Noxious smell in new Rav - anybody else? - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
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post #1 of 23 Old 01-30-2019, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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Noxious smell in new Rav - anybody else?

So I just bought a new LE AWD Rav4 and am suffering from the smell inside. I think I may have made big mistake in buying this vehicle. The smell was very overpowering to me when I first got in for a test drive. It did not smell like your typical new car smell - there was something different and decidedly more noxious about it. I'm not even sure how to describe it, except it reminds me a bit of cedar aroma. It sort of produces a sensation of itchiness inside my nose.

My wife along with the salesman just said it smelled like a new car to them so I ended up ignoring it, expecting it to diminish sufficiently fairly quickly. So we bought the car and started driving home. The odor did diminish somewhat, but I had the windows down slightly and the fan on with the heat set to medium. In spite of that, by the time we had driven about 35 to 40 minutes, both my wife and I were experiencing a slight headache. When I stopped after driving for about an hour, I popped the hood and was greeted by a smell similar to burning plastic on the driver's side of the engine compartment.

I drove to work this morning with all of the windows a few inches down, and still noticed a slight smell. This was after letting the car idle for about 15 minutes the night before with the heat on full blast. I also let it idle this morning with the heat on full blast before leaving for work.

At this point I regret buying this specific vehicle. I should have told them to give me a call when they get another LE AWD Mag Grey in stock. I test drove a different LE, FWD a few nights earlier and I did not notice a noxious smell. As it is, I experienced brain fog all day Monday after driving the vehicle to and from work. Just last night, I did a 15 minute drive around the neighborhood and had the really noxious odor reappear in the cabin. I also noticed a brief burning plastic smell when I opened the engine compartment.

I did call the dealership right after I got home from the purchase and spoke to the salesman. He said that the '19 Ravs that he has been in have had a stronger smell than the previous generations and said he thought it would go away soon, but that I could bring it in to have it inspected if I wanted. I told him I would see what the next day or two was like, but I decided to also call Toyota Care today. They opened a case, but said that the way things work, I need to have the dealership try to remedy the issue first.

I am not looking forward to having to deal with this - this is one of those things that the service department is likely to say "we don't notice anything unusual" and I'll end up with a vehicle that is making me sick.

Any thoughts? Anybody else experience something similar?
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post #2 of 23 Old 02-01-2019, 04:26 AM
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I had same burning smell when I was driving home from the dealership. I thought it was due to using the heated seat for the first time. Overall odor is strong but it's getting better. You can buy a USB powered air purifier and leave in your car. Buy one with a carbon filter. Many options in Amazon...
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post #3 of 23 Old 02-01-2019, 09:41 AM
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1) Take it back and get your $$ back or, get another one. 2) Keep it and wait for the TSB, recall, or campaign to come out.
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post #4 of 23 Old 02-04-2019, 02:02 PM
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No odd odors so far, just the usual new car odor.

2019 Rav4 XLE Premium AWD


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post #5 of 23 Old 02-04-2019, 05:15 PM
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My wife just picked up her new 2019 RAV4 Limited AWD this afternoon. Silver Sky Metallic with all available packages and accessories. Tons of electronic options. As senior citizens I'll bet we never figure out how to use all of them. Our dealer located this specific car for us at another dealer so it had 126 miles on it when she picked it up; then drove it 75 miles home so now it has about 200 miles on it but there is no odd smell. Just the new-car smell, nothing over-powering. Although this car is really unremarkable in terms of styling and looks (reminds me of a used Subaru) I think it will serve us well. I followed her home and was a little disappointed that the tail lights and rear turn signal lights seemed very small and not very prominent compared to a lot of other vehicles.
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post #6 of 23 Old 02-28-2019, 11:36 PM
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I noticed the same burning plastic smell when the transmission hesitated and lurched after a rolling stop. That odor hit me immediately after the transmission hesitated/lurched. This happened with about 50 miles on the odometer. I bought my RAV4 with 7 miles on it and there wasn't any burning odors when it was at the dealership. There is definitely something defective going on. It is not normal for any car to have this type of odor when it's new.

I drove 25 miles around town to find out when my RAV4 emits this burning odor and it happens when the transmission is downshifting after coming to a near stop. If I stepped on the gas at 1-2 mph the transmission would lurch and the burning plastic smell would get stronger. Now I avoid rolling stops and the transmission shifts normally off the line. I'm an electrician and this burning smell reminds me of insulation that is overheating and melting at a very high temperature. Something around the transmission is getting way too hot and causing this material to burn. I'm not a mechanic but I know there has to be something wrong when a burning plastic smell goes off in a split second. I'm going to look under the hood and underneath the engine bay to find out if there is anything that looks charred.
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post #7 of 23 Old 03-01-2019, 02:55 PM
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Still no odd smells or strange shifting on mine going on 3 months of ownership, although I still have less that 500 miles on it, sounds like Toyota service needs to check it out to me, I have made a couple 30 mile trips tho, no burning smell, hope ya get it and the shift issue fixed, that's a bummer on a new vehicle.

