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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I was going to start a show case but I think a thread would be more appropriate since I’ll be constantly updating and will be looking for help and constructive criticism. I’ll try to make it as picture heavy as possible since I love looking at pictures of other peoples work. It’s harder to imagine things when written. Since we have cameras wherever we go now, we might as well use them.

I purchased my 1998 4 door awd manual transmission about a month ago for 2000. It has a clean title but is BEAT. It came with disgusting interior, leaking oil, shot suspension, radio not working, nail in tire, cracked windshield, driver side door not locking, passenger rear door not opening. I definitely over paid but I really wanted it and awd manual transmissions are hard to find where I’m located.

Here are some of the pictures of when I first got it.
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I’m pretty sure one of the previous owners had a dog that chewed up the interior and seat belts.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
First thing I did was go to the junk yard to find replacement seats and door panels. The door panels were just as bad if not worse than the seats. I got lucky and found 4 door panels and 3 seats to replace my damaged ones. I also found the armrest! I think they’re more rare, I’m not sure. The pads in the armrest got moved around so it was lumpy, but I was able to take it apart and readjust the foam and redo the armrest to match the seats. I used the material from the old seats so it could match the rest of the interior. I personally love the 90s seat color, but I know many don’t like it much. I also found 3 floor mats and the front door lock. All of this cost about $200. I think it was money well spent. The interior is looking decent and my front door actually locks again.
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
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I eventually got new tires. 235/65/16 on the stock wheels. They had some rust so I decided to spray paint them. I used a drill brush to clean them and then hit them with some self etching primer and rust oleum champagne bronze. I have a thing for bronze wheels. My other car also bronze wheels, although a bit darker in color.
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I think they turned out okay. At first I thought they looked a little too gold, but I’m warming up to them. I’ll be spraying the silver moldings to black.
 

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Not being able to listen to music has been driving me nuts so I go digging based on elle_rav4’s guidance. I’ve never really worked on cars before this one. I’ve only worked on motorcycles and they’re way more simple in nature. I found that the acc relay was just loose so I plug it back in and that fixed my radio and power mirror issues! Thank god I finally have music now! Thank you elle_rav4 for sending me the wiring and relay diagrams. I’ll be keeping them handy.
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I also went fishing around in the kick panel and found that a karr alarm system was also once installed, but I didn’t get a remote when I purchased the car, so I removed all of the old karr system. This is where I screwed up big time. I think I might have disconnected some wire or something but when I went to go get the car smogged I found out that the MAL light was not being triggered. I also found that the egr valve was throwing a code.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I forgot to mention but while I was at the junk yard I found these running board side steps that were on a 1996 4 door for $50 and I just couldn’t pass it up.
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It looks like the writing is in German. I tried looking up the numbers but it’s probably so old that it no longer exists on the internet. They bolted to where the side jacking points would be and right above it. I’m still trying to figure out how I would install these on my rav. If anyone has any ideas please let me know.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Here she is with black molding. I think she looks much better than with the silver.
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I used rust oleum bumper and trim paint. It probably won’t be very durable but it looks much better than the flaking scratched up bumper sticker sun faded silver did. Overall happy about how it turned out for $15.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I also fixed the oil leaks. Simple valve cover gasket and oil pressure sensor. I think my oil pan may also be leaking, but I only found out after I changed the valve cover gasket and put in new oil, so I’ll most likely be waiting until 3-5k miles has gone by to reseal the oil pan since its not leaking too bad. My transmission is not shifting as smooth (or maybe I’m just horrible at driving manual since it’s my first manual transmission car, the fundamentals of shifting are the same for motorcycles but I just can’t seem to drive as smooth in the rav than on my gsxr) as I think it could. I’ll be putting in redline gear oil the non slip kind. Hopefully that will help.
 

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I forgot to mention but while I was at the junk yard I found these running board side steps that were on a 1996 4 door for $50 and I just couldn’t pass it up.
It looks like the writing is in German. I tried looking up the numbers but it’s probably so old that it no longer exists on the internet. They bolted to where the side jacking points would be and right above it. I’m still trying to figure out how I would install these on my rav. If anyone has any ideas please let me know.
Maybe there were some brackets that you didn't remove along with the running boards? Here is a link with a few pictures on the installation of another type of running boards on the Rav:
Rav4 Crawler Improved Trail Functionality: Off-Road.com
 

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Great thread! Thanks for putting this out there. It's great other want these cars and want to fix them up! They are fantastic vehicles.

The bronze wheels look terrific in my opinion but I also like gold/bronze wheels myself.

The scores at the junkyard were worth it. I too found an armrest a few months ago for $10! I love that you used the old inner fabric of the seats on the armrest. Great idea!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Maybe there were some brackets that you didn't remove along with the running boards? Here is a link with a few pictures on the installation of another type of running boards on the Rav:
Rav4 Crawler Improved Trail Functionality: Off-Road.com
I did pull the L brackets from the ones in the junk yard as well. There are three on each side. The thing is it was bolted onto the pinch weld. It looks like someone drilled holes into the weld in order to bolt them on. I don’t think I’d be comfortable with doing that. It was also bolted on by another hole right above the pinch weld. I went feeling around on my rav and there seems to be some sort of circular plug. I just don’t think that there would be a nut in the hole that could secure the bolt. I looked at installation videos of newer gen ravs and saw that there were backing plates with nuts that would slide into the hole. I just have no clue where I would find those for the 4.1.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Can’t believe how well the rustoleum bumper paint looks! What did you do to prep it/apply it?
The paint is no wear near perfect. Up close you can see gouges and imperfections in the bumper. I didn’t bondo or do any body work. I just cleaned it and did some light sanding to get the paint to stick better. I honestly should have primed it, but I was being lazy and figured if it did get scratch I could just touch it up easily. I definitely think you shouldn’t make the same mistake and prime it.

