2007 Toyota RAV4 4WD Dropout

We bought a 2007 RAV a few months ago and absolutely love it, but winter weather has turned up a serious problem. The 4WD works great until you reach 25 MPH, where it drops out. The manual says it does this so Toyota knows about it. Apparently this is to protect the transfer case from damage on dry roads, but it is a big problem for us. Here in Flagstaff, AZ we drive on snowpack this time of year, and we often need to do it at something over 25. What happens is that the 4WD drops out without warning and it is easy to lose control with RWD only. What can I do about this before we get in an accident?

“it is easy to lose control with RWD only.”

Are you sure about that? I am under the impression that the RAV-4 operates in FWD mode when the AWD system is not activated. While this is far from ideal in slippery conditions, at least it is better than RWD.

Your RAV is AWD, not 4 WD and and such is designed to be engaged ALL of the time or should be. It’s not a “part time” AWD system like a CRV. It’s essentially a front drive car so loosing AWD assuming there was an electronic feature (which I doubt) would leave you with FWD. The Toyota system, at least til the 05 RAV that I have, is mechanically similar to the Subaru (Torsen ?). I assume also you will see them sharing even more parts now that Toyota owns 20% of them.

PS You are mistaking the “locking” feature that locks the center diff. up to 25 mph, much like a part time truck so you will have a 50/50 torque split and dissengage the track control. This is better in heavy snow and mudd where you WANT a little wheel spin to clear tread. You still will have an unlocked AWD above 25 mph. ONLY use this locking feature in conditions outlined in your manual.

PSSS IMO. The new RAVs are the best you can buy in thier class You need to sit down with the service manager at Toyota and have him explain the sections of the owners manual relating to drive train/traction control/etc. that are confusing. We have two Toys, and the clarity of their drive system usage leaves a lot to be desired. Funny, the CD/Tape deck?radio section makes perfect sense.
I hope you have the 6 cyl…it’s scary quick.

but it is a big problem for us. Here in Flagstaff, AZ we drive on snowpack this time of year, and we often need to do it at something over 25. What happens is that the 4WD drops out without warning and it is easy to lose control with RWD only.

I would disagree. On ice or snow on any road that you would be driving over 25 mph, 4WD will not help you stay on the road and as you may have guessed, it can (not often) cause problems. Where is it good is when you are trying to get out of the ditch you slid into.

You best friend for ON-ROAD driving in snow would be a set of Winter Tyres (Not all season or the old Snow Tyres).

4WD can help you get moving, but it is not going to help you keep control or help you stop.

Can you turn off that 4ED feature?

That was my understanding, too. (Actually select 4WD, then revert to AWD.)Everything is fine until the 4WD drops out at 25, at which point the rear end slides out and you have to recover from the skid. This is dangerous, and if you keep it below 25 in this town you will get rear-ended. I have been driving an '88 Landcruiser and a '98 RAV4 (AWD) since they were new and both are rock solid on snow. That is one reason we bought another RAV.

I just finished with the Toyota help line and they were trying to tell me that the button just changes the torque somehow and that the front wheels are driven in both modes. She was a bit foggy on details, just like the manual. This makes me wonder if the design is deficient or I have a failure of some sort. I hadn’t really considered a failure in a new RAV with no other symptoms. She did tell me I can find the answers at Techinfo.toyota.com but didn’t mention that they charge $10/month subscription. Wonderful. Seems like I should be able to get a clear explanation of how it is supposed to behave without paying a subscription. I think I’ll call back and see if I can get a different person.

Right Mr. Meehan…4 WD with a 50%/50% locked front rear torque is dangerous at higher speeds, as any cornering at all results in some slipping which either front or back can kead to loss of control. That’s why we see so many 4 wd trucks off the road than you would think.

A modern AWD is a different story. In millisecounds, the torque is shifted away from the axle with the least resistance, and in an instant, if the front wheels slip, it becomes a rear wheel drive car…and unpowered wheels tend to track the best, steering is enhanced. If you have track control, the wheels left/right are managed in a similar fashion, a poor man’s limited slip, but better.
AWD does such a good job of enhancing vehicle control, newer Subie WRX will come with manual override front rear torque control, to change handling characteristics to suit conditions…what a deal.

The RAV in question DOES NOT have 4WD, it has AWD, a difference, with the option of locking into 4 WD up to 25. And because that IS dangerous, it’s cancelled out at higher speeds.

This makes me wonder if the design is deficient or I have a failure of some sort. I hadn’t really considered a failure in a new RAV with no other symptoms.

It may be something as simple as tires…the ones that came with our RAV were so poor, awd seemed useless. Do you have snows or the “terrible Toyos” that come with some models ?

You are engaging the center differnetial lock which normally operates below 25 mph…the RAV is full time AWD and you need to use the lock onlyunder extreme conditions. read the manual…I have a 2007 RAV .

Okay–Now that we have totally confused the OP, please allow me to try to summarize the information so far.

As I surmised, the RAV-4 does not revert to RWD, so the OP is clearly incorrect about this–unless there is a mechanical or electronic fault in the AWD system.

The RAV-4 apparently has a choice of 4WD or AWD, but the 4WD stops functioning at 25 mph–as it should–and then the vehicle goes into AWD mode–which is infinitely better in allowing the driver to maintain control of the vehicle.

All of that being said, if the OP finds himself “fishtailing” on slippery surfaces, there are only two possible conclusions:

1)The OP is driving too fast for conditions


2)The standard tires are essentially useless on winter road surfaces. This is not as far-fetched as it sounds, and I can testify to that from personal experience. My Subaru Outback has traction control, vehicle stability control, and of course, ABS in addition to the AWD. Yet, I found myself with little control when driving it during my first winter. Naturally, this caused me to drive much slower in wintery conditions.

And, yet, I had not experienced this problem with an earlier Subaru. The difference in traction resulted from the difference in tires. The earlier Subaru had very good Michelin all-season tires, whereas the '02 model came with Bridgestone Potenza RE-92 tires and a little reasearch on sites such as Tire Rack revealed that these crappy Bridgestones were the problem.

I replaced the Potenzas (for the winter) with Michelin X-Ice tires and I found that the car actually has incredible traction and road-holding ability–IF you put decent tires on it. While those crappy Bridgestones performed like bald tires, I am sure that there are other brands and models of tires that are equally bad.

So–for the time being, SLOW DOWN! And also take a look at the winter tires offered by Tire Rack and by Discount Tire. The Michelin X-Ice was the top-rated winter tire in terms of traction a few years ago, but there may be other winter tires that are now as good, or maybe better in traction. However, I doubt that any of them can match the superior tread life of that Michelin model while also giving superb winter traction.

Your RAV4 in normal mode is basically a Front Wheel drive that engages the rear wheels when needed(reactive AWD). Its an okay system but fails miserably starting in deep stuff. That is where the feature of 4wd comes in to lock your differential(s) and get you moving.

Over 25MPH your occasional AWD will help a bit but the real asset you have is your vehicle stability/roll-over control system. That will keep you in the path you want to go and keep your vehicle going straight by using cuts to engine power when skidding/twitching along with single wheel braking to correct your path. I have a feeling that the stability control system is also cut out when 4wd is pressed as single wheel braking does not work or maybe it disengages 4wd mode when needed so stability control can take over.