Advice on purchasing a 4WD

Submitted: Sunday, Jun 05, 2005 at 22:46
ThreadID: 23613 Views:2642 Replies:9 FollowUps:29
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Hi All,

I am looking at buying a 2nd hand 4WD in the next couple of months and need some serious advice! I have $12000 to spend and have little understanding of all the technical information that goes with buying a 4WD. I obviously want to get the best possible buy for my money and most suitable vehicle for my needs, so i hope someone out there can help.
I am moving from Melbourne to Alice Springs in August and want a fuel efficient vehicle that is not too small, not too large and comfortable for long trips. I have experience driving a Toyota Troop Carrier for work and also have a light-rigid licence so i'm not interested in a 'girly 4WD' at all. I am currently looking at 1992-94 model Toyota 4Runners or Hilux Surfs as these seem to meet my needs as far as i know. What are the differences (good & bad) between a Petrol or Diesel motor? I've always driven manuals and are a bit put off by a auto 4WD, i think this is because i think its a really lazy way to drive any vehicle, are there any good things about a auto 4WD that would make me want to purchase one??
I would like to get out and do some light 4WDing too so whatever i buy needs to be capable of this as well.

Thanks, Vicky
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Reply By: Member - Jimbo (VIC) - Sunday, Jun 05, 2005 at 23:02

Sunday, Jun 05, 2005 at 23:02

A Suzuki Vitara Wagon would do you well. Not too big, not too small. Fairly good off road and tough as nails.


AnswerID: 114489

Reply By: Exploder - Sunday, Jun 05, 2005 at 23:14

Sunday, Jun 05, 2005 at 23:14
Gday Vicky

Vicky an Auto beats a Manuel at just about everything off road, Now this may upset some people but it is just the fact of the matter, Sand, mud, rock’s, hill climb an auto will kill a Manuel, hill decent a Manuel will win hands down but that is about it.

There are some surf owners on hear, I would think they will back you up in your chose of vehicle.
AnswerID: 114491

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 00:12

Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 00:12
perhaps it would if you dont know how to drive a manuel correctly
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Follow Up By: Exploder - Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 10:43

Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 10:43
Davoe i see that you are one of the people upset by my comment, I’m sorry about that but it is just the mechanics of an auto that makes it a better performer 90% of the time.

Vicky asked a question and I gave her a correct answer, not a preference

And yes I can drive a manuel.
FollowupID: 370416

Follow Up By: Member - Glenn D (NSW) - Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 20:16

Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 20:16
Hows it going Exploder,

I too had initial troubles motivating my manuel .

Learning some spanish has improved its preformance dramaticly.

FollowupID: 370502

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Tuesday, Jun 07, 2005 at 06:16

Tuesday, Jun 07, 2005 at 06:16
Exploder the mistake you are making is not looking at the budget she has. 12k does NOT get you a 30 - 50k late model 4by with a new generation auto that all the scribes (and yourself ) rave about. I am not that old but I certainly remember the older style slushboxes that added 10 - 20% to your fuel bill and robbed your vehicle of 10 - 20% power. BTW operating a manuel gearbox is not the same as driving a 4wd manuel
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Follow Up By: Exploder - Tuesday, Jun 07, 2005 at 19:04

Tuesday, Jun 07, 2005 at 19:04
Point taken about the old style auto’s Davoe and yes her budget would not stretch to a new generation auto that scribes like myself do drive around in.

Yes I realise that driving a Manuel gearbox on the road is not the same as off it, I have driven manual 4WD’s off road before and I also have a HR truck license so I am no stranger to the operation of a manual gearbox, Just to clear that up.

I have an auto simply because the 4WD I purchased had one. If I got a Patrol ( which I almost did) it would have been a manual.

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Reply By: mattlobie - Sunday, Jun 05, 2005 at 23:55

Sunday, Jun 05, 2005 at 23:55
I'd suggest a 2.8 Diesel 4Runner if you can find one in your price range. A few things to be aware of. The Surfs are grey imports so some people will argue that some parts for them are expensive or hard to get, I don't know how true that is. There have also been overheating problems associated with some surfs. Again, I don't know the extent of it, but the problem exists (I'm sure people will debate that but search some forums for surf related questions and you'll see for yourself). 4Runners are proper Toyota imports so parts and reliability aren't an issue. The 2.8D engine wil go forever. Not very powerful though.

Someone else mentioned autos. You can talk up autos as much as you want, but I wouldn't want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere in an auto with a flat battery. Too much hassle to jump start etc. I'd choose a manual every time, no matter how good an auto is to drive.

Differences between petrol & diesel are pretty obvious. Petrol is cheaper but diesel engines usually get better mileage. Diesels need to be serviced twice as often. Non-turbo diesels have less power than equal sized petrols but usually more torque, so if you're planning on towing, diesel is good to have.

