The immobilizer system, also known just as “immo”, is an automotive security system integrated into many vehicles since 1980’s and it has become more sophisticated with the years. It is installed in some 2001, 2002 and 2003 Toyota RAV4 cars, but not in all of them (from those years). If the immobilizer is present or not in your Toyota Rav4, it is not identifiable from the model number, or by its trim identifiers (Rav4, Rav4 L, etc.), nor in the VIN number and definitely not in the ECM part number either.
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How to know
While we do not know the criteria used by the manufacturer for identifying which vehicles have it or not, we do know that it can be told if the immobilizer is enabled or disabled in a particular Rav4 among years 2001, 2002 and 2003, just by looking for the presence or absence of a fuse, or better, “a short pin”, as called by Toyota, but since it resembles a fuse in size and shape, we will call it a “fuse” in this article.
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.
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Open 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 further below for easier identification.
Lift the cover of the plastic box (fuse box) by depressing a clip on the front side of it. You will see something like in the picture below (probably with less dirt). In the picture, you can see a red arrow pointing to the location of the fuse we are referring to.
The fuse is shown again in the drawing below. If that fuse is present, then the immobilizer system should be enabled in your Rav4. The job of that fuse is to supply power to the immobilizer system. If the fuse is NOT present, it is an indication of the immobilizer not enabled or not used. However, this is assuming that the fuse box hasn’t been tampered with.
There is a chance that a fuse was placed or removed by mistake by a mechanic or anybody else working with it. A mechanic, for example, could possibly think that not having that fuse in place might have something to do with whatever the problem your vehicle is showing and decides to install a fuse in that place.
Also, it is a common case, that if the mentioned fuse box gets damaged or burned by a short circuit and it is replaced by a brand new one, the new fuse box will ALWAYS have a fuse in that location. If your car is not meant to have a fuse there, your car will not start after the replacement of the box. Even if using a recycled fuse box, it may come opposite from your car’s case and it won’t start either. So if your car is not starting, the best practice is to try starting the vehicle with and without that fuse. Just make sure you are working with the exact fuse location as indicated in the drawings.
There is a more technical way to make sure about the immobilizer status of your Rav4, but it consists of taking out the engine computer (ECM) and reading the immobilizer memory chip. From that reading, assuming that the ECM is the original one from the vehicle, then any experienced technician can tell if the immobilizer system is enabled or disabled in that vehicle just by looking at the pattern of that file.
In Continental USA, we have hardly seen any 2001-2003 RAV4 with the immobilizer system enabled, while in Puerto Rico and in Hawaii, it is enabled in all Rav4 vehicles of those model years. In some other countries it is enabled too, like in Germany, Grenada and Norway, just to name a few.
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