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2004 Rav4 Softroader / Overland Build (Everglade Metallic)

19573 Views 83 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  RAV4Blaze
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I've accomplished quite a bit since I first started this thread and I figured I'd start to make a table of contents / list of mods completed and mentioned here more or less in order of completion. Follow along here and at gladerunner4WD on Instagram.

As of 2/05/2022:
  • Rear Badge Black Out
  • Black Steelie Install
  • Radio Antenna Mast Replacement / repair
  • Interior LED Bulb Swap
  • Exterior LED Bulb Swap
  • DIY Prinsu Style Roof Rack Cross Bars with OEM Rack
  • Hexomat Floor Mats
  • Rear Wiper Repair/Replacemnet
  • Landcruiser / Satoshi Style Grill
  • DIY Interior Footwell Lights
  • Heated Side Mirrors
  • OEM Fog Light stalk, relay, install
  • Raptor Running Lights
  • DIY Upper Console Map Lights
  • Map Light connected to Dome System
  • USB Outlets to Replace Ciggarette Ligthers
  • BlueSea Switch Panel
  • Interior Chrome Delete
  • 2012 OEM Bluetooth Radio in 2004
  • Gentex Compass Mirror
  • Rear Turn Signals Always Illuminated
  • Heated Seat Switch Install
  • Tow Hitch Receiver + D-Shackle Recovery Point
  • 2014 Scion Radio with Backup Camera
  • Heated Seats
  • OEM Lift Kit
  • 235/70/16 Tires

Hey All,

Just purchased a 2004 Rav4 in Everglade Metallic/Mica. I just "traded down" from a 2017 Tacoma TRD Offroad. I had built the "Ripcord Popup Camper" and had modded it quite a bit.

I had to sell my tacoma as I just moved to Canada from the US and the import taxes / and paying off the remainder of my car loan something I wasn't interested in.

Pretty stoked to have picked up a very clean 2004 Rav4 with 192,000KMs on it outside of Montreal and I thought I'd start a build thread.

Thank's to all who have already shared great information in the 4.2 forum section. Invaluable!

Week 1:
  • Swap from original silver steel wheels to black OEM style stock steelies for a more rugged look
  • Removed spare tire cover
  • Removal of bug deflector (may put back on, can't decide)
  • removed dealer 17 year old dealer logos
  • LED swap of all interior lights
  • LED swap out of headlights, running lights, taillights, breaks lights
  • Debadge /Replacement of back emblems with classic "TOYOTA" logo and black out of 4WD emblem
  • Grill swap to mesh grill with TOYOTA Landcruiser style front badge (on order)
  • Foglight install (on order)
  • Headlight replacement with blacked out headlights (did it DIY.)
  • Lift Kit (about to order) - on order
  • After winter will be ordering new tires (went with Motomaster X-Trail Eliminators)
  • Paint front and rear bumper black (maybe?) Decided against

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OEM Tow Hitch Receiver?

I had some chats with @rav4explore about the off-road protection that a trailer hitch receiver can provide for the back bumper assembly. This made me I take a closer look at the one I took off after buying the trucklet.

After scraping a few layers/years of anti-rust coating It seems I've uncovered that it is the OEM hitch receiver. Curious if anyone happens to know the specs on it, Its got a 1-1/4" receiver.

Thinking I'm going to clean it up, paint it up and reinstall it. Maybe put a receiver with a clevis/d-shackle on it as a recovery point. The 1-1/4' receiver makes me nervous to do that. Curb weight of the 04 listed at 2,965 lbs. Most 1-1/4" have a lower limit (Car is rated for 15000 for towing). GVWL is 4,041lbs (although don't think ill ever run close to that heavy.

Anyone want to "weigh" in on this?

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No Splice/Cut USB Charger / Cigarette lighter replacement:

  • Remove lower console assembly
  • Unplug everything connected (ashtray light, 12v power, 12v light)
  • Remove Cigarette lighter (video, start at 2:09 to see how he does it)
  • Dremel or file out the hole of the trim separate trim piece and the actual panel piece to fit your new USB charger.
  • Fit USB outlet into the separte trim piece, and into the panel, and secure with provided nut
  • Back in the car - find the power connectors for the original 12v outlet
  • Pry off caps on each connectors (see photo), and then slide in jewlers screw driver into the ends to release additional tabs to slide out spade connectors
  • Connect spade connectors to new outlet
  • Reinstall everything
This mod eliminated the the 12v ring light piece and the need for that bulb - which frees up a perfect place to connect some foot well lights that are attached to the dimmer of the dash.

