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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello, first time post and new to the forum -

I have a 2003 RAV4 with 71,000 miles on it, I purchased a 2 years ago from a little old lady that rarely drove it. There are no issues, warning lights or problems with it. I have new Goodyear Assurance tires on it and the oil is changed regularly at the Toyota dealership. The air filter is new...but I am still getting terrible gas mileage, around 16-19 mpg in the city...is this Normal?

I live in the Orlando, FL area and most of my driving is in town and it is constantly stop and go driving. When I do drive on the highway the mileage is a little better but not even close to the suggested 25 city / 31 highway.

Any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
 

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stop and go is a killer to mpg.

maybe some hyper miling techniques could help. Try to avoid dead stops and starts. those are the worst one.

in stop and go traffic even the wifes civic suffers!

change spark plugs, maybe o2 sensors.

i can get 27mpg with my v6 but only on very conservative highway runs.

in the city is around 16 to 20....
 

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Thanks for the input. My 2003 RAV still has the original Denso iridium spark plugs..with a solid clean idle & no issues. I have read that they should not be replaced until 95k-100k or am I misinformed?
 

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Thanks for the input. My 2003 RAV still has the original Denso iridium spark plugs..with a solid clean idle & no issues. I have read that they should not be replaced until 95k-100k or am I misinformed?
90-100k for the iridium's is just fine.

Sent from my ONEPLUS A3000 using Tapatalk
 

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got 174k kilometres on mine. original plugs.

thinking of doing them in the fall. Had a coil fail recently as well. some say if the plug are worn the chance of a coil going it higher...
 

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mine is a similar year 4 cyl petrol but manual & european.


I had mpg issues in the past few years and eventually found out one front sticky caliper which I had replaced. The mpg improved by 10~15%.
A year later the same scenario and this time the culprid was the front caliper on the other side!! The same drop in mpg before and the same improvement after the change.


I calculated over a year, the saving in fuel (£1.35/ liter) is more than the cost of repair + the car regains some of its performace.


Over here, the iridium plugs are changed every 60k miles
 

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I have a 2004 Rav4 AWD with with manual tranny 100k miles and get around 17-20 MPG city but I tend to drive aggressively, and stay in lower gear/high rpm for better acceleration when I want to have fun with the car. The 2003 is rated for 20 MPG city so you are not too far from that estimate. Reset your odometer trip counter next time you fill your tank. Then when you come back for a refill write down the exact number of gallons needed to fill the tank completely. Divide the miles on the ODO by the number of gallons to get an EXACT MPG calculation. If you are still burning too much fuel a simple tune up will solve many performance issues and improve fuel economy. Here is the list of maintenance tasks I did that really boosted my fuel economy (for a couple weeks I was getting 14 mpg! brought it back to around 21).

1. Tires: PSI should be 29 or whatever it says on the door jamb
2. Change oil and filter (I use Pennzoil Platinum)
3. Install HIGH QUALITY Denso or NGK. Try to find the exact model numbers listed in the manual I believe they are:
DENSO SK20R11
NGK IFR6A11
(I assume your engine requires the same plugs as mine but double check to make sure)
4. Replace the PCV Valve, it costs $3 and a clogged valve can really hurt fuel economy (It can force the A/F ratio lean and the ECU may increase the amount fuel to restore the correct ratio)
5. Brakes: after driving the car for an extended period take an IR thermometer and measure the temperature of each brake rotor. They should be around 200-250 Fahrenheit and should all be equal in temperature with the Front brakes being a bit hotter. If you find a rotor that is abnormally hot then you have an issues with brakes dragging.
6. Check your transmission fluid. Most often overlooked and one of the most important maintenance tasks. The fluid should be clean, pink, and at the correct level as measured by the dipstick (If I remember correctly the fluid should be checked when the engine has reached operating temperature and preferably after slowly shifting between P, R, N, D, L.

If you do all these steps you may greatly improve the performance of the RAV, extend its life, and should restore fuel economy.

Beyond this, problems include more complex diagnostics of the exhaust, emission control systems, and engine performance that are unlikely causing issues.

Also FYI running the A/C decreases the fuel economy a bit, at least in my experience.

Let me know how this works out for you!
 

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When accelerating from a stop, or pulling on the highway, I always turn off the air conditioner with the a/c button.

Look at the B1S1 and B2S1 oxygen sensor numbers with a scanner.......the numerical value will be displayed as less than 1.0v
That numerical value should be switching values rapidly. Four, five times per second. The quicker it changes, the quicker the ECU will make adjustments to the air/fuel ratio..............The values should be switching somewhere in the general area of .350v and .950v True a bad o2 sensor would illuminate the Engine Light, but a sensor that is barely working within specs wont turn it on, but could result in poor fuel economy.

Don't bother with looking at the other (B2S1 and B2S2) oxygen sensor numbers. Those sensors have nothing to do with the operation of the engine, they are solely there to measure the health of the catalytic converter.


Have the alternator output measured. An alternator that only outputs 12.5v is a bad alternator and fails to provide enough power to properly charge the ignition coils........might be enough power to run the vehicle, but not run it optimally. Alternator output should be atleast 13.8v at idle and as high as 14.4 while at highway speeds with no electrical loads being drawn. Ie: Headlights, radio, wiper blades, windows, etc...
 

