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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been doing a ton of research on this and reading old threads but now I might have found what I'm looking for at a dealership for a really good price. It's a 2012 V6 AWD RAV4 with the third row seat. I have negotiated a tow package in the purchase price. The dealer tells me that with the tow package they install, the tow capacity will be 3,500 lb. It's my understanding that it needs to have a factory installed tow prep package before this is true, otherwise it will be 2,000 lb. I'm looking at a Sport. Do the Sports come with the tow prep package? I found a VIN lookup website and I don't see a tow prep package on the options.

I am hoping to use whatever I buy to pull a small fiberglass trailer that is hopefully under 2,000 lb. But my kids will be in the vehicle so I want to do this safely. Trailer brakes will be a must and I really want a towing capacity of 3,500 so we have plenty of room and I'm not having to worry about overloading the trailer or feeling unsafe if I decide to drive it in the mountains.

So...questions. The towing is something that I won't even use that much except on vacations and weekend trips. Most of the time it's going to be used to haul 2 kids around.

1) How do I tell if it has a tow prep package?
2) Any other tips for towing safely? I have read that the Toyota dealerships like to slap a hitch on there and call it a day and that I'll have to make sure they install a wiring harness if I want trailer brakes. Any tips at all for making sure this is set up correctly would be greatly appreciated.
3) This will mostly be for hauling 2 small kids around and their huge car seats and strollers. If you have kids, did you enjoy using it as a kid car? Would you buy it again? Did you feel like it would be safe in an accident?

Thanks!

ray
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Ugh. Does anyone have a phone number for Toyota where I can call and get a VIN lookup? I called corporate and the menu system wouldn't work. So I called a different dealership to confirm the options and (after getting transferred all over the place) a sales guy there told me the rav4 I'm looking at does NOT have the third seat or tow prep but he of course wants to sell me one of his cars. He also said I don't need the tow prep package to tow a 2,000 lb trailer...but I think my capacity should be 3,500.

I can't even imagine what a sales guy thinks he would accomplish by lying about something as obvious as a third row seat. Does this really work? I mean I'd get there, see the lack of a third row seat and yell at him...

I'm so tired of this that I'm about to give up on the rav4. But I really liked the fuel economy and the V6 rav4 was so much fun to drive...
 

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A few easy ways to tell if the RAV4 has the factory tow package:
1) Look for the 140 A fuse under the hood near the driver's side strut mount.
2) Look for the "dogbone" shaped hitch reinforcements under the rear bumper.

In principle it should be possible to add the upgrades associated with the tow prep package (140 A alternator + fuse, bigger radiator, tow hitch reinforcements), but in practice it would be a significant undertaking, and not one the dealership is likely to do for you (even if they say they will).
 

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Rayearth, you are asking all the right questions and you have the correct suspicions.

A VIN has no code to indicate a tow package, but might lead to shipping details. Do you have and can post the VIN? One of our good sleuths here might be able to look it up.

My two bits about the third row seat - it leaves no room for strollers and other gear, and I found it troublesome to carry such on the roof rack. If I still had two children I would settle for the standard 5 seats. Children's seats install nicely in the vehicle in a couple different ways. That's a separate thread. Trailer hitch - I'm conservative with such things and would go for a stock Toyota part, but others here have better experience. The price difference is huge. As Wallace mentioned, adding a tow package is a big, expensive deal.

Stay in touch with us!
 

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If you give any Toyota dealer the VIN, they can print you up a "build list" that will show everything the window sticker shows and more. It will show every option, including 3rd row seat and tow prep package. I suggest asking the folks at the parts counter.
 

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Rayearth, you are asking all the right questions and you have the correct suspicions.

A VIN has no code to indicate a tow package, but might lead to shipping details. Do you have and can post the VIN? One of our good sleuths here might be able to look it up.

My two bits about the third row seat - it leaves no room for strollers and other gear, and I found it troublesome to carry such on the roof rack. If I still had two children I would settle for the standard 5 seats. Children's seats install nicely in the vehicle in a couple different ways. That's a separate thread. Trailer hitch - I'm conservative with such things and would go for a stock Toyota part, but others here have better experience. The price difference is huge. As Wallace mentioned, adding a tow package is a big, expensive deal.

Stay in touch with us!
Not sure what you mean by "leaves no room for strollers etc". If the third row is left folded, it has the same room as a two row. Only thing missing would be the small under-floor storage area. I'm under the impression a 3-row would be more apt to have the tow prep pkg anyway, no?
 

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If you give any Toyota dealer the VIN, they can print you up a "build list" that will show everything the window sticker shows and more. It will show every option, including 3rd row seat and tow prep package. I suggest asking the folks at the parts counter.
Agree. The parts guy at my dealer did just that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks I appreciate the help! I would like to look it up using the VIN if possible because I might have to buy in another state. Once I can physically inspect it, I might have invested a lot of effort to get there. BUT I appreciate knowing how to confirm this myself because I will definitely want to confirm once I see the vehicle.

Here is the VIN: JTMRK4DV8C5108971

I tried a couple of dealerships to confirm if it had the tow prep package - the first one didn't know what I was talking about. The second one I was transferred from service to finance to used car sales where I might have been lied to so the sales guy could sell me a car he would get a commission on. And then there is the original dealer I'm working with who probably lied to me also! I remember having this problem when I bought my jeep wrangler and I finally had to resolve it by emailing Chrysler to ask for a copy of the build sheet. I must have really crappy dealerships where I live.

So I'm going to try to find a better contact at Toyota (or actually go to the dealership) and at the same time I'm also trying to figure out if I can get the weight of the trailer down at all and make do with a 2k towing capacity. I really like the RAV4 and would like to make it work for me - just thinking about driving something like a full size SUV or a Honda Odyssey makes me feel kinda sad (the kid car is currently an Odyssey, my car is a Jeep Wrangler). A 13' fiberglass trailer could be 1500 lbs which for a 2k capacity is still not where I wanted to be...but might be doable.

Appreciate all of the help!
 

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Not sure what you mean by "leaves no room for strollers etc". If the third row is left folded, it has the same room as a two row.
I mean that if a person uses the third row seat, he's got very little room left for family gear.
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That's a Sport model at Rockwall, right? Highly unlikely that it has the tow package.
.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So I called Toyota Corporate again and this time the menu system worked. 5 minutes later I had the build sheet. I assume this means it does in fact have the tow prep package?
 

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if by trailer you mean a travel trailer, you will want to add an transmission oil cooler as well... I tow a 2500# travel trailer and the oil get way too hot with the stock cooler (250F+)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Going to try to go look at it tonight. If anyone has some last minute tips on negotiating the tow hitch install to make sure it's done properly I'd appreciate it. Otherwise I'll just wing it. This stealership gets awful reviews for bait and switch and adding things to the sales contracts so I gotta be on my toes.
 

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The build sheet does say it has the tow prep package but you can confirm it by one look at the 140A main fuse.

The hitch receiver will need to be a 2" square one. Could be the Toyota one Tex pictured or an aftermarket one.
The wiring could be anything from an aftermarket plug & play to the Toyota setup. So either a $1000 package or a $200 one.

It's very unlikely either includes the 7-round connector, the wiring or the brake controller you'll need for trailer brakes.

Just to make sure - you are aware that many owners of the Sport model end up unhappy with the firm ride. I expect it would be brutal in the third row seat.
 

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That's a Sport model at Rockwall, right? Highly unlikely that it has the tow package.
.
why would it being a sport model have any effect on it having the factory tow package...i have a sport sap that has the factory tow package...i would be willing to bet more came with it than without...
 

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The build sheet does say it has the tow prep package but you can confirm it by one look at the 140A main fuse.

The hitch receiver will need to be a 2" square one. Could be the Toyota one Tex pictured or an aftermarket one.
The wiring could be anything from an aftermarket plug & play to the Toyota setup. So either a $1000 package or a $200 one.

It's very unlikely either includes the 7-round connector, the wiring or the brake controller you'll need for trailer brakes.

Just to make sure - you are aware that many owners of the Sport model end up unhappy with the firm ride. I expect it would be brutal in the third row seat.
the ride on the SAP is very firm, but that firm ride translates to great handling...i guess it is love it or hate it lol...also im pretty sure no sport model came with the 3rd row seating, but could be wrong...
 

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I guess we'll have to wait till Ray actually sees the car to confirm 3 row or not, although that seems not to matter anyway since it apparently has the tow prep pkg and is a Sport, which meets his needs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The sales guy got it confused with another rav4 that does have the third row. He showed me the rav4, they are both silver, both 2012 and I think he was being honest about that one. We did confirm the 140A. The guys at the stealership are a bunch of thugs. I'm trying to negotiate with them because I want that tow prep package but it might not work out.

They tried to give me a 19% interest rate and are still trying to scam me with the rate. I also suspect a down payment scam. I am also very slightly concerned about a whitewashed title. They are also telling me it is Toyota Certified and I do not think it is. I will call Toyota corporate this morning. I finally had to tell them that I was too tired to continue signing paperwork last night. I will go back at noon today. They would not let me take the paperwork home so I asked to speak with my spouse privately and took pictures of the paperwork. When I researched this place I noticed the reviews accusing them of scamming and I secretly recorded everything also. I am now looking for a recorder that automatically records to the cloud in case they try to hurt me. They got real mean when my spouse left the room.

Very tired and I feel like this will end with them refusing to sell me a car because I think they intend to make up for the low price in othe areas. Which is unfortunate but oh well.
 
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