- The 2019 Toyota RAV4 has a timing chain, not a belt
- Chains are more durable than belts and usually last the engine’s lifespan
- The RAV4’s Dynamic Force engine uses a chain for reduced maintenance
- Owners still need to stick to the maintenance schedule for oil, filters, etc.
The Toyota RAV4 has been one of the most popular compact SUVs for over two decades. Generations of owners have loved its combination of cargo space, car-like handling, and Toyota’s legendary reputation for reliability. But when it comes to under-the-hood components like the timing belt or chain, many owners don’t give it much thought until maintenance comes due. So does the 2019 model have a timing belt that needs regular replacement, or a more durable timing chain? Let’s pop the hood and find out!
Timing Belts vs. Chains – The Key Differences
First, what exactly is a timing belt or chain? These components work together with the camshaft and crankshaft to ensure the engine’s valves open and close at the proper time during the combustion cycle. Belts and chains may sound similar, but there are some important differences:
- Timing belts are made from rubber reinforced with tough fiber cords. They need to be replaced periodically, around every 60,000-100,000 miles on most vehicles.
- Timing chains are made from metal, so they’re much more durable. They typically last for the entire lifespan of the engine without requiring replacement.
- Timing belts can snap or get thrown off if they aren’t replaced on schedule. That usually leads to serious engine damage.
- Timing chains will stretch out somewhat over time, leading to noise but not usually catastrophic failure.
So clearly, a chain is the more desirable setup for engine maintenance and longevity. But what has Toyota chosen to use in the history of the RAV4?
Toyota’s History With Timing Belts and Chains
Toyota has a long history of reliable four and six-cylinder engines. Many of their earlier four-cylinders had timing belts, including the famed Camry. This wasn’t really an issue for these cars, since low-cost maintenance was a selling point. But today, most automakers including Toyota have moved to timing chains on their modern engine designs:
- The Toyota Highlander V6, for example, switched to a timing chain in 2002 which reduced maintenance needs.
- Other newer Toyota SUVs like the 4Runner have also adopted timing chains across all engine choices.
So while the RAV4 once had belts, it’s very likely the 2019 model has converted over to a more durable chain. Let’s dig into the technical details and find out.
Digging Into the 2019 RAV4’s Engine
The 2019 RAV4 uses Toyota’s new TNGA modular platform. This lightweight architecture underpins everything from the Prius to the Lexus ES. There are two four-cylinder engine choices:
- 2.5L 4-cylinder making 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque in most trims
- 2.5L 4-cylinder hybrid making 219 total system hp in the RAV4 Hybrid
Both these engines utilize Toyota’s new Dynamic Force technology for more power and efficiency. Toyota confirmed in press materials that the Dynamic Force 2.5L engine has a timing chain, not a belt.
This table summarizes the key engine specs:
|2.5L 4-Cylinder Hybrid
|219 total system hp
|FWD or AWD
|Timing Chain or Belt
So both RAV4 engine options come equipped with durable, maintenance-free timing chains.
Benefits of the RAV4’s Timing Chain
The 2019 RAV4’s timing chain offers some nice benefits for owners:
- Should last the lifetime of the engine without requiring replacement
- Won’t slip, get thrown off, or snap unexpectedly like belts can
- Makes some noise as it stretches from wear, but less than older timing chain designs
No more watching the odometer for when your 60-100k mile timing belt replacement is due. The chain should outlive even the longest ownership periods.
Of course, the chain still needs engine oil to lubricate it. So regular oil and filter changes are still critical to longevity. Follow the manufacturer intervals in your owner’s manual, usually around every 5,000-10,000 miles.
Other Scheduled Maintenance Items
While the new timing chain eliminates one maintenance headache, there are still other items RAV4 owners need to stay on top of:
- Air filter and cabin air filter replacement – Toyota recommends inspecting the engine air filter every 30,000 miles and replacing the cabin filter every 20,000 miles or as needed. Using genuine Toyota air filters is recommended to maintain airflow sensors.
- Spark plug replacement – The spark plugs on the new Dynamic Force engine will need to be swapped out around 100,000 miles or so. Use an experienced mechanic you trust for this service.
- Brake fluid flush – Toyota recommends a brake fluid flush every 3 years regardless of mileage. This keeps the fluid fresh to maintain the braking system.
Follow the scheduled maintenance guide in your owner’s manual to keep your 2019 or newer RAV4 running smoothly. The timing chain is just one less thing to worry about thanks to Toyota’s engineering.
Conclusion: No Belt Needed!
The 2019 RAV4’s timing chain means one less maintenance headache for owners to worry about. As long as you stick to the rest of the maintenance schedule for oil changes, filter replacement, fluid flushes, and more, this SUV will keep purring smoothly for years. Toyota’s latest RAV4 has evolved from its predecessors, doing away with belts and embracing modern timing chain technology.
As a seasoned mechanic and proud owner of three successful car workshops, I’ve dedicated my life to helping people just like you overcome their everyday automotive challenges. I created this website as a labor of love, with a simple mission: to make car maintenance and repairs more accessible and approachable for the “average joe.”