1996 Toyota RAV4 4 door wagon 4WD 2.0L petrol from Australia and New Zealand


Is good but could also be better; be prepared for costs


Needs/needed tyres.

Idles low enough to cause vibration.

Has trouble starting after being parked overnight. Probably needs a new battery at least.

Alarm/immobiliser with fob is crap.

Road noise and external noise gets bad at highway speeds.

Had to have the rocker cover gasket replaced prior to purchase.

Fuel usage seems worse than it should be.

Coolant needed a flush and replacement.

Automatic transmission may need at least a service. Definitely seems to need an overhaul service and tune. Exhaust etc is very loud at high revs.

General Comments:

I very much like the car for its versatility and usefulness, interior space and road stance. I feel quite safe driving in just about any situation.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th November, 2014

20th Oct 2018, 11:14

When you bought the car it had 168000 kilometres on it. So the problems that you mentioned are mostly age related.

1996 Toyota RAV4 2DR FWD from North America


Very good looking car. Loved it. But cost me $8,000 repairs to own it for half a year


When I got it the cigarette lighter didn't work, took me $100 to fix it.

The safety belt release button had a crack in it. I had to tape it.

Shakes badly when driving above 70 miles. Can't let go the wheel for 1 second otherwise the car will fly to the side of the road.

Spent $60 for a tire balance, did that almost 5 times during my ownership.

After 3 months the engine light was on. Mechanic says its oxygen sensor. Took me about $300 to diagnose and fix.

Break pedal feels too soft, changed the master cylinder. Took me about $240.

One time found the fluid in the shaft broke out. Changed the shaft. Cost me about $1,000.

And spent a lot of money on other minor repairs such as brake pads, head light, battery, air filter.

In the end (above 140,000 miles) bad engine oil leak. Smells like burning rubber when I come off the highway. Can see white smoke coming from the engine.

When it was above 140,000 miles the engine feels very powerless. Cannot even go above 55 mph when it's against the wind.

General Comments:

Very nice looking. But cost me so much to repair its problems.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 26th January, 2008

26th Jan 2008, 23:01

Interesting. Toyota is supposed to be so good, yet I've gotten over 100,000 miles more out of 3 different domestics than this reviewer has out of his RAV-4 and with NO major problems.

27th Jan 2008, 09:13

Nice looking is great if one wants a pretty shell. I fell for that owning Mercedes. I'll take the new GM SUV's and have nice looking and high quality without the repairs.

The 100,000 mile warranty is proof that the quality is there, not an excuse that the imports do not need them. The consumer needs a wallet after 50,000 miles; even with stellar maintenance it's no guarantee. Not even a chance it's on the import buyer.

I feel bad for this import owner who spent twice what I did on my import within a short period.

1996 Toyota RAV4 from North America


My RAV4 lemon; is this common or am I just unlucky?


Third cylinder began misfiring after two weeks of use.

Center console lid snapped off.

Leaks oil.

Alternator went out.

Transmission needs an overhaul after only 6 months (it jumps out of 5th gear into neutral).

Brakes squeak incessantly, though they don't need replacement.

General Comments:

I did extensive research to find a used car that was reliable, affordable, and fit my needs. I thought I had found that in the 1996 RAV4, but I was mistaken.

I've had the car only six months, and I've had to replace the fuel injector of the third cylinder, the alternator, battery, and now am faced with rebuilding the transmission as well. I've also discovered that the car leaks/burns oil at a fairly alarming rate. It has about 120k on it, and I worry now that it may not last to 200k, which I was hoping for.

Apart from these mechanical hiccups, the center console broke off (I noticed a couple broken ones while shopping, and can only assume that this is fairly common), and the brakes squeak, despite being almost new.

While the car is runing properly, though, I have found the Rav4 to be a sporty, comfortable, and easy-to-drive small SUV. I feel safe driving it in snow or rain. It also gets pretty good gas mileage for it's age and size. Though, it does pretty poorly on even slightly steep grades.

Perhaps I got stuck with a lemon, and most Rav4's don't have these problems. However, from my experience with this car, the RAV4 is terribly overrated.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 11th August, 2006

6th Oct 2006, 07:23

I encountered the exact same problems as yourself with my 98 Rav 4. First to go was the 5th gear in the tranny. This is a common problem with this entire generation. Toyota even has a TSB outlining how to fix it with better parts, and there was no recall. Mine went at 87k kms (~60 k miles). About a week after it started to drop out of fifth, the oil pressure sensor allowed all the oil to leak out and the engine blew. After I had a Toyota dealership here in Ottawa replace the engine (low mileage used) and fix the transmission. ($5k later) I found I was going through 1 - 2 litres of oil per oil change. According to the Ottawa dealership, Toyota states up to 1.5 litres of oil per oil change is an acceptable level. My mileage and power after the swap, was never the same. It was my first Toyota and I was shocked by the service and reliability. It was a great little run about, too bad Toyota or the dealership would not stand behind their product.