Troubleshooting Wind Noise in Your RAV4: Expert Advice

There are many things that RAV4 owners have in common. Sadly, one commonality is that most drivers are tired of hearing the RAV4 wind noise. I’ve been on many long road trips, driving at high speeds on the highway, listening to the same wind noise from my RAV4.

Because of my experience, I can share why this wind noise exists and what to do about it. I will give you some practical tips so that you can enjoy the ride in your RAV4 more.

toyota rav4 driving

Understanding Wind Noise

Car manufacturers put a lot of effort into reducing drag from the wind, yet there are spots prone to more wind resistance and noise. 

Let’s keep it real – the RAV4 is no Lexus or BMW. Luxury automakers put a lot of money into soundproofing the cabin and creating a quiet ride, but Toyota can’t afford to do this while keeping the price low.

Toyota has a lower budget for research and development of wind noise reduction when compared to luxury brands so they can pass the savings onto the consumer.

Still, the amount of wind noise in the RAV4 is excessive at times. When I drive my RAV4, I rarely notice the wind noise when traveling at lower speeds. I start to hear it only when I start driving faster (around 50 mph). The noise becomes much louder once I’m traveling 70 mph.

Before I talk negatively about the wind noise, there have been upgrades over the years. For example, if you drove a 1999 RAV4 and compared it with a current model, you would notice a big improvement. 

Automakers Are Aware of Wind Noise

How important is wind noise in deciding what vehicle to buy? Research indicates that it makes a big difference. 

  • According to J.D. Power and Associates’ initial quality surveys, wind noise is the top consumer complaint. Automakers understand that buyers equate a quiet cabin with higher quality.
  • Engineers spend thousands of hours working in wind tunnels, using computers and microphones to eliminate excessive noise.
  • Material, technology, and technique advancement have enabled manufacturers to create a quieter, smoother ride.

Chris Couch, vice president of innovation and product groups at Cooper Standard Automotive Inc., said: “Data from its customers indicate that, after the engine, the largest contributor to cabin noise is wind noise through the window and glass-run system.” (Rubber News)

Automakers focus heavily on creating a comfortable, refined driving experience. Yet, all of this effort leads to drivers noticing faint noises and rattles common to all vehicles, even the luxury ones. 

How Manufacturers Reduce Wind Noise

Here are a few ways automakers have worked to reduce noise.

  • Adding insulation and foam to the cabin to lessen noise and rattles
  • Isolating the suspension to reduce vibration
  • Designing an aerodynamic body to diminish resistance
  • Optimizing tire tread to lessen road noise
  • Redesigning engines to run with less noise

So, what specifically causes the wind noise in a RAV4? It’s believed to be a characteristic of the RAV4, mainly because Toyota focused heavily on fuel efficiency and value, skipping over the luxury end of creating a quiet cabin. 

To keep the price down, the RAV4 contains these attributes:

  • Thinner auto glass
  • Turbulent aerodynamics (in places), making it less efficient
  • Light body panels

If you aren’t sure whether you can hear wind noise in this model, I encourage you to take it on the highway for a test drive. From there, you can judge for yourself if it’s too distracting for your tastes. 

Common Causes

Here are the most common areas where wind noise can be heard.

  • Doors and seals
  • Windows (including all auto glass)
  • Sunroofs
  • Side mirrors
  • Roof rack
  • Paint protection film coating

Let’s examine a few reasons why wind can be heard in different parts of the car. 

What leads to the wind noise at the doors? 

Excessive air coming through the door seals typically has to do with the weather stripping. The door seal is meant to provide a barrier from moisture and keep air out. If it wears or rips, it doesn’t seat correctly, and the seal is broken.

To find these leaks, open your doors and examine them. Look for the weather stripping and covers to ensure everything is adequately affixed.

What causes wind noise at the roof rack?

Roof racks are naturally exposed to a lot of airflow because they sit on top of your vehicle. If the rack has sharp edges or isn’t aerodynamic, it can produce an excessive amount of wind noise. Even aerodynamic roof racks will add some wind noise.

How to Fix

Fixing Door Gap Wind Noise

Fixing the door gap to reduce wind noise doesn’t cost much. While it won’t completely eliminate the sound, it will dampen it dramatically.

We recommend using high-quality weather stripping for the job. Here are some basic instructions to follow.

