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In my endless search for a soft top, I run across many listings online and this Rav4 is pretty aggressive looking. I really like the styling.

For those near Portland Oregon looking for a rav....this might interest you. Link probably wont last long though.

https://portland.craigslist.org/clc/cto/6199859060.html
 

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I'm actually considering purchasing this one. It'd be my first RAV4 and second Toyota.

Should I be scared of the high mileage or the engine swap? I'm not a mechanic and can't afford to be working on this all the time.

But I do commute on dirt roads and there's snow in the winter and let's be honest, this thing looks cool. Should I buy or stay away?
 

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http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/cto/6203812312.html
It's back up. Price drop to $2600. Am I crazy or should I buy it?
I love spending OPM! :wink

Seriously, from what the ad says it sounds like a good deal -- if the ad is truthful.

I mean, $2,600 is just a few months worth of car payments. If it only runs for a year it's worth the money.

Not sure what he means by "tires will need room".

Our 1997 has about 160K miles and I just replaced the exhaust the other day! 20 years on the original exhaust -- in Maryland. Bosal parts from manifold cat back were $460 on Amazon.

A while back I replaced most of the A/C components -- comp, cond. coil, filter/dryer. That stuff lasted about 18 years.

There is very little rust, except for some reason, the lower control arms. They're still solid but look like crap.

In short, these things are built well and run for a long time.

One thing -- with the brush guard stuff, and being in Oregon, it might have a lot of off-road miles.

Good luck!
 

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I'm actually considering purchasing this one. It'd be my first RAV4 and second Toyota.

Should I be scared of the high mileage or the engine swap? I'm not a mechanic and can't afford to be working on this all the time.

But I do commute on dirt roads and there's snow in the winter and let's be honest, this thing looks cool. Should I buy or stay away?
With any older vehicle there will be some problems. Less on average with Toyota than most other brands but still, you should be prepared to do some repair work (or pay to have it done).

For example, right now our RAV4 has at least 3 problems:

* Valve cover gasket leaks.
* Leak from rear diff.
* Front passenger door stuck closed -- locked, cannot unlock to open, so cannot remove panel to work on it.

None of the above is keeping us from driving it, but they are things I need to address.

The seller says he has paperwork and that the engine was replaced at a professional shop. If that's the case I'd see that as a plus vs a 1997 RAV4 with 200K miles on the original engine.

He says "fresh trans fluid", so it has the auto trans -- which means it's really ONE wheel drive (1WD). There is no locking center diff (and presumably no Torsen rear diff). Quick story:

Back in 1996, when we were considering buying a RAV4, my wife and I test drove one with a auto tranny. We wanted the 5MT, but that's all they had on the lot, and I figured we could still learn a lot from a test drive (and then order one with the manual). It was parked on the grass. We got in, and I started it up and put it in drive. Nothing. No movement. I checked the parking brake, it was off. I pulled the shifter down below "D" to make sure it was in gear. No go. We opened the doors and looked at the tires. 3 were stationary and the right front was spinning! It was over a small depression so it didn't have as much weight on it. Torque takes the path of least resistance.

So the 3AT RAV4 was (still is?) really 1WD.

The 5MT w/o the Torsen is 2WD (with the center diff locked), and the 5MT with the Torsen is 3WD -- well, up to the point where there is too much difference in traction between the rear tires.

I mention the above because you said you drive on dirt roads and snow.
 

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I thought the auto had a torsen or viscous centre diff?
All I can say is, if it does it is weak. I mean, getting stuck on level grass outside the stealership? That's pathetic. There was a very small dip under the right front tire, but it wasn't in mid-air, not even close.

I had a similar experience with my 2002 Subaru WRX. Subaru is known for AWD, and they make some good systems. They also make some lame ones. My 5MT WRX has a viscous coupling unit (VCU) in both the center and rear diffs. The problem is, they do not transfer much torque.

