Used Guide: 2013-2018 Toyota Avalon

Buying a secondhand Toyota Avalon? Shop smart with these 5 tips

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Sad news: 2022 will be the last model year for one of the most underrated sedans on the road.

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The fourth-generation Toyota Avalon is the focus of this story. Based on the same platform as the Lexus ES, this Kentucky-built flagship sedan hit the road for 2013, again taking a place above the more mainstream Camry in Toyota’s product lineup.

On a test-drive of a 2017 model-year unit, left the Avalon impressed with its ride quality, its space, and its upscale  trimmings. After an extended 2,100 kilometre test-drive, I found this machine to be one of the best highway touring cars I’d ever visited for the money. Specifically, that’s because it’s comfortable, relaxing, easy on fuel and it makes a great place to unwind and recharge on the go. With many strengths and few weaknesses, the Avalon is big, comfortable, accommodating, well-mannered, and strongly equipped. It’s also powered by one of Toyota’s most proven and time-tested powertrains — namely, a 3.5 litre V6 and six-speed automatic transmission.

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All units are front-wheel drive. Consider a similar Subaru Legacy if you’re after a comfortable sedan with AWD equipped. 

Shoppers do have better options for exciting styling, highway noise levels and infotainment system tech for the dollar. Still, where space, comfort, and relaxation factors are concerned, the Avalon hits the mark like few other machines for the dollar.

Let’s hook you up with plenty more information on the Toyota Avalon, including specs, reviews, news, and features. Below, I’ll share 5 tips to help you find the best used Toyota Avalon that you can for your dollar.

Tip 1: Standard Stuff for Modern Cars

When buying any car of this vintage, a few standard-issue checks and considerations are advised. Start with battery health, confirming that the battery and charging system in the unit you’re considering are healthy. A weak or dying battery can result in countless electronic headaches, moreso on models heavily equipped with advanced feature content. Regular use of a trickle charger can help extend the life of your Avalon’s battery, and make it more reliable.

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Further, pay close attention to the quality and consistency of all gear changes from the transmission. Automatic transmission trouble is a key complaint from owners of modern cars, and in most cases, trouble with drivability is fixed with updated software or a fluid change.

A healthy battery and transmission are a great starting point for reliable ownership. 

Tip 2: Climate Control odour

When you arrive for your test-drive, take note of the condition of the vehicle from a glance. Are the windows rolled down? If so, the seller may be trying to mask a potential problem reported by some owners that relates to the climate control system.

Some owners have reported foul smells emanating from within  the system, likely caused by a buildup of moisture that invites mold growth deep within the climate control ducting. Most owners do not report this problem, but if it’s affecting the car you’re considering, you’ll likely notice an awful, musty smell from the car, or the air being moved by its climate control system.

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If this problem affects the vehicle you’re considering, it could cost you money and take away from your enjoyment of your new car. Be on the lookout.

Tip 3: Seat Comfort

The Toyota Avalon is an excellent sedan for drivers who do a lot of long-distance trips. While it’s built to ride comfortably for hours on end, some Avalon owners have reported dissatisfaction with seat comfort — both while new, and after some time as the seating material wears in.

Most owners are satisfied with seating comfort in their Toyota Avalon, but test-driving shoppers are advised to carefully consider seating comfort, and be sure they’re able to easily devise a comfortable seating position with the power controls.

Tip 4: Connectivity

Fourth-generation Toyota Avalon
Fourth-generation Toyota Avalon Photo by Justin Pritchard

The Toyota Avalon from this generation features advanced systems that connect the driver’s phone and media to the car’s central infotainment interface. Numerous owners have reported problems with the functionality of this system; many have not.

Ensuring the Avalon you’re considering is running the latest software updates for the infotainment system, and that your handset is running all current updates, is one step towards preventing headaches.

Use high-quality cables when connecting devices through USB, and double-check that Bluetooth works as expected, with satisfactory call quality for both phone calls and streaming music.

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If there’s a problem with the infotainment interface in the Avalon you’re considering, it could cost you money, so check the system over carefully. A healthy battery can prevent infotainment system trouble in some cases, too.

Tip 5: Other checks and tips

Fourth-generation Toyota Avalon
Fourth-generation Toyota Avalon Photo by Justin Pritchard

When test-driving a used Toyota Avalon, triple-check for satisfactory operation of the power rear sunshade, confirming that it operates smoothly and fully in both directions without any unwanted noise.

Some owners have reported oil leaks from valve cover gaskets; most have not. This rare but potentially expensive problem is easy for a technician to spot during a Pre Purchase Inspection (PPI).

This generation Toyota Avalon was subjected to 7 recalls to address latent safety defects. The full list can be found here. Dealers are required to perform recall work free of charge. Contact your service department to see which, if any, recalls apply to the specific Toyota Avalon you’re considering.

Fourth-generation Toyota Avalon
Fourth-generation Toyota Avalon Photo by Justin Pritchard

Final Thought

These tips are designed to help test-driving shoppers more easily identify possible trouble areas reported by some owners. An attentive test-drive and shopping process that focuses on the areas above can help you find a first-class example of a second-hand Toyota Avalon.

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