I used trim and bumper paint since it states that it can be used on rubber seals. I assumed that it would be more flexible than regular spray paint. You could maybe use regular flat black spray paint, but I think it could end up flaking later and the bumper and trim spray paint is only a couple bucks more per can.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Installed ome lifted springs in the rear along with some kyb shocks. Had some issues with my order so I had to reorder the front springs that will be here some time next week.
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Also saw a Hakone edition frs which reminded me of my rav.
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The tan seats and dark bronze wheels looked very nice.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Finally got around to putting new struts and the lifted springs on the front. There is some squatting going on but I don’t mind it much so I most likely won’t be getting a leveling kit. I’m not sure if it’s just me but it seems like the rear had a significant lift after putting the springs on when compared to the front. I think the rear gained about 1.5-2in while the front gained about 1in.
I also got a new hood with much better paint at the junk yard for $50 and had the airbags replaced at the dealer.
Just waiting on the bushing kit and she will go in for an alignment, but the new front struts made a world of difference.
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I also got lucky and found oem fender flares for $44 that will go on once I put on some of that trim/bumper paint to match the rest.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
So I’ve decided to not install the fender flares I got from the junk yard. I seems to not fit correctly on the rear fender areas. Looks like the moldings do not match up 100%. They bolting holes match up but if I uninstall the exsisting molding to install the fender flares it will leave parts of the body exposed.
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if anyone is interested in oem 4 door fender flares please let me know. They are from a 1998 rav4. I purchased them for $11 each piece so total would be $44 plus shipping and PayPal fees. I would like to just break even on these. They were painted with the bumper and trim paint from rust oleum.
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Discussion Starter #17
I installed a powered alpine sub and the sound quality is night and day. Since the rav doesn’t have subwoofers I was really missing the lows, but this pretty much solved that problem. I picked this subwoofer because it would fit under the front seat and I didn’t want to sacrifice trunk space.
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I also got around to installing a new jvc head unit. I went with this head unit because it was the only single din with a screen that can be used to display a backup camera. I wanted to keep the cup holders and didn’t want to use that space to install a double din so this was my only option.
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I did run into a problem wiring the backup camera. I tried tapping different wires to see if they were the reverse lights but it seemed like none of them worked. I tried tapping the red wire located in the rear interior panel at the white harness and that didn’t work. I also tried the green/white one as well and that didn’t work. I then decided to tap it to the rear cigarette power socket and that also did not work. I tried testing with a multimeter and I am getting continuity. I also tried a different camera and no signal either.

I think I may be wiring the trigger wire incorrectly. I tapped the red trigger wire that goes with the yellow rca to the other red wire on the dc power. I know they are suppose to be tapped to the same power wire, but since the trigger wire is so short I figured I should be able to just tap it to the red on the dc power cable. I’m not sure if that is affecting anything. I may just get a new longer power dc cable and just tap it all to the front of the car instead of trying to find the reverse light cable in the rear.

I also installed keyless entry which was a breeze. I got the lock and unlock ones to work but I’d like to get the horn and the lights to flash as well. If anyone knows which wires I need to tap into for the lights and horn I’d also appreciate it. As everyone can see I’m pretty bad at figuring out wiring stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I wanted to update on some mechanical things as well. I think I fixed the egr valve problems. I replace all egr component because it’s honestly a lot of work to figure out which component is giving up and since the car has about 230k miles it’s probably about time for those components to be replaced. I will need to drive it for a bit more to check the engines readiness to be smogged.

I also got some bad news about the control arms while I was getting the bushings replaced with poly ones. I seems like one of the control arms were knocked out of place.
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I ordered some new control arms since it is most likely bent if it was pushed out that bad. It would explain why the camber looked extremely off before I changed the front struts. It looks a little better with new struts but it’s not completely straight. The control arm will be welded back on and she will go in for an alignment after. I’m extremely lucky to know someone who works at the Toyota dealership and he takes care of major work for me at an extremely good price.

I also bought an oem front differential mount which will hopefully help with the thuds when I let off the gas too abruptly. I will be trying the window weld methods for the rear mounts since those ones are easier to access and fill.
 

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The rav is finally caught up on major repairs and is good. I had the control arm bolt rewelded back onto frame.
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my mechanic did an awesome job. The new control arms were put in and she went in for an alignment. The steering wheel is finally straight. Before the alignment 1 o clock would have been at 12 o clock.

I also got new front and rear differential mounts and I think that made the biggest difference. There’s no longer a loud thump from the rear end when I let off the gas pedal quickly. Before, I had to release the gas pedal slowly or else the rav would go thumping real loud.

I picked up another wheel and tire that matches my current set. I will be painting it champagne bronze and throwing it onto the back sometime this week and she is pretty much ready to go.

There are still a lot of things I want to get and do to her because who are we kidding, people who love modding cars will never be done.
 
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