I first realized there was a problem when I got stuck (OK, not really stuck) on our driveway because the 2 rear tires were on ice and the 2 fronts were on dry pavement. "From the wheels that slip to the wheels that grip", right? Not so much, actually the exact opposite. The rear tires spun and the WRX actually rolled backwards!

After that, I did some makeshift tests at home, including one where I placed a 2x4 flat in front of the front tires and jacked the rear end up off the ground (using a floor jack). Then I attempted to drive over the small 1-1/2" obstruction. Nope. The WRX kinda tried but couldn't go over the board.

I took it to the dealer I bought it from, hoping they would find something wrong. When I told them about my test, I could tell they didn't believe me. They got a brand new WRX of the lot with the same AWD system off the lot and recreated my test in their shop. The new WRX failed miserably. The dealership also sells Fords, so of course the Ford techs got a big kick out of it.

The bottom line is, all AWD systems are not created equal. Some are very good, while others are little better than one wheel drive (1WD). Just because there are stub axles going to all 4 wheels does not mean a vehicle has true AWD or 4WD. Most "4WD" trucks with a transfer case and low range are really 2WD -- one in front and one in back. There are very few _true_ 4WD vehicles. Traction control has become very popular, and it works to an extent, but it's not the same as a good AWD or 4WD system -- because it relies on braking the wheels that begin to spin. So the brakes are being applied when you are trying to go forward, and in off-road situations, or on snow & ice covered pavement, the brakes can overheat. Then the traction control shuts down and you have...1WD.

Buyer beware. IMO, vehicle mfrs should be required to put the _actual_ minimum number of drive wheels on the window sticker.
 

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I have literally ROCK CRAWLED with my central differential locker. I have BFG All Terrains... I have YET to see limit of this vehicle.


I am planning to take it to MOAB top of the world trail this year. Just been busy getting settled in new house in Nashville otherwise I would have done it by now.


I have 249k miles and I have never been stranded anywhere. Normal maintenance has been done. Only major issue was that it needed steering rack system as it was leaking.


It burns oil and really is that bad at 249k miles. LOL !
 

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I have literally ROCK CRAWLED with my central differential locker. I have BFG All Terrains... I have YET to see limit of this vehicle.


I am planning to take it to MOAB top of the world trail this year. Just been busy getting settled in new house in Nashville otherwise I would have done it by now.


I have 249k miles and I have never been stranded anywhere. Normal maintenance has been done. Only major issue was that it needed steering rack system as it was leaking.


It burns oil and really is that bad at 249k miles. LOL !
Our RAV does very well, but one major drawback of its AWD vs 4WD systems is that it has no low range.

Don't get me wrong, the RAV is decent off-road, but there is really no substitute for a transfer case with low range. Where we live we don't need it, but it is a requirement for really rough off-roading.

For everything else though, our system is great. With the Torsen rear it is a true "3WD" (high range) system. That's more than many "AWD/4WD" vehicles can claim.

PS: In your signature you have "CDIFF". What does that stand for -- center differential?
 

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Our RAV does very well, but one major drawback of its AWD vs 4WD systems is that it has no low range.

Don't get me wrong, the RAV is decent off-road, but there is really no substitute for a transfer case with low range. Where we live we don't need it, but it is a requirement for really rough off-roading.

For everything else though, our system is great. With the Torsen rear it is a true "3WD" (high range) system. That's more than many "AWD/4WD" vehicles can claim.

PS: In your signature you have "CDIFF". What does that stand for -- center differential?

Agree on Low Range. I have needed Low Range only once in the last 100k miles and I always go exploring everywhere. I decided to take my very load RAV4 down into a canyon on a very rough road kind of path. Realize that with the weight of gasoline on roof and car packed my rear suspension was literally riding the suspension bumpers. Two kids and me. We went down but coming back up was a challenge because it was too steep. That one area where nobody would have found us for years and I had a 100 mile hike to find anybody. This was up in Alaska.


I almost came in my pants. That was one time I had wished for a low range and wished I had my FJ with me. BUT we made it out. Engine being so week and more than 200k miles it still pulled me out. I was so proud.


