2019 Toyota RAV4 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Fuel system, steering, and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

When a family requires a new crossover SUV, it is only natural for them to consider the 2019 Toyota RAV4. For many years this model has been one of the top choices in the Toyota lineup. This newer model claims to be “Engineered for Versatility,” making it even more appealing. Yet, it appears that the engineers were on a lunch break while creating the fuel system, powertrain, engine and electrical system because they are extremely defective.

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Problems with the Fuel Propulsion

The fuel propulsion system produces the thrust needed to push the vehicle forward. When this system fails to work correctly, drivers experience a myriad of problems. With this RAV4, it doesn’t take long to find a long list of owner complaints.

Here is one posted to Edmunds. “Purchased 2019 RAV 4 on Feb 9th with 10miles on it. Last client to leave the dealership that evening. Drove home, car stood parked all day February 10th. Turned the car on February 10th with engine light on. Took back to dealership, and told the whole fuel tank had to be replaced. A week after servicing, car came to a complete stop, and shut off in the middle of the highway. Had to get towed back to dealership. Was told the fuel gauge was not accurately showing gas amount, and the car ran out of gas. Fixed again…. currently driving waiting for another problem to occur. DO NOT PURCHASE 2019 RAV 4. All stories about engine and problems are true. When contacted Toyota HQ they don’t care about customer service. They refer you to the state lemon law policy. And send you off wishing u luck. Thank god it’s a lease, and the crappy car will go back to them in 3 years. They lost my business along with everyone who hears my story.”

With almost 50 manufacturer communications available, there’s nothing listed regarding the fuel system. Just as the service department told this customer, all the company will do is wish the owner luck. They aren’t willing to look at the problem or begin making corrections. This is one area they aren’t looking to show off their engineering skills. Instead, customers are simply referred back to the lemon law policy.

2019 Toyota RAV4 Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Fuel/propulsion System
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Power Train
Air Bags
Service Brakes
Vehicle Speed Control

Problems with the Powertrain

Along with the fuel system, the powertrain is also responsible for propelling the vehicle forward. The main component of this system is the transmission, which also appears to be giving owners trouble.

Just look at this Edmunds review, “I have a 2019 RAV4 with only 2000 miles and when I accelerate the transmission slips. I almost got into an accident because I went to pass someone and the damn car didn’t move!! When accelerating from a standstill the transmission bucks and makes noise when in traffic. The engine is also load. Very disappointed in the performance of the vehicle.”

In Service Bulletin #T-SB-0065-19, Toyota discusses an abnormal groaning and buzzing sound when traveling between 20 to 30 mph. It appears to mainly occur on Limited and Adventure trim levels with the AWD system. In this bulletin, the technicians are instructed to replace the transfer case electromagnetic clutch. It sounds like the engineers were so busy creating such a versatile system that they neglected to put in a decent powertrain.

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Problems with the Engine

What’s the most critical aspect of any vehicle? Generally, it’s the engine. That’s because this valuable component acts like the heart of the car. Without a properly running motor, nothing else is going to operate correctly.

Again, we step back to Edmunds to see what customers have to say about the RAV4’s engine. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to see a long list of complaints, including this one. “Lease to buy the brand new 2019 Rav4 and all was good until the 4th day after purchase. I leave for work at 7 am and when turning on my car – it wouldnt start. A message on the dash saying “Engine Stopped – Shift To P”. My car was still in park so I have no idea what else to do. After an hour of trying it finally starts. A week later it happened again and I was able to start the car after 90minutes. The next day, 12th day of having the car it happens again, finally call a tow guy to jump start my car and I finally decided to bring in the car. Thinking this would only take a few days…. boy was I wrong. As of right now,  Thursday February 28th the dealership services still have my car 3weeks and won’t be ready for another week which will be a total of 4 weeks.”

While this specific problem isn’t addressed, there are plenty of other engine concerns discussed in the service bulletins. #T-SB-0107-19 talks about how some engines produce a slow roll or rolling stop in certain circumstances. To repair this, the ECM needs to be calibrated by the dealership. Even then, the bulletin only states that this will “reduce the potential.” It doesn’t even guarantee a complete repair. Apparently, the engineers aren’t striving for perfection – just close enough works for them.

Problems with the Electrical System

In every system on a vehicle, the electrical system is running in the background keeping everything going. Even with the features inside the cabin, the electrical system must be top-notch, but that’s not the case.

One Edmunds claim states “The JBL premium sound upgrade is a big failure. The connection does not work. Most irritating is the system looses its memory when the car is started causing it to forget all presets. Toyota has been waiting for three months for an upgrade to fix this. A known problem that they will not inform customers about?  Irritating at a minimum. It’s a lemon at this point.”

According to Service Bulletin #T-SB-0146-19_Rev owners are complaining about numerous problems. There could be flashing screens, a “Destination Assist Unavailable” message, intermittent blank screen, disconnecting Bluetooth, trouble with radio playback and an inability to answer calls while connected. If the manufacturer is acknowledging all of these problems, just imagine what really is occurring. Sitting in the RAV4 is an “adventure” in itself.

Problems with the Fuel System

When it comes to the electrical systems, today’s high-tech features help everything run smoothly. Between the advanced safety technology and the many amenities located in today’s vehicles, owners should have everything they need for an enjoyable ride. Sadly, that’s not the case with the 2019 Toyota RAV4.

One Edmunds review says this, “The electronic safety features are intrusive.  When I rented it I thought it was strange they were disabled.  I turned them on then realized why they were turned off.  The lane keep assist is fighting with you all the time.  So I turned those safety features off.  The apple car play also took 30 seconds to recognize my iPhone XR.  Tried my wife’s iPhone, same thing.  So you have to sit and wait for the system to recognize your iphone before you can start using your maps, etc.”

There are more service bulletins regarding issues with the electrical system in the RAV4 than any other component. Aside from that, there is also a recall related to the backup camera. In NHTSA Campaign Number 19V576000, owners are told that the backup camera doesn’t activate because of a damaged electrical connector. This leads to an increased risk of a crash. Toyota is willing to replace the backup camera and audio display unit to fix the problem. To be able to claim that this vehicle is Engineered for Versatility, one would assume that all of the major systems were functioning as expected, but that’s simply not the case. Who were these engineers, because it’s likely that monkeys could have done a better job?

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Toyota pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones

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