  1. Clean the surface of the vehicle where the weather stripping will be installed. Use soapy water and a microfiber cloth.
  2. Install the strip in one shot, moving from the front of the vehicle over the front door to the rear door. 
  3. You could go further and install more weather stripping down the side where the rear door meets the vehicle.
installing rubber strips on rav4 to reduce wind noise

Fixing Roof Rack Wind Noise

You’ll want to purchase a wind deflector to reduce the noise coming from the roof rack. These deflectors minimize airflow through the roof rack, dramatically reducing noise. 

Is The Noise Actually Bad?

I haven’t been personally bothered by the wind noise in my 2021 RAV4, even when taking long trips on the highway, but I know some people have complained about it. To find out how annoying it is, I ran a Reddit poll.

I discovered that I am not much different from other drivers.

From a survey conducted by RAV4 Resource of hundreds of Toyota RAV4 owners:

  • 39% of RAV4 owners believe the wind noise is louder than it should be
  • 61% of RAV4 owners believe the wind noise is just fine

Here’s what RAV4 owners are saying online about the wind noise.

“No wind noise!”

“No wind noise! My RAV4 is very quiet.”


“Took to dealer, they said normal. Bummer.”

“Driver’s Side is Quiet”

“2023 RAV4 Hybrid XLE. Wind noise [is] not too bad except by [the] little triangular window next to [the] passenger side mirror. Driver’s side is quiet.”

“Noise Seems to Come From Mirror Area”

“Most of the noise seems to come from [the] mirror area.”


Before you trade in your RAV4 and take a loss, consider the simple ways we’ve outlined to reduce the noise. Whether you choose to use weather stripping or you want to add a deflector to the roof rack, you can accomplish these tasks on your own. 

If all else fails, you can always crank up the stereo and drown out the noise. You just won’t be able to have any meaningful conversations during the drive.

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  1. To all Rav4 owners. I picked up the 2023 RAV4 Hybrid XLE in June 30-2023. Put 3,000km.
    Yes, the vehicle is fun to drive. Great in gas and technology safety device.
    The only issue is the wind noise from cabin & wind noise from driver side & passenger side windows. 100 km/h is Ok since driving speed up to 120 km to 130 km/h then side door wind noise is very loud. Side mirror gusting wind noise and same as door frame. So I tried this modification to improve the wind noise.
    Here is the list I modified on the RAV4 within 2 months old.
    1. Installed 80 mil thick Sound deadening insulation on Engine Hood, 4 doors, cargo space, lift gate, rear seat wheel housing.
    2. Added premium weather seals all around the door trims.
    3. Applied carbon fiber 3M tape around the windshield all around to reduce the turbulent due the big gap on A pillar and roof of windshield.

    Result after modified. Cabin noise dropped from 74 decibel to 67-69 decibel.
    But the wind noise from driver side door is not much different.
    Side note: found the door frame is not strong/rigid frame structure at high speed. Door frame can be moved in/out by using hand to apply the pressure.
    Nothing I can do by accepted the way the RAV4 design. Not great in coefficient and Aerodynamics like my 09 Lexus RX350. My 09 RX350 did not have wind noise on driver/passenger & side mirror.

    Suggestion to turn on music on to distract the window noise on high speed.

  2. I had done so many trial error to eliminate the driver side wind noise at the upper corner of the Rav4 windows.
    As many Rav4 owners had concerned about wind noise on driver side. Some accepted the fact of tolerate the wind noise.
    So I found the solution which I would like to share.
    Low window down and upper corner of the window frame there is seal (see my picture) will found the hollow space between weather seal and door frame. There is nothing behind to push again when window fully close. That is why the air flow into the small gap.
    I cut thin slide of speaker insulation foam (see picture). I stuffed the foam behind the sealer to create the damper (pressure) to hold the sealer outward when window at fully close.
    It worked. I was on QEW 401 for 4 hrs to drop my daughter back to her school resident. Found the wind noise at the corner was much much better. Almost disappear the whistling sound.
    Also used 3M carbon tape to tape the weather frame at small window (see picture). Not much noise from there either.
    Took me 10 minutes to perform trial error. Hope this help.
    See the link below to see how did the insulation.

    1. RAV4 Resource says:

      Thank you so much for sharing!