Which Small suvs came with a low range?


CDIFF - yes.. central differential locker. It has saved me again and again.
 

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Agree on Low Range. I have needed Low Range only once in the last 100k miles and I always go exploring everywhere. I decided to take my very load RAV4 down into a canyon on a very rough road kind of path. Realize that with the weight of gasoline on roof and car packed my rear suspension was literally riding the suspension bumpers. Two kids and me. We went down but coming back up was a challenge because it was too steep. That one area where nobody would have found us for years and I had a 100 mile hike to find anybody. This was up in Alaska.


I almost came in my pants. That was one time I had wished for a low range and wished I had my FJ with me. BUT we made it out. Engine being so week and more than 200k miles it still pulled me out. I was so proud.


Which Small suvs came with a low range?


CDIFF - yes.. central differential locker. It has saved me again and again.
You're more adventurous than I am. I'd have to have a sat phone if I was going that far from civilization!

My wife and I plan to go to Alaska, but in our small RV, not the RAV4. Needless to say, we won't be going too far off road with it. We do carry a Suzuki DR-Z400 that has taken us to some cool out-of-the-way places.

I didn't mean to imply that low range was common in small SUVs -- it definitely isn't. I think *maybe* the Suzuki Samurai might have a low range.

I'm not particularly interested in serious off-roading. From what I've experienced and seen, when it gets so rough that the truck/SUV is creeping along at 1-2 mph in 4WD-Low and heads are bouncing off the roof liner it's often better to just walk. But people who are into that kind of stuff wouldn't even attempt it without some sort of vehicle with a low range -- often a Jeep Wrangler.

The RAV's locking center diff is a great feature. We have always purchased cars with manual transmissions, but that was another solid reason to get the 5MT in the RAV. It's really a shame that Toyota could not incorporate the locking center diff in the RAVs with the automatic. As I posted above, the RAVs with the auto tranny (at least Gen 1) are really ONE (1) wheel drive, because all 3 diffs are open.

Of course, without the Torsen rear the 5MT RAV is also 1WD when the center diff is not locked -- which is most of the time -- but at least we have the option of locking it in bad conditions.

Again -- the RAV4 is great. We wouldn't still have ours after almost 21 years(!) if it wasn't. All I'm saying is that many vehicles that are marketed as being "AWD" or "4WD" really are not. It is intentionally misleading and false advertising, and should be eliminated. At least the 5MT RAV4s -- especially those with the Torsen rear diff -- are better than most "AWD" vehicles.

What I'd really like to see is an easy to comprehend diagram on the window sticker, and online, showing a simple drawing of the vehicle that indicates -- at a minimum, worst case -- how many wheels will have torque applied to them in a situation where the tires have unequal traction (like one or more on ice, etc).

Torque follows the path of least resistance. Most of the time, all 4 tires have essentially equal traction so the torque is split ~25% each. In those conditions it is accurate to say that the vehicle is all wheel drive. However, without some way to force the torque to go to the wheel(s) with the most traction, when one or more have less traction, all the torque will go to them -- it/they will spin and the car will go nowhere. IOW, the exact opposite of Subaru's slogan, "From the wheels that slip, to the wheels that grip".

So that's the key -- in order to be more than 1WD in less than ideal conditions, there must be some way to control torque distribution: viscous coupling units (VCUs); clutch packs; electro-mechanical clutches; Torsen type designs; and/or manually locking diffs like ours.

Another option is to use the traction control (TC) to brake wheels when they start to slip. The Mercedes SUVs use that method. They have 3 basic, open differentials and rely on the TC to force the torque to the wheels with more traction. The problem is that the vehicle is sort of 'fighting itself' -- applying the brakes when you're trying to go forward is, um, less than ideal. It is much less expensive than a REAL AWD/4WD system though. In particularly bad conditions, the TC is used so much that the brakes overheat and the TC system must be shut down. Then that expensive MB SUV becomes ONE (1) wheel drive. "The best or nothing" -- not.
 
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