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5 checks before you buy used 2013-18 Toyota Avalon

The Avalon has long been the flagship Toyota sedan model, taking a place above the Camry in the model lineup and competing with big, comfy sedans like the Chevrolet Impala, Nissan Maxima, Chrysler 300 and Ford Taurus.

As Toyota’s top-dog car model, Avalon targets a shopper after top levels of feature content, space and comfort, all at a reasonable price.

If you want a luxury sedan driving experience without the luxury sedan price-tag, this machine is highly worthy of your consideration as a used-car buy. Look for a 3.5-litre V6 with 270 horsepower and front-wheel drive on all models.

The big and spacious cabin is grown-up friendly, the trunk is generous, the ride is expertly tuned for comfort, and an extensive feature content list sees this machine fitted with goodies like premium stereo provisions, climate-controlled seats, a rear window sunshade, radar cruise, navigation and more.

This generation Avalon ran from 2013 to 2018 and an update for 2016 saw revised styling and additional feature content applied. If it’s in your budget, opting for a 2016 or newer unit may be the best bang for your buck.

Here are some tips and checks to consider before you buy.

Charging system

Especially on older Avalon units from this generation, consider having the battery and charging system checked out professionally before your purchase.

This quick and typically-inexpensive (or sometimes free) inspection can quickly reveal the health and performance of the Avalon’s battery, alternator and related components.

Some owners say they’re disappointed with a shorter-than-expected life from the factory battery.

As a weak or dying battery can cause a smörgåsbord off frustrating issues across numerous electronic systems, shoppers are advised to replace the battery if it doesn’t pass a charging system check with top marks.


Some owners have reported clumsy shifting, hard shifting, sluggish responsiveness, and other forms of unpleasant behaviour from the Avalon’s transmission.

In most cases, this is software related and a simple reset or re-flash of the transmission’s computer brain by a Toyota technician is sufficient to remedy the problem.

On a test drive, be sure to observe the transmission shift quality across numerous situations: including at light, moderate and heavy throttle, and while manually upshifting and downshifting via the gear lever or paddle shifters.

At the first sign of anything other than smooth and virtually undetectable shifts, make plans to have the vehicle assessed by a professional. Do not attempt to reset the transmission computer by disconnecting and reconnecting the vehicle battery.

Also, remember that ensuring your vehicle has no outstanding software updates and that all maintenance is up to date (ask your dealer service advisor for the scoop) goes a long way toward trouble-free transmission operation.

Cabin odour

Run the climate control on all fan speeds and temperatures to confirm proper operation. During the process, be on the lookout for an unpleasant smell, possibly similar to that of a mouldy towel, or a stinky hockey bag.

If detected, the problem may be the result of a clogged cabin air filter (which many owners forget to change), or a set of conditions that allow moisture and mold to form within the climate control system.

Dealers may be able to perform a cleaning service to eliminate the smell (at a cost), and some Google searching for a DIY solution can also save you a few bucks.

Under the trunk

Look closely at all trunk carpeting and, in particular, the area beneath the trunk floor. Lift the floor panel away until you can see the spare tire.

Look around and beneath this area for signs of water staining, rust, dampness, or standing water. Some owners have reported a water leak in this area, possibly caused by a bad weather seal or poor sealing of the tail lamps.

This is a rarely-reported problem, but one worth watching out for, as a water leak into the vehicle’s body can accelerate rust, result in foul smells, and numerous other problems.

Connect your devices

This general tip applies to all modern cars, but it’s worth mentioning here.

On your test drive, be sure to connect your Bluetooth device to the Avalon’s central entertainment/communications system and give it a workout. Stream some music, make and take a phone call and be sure that the system responds as expected throughout the process.

If that’s not the case, a software update to the vehicle or your handset (or both) may be in order.

Sometimes, a hard-reset of the central command unit can fix compatibility issues.

Note: The information presented above is gathered from online owner discussion groups and collaboration with a network of automotive repair professionals. The above information is not a comprehensive list of all possible issues with the vehicle in question and is instead intended to draw shopper attention to possible trouble spots they may wish to investigate before they buy. In most cases, problems listed above are reported with relative rarity in comparison to total sales volume. Shoppers are advised to have a dealer- performed pre-purchase inspection on the vehicle they’re considering for maximum peace of mind.

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