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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone,

I am a new member to this forum and community, but a long time car enthusiast. I have a 2008 BMW 335i which I've been slowly turning into a track duty monster for the past 6 years. I am an avid racer and I've reached a point where my BMW is no longer usable in the pot hole ridden streets of Chicago.

So, I've reached a point where I need to get a second vehicle for day-to-day routines and be able to strip the BMW and put a roll cage in it.

I've been looking at small SUVs and honestly, the RAV4 beats all the competitors and then some :D. I have been focusing on the 3rd Gen RAV4 with the V6 engine 2010-2012 models.

Right now, I am doing research and trying to educate myself on Toyota and especial RAV4s as I've never owned (let alone wrenched on) a Japanese brand car.

With that being said, here are the questions that I am hoping to get answers to from the collective hive mind of the RAV4WORLD:

* What are the V6 engine weak points? Does it have a timing belt or a timing chain? What are the "big ticket" maintenance items that occur and at what mileage do they need to be performed? I am looking at sub 100K miles RAV4s.

* How sturdy is the 5-speed auto? I am hoping that there are aftermarket upgrades that will allow me to tow a 3000lbs open car trailer if needed.

* How good is the 4WD system? Is it permanent or is it electronically controlled? I know nothing about Toyota's AWD system.

* What are the key items I should be looking at when test driving a used RAV4? I've read a few articles mentioning transmission whine. Is this an indicator of imminent failure?

Thank you very much for your time in advance and I really appreciate your help on this.
 

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* What are the V6 engine weak points? Does it have a timing belt or a timing chain? What are the "big ticket" maintenance items that occur and at what mileage do they need to be performed? I am looking at sub 100K miles RAV4s.
Timing chain. Things to watch for are water pump leakage/noise.

* How sturdy is the 5-speed auto? I am hoping that there are aftermarket upgrades that will allow me to tow a 3000lbs open car trailer if needed.
Seem to be rock solid providing fluid is changed at a realistic point in time....forget lifetime fluid. With the tow prep the V-6 will pull 3500 lbs. Brakes on the trailer required. Without tow prep 2000 lbs is the limit.

* How good is the 4WD system? Is it permanent or is it electronically controlled? I know nothing about Toyota's AWD system.
It is good providing necessary maintenance has been kept up. It is an "on demand" system not a rock climber 4X4 system. Computer controlled with a lock button up to 25 mph.

* What are the key items I should be looking at when test driving a used RAV4? I've read a few articles mentioning transmission whine. Is this an indicator of imminent failure?
Tranny whine was mostly in older models. It does NOT indicate imminent failure and was harmless. The more severe cases will result in the owner's brain going off the deep end from the whine however. Take the VIN to a dealer and check for recalls and if they have or have not been done. Check for all the things you would on any used car. A fresh battery is a must. These cars with the V-6 can do some wacky things with a less than optimal battery.
 

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Thank you for the response! This is very helpful.

Can the Tow Prep package be retrofitted to a vehicle that came from the factory without one?
 

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Thank you for the response! This is very helpful.

Can the Tow Prep package be retrofitted to a vehicle that came from the factory without one?
Unfortunately not. Tow prep RAV4 have slightly different parts from the factory than the standard RAV4. I don't know the details 100% but I have heard that Tow Prep include a larger radiator and alternator for better engine cooling to compensate for the additional stress of towing. Identifying if a Rav4 is outfitted with Tow Prep it is as simple as checking in the fuse box if the Alternator fuse is 140A as opposed to a standard 120A.

I think you are making an excellent choice transitioning to a 4.3 (2010-2012) Rav4 as a daily driver. I just made the move back to another Rav4 because its such a well rounded package. I have owned WRX STI, MK7 GTI and many other performance type vehicles and I am never unhappy driving the Rav4.

The 2GR-FE V6 is outstanding. I owned an 06' which experienced transmission whine at certain RPM which was annoying but manageable. I drive about 60% city / 40% hwy and have been averaging 26.4mpg.

