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Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Fuel Tank Issue Fixed By Customer Support Program

Multiple RAV4 Hybrid owners have reported that the fuel tank refill issue is now resolved following a fix by Toyota’s dealers. Here’s what owners of RAV4 Hyrbids are reporting.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid owners tend to be a very happy bunch. Over the four years of the RAV4 Hyrbid’s existence, Car Compaints has received only 24 owner complaints about the top-selling vehicle. However, one of the rare examples of Toyota hybrid vehicles having a problem is the fuel filling issue that some owners of the RAV4 Hybrid reported. Here is what one owner told CarComplaints, “Fuel tank does not accept more than 7 gallons when empty (capacity is an advertised 14.5 gallons).” That succinct statement perfectly describes the issue. The great news is there is a fix, and it is working.

Related Story: The top-Selling Affordable Green Crossover In America Is Toyota's RAV4 Hybrid

Toyota offers Help With RAV4 Hybrid Fuel Tank Filling Issue
In December Toyota issued a letter to owners of the current-generation RAV4 Hybrid. The letter explains that Toyota has launched a Customer Support Program that offers a no-cost fix for the problem. In addition, the program extends the warranty on the systems related to this issue for 8 years and 100,000 miles. This will help to ensure that second owners and those who may not have noticed the problem will have ample time to take advantage of the fix. Torque News requested a sample copy of the letter from Toyota and Toyota sent it along very quickly for use in this story. As always, Toyota's response to our request for help with information was prompt and complete.

Who Is Covered by This New RAV4 Hybrid Fuel Tank Customer Support Program?
Our research indicates that owners of RAV4 Hybrids in both Canada and the United States are covered by this Customer Support Program. Owners of RAV4 Hybrids with the fuel tank issue have reported that they were contacted by Toyota in the form of a letter. They then brought the vehicle in for service, it was repaired, and it now functions properly following the repair.

Those who reported the problem to their local dealer early on were in many cases frustrated. We have seen dealer work orders that suggest there is no problem and that perhaps the owner had trouble with a gas station dispenser.

By contrast, multiple owners have now provided very detailed reports of their experience before and after the fix. These owners report that the issue is now resolved. In one case, an owner also received a dealer-supplied loaner vehicle.

How To Get Your RAV4 Hybrid Fixed
If you have a RAV4 Hybrid with this fuel tank issue here is what you should do:
1) Immediately contact your dealer by phone to report the problem.
2) Ask if the dealer is familiar with the Customer Support Program.
3) If yes, schedule an appointment and ask for a loaner in advance. Ask how long the vehicle will be out of service.
4) If no, reach out to Toyota directly for assistance by calling Toyota Owner Assistance at the below links:
US Toyota Assistance
Canadian Toyota Assistance

The numbers above are also handy if you had this issue investigated and repaired at your own expense. You can request a reimbursement from Toyota if you have your receipts for work completed.

The repair involves replacing parts of the fuel system. Most owners are reporting the repair is not a long appointment, and it is easily handled in a business day. However, as you can see in the comments below, others have reported that the repair took multiple days.

Does the RAV4 Prime Have The Fuel Tank Issue?
Our informal polling of Toyota RAV4 Prime owners confirms for certain that not all Prime trims have this issue. In fact, we could not find any RAV4 Prime owners who could report the problem. One part of the problem is that so few use enough gas to ever need a full tank. One owner, Kate S, told Torque News, "I’m having a hard time using this tank of gas! This car is so darned efficient it’s taking forever!" If we find any RAV4 Prime owners who report this problem we will update the topic.

Related Story: Consumer Reports - No Gas For Toyota RAV4 Prime Over 800 Miles In Testing

Have You Had Your RAV4 Prime Fixed?
If you have had your RAV4 Hybrid repaired, please tell us how the fix is working and offer any suggestions you feel may assist a fellow owner using our comments below this story. Please note that we have made a few updates to the original text based on the very helpful comments from the owners below.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin

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My 2021 venza hybrid is only filling roughly 11.5 gallons or so. Not the full 14.5 gallons as advertised. Jeff have you noticed how many gallons your Venza capacity is when filling up? Tha ks
Three weeks ago I brought my 2020 Rav 4 Hybrid in for the official Gas tank fix. It did not work. I have another appointment scheduled for them to try again.
I have had the repairs done on my 2020 RAV4 hybrid. Gas tank still only fills to 10 gallons. Brought it back in to dealer and was told since it fills above 9.8 gallons, it is operating up to manufacturing standards and there is nothing more they can do. Not sure how they can consider a gas tank operating 4.5 gallons under advertised capacity to be acceptable. There is a class action lawsuit started in California for those who are not satisfied with Toyota’s solution that I am now pursuing.
I'm having the same issue with my venza. filling only about 10Gal or so.
Having same problem with my Venza
I have a 19 RAV4 hybrid Limited. After the first fill up, I could never get more than 8 gallons, or so, at the pump, and it always stopped 2-4 hash marks below full, with a range of about 350. I got the tank replacement a few weeks ago. The first in my town. Now? It fills to above full, and the range reads 460ish. It didn’t take very long, either. They do need to remove the back seat to get at the rank, so, you’ll need to reinstall any car seats.
Sounds like you had a fuel tank replacement while the article says the tank is not replaced? Why would they continue sell 2020 model hybrids when they know there is a problem? The RAV4 received a 3 out of 5 in Consumer Reports reliability and considering the price should be much higher.
The part that is replaced depends on the production date of the vehicle and where it was made. 2019 models need a new gas tank and fuel sending unit. Sometime in 2020 the new tank design was rolled into production at some plants, but these vehicles still need a new sending unit. But, yes, that means that Toyota continued to produce this vehicle even when there was a known defect. Because the only other option would be to halt sales of their most popular hybrid model. That's a massive hit to their bottom line. It's a lose/lose situation, to be honest. On the plus side, almost all of the complaints that caused that lower ranking for the RAV4 have been fixed.
I just went through all of this. Someone told me that the reason for the tank problem happened during installation in high heat. In Texas it gets hot enough for the tank to suck in. When it’s climate changes the tank expands back to normal causing it to raise up and go out of level... luckily my dealer believed me. I brought it in when fuel gauge read 1/4 tank. That way the tech is the one filling up tank, and checking sensors/gauge. 4 hours and paid for Lyft rides to/from my home. Dealer replaced fuel tank and sender unit,and gaskets. Also a full tank of gas. All free, no charges. Thank you Toyota!
The story above has some mistakes and omissions. Our 2019 RAV4 hybrid fuel tank problem was fixed by Toyota, but it took three days and did require replacement of the fuel tank (and two other parts). Also - the Toyota letter to owners threatens that the owner will have to pay diagnostic costs if Toyota does not believe that their particular car has the problem.
Thank you, Rob. Perhaps we are mistaken and the tank is required to be replaced. Based on your comment, and some further research we have opted to edit the story. We also added two edits related to how long the repair might take. Thank you again for highlighting this. Your information may help a fellow owner prepare better for the fix.
RAV 4 Prime owner here. I live in NH and still use a fair bit of gas. I've never had an issue with refilling. Thanks for reporting it in case it happens at a later time.
The Rav4 Prime has exactly the same issue as the Hybrid and it is all Hybrids and all Primes that have the issue. There is a saddle design and when the tank is filled to a certain point, the fuel cannot spill over into the other side of the gas tank fast enough and the pump shuts off because fuel starts backing up the filler neck.
Hi Paul, please tell us more. Do you own a RAV4 Prime with this problem? Describe the issue you are having if so. We asked owners in the FB RAV4 Prime owners club if they have had the issue. 21 responded that they have had no issues refilling their tanks. One of the 21 did report a conservative low fuel warning. None reported that they have the issue. Maybe our sample size is too small. However, for certain, not all RAV4 Prime owners have this issue. Too many have reported their fuel habits in detail.
I had my tank fixed about 2 weeks ago. I cannot get the 550 mile range, more like 480. But my tank fills and I can get about 11 gallons in tank when it says empty. This is an improvement over the 8 to 8.5 gallons I used to get. So the fix works, sort of. No more trying to get an extra gallon in and having overflows. So I am happy.
Great info, David. Although I am not an expert on the subject, others have noted that the fuel warning light is conservative and the letter from Toyota also has a chart that sort of describes the situation. From what I have seen so far, it appears that 11.5 gallons consumed is where the low fuel light first illuminates. That works out to almost exactly 20% of the total tank capacity. Glad the repair left you happy. That is what we are hearing from most owners who have reported the results of the repair. Thanks for your comment.
That's still not sounding right. You should be able to get 14 gal into the tank for a range of about 550 miles.