Update 1/25/22:

The orange lights on this 12v USB aren't dimmable with the rest of the cabin lighting on the console dimmer - something about it really bugged me as it was a bit distracting. I chose to splurge on a 4.8 A BlueSea 12v socket to replace it. No lights and faster charging as this is my main USB for my phone. I also added a USB 3.0 charger with a voltmeter and an on-off switch to the center console behind the Shifter.

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If you ever used the 120W outlets in your Tacoma, you'll appreciate in the RAV4.2 you have 2x 120W docks that provide full rated power in "P"ark or "D"rive. The Tacoma only provides 120W in "P"ark. I replaced the OE wiring with 10 gauge equipment that permits the operation of both outlets simultaneously without popping the 15 amp fuse.

I think the tow hitch is a good idea for overlanding. I pulled a 2" model off a salvaged RAV this summer and cleaned it up - used it many times this summer pulling a 1,500 pound trailer, and this winter helping pull neighbors out of the ditch. I don't like the weight, I don't necessarily like the look, but it's been beneficial none-the-less.
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Fog Lights / Running Lights:
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Continuing with the "orange/amber" theme. I installed some Winjet aftermarket fog lights with Laminx amber fog covers today. I also decided to move forward with the "raptor lights".

I don't recommend the Winjets. The mounting posts on either side are slightly bigger than the what I assume the OEM ones are. Once they are in they are almost impossible to get out (unlike the fog lights dummy covers which are super easy). I broke one of the posts trying to get one out to adjust something. It broke right into the housing creating a hole (I taped it up with electrical tape and hit it with a heat gun. As soon as I find a pair of OEM ones at a junker these are going. Luckily it seated back in the bumper snuggly with out the post and its not all that noticeable from the front.

Automotive lighting Wood Automotive tire Bumper Bicycle part

100% buy Lamin-x tint. Do not cheap out and buy something off Amazon like I did. Not only was the "amber" not dark enough and just looked yellow - it is super thin film and impossible to install on a rounded housing. I threw it out, and then waited for some Laminx universal sheets to ship to Canada from the US. $15 bucks down the drain. I should of known better as I had the same experience tinting my Tacoma's fogs yellow.

With that said - I signed up for the Lamin-X refferal program. Save %15 on your order using this link: Promo code for 15% off all products at Lamin-x Protective Films

Fog Install:
I found the pre-wired harness behind my dummy panels. I pulled a OEM light stalk with fog function from a junker, and a used relay and was in business. Super easy install minus my problems with the Winjets and the junk film

Running Lights:
I modified the harness that shipped with my aftermarket fogs to fit 5 lights. I wired it into the existing parking light harness. In retrospect I should have wired it into the fog harness as they look a bit funny on without the fogs on. I used 3/4" round penny amber clearance indicator lights I got from Canadian Tire.

The rubber grommets included with the lights allow a friction fit. The far right and left grills the holes were centered so I just popped them in. For the middle grill sections I just used a small snipps to cut the plastic "mesh" moulding to create a hole that would hole the grommet/light assembly (more in post #32).

I want to wire the turn signals so that they are "always on" and then blink when turn signal is engaged like @Jahawj did with his rear turn signals (which I'm also planning to do on my rears). With all the orange (fogs, parking, blinkers, running lights) on I think it will be a good look.

I did the DRL off mod, so I'd like to use this all orange setup in place the actual white DRLs for daytime driving. I will do the "fog lights controllable at all times" mod.
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Looks good with those running lights I think
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2012 Rav4 Radio in 2004:
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Finally wrapped up this headunit swap. It took me some time to figure out how to get the bluetooth enabled but I've got it all sorted out now and its working great. I picked it up for $30 CDN off facebook marketplace. Not bad for a Bluetooth head unit if you don't care about AppleCarplay/Android Auto

Model: 86120-0R130
Backlight: Orange

It fits pretty much perfectly in the existing stock radio hole. Existing wiring harness is plug and play.

