really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 5
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
55,016 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.

2008 Toyota RAV4 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2008 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #21

Jan 032018


  • 213,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Rav4. While driving 45 mph, the engine stalled without warning. The contact could not pull the vehicle over to the side of the road. The contact turned off and restarted the vehicle, and it returned to normal. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the alternator, battery, and ignition switch needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The contact also stated that the failure recurred several other times after the repair. The vehicle was not taken to an independent mechanic or to the dealer. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was contacted at 800-331-4331 and asked the contact to take the vehicle to the dealer. A case number was not provided. The approximate failure mileage was 213,000. The VIN was not available.

- Leesville, SC, USA

problem #20

Feb 172016


  • miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Rav4. The contact stated that the check engine and 4WD warning indicators illuminated. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign number: 16V096000(seat belts); however, the part for the recall repair was unavailable. The contact stated that the manufacturer exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair. The failure mileage was not provided. The manufacturer was made aware of the issue. Parts distribution disconnect.

- Rochester, MN, USA

problem #19

Jul 092016


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Rav4. While in park, the power window master switch caught fire. The contact was able to extinguish the fire. There were no injuries and a police report was not filed. The vehicle was taken to a dealer, but was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 120,000.

- Cleveland, TN, USA

problem #18

Mar 202015

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 69,000 miles


The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Rav4. Shortly after parking, the vehicle caught fire. A police and a fire report were filed and no injuries were sustained. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic to be inspected by the insurance company. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 69,000. Updated 5/5/15 updated 9/16/2015

- Warwick, RI, USA

problem #17

May 302013


  • 80,000 miles
TL-the contact owns a 2008 Toyota Rav4. The contact stated that while driving approximately 40 mph. The aig bag light indicator illuminated. The vehicle was taken to a dealer. The mechanic diagnose that the spiral cable needed to be replaced. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer had not been made aware of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 80,000.lj

- Vinton, VA, USA

problem #16

Mar 102012

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Rav4. The contact stated that the battery was defective. The battery was replaced twice due to acid leaking however, the failure was not corrected and as a result, battery acid leaked onto the alternator, the engine cover, and the hoses. The failure caused all of the parts to corrode. The vehicle was repaired. The failure mileage was 75,000 and the current mileage 83,000. Updated 1/15/13 the consumer stated a third battery has leaked. Updated 1/23/2013

- Union City , CA, USA

problem #15

Oct 012012

RAV4 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles


I was making a slow speed turn when, without warning, it became very difficult to steer, as if the power steering quit working. As I accelerated the steering started working again. A few days later it happened again and this time the battery warning light came on. Both times this happened it almost caused a collision. I ended up taking it to the dealer and learned the alternator was going bad. An alternator on a four year old vehicle with 60K miles should last longer. I've since learned, from safety sites, that this is a common safety issue with the rav as the steering is electrically powered. There is also some indication the alternators are failing too soon.

- Upland, CA, USA

problem #14

Aug 142012

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 69,402 miles
Approximately 5 minutes after I started up my car and began driving today I began to notice a strange and strong odor. I had my driver's side window down (power windows) and initially attributed the odor to a large truck that was several car lengths ahead of me. I noticed that the odor persisted even once the truck was no longer visible to me or in close proximity. At that point I then entered onto a major highway via the entrance ramp, and got my speed up to the speed limit of 65 miles per hour. As I was driving I noticed a large amount of smoke coming up from my power window switches on the driver's door. In addition to the smoke I could see an actual flame burning underneath the switches. My initial response was fear and panic, but I was able to find a safe spot to pull off to the side of the highway after a couple of minutes. My first thought was to dial 911, but I was afraid by the time someone arrived the car might burst into flames and blow up!! I immediately thought that I needed to try to extinguish the fire somehow as my car was filling with smoke and the odor was overwhelming. I quickly looked around to see if I had any bottled water in the car-but I did not. The only liquid I had accessible to dowse the flames was my iced coffee-so I poured a small amount over the smoke and flames coming from the switches to extinguish the fire, but it continued to burn. I then proceeded to pour half of my iced coffee over the switches which did finally extinguish the fire. As a result of the fire the only window that will actually move now is the driver's side window. The passenger's window will not move at all and the two rear windows will only move if using the switches on the back doors. As a result of the fire my car now has a very distinguishable burnt odor to it! needless to say this was one of the scariest experiences I have had when driving my car.

- Amston, CT, USA

problem #13

Aug 112012


  • 70,000 miles
I have a 2008 Toyota Rav4 and it has had a whining sound when idling or accelerating for a week. Today I was driving it and the power steering quit while I was driving it. I could barely steer it, if my wife was driving, she could not have turned the vehicle. Many of the warning lights came on- brake light (checked the parking brake), ABS, SRS, battery, vsc, maintenance, and slip indicator lights. Also the radio quit working, all at once. New battery installed last month. We have owned this vehicle since new from the dealership, had 2 recalls fixed for air bag sensor and floor mats, but no other problems until this.

