 3 year warranties.

    One possibilty of why the engine blew is that it could have become oil starved going up the incline. The incline could have tilted the engine enough so that the oil pick up started sucking air.

    If you are going to do that kind of stuff, you might look into some specialized stuff, like a deeper high capacity oil pan with a deeper oil pickup tube.

    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • lrose1lrose1 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Toyota Rav4 with less than 66,000 miles on it. Today my check engine light came on and I went to Auto Zone to have them check it. The code came back P1135, Air/Fuel sensor heater circuit response (bank 1 sensor 1). The Auto Zone employee told me that Toyota, by law, has to keep the sensors current for five years beyond the model year and they should replace it for free. Is that true?
  • becstarbecstar Member Posts: 1
    I just bought a 2004 Rav4 about a month ago. Love the car so far, except for the smell of the interior when I drive. I first noticed it after driving the car for about an hour-a strong smell of something like exhaust I think. It seems to be coming from the air vents. I have tried using the interior only circulation to prevent sucking in exhaust from cars in front of me, and the smell persists. It seems to be worse when I am climbing hills or on a longer drive. Any ideas?
  • hainesrav4hainesrav4 Member Posts: 1
    Help! My keyless lock mechanism on my 2004 Rav has started acting up; when you hit unlock, it locks. When you hit lock, it does nothing. When you turn off the car and remove the key, all the doors lock. This morning, I hit the remote to see if it cleared up (after rain, I thought a short?), and it started locking and unlocking repeatedly on its own and the headlights came on.
    My car is alive!
    I can't find any info in the manual; is there a fuse to check, or a wiring diagram to see if there's a short? Surely it can't be the battery in the remote. It does the same thing with both remotes.
    Any suggestions? :confuse:
  • andrelaplumeandrelaplume Member Posts: 934
    I have heard a cheaper replacement for automobile cabin filter would be to purchase a Filtrete ac home filter (good ones are about $10 for a 16 X 24” filter). Depending on the size of the filter in your car, that $10 can make 4 – 6 cabin air filters. The biggest challenge is cutting and fitting into the housing for your vehicle…some have a plastic housing that make this easy, some do not. Can anyone see a downside to this? Any possible way it could harm the car? Any safety issues? I have allergies and would like to replace the filter more often but at $20 a pop it’s ridiculous. Thoughts?
  • tpinmatpinma Member Posts: 1
    Similar to suvshopper4 (comment #22), I recently had automatic transmission problems in my 2001 4 cyl RAV4, which is approaching 100K. The car was having problems shifting. First, when I shifted from P to D, the engine hesitated a few seconds before shifting. Then, as I sped up and the car changed gears, at one point RPM's got up to over 5000 before shifting to the next gear (I think that was going from 2nd to 3rd gear, it was around the 30 mph mark).

    I took it to my local mechanic who I think does good work and is trustworthy. After looking at it they said there was a leak in the seal and this caused the transmission to slip and would cost $3000 to repair (I may not be stating the problem correctly - my mind was blown away by the cost). After making that repair, they encountered a problem with the computer (powertrain command module?) that prevented the transmission from working properly. So they had to replace that for another $1200! They think the computer problem caused the original transmission problem, and they said this has been a not-uncommon problem with RAV4s.

    So, I don't know if I got screwed by the mechanic, because maybe if they had just replaced the computer up front, the original transmission may have gone back to working fine. Or, if this is a computer problem Toyota is aware of and should be issuing a recall for. Either way, I'm out almost $5K. If I had known that going in I probably wouldn't have had the repairs done.
  • cowboymccowboymc Member Posts: 1
    I am a orginal owner of 2001 with 156,600 miles on it. Starting hearing noise from engine compartment. Turned out I had to replace water pump. Posting this so people can compare what problems arise and when.
  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Member Posts: 1,110
    My sympathies, tpinma.

    I have read, on a RAV-specific site, that the Transmission Control Module is one cause of RAV tranny problems. Some people say they have had the TCM replaced (~$1,200, I think, same as yours), and their problems ended.

    If I understood correctly, the TCM is part of the Engine Contol Module, located on the firewall behind the glovebox.

    In my case, the invoice for the re-man tranny work did not reference the TCM, so I suppose they did not replace it. And a year later, no return of the problems.
    Fingers crossed, since the re-man warranty was for just one year.

  • mdeveaumdeveau Member Posts: 3
    I have a 2002 Rav 4 L series, bought recently from a good friend who gets factory required maintenance, etc every year...very anal fella

    Anyway, I discover (after problems with NEW tires) that rear alignment must be completely redone. (needs rear lower control arm and support arm, bushings, bolts and adjuster plates, PLUS new tires must be replaced). Toyota serviceman believes it came from the factory this way, but dealership who has serviced it over the years says it has never had an alignment done. I've done TWO front alignments in two weeks. I see in these posts that this is a problem Matrix owners are dealing with...anyone see this on their RAV4? I do not have $2000 to do these repairs and am pretty p.o'd. Friend says he's never heard of this problem.
    If we don;t repair then we will be buying new tires at least once a year.
  • mdeveaumdeveau Member Posts: 3
    Sorry...guess I should have put this in the previous message title (#33)
  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Member Posts: 1,110
    I never had an alignment done until just recently (2001 AWD RAV4), when a 4-wheel alignment was included as part of the 90k mile dealer service.
    Never had any uneven tire wear, either.