To enable bluetooth with out a 28 pin harness make a jumper cable connecting pins #18 and #6 cheapest options(or add a bluetooth mic to those pins if you want that functionality numbers buy a 28 pin harness and make the connections)

Big thanks to this thread over on a 4Runner forum - more wiring diagrams over there. Good stuff starts around post 14

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The antenna is non standard but you can buy a reverse adapter for the 2004's motorola style antenna.


I believe you can expand the harness to support USB and line inputs, but BT is all I cared about. If you have steering wheel controls (SWC) you may need to buy an adapter for the 28pin connector.

I may wire in mic for the BT handsfree calling, but in the past even in my 2016 Tacoma I just used my apple Airpods when I was on a call.

Overall - great bang for your buck. OEM look and modern functionality.
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Gentex Auto Dimming Mirror with Compass:
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I pulled a Gentex Mirror off a Nissan Murano (read a few places most of theirs were orange LED) about 2 weeks ago. It cost me around $15 CAD. I finally got around to wiring it up using this previous thread.

Huge upgrade to my stock mirror. Now I'm tempted to pickup one that has Temperature and a Compass. Still need to tidy up some wiring but I needed to come inside and warm up. Super cold today.

Fog Lights Always Controllable:
I did this simple mod today. (link to mod thread) I did the DRL disable last week and wanted to use my parking lights (with the 5 running lights in the grill ) with the fogs as DRL. Now I'm able to turn the fogs on without the headlights being on.

As always - big thanks to those who have posted these modification threads (some often over 10 years old!). Really invaluable!
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Is the mirror wider view than stock? I use a “ “Broadway”mirror for wider vision but this also looks like a nice upgrade
How do you get the stock mirror off? I definitely want to do that mirror mod. So you're fog lights can be turned on without the parking lights? The original thread says parking lights must be on...
Is the mirror wider view than stock? I use a “ “Broadway”mirror for wider vision but this also looks like a nice upgrade
It's a bit wider and thicker.
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How do you get the stock mirror off? I definitely want to do that mirror mod. So you're fog lights can be turned on without the parking lights? The original thread says parking lights must be on...
Mine was super loose as it was. So just pulled up along the windshield. These gentex mirrors have the same wedge mounts but have a torx screw to keep in secure. Below is a photo of the stock mirror connector

Sorry if that wasn't clear. I'm able to turn them on in any lighting mode starting with the parking lights. Before I could only turn them on when the low beams were on. Now I can turn them on with my parking lights to use all the orange lights as DRLS, and if I want with my high beams.

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Rear Turn Signals Always Illuminated with Parking Lights Engaged:

Great mod from @Jahawj - here - that really I think really gives the rear end a better look at night/dusk. I took his suggestion and pulled some sockets from another Rav to complete it.

Just a few notes on his thread:

  • Be prepared to take off (or partially take off - you can get away with not unbolting the seat belts) the two rear interior side trim panels. It will give you more room to work with.

  • Unseat all the bulb sockets, then find where their complete harness (all 3 sockets) attach/clip into a connector thats part of the cars wiring system. Bring them inside to do the mod at a table.

  • The passenger side is a total pain as there is more wiring and less room to work with. I ended up clipping the original turn signal bulb socket off in the car so that I could pull it out to bring inside. The driver side was much easier.

  • I had done an LED swap on all signal lights, so I didn't have to buy new bulbs for the new socket that was put it as they were all the same already.
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What did you do for the usb by the shifter there? It looks good.
What did you do for the usb by the shifter there? It looks good.

- If you remove the center console you can remove the OEM 12v outlet. It leaves sort of a recessed hole where the previous cap/outlet were.

- You'll need to order a 12v USB with a mounting plate/bezel to cover this hole. You need to make sure you order one that has a bezel/plate more square than round to cover the entirety of the recessed area on the OEM console (Amazon has a ton of options, but realistically you want something that looks like this from BluSea. There are a few generic brands that have the same style plate if you will find them. Usually in a 2-pack.

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Outlet in the hole with no bezel/trim plate
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You can see here the mounting panel that is more of an oval does not cover the recessed area.

