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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. What's good guys? A week ago I scored a 2002 4WD RAV4 with 191,000 miles for $600 cash and a Dell laptop we'd upgraded from. The friend I got it from knows/cares very little about vehicle maintenance but put 3000+/- miles on it locally over the course of a few years. He didn't change the oil or wiper blades to put it in perspective. I'm competent on mechanical stuff and have good tools so I figured I'd snag it as I enjoy a project and gas is going up. He said it is excellent in the snow too.

I want to tell you what I find, and would like to discuss the project with experienced owners. I'll probably just work within this thread. One thing I know is the little bugger has me fascinated and I forecast owning a newer one of these with a V6 eventually.

The battery was replaced around six month previous. It was deader than heck, took a jump and she fired but wouldn't charge. On the charger for a couple hours at home and that came to life. Next was 10w-30 Mobil 1 synthetic, car wash, clay, compound and sealer. The paint came out ok. I've done multiple paint correction, but when I started the paint on the hood and top looked so bad, I was about sure it had been repainted with single stage, however now it is pretty clean and bright with decent clarity for a black one. It was just a lucky day pushin' 50 degrees in Illinois last weekend. I think it was New Years day. Work on that more later and might repaint. I know I'll paint the ground effects, wheels and stuff. The sunroof looks as if it is painted to make it blend in with the roof..? Is that the case on these?

Seats are leather, 75% ate up. Might reupholster...if you are reading please advise.

Things I know would like advice:

Transaxle pan took a hit smashed in, needs replaced.
Has passenger side fuel tank strap busted.Where to buy may replace both..what are the options?
Valve cover clearly leaking some will address during tuneup. Synthetic will make it worse.

Check engine light is on, will scan and update thread.
Long cranks when @ operating temp and sits awhile. sometimes takes couple cycles to fire. I'll check the fuel pressure soon.
Makes about 2400-2600 RPM at 60-65 MPH prob about 3000 @ 70 or 75 is overdrive working?
Pleased to find four serviceable grease fittings on front end I would call them stabilizer arms. Are there any more on the unit?
First things a tuneup is coming. For me it is coilovers, plugs, O2 sensors, PCV valve, K&N filter, belt and tensioner, then injectors before too long. Any recommendations on that stuff? I want NGK plugs and am leaning toward NGK coils too.
Also fuel filter is it in the tank or where?
Get those issues lined out then tires, brakes, struts and shocks.

Thanks for the dialogue/input.


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RPM at speed seems about right - son has an 03 2WD RAV4, bought at 165K, here is what we have done so far - at 190K miles now.
  • recommend trans fluid drain and fill (multi times if really bad), rear diff fluid
  • replace brake fluid
  • replace cabin air filter
  • suspect struts are going, purchased KYB assemblies - easy swap
  • check front lower control arm bushings especially the rear bushing- can replace with complete assemblies.(one bolt was frozen, I had to cut off the control arm near the rear mount point with a grind wheell, then cut thru the bushing with a Saws-all blade )
  • check for steering rack leak at the output to the steering wheel - you can see the leak looking underneath. Its a cheap seal to replace.
  • replace steering fluid, also the reservoir has a screen. Drain it and clean the screen.
  • replaced sway bar bushings and links
  • if the valve cover is leaking this is an easy fix, your plugs will be covered with oil if its shot.
  • my sons car was getting cat converter fault. Following an internet tip removed the upstream AF sensors removed, I put a can of Sea Foam directly into each cat. The car smoked badly for 50 miles then cleared. The fault hasn't come back yet knock on wood.
  • check if water pump is leaking - inspect weep hole on the bottom of it.
good luck
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