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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

I have 183,000 miles on my '06 V6 Limited. (Don't let the typo in my user name fool you :doh:)

We recently bought a pop-up camper that weights ~1900 lbs. We can tow it with our Honda Odyssey, but it would be nice to use the smaller, all wheel drive RAV4 at times.

Any thoughts on whether or not it would be a mistake to add an aftermarket hitch at this age/mileage? I'd go for the hitch and wiring for ~$300 and not the whole tow package upgrade, which it seems would be closer to $1000.

Thanks for the help!
 

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I can see no reason not to add a hitch. You'll have plenty of power so braking will become the issue with the lighter weight tow vehicle. That is assuming the camper doesn't have brakes.
 
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Discussion Starter #3
I can see no reason not to add a hitch. You'll have plenty of power so braking will become the issue with the lighter weight tow vehicle. That is assuming the camper doesn't have brakes.
Thanks for the advice! You are correct, the camper does not have brakes. I had no trouble with it behind our Odyssey on a long trip recently, so hopefully it would be the same with the RAV4.

We are in/around the Blue Ridge/Smokey Mountains. Does anyone think I should I have concerns towing ~2000 lbs. through the mountains without the upgraded radiator, etc?
 

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Toyota OM says that any trailer being towed with a RAV and weighing more than 600 pounds needs to have trailer brakes, and that usually would also mean installing a trailer brake controller. I would have serious safety concerns about towing a 1900 -2000 lb. trailer with a RAV in mountains or elsewhere without trailer brakes. There also could be liability issues in the event of a crash involving another vehicle.
 
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As stated with the RAV4 you'll have more towing power than the Odyssey but less stopping power. When you run out of towing power you simply slow down. When you run out of stopping power you hit something! :egad:

I'd really like to see brakes on the trailer even when towing with the Odyssey.

Towing in the mountains puts more strain on both the engine and brakes. As long as you use the lower gears going uphill and don't try to run 70 you'll be okay with engine temps.
For braking with no trailer brakes you just have to leave plenty plenty of stopping room.
 
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Can you verify whether you have the factory tow prep package? Do a search for the threads that will tell you how to recognize if your Limited is so equipped. Even without the tow prep, you can monitor coolant and transmission fluid temps with an OBD dongle and a smart phone app.

I took a 1000 mile trip in my 07 Limited towing a trailer that weighs somewhere around 1250 lbs. In the mountains of northern New Mexico, as well as on some very steep roads in Palo Duro Canyon, I was very glad to have trailer brakes, even in the low gears.

I read somewhere that it's not what you can pull but what you can stop.
 

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Thanks for the advice! You are correct, the camper does not have brakes. I had no trouble with it behind our Odyssey on a long trip recently, so hopefully it would be the same with the RAV4.

We are in/around the Blue Ridge/Smokey Mountains. Does anyone think I should I have concerns towing ~2000 lbs. through the mountains without the upgraded radiator, etc?
Check this site about towing laws in your area. You may be concern if trailer brakes are required where you are driving.

For added protection an after market auxiliary transmission cooler would be beneficial especially in mountainous roads.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all of the replies, everyone!

I do not think I have the tow package, but will check it out to be sure.

I'll do some more digging online & in the owner's manual re: brakes as well.

I really appreciate all of the help!
 

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My only concern would be rusty frame holes for the hitch to be added... I did this with our 2004 Vibe, added a hitch at 210k KM on the car, the bolt holes were rusty and dirty and the bolts would not go through, had to re-tap the holes so it added a bit more work than I was hoping for.

If you're just going to a place like U-Haul then they'll do all the work included on their install, I did that with the RAV4 as I could not find a used hitch, bought a new one at U-haul and had them do the wiring as well... the tech was done in like half hour with the full install, lol (would've probably taken me a whole day).

I tow a 15.5ft boat and trailer, probably about 1800-2000lbs combined, I haven't seen the need to use trailer brakes yet but then again we're not in any mountainous territory, some hills but nothing major... our 08 V6 Limited seems to handle quite well so far, I passed on buying a larger boat because I would have been closer to the top of the towing capacity than now.

In Canada, all the V6 Rav4's came with the towing package as standard equipment, which was a bonus for me... maybe you got lucky as well.
 

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Thanks again to everyone for the help. Here's and update on where things stand:

When I got the vehicle, there was an aftermarket hitch on it. I had been told was "only for a bike rack" and that it was not sufficient for towing anything. Before now, I'd had no reason to question that any further. I've done some investigating (which I confirmed with a trip to my local U-Haul) and I do have the standard aftermarket hitch. It is not the 17-bolt version that would have come from Toyota, but it is a proper hitch. The hitch is rated to 3500 lbs. My understanding on the vehicle, however, is that without the tow-prep options (rear stiffeners, beefed up alternator, etc.) I'm only good to 2000 lbs. That works for our needs.

I have the camper at the shop currently to get brakes installed. That was definitely money I was not looking to spend, but definitely better safe than sorry (and possible liable)! There is no wiring harness in the vehicle currently, so they'll also install a 7-pin harness and brake controller.

One more question: What should I do differently from a maintenance standpoint to make sure the RAV4 keeps running well with the occasional use towing our pop-up?

Cheers!
 

