2020 Toyota RAV4 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Excessive battery drain, fuel system, electrical, steering and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners


2020 Toyota RAV4

The 2020 Toyota RAV4 is an SUV that continues to gain popularity among enthusiasts. Even the automaker claims that you can use this vehicle to “seek out the adventure in every day,” but owners are finding that the adventure isn’t worth the cost. This SUV tends to suffer from a faulty engine, defective steering and suspension systems, a glitchy electrical system and trouble with the fuel system.

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Problems with the Dead Battery – Draining

Imagine leaving your brand new 2020 RAV4 parked for a couple of days only to come back and try to start the car and nothing happens because of a dead battery. Well that is exactly what appears to be happening to several owners.

Here is one of several NHTSA complaints mentioning the issue: “Two days of not driving and no power to car brought to dealership they said i was dreaming of things and bought it home then two days later it happened again”

It is clear that something other than just leaving the lights on is causing these batteries to drain but Toyota is not acknowledging the issue for the time being. Perhaps Toyota feels it’s a dead issue just like their batteries.

Problems with the Engine

Arguably, one of the most vital components of any vehicle is the engine. If this part isn’t working right, driving can become miserable.

That’s what is seen with this Edmunds review. “Known problem with Mass Air Flow Sensor.Had Rav4 one day after driving home from dealer. Check Engine Lite Return To Dealer came on 40 hours after owning car. Towed to nearest Toyota Dealer. Told by service rep this is a known problem, no part in stock. Engineers trying to figure out why.Been in dealer service dept longer than in my driveway. Told could be weeks or months.”

No new car owner wants their vehicle to sit in the shop longer than at their home – what a disappointment. However, there are even bigger issues occurring with the engine on the RAV4. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V064000 states that these vehicles suffer from an engine coolant leak. This is a problem with more than 40,000 vehicles. If the coolant leaks, it can cause the vehicle to stall or start an engine fire because of damage to the motor. To repair the problem, Toyota must replace the engines due to cracks in the castings that are allowing fluids to leak. This is an expensive problem that never should have occurred and certainly causes many owners to undergo an “adventure” they don’t want.

Problems with the Steering

The next major issue seems to be occurring within the steering system.

Another Edmunds customer states, “With the steering issues – what I have noticed that the car will randomly veer to one side or another as if a tire is flat or the alignment is out. Fun fact – when I bought the care it was out of alignment in the front end! I have now had two alignments done on the vehicle and it is STILL happening. I drive flat roads and haven’t even hit pot holes to cause that to go out of alignment. Lane keep assist randomly tried to jerk me off the lane one day while driving on the interstate (brand new pavement and lines with nothing else for the computer to track – almost got in a wreck because of that) – I was holding the wheel and it just jerked hard to the right out of my hand. Still trying to figure all this out, two dealerships haven’t been able to figure out why this is happening.”

Sadly, there is yet another recall related to this system. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V373000 states that water could enter through the power steering gear box cover leading to a loss of power steering assist. If this occurs, owners need to use additional force to try and control the vehicle. Hopefully, owners have been working out their upper bodies in preparation for this event.

Problems with the Suspension

Along with the steering system, the suspension is also vital to creating a safe ride.

Here is one NHTSA complaint worth mentioning. “The contact owns a 2020 Toyota RAV4. The contact stated that upon purchasing the vehicle, the power steering was loose and became difficult to maneuver the vehicle while driving at various speeds. She also stated that the steering wheel pulled to the left while driving at various speeds. The vehicle was taken to [dealership] on three occasions where the alignment was adjusted. However, the failure persisted. The contact then took the vehicle to[dealership] where the vehicle was diagnosed with a missing front toe link. The vehicle was repaired however, the failure persisted. She then took the vehicle back to [dealership] for the second time where the mechanic manually adjusted the steering wheel. However, the failure persisted. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. Upon investigation, the contact linked her failure to NHTSA Campaign Number 20V286000 (Suspension). However, the VIN was not included. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 60.”

The recall being referenced talks about the front lower suspension arms having cracks, which can result in the arms separating from the front wheel assembly. If this occurs, the vehicle can lose complete control, leaving occupants in danger of having an accident. It’s just one more “adventure” that owners face every time they get behind the wheel of the RAV4.

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

Finally, a deeper look at the fuel system on the RAV4 also reveals some major malfunctions.

Another Edmunds review reveals, “After purchasing  this xle premium,  on the way home from the dealership, the check engine light came on accompanied by a slight bump in the power delivery.  About 25 miles on the odometer.  It was returned the next day where it has been in the shop ever since (over 3 weeks and counting) awaiting parts.  It was diagnosed as a bad O2 sensor but there are none available anywhere in the US right now.”

Among the fuel system issues, Service Bulletin #T-TT-0581-19_Rev states that some vehicles are equipped with a faulty gauge that reads less than full, even when it has been filled. While this isn’t a major issue, it’s important that customers know how much fuel is inside their SUV. Of course, the thrill of the mystery must also be added to the list of “adventures.”

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About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 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.

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8 COMMENTS
  • Rober D

    Rav4 2020 owner and 2 x with a dead battery, went to the dealer and nothing was fixed or changed . This second time, I am waiting for a better answer.

