When you’re about to replace the tires on your Toyota RAV-4, the choices can be rather bewildering. It’s one of the most popular vehicles in the United States and its tires are the most common sizes, so the selection is massive. Here is an overview of the best tire options for the Toyota RAV-4 crossover, including the original equipment tires, as well as several choices based on your budget.
The current generation Toyota RAV-4 crossover is sold in five trims, but with two different tire sizes, a 17-inch and a 19-inch, depending on trim and options. Note that the Adventure trim was new for 2018, but the size and brand of tire are exactly the same as the Limited and XLE Premium. In those two sizes, the RAV-4 was equipped with the following different brands of tire:
We’re going to recommend tires by trim level instead of sizes. The bulk of RAV-4 trims (XLE, XLE Premium, Limited and Adventure) all sort of do the same job, so the recommended tires are all suitable for each. The LE is the budget trim, and the standard XLE tire is the same. Note, we’re assuming that nobody is replacing tires on a 2020 RAV-4 TRD Off-Road yet, so we’re not including it in our recommendations.
Remember to verify which of the three sizes your RAV-4 has.
Here is the trim vs. possible tire size matrix for the RAV-4:
Here are Car Talk’s suggested tire picks for the RAV-4 LE and XLE with the standard 17-inch wheels:
For the RAV-4 XLE with the optional 19-inch wheels, the XLE Premium, Limited, and Adventure, we recommend the following tires:
There are two regular milestones that will suggest that it’s time to replace the tires, not only on your Toyota RAV-4, but any vehicle in your driveway: Time and Mileage.
Considering most drivers cover between 12,000 and 15,000 miles per year, the vast majority of RAV-4 owners are going to be past the mileage that their original equipment tires were intended to cover before they’ll go past the tire’s usable age.
The life of your tire can be somewhat predicted by its UTQG (Uniform Tire Quality Grade) rating. Tire manufacturers apply their own grades to tires for treadwear, traction, and temperature. When you’re researching tires online, a UTQG will come up next to the tire name in three digits and a number (ex. 500 A A).
You can glean a bit of info from the tires by reading this rating:
Original equipment Yokohama Geolander tires Nissan fits the RAV-4 earns a 740 A A UTGQ rating. Unless they are damaged, these tires could last as long as 70,000 miles before you need to replace them.
The other consideration is time. Each tire has a raised date code on the sidewall. The number begins with the letters “DOT” followed by 12 digits in three four-digit groups. The date code is the third group of four digits. To decipher the date of your tires, the first two digits represent the WEEK the tire was produced, and the second two digits represent the YEAR.
For example, if your tire’s date code is 3217, that indicates the tire was manufactured in the 37th week of 2017, or sometime between September 11 and 17th that year.
Once tires go beyond five years old, it’s time to consider replacing them. Tires are made up not just of rubber and steel or kevlar belts, but chemicals that help the tires resist UV rays, temperature changes and a lot of other environmental hazards. Those chemicals start to break down after five years or so, and the tires aren’t doing the job that they need to do.
There’s no harm in replacing your tires with the shoes it came with from the factory. However, depending on what kind of driver you are, there are significant reasons to purchase something different.
You only need to purchase ONE set of tires for your car every four years or so, depending on how much you drive. When an auto manufacturer purchases tires, they buy them by the hundreds of thousands. For the manufacturer, the decision to choose a supplier one brand or another comes down to a price point.
For you, your consideration may be completely different. If you could get a tire that stopped 20 feet shorter for an additional $10 per tire over the original equipment, you’d probably do it. Similarly, if there was a tire that provided less road noise or longer tread life for a minimal investment overstock, chances are, you’d probably decide on the slightly more expensive tire.
Depending on the year and model, you may be shopping tires to fit anything between 15-inch for older models to 19-inch wheels with various widths and sidewall sizes along the way. It is possible to change the wheel and tire sizes, but a general rule of thumb is to keep the total diameter of the wheel and tire the same. So, that means that downsizing an 18-inch wheel to a 17-inch wheel would include a proportionate upsizing of the tire sidewall to compensate.
Downsizing wheels has its advantages. Benefits include:
On the other side of the coin, going up in wheel size has its benefits:
When reading tire sizes, it’s important to understand what the numbers mean. Let’s use an all-season tire with a 235/65R17 103H specification as an example:
You may have noticed that the Toyota RAV-4’s three tire sizes have different diameters and also different aspect ratios. Generally, automakers choose tires that have the same or similar outer diameter. This allows them to have only one speedometer setting.
Now that you know what comes on the new RAV-4 and how to read the size numbers, let’s look at the different types of tires available to you. Depending on the type of driving you’re doing, where you live, and the weather, you have a variety of choices for tire types:
Online tire prices are usually less than in store
Check inside your driver’s side door for a white and yellow label that will tell you the exact tire pressure recommendations for your RAV-4 model. Note that the pressure on the tire itself is never the correct setting, but rather a maximum. Here’s a tip: Nissan has an inflation assistant to help you inflate your tires to the proper pressure. It’s called “Easy-Fill Tire Alert.” Check your manual section on tires for how to use it.
Rotating tires is more about the tire than it is about the car. A typical rotation interval is somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 miles, though specific cars and tires may change those numbers a bit. The RAV-4 is a front-wheel drive-based vehicle, so the front tires will be worn more quickly than the rears. It’s important to keep this in mind and to not ignore the need to rotate your tires.
Your RAV-4 should have come equipped with a compact spare tire and changing tools in the trunk. In this case, you already have everything you need to physically change the tire, but you may want to carry an extra roadside emergency kit with an upgraded lug wrench, jumper cables, and emergency markers just in case.
Several online retailers like Tire Rack offer regular discounts and free shipping for their tires. Their sites also have tire fit guides and pricing estimators to help you understand what you’re buying.
Most online tire retailers have free shipping or reduced shipping cost when you choose to have them installed at a partner shop. The retailer may have an arrangement with a local tire chain or installation center and can ship the tires there for free.
Retailers like Tire Rack offer fast shipping and can often have tires to your preferred installer in as little as two days. Many others, like Discount Tire Direct, offer the same fast and free shipping.
Some shops will offer free installation when you purchase tires from them, and online retailers often promote the same deal for people who choose to have the installation done at one of their partners. If you do find yourself paying for tire installation, expect to pay between $15 and $50 per tire, depending on what is needed. That money pays for mounting and balancing the tire to ensure a safe and comfortable ride.
The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is independent of your tires, but should be checked at regular intervals to ensure no damage or malfunctions are occurring. Your local tire shop can perform this check as part of a normal tire rotation or installation.
Yes! You can find the right fit, tread pattern, and speed rating on nearly any online retailer’s site. They sometimes offer specials and rebates around the time when people start looking for winter tires (late fall).
It’s certainly not a requirement to buy your tires and wheels from the same place, but you’re more likely to get a deal on the package if you buy from the same place. Check the retailer’s specials and make a determination from there. You may also find a better deal ordering either the tires or wheels online and buying the other component from your local shop.
Yes, and in some cases, rebates are offered alongside discounts on the tires. It’s important to ask questions and understand what you’re getting, so be sure to chat or call the retailer before ordering if the rebates are unclear.
Ordering your tires online vs. the shop will save you money