RAV4 - Toyota OEM 3500 Pound/ 2 inch Receiver Hitch
Update 04/10/08: Here is a useful link to a summary of the different vehicle configurations and available receiver kits:
It appears that many owners are receiving boxes with no instructions, and it is sometimes difficult to find the instructions online, so here are the Toyota installation documents in pdf format:
All the receiver parts laid out for inspection. When you get your receiver, inventory the parts before starting the installation! MOST IMPORTANT !!!: Get out your tape measure NOW, and measure across the two main attach areas (top and bottom of this pic). Measure hole to hole - the figures should be very close at the front and back of the receiver (the brackets should be parallel) - if they are not, your receiver is WARPED (like mine was) and you will most likely have difficulties getting it to install correctly. Note that the brackets look badly misaligned in the pic, but that is due to the short focal length lens. By eye, they looked fine.
See this pic: RAV4_Hitch-10.JPG
Now is the time to think about calling the seller for an exchange, not later when you are an hour into the job and have dirt and sweat in your eyes! If the brackets are 0.5 inch or less out of true, you probably will be able to coax all the bolts in. If they are misaligned more than that, watch out! Warpage is a common problem during welding, but proper quality control "should" catch these problems before they get shipped!
The Toyota factory receiver is a fine piece of hardware, but it's expensive and time consuming to install. I think it's worth the money and labor. After you look at the pictures you will understand better.
MSRP is $479 - I paid $383 plus $39 shipping through a secret source associated with a Land Cruiser forum.
That's a load of parts - the receiver is loosely assembled with all it's brackets and reinforcements, and it's surrounded by the Tekonsha P3 brake controller I won at a motorcycle ride last month, the Toyota factory trailer lighting wire harness, additional brake and battery charge wires, plastic split loom, fuse block, circuit breakers, ball mount and a 2 inch ball.
A close-up of the right brackets. The heavy side bracket braces the main receiver and connects to the rear bumper beam via the rear two holes. The odd shaped piece flies over the top of the muffler and connects to the floor structure under the jack mount. The square reinforcement plate is hanging off that bracket.
A close-up of the left brackets. A heavy reinforcement L- angle bolts to the left side of the floor channel. Another side brace bolts to that and also the main receiver, and then to the rear bumper beam. A smaller side brace angles up to the floor structure via a second square plate.
In this pic at the top is the left bumper bracket, both of which came pre-installed on my '07 Ltd with tow prep package. The instructions I used indicated that it would have to be installed, which would require removal of the rear bumper plastic cover. Luckily I didn't have to remove the bumper. At the bottom is the rear tie down point which is removed and discarded - the receiver has an opening for this purpose. The main fore and aft attach points of the receiver mount on the channel where the tie down was attached.
The right main channel, showing the threaded holes that are the main attach points. To the right of the muffler hanger are 4 rubber plugs which must be removed - the floor plate will go on top of that area and the hitch will tie into it.
The right area is hard to access - it's buried under the jack mount as shown by the arrows. It is possible to install the plate by working through the access panel and without removing the right plastic trim or the jack mount.
The instructions suggest two people to lift up the main receiver - I used the Mechanic's Pal - a couple of jack stands padded with shop rags. Close at hand are gloves, four 12 mm bolts, pre-tested to make sure they thread into their holes easily, and a ratchet and 17 mm socket. Also shown is the OEM tie down (cleaned up for the pic) and it's two 12 mm bolts, which are not re-used.
Getting the receiver into position was easy, and I started the center of the three left bolts and moved to the right side. Uh Oh!!!!! Only the rear hole lined up - the center was off by more than half a hole and the front hole was completely covered. It appeared that the receiver was tweaked and out of alignment. At this point I had two choices - remove it and try to straighten it with a sledgehammer, or try to pull it into alignment with the side brackets. I chose Door Number 2. If it didn't work, I could leave the side brackets loosely installed and drop the main receiver out from between them.
The left side angle is installed and the bolts loosely tightened. All bolts at this point are run in until they contact and start to torque, then backed out about half a turn. This will let the parts shift for alignment.
The right side plate went on next, and as I torqued it down I could see the main attach point pull into correct position. Yeehaw! I installed the two remaining 12 mm bolts on that side of the receiver and loosened the right side plate bolts to let things shift around.
The left floor plate is slid into place after removing some rubber sealant to let it lie flat. Here are the outer two attach bolts loosely holding it in place from below. Next the left side brace is installed between the two empty holes and the main brackets.
Once all the parts are in place and all 20 bolts are loosely installed, it was time to torque everything down in the pattern shown in the installation instructions:
12 mm bolts: 60 ft pounds
10 mm bolts: 37 foot pounds
8 mm bolts (at the bumper brackets): real tight (2 grunts) with a box end wrench.
For a full report on installing a brake control and associated wiring go here: RAV4 Brake Control
For more pics and info on the trailer go here: Soft Road Trailer