  • LARRY

    10/1/2020, IS WHEN WE PURCHASED THE RAV4, BATTERY DIE, 2 DAYS LATER, A WEEK LATER THE BATTERY DIE AGAIN, WE SEEN A POSTING THAT A SOFTWARE UPDATE WAS NEEDED, WE TOOK THE RAV4 TO THE DEALER AND THE DEALER UPDATE THE SOFTWARE. WHY THEY DIDN’T CALL US??? BATTERY ISSUE SEEMS TO BE FIXED. WE NOW HAVE THE RAV4 CUTTING OUT,WHILE DRIVING, ALSO AN INDICATOR LIGHT COMES ON BRIEFLY, ONTHE DASH, TO QUICK TO READ, NOT SURE WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO. IT DOESN’T HAPPEN ALL THE TIME,

  • Karen M

    Worst knew car I’ve ever gotten. This tav4 has had so many problems with it. My boyfriend bought it last April 2020. He then died almost 2 months later. About 3 to 4 months into this purchased our first problems stared. Check engine light kept coming on this is a huge problem for me and where we live. Lots of snow can not be having my all wheel drive disabling during winter months. Next the front passenger window came off rack. Then the battery started to dye on me about every other day if I don’t drive it everyday. It is in the shop right now. Just got out after being in for a week. Now it’s been in for several days. They first told me it needed a computer upgrade. When that didn’t work they are now telling me someone put an after market car tracker on it and that’s what’s draining thecbattery. They keep trying to blame us for their car having to be serviced 8 times in less than a year. I needca good lawyer now!

  • Mary

    I have had repeated issues with the electrical/computer issues since I purchased the vehicle in Dec/Jan 2020 at the “Toyotathon”in Charlottesville VA.
    I have had the vehicle back in for service numerous times for the computer/electrical system just going black while driving the vehicle. I am a travel nurse who takes contracts in different Emergency Departments around the country that typically run from 6 weeks to 13 weeks, sometimes more. I had the nightmare of being in DC traffic and my computer screen going black. I am not familiar with DC and honestly I am grateful that this never resulted in an accident. It did result in my being in some very sketchy areas.

    Ultimately I left the vehicle at Steven Toyota in Harrisonburg VA on 3/27/21. While driving home from an assignment with the sun roof open on a beautiful day, I went to close the sun roof so that I could hear my personal gps due to the car’s computer system not working, the SUN ROOF WOULD NOT CLOSE. That was my breaking point. I had already notified the service department of Steven Toyota earlier that day by email that I would be bringing the RAV4 in AGAIN for the same issues. It was a Saturday and I had checked to insure they were open so they had notification that I was coming. Well, the service dept had closed at 1 and the manager of the sales didn’t care anything about my issue.
    I left the car and the keys and told him I was “returning it”. That I had had enough of it.

    I am a 61 year old registered nurse. I have been working for 45 years. For the first time in my life; my kids are grown, I am traveling around the country, I am making enough money and my credit is good enough that I can buy my dream car. And with Toyota’s reputation of course I picked a RAV4.

    It is INFURIATING to pay SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS A MONTH on something that DOES NOT WORK and potentially puts me in danger every time I get in it.

    But 600$ a month?!?! Seriously??? This car is BRAND NEW and at that price the very least I should feel is GOOD and SAFE whenever I open the door. Instead I am disappointed and angry that I am throwing away 600$ a month to a corporation that is worth BILLIONS!

    Please, please. I implore you to help me. In line with their stellar customer service, I didn’t hear anything back from the dealership (the service manager wrote me an email and they recalled it I am sure he was instructed to do so). I didn’t hear anything about my RAV4. Until yesterday when I got a call from “Toyota Financial”. NOT because my payments are behind, they are up to date AND the insurance payment is up to date. No. They called me to say that an impound lot had my car. Apparently Steven Toyota decided to have the vehicle towed from the dealership but I didn’t find out until the impound lot called Toyota yesterday and in turn Toyota called me.

    Now I am on assignment in New Mexico until mid July. “Bo” at Toyota (my now case manager) offered to have the vehicle looked out and repaired at yet a THIRD dealership in VA however he put the onus on ME to get the car out of the impound lot and to the new dealer. Regardless of the fact that I am on contract on the other side of the country until mid-July.

    So helpful these folks are. IT IS BROKEN. IT HAS BEEN BROKEN. Why doesn’t Toyota just take it and give me my money back?? They should be the ones getting the car and fixing it but noooo. It’s my responsibility and I just do not have the time to navigate CONSTANT car repairs and I shouldn’t have to! That is why I bought a BRAND NEW CAR!!! grrrrrrr

  • Marcy K

    I’ve had my battery replaced on my 2020 RAV4 2x in less than a year. I had learned that there is a software update and scheduled for service hoping this will solve the issue. If not, I will pursue the next steps. I have lost hours of work and wasted time waiting for towing service to jump my vehicle.

  • Yadira s

    2020 TRD RAV4 battery has been replaced 2 times today 03/08/21 dealership send a tow truck to my house because battery was dead again I’m thinking has electrical problems but they keep saying bad batteries!! for real!! 3 bad batteries? Just saying

  • joan

    i own a 2020 rav4 and had it sitting in my driveway for 2 days and went to go to doctor’s appointment and no start. everything in the car was dead no lights and could not even unlock doors. had to call toyota care for a tow to the dealership. oh by the way the tow driver was able to jump start the car to drive it on the tow truck bed. waiting to hear from dealer now

  • Trent

    I own a 2020 RAV 4 Adventure and I have experienced the issue with the car battery dying after letting the car sit as well as electrical issues with the stereo display/JBL sound system. The problem is intermittent and will cause loud pops/static to come out of the speakers (when the stereo is turned off). Ive also experiences glitches with the center display unit (screen and volume dial become non-responsive).

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