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Hey everyone! Im a new member, and first time poster to the group. I have been lurking for a few months, soaking up alot of information. So I thought id post and say hello, introduce my Rav4, and ask a pretty simple question.

I just recently bought my 97 Rav4 for really cheap. It has a few imperfections, but seems to run great for a car with 297,000 miles on her. Its a manual, 2wd version.

So my question is, what should I do, that I can do with the help of my car buddy, CHEAPLY, to keep her running? I need to replace the suspension. I dont know if anything has been done maintenance wise to her in quite a while, so she PROBABLY needs a timing belt change, and I dont feel like we have the confidence to do it ourselves, and i was quoted 800 bucks on that.. so I am a little leary.

anyway, what would you all do in the short term, middle term, and long run? any information would be great!
 

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Energy suspension bushes, rack mount poly bushes, any worn ball joints or tie rods. New shocks if they are old. Should feel much better.
 

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I'm no expert, so if someone has something to say in opposition to me, listen to them.. But my 97 Rav4 is the first car I've dug into myself, I did the timing belt and pullys amongst some extra shoddy wiring job.

What I want to warn you of is broken bolts... Hit every bolt with PB Blaster or something before removing them because I broke many bolts for no reason. The ones at the top of the engine bay mounting my power steering fluid tank to the side of the engine, for example, as well as some more critical ones (The one mounting the alternator bracket to the engine block is a big one that breaks easily)

It's a rewarding experience none the less.
 

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Timing belt is fairly easy as long as you have some patience and a helping hand or two. Unless time is money for you I would suggest you do a youtube search and spend some of those 800 bucks quoted on some tools instead. I'd never done anything other than oil and bulb changes on any cars before and I can attest to what Leadbelly Jones is saying, it's a rewarding experience. :)
 

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Timing Belt Trick:
If you're just doing the timing belt (not pulleys, water pump, etc.) on a motor, cut half the belt off length wise, leaving the other half on all the pulleys. Slip the new belt on as much as you can, cut the old belt half off, push the new belt all the way on. That way you don't have to mess with the timing.
 

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You can to it as much as you're willing to spend. Changing shocks, depending on the once you use can be done with little money. If you are interested in performance, their is a Derek Ground kit that is easy and quite cheap, here .

Keep to the basics, air intake, a good spark and a good exhaust and you'll have a brick moving RAV4. Then brakes and suspension will also help.
 
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