Introduced in 1994, the popular compact crossover from Toyota, the RAV4, is now in its fifth generation and with blistering sales. Over 300 thousand units have been sold thus far in 2022 alone. Such numbers are a testament to Toyota’s unrivalled reliability, value, and after-sales customer support. This is the brand’s best-selling vehicle and, unsurprisingly, a capable SUV.
The RAV4 is also well-placed amongst its peers, with owners praising the high power output (151kW/202 hp in non-hybrid versions) and impeccable fuel economy from the small displacement 4-cylinder engine. The company hasn’t shied away from innovation either, with the Hybrid versions of the car offering even better value for money, more power, and class-leading mileage.
Older vehicles have the current model’s favourable attributes, with cars capable of running more than 200 thousand miles without reporting any issues. Resale values remain high, and owners are reluctant to let go of their vehicles.
The Need for Upgrades
Like all cars, though, some minor problems have been reported. Notably, the need to make engine upgrades. While Toyota RAV4 parts for engine are easy to find, assessing faults and determining which you need replacing is a different task altogether.
Transmissions in early variants of the third and fourth-generation cars coughed up low-speed transmission judder, a fault the company addressed free of charge with ECU upgrades, servicing, and/or transmission replacements. Some second-generation RAV owners have complained about steering issues, and accelerated battery drain has plagued a few of the newer models.
Faults and defects, though, are very low for the high volume sold. Engines and engine components remain rock solid and within service intervals. Oil changes are recommended at 10 000 miles, engine coolant should be inspected at 15 thousand, and engine and cabin filters should be replaced every 30 000 miles. The same number applies to spark plugs.
Replacement Engine Parts for the RAV4
First, let’s have a look at regular maintenance parts. Owners should abide by recommended service intervals and use Toyota-approved replacement parts.
Misfires, difficult starts, rough idling, vibrations, and poor fuel economy are tell-tale signs of faulty spark plugs. Toyota uses iridium Denso plugs in its 2.5L 2AR-FXE I4 and A25A-FXS 4-cylinder engines and the 2GR-FE 3.5L 6-cylinder.
Iridium plugs offer optimal strength, performance, and durability compared to platinum or copper spark plugs. They can improve cold-starting performance, enhance ignition efficiency, and smooth firing at all engine speeds. They also guarantee optimal throttle response and acceleration. The spark plug lifespan is prolonged with reduced electrode erosion (the iridium tips being six times harder than platinum). And the superior anti-fouling properties limit carbon buildup and reduce voltage requirements meaning less stress on electrical components like coils and batteries.
High-quality iridium spark plugs suitable for both engines in the RAV4 are also manufactured by plug and automotive parts giants NGK and Champion.
Air, Fuel, and Oil Filters
Air filters cleanse the air that will be combined with fuel for combustion, preventing contaminants and foreign bodies from reaching the engine. Filters can and will get dirty and eventually clog up, reducing airflow and hindering performance. It negatively impacts air/fuel ratios, robbing the engine of available power. Past this state, contaminants increase wear in the combustion chamber and can cause severe damage to crucial engine parts.
RAV4 filters are of the flat panel type and are simple to replace in all model variants. Buyers can find Toyota-branded filters or get uprated paper filters from Denso, Fram, Purolator, and other brands. All have a custom fit, but ensure the filter suits the model year.
Fuel filters clean out particles like dust, debris, and rust before reaching the fuel pumps, injectors, and combustion chamber. Fuel filters should be checked every two years and replaced at 50 thousand miles to ensure optimal fueling and engine performance. Signs of defective filters are misfiring, stalling, loss of power, grinding noises from the fuel pump, increased fuel consumption, and more. Most RAV4 fuel filters are of the in-tank type, and replacing one would mean visiting a shop.
You should change the oil filters with the engine oil roughly every 10000 miles. The first indication of a clogged filter is the drop in oil pressure, meaning less of the oil reaches the engine. This can increase friction and metal-on-metal action, raising oil temperatures. Compete engine seizure is what soon follows.
Milder symptoms are pronounced oil leaks, weird engine noises, reduced performance, and increased fuel use. Periodically checking the oil levels and the condition of the oil is one way to ensure that your RAV4 runs as it should and that the filter is replaced when and if needed.
Regular servicing will also remove any neglected signs of engine damage and wear and increase engine longevity and performance. Coolant should be inspected yearly and replaced every second year or roughly 30000 miles. Timing chains appear in third and fourth gen cars and should be inspected yearly and changed at 100 thousand miles. Timing belts feature in the newer cars and are rated for a little over half that or 60000 miles.
Specific RAV4 Engine Issues
While the RAV4 is reliable, owners have reported issues with the cooling system and defective water pumps, leading to leaks and overheating. These RAV4 parts engine problems occurred as early as 25 000 miles and were more prevalent in the early fourth-gen cars. While these parts should last 100000 miles, a defective water pump can wreak havoc on thermostats, radiators, timing belts, head gaskets, and engine internals if not dealt with on time. Pumps can be sold on their own or commonly packaged in timing belt kits along with belts, tensioners, and the necessary installation hardware.
Increased Oil Consumption
High mileage early third-gen cars (2006/2007) suffered from excessive oil consumption. It could be from half a dozen reasons, from defective oil pans, blown gaskets, worn seals to loose drain plugs. More serious are issues with piston oil rings and owners reporting burnt oil.
Engine Exhaust and Emissions Problems
Some 2012-2018 cars suffered from excessive exhaust emissions due to faulty oxygen sensors and EVAP system parts designed to capture leaking vapors in the fuel tank. Owners reported smells in the cabin. Similar symptoms were caused by clogged catalytic converters in 2006- 2012 models.
You can buy parts for your RAV4 through Toyota’s website, official service centres, and partners or authorized Toyota parts dealers. Compare prices and get the part number and vehicle identification number (VIN) printed in the windscreen cutout or the front nearside door ready. Parts are widely available and reasonably priced.