09 RAV4 unstable - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-29-2015, 11:12 AM   #1
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09 RAV4 unstable

Hi all!! Just got back from a 1200+ mile roundtrip from Florida to NE Geogia mountains. I've had my 09 RAV4 V6 for 2 yrs this July. I've driven over 25,000 miles with about 5000 towing miles. All this to say I seem to have a stability issue both towing and non-towing mainly at highway speeds 55 mph but also I've noticed control issues (hopping) through low speed construction situations where the road is uneven etc. The best way to describe the highway feel would be "floaty" in the front end or like driving on ice or hydroplaning. The Rav only has 50K miles on her now and it's been happening since I got her at 25K miles so I know it's not worn parts. I've tried different tire pressures to no avail. Doesnt seem to matter if it's me by myself or 3 teens loaded up. Trailer tongue weight doesnt even make the Rav squat so I know I'm not puttting too much weight on rear end and it's just as bad without the trailer. I carried nothing in the back fo the Rav and what little we brought went over the the trailer axle. Literally just clothes and a small ice chest. I'm actually concerned if I had to swerve for an emergency the Rav would lose control as I've had to make minor quick reactions both towing and not and it didnt feel sure footed. Reading on the Rav forum some have had similar experiences and some suggestions were stiffer sidewalls on their tires, lowering the Rav, adding a front spoiler, adding add'l stabalizer bar etc. I'm just not sure if I did all this I would still end up with a tow vehicle I was happy with. I'm wondering if any Rav owners here have ever had any issues. I dont want to use a WDH to try and force the front end to grip the road. That's one reason I got the Scamp 13 so I dont have to use one. Also, that would not help when not towing. Most of my driving is in town at 45 mph but when I am on the highway towing or not I want to feel confident in the safety of my vehicle. I've driven everything from sports cars to crew cab pickups to large SUVs to minivans so I know I'm not pushing the limits of the vehicle and I've never had anything feel like this ever. Any suggestions, input, thoughts, comments are welcome. I've got a call into my mechanic as well to see if he's helped any owners overcome these issues. The Rav and Scamp are such a cute couple but I dont think it's going to be a lasting relationship.

Melissa
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Old 03-29-2015, 11:19 AM   #2
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I rented a Rav4 in '09 and drove it from Las Vegas to Yosemite and back; it felt perfectly stable, just like my Highlander does. I agree that a WDH is not the answer since you're feeling the same thing when unhitched.

My first thought is, do you have mismatched tires on the vehicle? When I have felt instability in past vehicles, it always was caused by not having 4 of the same brand/model/size of tires on the vehicle.

Your mechanic can look to make sure everything is tight in the front end (steering control arms and such).
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Old 03-29-2015, 11:32 AM   #3
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My first thought was: Was this a used vehicle? Front end elignment issue? Previous owner had an accident or hit something to knock the alignment out? Also like Mike I wondered about the tires and the age of them.

Also you say you don't have much weight on the tongue of the trailer - lots of reports here of RAV's back end squatting down when attached - wondered if you know for sure what weight you do have on the tongue. I have found anything less 10% of the total trailer weight will result in a less than ideal tow feel. Or to much weight can causing the front end of the RAV to come up which would cause that floating feel on the front end.
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Old 03-29-2015, 01:27 PM   #4
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As well as mismatched tires, I would check for incorrect-size tires. Lots of people seem to think that bigger is always better and choose wheels and tires just on the basis of looks. Tall off-road tires are not ideal for high speed driving.
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Old 03-29-2015, 01:55 PM   #5
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Tires were new and installed by dealer when we purchased the Rav. It had a clean carfax and is certified. Hitch weight 150 lbs when propane is full. Drives the same when not towing.
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Old 03-29-2015, 02:10 PM   #6
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Wish I could offer a solution. My experience with a 2010 RAV4 Sport has been excellent. The stock tires are run flat 235/55R/18 low profile, which were stable, but harsh riding, expensive & lousy in snow. I replaced them with standard tires (235/R65/18) and had little change is stability.