    Hope this helps.

  • msjwpricemsjwprice Member Posts: 1
    i have a 2001 rav 4 love my car until last few weeks transmintion trouble. i have spent 2300.00 and drove it 2 days same problem took it back and now its the computer. IS there anyone to call with toyota alot of message on this is about computer problems. and my bank account is empty now. my rav has over 100k on it but its paid for and i really want to keep it. :sick: :sick:
  • sbgirl3sbgirl3 Member Posts: 1
    This exact same thing just happened to me!! I am so appalled; I have not yet paid for the ECM to be replaced, but I'm going to have to because I need my car back for work. I am SO appalled that this has happened to so many people and it is not yet a recall. I had to take a loan out to pay for these repairs, I feel completely robbed by Toyota. I am not going to give up until something is done. I could not be more furious.
  • markbcmarkbc Member Posts: 4
    Sorry, never followed up on this site.. .

    I was abroad (with my RAV4) I did not have much time to work on the problem with the local mechanics. I did ask the local (overseas) Toyota dealer to see if they noticed hesitation, but they did not. My 2004 RAV4 was a new model there, although starting in 2007 the RAV4 has become popular there.

    My solution was simply to continue to drive it and factored in the hesitation. Only once in a while was the hesitation pronounced enough to bother me much: usually on those occassions when I needed fast acceleration for traffic purposes (avoiding cars, people animals etc...), or on those occassions when when I switched to another car (including my office Toy Landcruiser) and did not see the same lag (press gas pedal count to one, two sometime up to three before feeling the car respond by accelerating). The effect was less frequent when the car engine was warm/normal operating temperature, but it also occurred when warm.

    My milage was low --driving only about 2,800 miles per year in (mostly) medium to heavy city driving.

  • foxy45foxy45 Member Posts: 1
    Hi, can anyone please help me???
    I got Rav 4 2.0 GX Wideboy/MAX (1995) engine 1,998 cc, petrol automat
    The problem is i can't get it running. Battery has gone dead and it seems to have messed up the imobiliser and it wont start. I have had the jump leads on it but it wont start it turns over ok but thats it. A friend of mine said that the imobiliser might have affected the ecu...

    What do you think? Can you help me? Really like this car...

  • julesisme1julesisme1 Member Posts: 1
    My problem is a little different....my RAV has only 50k miles and am told it needs a new tranny. I just had the fluid drained and replaced (it was black), and also there are metal particles in the tranny. The mechanic also says it's burned and basically blown out (omg!) and I'm freaking a little. I have no symptoms, though...no shifting probs or any lights going on...yet. Otherwise, the car runs like a champ. Does this scream DEFECT to anyone else? I'm going to get a 2nd opinion but am expecting the same result. Any opinions as to a diagnosis? Pls help!
  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Member Posts: 1,110
    I would not replace the tranny if there are no symptoms.

    It cost me US$3,600 plus tax to have the dealer put in a remanufactured unit, but my RAV tranny made the vehicle undriveable. Major slippage and seriously rough shifting.

    Good luck with your second opinion.

  • arupparupp Member Posts: 2
    Hello everyone,

    I would really appreciate some help if someone could lend it. I own a 2001 RAV4 with 91,000 miles on it. Recently it started making a noise that three mechanics cannot seem to agree on. Here is the description:

    The Noise:

    The car is making a relatively loud high-pitched hissing noise that sounds like it could be either (a) air sucked through a system incorrectly or (b) a piece of metal lightly scraping against another piece of metal.

    The Conditions:

    The car makes the sound only when it is (a) idling (AC on or off) and (b) when the gas pedal is being pushed after it has been not touched (i.e., when accelerating) or when it is coming back to that position (e.g., when I let it go because I am going downhill). In other words, the noise is not there - and definitely not simply overpowered by engine noise - when the gas pedal is pushed down (except for the first few millimeters).

    The Analyses (so far):

    One mechanic thought it was the tensioner or associated belt but replacing both the tensioner pulley and the belt did not fix it. Then he did not know. Another mechanic thought it might be the injection system but was not sure either and suggested living with it for now. One Toyota mechanic thought it was the tensioner at first but then thought it might be air. He later concluded that it was the throttle body that needed to be replaced for 1500 dollars.

    However, the second mechanic could not believe that they could be sure about this - he thinks it might simply be their best guess and merely a "broad attack fix" so to speak. All mechanics seemed to agree, though, that there is nothing dangerous happening and that the car would not be damaged if I ignored the noise. As a scientist, it drives me nuts not to know what it is, though, and of course I am afraid that I will have to spend 1500 dollars one day as we simply cannot afford that with our young son right now.

    I am not sure whether this makes sense but if anyone could help I would appreciate it!