Dremel out the existing 12v sockey hole so that the new unit and its mounting plate cover the recessed OEM area (basically you need to grind it toward the shifter so the whole assembly can be centered properly). Don't grind out too much as you want the outlet to friction fit as well.

I clipped existing harness for 12v and went with basic spade connectors

Secure the whole assembly with screws through the mounting plate.

The plan is to have these outlets "hot" all the time so I needed something that was switchable on-off or something that has no lights. Worst case scenario I could put a switch in the storage area right behind them to be able to cut power whenever.

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Thinking about wiring in another accessory (straight 12v socket or other here). The plan is to have these outlets "hot" all the time so I needed something that was switchable on-off or something that has no lights. Worst case scenario I could put a switch in the storage area right behind them to be able to cut power whenever.
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4.1 Steel Wheels
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I found a set of the OEM Steel Wheels from a '97 Rav4 on Facebook and I couldn't help but pick them up. I really like something about their design and the center cap. The Steelies I have on now are what you see on every car in winter in Quebec - and I think if I run steelies in the summer I might get some looks as If I never took my winter tires off (haha)

Anyway - the start of another project. I'm going to clean them up and repaint them. I started a bit today with an angle grinder. Likely going black or a gunmetal grey (the center cap isn't quite black, but a dark grey) as some folks have suggested over to me on Instagram.

I'll likely sell my other steelies and keep these for winter once they're fixed up and pick up a pair of OEM alloys for summer and paint them black/grey (or perhaps those fancy Sparco Terra's @rav4explore has - starting to really love the look of those wheels)

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the spare tire was int he best shape
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the rest of the wheels look about like this
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After one pass with the wire brush

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Sort of gives you an idea of what it would look like in black or gunmetal gray.
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Rear tail lights look great!

I added smoked LED side markers to the fenders the other day because I had them as a backup/replacement set for another car.

I have a bunch of stuff I would like to do but my progress is slow... Isn't it cold where you are? lol minus 15C today here in Ontario. I like what you've done so far and that you're so active right now, keep it up.

I want a set of these rims :

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Rear tail lights look great!

I added smoked LED side markers to the fenders the other day because I had them as a backup/replacement set for another car.

I have a bunch of stuff I would like to do but my progress is slow... Isn't it cold where you are? lol minus 15C today here in Ontario. I like what you've done so far and that you're so active right now, keep it up.

I want a set of these rims :
Thanks for figuring out that mod! Stoked on it. I'm going to start trying to figure out how to do the same to front turn signals. I have one extra brake light socket - going to see if theres a way to get it to fit.

It's -8C today and that's the warmest its been in a while. Its been a struggle with cold hands.

I'm a freelancer and January is always slow - so just taking advantage of my time off. I do wish I had a garage!

Those rims caught my eye as well. This website has been really helpful visualizing whats available

I'm leaning toward these OEM alloys:
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Or possible some Nissan mags that are similar to the 2nd one, but with less rounded edges (Altima or X-trail)

With that said the Sparco Terras ive seen on a few 4.2's look pretty great. But it sort defies my "do it on a budget" mentality".

Think I could get a set of OEM alloys for pretty cheap ($100-300) if I keep my eye out( I missed out on a 5-set pair of the ones on the left)
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Tow Hitch Reciever Update:

It took some time and heavy labor to get a rusted tow hitch out of the receiver. To my dismay after starting to clean it up with a wire brush attachment for an angle grinder I found a reasonably sized corrosion hole in the main tube with lots of rusty bits coming out of it when I shook the thing. This was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I didn't want to put anymore time into something that may be compromised structurally, be very hard to keep more water out of, and not to mention the hitch was only a 1 1/4" receiver anyway. So long OEM hitch reciever.

A new 2003 showed up at the wrecker last week and I noticed it had a hitch on it. So I went back today and plucked it off. It's in much better shape, and is a Class 3 2" reciever Going to give it a pass with the angle grinder and hit it with some anti-rust paint and mount it up. Will post some photos after. Only $35 from the wrecker.

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Heated Seat Update:
Ebay seat heaters should be here any day. Going to take the seats out to install and while I'm at it take care of the rust on the seat stays.

Lift Kit Update:
Placed the Rocky Road kit order Jan 1, still waiting.