The tank is 14.5 gal, but "E" doesn't mean "empty." It's designed to have maybe 1.5 gallons left as a reserve, which won't show up in the range estimate. The low fuel light should come on with about 2.2 gallons left. So the most you should expect to fill from empty is about 13 gallons and the most you should expect after the low fuel light is 12.3. In practice it's a bit lower than that since the pump should shut off before the tank is completely full. So expect 12-13 gallons from empty and 11.3-12.3 gallons from low fuel light. Vehicles with this problem are about 2 gallons less than this, with the missing fuel in the tank but not visible since it's below the "E" mark on the gauge and range estimate. You have to drive forever on empty before it might run out of gas. Nearly 150 miles in some cases.
Agree. I got the fix on my 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Satisfied with it. James
Took this in on Friday. Had it done Saturday. First one for this dealership, which is a huge dealership. Paperwork shows that tank was replaced. The notice says to make sure tank is filled to auto shutoff before bringing it in, This ended up being a problem. When I picked up car, it reeked of gas, inside and out. Foolishly drove it home thinking incidental gas spillage would dissipate. Five hours later odor had migrated from garage into house. Took it back to dealer. They admitted gas had spilled all over because tank was so full (they hadn't read the notice). So, if you're having this taken care of, ignore the instruction to fill the tank. Let the dealer fill it if they want to
This is great advice Dan. Thanks for sharing.
We've had the same problem with our Rav4 Hybrid. I've run it down to 25 miles to empty and not been able to put more than 9 gallons in the tank. The local dealer did replace tank last summer but unlike Rob it did not fixed the problem. I've not received a letter from Toyota yet. I've called the local dealer and currently waiting for a call back.
Before keeping your attitude about your tank not filling when the gauge says "E", note this. For years, in my case back to 1989, Toyota tanks and gauges have had their full capacity and their "gauge" readings. Upon careful attention to the re-filling of my tanks, I deduced that the yellow warning light comes on with a minimum of 2.5 gallons, and often 3 gallons and a touch more in the tank. The red light, usually when the needle/indicator hits E, comes on and there is a guaranteed 1 gallon in the tank. While you can thank Toyota for the "safety" factor, and the fake info about your gas quantity, get to know your car a little better. Toyota is treating the car buying public as if they don't know and don't care about how their cars operate, hence the idiot lights on the gauge that mislead. I have had to re-assure my wife, noted for her OCD tendencies, dozens of times that she was not going to run out of gas before she made it to a filling station. All because a light comes on when there is still 90-100 miles of range left. And, this is when our cars were getting only 27-32 mpg. We currently own Toyotas that get 32-38 mpg, and the lights still come on with 2.5-3 gallons left in the tank.
My 2019 Rav4 XSE was fixed in December. Fill-ups went from 9 gallons to 11.5 when the low gas light comes on (<20 miles range). I'm getting 360-390 miles per tank. My MPG has decreased to 30 MPG hwy and 34 mpg city. My driving habits are similar to pre-fix. My MPG is now about what the non-hybrid is. I don't call this a fix. What happened to 38/41 MPG?
Yes, after 400 days out of service, for a tank which the dealer could only get TWO gallons in, mine had this fix. Like others here are reporting, it's STILL not fixed. In the last two fill-ups (done with a system-reported 5-10 miles of range left, mine will take an average of close to 10 gallons, and since it's averaging 29 mpg (NOT the 38-40 advertised) it means I now have a range of 305 miles not the 580 I was told this would get. Just in the shop today and the vehicle returned to me with an acknowledgement they can't do better. So no, for many of us, Toyota has not fixed this issue.
I'm pleased that Toyota acknowledged the RAV 4 fuel tank a few months after it was first reported in spring of 2019. And that they are fixing the problem at no cost. I am not so happy that our dealer in Ontario Canada can't be bothered to keep the fuel tanks in stock, so what should be a one-day job actually drags on over two or three days. And I don't think it was appropriate for Toyota's Ontario letter to owners threatened to make them pay for the "diagnosis visit" if their staff concluded that my car didn't really have the problem. Finally there remains the mystery of what actually causes the problem. Toyota must know the cause, so why haven't they publicly revealed it? It seems at least possible that they still don't fully understand it. If they did fully understand it, you would think that they could tell whether a specific car has the problem - based on date and location of manufacture.
Not happy so far after the fix with 2 fillups. I have a 2020 Xle and the tank only took 10.8 gallons after fillup and shows full but it always did unlike many 2019 owners. The estimated range is at 465 and I want to see this around 544+ like the first tank of gas that came with the car and what was advertised. I am getting only 34mpg in town and have never been close to 40 as advertised. Going to call Toyota cuatomer center tomorrow.
I had the fuel tank replaced last week on my 2019 RAV 4 Hybrid and was told to run the fuel down to around a quarter tank before I brought it in which I did. It took me a while to do this because of the great fuel mileage. The dealership had my car ready in about four hours. My first gas fill up using the automatic shut off worked as advertised the tank filled up quickly and the fuel gauge read a little more than full.
What years? I have a 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Thank you
2019-2020. 2021 shouldn't be affected, but we'll see.