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How to Use the Overdrive on a RAV4

Every model of Toyota RAV4 with an automatic transmission comes with a standard overdrive (O/D) function on their gear shifter. Basic models are included in this list. The overdrive function in the Toyota RAV4 serves several purposes that help with both overall driving in different conditions and gas mileage, allowing you to drive further and use less gas. Although the overdrive in the Toyota RAV4 should almost always be left on, there are occasions in which you will have to turn it off.

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  1. Locate the overdrive (O/D) button on the gear shifter. The overdrive button can be found on the left side of the shifter, below the button used to shift gears. It is much smaller but functions much in the same way; push it in to turn the overdrive on, push it again to release it and turn the overdrive off.

  2. Turn the overdrive on before driving. Your dashboard will have a light that comes on, usually orange (though it depends on the model year you own), that will let you know that the overdrive is indeed on. Once you have ensured that the overdrive function is on, drive as you normally do and you will notice that the RAV4 operates as it typically does. When the overdrive is on, the RAV4 is using all four gears the automatic transmission comes with. This also helps conserve gas because the vehicle is allowed to use less power when operating.

  3. Turn the overdrive off once you have come to a complete stop. You never want to switch the overdrive from on to off or vice-versa while in motion, except in extreme instances. You will now notice that the RAV4 can accelerate much faster but can not operate well at speeds above 40mph. This is because with the overdrive off, the RAV4 is only using three gears instead of four.

  4. Turn the overdrive off when driving up a steep hill in order to use more power. You will notice that the revolutions per minute (RPM) goes much higher before the vehicle shifts gears. Having the overdrive off will help the RAV4 drive uphill with more ease and without switching to four-wheel drive. Also turn the overdrive off when driving down a steep hill to avoid riding the brakes and wearing them out. You can turn the overdrive off in snowy or icy conditions, and also switch to a lower gear (1 or 2) to help gain traction.

  5. Turn the overdrive on in most driving conditions to conserve gas and to keep the car from overworking the engine.

  6. Tip

    Make sure that the O/D light comes on when it is turned on; get it checked out by a mechanic if it does not.


    Never turn the overdrive off when driving on the highway, as this will result in engine damage.

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Things You'll Need

  • Toyota RAV4 with automatic transmission


About the Author

Alejandro Leopardi

Based in San Diego but originally from Washington, D.C., Alejandro Leopardi has been writing marketing, news, entertainment and literary criticism articles since 2003. His articles have appeared in “Target Magazine” and “The Current.” Leopardi holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies and a Master of Arts in English.

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