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post #8 of 23 Old 03-02-2019, 12:33 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Tonsofice View Post
I noticed the same burning plastic smell when the transmission hesitated and lurched after a rolling stop. That odor hit me immediately after the transmission hesitated/lurched. This happened with about 50 miles on the odometer. I bought my RAV4 with 7 miles on it and there wasn't any burning odors when it was at the dealership. There is definitely something defective going on. It is not normal for any car to have this type of odor when it's new.

I drove 25 miles around town to find out when my RAV4 emits this burning odor and it happens when the transmission is downshifting after coming to a near stop. If I stepped on the gas at 1-2 mph the transmission would lurch and the burning plastic smell would get stronger. Now I avoid rolling stops and the transmission shifts normally off the line. I'm an electrician and this burning smell reminds me of insulation that is overheating and melting at a very high temperature. Something around the transmission is getting way too hot and causing this material to burn. I'm not a mechanic but I know there has to be something wrong when a burning plastic smell goes off in a split second. I'm going to look under the hood and underneath the engine bay to find out if there is anything that looks charred.
Take it back to the dealership to have them look into it. If they can't reproduce it, smell it, or deny there's a problem, call Toyota Care and have them document the issue. Also request that a Toyota Specialist come out and take a look at the vehicle. If you keep having the problem and the dealership/Toyota is not able to remedy it, start thinking about having Toyota replace the vehicle under the lemon law. The representative at Toyota Care should ask you what you're expecting from Toyota, but if they don't, tell them that you are asking that Toyota fix the problem or replace the vehicle. There's a pamphlet that is bundled with the owner's manual and other booklets that describes steps you need to take in these situations.

As for me, I've just started that process and am waiting for an appointment to have a specialist come out to the dealer to examine it and figure out a solution. I have a handful of issues with this vehicle that I am going to document in another thread, but I will say here that I am having issues with the transmission. It "thumps" when coming to a stop (at around 3-4 mph) when the vehicle engine/power train has not yet come up to full operating temperature (before 10-15 mins of driving). I have also noticed hard shifts while driving at higher speeds, and also jerky, whiplash types of effects with "rolling stops", like you're describing, particularly when the vehicle is cold. I haven't noticed any pronounced burning smells when changing speed, although I have recently noticed that the odd "cedar wood" type smell inside the car seems to make itself known after harder acceleration, or after slowing down. Maybe it's the same as what you're experiencing, but in my case it smells different after making its way into the cabin from the engine compartment.

My dealership has been of no real help to me, and in fact the service manager tried telling me that the other two new '19 Ravs that we test drove were doing the same type of hard shift into first gear that my car was doing! They were NOT anywhere close to the same effect. They had a very "slight" sensation sometimes that you could feel when coming to a stop, but you could not hear it. Mine has a very pronounced thump feel and sound. Ridiculous!

BTW, mine is a J-spec (Japanese built). What is yours?

Last edited by InTheUS; 03-02-2019 at 12:38 PM.
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post #9 of 23 Old 03-02-2019, 03:06 PM
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Mine had the engine/transmission built in Japan and the other parts from from US and Canada. I still experience the jerky whiplash at 3-4mph like you described but no thumping when downshifting to a stop. I had a 99 Sentra with 150k that would have a harsh thump during downshifting to 1st or 2nd gear ,I know you're talking about. A new car shouldn't be doing that. I did find that giving the transmission 1-2 seconds to find the right gear after a rolling stop (slowing down for speed bumps for example) will prevent it from lurching/ whip lashing. Try doing this - when you're going to do a rolling stop let your foot off the brake so the car slowly creeps forward and then you when you feel it down shifting into the right gear, apply light pressure to the gas pedal to make sure it's in the right gear then you can step on it a little harder to get the acceleration you want without any whiplash. It seems like this transmission is very slow downshifting during low speeds. Like they tuned it for safer driving rather than sporty performance. I do think this transmission is capable of snapping off quicker up and down shifts but they decided not to because then it would be too fast.
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post #10 of 23 Old 03-02-2019, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Tonsofice View Post
Mine had the engine/transmission built in Japan and the other parts from from US and Canada. I still experience the jerky whiplash at 3-4mph like you described but no thumping when downshifting to a stop. I had a 99 Sentra with 150k that would have a harsh thump during downshifting to 1st or 2nd gear ,I know you're talking about. A new car shouldn't be doing that. I did find that giving the transmission 1-2 seconds to find the right gear after a rolling stop (slowing down for speed bumps for example) will prevent it from lurching/ whip lashing. Try doing this - when you're going to do a rolling stop let your foot off the brake so the car slowly creeps forward and then you when you feel it down shifting into the right gear, apply light pressure to the gas pedal to make sure it's in the right gear then you can step on it a little harder to get the acceleration you want without any whiplash. It seems like this transmission is very slow downshifting during low speeds. Like they tuned it for safer driving rather than sporty performance. I do think this transmission is capable of snapping off quicker up and down shifts but they decided not to because then it would be too fast.
I was asking about final assembly which is on driver's door pillar, but component assembly is interesting too. Where do you get that info?

