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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-08-2018, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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Looking at an 03 to purchase. Advise please!

I've got my eye on an 03 that my local dealer has just gotten as a trade in. 3 owners, 109xxx miles, they're asking a bit much ($7k) but maybe I can negotiate the price down a bit.

Once I have a look at it, and drive it a bit, is there anything I need to be wary of? I've been reading the threads about the ECM or ECU affecting the transmission in some of the 01-03 Ravs and I'm pretty concerned that I could buy a car that will end up needing a tranny soon because of this problem. I've seen the Carfax and there is very limited info on regular maintenance, so I'm unsure what to think.

Obviously I'll take it out to drive on the highway, and if I can find some hills to see how the shifting feels.

Any and all advice/commentary on this topic or anything else I need to be aware of is welcome.

thanks!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-27-2018, 10:40 AM
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Garage
Just purchased an '03 this weekend...R-title, 180k and needs some trim bits replaced, but solid as far as I can tell. Suspension rattles a bit...suspect sway bar links and plan to go through those as well as shocks/struts.

I paid attention to the basics...clean fluids, underbody condition, engine sound and driveability. Was used to a previous vehicle in the class ('05 Tucson) and found the inline 4 a little sluggish in comparison, so don't be shocked if it takes a little patience in accelleration.

I took a chance based on price ($1.9k) and am hoping that I can figure out how well I did and what I need to do here

Best of luck. An independent opinion is always a good idea if you have a trusted wrencher...it may also give you an idea of the seller's general disposition
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-27-2018, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedHotPotter View Post
I've got my eye on an 03 that my local dealer has just gotten as a trade in. 3 owners, 109xxx miles, they're asking a bit much ($7k) but maybe I can negotiate the price down a bit.
Keep in mind they probably gave the previous owner $2K for it. I'm not bashful about asking for his/her name and always register cars & trucks I buy myself so I have the title in hand.

Fred
2006 RAV4 V6 4WD Barcelona Red Limited - wife's
2018 Accord Hybrid, Blue Pearl - Dr. Dyno's - 47/47 mpg
2003 Odyssey V6 - handy people & cargo mover
1999 F-250 4X4 Diesel - snow plow, Bully Dog chip
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"If you really believe you get what you pay for there's no such thing as a good deal."
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-27-2018, 09:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Dyno View Post
Keep in mind they probably gave the previous owner $2K for it. I'm not bashful about asking for his/her name and always register cars & trucks I buy myself so I have the title in hand.
^^ Exactly.

I can't get over what the USA dealers ask for a good old Gen2 RAV4...$7,000 for a 2003, yikes !!
- 3 years ago end of June, we bought a mint v6 Limited 4x4 privately
- with 55,600 miles for the equivalent, of $10,000 American money
- at the time, dealers were marking up these cars $5,000 Cdn or $4k US$

I consider good-old Honda CR-V, RAV4 & 4Runners, all hold excellent used resale value.
- few days ago, my brother found a 2005 CR-V top SE AWD model with leather, 82,600 miles
- with AC, heated leather seats, moonroof, all power amenities / 2.4L with 5 seed auto, 4x4
- 2nd owner was 90 y/o and had a stroke, his son listed vehicle on FaceBook & Kijiji
- seller received 52 emails over 18 hours, for purchase / price was $5,000 Cdn equals $4,000 US$
- Honda SUV was a cream puff, always garaged, mint body with perfect original paint / even headlights not hazed

It takes much patience to find a very clean used vehicle, with good maintenance and not
over-priced.
- my RAV4 took 6 months to find
- brothers CR-V took 10 months to find
- took me 2 years to fall into the purchase of a mint, garage kept 1 senior owner 2000 4Runner SR5 4x4...89k miles
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-28-2018, 01:09 PM
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FYI, if you're nervous about buying an 01-03, register on Toyota.com/owners and put in the vin #. It'll tell you if a dealer previously serviced the vehicle in all aspects, oil changes, repairs and the ECM recall/repair.

2003 Toyota Rav4 -- 2.0 VVT-I/Auto/4WD, 157k

Current Mods: FormFit Bugflector, AVS Ventvisors, OEM Foglights, OEM Heated Mirrors
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-28-2018, 06:19 PM
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Garage
If you can afford it, look for a good '04. It will have a bigger engine.

Help RAV4World members help you by providing your car's operating location in your profile page. Climate can cause a RAV4 in Dallas Wisconsin to experience a different set of issues when compared to the same model in Dallas Texas.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-28-2018, 08:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JuneBug View Post
If you can afford it, look for a good '04. It will have a bigger engine.
I agree with JuneBug. I had a 2005 and the bigger 2.4 litre engine is much better than the weaker 2.0 litre engine on the previous years model.
The 2.0 engine is under powered. The 2004-05 have most of the bugs ironed out and are more reliable than the previous models.
They also have the fewest problems of any RAV4 models to date. The 2000-2003 had ECU problems making transmission fail due to cracked soldering on the ECU board. The transmission would not shift properly but the 2004-05 did not have this problem.

One other thing to note I find is that the rear seats are not comfortable. You may have complaints if you always have passenger (kids) in the back. The storage in the back is so small also. But if you don't mind those things it is a good small SUV which is very reliable and fun to drive.

The price of $7000 USD is over priced for the 03. Should be near $3000-$4500. This is a 15 year old car we are talking about.

2009 RAV4 Sport V6 4WD
2005 RAV4 Base 4WD -sold
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 02-28-2018, 09:51 PM
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The power difference between the 2L and the 2.4L is minimal.... but appreciable (around 10 hp and 20 lb-ft tq). I personnally passed from the 2L to the 2.4L, and don't regret it up to now.


But the 2.4L is not flawless! There is many complaints about oil consumption (there is a TSB about that), and there is also a TSB about head gasket failures due to stripped head bolts threads.


I agree that $7000 is very over priced for a 2003.... but I would not be nervous to buy it if an inspection was made by an independant mechanic with positive result.

2001 with 2.4 swap + RAV4.1 transmission (4.93 final drive ratio), RAV4.1 locking center differential, Lexus RX300 limited slip rear diff , Celica GT4 stage 1 SPEC clutch kit, 3" lift kit, Old Man Emu coil-springs, sway-bars delete and BFG MT KM2 235/70/16.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-01-2018, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Commando View Post
The power difference between the 2L and the 2.4L is minimal.... but appreciable (around 10 hp and 20 lb-ft tq). I personnally passed from the 2L to the 2.4L, and don't regret it up to now.


But the 2.4L is not flawless! There is many complaints about oil consumption (there is a TSB about that), and there is also a TSB about head gasket failures due to stripped head bolts threads.


I agree that $7000 is very over priced for a 2003.... but I would not be nervous to buy it if an inspection was made by an independant mechanic with positive result.
Most engine oil consumption problem are from owners with 2006-2008 engines with 2.4 litre engines. Very few from 04-05. My 05 did not burn any oil in 5 years I owned it.

The hp difference is 13 hp with the 2.0 litre (148 hp) vs 2.4 litre (161 hp) . It does help in the towing which I did.

2009 RAV4 Sport V6 4WD
2005 RAV4 Base 4WD -sold
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