Within your RAV4, you have multiple drive modes available to use. If you see the “Mud & Sand” mode button in your Toyota RAV4, you may be wondering how it actually works and when to use it.

To help you out, I explain what this valuable drive mode means. I also explain how to use the drive mode for maximum performance.

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What Does “Mud & Sand” Mode Do on the Toyota RAV4?

The RAV4 Mud & Sand mode is designed for driving on roads that include increased resistance. It’s best used when the tires could become stuck, such as when the road is muddy or sandy.

The Mud & Sand mode senses slippage of the wheels and regulates spin. To do this, the engine throttle is adjusted, while brake and drive force distribution is altered. These adjustments help maximum driving performance on precarious surfaces.

While the Mud & Sand mode is enabled, both the pre-collision system (PCS) and vehicle stability control (VSC) are disabled. Additionally, fuel efficiency is temporarily diminished in comparison to using the Normal drive mode.


How Do You Turn Mud & Sand Mode On/Off?

It’s not difficult to figure out the Mud & Sand mode. In your RAV4, you have a multi-terrain selector with the driving modes listed on it. Depending on what model you drive, it could be a switch or a dial.

Here are some basic operating instructions or you can check your owner’s manual for more information.

How to Turn Mud & Sand Mode ON (Switch):

If your RAV4 is equipped with driving mode switches, locate the one with the “Mud & Sand” button. Push the button to activate the drive mode.

How to Turn Mud & Sand Mode ON (Dial):

If your RAV4 is equipped with a drive mode dial, locate the part that says “Mud & Sand.” Turn the dial to the left until it reaches this mode. Once enabled, the dial illuminates.

How to Turn Mud & Sand Mode OFF (Switch):

When it comes time to turn off the Mud & Sand mode, you don’t press the button back in. Instead, press the “Normal” drive mode button to switch it.

How to Turn Mud & Sand Mode OFF (Dial):

If your RAV4 has the dial configuration, you don’t need to turn it to deactivate the Mud & Sand mode. Instead, press the “Push Normal” button in the middle of the circle. The illumination of the dial turns off to confirm the change.

When Should You Use Mud & Sand Mode? (Helpful Tips)

Even though the name of the mode itself indicates when it’s useful, there are other times to consider switching away from Normal. Additionally, I have some tips that are helpful before activating this drive mode.

    • Switch to Mud & Sand if you are driving on a surface with sand, mud or similar composition
    • Activate it when traction is lost on loose surfaces
    • Enable this driving mode when traveling down a dirt road that’s uneven or has trenches
    • Switch to Mud & Sand if the wheels start to slip or get stuck
    • This drive mode only works when traveling at 25 mph or less
    • Fuel efficiency will decrease while this drive mode is activated

While using the Mud & Sand function, you may experience these changes. None of these are abnormal but are common when using the drive mode.

  • Steering wheel vibrations
  • Vehicle vibrations
  • Engine compartment noises

If something other than these occurs, visit your local mechanic or Toyota dealer for support.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Mud & Sand mode helps the RAV4 gain traction in slippery conditions. It’s best used when driving on sandy or muddy road surfaces.

It depends on the model year and the trim level chosen. Your RAV4 may contain a normal, sport, ECO, trail, snow, EV, rock & dirt, and mud & sand.

In typical driving conditions, the Normal mode is usually the best option. Other drive modes are available too. For example, if your wheels start to lose traction because of mud or sand, the Mud & Sand mode is ideal.

Yes, each driving mode calibrates the RAV4 functions for a different purpose. I recommend trying them out while driving to see how each responds to various situations.

RAV4 is Ready for Adventure

The RAV4 equipped with the Mud & Sand mode is ready for any adventure. No longer do you need to worry about getting the wheels stuck while traveling on sticky surfaces.

Even if an adventure isn’t in your future, the Mud & Sand mode can help prevent problems if you get stuck. Try it out and see how capable it actually is.

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  • Jonathan Buckley

    Jonathan runs RAV4Resource.com and owns a 2021 Toyota RAV4 LE. He started RAV4 Resource, as well as other automotive websites, to help people understand their vehicles by answering frequently asked questions, addressing common problems, and providing general information to help people get the most out of their vehicle.

  • Brian Jones

    Brian Jones had worked as an ASE Certified Master Technician for several decades before opening his own used car dealership outside of Dallas, Texas. Toyota models, such as the RAV4, Corolla, Camry, Tundra, Highlander and Sienna, continue to be some of the top-selling vehicles at his car dealership. Aside from running the dealership, he also writes for some of the top auto publications, such as Motor1. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling the country with his family and can also be found tinkering around with older pickup trucks.

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