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Here’s The Reverse Gear Noise Explained on the New RAV4 Hybrids

Do you hear an angelic-like noise coming from your new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid when you put it in reverse? Don’t worry, it’s not your gears grinding.


A “back-up beeper” is the sound your car makes when you put it in reverse. This sound is played on the outside of the car to alert pedestrians that this vehicle is backing up. Usually, you see this on commercial vehicles like dump trucks and construction vehicles as a safety protocol. It was first invested by the Japanese in the 1960’s and has now found its way to your everyday vehicles. Even my 2012 base model Toyota Prius who has seen its end has this beeper.

On my car it’s a simple “beep.” Most cars do not have them but the reason my Prius has it is because of its hybrid drive train. When a hybrid backs up, it also uses the electric motor to put it in motion until the gas engine kicks in. Because of this, the car does not make any exhaust noise and could be dangerous to dogs, people, or little kids. To combat this, automakers who make electric and hybrid vehicles but the back-up beeper as a feature so that people can hear the car backing up because of the low noise level.

Here’s The Reverse Gear Noise Explained on the New RAV4 Hybrids

However, that noise has evolved from a very mundane beep to now an angelic and speed progressive sound which plays on the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. You can also find this sound on some Lexus models as well. But can you believe that some owners actually think that this sound is a transmission problem? Should Toyota maybe address this?

Jessica Michelle posted on Facebook’s Toyota RAV4 Hybrid group saying,” is there a way to subdue the opera choir sound my 2020 has when I put it in reverse? It’s always had it so I’m guessing it’s on purpose to make sound when backing since it’s so quiet?”

Now yes, this vehicle is a hybrid so naturally it would come with a back-up beeper. However, I think that the fact that Toyota changed from the traditional “beep” to the now angelic whine should’ve been re-visited a few more times before production. For instance, If the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is my first hybrid car with a back-up beeper, nine times out of 10 there is going to be a chance of me thinking that there is some sort of problem with the transmission when I put it in reverse if my dealer had not disclosed that this sound is normal beforehand.

There is no way to turn it off unless you hack into your car or jailbreak it however it should not be too loud and luckily, it isn’t an annoying sound. Check out the YouTube video linked in this article to see just how angelic and beautiful this sound is. Most cars have a simple beeper that gets annoying like my 2012 Prius however I think that this new sound is very interesting. In a Tesla, you can change your horn sound without having to change the actual horn. I hope that someday we can change our back up beeper noise to fit our desired sound. If that were to happen, expect to hear a bunch of funny sounding cars backing out of the mall parking lot.

What do you think? Is this sound annoying to you? Let us know in the comments below.

Harutiun Hareyan is reporting Toyota news at Torque News. His automotive interests and vast experience test-riding new cars give his stories a sense of authenticity and unique insights. Follow Harutiun on Twitter at @HareyanHarutiun for daily Toyota news.


Brad abernethy (not verified)    July 1, 2022 - 5:51PM

My daughter calls the reverse sound 'singing demonic angels'! I like it better than the annoying beep, beep, beep you hear on other vehicles.

Rita Jones (not verified)    July 2, 2022 - 8:33PM

The sound is very annoying and got progressely louder. Not to mention the sound was not disclosed to me when I bought it. I took the car back to the dealership 2 days later. I thought something was wrong with the vehicle.

Brian (not verified)    July 17, 2023 - 10:43AM

In reply to by Rita Jones (not verified)

I also brought our 2023 Rag 4 hybrid in 2 days later, monday, due to the reverse noise. If its normal they should have you listen to it when you buy your car and the salesperson spends 20 minutes hooking up your phone to your car. Would take them 15 seconds.

Corollaowner (not verified)    August 28, 2023 - 4:11AM

In reply to by Rita Jones (not verified)

My brand new corolla makes this sound driving forward as well. It is unbearable after 6-8 hours /day driving in low speed neighbourhouds.The dealer didn't tell me about the sound at purchase either which might have been a dealbreaker for me. Next day when I returned to the dealership and complained about the sound I was told that it should have been my job to research all the information about the vehicle before purchasing it.

N K (not verified)    July 2, 2022 - 10:20PM

I say it is more of a space age sound. When I put my 2022 Rav 4 in reverse I say I’m activating my spaceship and getting ready to blast of!!!

BrianK (not verified)    July 2, 2022 - 10:48PM

We have a 2022 RAV4 limited Hybrid and the sound is not annoying or troubling at all. The first drive home ended with my wife backing into the garage and me wondering about the noise but quickly figured out it was only during reversing and was to alert someone of approaching vehicle, it caught my attention.

Fran (not verified)    July 2, 2022 - 10:56PM

Oh my!! My Toyota RAV4 XLEPremium Hybrid is on order! How funny will that be for my neighbors. This also is my first hybrid but a long time RAV fan and driver.

Renate (not verified)    July 3, 2022 - 12:25AM

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Jayson (not verified)    July 3, 2022 - 4:33PM

I found the Tesla model 3 has the coolest sound for reversing. It's sound like an alien ship is coming by. Take your RAV4 then instead of a steady annoying tine, wobble it like the speaker is going in and out from you.

Thomas McHale (not verified)    July 3, 2022 - 7:50PM

Absolutely do not like it-would definitely rather have the beeping noise
The “growling” noise is AWFUL!!!

Bill Brandt (not verified)    July 4, 2022 - 10:41AM

I thought this was a transmission problem the first day. No one knows that it’s a backup warning, as they would with a beep. So not only annoying but ineffective as well.

Nancy (not verified)    June 7, 2023 - 10:47AM

In reply to by Bill Brandt (not verified)

Nearby people are always telling me there’s something wrong with my engine. Not fun! I have a brand new Toyota Rav XLE. II shouldn’t have to explain this noise to bystanders.

Jan Rudd (not verified)    July 4, 2022 - 4:59PM

I have a 2023 Toyota highlander hybrid and I really like the angelic choir sound.

Heather (not verified)    July 4, 2022 - 11:49PM

The first time I reversed my rav4 hybrid, I was certain there was something wrong with it because that sound is atrocious. I thought "there's no way someone is stupid enough to make this sound deliberate". I was wrong. It's not angelic in the least, it sounds like my $40k rav is on the verge of death.

Stacey Badger (not verified)    July 6, 2022 - 5:50AM

It's been a standard "feature" since the model redesign in 2019, nothing new. Also if anyone can confuse that sound with "something wrong with the car" they have no clue about mechanical movement.

Calvin (not verified)    August 30, 2022 - 2:39PM

In reply to by Stacey Badger (not verified)

Sorry but I have to disagree with your comment as I am a licensed mechanical engineer who is well versed on ‘mechanical movement’ or more correctly stated automotive acoustics. When I first heard this backup ‘noise’ I questioned the integrity of the drivetrain as most knowledgeable others have done. After thinking about what could be making the ‘noise’ I concluded there was something wrong or it was intentionally being made. After hearing it on other hybrids I concluded that the ‘noise’ was a poor attempt to be a warning noise. You obviously have a superhuman hearing ability to differentiate sounds that you want the world to know by belittling those who don’t. I feel sad for you.