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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey everyone, this is one of my first posts, so don't get mad if this is asked every day- even if it was though, every car is different, so I'm hoping for some advice and what (I hope) will be my first Rav4

Me and the seller have reached a tentative deal before we have a 2011 Rav4 inspected at my mechanic, and I was wondering if I can get some advice from more knowledgeable people on anything I should ask for special attention on. This will be my first Rav4, and first Toyota; the limited car experience I have has been with big ugly American cars, but I decided to try something completely different now

The car is an inline 4, base model 2011 Rav4 with 66k miles on it. The current concerns I have with the car are;
- Current owner bought it used and is not sure where it came from, so I'm going to ask the mechanic to be vigilant for any corrosion due to salt brine de-icers. I noticed a couple of rusted hose clamps and my father told me (he's no expert either) the slightly veiny/crackly look on some of the aluminum we've seen on this and some subarus could be related to salt de-icer corrosion
- Brakes need to be changed, I already got a quote for $400 for both F+R but anything further I should know? 4-wheel discs
- The drive selector (I don't know what to call it, like the stick shift but for an automatic) has a weird hole in front of it that looks like it's missing a plug. The owner said it was something so that you can insert a tool and put the car in N when it's not running, in case you need to be towed- anyone know about this?
- The "drive selector" also seems slightly misaligned with the markings for D, N etc. Is this normal?

These are the known issues I will be asking the mechanic about. Otherwise it is one of the cleanest used cars I have seen since I started looking. Since you all are obviously much more experienced with these cars, what else should I be "worried" about? Overall I'm hoping that since it's a little 4-banger Toyota, I will have less to worry about and deal with than my big V8 Thunderbird, but I thought I'd pick your collective brain to see if I am missing anything.

What else should I tell my mechanic before I get this inspection done?
 

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The drive selector hole probably *is* missing it's plug. It covers the shift lock release button.

This post may be somewhat enlightening about what it does:

http://www.rav4world.com/forums/96-4-3-general/184609-shift-lock-release.html#post1766081

It may be useful if the vehicle doesn't shift in and out of park cleanly. It may also be indicative of an issue with the shifter not lining up very well.

I'd have a mechanic check that out thoroughly.

.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Hurricane Sandy Salvage?

You know what, it's 3AM and I may be getting spooked by these articles I am reading but I'm really glad I read them now. I think this car might be hurricane sandy fodder. Estimates of a quarter million cars damaged and now people are getting scammed into buying them, which is horrible. It seems like many people wash titles and sell these cars to suckers, and I think the sucker may be me. Here's why:

1. "Doesn't know" where the car came from, but said his Grandma drove it from when he got it a couple of years ago. I think I let this dream "grandma car" scenario sway my judgement
2. Interior looked brand new, and now that I look back on it some of it clearly was- the liner for the center console for instance, where normal people get crap all the time, was brand new. Like it had just been replaced. I thought grandma was just clean, but now am realizing it is suspiciously clean
3. I thought they just did a bad job at washing it and had the car outside a lot, but there is green algae around the door frames which I now realize is not normal for how clean the rest of the car is
3. He was asking $14,500, and said someone offered him $13,800 and turned him down. I offered $13,500 today and he said ok within a couple of hours. I now realize this is fishy
4. Another I just realized, didn't have service records because "his dad" did all the service it needed? Again, weird, but I wasn't really seriously considering it at the time so I just said whatever, but I just remembered that

I'm going to talk this over with my father, since he was with me when we looked at it, and see what he thinks. Any thoughts?

So glad I saw this before buying, not for Rav4's but just used cars in general, it's something I never would have thought about otherwise
 

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If you can get the vin number from the seller check the history out with carfax or carproof. Body work may sometimes not be claimed with the insurance company so its not fool proof so comb the car with a magnet for body filler.
 

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One thing to remember is that in snow areas where salt is used on roads, the clamps will rust within 20K miles but it is surface rust. Even my sliding chair rails (back and front) have rust. Just shows poor quality of the material ... and there is no way salt is getting in some areas.

If this RAV is supposed to have been from a dry area, run for your life; it's obviously seen high huminidy/salt.
 

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You know what, it's 3AM and I may be getting spooked by these articles I am reading but I'm really glad I read them now. I think this car might be hurricane sandy fodder. Estimates of a quarter million cars damaged and now people are getting scammed into buying them, which is horrible. It seems like many people wash titles and sell these cars to suckers, and I think the sucker may be me. Here's why:

1. "Doesn't know" where the car came from, but said his Grandma drove it from when he got it a couple of years ago. I think I let this dream "grandma car" scenario sway my judgement
2. Interior looked brand new, and now that I look back on it some of it clearly was- the liner for the center console for instance, where normal people get crap all the time, was brand new. Like it had just been replaced. I thought grandma was just clean, but now am realizing it is suspiciously clean
3. I thought they just did a bad job at washing it and had the car outside a lot, but there is green algae around the door frames which I now realize is not normal for how clean the rest of the car is
3. He was asking $14,500, and said someone offered him $13,800 and turned him down. I offered $13,500 today and he said ok within a couple of hours. I now realize this is fishy
4. Another I just realized, didn't have service records because "his dad" did all the service it needed? Again, weird, but I wasn't really seriously considering it at the time so I just said whatever, but I just remembered that

I'm going to talk this over with my father, since he was with me when we looked at it, and see what he thinks. Any thoughts?

