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Not sure if this has been covered yet or not, as I haven't had time to sort through everything on this forum yet, but I have a couple of questions. Bear in mind that this is an automatic '97 RAV4 L 4-Door. I got it used, without the owner's manual (which, from reading online, may have been in Japanese in the first place).

1) Most irritating first: To the left of the steering wheel, under the mirror adjuster, there's a little red button, about the size of a pencil eraser. It looks like it might light up, but it doesn't, but it can be push-toggled (on and off?) much like the ECT button. It's not labelled, and it doesn't have any obvious function. I haven't been able to find anything on it online, either. What is it, and what does it do?

2) How do I tell whether it is 4WD or 2WD? I'm currently operating on the assumption that it's 2, but how do I tell?
 
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Mindscape,
It sounds like that switch might be for an aftermarket alarm system...do you have one of those? Or is there extraneous wiring in the engine bay?

The AWD ravs are always in 4wd. If you have a 2wd version, the front wheels are pulling you. If you have a rear differential, you've got the AWD version.

Bogatyr
 
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Barring actually crawling under the thing to look, how do I tell if the differential is there? And, even so, what does it look like if I do climb under there? While I'm half-decent at fiddling around with my engine compartment, I tend to avoid screwing around with my axles.

I'd thought it might be an alarm, but it doesn't do anything, not even light up. It might be disconnected, though. I suppose I'll have to contact the previous owner and see what it is.
 

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Can't speak to the red button question as my 2000 doesn't have this. Could it be something to do with an alarm system, if yours has one?

As far as 4WD/2WD, just look underneath. 4WD have a driveshaft and bulb-shaped rear differential between the rear wheels. If it's FWD there's actually a sizeable hole there where the rear differential would have gone.

Look at this pic from user Derek's 2WD RAV: http://rav4world.com/forums/album_pic.php?pic_id=45

His custom exhaust is routed through the hole I'm talking about and you can clearly see this in the photo.
 
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Okay. Well, if that's what the thing's supposed to look like if it's 2WD, it looks like I've got a 4WD. I wouldn't exactly call it bulb-shaped, but there's definitely a rather large something that goes through that hole. I suppose that answers that question.

Hmmmmm... time to play with the 4WD, I suppose!
 

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That little red button is part of the O.E. toyota alarm system that came stock with all RAV4 L's. Your key has the lock and unlock buttons on it im guessing? If you turn on the alarm, the button should flash to tell you that the alarm is active. If it doesent flash, it might be disconected, borken, etc.

It has two different modes, hence it being a button. When the button is in the out position, its i the normal mode, where you press the your lock button on your key to lock and unlock.

When its in the in position, its called valet mode. This mode makes it so that when you have a valet park your car, the alarm will arm itself when the valet gets out of the car.

And about your 4-2wd problem, theres a simpler (and fun-er) way to figure it out. Take it to a muddy road, or out to the beach, or some place where you will have low traction. All you have to do is turn the wheel and press the gas, if the car starts to oversteer (i.e. tail wants to push the car in a circle) its AWD. if its 2wd, nothing will happen.

Im pretty sure that all RAV4 L's with the auto tranny were AWD, but im not 100% on it. Hope this helped some.
 
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Hmmm... Well, given that it was used, I didn't get a key thingie for it (which might be because it's disconnected). Is it possible to get a replacement for it (or will some standard replacement work, if calibrated to the alarm), if the alarm is reactivated?
 
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Also, would it be possible to get something that would work just as well from somewhere that sells and/or installs security systems?
 

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Yeah, those are the ones im talking about on ebay. as long as it says that they can set it up to work with your year RAV4, you can use it.

About buying one locally... I dont think you can get any other key to work with the O.E. alarm other than a genuine toyota, unless you just replace the entire alarm system. But I dont know for sure, havent really checked.... I just got one off of ebay because I broke my original keys
 
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Alright. Chances are, I'll just keep an eye out for my year's key thingie to come up. I'm not in a huge hurry to get the alarm working again, it's just sort of a curiousity.
 

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For 96 RAV4 models, the alarm was installed at the dealer - so the red button is for the alarm - but I have two RAV4's and each one has a different type of alarm system. In mine, the red button on the 1x2 inch panel is a light - but lower down is an red alarm swich.
 
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