Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Toyota RAV4 4x4?
As with any small 4x4, check carefully underneath the car for any signs of over-enthusiastic off-roading or drivers pushing the car beyond its relatively limited mud-plugging capabilities.
You need to check the floor pan and around the wheelarches for rust, too; even though they were well sealed at the time of manufacture, the youngest of this generation of RAV4 is now more than a decade old, so look carefully.
The radios can be troublesome, and many RAV4s have had theirs replaced under warranty, so check and make sure that it picks up the stations you want and that the sound quality is acceptable.
What are the most common problems with a used Toyota RAV4 4x4?
In spite of the age of the design, the Toyota RAV4 really doesn’t seem to have too much of a problem in the reliability stakes.
There is a recurrent issue with the speedometer not working, which is usually caused by water getting into the electrics and shorting out connections. However, this is relatively easy to fix.
The engine management light can also be come on and not go out. But again, the problem is usually quite minor – it’s generally down to a faulty air mass sensor or catalytic convertor sensor – but many owners seem to ignore it and wait for the bulb to burn out. It should come on and go off when you start the ignition, but if it doesn’t come on at all, be suspicious because there’s a chance other problems may have gone undetected.
Is a used Toyota RAV4 4x4 reliable?
This generation of RAV4 seems to be one of the most reliable of all Toyotas, which is really saying something.
You need to make sure that the D-4D diesel engine has had its cambelt changed every 60,000 miles, or the belt could snap. It seems that quite a few owners ignore this, assuming that, being a Toyota, the car will go on working fine, but if it breaks then expensive engine damage is quite likely.
You’ll also need to check the suspension at all corners to ensure that the dampers aren’t leaking – a tell-tale trickle of grease or oil on the springs or the bottom of the suspension arm is the giveaway. They're not too costly to replace, however.