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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking at purchasing a 3rd gen RAV4. What should I watch for when inspecting these cars?

I'm looking at either 2007-2012 V6 4WD cars or 2009-2012 I4 4WD cars. I'll probably get a V6. I'm looking for a 4WD V6 with 3rd row seats...but I can't find any.

Most of the ones I've looked at have about 120k miles on them, I'm looking to get another 100k out of it. Looking at this forum, these cars seem very reliable (I just got rid of a 200k 2001 BMW X5, what a POS)

What are the must have options?

What problems should I watch for? I'm in Orange County, CA, so rust is not an issue.

I'll do a full service when I get one: fluids, brakes, plugs, etc. Are there any other key items to put on the list?

Is it possible to retrofit the backup factory camera? I'm not afraid of some in depth DIY work, I was able to retrofit the backup camera on my 2013 Leaf by replacing a plug-and-play segment of the wiring harness using all factory parts.
 

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For the V6 two things to look for is the transmission and rear differential whine. If you get the Sport beware of the stiff suspension which many do not like. I have the Sport and it can get bad if your roads are terrible.

The 3rd row seat is not that ideal since the RAV4 is not a big vehicle like the Highlander. Besides you lose the storage space at the back. Do you have 4 kids that you really need the two extra seats?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
For the V6 two things to look for is the transmission and rear differential whine. If you get the Sport beware of the stiff suspension which many do not like. I have the Sport and it can get bad if your roads are terrible.
What should I watch for on the transmission? Does the Limited have the Sport suspension? I see that you have a Sport, how do you like the suspension?
 

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What should I watch for on the transmission? Does the Limited have the Sport suspension? I see that you have a Sport, how do you like the suspension?
The transmission makes a whine noise. It is hard to describe but you hear a sound up to 40 mph and after that the car is too noisy to hear it. If you let go of the gas pedal and the sound goes away it has the whine. This whine does not cause a failure though but it bothers some people.

The Limited does not have the sport suspension. Only the Sport model have this. You get the SPORT badge on the driver side. The Sport model comes with darker seats and tinted head lights (faint tint). The Sport gets the 18 inch alloys with 235x55x18 tires with stiffer rear springs and shocks/struts. The spare tire is alloy unlike the Limited and Base (they get steel wheels). The suspension is very firm but it handles well and you can make it better by adding an additional strut brace (has a hidden flat type already) and better rear sway bar. The Sport is terrible soaking up the bumps but if you don't have many bumpy roads then most of the time it feels normal.

The V6 is a must if you enjoy the fast lane. It is very very fast.:cool:
 

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The brakes on the V6 for years 06-08 are not as responsive compared to 09-12. I would target 09-12 that are just under 100K miles. You will find them but have to be patience. It took us a few weeks to find a deal on a 2011 V6 with 33K mile at $15K.
 

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Is it possible to retrofit the backup factory camera? I'm not afraid of some in depth DIY work, I was able to retrofit the backup camera on my 2013 Leaf by replacing a plug-and-play segment of the wiring harness using all factory parts.
Posters in the interior forum have indicated the factory backup camera goes in-and-out after some time, I don't recall what the solution was except that (1) it's dying, or (2) just replace it. My '06 never had one and after I installed a Pioneer headunit, I bought an aftermarket one. It's quite involved, but the results were very good for me, you can see my post here.
 

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Since you are buying a used 07-12 RAV4, you should still check the undercarriage of the car to see if there is any rust issue because the car could be from other states that use salt heavily. I just bought one for my son here in Colorado, 08 V6 4WD limited with 140k, 1 owner, always in Colorado. The undercarriage looks much better than the one in a 09 RAV4 with 90k from a different dealer. The 09 one is previously from New York.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I would target 09-12 that are just under 100K miles. You will find them but have to be patience. It took us a few weeks to find a deal on a 2011 V6 with 33K mile at $15K.
I just bought a 2009 Base V6 4WD with 172k miles for $5,100.
 
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