I tow an Escape 17B that weighs 3010lbs packed for a trip. 56,000 miles so far over the last 4 years, including eastern & western mountains. I do tow at 57 - 60MPH, and avoid interstates when possible, but have no instability even with side winds, trucks & busses passing, etc.

I'd have to agree with Carol's questions - something is wrong with the RAV4. I know others that tow Escape 17's with them without problems.
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Old 03-29-2015, 02:20 PM   #7
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Yup. No problems here.
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Old 03-29-2015, 02:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melissab View Post
Tires were new and installed by dealer when we purchased the Rav. It had a clean carfax and is certified. Hitch weight 150 lbs when propane is full. Drives the same when not towing.
The problem with Carfax is that not all damage repairs are reported. For example the previous owner may have banged a wheel up hard to a curb or rock or something and just had the tire or wheel replaced that may not show up on a Carfax if the tire shop didnt report it. Or the car may have rear ended someone and the owner had a bumper replacement that the owner paid for (not through insurance company) - again that may not be reported by the auto body shop that did the work.

Carfax is a good tool to read owner history but as far as counting on it to include every repair the car has had - you can forget it! especially not the smaller/minor stuff .

How Carfax works and why you should take it with a grain of Salt.

As I said the first thing I would have checked is the wheel alignment as well as has been suggested that the tires the dealer you purchased it from are the correct size.
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Old 03-29-2015, 03:37 PM   #9
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You have a issue that does not necessarily pertain to towing. I would take it to the toyota dealer mech. and have him drive it at highway speeds to see first hand what the problem is. Something is pulling. I know one time i came off a highway in a snow storm and my front wheel hit a curb while i was turning into a curve and bent it. Managed to change it to the spare donut and got home. Bought a new wheel and tire, but that 69 olds cutlas was never the same. Traded it in 71 and never looked back.
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Old 03-29-2015, 03:43 PM   #10
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I just went and looked at tire size and they are 225/65/17 brand is Continentals. My local dealer has checked alignment and ething up underneath and says it all looks good. They made sure there were no recalls etc needing to be done. Vehicle was owned by a retired couple who purchased it and had it serviced at the dealer we bought it from (different than my local dealer that I've had check it out as well as a couple of chain shops). They put 25K miles on it in 4 yrs. and traded for an accord as they said the Rav was too high for them to get in and out of easily. So the odds are hopefully in my favor that nothing has happened to it in the past but still possible I know esp since I have found some info on the internet describing the same experience I've had. Really strange, baffling and frustrating. I dont want to get rid of it but if I cant get this resolved I see no other choice. I really dont want to tow with it any more. I too stay off the interstate where possible but this weekend ended up on it and traveling 60 mph with heavy Spring Break traffic, semis and busses made for a stressful and exausting situation. When I towed with my Sienna I made emergency lane changes and drove in driving rain and several other less than ideal situations and it was steady as a rock and sure footed as a goat.


Ya Carl that's part of what is so frustrating is it doesnt pull one wayor the other it just sortof floats back and forth constantly. So much so it was causing my traile to sway a little which has never happened. I was only driving 55 mph. Accelerating to get on the highway was like steering on ice. It has an appnt this week at Toyota so I will tell them to take it on the highway.
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Old 03-29-2015, 04:21 PM   #11
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What about shock absorbers and/or struts. Bad shocks will make it float and drift.
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Old 03-29-2015, 04:23 PM   #12
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Have someone drive you to a car lot and test drive the same vehicle to see if it does the same thing.
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Old 03-29-2015, 04:30 PM   #13
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Oooooo good idea to test drive another one!!! Ya, I will have Toyota check shocks and struts again but last time (just a couple of months ago) they said ething is still like new. I just turned over 50K miles on this last trip. My driving is all town on nice smooth paved roads with speeds up to 45 mph so she doesnt have a hard life. Only gets to stretch on trips lol.
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Old 03-29-2015, 04:31 PM   #14
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As my wife say's "being stressed out isn't worth it". When I had my 3/4 2500 Chevrolet and the 3 slide 36' 5er I constantly stayed stressed out when driving. After we sold it and I now have the little Colorado and Scamp 19' I don't stay stressed out now. Especially when getting off the main road for gas or food. So, I say if possible try toget it figured out or trade it.
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