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It's gratifying to see someone do towing right by adding brakes and a controller. After hooking up the trailer you'll need to set the controller for proper operation. U-haul should help with that.
BTW, what controller are they installing? Some are very good, some junk and dangerous.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It's gratifying to see someone do towing right by adding brakes and a controller. After hooking up the trailer you'll need to set the controller for proper operation. U-haul should help with that.
BTW, what controller are they installing? Some are very good, some junk and dangerous.
Thanks!

I'm not having U-Haul do the work. (At least in my area, they won't install trailer brakes anyway.) I've taken it to a specialty trailer shop who will be setting everything up on the trailer and the RAV4. I'm deferring to them, and don't know which brake controller they're installing. I checked with a bunch of places on the phone and visited several in person, and feel very comfortable with their expertise. In fact, this was the place that virtually everyone who did not do trailer brakes recommended.

Thanks for letting me know about setting up the controller. I'll make sure to ask about it before we hit the road!
 

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So, did you verify that you DON'T have the tow prep package by looking at the fuse box?
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
So, did you verify that you DON'T have the tow prep package by looking at the fuse box?
I'd crawled around the back and didn't see the stiffeners, which is how I'd come to the "no tow package" conclusion.

This morning I popped open the fuse box on the driver's side and there is a 140A fuse. (I tried to include a photo below, which hopefully shows up.) Does this mean I have the tow package?

What else can I look for any other modifications? I checked out THIS post, and am not sure I'm looking in the correct location to find that bracket.

Thanks again!
 

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I'd crawled around the back and didn't see the stiffeners, which is how I'd come to the "no tow package" conclusion.

This morning I popped open the fuse box on the driver's side and there is a 140A fuse. (I tried to include a photo below, which hopefully shows up.) Does this mean I have the tow package?

What else can I look for any other modifications? I checked out THIS post, and am not sure I'm looking in the correct location to find that bracket.
Yes, you DO have the tow prep package. This includes a larger radiator/transmission cooler, upgraded fans, larger alternator, and a wire going from the TOW fuse to a spot under the dash. The "stiffeners" you are looking for may have been removed by whoever installed that aftermarket hitch.
 

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I'd crawled around the back and didn't see the stiffeners, which is how I'd come to the "no tow package" conclusion.

This morning I popped open the fuse box on the driver's side and there is a 140A fuse. (I tried to include a photo below, which hopefully shows up.) Does this mean I have the tow package?

What else can I look for any other modifications? I checked out THIS post, and am not sure I'm looking in the correct location to find that bracket.

Thanks again!
ASAIK the 140A fuse is a definitive indication of the tow prep package.

Just checked mine and found the two "stiffeners" Junebug pictured in post 16 here.
Couldn't see them at first but they are just inside the bumper, the right side one being almost directly over the tailpipe. No clue what they stiffen unless they're intended to attach to the thousand-bolt factory hitch. They are several inches outside of my Valley hitch.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, I'm feeling lucky!

I went from thinking I had a non-functional hitch and no tow package to learning that I have a functional hitch and the tow package! I'll take it!

I still can't locate the stiffener brackets, but that doesn't mean they are not there.

I'll feel especially lucky if the tow package means that I have any pre-existing wiring that cuts down on the installation cost of the 7-pin wiring harness that's soon to be installed... Not that I'm getting greedy!

Thanks again to everyone here for your helpful info!
 

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I'll feel especially lucky if the tow package means that I have any pre-existing wiring that cuts down on the installation cost of the 7-pin wiring harness that's soon to be installed... Not that I'm getting greedy!
Unless they've done tow prepped V6 RAV4s before they likely won't find the power wire behind the dash and if they don't they'll be running a wire thru the firewall to connect to the battery. That's a lot of unnecessary work. It's a white wire that hangs down just behind the dash. I didn't know about it when I did an installation on my BIL's '08 a few years ago. Cost me several hours of work.
I just looked at mine (which is unused). It's visible thru the opening above the OBDII port about midway between the port and the hood release lever. Then in the passenger side underhood fusebox there's an empty slot marked 30A TOWING. You just pop in a fuse and have power under the dash right where you need it.
 

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Unless they've done tow prepped V6 RAV4s before they likely won't find the power wire behind the dash and if they don't they'll be running a wire thru the firewall to connect to the battery. That's a lot of unnecessary work. It's a white wire that hangs down just behind the dash. I didn't know about it when I did an installation on my BIL's '08 a few years ago. Cost me several hours of work.
I just looked at mine (which is unused). It's visible thru the opening above the OBDII port about midway between the port and the hood release lever. Then in the passenger side underhood fusebox there's an empty slot marked 30A TOWING. You just pop in a fuse and have power under the dash right where you need it.
I'll definitely have the shop check it out! I noticed the empty 30A TOWING spot in the other fuse box, so that is helpful to know.

I just ran out to the parking lot at lunch to see if I could locate that power wire... No luck there, but that doesn't mean it's not there! If any of you spot it on the couple of photos I took, please let me know.
 

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It's between the harnesses in your last two pictures and the lower dash. you'd need to take a picture straight up thru the hole above the OBDII port to see it. I think mine was folded up and tucked up in there. It now hangs down almost to the top edge of the hole.
 
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