OEM 97' Wheels Update:
I cleaned up the fronts pretty well with the angle grinder. The rear insides could use quite a bit of work. I may take them to be sand blasted as the amount of rust dust being thrown off while I'm wire brushing with the angle grinder has me a bit cautious even when wearing a respirator.

Here is a photo I snapped today at the wrecker, just for fun.
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Tow Hitch Receiver:

Installed the tow hitch receiver today. I believe it's made by Curt based on the photos I've seen on the internet. Came out pretty nice.

Wire brush on an angle grinder, rust converting primer, few coats of Rust Check rust paint, few coats of semi-gloss Rustoleum and I had some matte clear coat lying around that I used to take the shiny edge off but wasn't as flat as the Rust Check matte.

I've got a D-shackle / Clevis hitch from Curt on order that I'm gonna give a shot.

I have to admit I miss having my Tacoma for certain things, at least this will give me the flexibility to rent a small trailer to do some projects / pick up large items when needed.

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I have to admit I miss having my Tacoma for certain things, at least this will give me the flexibility to rent a small trailer to do some projects / pick up large items when needed.
That last part is where it's at. The 4x6 Jumping Jack camping/utility trailer I bought actually carries more crap than the bed of my 2002 Tundra. Provided the trailers small size and Maxx Coupler hitch I could forget it's even behind me if it were not for the weight. 10/10 have not missed my Tundra.
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New Photos (updates below):

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Scion T10018 Head Unit:
Stumbled across a Pioneer / Scion head unit with a touch screen and back up camera compatibility on Marketplace and couldn't help but pick it up for $60. I lucked out and it had the back up camera harness included. The unit has orange back lighting and the touch screen is sort of a reddish color. HD Radio, Bluetooth, etc, all the fixings. I found it to be a huge difference sound wise over the previous 2012 Rav4 Radio I picked up. It didn't include the Navigation/GPS extension box but I'm not sure I would of used it anyway. Another Rav4 owner I'm connected with on IG said he was able to pick one up with the nav unit for $80 CDN! If you don't care about Carplay/Android Auto - the used market for the Scion/Toyota touch units from 2012-2016 era is a good one to check out
Vehicle Media player Motor vehicle Radio Car

Back Up Camera:
I'm gonna be a do a full write up on this when I get a minute. But I picked up a camera on Amazon, fabbed a small mount for it out of ABS plastic to sit on the spare tire holder. Wired it all up to the Scion unit. Works great. May add a "anytime back up camera" switch down the line or if I get really bored, mount up a front camera as well.

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Rear Lower Bumper Panel Repair:
In the process of installing the back up camera I removed the rear bumper panel. Mine had a few broken clips. I gave it a wash, and used "Goop" adhesive to reattached the clips to the panel and re-installed it after running the camera wiring. Huge improvement in rattle sounds coming from the rear.

Additionally the bottom portion where the moulding sort of look like a skid plate had somehow flattened out so much that it was hitting my hitch receiver when I closed/opened the rear door. I took some folder layers of cardboard and wedged between the receiver and the panel to get it in the position I wanted to add clearance and hit it with a heat gun. The plastic softened, bent, then cooled/hardened and retained the shape I wanted. No more issues.

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D-Shackle Hitch:
I picked up a hitch with a d-shackle on the end from Canadian Tire. Gives it a good look and is a useful recovery point.

Hood Automotive tire Automotive lighting Automotive design Grey

Heated Seats / Seat Stay Clean Up:
I'm about to start the heated seat install. In preparation I removed my passenger seat and hit the rusty seat stays with a wire wheel and some rust converting primer. The bolts are soaking a rust bath over night and I'm going to repaint the stays in the morning. Also gave me a chance to give the area a good vacuum. There was minimal rust on the floor panel to my surprise.

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Fog Light Painting:
Sort of an OCD thing but my Amber fog light film is quite a bit more orange than my turn signal and parking lights. I found an interesting product that isn't new to other car owners but new to me. Krylon makes a "stained glass" paint in several colors. The youtube videos i watched made me think its a great alternative to Laminx. Installing the film was not easy and took quite a bit of effort. I would of preferred to tint them using this paint. Additionally the color match would of been more exact to my head light's amber accents.

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