hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
77,917 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2004 Toyota RAV4 engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #9

Jan 072012

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 77,000 miles


I was driving at 60 mph when I noticed that the temperature gauge for my car was shot up near the red. In addition to this, two warning lights (vsc trac and check engine) also came on. I immediately pulled off the highway, and called aaa, which towed me to a local repair shop. The manager there took a look at my car, and said that I was out of coolant. He then added half a gallon of coolant to my car and told me I should be all set. Approximately 80 miles later, the temperature gauge shot up to the red again. I then pulled over, and saw that all of the coolant the repair shop added earlier was gone. I took my car to a local Toyota dealer, who told me that there are two major problems with my car. One, the head gasket was broken. And two, some of the steel bolts in the engine were stripped out. All in all, I was told that it would cost $7000 to repair the engine. I've looked around on the web and saw that many other 2004 Toyota Rav4 owners have complained of the same problem. I believe this is manufacturing problem, and Toyota should make a recall of this unsafe, and poorly designed model.

- Gaithersburg, MD, USA

problem #8

Oct 092011

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 139,000 miles
My 2004 Toyota rav 4 started overheating/smoking while driving at 20 mph in a parking lot. I pulled into a parking space and saw leaking antifreeze and I hoped it was just a hose or the temperature gauge. I ran to the store, bought antifreeze, filled the radiator and was able to get it home. The next day, I drove it to a friends mechanic. The engine is leaking antifreeze due to the engine bolts stripping. Apparently Toyota installed steel bolts into an aluminum block and if the engine heats too much, the bolts strip out, causing the leakage. The shop said the repair will cost me 5K at a dealership and 3.5K at a private garage. I contacted Toyota in California and their response was: Discussion thread response ([xxx]) 10/11/2011 06:11 am dear Ms. _______________; thank you for contacting Toyota motor sales, U.S.a., Inc. We are sorry to hear of your concerns with the engine of your Rav4, and apologize this aspect of the vehicle did not meet your expectations. We do not show a special service campaign or recall for the condition you described, and thus do not have specific insight to provide. If you feel you have a failed or broken component, we recommend contacting the customer relations manager at your local Toyota dealership. We have documented your comments at our national headquarters, where they remain available for review from the appropriate departments. It is through feedback such as yours we are able to monitor and improve upon the quality of our product. If we may be of further assistance, please contact us via email or by calling 800-331-4331. We are available from 5 am to 6 pm, pacific time, Monday through Friday, and from 7 am to 4 pm Saturday. We have documented your comments at our national headquarters under file #. if Toyota has no knowledge of this then why have they created a repair kit to fix the threads in the head? information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Eatontown, NJ, USA

problem #7

Nov 172011

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
Even though the vehicle has a perfect maintenance record and has no history of over heating, the head bolts pulled loose from the engine block and the engine leaked oil from the head gasket area. This was verified by desert Toyota of tucson. The engine got covered with motor oil and while it was hot it smoked extensively to the point I feared it would catch fire. It did not ignite because the Rav4 was pulled off the road and turned off before it could happen. Toyota Corp. Was contacted and they said there was nothing they could do to remedy the problem, but issued a case number. The vehicle is not safe to drive. Desert Toyota prescribed a $6130 repair.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #6

Jul 262011


  • 53,000 miles


Went to get a tire repaired, the manager told me that I had a fluid leak. He indicated it was pretty bad and I needed to get it looked at as soon as possible. I drove it to the shop where they confirmed I had a leak and it was coolant. I left the car for repairs and was called the next day and told that the head gasket was leaking. I went online to research this issue and found hundreds of complaints indicating the exact same issue. They also indicated that Toyota has not and would not acknowledge any defects regarding the head gasket.