Depending on how many passengers and how much gear you'll tend to have, you could look at a Suzuki Jimny. It might fall into your "too small" category though. You'll get a pretty new model for that money (99-01 probably). They are a real 4x4, they're dual range. For light 4wding they're as good as any other vehicle. Probably not so good on the bitumen though, can be uncomfortable on long trips. Only a little 1.3 litre petrol engine so you wouldn't tow anything sizable. Good on fuel though.

AnswerID: 114493

Follow Up By: Vicky - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 00:52

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 00:52
Thanks for the tip on the difference between Surfs and 4Runners with parts, overheating etc, just the type of info I'm looking for. Also not planning to tow anything so the extra power of a diesel is probably not required in that respect.
Don't know yet whether passengers will be a regular thing as i'm moving to a place where there is nobody i know, so friends may be scarce for a while! Gear carrying capacity is an issue as i tend to carry lots of crap around so a Jimny would be way too small and a 1.3 litre engine is smaller than what i drive now so i'm definately not interested in that. Also planning on some long trips so comfort is v. important.
Thanks again.
Cheers, Vicky

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Follow Up By: mattlobie - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:13

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:13
No probs. I think a 4runner would be a good option. Even though you're not planning on towing, I'd still seriously consider a diesel 4runner. I think you'll find the 2.8D engine a lot more reliable than the 2.4 petrol (and not much different power-wise) and the 3.0V6 (which is very common) drinks fuel like it's going out of fashion, they do scoot along pretty well though. Having said that, from my experience, 90% of 4runners that are for sale seem to be V6s. I know here in QLD, and in Brisbane specifically, there aren't that many 4runners around so it might take a bit of looking, but if you come across a decent 2.8, deadset get on it. It's the way to go IMHO. Oh and SR5 4runners are pretty well decked out. The best feature is that they have auto locking hubs (the latest model ones do anyway). Just hit the switch on the range selector and you're in 4x4, no getting out and engaging the hubs. So a 2.8D SR5 would be a dream machine, maybe not so easy to find though.

I've gotta defend the Jimny for a sec :) even though it's only got a 1.3, it's got a lot of power for a car it's size. They're good, but as you say, very limited gear space.

FollowupID: 370765

Follow Up By: Vicky - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:26

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:26
The 94 4Runner i'm looking at is an SR5 and is well decked out as you say, but petrol 3.0 V6. Not too many for sale here in Vic either. Still looking though.
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Follow Up By: mattlobie - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:35

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:35
Don't be scared by the 3.0V6, it's still a good, reliable engine. As I said, excellent power and good torque. Have a search of past threads and you'll find discussions on their fuel consumption, I'm sure. Don't quote me but I think you'll find it up around 13 or 14 litres per 100kms. If you don't mind buying that much fuel (which still isn't excessive) then I'd seriously consider a good 3.0V6.

How many kms does your one have and is it manual or auto?

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Follow Up By: Vicky - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 23:06

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 23:06
It's a manual with 190,000km's on it. $12,000. Looks good from the pics, still yet to see it in the flesh or take it for a drive.

FollowupID: 370897

Follow Up By: mattlobie - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 23:54

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 23:54
Assuming it's in decent condition, that's quite a good price for that vehicle. 190k is quite acceptable for a 94 model, assuming it's been serviced regularly of course. And as discussed, the SR5 features are a bonus.

I'd seriously consider that vehicle at the price. As I said, you've gotta make a decision on the fuel consumption though.

You asked about somewhere to get it checked. I'm assuming you don't have a friend or family member who is a mechanic. My only suggestion would be possibly asking the RACV to recommend someone. I know the RACQ up here in QLD do vehicle inspections. Some victorians might be able to give some feedback as to the usefulness of the RACV in such situations.

Don't be afraid to ask the owner to allow you to get the vehicle inspected. If it's in decent condition they won't mind. If they do mind, the vehicle is probably best avoided anyway.

good luck

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Follow Up By: mattlobie - Friday, Jun 10, 2005 at 00:03

Friday, Jun 10, 2005 at 00:03
Oh, and the SR5 should have a feature to alert you if you leave the lights on. ;)

FollowupID: 370910

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Friday, Jun 10, 2005 at 00:16

Friday, Jun 10, 2005 at 00:16
12k for a 94 4 runner is far too much I got a 94 80 series with ALL the extras for that much (diesal) for a four runner betwwen 6 and 8 would be more realistic
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Follow Up By: mattlobie - Friday, Jun 10, 2005 at 00:34

Friday, Jun 10, 2005 at 00:34
Dude, I'd heavily debate that. After shopping specifically for 4runners for about 6 months late last year, I see $12k as a good price. You're right, you can get similarly aged 80 series for that price, but because 4runners are so much harder to come by, their prices are higher. If you're after a bigger 4x4 then an 80 series is pretty hard to beat value/quality wise, but many people (Vicky and myself included) don't want a vehicle with the size and the fuel consumption of a cruiser.

