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Following on from Are there downsides to making an accessory socket always live, if accessories are removed when not in use?.

I've find guides for the 3rd generation RAV4, which makes it sound like a reasonably simple task - basically:

  • Pop open the panel above the pedals, by the hood release
  • Find the relay for the socket (middle of three)
  • Connect the two copper contacts with wiring that can handle up to 10A

I've tried to (cautiously) work out how to translate these to my elderly RAV4.1, and here are the points I've come stuck. Please be aware this is my first mod, so I'm being extremely cautious:

  • The procedure for popping out the panel is different. On my '98, the panel has two screws at the bottom - after unscrewing these, there's some other attachment at the top which I can't work loose without feeling like I'm going to snap the plastic. Also, the fuse box is on the outside of this panel, so it's connected to some pretty delicate looking wiring. How do I safely remove this panel? I've looked around, and checked the owner's manual, with no success. Doesn't help that I can't find the "correct" name for this panel to search for how to open it
  • From what I can see behind the panel, it looks different to the pictures of the more recent model. How will I know which is the relay for the accessory AKA cigarette lighter socket?
  • I'm reasonably confident that once I find the right relay, it'll be plain sailing, but since this is my first mod I'd appreciate a comment on whether crossing the connectors risks breaking anything if I made a mistake. I'm aware of the importance of using wire that won't melt or burn if a device draws 10A and I'll be double and triple checking wiring diagrams for this model.

Edit: I thought I'd found wiring diagrams (but on looking again, they were for the wrong model. I have however found a table which sounds like an adequate description for finding the right cable - but I'm not sure how reliable the source is:

ACCESSORY/HEATER BLOWER 1 // BLUE/RED (+) (18 Gauge wire) // @ IGNITION SWITCH HARNESS

  • Can you link to the diagrams if possible? – race fever Jan 15 '16 at 14:56
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    Hmm, strange, I can't find it now I look for it again. There's a table here (not sure how reliable it is) which describes it as "BLUE/RED (+) (18 Gauge wire) @ IGNITION SWITCH HARNESS", which actually sounds like enough info to identify it (assuming it's accurate) – user568458 Jan 15 '16 at 15:03
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I'd be tempted to add a second socket, rather than trying to adapt the original one - you can buy a socket from most car accessory shops, add a suitable in-line fuse if it doesn't come with one, then it's just a case of finding a suitable live feed to tap into (in fact, given the purpose you want to use it for, I'd suggest that you run a dedicated feed back to the battery)

  • I did consider this - the reason I decided against it was, that as novice, it seemed like this approach had more steps that could go wrong, and more serious consequences if any do go wrong. By modifying the existing socket, I'm using the manufacturer's fuses, wiring, socket mounting and connections to the battery. By adding a new socket, I'd be trusting that my own attempts don't include some serious mistake. Also, I'm in Sierra Leone (West Africa) and the quality of parts available to buy in shops are very variable, and the range quite limited. – user568458 Jan 15 '16 at 14:49
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    Another advantage to adding a new socket is you are not modifying what is already in the vehicle, and it can be removed if needed. Typically the fuse for the lighter also powers the radio. Wiring up a new one is very simple as you only have 2 wires that run to the battery (or one to the body, one to the battery) rather than trying to modify the car's wiring harness. As long as you use a fuse near the positive side of the battery, there is actually less risk of something going wrong. – rpmerf Jan 15 '16 at 14:56
  • I don't think anyone is talking about modification. You pull out the relay and replace it with a jumper wire that has the same size blade terminal on each side. It's a plug and play solution. This circuit would already be protected by a fuse. – JPhi1618 Jan 15 '16 at 15:15

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