Smoothing the ride of my 2013 Toyota RAV4

How to smooth the ride in my Rav4

There’s no easy fix. You can make a project of it when you buy new tires, and try to find the ones that are “Touring” instead of “performance”. And don’t over inflate your tires. Other than that there’s nothing that I know of unless someone has already fiddled with the suspension.


Other than tires mentioned, there is dynamite or any other sound deadening material that you can apply under the hood and under the floor carpet. They are expensive and involved. Sometimes turning the music up is easier.

if “smoothing ride” means getting less noise, yes, Dynamat mats will help… at a substantial cost

here is a little bit less effective, but substantially less expensive stuff from the local hardware store:

It is essentially the same type of material as Dynamat, but half the thickness

I’ve applied it on may cars, with a great success.

To get your music sound better apply inside doors (both outer shell and inner parts - knock on it to hear if it resonates), in the back around speakers on quarter-panels and connected parts with big flat metal pieces - everywhere you hear resonance when you knock on it. Usually, 2 rolls are enough for a mid-sized SUV.

The tire characteristics you are looking for are “ride” (smooth cushy rolling transmitting less road feel) and “noise” (a good rating means they make less noise.) The site is excellent for comparing tires. I have also found them a fine place to buy tires from, although I have as often bought locally instead. November issues of Consumer Reports are also very helpful in comparing tires.

Not all tires come in all sizes, so start by finding the factory original tire size, located on the sticker inside the drivers door jamb.

If you’re replacing the original tires for the first time, here’s a chance to make a difference you will be happy with!

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I would recommend Dynamat, rather than dynamite for sound-deadening.

In any event, in addition to different tires, the OP might want to look into new struts/shocks. Some, like Koni, are adjustable–IIRC.

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I guess you mean you want a ride like the soft Cadillac’s of years ago . If that is correct you have the wrong vehicle for that. Your best plan is to trade but be sure to take a test drive on surfaces that will let you make the right decision .

Other than tires, which will provide nominal improvement only, there’s no way to smooth the ride. Rav 4 rides firm. Sorry.

OP does not like the smoothness of his ride; this has nothing to do with noise levels, although manufacturers stress HVN (Harshness, vibration, noise) as one category of design.

I agree with @Wentwest and OP should buy another vehicle with a smoother ride if this is the main issue.

I had a boss who was raised on full size Detroit cars which were very quite by world standards. He despised trucks and small cars and would still be driving a Lincoln Town Car if he was alive today.

I tested a RAV 4 not so long ago for a friend of my wife and found it to be much smoother and quieter than previous models. With the shift in market share to SUVs, Cross-over and trucks, these have all become much quieter and smoother riding than earlier models.

Models today that have poor ride comfort and the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris. I can’t think of too many others.

How many miles? How many miles on the tires? What make/model of tires? What size wheels? What size tires?

Here is how I smoothed out the ride of my ,1950 Chevy one ton pickup: I borrowed my neighbor’s International Harvester F12 tractor with a sickle bar and mowed my field. I then got in the truck and it rode like a dream. When I thought my Corvair didn’t ride smoothly enough to suit me, I would get in the pickup and drive it for a while. When I would then drive the Corvair, it seemed like a luxury car.
The point is that smoothness of ride is a subjective thing. We once owned a 1993 Oldsmobile 88. The ride seemed great until we would travel 50-100 miles. I would be stiff and worn out after the 360 mile trip to visit our son. When we replaced the Oldsmobile with a 2003 Toyota 4Runner, riding around the block in the 4Runner seemed like riding in a wheelbarrow. Yet, I could drive the 360 mile trip to visit our son and I wasn’t worn out at all. The seats in the 4Runner are firm, but very supportive. I have never ridden in a RAV 4, but if the seats are supportive, I would bet that it is a comfortable vehicle to drive. The closest in size to a RAV 4 that I have driven is a Ford Escape hybrid. My institution had several in its fleet. I drove one to a conference 120 miles away and found it quite comfortable. My research partner is 5’ 3" and I am 6’2" and we were both comfortable driving the Ford Escape.
My question to the OP is:. How comfortable are you in the RAV 4 on a trip of 100 or more miles? If you are not comfortable on the trip, maybe it’s time to trade for either something more comfortable or a Mazda Miata that makes the uncomfortable ride worthwhile.
One more note about seat comfort. I once owned a Ford Maverick. It really wasn’t comfortable. The Maverick was reliable and easy to maintain, but I got rid of it because I was spending more on Preparation H from having to ride in the Maverick than I was on upkeep of the car.

@Triedaq Yes sleaziest and cheapest seats ever put in a Ford. One reason we got rid of ours too. I gave the car to my mother in law as a second car, but bought her a $100 padded sheepskin front seat cover to make the car driveable.

I’ve always been very skeptical of those sheepskin seat covers . . . actually seat covers in general

More often than not, when you look underneath, you’ll see leather seats which are in need of extremely expensive repairs, cloth seats which are so dirty they’re probably beyond cleaning, split vinyl, or seats that are so “sat through” that the coils are poking out

@db4690 Seat covers were quite common back in the 1940s and 1950s. My dad would put fiber seat covers over the old mohair upholstery. The fiber covers were cooler to sit on in the summer than plastic seat covers and didn’t build up a static electric charge as you slid across the seat in the winter. These fiber seat covers would last about 2 years, but were cheap.

The seats in question were clean but were “fanny killers”. with no support. You might be surprised that airline pilots on long fights often use them as they provide good long term support and don’t “sweat”.

Of course I would not buy a car with seat covers since they usually cover up all sorts of nasty stuff.

I hear what you guys are saying, and you have many good points . . .

But in my neck of the woods, seat covers are more often than not used to hide stuff . . . expensive repairs

Kind of like putting tape over the check engine light or even removing the bulb :fearful:

@db4690. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, there were two types of buyers who bought seat covers. Type 1 were new car buyers who bought seat covers to protect the upholstery and type 2 who bought seat covers to hide worn upholstery. The last set of seatcovers I bought was for my 1965 Rambler to hide the worn upholstery.
I was a poor graduate student at the time, and had done a consulting job. It made us feel good to spend part of the extra money I brought in.for seat covers so the car didn’t look so shabby.

As far as I’m concerned, if a used car has seat covers . . . the prospective buyer would be very smart to lift them up and look underneath

Everything might be okay under there

or it might cause the buyer to try to haggle the price lower or look elsewhere

I wonder if the RAV 4 was just purchased by the buyer and they’re comparing the ride of the RAV to whatever they were driving before which may have seen a lot of miles on mushy struts.

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good point

every time replacing struts, I feel like first few months ride is overly stiff, then either struts become softer or I get used to it…or both :slight_smile: