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#1 (permalink) Old 12-05-2012, 08:49 PM
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97 Rav4 good for the family?

my wife is pregnant and we found out right before I bought my 96 toyota tacoma 2wd. Love my truck, but it is tiny and cannot put a car seat in it.

I like older Toyotas, and I want an SUV over a bulky minivan so I decided maybe a Rav4 would be a good buy for my girlfriend (and my) second car. She has a cavalier and we plan to keep it, but we need something for kids.

I found this rav4 and offered the seller $5200 and he accepted, but I havent actually seen the car yet. On this website are pictures and a carfax, as you can see it was a fleet vehicle for 8 years...so that is not a good start. the seller offers a 3month warranty, so that eases my mind a little. I plan to see it this sunday, but I wanted owners opinions of this vehicle as far as how well it would transport kids - 1 baby seat and 2 children.

Link provided is the car I'm looking to buy. =)

1997 Toyota Rav4 4X4 4 Door For Sale In Spring TX 77379 - Moretz Imports LLC
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#2 (permalink) Old 12-06-2012, 06:22 AM
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Looks good, when on site, check for the Check Engine Light to come on (shortly) when turning the ignition key.

Airco, aftermarket stereo, cruise control, looks clean and well maintained.
I think you do a good buy with this one which will last you at least 150 - 200K miles if you keep maintaining it well, plus they keep a good price over time.
Will be a great ride to use with children. Outside looks fairly plain, but i cannot detect rust on the pictures (RAV4 don't rust very easily on the outside), which is good.

Ask about the timing belt if it's done (should be done at 100K miles). Most mechanics write down the miles when it was replaced near the timing belt area, so taking a look under the hood might help you find out too. Water pump should have been done along with it.
Greetz

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Driving a BMW318i with LPG at the moment. Had a 2.0 RAV4.1 1997 3drs 4WD euro model w/ABS dual sunroof blue two tone previously.
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#3 (permalink) Old 12-06-2012, 06:41 AM
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It looks like a pretty clean RAV. Remember, that not all repairs or problems show up on Carfax, it is best if possible, to take the vehicle to a trusted mechanic to get their view. A fleet vehicle is not all bad, usually a fleet vehicle has scheduled oil changes and/or repairs. I would be more worried about were it has been the last 7 years passed from auction to auction.

When you look at the car the first think to check is see if all the lights on the dash work when the key switch is on.(check engine light, seat belt light, etc.) Start the vehicle the lights should go out. I noticed that in one of the pictures that the seat belt light was on, but the door was open, make sure that goes off when the belt is on and door closed.(common problem)

How old are the other two children? The reason I ask is because three car seats in the back seat would be tight.

Since the car has over 100,000 on it, has the timing belt and water pump been changed? Does the cruise switch on steering wheel work? These are some things to check also.

I was posting the same time Pim was so some of the things Pim said I did to.

Good luck.
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#4 (permalink) Old 12-06-2012, 09:46 AM
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I plan to ask these questions, but ever time I've gone to a small dealer such as this one they NEVER have any details as far as maintenance.

Do you know if this engine is a timing belt or chain? My truck has a chain and while I just passed the 60k mark, I don't plan on needing to change the chain until 120k or later as the previous owner changed the radiator fluid every 3 years and always did the oil change before 4k miles.

Also, 2 car seats and a teenager would be the load, but this is rare as we don't always have all the kids with us.

I will check under body for rust as well and start the car w/o radiator cap as this is a good way to see if there is a gasket problem. I plan to have a mechanic check it out as well before I buy it. =)


afterthought: I really wanted a 5spd to avoid transmission issues later down the line, but at least I won't have to teach my wife how to drive this thing
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#5 (permalink) Old 12-06-2012, 11:07 AM
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It has a belt but if it does break it will not ruin the motor but belt,water pump and tensioner is about the biggest cost you will have.
The auto trans in 94-2000 are about bulletproof but still smell and look at the color and never do a flush without making sure the pan is dropped and cleaned before a flush is done.
When cold take cap off to look at coolant for oily mess which would mean head gasket,which is uncommon unless it gets really hot.
On all cars do not fill past the first time the gas pump clicks off and do not have a bunch of keys hanging off the switch.
Maybe look at where in the country it was when flooding happened in that area to make sure it was not flood damaged.
If all checks out jump on it,if it is still there because it is the best little suv EVER!
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#6 (permalink) Old 12-06-2012, 11:25 AM
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My mechanic works out the back of his truck and he does pretty good work. I'll have him check it out and anything that is needed I will plan to have done accordingly.

The p/o of my tacoma gave me detailed records and a chilton manual, since I won't be getting any of that I only have a few more questions:

What A/T Fluid is best for this tranny and how much would a pan drop and flush call for?

How much oil does the engine call for when the filter is replaced as well ?

Can an after market keyless entry be installed and if so, can you lock the car with the keys still in the ignition? I ask because I like to lock my car with it still running in shady areas and would like to use a keyless fob to access
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#7 (permalink) Old 12-06-2012, 11:40 AM
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Just to the right of cigarette lighter looks like it could be a alarm system?
If not leave it running and use extra key to lock door could work for you.
Have read more than a few problems with added alarm systems,not letting you start your car.
I am not saying you need a flush,most just drop and clean pan but as I said drop and clean BEFORE you flush.
Do not use bosh plug wires,many of us have had trouble with them.
Can repair guy do a flush? If not be very careful with chain trans,tire or muffler shops. So many people have trouble with them.
Cannot help you with fluids as others can help you more.
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#8 (permalink) Old 12-06-2012, 11:47 AM
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my guy can do it all, he is super cheap. if the fluid isn't fresh looking I'll most likely drop pan and flush as that will get all fresh fluid in there.

I'll make sure to stay away from bosh, i always order the premium or mid grades from rockauto. =P
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#9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2012, 11:53 AM
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Sounds like you got a good plan,it helps sooo much to have someone you trust.
The flush route sounds best.
Sounds like you guy knows this but I see over and over someone gets a check engine light and start "throwing parts at it" PLEASE do not do this,most sensors can be tested with ohm meter and remember the codes shows the AREA where trouble is.
This is something else I tell someone looking for a car.
To check front axles in parking lot turn wheels all the way to the right and give it a little gas in drive,let up and gas again. 5-10 mph is enough.
Do the same in rev then turn wheel to the left and repeat.
Listen for clunking,clicking or grinding.
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#10 (permalink) Old 12-06-2012, 11:57 AM
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kind of like the clicking it makes when the CV joints are shot? I'll keep an ear out for that as well. my main concern is rust because this car was in Iowa when it was a fleet vehicle and I'm pretty sure they get a fair amount of snow.. not that I've ever been =P

edit:

Printed out a part list of about $200 so when the dealer claims to not know any history I can pull it out and say "mmhmm.. okay... well, without labor i'll plan to spend this much on replacing some crucial parts - perhaps we can come down on the price, yes?"

spark plugs, wires, thermostat, radiator cap, upper and lower radiator hoses, water pump kit w/ timing belt, air filter, oil filter. does not include cost of radiator fluid, transmission fluid, or oil.
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