How do I know if my 2001-2003 Toyota RAV4 has immobilizer (immo)?
The immobilizer (a.k.a. immo), which is an automotive security system integrated in many vehicles since 1996, is installed in some 2001, 2002 and 2003 Toyota RAV4 cars, but not in all of them. If the immobilizer is present or not in your Toyota Rav4, it is not identifiable from the model number, or by its trim specifications, nor by looking at the VIN number and not by looking at the ECM part number either.
While we do not know the criteria used by the manufacturer for identifying which vehicles have it ot not, the good news is that it can be told if the immobilizer is enabled or disabled in a particular Rav4 just by looking for the presence or absence of a fuse, or better, “a short pin”, as called by Toyota, which resembles a fuse in size and shape. We will call it a “fuse” from this point on.
There is a fuse box inside the vehicle cab and another one in the engine compartment under the hood. The one we will look for, is the one located in the engine compartment.
You will need to open up the hood of your Toyota Rav4 and standing in front of the engine, you will see the fuse box at the right, near the fender, with a black plastic cover. Below is a picture of it and a drawing below it for easier identification (we are sorry for the dirt).
Lift the cover of the plastic box by depressing the clips on the sides of it and you will see something like the picture below (probably with less dirt). You will see the red arrow, pointing to the location of the fuse in question on this article.
Just look for the indicated fuse, which is pointed out again and circled in the drawing below. If that fuse is present, then the immobilizer system should be enabled in your Rav4, as that fuse is for powering the immobilizer system circuit. Immobilizer should be disabled if otherwise, but there is still a chance that a fuse was placed by a mechanic, who could have been troubleshooting your car and possibly thought that the absence of that fuse might has something to do with whatever problem he was trying to fix.
It is a common problem, that if the mentioned fuse box gets damaged or burned by a short circuit and then replaced by a brand new one, it is the most common cause for the vehicle not starting. A brand new fuse box will always come with a fuse in that location and even a recycled fuse box may come with it too, so if your RAV4 does not use the immobilizer system and the fuse box has been replaced, the engine will not start until that fuse is removed.
Please notice that this applies to the 2001, 2002 and 2003 Toyota RAV4 models only. Of course, there is a more technical way. It consists of reading the immobilizer memory and from that reading, we are able to say if immobilizer is enabled or otherwise.
In Continental USA, we have hardly seen a 2001-2003 RAV4 with the immobilizer system enabled, while here in the Caribbean (Puerto Rico) and in Hawaii it is.
On a last note, if the vehicle is using or not the immobilizer system, it is very important to know it when getting either a brand new ECM, or a refurbished or used ECM. Remember that immobilizer specifications can not be told from the part number of the ECM, nor from the VIN number of the car.
I hope this helps.