The Rav4 4WD is essentailly "4WD" on command, any will only start to utilize the system when it begins sensing traction loss. This allows the system to run in FWD majority of the the time, hence the excellent fuel consumption. It does have a DIFF lock, stability and traction control settings. The vehicle cannot be driven in full lock 50/50 above a certain speed (I think 25mph).
 

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If you find a RAV which interests you, suggest that you obtain the VIN, go to www.toyotaowners.com and register, enter the VIN, and all work and services will be listed which have been done by Toyota dealers or other sources who have access to the system. At least that is a starting point. That also will reveal any open recalls.
 
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Many if not most of the V6 4WD models have the tow prep pkg. The 140A main fuse is the easiest confirmation.
The electronic 4WD works so seamlessly that there's literally no way you can feel it engaging on acceleration. But it does disengage on decel and braking making it feel different than hot-footing a full-time AWD vehicle.
 

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I've got a 2007 Sport V6. No major issues with the vehicle. Kept up with the recalls and factory fixes. The only thing that was "major" was my alternator bearing starting squeaking. Replaced the alternator and that was it. I recently fixed up my VVTI rear bank oil line as I had one of the rubber ones. It had already been remedied but over the years it wore and there was an oil leak (slow so nothing major). That was an easy job to do and parts were cheap. For you though, the years you are looking at won't have that issue so you don't have to worry about it.

It is true about the transmission whine. I have it...it's not that bad. But then again I may have just gotten used to it.

It will be 10 years next year of owning this vehicle. It's been through 2 accidents (none of which was my fault) and drives like new still. I do all my own oil changes and most maintenance items. Just regular wear and tear items like brake pads, tires, air filters, light bulbs, etc. Great all around vehicle for my needs as most of my driving is done in the city. Fuel mileage is good...no complaints there. The 4WD definitely works well in the snow. I ski quite a bit in the winter and the Rav has been great going to and from the ski hills. Even when the roads get a bit dicey, handled it with no issues. I have snow tires that I use in the winter. Great as a family vehicle for trips. You can fit quite a bit of gear and if the interior space is not enough, the roof racks can handle a decent sized cargo box.

I don't tow so can't really comment on that. I do have a hitch but use it for my bike rack

I think I'll be driving this until the wheels fall off. That or it no longer fits our needs. Wrenching on the RAV is fun. Learnt quite a bit on it. It's been reliable for me, unlike my Mazda3, that was in the shop for quite a few things and ended up trading the vehicle for the Rav. Did I mention the V6 goes like stink when you need it to? It never gets old for me when I put the pedal down. Guaranteed a smile!
 

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If you find a RAV which interests you, suggest that you obtain the VIN, go to www.toyotaowners.com and register, enter the VIN, and all work and services will be listed which have been done by Toyota dealers or other sources who have access to the system. At least that is a starting point. That also will reveal any open recalls.
This is great. I just bought a '12 V6 and created an account.

One issue is that the .pdfs offered under service history for more details on each visit do not open (opens a new page, but entirely blank). I tried it on multiple browsers.

Just an icon inserted as part of the template or is there something up with my computer? Thanks.
 

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Regarding the 4-wheel drive. As Dr. Dyno wrote, it is seamless. This is my first 'smart traction' vehicle, all the others being pre-computer, and the only time I feel a strong indication of traction control is during a fast or slippery turn. It is truly amazingly good.

Good luck to you. Being in Chicago you should be able to find what you want.
The V6 is hard to come by here. Mine is white, and this one in town would be a good complement to it.
 

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This is great. I just bought a '12 V6 and created an account.

One issue is that the .pdfs offered under service history for more details on each visit do not open (opens a new page, but entirely blank). I tried it on multiple browsers.

Just an icon inserted as part of the template or is there something up with my computer? Thanks.

Interesting - so I went to the website and had the same problem with trying to open the PDF links, which weren't there on my previous visit to the website. But when I clicked on the Date to the left the entire service record for that date appeared. I use IE11 as my browser.
 

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Interesting - so I went to the website and had the same problem with trying to open the PDF links, which weren't there on my previous visit to the website. But when I clicked on the Date to the left the entire service record for that date appeared. I use IE11 as my browser.
Bingo, that works. Thanks!

Using Firefox and Chrome on a Mac.
 
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