For 6 to 8 grand you'd get a mid to late 80s model 4runner. The old 2 door type with the dodgy plastic roof.

Vicky, another idea. Maybe you could check out some dual cab Hiluxes. There'll be heaps more of them around, especially 2.8 diesels and a lot will have canopies. They're very similar to 4runners (same platform, obviously) but you'll find the ride of a Hilux a lot more harsh, especially in the back seat. A suspension upgrade would improve that though, if you were prepared to spend the money. Again, look for the SR5s.

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Follow Up By: Vicky - Wednesday, Jun 29, 2005 at 21:56

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2005 at 21:56
I bought the 94 4Runner SR5. so far, so good. Looking forward to many great trips in the future! Thanks for all the advice from everyone on this forum.

FollowupID: 373329

Reply By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 00:17

Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 00:17
Perhaps you could look at the TD pajeros or Jackeroos. If it was me I would be looking for 60 series with the 2h or even a t/d (may be harder to find for the money) you should be able to pick up Toyotas finest built wagon for 12k and have heaps left over for accessorys. Any 4wd around the budget you mention needs a thorough inspection as they are ALOT dearer for repairs than a 2wd. a poor choice could easily cost you the purchase price again for repairs
AnswerID: 114496

Follow Up By: Vicky - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:04

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:04
Thanks Davoe, i've had a look around for a Jackaroo but find they are a bit out of my price range and there are very few 2-door (TD?) Pajeros that i can find. What do you mean by a 60 series? A Landcruiser perhaps? sorry, not too familiar with the abbreviations yet.... 2h?? Any reccommendations on who i should get to do an inspection before i buy??
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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:15

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:15
A 60 series was the Landcruiser station wagon built from about 83 to 89 you could get a later model with your budget (80 series 90 - 98) but you would probably get a high milaege older one. The 2h was the diesal motor old tech but very reliable. The petrol motors from this vintage were also good but very thirsty. For 12 grand you should expect to get one in good to very good condition around 1987 to 1989 with around 200,000ks. No recomendations on who to get an inspection from but it would be worth an hour or 2 of labour from a 4wd specialist as repairs can be immense (I spent around 10k in 5 years on a simular vehicle).
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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:16

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:16
oh and go the manuel as the auto from that vintage is old school not as good as modern autos
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Follow Up By: mattlobie - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 23:59

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 23:59
Just to clear up, Davoe used 'TD' meaning turbo diesel, not two door, I believe. Correct me if I'm wrong Davoe.

Also, as Davoe mentioned, getting a 4x4 specialist to do the inspection would definitely be a benefit over a standard mechanic.

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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 07:38

Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 07:38
I'd be looking at a 1983-1989 LandCruiser 60series diesel. Its probably at the top end as far as size goes, but they are one of the strongest 4wds ever built, and everyone can fix them. They will survive any punishment out Alice Springs way.

A lot will be fitted out already. Just watch out for rust in the roof. You should be able to pick one up in good nick for $6-10,000.

If you want something a bit smaller, you can get 1985-1990 73series LandCruiser Mid-wheel base with the 3.4 litre diesel motor. Cost about the same money.

AnswerID: 114503

Reply By: Gerhardp1 - Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 18:29

Monday, Jun 06, 2005 at 18:29
If you are interested in a 1984 60 series cruiser diesel with VIC RWC and near new 33" mud terrains for $6500ono send me an email. Dual Battery, Winch bar (no winch) driving lights, towbar, CD player, reg about to expire. The engine and running gear are very good.

AnswerID: 114635

Follow Up By: Vicky - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:08

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:08
Thanks for the offer Gerhard but i'd rather something a bit more recent than an 84 model. I'm sure its been a great car though. Good luck with selling.
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Reply By: Brian Bentley - Tuesday, Jun 07, 2005 at 15:34

Tuesday, Jun 07, 2005 at 15:34
a manual diesel 4wd would best suit your needs due to the fuel econonmy and easy low maintenace. most people say that if a diesel motor breaks down it will cost you heaps but when a diesel does start costing money, it would have already done about 600000kms where as a petrol is only reliable until about 200000kms.
AnswerID: 114766

Follow Up By: Vicky - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:11

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:11
Anyone else got any comments on this? sounds like a good point if its true.
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Follow Up By: mattlobie - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:21

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:21
Yes, diesel engines definitely have longer lives and are more relaible than their petrol counterparts if they're kept serviced. I'm not so sure about his "easy low maintenence" though. You need to service diesels more regularly than petrols. You need to do at least an oil & filter change every 5000kms on a diesel. The interval is 100000kms for petrols. If you can do the minor servicing yourself it's not a big deal, but if you've gotta pay someone to do it every 5k it adds up a bit. Most people say that the servicing costs of diesels make up for the money you save in fuel consumption when compared to petrols.

