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I'm new here and wanted to get advice from RAV4 veterans in here :)

I'm contemplating the purchase of a 2005 RAV4 base 2wd automatic. It is a one owner vehicle, the previous owner only put ~40,000 miles on it. I did an auto check, carfax, inspected the vehicle and also took it to an independent mechanic. Toyota owners shows consistent maintenance records every 5k miles.

Two problems with the vehicle: the previous owner scraped the rear passenger door and fender pretty bad in a parking lot pole which would require some body work to fix. The mechanic said that everything is in perfect condition with the engine except that he found the transmission oil is brownish instead of pink and that he saw a drop of oil near the trans axle tray. But he drove the vehicle and didn't find any transmission issues or weird noises.

Based on the scrapes and body dings, I was able to get the seller to bring down the price to $6k. I feel like this is a good deal but I'm now worried about the transmission issue the mechanic mentioned. Any advice on if I should take the deal?
 

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I just got a 2005 awd, has some dings from hail damage and two small dents, wheel molding on left rear needs reattaching clips are broke. New trans was done last Dec at 187k. I got it for 4000.00. But it needed tires right away and had a clunk in the front end which was sway bar links, So far everything is going good with it, Get a estimate on the damage and see if you can use it in the bargaining.
 

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I would not lose sleep over any transmission problem. When I bought mine at 104,000 km (65,000 mi) the transmission oil had its first fluid change. Today the transmission is still running fine. Just flush the transmission oil and you will see all clean fluid. Doing a drain and fill will just mix old and new fluid since half is still in the torque converter. The way I do my flush is drain the transmission oil first and refill. Then flush a quart at a time through the return line and refill. Repeat until the fluid is pink.
 

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I just got a 2005 awd, has some dings from hail damage and two small dents, wheel molding on left rear needs reattaching clips are broke. New trans was done last Dec at 187k. I got it for 4000.00. But it needed tires right away and had a clunk in the front end which was sway bar links, So far everything is going good with it, Get a estimate on the damage and see if you can use it in the bargaining.
Thanks vponder. I got a rough estimate of the work, it ranges between $500 and $1000 between a couple of body shops. Bluebook "rough" value is $6500, VMR values it at $7000 wholesale, nada trade-in "rough" is $6700. I did try to lower it below $6000 but seems like a dealer or Carmax is offering around 5k for it because it is an easy fixer-upper for them. The 2005 RAVs and CRVs seem to sell like hotcakes in my area. Any craigslist posting on these even with 100k+ miles go easily for $8000 in good condition. That's why I thought even at 6k it may be worth it.
I would not lose sleep over any transmission problem. When I bought mine at 104,000 km (65,000 mi) the transmission oil had its first fluid change. Today the transmission is still running fine. Just flush the transmission oil and you will see all clean fluid. Doing a drain and fill will just mix old and new fluid since half is still in the torque converter. The way I do my flush is drain the transmission oil first and refill. Then flush a quart at a time through the return line and refill. Repeat until the fluid is pink.
Thanks DL175. I will do a fluid change. I've read mixed reports about flushing, and many seem to recommend a series of drain-fills instead. Do you have a recommendation on that?
 

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YEa I got get mine registered, and I was told it was 500 , The state valued it at 7000.00, really ? I going to appeal it but you have to pay up front. They will come out and take pictures and put it before a board. This is new for Georgia next years decal want be but 20.00. My other vehicles are on the old method. I checked with a body shop Christmas eve morning and he said that I was better off buying a hood and have him prep it and paint it for 250.00, then he saw the spare tire cover and that was 250.00 . This isn't including the dents on the roof and a dent just off the roof on the passenger side. Theres two chips in the windshield and both rear wheel well molding needs to have clips replaced. The spare tire cover looks like it skidded down the road from not being put on right. On Monday I did go get the tag, I took 550.00 with me, well after they did all the "paperwork" it came to 550.75 Im glad I had some change in my pocket. I went down stairs and put in a appeal, they came out and took pictures and I did alittle write up on it and they made a copy of a Toyota Dealer write up on things wrong with it which was struts 1220.00 , 2 wheel bearing, tires, wiper blades, SO hopefully I'll win and get some money back. Bright side the tag wont be but 20.00 from here out. This is Georgia's way of collecting sales tax. I think they valued at 7300.00 or that's what was used to figure the tax on.
 

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Thanks vponder. I got a rough estimate of the work, it ranges between $500 and $1000 between a couple of body shops. Bluebook "rough" value is $6500, VMR values it at $7000 wholesale, nada trade-in "rough" is $6700. I did try to lower it below $6000 but seems like a dealer or Carmax is offering around 5k for it because it is an easy fixer-upper for them. The 2005 RAVs and CRVs seem to sell like hotcakes in my area. Any craigslist posting on these even with 100k+ miles go easily for $8000 in good condition. That's why I thought even at 6k it may be worth it.

Thanks DL175. I will do a fluid change. I've read mixed reports about flushing, and many seem to recommend a series of drain-fills instead. Do you have a recommendation on that?
Mechanical flushing machines can sometimes be more harmful I agree. On the other hand doing several drain and fill is not that great either. I tried doing a few drain and fill and the fluid is still not clean enough. At the end doing 2 or so drain and fill still will not equal changing "all" the fluid as I did mine. Once you do it right by replacing all the fluid you will get longer fluid life (vs mixing dirty oil with new). It is up to you what you want.

Just to let you know before they invented those flushing machines back in the good old days the way transmission oil was flushed is by using the return line. It is much safer than flushing machines. Drain and fill is ok but more than 60 % of the oil can not be drain because they are sitting inside the torque converter. So in effect you are diluting the old oil with new oil each time you do a drain and fill but most of it can not be drained. So when you flush through the return line you are forcing the dirty oil to flow out of the system thus all the trapped oil in the torque converter is gone.
 
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