- Mcalester, OK, USA

problem #12

Sep 262009

RAV4 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
Date is approximate, but this has happened numerous times, not always under the same conditions. It has happened after being driven in light rain & heavy rain & after vehicle being parked & restarted all of the lights would illuminate. Initially while driving in moderate rain, multiple vehicle warning lights illuminated, cruise control failed on freeway @ set speed of approx 60 mph due to rainfall. While continuing to function, the vehicle started to feel like it was rolling on marbles & the feel was a little unnerving, but you are able to maintain control of the vehicle. Diagnostics revealed multiple codes, but once reset all lights were out & the vehicle performed normally again, until driven in rainy conditions. Independent garage said to take it to Toyota when the rain induced the warning lights again & I'm headed to a Toyota dealer this morning after a light rain on Saturday morning all lights illuminated again & the cruise will no longer engage. Don't know if this has been reported by any other rav 4 owners, but independent garage so far has said "we can't find a failure just a lot of codes & once we clear the codes it is okay." If I understand the premise of the warning lights they are there to indicate something requires attention - so my faith in "there's nothing wrong or we can't find anything" is a little shaken. I spoke with Toyota & they deny that this has ever been reported by any rav 4 owners & I would have to bring it to them when the failure & warning lights come on - they will see them this morning. Thank you for your time.

- Georgetown, TX, USA

problem #11

Oct 132011

RAV4 4-cyl

  • 47,000 miles


While I was driving to work around the month of October, my car would be going around 40-50 mph and it will suddenly stall or power down and the car just shuts off in the middle of everything. Its a good thing I go to work early around 4-5 am and traffic is low or I would be in major accident and at fault too? this continues to happen. Sometimes happens when I flash on high beam and even when the car is in low speed around 15-25mph or turning around a corner. There is never a check engine light. When my car goes into stall, all power dies and my radio/cd/MP3 player stop playing my dashboard becomes all pitch black and headlights all die as well. I don't know how to explain this its frustrating and scary, I'm the original owner and I bought it brand new from my local Toyota dealership. I live in Wisconsin and the snow is coming and Toyota require me to leave the car with them for over a week or so, not a problem cause I don't want to drive it until its fix. Its now after thanksgiving and the problem is still occurring I took the car to the dealership today but they wont even look at it until I leave it with them for a week. I cant leave it there because I need a car for work so I had to arrange car rentals first with my own expense and will be dropping the car off Saturday. The answers they already gave me was no clue and don't know what's wrong with it with no check engine code. I don't want to be another koua fong lee. I just want to post this up now see if anyone found a solution and for my reference if they cant fix it. I want someone to have my back. The car is a Rav4 2008 with only 50,000 miles.

- Madison, WI, USA

problem #10

Mar 232011


  • 65,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Toyota Rav4. The contact stated that while the driver was traveling 25 mph, he saw smoke being emitting from the drivers side door. When he opened the door, it was on fire. He was able to extinguished the fire with water. The contact thought that it was an electrical fire originating from the wires in the door which caused the failure. The vehicle had not been inspected or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The current and failure mileage was approximately 65,000.

- Brook Park, OH, USA

problem #9

Jan 222011


  • 47,000 miles
At approximately 11:15am Saturday January 22, I was stopped at a stop light on spit brook road in nashua nh for about 30 seconds, when my leased Toyota rav4L suddenly revved it's engine and started to move forward. As it did, I pressed on the brake as hard as I could, and the car continued to rev the engine and suddenly jumped forward hitting the car that was about 6 feet in front of me. At that time, I put the car in park, stopped the engine and checked to see if the woman in the car ahead of me was hurt. She was not. Her car had no damage to it. She went on her way. There is minor damage to the from end of the Rav4, including the bumper and grill. I got back into the car, and took it to the Toyota dealer in nashua nh, that was a mile or 2 away, and explained to them what happened. They tried to blame this on the floor mat issue, and then tried to blame it on me, saying that they think my boot might have been on the accelerator. I told them that was not the case. The car was stopped for about 30 seconds when it suddenly revved the engine and accelerated into the car ahead of me. The car was left at the dealer for them to take a look at on Monday January 24th, 2011. They told me that they would look into it and get back to me.

- Nashua, NH, USA

problem #8

Dec 212010


  • 50,000 miles
Greetings, we have a 2008 Rav4 which has twice exhibited uncontrolled engine acceleration. My wife has contacted Toyota to no avail. Toyota has recalled other models but not the Rav4. They have not heard our complaints as a mortal safety concern. It is as if we are trying to con the company. As a lifelong safety professional, this is very disturbing. Please advise as to our possible actions. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Bangor, MI, USA

problem #7

Jun 042010


  • 18,118 miles
My wife returned to her 2008 Toyota Rav4 at the end of the workday. It would not crank. The radio and air came on, but the engine would not crank or turn over. She put the transmission in neutral and then back in park. It still would not crank. Finally, she lowered the emergency brake and tried starting again. This time it started. We took it to an advance auto parts store and had them test the battery. Their equipment stated the battery needs replacing, but the car (and battery) only has 18K miles on it. The report also stated that there is a power drain that needs to be investigated (we had turned off all accessories - radio, air, interior lights - and removed all 3rd party power cords from power outlets - cell phone car charger, etc - before running the diagnostic test). We will be taking the SUV into our local Toyota dealership for investigation, but wanted to report this based on another consumer complaint (ODI #10274904).

