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Hi there, first post on this forum!

My friend is after a small, automatic, cheap and reliable 2 door SUV.
I've found her a 1994 Rav 4.1 Auto with 110,000 miles.

The owner sounds like a really nice guy, its been owned by his neighbour's family since 2000 and his family since 2013 (he's done quite a bit of work on it himself) and I reckon it will probably be one of the best maintained examples available.
I say maintenance, not condition. It has some dents but not too worried about those - they don't affect reliability.

Probably going to take a look at it tomorrow, with a view to purchasing it.

Question for you guys!

It doesn't have ABS or airbags (not sure on the airbags)
Would you consider either of these a deal breaker? It's a much lighter vehicle than I'm used to so maybe the lack of ABS isn't really a problem. Airbags wise, what are people's thoughts? Has anyone ever retrofitted them?

I trust the seller but is there anything particular with these models that needs to be looked at / looked out for? It's a 1994 with the 2.0, I read they can sometimes spring an oil leak?

Thanks very much!
 

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-- I won't buy a vehicle without airbags. In my opinion, they're proven. Googling on the subject of retrofitting indicates that airbags are a complicated structural design feature; it cannot be done. If you buy this vehicle, I would ask the seller to take a lot off the price.

-- For me, not having ABS is not a dealbreaker. But I have not googled on the subject. I tend to think good braking habits, especially in weather yielding slick roads, may be sufficient. I wish my Rav4 did not have ABS. It's one more thing that can break. Also the location of ABS components makes timing belt replacement notably more laborious.

-- Bring some cardboard to lie on and get under the vehicle. Look for oil leaks, especially near the right front wheel where the timing belt is. If there are signs of oil leakage, a timing belt (and associated parts involving oil seals) replacement is probably due. This is expensive, like $1000 to $2000.

-- I do not like the reports of failing automatic transmission components I am seeing here lately on the first generation Rav4s. The diagnoses and repairs for these failures so far appear to me to be difficult.

-- I admit 110,000 miles is nice but I think I'd rather go with a different Rav4.1 and consider installing a JDM engine as needed at some point, at a cost of I believe around $2000 for parts and labor.
 

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100% of these came from the factory with airbags, and if they have been removed it might not pass an inspection for roadworthyness. as for the ABS i have always hated it. Unless its on a vehicle with high end traction control then i would say go without, but im old enough i still pump the breaks.
Depending on where you live rust will be the biggest thing to watch out for. I have owned 2 of these things (not counting those for parts) the first was written off in a collision when they deemed the rust was to bad for it to be worth saving the car and the second required extensive metal work to be deemed roadworthy. I live in Winnipeg though we use quite a lot of road salt. I have never seen one that required substantial mechanical work, sort of EGR valves that plug up more than they should, But it is 20 something years old, getting a mechanic to look at it is going to do you better than asking on a forum.
 

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As has been said, all will have airbags, at least in the USA.

My 99 does not have abs and I'm so thankful for that. I love braking feel sans abs. My wife's NA Miata doesn't have abs either and feels fantastic. Our 17 Corolla obviously does and braking is horrid. Thankful it is just a lease.
 

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It doesn't have ABS or airbags (not sure on the airbags)
Airbags wise, what are people's thoughts? Has anyone ever retrofitted them?
An easy way to tell if that particular Rav4 is equipped with airbags is to look for the words "SRS Airbag" below the Toyota logo on the steering wheel. Also, look at the dash in the passenger's side. If it has a storage pocket and cup holder (partially covered in this photo), then it doesn't have a passenger air bag:

(airbag.PNG)

100% of these came from the factory with airbags, and if they have been removed it might not pass an inspection for roadworthyness.
As has been said, all will have airbags, at least in the USA.
Contrary to popular belief, airbags to this day are not mandated by law in the UK. So, a 1994 model could very well have been produced without one.
Airbag - Wikipedia
 

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1997, Rav4.1, UK, Manual (RHD)
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Hey Fram. We have a two Rav4.1's in the family.both have north of 150,000 miles and seem unbreakable. the 95 one has only a drivers airbag as standard and a little grab handle in front of the passenger but hopefully you your friend will need neither of these. The main rust issues with these cars is around the rear wheel arches especially forward of the wheel. We had to do serious welding and both cars now have part of a Yaris and a Corsa bonnet in their DNA . Having said that they are a falrly simple car albeit a little (very) thirsty, but so much fun. Hope this helps
 
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