Should I take a chance on a used 142,000 mile RAV4?
Nothing so far.
Recently bought a used Toyota RAV4 from my local Honda dealership. I have bought 5 used cars from him over the last twenty years. The owner runs his once a week specials on some of his used cars... this was one of them. In fact all the cars I have bought from him have been used car specials. All of them had over a 100,000 miles on them.
This one was a 9888.00 special. With state, tax, lic., doc prep, smog, registration and optional electronic filing fees, the total price came to $11,097.64, or about 12 percent of the purchase price... so the fees are not cheap in the state of California, but that's the price you pay for the sunshine here.
I liked dealing with this dealership, because he is aggressive with buying these cars, and aggressive on his selling price. Also they tend to fix up the vehicle if there is anything major wrong with it. They also have a lot of one owner cars on the lot with Carfax history. All the cars I have bought from him were one owner, high mileage cars.
Also, if you ask and you are pushy about it, the salesperson will take you to the service manager, and he will tell you what he did to the vehicle. In this case with the RAV4, they invested about 2500.00 into it. Some of the things they did were front glass, tires, brakes, transmission repair (that caught my eye), tune up and oil change, and some other small things. They only let you catch a peek, and I have never got them to give me a copy of it, but it helps when deciding to buy the vehicle. I also tried to find out what they paid for it, but they wouldn't tell me; only they got it at a very good price.
The transmission showed no problems when I test drove it, and I later found out from the people that worked on the transmission that the overdrive went out on it, and the repair was about 1500.00. The dealership sent the transmission to wholesale transmission repair shop, so they were not that informative on the repair they did. Maybe since they are a wholesale shop, they might not be too keen on the public calling them asking them questions on their repair work.
Also, I did ask them what would something like this cost the average person, and they said about 2200.00.
So far I haven't had any problems with the automatic transmission. They also said that they thought the overdrive repair was a manufacturing defect. Not sure if anything they said was true or they were blowing smoke at me, because getting information from them was like pulling teeth.
Now for the RAV4, the pros and cons.
Above average fit/finish/material for a Japanese car. If you have had older Japanese cars, you might be disappointed.
Interior is holding up very well at 146,000 miles.
Lots of cargo room in the back, and the seats fold down flush.
Interior space is well designed. Lots hiding spaces in the rear cargo area to store stuff. Also has a grocery net, but the cargo cover was missing along with the owner's manual. Got an owner's manual through eBay for 35.00 bucks, and I'm debating if I will buy a cargo cover for it.
Good power from the V-6 engine.
Automatic transmission is smooth and quiet (hopefully the fix they did with the overdrive will hold up).
Body and paint holding up well. This Honda dealership has one of the best detail men around; you have to look very closely to see his work... and he uses his color waxes and small paint brushes that really hide scratches on the paint and body, so you need a good eye to see beyond his magic.
Suspension is started showing its age. It's bumpy on all but the smoothest roads, but very few squeaks and rattles. Also the front end seems to wander a little on the freeway, needing a correction or two. Not sure if it's the suspension, the tires, or the rain grooves they have been putting in the cement on our freeways.
The V-6 engine has been shoehorned into the engine compartment. Just changing spark plug looks to be a nightmare, because the engine is in sideways, with the side of the engine against the firewall of the compartment. Not sure how you would get to the back three spark plugs and the water pump. Very scary. You'd better have a good, cheap mechanic to work on this car. Luckily I do.
Brakes are really starting to show their age, even though the Carfax says this went into the dealership about 10-12 times over its life, not including the Honda dealership brake job. Looks like very little was done to the brake system by the mechanics that worked on it. Probably the standard turn of the rotors and brake pads. They will need attention in the next two years; probably new rotors, better pads and other parts.
Paint, even though it's holding up well, attracts a lot, and I mean a lot, of dirt and dust. Mine is medium blue... would recommend a lighter color.
Also even though the transmission is smooth and quiet, in its zeal to get to the highest gear for economy sake, it ignores your request to downshift, and tries to move to the next higher gear. This has happened only twice, and it seems to do it when I round a corner in a higher gear like 2nd or 3rd gear, and it's ready to go to 4th gear, and I mash the throttle to pass a slow moving car, and it hesitates for a moment, and then proceeds to a lower gear. A very uneasy feeling for the moment it hesitates. I don't think it's a transmission problem; I feel it's a software issue. This transmission tries very hard to get to 5th gear (the economy gear) as quick as possible.
Also the climate controls on the Limited model are a disaster. Too confusing, and has a mind of its own. It keeps putting the air in recirculation mode, which I don't use that often. So every time I start the vehicle, I have to manually put it in fresh air mode.
In conclusion... A great SUV with a few flaws, but with 146,000 miles on the clock and a cheap price, beggars can't be choosers. When these first came out in 2006, some people were paying from $25,000 to $30,000 out the door on these limited edition V6 vehicles. Would I pay that price new if I had the option to do so? I don't think so... but that's just me. I just don't find good value in a new car, but you get what you pay for, and a used car is what it is, it's used.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 29th June, 2012