2021 Toyota RAV4 - Fuel tank defect

I purchased this car in July 2021, and have noticed that every time I fill the car I am only able to fill ~12 gallons out of the 14.5. I am allowing the car to get to about 30 miles left so I know there should be more fuel going in. I am bringing this in to Toyota this week to get it checked out, but I have seen that with previous year models this was an issue. Lets hope they have a reason or solution

Why in the world are you doing that ? Have you not seen the news reports about storms causing power failures , fuel supply lines being interrupted and that 30 miles to empty is not an exact number . You don’t really have a real problem .

I and others here never let the gauge get below 1/4 mark.


agree. also the fuel in your tank cools the fuel pump by going through it and surrounding it. by letting it get so low the fuel pump will die a lot quicker. not to mention any dirt in the tank lies on the bottom of the tank.

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I don’t recommend this, but if you really want to put 14 gallons into your tank, just keep driving. 30 miles of driving should give another gallon. So drive another 45. This way you can calibrate your miles-to-empty gauge, the size of your gas tank, the fuel cutoff setting at the gas pump, and also learn whether you are still able to walk the full distance to your nearest gas station.


Your miles remaining figure is just an educated guess on the car’s part. It’s also designed to be conservative so people who rely on it don’t get stuck running out of gas. There’s nothing wrong with your vehicle. I haven’t looked at the miles remaining figure for my Corolla in years. I just start looking for a station when the gauge dips below 1/4.


So this car gets roughly 25-30 miles to the gallon. You have 30 miles left so there is about one gallon until it reads zero miles and Toyota left you about 1.5 gallons of reserve for 2 reasons; 1) For those people who just won’t believe that zero miles left MEANS zero miles left and 2) To protect your fuel pump from running dry and damaging itself.

This is how cars are designed. Drive the car until is says 0 miles left IF your absolutely have to run the tank down to 1.5 gallons… but I don’t recommend it.

The Toyota dealer is going to tell you “They are ALL like that. Toyota designed them that way”


Yep, nothing at all wrong, this is working as designed.

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+1 to all of the preceding replies.
If the OP wants to risk damaging his fuel pump and/or running out of gas, he can continue to do as he has been doing.
I wouldn’t do it, and the vast majority of this forum’s members wouldn’t do it either, but… to each his own…

In any event, I hope that the OP has lots of time to spare, because going to the dealership for this alleged problem is going to result in nothing more than wasting his time.

I’m actually glad when the pump shuts off a gallon or two sooner than I expect it to. I feel like I just made 6 bucks! :grin:

I think Toyota did have some issues with spiders getting in the evap system causing the tanks being difficult to fill / pump to shut off early. But that was more like you could only get a few gallons in at a time, the pump shuts off when the tank is half full, etc. I don’t think that’s your problem OP if you’re putting 12 gallons in a 14.5 gallon tank. I think you’re ok.

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My 2006 Sienna has ~2.5 gallons left in tank when DTE = 0 miles. I prefer this to my GM vehicles where DTE = 0 equals an empty tank.

Ed B.

The miles to empty might not include the reserve , just the miles until the low gas light turns on.

I agree with Volvo-v70

Be glad it’s not the other way around, totally out of gas, sitting on the side of the road and it saying you have 30 miles to go.

But than again, you would be able to to put all 14.5 gallons in it.


I’m surprised nobody mentioned yet another argument about not letting your fuel level into the “empty” zone.
You fuel pump is cooled by the fuel itself, so this “running on empty” may lead to overheating and premature wear.

It was :slight_smile:

That said, it’s worth mentioning again


scrolled too fast, my mistake :slight_smile:

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That’s because there’s a reserve of 2 1/2 gallons when the gas gauge reads empty or the refuel warning light turns on.



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Whoever created that reference sheet got the Mustang wrong. Zero miles remaining is 2 gallons left in a 16 gallon tank, not 1/16th or 1 gallon. The low fuel light comes on at 50 miles remaining or 4 gallons left in the tank. Both my 07 and 13 reacted the same.

That leads me to doubt the rest of the chart.

So both your Mustangs get 12.5 miles/gallon?