As far as transmission shifting issues with "rolling stop" (at either low or slightly higher speeds) type scenarios go, I'm really only experiencing that now when the vehicle hasn't really warmed up yet.

It was really bad during the first week or two of ownership, no matter the temperature, but has improved greatly as I've put more miles on it. I could definitely try work around the problem and usually avoid the whiplash, but obviously, a driver should not have to do this. Plus, there are times you are actually busy driving and it just is unavoidable.
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post #11 of 23 Old 03-02-2019, 03:48 PM
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Final assembly point was in aichi japan, the percentage of where the parts came from were on the window sticker but I think they remove that when they deliver the vehicle. Yeah the owner shouldn't have to drive a certain way to avoid glitches in the vehicles operation I agree with you, it's like I have to be careful the way I drive or I'm going to mess up the transmission
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post #12 of 23 Old 03-04-2019, 09:18 PM
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We've had our 2019 Adventure for about a week and hadn't noticed any smell until today. This morning while driving to work, I noticed a smell similar to what has already been described. The smell is really bad when the heat is directed to the floor. When changing to any other vent/defrost setting, the smell seems to almost completely go away. For those who have experienced this smell, can you confirm that its worse when the blower is directed to the floor or any other specific blower setting? This smell occurs even when the vehicle is not moving and is parked. The smell is not affected whether or not the recirculated air is on or off. Hopefully another case and/or more information provides more direction to Toyota to help resolve this issue.
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post #13 of 23 Old 03-05-2019, 12:31 AM
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Experiencing the same problem with the transmission jerking coming to a stop and hesitation on a rolling stop. Was told it would go away but I'm at 1500 miles and problem still persists. I opened a case with Corp Toyota and you should call to. The more complaints the better, maybe they will release a tsb.
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post #14 of 23 Old 03-05-2019, 01:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radone View Post
The smell is really bad when the heat is directed to the floor. When changing to any other vent/defrost setting, the smell seems to almost completely go away. For those who have experienced this smell, can you confirm that its worse when the blower is directed to the floor or any other specific blower setting? This smell occurs even when the vehicle is not moving and is parked. The smell is not affected whether or not the recirculated air is on or off. Hopefully another case and/or more information provides more direction to Toyota to help resolve this issue.
My ventilation was set to come out the dashboard when I got the burning plastic smell. I also noticed it after I had parked & turned off the engine, I could smell it from a couple feet away. Today I drove about 40 miles with the ventilation blowing down and I did notice an odor that was a bit more toasty but not like burning plastic. I haven't got the smell since 50 miles on the odometer I now have around 300 miles. I think it has to do with the transmission and if you're driving on the highway or in the city
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post #15 of 23 Old 03-05-2019, 02:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Alexz View Post
Experiencing the same problem with the transmission jerking coming to a stop and hesitation on a rolling stop. Was told it would go away but I'm at 1500 miles and problem still persists. I opened a case with Corp Toyota and you should call to. The more complaints the better, maybe they will release a tsb.
I'm going to open a case as well. I think the transmission has problems with city driving. Transmission hesitates finding the right gear & then it lurches after a rolling stop. Mine doesn't have jerky or harsh down shifts yet. I tried manual shift mode when I was at a stoplight and it was in 4th gear, which is strange because any car will downshift into first gear when it stops completely. Also noticed that when the brake hold is on, my RAV4 will take off with a lot more torque for some reason. It's an electronically controlled transmission, Toyota can tune it to fix these problems. I don't understand why they put a 8spat and have it shift so erratically. I think they're trying to make accelerate slow on purpose, if the transmission was tuned correctly the 2019 RAV4 would be really sporty
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