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When buying a new RAV4, deciding which options to add can be a lot of fun.
While there tends to be more focus on interior tech and comfort features, you don’t want to overlook the importance of exterior accessories. For example, are Toyota RAV4 body side moldings worth the expense, or should you skip adding them?
We answer these questions for you as we examine the pros and cons of body side moldings on the RAV4. Further, we look at the available options and show you how to install them should you want to add them later.
What Is Body Side Molding?
Body side moldings are protective and aesthetic features that provide a buffer between the vehicle and objects that can cause damage. The moldings prevent minor dings, dents, chipping, and scratches.
From our experience, body-side moldings prevent a loose shopping cart from damaging the side of your vehicle. Paint damage on the side of your RAV4 could lead to rusting, which is costly to repair.
While it has a protective purpose, we believe it can also improve the appearance of your RAV4, adding a touch of elegance to the Toyota SUV. The body side moldings follow the lower styling lines and are available to match your RAV4’s paint color.
Before you decide on body-side moldings, understanding the advantages is essential. Here are just a few we recommend you consider.
- Prevents minor scratches, dings and dents
- Protects paint
- It can match the exterior color, or it can be made unique (i.e., chrome)
- Simple to install
- Usually inexpensive
- Easy to remove
- Creates a visual break between body panels
- Increases resale value
Out of these benefits, we think that paint protection and improvements to exterior appearance are the most significant.
The side moldings are strategically placed to prevent other car doors from doing more severe damage. Since the moldings are inexpensive, they can be easily replaced if they take a hard impact.
The visual appearance of the moldings is also great because it adds a bit of flair to an otherwise bare door.
Body side moldings are available on every 2023 Toyota RAV4, except for the following trims:
- TRD Off-Road
- Hybrid Woodland Edition
We recommend talking to your dealership to see what inventory they have with body side moldings, since it is not always included by default.
You can also purchase body-side moldings for all RAV4 models from 1996 to 2023. There are several ways to acquire the moldings, a few of which we’ll recommend in the next section.
Where to Buy
When you buy a new Toyota RAV4, you can add an accessory package to get body-side moldings. Typically, these cost $250, but you want to check with your local dealer. An advantage of buying through the dealer is that the cost of the accessory package can be rolled into your purchase price.
Aside from the Toyota factory, there are online sources for body-side moldings after the fact. Here are a few options we’ve researched:
- Toyota Parts Center Online – Blizzard Pearl for $225
- Conicelli Toyota of Conshohocken – Magnetic Gray Metallic for $199
There are many more options should you choose aftermarket moldings.
Toyota doesn’t manufacture these, so there’s a much larger selection and typically a lower price tag. While there’s more customization available from the aftermarket, some buyers find the OEM moldings match better.
Here are a few options we suggest you consider.
- Amazon – Dawn Enterprises has options listed in various colors and price points.
- CARiD – offers several different brands
- Dawn Enterprises – customizes the molding to match your paint color
- ShopSar – customizes the molding to match your paint color
All body side moldings you purchase should have step-by-step installation instructions for you to follow, but we’ll give you an overview of the process.
Before starting, ensure you have all the tools and equipment needed to finish the job. We suggest you assemble the following:
- Tape measure
- Masking tape
- Grease pencil
- Alcohol prep pads
- Soft cloth
- New body side moldings
Before you start, we advise unboxing the moldings and ensuring all components are included. Once you’ve double-checked everything, you can move on with these basic steps.
- Clean the vehicle’s surface, removing any dirt and debris.
- Measure the location of the molding. These measurements are found in the instructions.
- Make marks on both sides of the measurement with your grease pencil.
- With masking tape, make a line between the two marks you made.
- Use the alcohol prep pads to wipe down the area where the molding will be installed.
- Apply a thin layer of the company’s adhesive to the area where the molding will be attached.
- Line up the molding with the vehicle to confirm where to place it.
- Peel the liner away from the back of the molding.
- Push the molding gently in place.
- Wipe the molding down with a soft cloth to clean it up.
- Peel off the masking tape and any protective covering to the molding.
- Perform all of these same steps on the other side of your RAV4.
Here are a few helpful tips to consider while installing the moldings:
- Install the RAV4 moldings on a clear day or inside a garage. You don’t want to install them when it’s raining.
- The surface temperature of the vehicle and moldings should be between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If you have trouble cleaning the area, use some compressed air.
- Once you clean the area, don’t contaminate the surface by touching it with bare hands.
If you aren’t sure you have the skill or patience to install the moldings yourself, we recommend hiring a professional.
Other exterior mods are available if you’re not sold on body-side moldings. We have a few for you to consider, some focused on protection and others for aesthetic appeal only.
The trim guards are similar to the side moldings because they protect from nicks, dings and scratches. These guards can also be the same color as the body, so they aren’t distracting. The most significant difference is where the guards are installed.
Instead of being on the body side, these moldings are installed on the trim. Edge guards cover any jagged or rough edges around the trim, protecting your hands and body from scrapes.
We recommend checking out the selection at TRIM-LOK if you want something for your RAV4, which can also be found on Amazon. This company has a comprehensive inventory of guards that are simple to install or remove.
You can install running boards further down on the RAV4’s side. While these aren’t protecting the doors in the same fashion, they keep rocks and debris from kicking up on the sides of the SUV.
Running boards also help occupants easily step in and out of the RAV4. They are beneficial if you have a lifted RAV4.
We recommend OEM running boards from your local Toyota dealership for the price. They can also be purchased online at Boch Toyota South.
Vinyl Graphic Decals
Consider decals if you aren’t as worried about the paint’s protection but are looking for a unique aesthetic look. With vinyl decals, you can quickly add any look to your RAV4. They are entirely customizable.
Vinyl decals can get a little pricey, so you may need to budget for them. It’s also best to have them professionally installed if you aren’t sure how to do it. When you are ready to change the look, the decals are simple to take off.
We recommend checking out the options at Brothers Graphics for some inspiration.
Protecting Your RAV4
When it comes to getting the most out of your RAV4, it’s best to ensure it’s protected from body damage. Otherwise, you may not get top dollar for it when it comes to selling.
Body side moldings are one way to protect your RAV4, but not your only option. Research and search pictures online to see what you can do with your Toyota SUV.