- Cicero, IL, USA

problem #5

May 042011


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Toyota Rav4. The contact was driving 50 mph when all of the warning lights illuminated and the engine began to smoke. The vehicle was then towed to the dealer and they advised her that the bolts were deteriorated causing the gasket to overheat and the entire engine would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered to cover fifty percent of the repair costs. The failure and current mileages were approximately 90,000. The VIN was not available.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #4

Aug 232010


  • 91,000 miles
8/23/2010 del Toyota in pa, renounce platinum warranty on Rav4. On 8/23/2010 I took my Rav4 2004 to del Toyota in pa for service for an antifreeze leak, underneath the engine. The service department reviewed the leak and totally rejected their own platinum warranty on the Rav4. They said the leak is in the engine block threads and may not be fixable. Engine block threads " they said I would have to replace the entire engine at my cost, which del Toyota happens to have one in stock. So why did del Toyota in pa refuse to honor their own platinum warranty " the platinum warranty is good till 2011 or 100,000 miles, which the vehicle is within warranty. Please help!

- Phoenixville, PA, USA

problem #3

Jun 142010

RAV4 4-cyl

  • miles


On June 14, 2010, I noticed a pinkish liquid on the garage floor after my son backed it up. I called my auto shop and told them about it. They right away told me don't drive it and they will have a tow truck come and tow it. After the mechanic took a look at the issue he found that the coolant leaked and then found that the head gasket was blown. He didn't know why this happened since my car is only 6 yrs old with 65,000 miles on it. After I agreed to do the repair, when he removed more parts to get to it, he noticed that the bolts were stripped. I did some research and found out that this happened to other 2004 Rav4's. I called Toyota and a rep told me that they were aware of this issue but it was not considered a safety issue and that the issue doesn't happen too a lot of customers so they will not recall or help with the cost of the repair. I also did more digging and found out that some of Toyota older models have this same issue with the head gaskets blowing and the bolt was stripped. I hope that if Toyota did used some old parts in the 2004 Rav4, they should tell the customer and pay for the repair. The mechanic informed the consumer that the entire engine block will need to be replaced due to the extensive damage. Updated IVOQ 08/05/10.

- Belmont, CA, USA

problem #2

Jun 082009


  • 80,250 miles
Car was serviced May 28, 2009, then driven across country, from New York state. About two hours outside of austin, Texas, the car began to overheat, was found to be completely empty of coolant. Car brought to Toyota dealership where no radiator or other cooling system leaks were detected, but the head gasket was blown. When they tore down the engine to replace the head gasket, they stated that "the bolts are stripped" and now the engine had to be replaced -- at a cost of $7000 +. the mechanic stated that he had seen other Toyota with this problem and there might be a tsb out on it -- but it was past warranty and so were "stuck". no one can explain why the bolts would have spontaneously "stripped". the car has been sitting at the dealership for three weeks while we try to figure out what to do with it. The head mechanic says it isn't worth anything but he'll take it off our hands for the cost of the partial repair bill ($600). We're not getting the straight story, Toyota refuses to cover the repair, but there are postings all over the internet with very similar stories, including that Toyota has selectively "participated" in the repairs. There is no tsb for this car apparently -- but there are for cars with the same engine.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #1

Mar 312009


  • 86,000 miles
Head gasket on the 2004 Toyota Rav4. I took my car in for scheduled maintenance including changing front brake pads, an alignment and oil change. Within a week of this visit my heat wouldn't work, took it back, was rechecked and advised there was nothing wrong. Within a week after this visit it started to smoke, took it back and was advised that I had a leak, needed a new waterpump. Took it for a second opinion and decided to take it back to my dealership. They broke down the engine and essentially advised me that the threads on my head gasket fell and apart in the engine block and was advised to call Toyota to see they would help with the cost. I've heard this is a recurring problem with the head gaskets used in some Toyota models. I bought my car brand new and only had 86,000 miles on it before it was declared a total loss unless I wanted to pay $6,000 to have it repaired. There was a recall I found online describing the same problem but it was for an older version of this car. I believe that they are producing the same defective head gaskets and leaving their customers to absorb the cost. This is truly unfair and in our current economy, I am forced to buy a car for something that could been prevented if they were making quality and reliable head gaskets for all their cars.

- Richmond, VA, USA

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