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A/C puts around 10% penalty on mpg.


on the open road at 60+ mph, aerodynamic drag becomes serious so it pay off to remove any accessories attached to the outside such as roof rack
 

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I average in the low 20's...also a 2003 with nearing 160k miles. Spark plugs/oil changes and the occasional fuel injector cleaner every other oil change has seemed to help.


On the highway it should be an easy 25mpg if you're cruising 2500-3000rpm
 

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2003 rav4 poor mpg, solved for me

Hello, first time post and new to the forum -

I have a 2003 RAV4 with 71,000 miles on it, I purchased a 2 years ago from a little old lady that rarely drove it. There are no issues, warning lights or problems with it. I have new Goodyear Assurance tires on it and the oil is changed regularly at the Toyota dealership. The air filter is new...but I am still getting terrible gas mileage, around 16-19 mpg in the city...is this Normal?

I live in the Orlando, FL area and most of my driving is in town and it is constantly stop and go driving. When I do drive on the highway the mileage is a little better but not even close to the suggested 25 city / 31 highway.

Any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Hi Tech218
This low mpg problem has been bothering me for couple yrs already, and I solve this problem by changing "transmission oil". see my story below. And hope can help others rav4 owners.

I have tried to solve the low mpg problem of my 2003 rav4 a few yrs already (150k mile on it). Like a lot of others, my mpg reduce all at sudden. (sure not relate to my driving skill or weather temperature) I have NO engine check light as well. Trying to solve this problem, I changed motor oil, cleaned mass air flow sensor, changed the spark plug, changed new gas tank cap, seafoam cleaning, etc. I did not solve the problem. After that, I was thinking to change all four A/F sensor and Oxygen Sensor by myself after I have read ppl suggested in others forum. Although change those sensors by myself will save a lot of money, but it still cost a lot to buy all the sensors.(like $400 total), Also my mechanic told me dun change the sensor unless the check engine light comes off.

So couple days ago, I told my mechanic to change motor oil, transmission oil (just oil, not the transmission oil filter since its still clean) and replace valve cover gasket (since oil found in spark plug chamber) of my rav4 in order to get ready for out of state travel. (the service fee is $150 total) The miracle happens, i finally can travel over 340 mile with one tank (Highway mileage) finally. (use to only 260 mile for last couple yr). I believe the new transmission oil correct my low mpg and hope this will solve yours too.

I dun expect my mpg will get back to the level as a new car, but it is making more sense now.
 

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Hello, first time post and new to the forum -

I have a 2003 RAV4 with 71,000 miles on it, I purchased a 2 years ago from a little old lady that rarely drove it. There are no issues, warning lights or problems with it. I have new Goodyear Assurance tires on it and the oil is changed regularly at the Toyota dealership. The air filter is new...but I am still getting terrible gas mileage, around 16-19 mpg in the city...is this Normal?

I live in the Orlando, FL area and most of my driving is in town and it is constantly stop and go driving. When I do drive on the highway the mileage is a little better but not even close to the suggested 25 city / 31 highway.

Any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Hi Tech218
This low mpg problem has been bothering me for couple yrs already, and I solve this problem by changing "transmission oil". see my story below. And hope can help others rav4 owners.

I have tried to solve the low mpg problem of my 2003 rav4 a few yrs already (150k mile on it). Like a lot of others, my mpg reduce all at sudden. (sure not relate to my driving skill or weather temperature) I have NO engine check light as well. Trying to solve this problem, I changed motor oil, cleaned mass air flow sensor, changed the spark plug, changed new gas tank cap, seafoam cleaning, etc. I did not solve the problem. After that, I was thinking to change all four A/F sensor and Oxygen Sensor by myself after I have read ppl suggested in others forum. Although change those sensors by myself will save a lot of money, but it still cost a lot to buy all the sensors.(like $400 total), Also my mechanic told me dun change the sensor unless the check engine light comes off.

So couple days ago, I told my mechanic to change motor oil, transmission oil (just oil, not the filter since still clean) and replace valve cover gasket (some oil found in spark plug chamber) of my rav4 in order to get ready for out of state travel. (the service fee is $150 total) The miracle happens, i finally can travel over 340 mile with one tank (Highway mileage) finally. (use to only 260 mile for last couple yr). I believe the new transmission oil correct my low mpg and hope this will solve yours too.

Now the mpg make more sense.
 

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You should try to measure your highway mileage and see how it stacks up to the epa rating. If it's below you can consider a tune up, but if it's where it should be it's probably the driving style or the driving conditions. I4 is pretty horrible these days.
 

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I also have a 2003 Toyota RAV4 automatic with 93,000 miles and have no issues, good tires, & runs great but the gas mileage is horrible. What I don't get is that some people here post they get 25-26 miles per/gal in the city, I get that on the Highway? Am I missing something or are there any suggestions?
I take my RAV4 to the local Toyota dealership for my oil changes and everything is great with the exception of a few up-sell items like adjusting the rear drums or trans flush. I know the 03 RAV4 does not have the best aerodynamics & the motor is a little under powered but there has to be someway to get better gas mileage???
 

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All the recommendations above are excellent. The only thing I could add is have your alignment regularly checked. I rotate my tires and check the alignment every 3,000 miles and frequently have 1.5° of misalignment per corner. This is often corrected to 0.4° for comparison.
 
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