RAV4 problems, need new TV - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-27-2015, 08:38 PM   #1
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Name: Vicki
Trailer: Scamp 13, 2015 Nissan Frontier SE
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RAV4 problems, need new TV

Hi all,
We purchased a Scamp 13 last spring and, shortly thereafter, a 2008 RAV4 V6 with tow package. Had hitch and electric brake controller installed, and bought new Yakima feet for my roof rack rails to fit the installed rack. Used it a lot over the summer and loved it as far as our outdoor adventures are concerned.

However, we are having what I now know is called an "unintended acceleration" problem with the RAV, which really makes me sad. I love the car and it has made a great TV. But four times now, twice while I was driving over the summer and then twice in one trip while my boyfriend was driving last week, it started revving uncontrollably while we were stopped at intersections. It has had all recall work done, including the floor mats brake override that would supposedly prevent this from happening. And we both know we were not pressing the gas and brake at the same time.

I am bringing the car in Thursday to be evaluated at the dealership, but Toyota seems disinclined to own up to this being a problem beyond the recalls I have already had done, which, according to them, should prevent what we are experiencing.

In any case, I now feel like I am driving around in a loaded weapon. We both had a hard time keeping the car from surging ahead while this was happening. I am now shifting into neutral every time I stop the car at an intersection. I can't live with the possibility that the car will cause an accident.

So, I likely need a new tow vehicle. It took so long to choose this one, and it was perfect for our specific needs. I don't even know where to start. I don't want something huge, but I want it to have a large tow capacity, at least 3000 pounds, and enough cargo capacity to handle the tow weight and cargo, including kayaks on roof. It has to have a roof rack capacity and width for two sea kayaks (Outback is out). I need it to be relatively fuel efficient. I live in the northeast and need 4wd or AWD. And I don't have lots of money to spend.

I might have to move quickly on this. I know there are lots of posts on tow vehicles, but not all are applicable to my needs. Just trying to get my thoughts together. I am thinking of the following, and would appreciate pros/cons, input on reliability and personal experiences:

Jeep Grand Cherokee
Hyundai Santa Fe
Ford Escape
GMC Terrain
Nissan Pathfinder

Also, the expense of having a new/used car outfitted with hitch/controller/roof racks really bums me out. Do you think I should have the brake controller removed from the RAV4? Is it possible to reuse it? I am guessing the hitch will not fit a new make/model.

Any help and input much appreciated. I am so, so disappointed that this is happening, and I feel like I am being put in a position where I have to make choices very quickly so that I can get out of this car and into a safer one.
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Old 01-27-2015, 08:56 PM   #2
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We went from a Toyota to a used Honda CRV that we use for towing our CT13 Uhaul. Was considering moving up to a Honda Pilot, but then bought a Casita 17 and a Dodge Ram pickup. I know all too well the frustration and stress of needing a used vehicle quick. My initial price range had to be increased to double of what it started at to find an acceptable vehicle with low mileage and extended warranty. Happy with the result but the search was no fun at all. My opinion is having low mileage, good warranty, and a dealer with good service is important. Good luck with a repair or replacement vehicle. Hitches are generally vehicle specific.
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:08 PM   #3
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I've not heard of this as an issue. Have you done a tour of the Toyota RAV4 forums, looking for info there?
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:35 PM   #4
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Name: Vicki
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Yes Glenn. Did all my research. On those forums, there is a contingent of Toyota loyalists who simply say "you are an idiot driver, it must be your fault." Then there are some very reasonable sounding people having the same problem I am. None have reported getting anywhere with Toyota - - if they can't replicate it during a test drive, they won't admit to the problem. And since it has only happened four times in 9 months, chances are they won't replicate it in a test drive.

I am definitely not pressing the brake and gas at the same time when this happens. It happens for long enough that you can shift your foot to be sure of that, and I have. And it happened to my boyfriend as well, so now we know it isn't me. This was a well-publicized problem for Toyota in 2010, causing lots of crashes, injuries, even deaths. The NTSB looked into it a few years ago and said it was user error. I work for state government, and know enough about how things work that I have little faith in government regulatory investigations. But last year Toyota was fined $1.2 Billion in a criminal prosecution for covering up info on the problem.

They still have not, to my knowledge, moved beyond claiming it is user error, though others believe it is linked to an electronic throttle (rather than mechanical), where it is triggered by some kind of false signal (not a mechanic here, so bear with me). That makes sense to me based on what we experienced. It happened after we had been stopped for a while, waiting for a light to turn or traffic to clear, not while we were in the process of stopping. And it revved so much the last time that we almost flew out into the intersection, despite my BF leaning heavily on the brake. In the panic I thought to throw it into neutral and park while in the passenger seat, which caused it to scream but did disengage the engine from the wheels.

My car has had the recall where they install the brake override system, so that if both pedals are being pressed at once, the brake pedal controls. Obviously, that recall is not helping my situation, so it must be something different.

While putting it in neutral is supposed to stop the problem when it happens, I can't rely on my reflexes being that quick every time. What if people are crossing the road in front of me, or in a parking lot? It just isn't worth it. Right now, until I get rid of it, I am putting it in neutral every single time I come to a stop in traffic.

