Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

October 10, 2012


Filed under: Non Birds — richditch @ 8:33 pm
RAV4 on flatbed

RAV4 on flatbed

I know it has been longer than usual since I posted. My only excuse is other distractions that took priority. And here is one of them.

I took delivery on my 2001 Toyota RAV4 in March of ’01 after waiting a couple months for it to get build to spec. It replaced my 1996 RAV4 that took us all over AZ and central NM and southern CA. After driving only manual transmissions since I got my license in 1964 I’d decided it was time for an automatic, partly because it was easier to do bird photography from the car if I didn’t have to deal with the manual transmission.

There have been a lot of difficult times for us since March of 2001, but one of the good things was this little 4WD wagon that fit our need so well. I never tired of any aspect of it – size, controls, comfort, performance, appearance, and especially utility. I had hoped it would last forever. I’d traded in the ’96 with 117,000 miles on it; the ’01 still felt almost new at that same point. But in the last 18 months or so I started having bigger and more expensive repairs, but not big enough or close enough together to make me want to get rid of it. I even started thinking it would get me to 200,000 miles.

RAV4 Final Miles

RAV4 Final Miles

But I didn’t make it. On September 25 I got a dreaded “Check Engine” light and the transmission was barely able to transmit power to the wheels about a mile from home. When I got it into the dealer service department the next afternoon I expected the worst, and they told me the following day that the transmission was toast and probably the Engine Control Module as well. I decided not to spend the $5000 the dealer wanted to start the work.

Instead I decided I’d better do a couple repairs on our other car and make it suitable for birding and photography. One repair was simple: $50 for a pair of pneumatic struts and 15 minutes with my socket wrench to fix the tailgate. The second repair needed a $100 regulator and motor and about three hours in my garage to fix a window that wanted to drop open on its own. I paid close attention to the video I found on YouTube that demonstrated the same repair on the same car.

RAV4 on flatbed

RAV4 on flatbed

It was difficult making the decision to part with the RAV4 after so many years and so many miles. I decided to make a clean break with a donation to our local PBS station. I know there’s still value in my old servant so that PBS will get some benefit from it.

But I know I will miss this one more than any other I’ve ever had in the 44 years I’ve owned a car, and I’ll always remember it when it was still ready to take me anywhere I wanted to go.

2001 Toyota RAV4

2001 Toyota RAV4



  1. We do tend to get attached to our vehicles, don’t we? – a feeling I understand well. Sorry for the trauma, hassle and expense Rich. I was glad to see, as your RAV4 road off into the sunset, that you had first retrieved your SHRIKE vanity plates. I also like your charity choice for the donation.

    Comment by rondudley — October 11, 2012 @ 5:11 am

  2. I’m very attached to my vehicle too so I can empathize with you on losing your trusty RAV.

    Comment by Mia McPherson — October 11, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

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