- Greensboro, NC, USA

problem #6

May 012010

RAV4 4WD 6-cyl

  • 15,250 miles
My fiancee and I were driving, 2008 Rav4/limited/V6/4WD. We were at a stop light. I was driving, I had my foot on the brake for about 30 seconds waiting for light to turn green. It was a busy intersection here in denver and there was a car in front of us. All of a sudden the accelerator took off and I could feel the car trying to move forward. Luckily, I already had my foot on the brake and I pressed down even harder on the brake as I immediately put the car in neutral. When I put it in neutral the accelerator continued to rev higher than it was before. I slammed the gear shift into park and shut the car off. We were obviously shaken from this and just sat there for a minute as we realized what had just happened. My fiancee wanted to get out of the car and call a tow truck. I wanted to try and start the car again but leave it in park and test it out. I started the car without touching the brake and it did it again. Every light on the dash board lit up like a christmas tree. We were in park so the car could not move but the RPM's were on the way to redlining and I turned off the car again. The lights around the speedometer had never lit up like that before. Seriously every dummy light on the car was lit and flashing. We were completely scared at this point and we just turned on the emergency lights and just sat there in shock. We sat there for ten minutes at this busy intersection trying to figure out what to do. I decided to try it again and this time the car started normally. My fiancee was afraid to drive it but I assured her if it happened again I could just put it in neutral and we could pull over to the side of the road. We drove directly to the dealership. We explained what happened and they said the would check it out. They called later that day and said all the diagnostic tests were normal. They told me it must have been the floor mats. That is impossible since the floor mats weren't even touching accelerator. Updated 05/12/10 updated 07/16/10.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #5

Jan 182009


  • 42,000 miles
Hello, on Jun 26, 2009 my wife and I purchase a certified Toyota Rav4. We have had nothing but problems. Electrical problems: ABS light, brake, and egf light remain lite. Repairs are: Brake switch replacement, igy relay replacment. In addition the cruise control would not function and sometimes the transmission would be stuck in reverse. Unable to shift out of this gear position. A local mechanic found the problem in that the connections in the wiring harness are filled with water. He was unable to determine how the water got there. A few days later, the same problem returned.. I am writing to share with you my concern of the electronic problems with the 2008 Rav4 from Toyota. Town Toyota service manager, wenatchee, wa told us not to worry aboutit as it is still safe to drivewith ABS, brake, and egf lights illuminated. I did contact Toyota (via emai) but no response. I question the validity of that statement in light of recent recall news and thought you should know.

- Ephrata, WA, USA

problem #4

Nov 302008

RAV4 6-cyl

  • 1,000 miles
During normal driving, my wife and father-in-law have experienced multiple incidents of unintended acceleration or surging on our 2008 Rav4 (AWD, 6-cylinder). This is typically occurring at highway speeds or light acceleration above ~25mph. This has been occurring since right after we purchased the vehicle in October 2008. Dealer could not verify problem and no error codes were found. The anti-skid control comes on randomly and applied the brakes also, usually while vehicle is stopped. When foot is removed from brake, vehicle stays stopped until accelerator is push and then system releases the brakes and anti-skid light goes out. Dealer could not find any error codes for this either. This is a vehicle with a VIN number beginning with J, which has been excluded from recent recalls.

- Placerville, CA, USA

problem #3

Jan 252010


  • 33,574 miles
2008 Toyota Rav4 taken in for normal service schedule. Dealer found rodent nests and chewed wiring/insulation under the engine cover. Had to replace wiring harness. Dealer said Toyota uses soy based covering/insulation instead of plastic which he has seen many instances of rodent chewing. This poses a fire/safety hazard as well as a performance issue if the wires are damaged, cut or shorted. There are websites dedicated to this issue for all the money people have spent in repairs.

- Greenfield Center, NY, USA

problem #2

Sep 212009

RAV4 6-cyl

  • miles
2008 Toyota Rav4 self-combustion in driveway in the early a.M. of Monday, Sept 21, 2009. Car had not been driven since Saturday night at 11 P.M. and arson has been ruled out by fire and police departments. Car was less than 2 years old and had been recently serviced and inspected on Sept 5, 2009 by an authorized Toyota dealer. All other warranty service requirements were fulfilled by an authorized Toyota dealer at the appropriate intervals. There were no problems noted by owner during the past two years. The fire department report mentions that the most extensive fire damage occurred at or near the vehicle battery. Updated 03/08/10

- Houston, TX, USA

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