    Thank you very much!
  • fifteenkeyfifteenkey Member Posts: 5
    A 2001 RAV4 I bought my daughter in 2006 has been diagnosed as needing both an ECM and a transmission. My Service Rep said, "I called my Toyota Rep on this and they're going to pick up the parts as a one time thing." Of course I'm still looking at over $2,000 in labor. The car has 86,000 miles. I read on another board that this combination problem is pretty common. It seems Toyota is acknowledging the problem to some extent, but short of initiating a recall. If they do a recall on this in the future, can I get my $2,000 back?
  • coco9coco9 Member Posts: 3
    The passenger side rear tail light burned out on my 2004 RAV4 Sport. Went to my manual for instructions to remove and replace. The bulb was not where shown in the manual. Located the outlet, but was not able to get it out. Seemed blocked by side metal. Anyone else had to replace this bulb? Thanks for any and all help.
  • rav4bobrav4bob Member Posts: 1
    The Check engine light appeared and AutoZone read the error as P0171. A second code was P1133 which points to an Air/ Fuel Sensor circuit response ( open or short circuit or poor electrical condition).

    60 miles ago we had the ligth come on and the Toyota service replaced the EGR valve. The light re appeared driving out of the Toyota dealer's shop and they brought it back in for some connection to the tail pipe. The car gets less than 30 miles a month on it.

    Can anyone tell me what I can expect at the dealer's service tomorrow?
  • trosenbergertrosenberger Member Posts: 1
    Can someone help me? my 2001 Rav4 all of a sudden, has NO power. Check engine has been on for awhile, and Autozone says its the cat converter. It ran fine, and they said not to worry about it. Now that it isn't running right, I checked the tailpipe, and NO exhaust is coming out when Idleing. Is it the cat converter, and how big of a job is it to replace it?
  • candygugocandygugo Member Posts: 1
    HELP!!Well I am planning on buying a Used RAV4, but by looking at your commemts I am frightened by what you say about yours. So I need help, from experts like you, Is it really worth buying a used RAV4? If so, What year? How many miles should it have? What should I check for? I would be extremely grateful if you are honest, and sincere when replying. Its my first time looking (in the process of buying) a car, so I need all the help I can get.
  • mdeveaumdeveau Member Posts: 3
    My RAV4 is 2002. It's been my only Toyotaa (I drove Ford Taurus x 3 for 10+ years). According to it's recent Toyota check-up, it's in pretty amazing shape. Both myself and it's previous owner are on the road a lot, so I basically live out of it. It gets its regular check-ups, whether I can afford it or not. At 170,000 miles and 8 years of Maine winters, it's held up pretty well. There have been little things, but nothing to make me never trust a Toyota again. I do wish they were a little less pricey.

    As for the recent recalls, I personally believe Toyota is taking responsibility and putting things right. They will hopefully learn their lesson of never sacrificing the details to advance business expansion. The media has simply got a bone they can't let go of.

    Have you looked at what KIA and Hyundai have to offer? Their new car deals are pretty amazing and far less pricey than Toyota and Honda. We recently bought two new KIA (sedans) in our family and the info on KIA's quality/service is very good (they are owned by Hyundai). Just a thought.

    Hope this helps!
  • markbcmarkbc Member Posts: 4
    I have a 2004 RAV4 Automatic and I have about 36000 miles on it driving in Washington DC, Hanoi Vietnam and now California. Overall it is ok. BUT...
    The gas mileage is not so good (20 city, 22 highway). The maintenance has been ok, no major problems --but I do have two complaints.
    #1. Almost since puchasing it new in 2004 there has been a lag in acceleration. press the gas count one-two and THEN the car accelerates Dealers claim there is nothing wrong with that, but it is not even consistant. Sometimes --usually when the engine is warm and running for a while- there is no lag and other times I have a noticable pause between press and response. This is a problem if you drive in crowded city traffic and conditions changes in seconds. I have seen no clear good fix for this -others have mentioned it, and there is one part that I could pay to replace (a computer module whose name escapes me at the moment) for ~$1,800 or $2,300 but I am not going to try that -non guaranteed action.
    #2. Quality is not so hot. Once in a rain storm and driving in about 18 inches of water my right front tire went into a pothole of about 10-12 inches. This bent the rim of the tire (no other damage) and since I was driving less than 10 mph (really!) I was disappointed that an all-wheel drive small suv can be so easily damaged.

    finally, it is a bit noisy when you drive over 60. Not that I do that much, but when on the highway I notice the wind noise is quite a bit louder than other cars I have owned or dirven.

    I won't buy another RAV4 and am not so hot on Toyota's "nope...there's no problem with it." approach to individuals like me who are not perfectionists, but do think there are sometimes problems even with new cars ;-(

    When I have driven this 10 or 12 years (I am sure it will last that long --it does have that much quality), I will buy a different brand -maybe Hyundai or even Honda (but Honda's are quite pricey for what the provide ).
    Good luck! &

    hope this helps!
  • eosinseattleeosinseattle Member Posts: 9
    anyone know if the 05 or 04 Rav4 with auto trannie was sold in a 6cyl or supercharged in any way?
  • typesixtypesix Member Posts: 321
    Only 4 cyl for those years. Starting in 2006, 6 cyl became optional.
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