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Follow Up By: mattlobie - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:25

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:25
oops, that was supossed to be 10000kms for the petrol services. Wish it was 100k tho.

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Reply By: Outbacktourer - Tuesday, Jun 07, 2005 at 22:29

Tuesday, Jun 07, 2005 at 22:29
IMHO for that budget, the latest Holden Jackaroo you can get for the money. Auto preferable to manual. Unless you know why you need diesel, go petrol.
AnswerID: 114838

Follow Up By: mattlobie - Tuesday, Jun 07, 2005 at 22:49

Tuesday, Jun 07, 2005 at 22:49
Just wondering why you recommend an auto over a manual? As I said in an earlier post, they're annoying to jump start if you need to in the bush and as someone else mentioned, autos in the relevant age group use more fuel and produce less power than manuals.

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Follow Up By: Outbacktourer - Wednesday, Jun 08, 2005 at 09:24

Wednesday, Jun 08, 2005 at 09:24
Hi matt,

In reply to your question (and for the further information of Vicky).

In my own personal, actual experience, an Auto (modern 4-5sp lock-up type) in a 4by for everything except downhill engine braking is superior to a manual. This is not to say you cannot drive down hill in an Auto, it means you need to do it differently. An Auto requires less effort to drive around town and long distances, is arguably superior on sand, climbing, towing, slow rocky terrain and so forth.

You are correct in saying you cannot jump start an Auto but IMHO this is a risk that is managed by ensuring your starter battery is of good quality and less than 4-5 years old. If you are travelling in a remote area the risk is further mitigated by carryng another battery capable of starting the vehicle. One could also say a manual cannot be jump started (or driven) if the clutch fails, a risk mitigated by carrying a spare and workshop tools. Not being able to jump start and auto is not in my opinion a deal breaker type issue.

Further I think for around this kind of money you will find an early to mid 90's Jackaroo which will have the 4 speed AISIN auto with the lock-up converter.(Perhaps not in a Tojo or Nissan, hence the Jack suggestion) When cruising the lock-up provides direct drive and is equally economical to the manual. In some models the gearing of the auto is actually taller than the manual providing BETTER economy than the manual when cruising. An Auto will be slightly more thirsty around town compensated for in easier driveability IMHO.

The Jackaroo is a very capable all rounder of very good build quality available on the second hand market at very reasonable prices and well worth looking at for around this kind of money.
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Follow Up By: mattlobie - Wednesday, Jun 08, 2005 at 09:52

Wednesday, Jun 08, 2005 at 09:52
All the points you make are good & valid.

Proper, regular servicing should surely alert you if your clutch is on the way out. If you're going on a major trip, you'd get an ageing clutch checked beforehand (I would, anyway). Or if you're driving your car hard enough to damage a sound clutch then surely your auto transmission would be at equal chance of failing.

I'd be more worried about leaving the parking lights on at the boat ramp/camp site/shopping centre or something. Let's face it, who hasn't done that? And a car of this age is unlikely to have an alarm or other feature to prevent such a mishap. If you've got a manual you don't have to worry about taking a spare battery or jump starter or solar charger, you just point it down hill, or give it a push along flat ground and you're away.

That in itself is enough for me to choose a manual over an auto any day of the week. And it's not like driving a manual on sand etc is really difficult, maybe just not quite as nice as driving an auto.

We might have to agree to disagree on this one.

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Follow Up By: Vicky - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:19

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 01:19
Good point on leaving the headlights on! That will be the first thing i will do as I currently rely on a beeping noise to remind me that the lights are on! If there is no warning i will definitely leave them on and require a jump start....
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Reply By: mattlobie - Wednesday, Jun 08, 2005 at 09:56

Wednesday, Jun 08, 2005 at 09:56
Oh, by the way, I'm not knocking Jackaroos at all. I've never driven one so I'll take your word for their quality etc. It's just the auto vs manual issue in any 4x4 that I question.

AnswerID: 114865

Follow Up By: Outbacktourer - Wednesday, Jun 08, 2005 at 10:22

Wednesday, Jun 08, 2005 at 10:22
Yes, no problem there, understood that. I understand and respect your opinion on manuals/cluthes etc. It's all about personal preference. I don't think we disagree at all, just have a different opinion, which is OK and what the forum is all about after all. Cheers.
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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Wednesday, Jun 08, 2005 at 21:38

Wednesday, Jun 08, 2005 at 21:38
Outback tourer, A 5 speed lockup tourque converter ist worth sh$%t whn you are out bush as you never hit top gear!!!! and on the highway they are no better (in fact slightly worse) than 5th gear manuel. I will give you this though where they really shine is pigging on your Maccas as you drive away from the drive through - thats about it
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