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Hi, first post, and yes I know this may be the wrong place to ask this question, but I saw this area gets noticed more.

I am looking to buy a used 2012 rav4 Sport with 70k miles on it. It has the "tow package" to tow up to 3500lbs and it also has a brake controller under the steering wheel. The guy who is selling it is the 2nd owner, but he added all of the extra stuff himself. Says he towed with it maybe twice and that was it.

My concern is, how can I know for sure that this car is in good enough shape to purchase? What would be the things that you checked and asked?

Then, if you purchased the vehicle what would be the first few things to check, fix, change in order to make it safe and keep it reliable.

I will be putting 4 new tires on it. Does anyone have a favorite brand?
I know I also want to put some rain guards on the windows, does anyone know the best place to buy them?


Btw, my name is Sara and it was nice to meet you.



-Sara Cowell
 

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Hello Sara, and welcome to RAV4World! A 2012 Sport with complete towing setup sounds great to me. First thing I would do is open the hood and pull that transmission dipstick. Put a drop of fluid on a white paper towel. It should be a nice pink color. If it's brown and smells burnt, that's a sign of heavy towing and/or poor maintenance. Inspect the brake pads for wear. With 70K miles, it should be on its second set of pads. As for tires, there are literally dozens of tire threads. Seems like every other week somebody starts another "What's the best tire?" thread. That and "What's the best oil" thread. I personally like Bridgestone Ecopia tires.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
junebug

I did check the transmission fluid and it wasn't dark dark but it wasn't a perfect pink. Also, it rides rough but is that just because its an SUV, or the piss-poor tires, or does it need better suspension???

Thanks for the reply
 

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Welcome Sara.
The 4.3 RAV4s are available in three versions, Base, Sport and Limited. The Sport intentionally comes with a stiffer suspension to give it supposedly better handling. IMO if I want to carve corners I'm buying a sports car not an SUV. Many members prefer the Sport and don't consider the ride rough, but I'd say most find it objectionable enough to buy a Base or Limited instead.

Some years had a Sport model with run-flat tires and no spare on the rear door. Does this one have a spare? If not changing tires can make a significant ride improvement. Otherwise you likely can't significantly help the ride w/o changing shocks and springs.

I wouldn't be too concerned about it having been used for towing since the V6 is so strong it's under-stressed with virtually any load.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
This one does have a spare tire on the back, which I like even though I have read reviews acting like it was an eyesore. I love it!

Yea, this is my first SUV...I have always driven sedans so the ride was much different. I am hoping new tires will do the trick.
 

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I did check the transmission fluid and it wasn't dark dark but it wasn't a perfect pink. Also, it rides rough but is that just because its an SUV, or the piss-poor tires, or does it need better suspension???
Thanks for the reply
Hi Sara, congrats on your "new" car! Many happy miles. While you mentioned your RAV was previously used for towing, you didn't say if you were going to tow with it. If so, you may want to get all of the fluids changed, not just the transmission. There are numerous posts on here dealing with that subject.
 

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...this is my first SUV...I have always driven sedans so the ride was much different. I am hoping new tires will do the trick...
I wouldn't make the assumption a tire change will make much difference unless you are changing out "run-flat" tires. The Sport version has the stiffest ride, which some folks like for handling but others find annoying. Give it a good, LONG test drive over the roads you normally drive, checking the ride quality and noise level, and ask yourself if you can live with it.

Also, be sure to check for any whining noise coming from the transmission, which many also cosider an annoyance. Some of the earlier V6 models had it, so might not be an issue for your 2012, but worth a listen.

I also prefer the spare on the back and the side opening rear door and prefer SUV over a sedan. So fun and functional! The 2012 V6 may be the best RAV ever made.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you everyone for all of the friendly tips!

Will I being using the vehicle to tow? If I do, it would only be a bike rack or a small trailer. I would love to get a pop up camper, but not sure when that will be. But what I have read on here, I still will probably change the transmission fluid since even though it is "lifetime" it isn't...

I did drive the car for a while...and it is stiffer which I like. I really feel like I will get used to it.

I need to read the forums about what kind of oil to use. The guy who I am buying it from uses synthetic. That does mean I need to keep that up right??? Do I need to use the same exact brand and everything??

Oh, one last big question...there is an open recall on it for the seatbelts??? I haven't seen any sticky posts on here about that...does anyone have any thoughts on that?
 

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I did drive the car for a while...and it is stiffer which I like. I really feel like I will get used to it.
Glad to hear you're taking the ride quality issue seriously. We've had a few, maybe several, members buy a Sport and then join the forums seemingly just to complain about the ride. They don't get much sympathy and if they keep it up I usually ask, "Did your mommy make you buy it?" :crying
 
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I need to read the forums about what kind of oil to use. The guy who I am buying it from uses synthetic. That does mean I need to keep that up right??? Do I need to use the same exact brand and everything??

Oh, one last big question...there is an open recall on it for the seatbelts??? I haven't seen any sticky posts on here about that...does anyone have any thoughts on that?
No you do not have to use synthetic oil or the same brand. You can use synthetic, regular oil, or a synthetic blend as long as it is an API approved 5W30 oil of a major brand. Were it mine and I did plan to tow a camper in the future I would continue using synthetic but it is not a must.

The seatbelt recall is for the rear outboard seatbelts. It's possible that the seat frame can cut the belts under certain conditions. They put plastic guards on them to prevent abrasion/cutting. It's free and only takes about an hour. Set it up with the dealer in advance and make sure they have the parts on hand PRIOR to taking it in.

This is what to look for on the oil bottle/jug for that car. It can say resource conserving or energy conserving, no difference. Click on the image to make it larger. The important part is SN and 5W30. You can also use a 0W30 which will indeed be synthetic if you live in a very cold climate. Oh, by the way it takes 6 quarts with a filter change. Toyota recommends 5,000 miles but that can be extended using synthetic oil.

SNAG-16112015160900.png
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks everyone! I have never used synthetic oil in any of my cars. This is my first SUV and I want to take care of it!
 

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Thanks everyone! I have never used synthetic oil in any of my cars. This is my first SUV and I want to take care of it!
Hi Sara. Hopefully you will enjoy your RAV! RTexasF is on several forums including those which deal with engine oil and has expert knowledge , so he can be trusted. I use synthetic oil in my motorcycle and prefer it to conventional oil there since it doesn't need to be changed as often as conventional engine oil. I don't use it in my RAV4 V6 since I have an extended VSA agreement and Toyota requires an oil change at 5000 miles to keep it in effect. Synthetic oil is more expensive and so having to change oil at 5000 miles when much more expensive synthetic oil can go longer between changes would be a financial waste. Also for some strange reason Toyota doesn't recommend synthetic oil for the RAV4 V6 although they do for the same engine in some of their other vehicles.
 

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My favorite engine oil is the one that's on the best sale when I need it every 5,000 miles.
 

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I use synthetic even though I live in Los Angeles. This winter planning on going to some sub-32-degree out of town trips, and I'd prefer easier starts with synth.
Also, look into having the oil tested. LemonAide
Standard oil change interval (OCI) is 5000 miles. If you're thinking of going longer than 5000, Blackstone has a test to tell you how long you can go. After a few samples, they say I can go 10,000 miles with the german synth oil I'm using. I don't listen to them though, but it's nice to know. They also said my 90k miles engine is healthy.
Dr J
 

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My favorite engine oil is the one that's on the best sale when I need it every 5,000 miles.
This time it was Motorcraft Synthetic Blend 5W-20, $3.87/qt.
At that price I can change it for the price of an oil test that tells me if I need to. :wink
 
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