So glad I saw this before buying, not for Rav4's but just used cars in general, it's something I never would have thought about otherwise
After reading #3(the 1st one!), I'd seriously give some thought to running, fast and far, from this one. JMHO.
 

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I would pass on that vehicle. Green algae is a definite worry IMHO.

A few years ago a major dealer had a very good looking sports car with a Make Offer sign on it. I looked at it and it was clean, but had a mild swampy smell. Looking under the hood I saw pools of water, probably from a recent wash. That evening I talked to a few friends. Two had been auto detailers when they were young. Their mutual comment, "Flood Car"! Yes, we had a terrific flood nearby. They said that the type of car is often owned as a toy by wealthy folks who carry only liability insurance and take their chances. The next day one checked out the car, called me and said "It stinks! I'd hate to see what's under the upholstery."

Run away.

The drive selector (I don't know what to call it, like the stick shift but for an automatic) has a weird hole in front of it that looks like it's missing a plug.
It might have been removed (then lost) because the car was towed. Not a good sign.
 

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Running a Carfax or Carproof will tell you exactly when/if the vehicle was an insurance write-off and what the type of loss was. No one should ever buy a used car without first checking on its history.
 

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Running a Carfax or Carproof will tell you exactly when/if the vehicle was an insurance write-off and what the type of loss was. No one should ever buy a used car without first checking on its history.
Unfortunately there are cases where an insurance claim is not made, such as the case I just wrote about.
 

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Get the VIN and enter it in the Toyota.com/owners website which is a Toyota database. (You can delete the car when finished checking it out.) View the Service History and click on each entry for more indepth info. Also click on "Resources" and the Safety Recall tabs. The Owners website is an excellent addition to a CarFax type of check, and sometimes you can puzzle out location by dealers, and certainly any significant repair done at a dealer.

Don't be alarmed to see a few recalls done. Most of them are preventative issues. Overall, the I4 is a highly reliable engine.
 

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Also just look at a Car fax report on any Rav listed at a dealer ( most dealers offer this free in the info) ..it will show the VIN, the free Carfax details: POINT of origin..where it was first released for sale, then sold, and to where and who, how many times, and then service records ALL show up.
AutoCheck.com | Vehicle History Reports Powered by Experian <<< a paid site similar to Carfax.

New Cars, Used Cars - Find Cars for Sale and Reviews at Autotrader I look for your age model car and found many-
2011 with ~50-75K miles are $14-15K on west coast.

I too would pass on this car with NO service records, and.or a very detailed inspection.
Also call for recall info: Toyota customer service at 1-800-331-4331..

Saying that I bought an 07 Forester in 2010 from Autotrader, private party, in another state! I checked everything, and it was all OK. But peopel cheat, lie, avoid telling the truth,these folks misled me on tire wear, etc. I didnt catch it and needed $400 immediately for new tires. Be vigilant to check all this.

Algae?.in my rainy moist PacNW area all the doors rims, rubber seals can grow a little green if you dont constantly wash it off..mine do, and a good cleaning fixes it temporarily.

I'm looking at a newer2013 Rav4 XLE, the local used car dealer ONLY buys leased vehicles <15K miles, all have some warranty left, and none with smoke/scrapes/burn holes, dog damage. If they were a rental first then be careful as those get abused more than leased.

I asked my dealer why prices are lower, by thousands sometimes, for the same car in other cites/states on the WC..and he said they all buy these cars from Toyota central, then paint and fix them enough to look and smell 'new'.

And as some have said Carfax or others like Autocheck CAN'T reveal a problem if it was never reported, whole front end damage can be repaired and hidden, even dealers get taken in.

LASTLY- you may be having pre-buyer's remorse….or looking for Objections- you need a car, are anxious to be done with the details and stress of buying, but think how you'd feel in 90 days if a major issue came up. I'm in the same exact spot deciding to get the newer 2015 LE, or the amazing rare green 2013 XLE I like now. There are ALWAYS more cars.
 

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...Also just look at a Car fax report on any Rav listed at a dealer ( most dealers offer this free in the info) ..it will show the VIN, the free Carfax details: POINT of origin..where it was first released for sale, then sold, and to where and who, how many times, and then service records ALL show up...
While CarFax is excellent, it's been my experience the service maintenances don't ALL show up and severely lacking in detail. It is great seeing transfer of ownership but won't always see the inter-dealer swaps.

So I'll give another plug for the Toyota.com/owners website. (I may stand corrected, but I have found it quite comprehensive.)

Bottom line, if you have 'no service records' it's free to check the Toyota.com/owners website and learn a few things. Owners (or prospective owners) are missing a great resource by simply entering the VIN. Every service done by a dealer is supposed to be there, and you can discern a lot by clicking on each service, even viewing the hours worked on a warranty item, or the type of fluid used in various maintenances. It's also handy if you purchase the car, you can add your own DIY services and establish a complete history for yourself and the next buyer.

Good point on the green ALGEA in the Pacific NW by the way. It can be a way of life there!
 
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