Our Car

Like all good things this page will be continually evolving.


2004 Toyota Rav4 Limited


Installed power inverter- cobra 400 watt continuous 800 watt peak.  This thing is wired to a relay so it can only draw power when the ignition is switched on. The inverter it self sits under the dash right next to the steering column.  The on off switch and power socket are mounted in switch blanks. The usb charger is routed to the center console.

Shows scion/pioneer stereo and the inverter on/off switch and AC socket with indicator Leds

Close up detail of inverter with relay and relay socket under dash next to steering column

Scion/pioneer radio – dirt cheap direct fit and way better sound and it has an aux input for the ipod/android phone/lap top.

Stereo AUX input and usb charge connector

Cargo area shelf – I originally made the crummiest rickety pos ever and still kind of liked it, so I had my dad help me make a proper one. 1/2″ sanded and sealed ply wood, solid maple legs, held together with mortise – rock solid. Thanks Morgan

Ply wood shelf

Shelf front legs are notched at the bottom to fit tightly into the rear seat bracketts

Added jumper to panel behind glove box for independent controll of fog lights. – The stock wiring only allows the fogs to be switched on when head lights are on.

Removed rear seats – just took them out super easy

Led map light module -uses cree xr-e warm white LED with aimable lenses, and 1 amp constant current power supply, all attached to aluminum for heat dissipation.

Led dome lights – drop in bulb replacements

Always on fused  line for waeco fridge. – Found a nice water proof fuse holder, crimped, soldered and heat shrunk connections as ushuall. Yes I used 8awg wire for a 6 amp load, over kill but the voltage drop is nice and low.

Modified odd model waeco fridge

Spare tire mounted park bike repair stand. I welded up the bracket that holds my Park stand to the rear mounted spare tire. I really like this one, now I have a shop quality repair stand on the go. I work on my bikes in the oddest of places with our on the road life style.

ELM 327 blue tooth OBII diagnostic scanner/error code reader. It uses blue tooth and a fabulous android phone app by Ian Hawkins. The android app is called torque. Collects tons of data and logs it as well as real time read outs ect. This thing was only 20 bucks on ebay but its worth its wait in gold.

A really big battery (BCI group size 27)

I was thinking about a dual battery setup but all the extra wiring and the controller would add up in weight complexity and cost quickly. So I took out the stock size group 35 battery and measured the tray under neath along with the bracket that goes along the top to secure it. Its a perfect fit.

I did have to remove the stock terminal by unbolting it. This is because there was a power distribution box attached that was in the way.  I then zip tied the box out of the way and attached the new terminal with short 4awg wire. It just barley fits. This thing will run the fridge for 2-4 days depending on weather with out running the car and still start it.

Added an auxiliary transmission cooler                                                                       After tracking our transmission temperature with the OBDII reader mentioned above I came to realize the transmission was running hot. A good temp is 190 or less, at 220 the fluid starts to break down. I think this is why toyota recommends changing it after only 20,000 if towing, hauling, and or driving off road. Toyota T-IV fluid is expensive so replacing the fluid at the specified interval will cost a lot in the long run not to mention the cooler was less than 50 bucks. The cooler I used is the smallest B&M stacked plate aluminum, it looks and feels solid. Power steering line was used since its rated for ATF at high pressure and its 2 ply, should be durable. This has nearly payed for it self already not to mention the transmission should last longer. My only regret is not doing it sooner, as I could have avoided buying even more Toyota ATF. I should be good for 100,000 mile atf change intervals now.

Added stiffer slightly taller rear springs                                                                          Thanks to Justin at Safari-Ltd in Grand Junction Colorado I was finally able to get some ARB old man emu springs for the rear. WOW this is a huge improvement. With all the weight on the car this brings the ride height to just above stock. No more bottoming out and no more decreased ground clearance.

Out with the old stock spring

Stock Spring

Things I regret:

Buying and using a K&N air filter. I was sucked in by the washable and reusable claims. The cleaning and oiling process is a pain and involves expensive harsh chemicals. Compared to a stock Toyota, or any OEM paper filter this K&N filter is really more of a screen than a filter. Independent testing shows paper filters are up to 37% more effective at actually capturing contaminates. I have undoutably taken miles off of the engine life by using this thing. I will be switching back to Toyota paper soon.

Not switching to synthetic oil sooner. Mobil 1 is rated for 15,000 miles but I have been sticking to 10,000. Conventional oil was only good for 5,000. There is a little bit of cost savings here, and certainly more convenience. Not to mention the oil looks and feels more clean. Also when I change it more of the oil runs out even though its the same 5w30 viscosity.

Same with the transmission cooler, I should have done this sooner, and saved even more on transmission fluid. Plus its just better for the whole cooling system. Since the little hockey puck sized/shaped stock heat exchanger has a loop coming off of the radiator I have actually seen a small dip in the engine temperature much of the time as well.


To come:

The rest of the ARB old man emu lift kit. Includes 2 strut inserts, 2 shocks and and the front coil springs – 1.5″ lift more rear wheel travel and better shocks. If the rear springs are any indication this will not only boost ground clearance but also improve on road handling.

The goal is no more scraping, worrying or turning back on forest roads. Car camping like back packing is better further out.

second battery under the hood – totally custom no kits for this one – this will let the fridge run for days and offer some redundancy for better reliability  scratched this one because I was able to fit a very large marine battery

Led driving light – this will really just be a mount for LED bike light. It may be small but its brighter than a 55W halogen and a way better color and beam. It will not be a new light, just a quick release for my home made bicycle light, which is becoming an all purpose light. I am in the process of upgrading it to use new samsung Led for  2000lumens of pure white 5000k temperature light.

Front View

With Keys for scale

Potential mounting location

Maybe eventually:

Some heavy metal protection for the soft under belly of this car. Ideally the engine oil pan, transmission and gas tank will be well protected under a metal plate.

6 responses to “Our Car

  1. Where is the fridge? How does it fit in?

  2. How many miles on the car now? How many have you put on with your trip?

  3. I have been meaning to snap some photos of the fridge and add them. Ultimatleu it will require a bigger marine type battery and I hope to mount it on a drawer slide so it will slide out of the passanger rear door. It sure is nice not buying ice or having soggy food.

    The car started out on our trip with about 68,000, we have put on more than 15,000. I did the 90,000 service at your house when we were there last.

  4. OK I want a power converter in my truck, LEDs on my adventure/sheep rack to light up the cook box. We have to check this out on White Rim! Glad you like the mod for your second tier shelf. We did good at Home Repot for the Bike rack parts! Think I need a way to mount one of the bike heads onto my rack as well. That would be trick.

  5. Pingback: Scion headunits...where'd you mount the aux cable? - Toyota RAV4 Forums : RAV4World.com

  6. Pingback: How To Pack for a Year Long Road Trip | Service Driven

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