2010 Toyota RAV4 V6 4wd

wallaceg

Observer
I recently purchased a 2010 Toyota RAV4 V6 4wd to replace my (t)rusty old 1999 4Runner. I know the RAV4 can't go everywhere the 4Runner could go, but I'm fairly sure the RAV4 can go everywhere the 4Runner did go. My use is mainly for paddling/skiing/camping trips on snow covered, rutted, and muddy roads in NH/ME/VT, and driving through the dunes of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Useable interior space is quite similar to a 3rd gen 4Runner with the added bonus of under-floor storage for tools, jumper cables, air compressor, etc where the spare would go in most other CUVs (RAV4 has a full size spare mounted on the back door). My fuel economy so far is excellent (25 mpg mixed driving, as high as 29 mpg on long highway drives at 70 mph), especially for a vehicle with this much power (269 HP). There is a 4wd lock feature to engage the rear wheels fully at low speeds (<25 mph) which has proven to be quite effective while driving through deep, soft sand on the beach. The Downhill Assist Control feature seems like more of a gimmick, though.

First modification was a custom designed aluminum skid plate to replace the factory plastic splash guard. I designed and fabricated the skid plate myself. I'm making the design freely available to other RAV4 owners here for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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The next modification will be adding a set of ARB Old Man Emu springs, part numbers 2539 and 2540. This should provide about 30 mm of lift, hopefully making the skid plate irrelevant. The springs have been ordered from ARB's west coast warehouse and should be here in a week or so.

The RAV4 had a brand new set of Bridgestone Turanza 225/65-17 tires when I bought it so I'll wait to replace those with a more aggressive tire. Yokohama Geolandar A/T-S are available in this size and seem to be well liked. I also picked up a set of four Firestone Winterforce 225/70-16 (nearly identical circumference as 225/65-17) on steel rims from Craigslist for $175. If I do upsize the tires it won't be by much (maybe 235/65-17?) to preserve fuel economy. Upsizing will also require purchasing 5 tires to keep a matching spare.
 

WagoneerSX4

Adventurer
This should provide about 30 mm of lift, hopefully making the skid plate irrelevant.
That's what I said with my front and rear skids. But you know they're there providing protection, so you will worry less about bottoming out. Even +10" of ground clearance on my SX4 doesn't mean I don't have gouges in my aluminum skids. Best investment though, probably saved me half a dozen oil pans. Awesome that you're making your plans public too, looks like a nicely designed piece.
 

BigSwede

The Credible Hulk
My DD is a 08 RAV4 V6. It has been a great vehicle for my purposes for the reasons you mention, and the fact that I can fit into it.

The front skid is nice, but you might want to think about a skid plate for the gas tank as well, it is right there as close to the ground as the "frame" (unibody frame, that is), and is vulnerable to breakover angle issues. Exhaust pipes are vulnerable as well by the rear axles, but are a bit less important if you ding one.

Might want to offer the skid plate on the Rav4world 4.3 forums.
 

wallaceg

Observer
The earlier RAV4.3 (up to 08?) had lots of fragile emissions control equipment exposed, but Toyota put in a metal skid plate to protect it in the later years. The tank itself is still vulnerable, though. When I put it up on the lift to install the new springs I'll take a look at how to install a skid under the tank. I think it will not be as simple as the engine skid. Installing a skid on the rear diff looks like it will be easy. I'm not too worried about the exhaust.

Thread on RAV4World here.
 

wallaceg

Observer
Yes, I'm aware that the gas tank hangs lower than anything but the exhaust. The fragile fuel system bits are covered with a factory skid plate (improvement since 2008, I believe) but the body of the tank is still exposed.

I already shared the skid plate design on RAV4World and several other members are building their own now. I recognize your handle from R4W, Steve. Mine is also the same over there.
 

F1Chase

New member
Have you tried bolting up the 16 inch wheel/tire combo? I only ask because on quite a few vehicles the larger wheels are put by manufacturers on to accommodate larger rotors and calipers compared to ones put on previous model years.
 

wallaceg

Observer
Yes, the 16" rims do fit.

This evening I fabricated a custom GPS mount just above the 4WD-Lock switch. The mount has a tab that secures behind left side of the trim piece. The right side slides straight in between the radio and the trim piece. The material is a scrap 2" x 8" piece of stainless sheet metal. I'm not sure of the exact thickness, probably about 1/32". The mount is held in place by the trim panel---no holes drilled or screws. The entire process took about 15 minutes from start to finish. The only tools required were a pair of tin snips and a vise to use as a makeshift brake.
 

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wallaceg

Observer
Report from Memorial Day trip to Cape Cod National Seashore: The RAV4 fit 4 adults with camping gear and sea kayaks comfortably. 58" Yakima crossbars with stackers provided plenty of room for the boats on the roof. The rear end was sagging a bit when fully loaded and we dragged the exhaust pipe through the rutted sections of the over sand vehicle route. The skid plate did a great job at keeping sand out of the engine compartment. We averaged 25 mpg fully loaded including several miles of beach driving with the tires at 10 psi. I'll add some pictures soon.

The OME springs and rear Firestone Coil-Rite airbags will be installed this weekend for 30mm of lift. I picked up an in-dash navigation unit from METRA to replace the old GPS in the previous photos. I also purchased a rear view camera to integrate with the new head unit.
 

wallaceg

Observer
Here's a picture of the RAV4 on the beach near Race Point Light. The vehicle is fully loaded with 4 seakayaks and camping gear but no passengers. Monday was a wonderful day on the water. There were many playful seals and we even saw a minke whale come up to breathe about 50 m away.
 

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wallaceg

Observer
The new coil springs and air bags were installed yesterday. Clearance at the exhaust pipe under the rear diff increased by the advertised 30 mm (1.2 in). Front clearance increased by only about 20 mm (0.8 in). The ARB fit guide advertises these springs for the I4 engine and I have the V6, so that might account for 10 mm less lift in the front. The curb weight of the V6 is 80 kg (176 lbs) more than the I4.

I also installed the Coil-Rite airbags. There is a support plate that installs between coil wraps under the air bladder to keep it from pushing out the bottom of the spring. Right now it's rattling around on one side because there is a small gap between the bottom of the air spring and the support plate. I may need to load up the back and drive a few miles to get the air spring to seat properly against the support plate.

I'll take some pictures when the rain stops.
 

wallaceg

Observer
I emailed Firestone customer service about the rattling support plate. They sent me a replacement set of polymer (polyurethane?) disc supports to replace the steel ones free of charge. No more rattle. Still some plastic-on-metal rubbing sounds when the suspension flexes. I've heard those sounds are common until the air bags settle into position. I'm currently running 5 psi in the air bags.

I came up with a design for a 1/4" strut-top spacer. I need to order some UHMW polyethylene and waterjet two spacers. I think 1/4" is the most I can fit without replacing the studs on the strut tops. Every little bit helps, right?
 

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del-squared

New member
Hi Wallace, thanks so much for providing the designs and ideas. I think I will try and build an aluminum skid plate for my 2011 Rav4 using your design. Did you bolt the plate to pre-existing holes on the frame or need to make new ones? My factory plastic undercarriage is screwed on to the front bumper and not actually attached to the frame, which seems not very secure for a heavier aluminum piece. Also now that several years have passed how is the EMU lift? Has it caused any issues over time? Thanks!
 

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