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Toyotatech, Toyota Master Technician
Category: Toyota
Satisfied Customers: 71
Experience:  19 yrs experience, ASE Master Technician, Toyota Hybrid Technology certified
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Can you tow a later model Rav4 behind a motorhome

Customer Question

I have a Fleetwood motorhome and want to purchase a Rav4 to be ''flat towed''. Looking for a ''98-''03 model. Have heard that a 4x4 model might cause issues. Are Rav4''s set up/designed to be towed as Saturn''s Vue SUV is?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Toyota
Expert:  Toyotatech replied 7 years ago.


4WD RAV4's are not able to be flat towed because there is no transfer case to put in neutral. The system is an all wheel drive system which uses a viscous coupling to give the 4WD. That coupling will be damaged if towed.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Reply to Toyotatech's Post: Howdy -

Thank you for your reply.

While I respect it, and am no position to question it, I continued to do research into this, and found a motorhome site that says that the 4x4 version of the Rav can be flat towed with 2 limitations: 1.) speed must be kept under 55mph, and 2.) every 200 miles of being towed, the car must be started and idled for at least 3 minutes. This applied to model years 2004 and back to 2002. Models 2006 and later were not on the list, meaning that these models were not approved for flat towing. I should have specified the model years I was interested in.

They state that they only publish info that they get from the manufacturer. I'm only interested in a 2002-2004 model If you so desire, you can check their 'dinghy towing' reports at:

I'd be interested in any further comments you have. T/Y again for your reply.
Expert:  Toyotatech replied 7 years ago.


I am sorry for the discrepancy in the information that you have received. I am not an RVer and don't know all the ins and outs of flat towing. I did read the article you sent me and in the article it stated that only the vehicles owners manual can accurately tell you if the vehicle can be safely towed. I looked up a 2003 RAV4 owners manual. It didn't say anything about recreational towing. It did, however, have a warning about emergency towing - it stated that if a commercial towing service wasn't available and you NEEDED to tow the vehicle, you could flat tow it but only for SHORT distances and at LOW speeds. I'm going to assume that you'll be towing for longer distances and need to be at least close to highway speeds. Maybe the site that gave you the information has tried towing a RAV4 with success. I was simply trying to be extra cautious as to not give you poor advice and subsequently cause damage to your vehicle. I certainly don't want to deter you from buying a RAV4 - more Toyotas on the road is better for me! I hope this information is of more use to you. Good luck with your vehicle search.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you for your 2nd response. Yes, I saw the same reference to the owner's manual; it is too bad they aren't more specific.

I talked with a Toyota Sales Manager that I have known for a couple of years having purchased 3 trucks from him. He gave me skinny...the year of the vehicle or whether or not it has the newer system or older for activatingXXXXXdoesn't matter: The drive train must be disengaged.   Toyota doesn't provide a way to do this, thus, does not support it. My contact went on to say that 3rd party towing places do have solutions that they completely guarantee, and he supplied the info to me. I'll talk to the place tomorrow. is the name and they have a dealership near me. Check them out; be interested in your opinion of what they offer.

So, if I end up with a 4x4, I will have to take it to this place to install a drive line disconnect system and if I get an automatic will also have to install a lube pump system since the engine isn't running.

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