Not happy at all about this, or about what I have read about Toyota's response. Now that it has happened to me, I know firsthand they are full of it. Will never be a Toyota customer again.
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:47 PM   #5
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I would write a letter to Toyota Corporate customer service and explain your problem and your safety concerns. I would send it registered mail and I would not be critical of the dealer or the way this has been handled so far. In a recent experience I had with a Toyota ', the dealer called Toyota and Toyota said "no" to a repair but a letter to Toyota from me got Toyota to agree to put new heavier springs on my Tacoma after Toyota turned the dealer down. I was happy with new springs and the dealer was happy billing Toyota for 1400 dollars to replace the springs. Be persistent with Toyota Corporate and it might pay off. It wouldn't hurt to mention safety and potential for an accident unless this issue is fixed.
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VicCT View Post
But last year Toyota was fined $1.2 Billion in a criminal prosecution for covering up info on the problem.
Well, I know the above sentence isn't true. This is a recent story in the New York Times:

"In a sharp escalation of penalties against automakers that skirt safety laws, the nationís top auto safety agency has fined Honda Motor a record $70 million for grossly underreporting fatal accidents and injuries to the government, regulators said on Thursday."

Not saying you don't have an issue. Just saying.
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Old 01-27-2015, 10:03 PM   #7
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Shouldn't have said isn't true, but is in conflict with the NYT story.
So Honda, GM and Toyota have all paid heavy fines.
Not sure how that would lead them into further cover-ups. Also, not sure what vehicle you would buy.
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Old 01-27-2015, 10:07 PM   #8
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Name: Vicki
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Here it is, Glenn. It was a criminal prosecution, not an NTSB fine.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/20/bu...uiry.html?_r=0

Jack, I have my appointment at the dealer on Thursday, and we will see how it goes. Dealership has been helpful so far over the phone. But from my research, Toyota does not have a fix for my problem, because they do not even admit it exists. If they do have a fix for it beyond what has already been done in the recalls and proven ineffective, I am happy to have them fix it. But I am anticipating (not assuming, just trying to be prepared) that I will get a similar response to others who have had my problem. It is a sensitive issue for Toyota, big money at stake. It's an issue that has affected owners worldwide, and Toyota has never admitted there was a problem with the car that is causing it, to my knowledge. If they admit my car has this problem, what about all of the others?

In any case, putting all of that aside, I am really interested in input on the car options I named above, assuming I am not able to get the RAV4 fixed in a manner that makes me feel secure with it. Another option that just came up in research was the Chevy Equinox. Leaning right now, though, to the Santa Fe. Thanks for any help.
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Old 01-27-2015, 10:12 PM   #9
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Here is a Forbes article with more info. Again, this was not an NTSB fine, it was a criminal prosecution, so it's different than the Honda situation as far as I can tell.

Toyota Admits Misleading Customers; Agrees To $1.2 Billion Criminal Fine - Forbes

Maybe Toyota will be more forthcoming since the fine was imposed. We shall see. But I do want to be prepared in case I have to act quickly in getting a new car. It took me weeks of intensive research to find my RAV4.
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Old 01-27-2015, 10:13 PM   #10
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Thanks for the link.
My buddy was without his 2009 Santa Fe for six months while the dealership waited for engine parts that Hyundai couldn't get from its supplier. The dealer finally put a hitch on a loaner vehicle so he could get some use out of his trailer.
If you search the web for info on a potential tow vehicle, it will just leave you weeping.
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Santa Fe Loaner.jpg  
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Old 01-27-2015, 10:27 PM   #11
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There is another court case coming up against Toyota . One of the litigants is a St Paul Minnesota man who was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and spent 2 years in prison. He contended that his Toyota suddenly accelerated causing the accident. Toyota testified that they had no knowledge of any problems with sudden acceleration ,which was an out right lie . The gentleman is now free from prison and awaiting his day in court against Toyota. I hope Toyota pays dearly for the two years this man lost out of his life
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Old 01-27-2015, 10:31 PM   #12
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I'm curious, how many miles on the Rav? Sorry to hear of your acceleration problem.

I've never heard anything bad about the Santa Fe. The "Sport" model is smaller and has a lower tow rating than the non-Sport; just so you're aware that there's a difference. I test drove one before buying my Highlander, and it felt competent but somewhat bland compared to the HL. I don't think you'd go wrong with a Santa Fe.

The Chevy Traverse and its twins are another possibility to check out. Used Pathfinders may be kind of expensive, they're popular; the older truck-based Pathfinders are well regarded, but I read that the newer more carlike model (2013+ ?) had some transmission issues with the CVT and I don't know if that was fully resolved or not. Grand Cherokees seem to be pretty good, and popular too; I'd like to get a GC for my next vehicle... the 2010 and newer GC was based on the Mercedes ML and it rides pretty well. Ford Escape and Explorer are both decent, too.

Oh, BTW, you certainly can remove the brake controller and have it installed in your next vehicle. I have my controller wired with a flat-4 plug, with the corresponding receptacle wired in under the dash of each of my vehicles... I can move it back and forth between vehicles as needed.
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Old 01-27-2015, 10:35 PM   #13
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If you decide to change vehicles don't rule out the mini-van category, the Sienna, Odyssey and Grand Caravan have 3,000-3,500 towing limits and at least the Odyssey has AWD available. Hopefully Toyota will step up and resolve the problem and you can love that RAV4 again.
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Old 01-27-2015, 10:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VicCT View Post
Hi all
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Hyundai Santa Fe
Ford Escape
GMC Terrain
Nissan Pathfinder
A few of others to consider while your car shopping and if you happen to see one used on the lot are:

Toyota Venza the V6 has a tow cap of 3500lbs. A friend pulls an older Escape 17 if one and is very happy with it.

Toyota Highlander - some have a 5000lbs tow cap. Lots of folks here pulling with these.

Volvo V60 - 3500lb tow cap
Volve X90 - if I am not mistaken has about a 5000lb tow cap.

Mazda CX9 with tow package - 3500lb tow cap.

*Note tow caps are approx. may vary by year of vehicle and options.
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