some 4wd advice please!

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 18:53
ThreadID: 3070 Views:3256 Replies:13 FollowUps:3
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hi everyone, i am desperately in need of advice as i am am absolute 4wd novice and want to buy a 4wd soon.

i'll sum up our needs. my wife and i have just returned from a year away and want to buy a small second hand 4wd. we have about $6000 to spend. we live in sydney but will be travelling up and down the coast to brisbane a bit, so our prospective 4wd needs to be fine logging up the highway kms. we also intend to do some 4wd-ing as well. nothing too extreme, i am talking about driving on the beach or on some dirt/gravel/rocky tracks, camping with friends. so the 4wd also needs to be able to handle that

we have been looking around, getting some info from our friends (none of whom have much 4wd expereince) and from the net. we need something that is reliable, doesn't break down often (anmd when it does, spare parts are easily , and hopefully cheaply, found), good fuel economy would be nice. but has to have a bit of grunt to do the 4wd-ing i have described.

we have narrowed down our choices to 2 main choices. the swb nissan patrol and the suzuki sierra. the patrol seems great, a "real" 4wd, powerful, more space, but more expensive to run etc. the sierra looks good too, but i worry as to whether it is 4wd enough for us, or just a toy. it is alaso pretty small, so we would need to buy roofracks and a basket to put all out camping gear in.

basically i am comparing a 1983-85 swb patrol with 200-250000 kms (hopefully a disel version) with a 1989-92 sierra with between 100-150000km. 250000 sounds like a lot of kms but i have heard that patrols are great and can do double that. 100-50000 is a lot less but if the motor is not as sturdy as the patrol's is it going to pack it in after another 50000km? as i stated earlier, i am a rank novice, i have just been surfing the net, picking up bits if info where i could find it. i leave myself in your hands. which one is better for us?
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Reply By: Truckster - Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 19:22

Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 19:22
Sydney Brissy, the Zook will do it, but not in comfort for that $.. The older ones ride rough as hell.

the $ is your killa.

the MQ/MK with a 3.3TD would be good, just chug along nicely and in your price range...But again comfort may be lacking.

Subarus, Rockys, Sierras, MK's, 60 Series, 55 Series(rare), etc will all be worth looking into.
AnswerID: 11765

Reply By: helton - Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 20:55

Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 20:55
Don't Mess arround
Buy a landcruiser
AnswerID: 11767

Reply By: zigglemeister - Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 21:01

Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 21:01
For that money I would go for a LWB diesel Rocky, or a 2.4 diesel 4Runner if I could get one that cheap. Brother had three Rockies in a row, absolutely loved them. Only reason he went away from them was when he had kids and wanted more space. Look for one with power steering, though - manual was a bit heavy. Oct 2002 4WD Monthly magazine had an article on things to look for when buying a Rocky 2nd-hand. Brother-in-law had the 2.4D 4Runner, and I have one now, though the later 2.8 l model. They are somewhat more comfy than the Rocky (though it was OK) but I'm not sure whether $6K would get you a decent one or not. Either would kill a Sierra for travelling (brother had one of them too!) MQ petrol patrol sucks juice.

Tim Z
AnswerID: 11769

Follow Up By: Oziexplorer - Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 22:08

Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 22:08
Ziggle, Rocky was a damn good vehicle in its day. Pity Toyota swallowed Daihatsu.

Looking at the Red Book, you are going to have to be a good patient hunt around careful shopper for a 4WD for $6,000
FollowupID: 6711

Reply By: colin - Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 21:22

Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 21:22
for what you are intending to do a coil sprung vehicle is the go, but also limits your choices, a shorty gq with a non turbo 4.2 diesel is a good reliable vehicle to look at, very good fuel economy, 12ltrs to the hundred ks, comfortable and reliable. You may buy a small 4wd, get the bug and then decide to get a better vehicle, which most people do. Col
AnswerID: 11770

Reply By: Glen - Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 21:44

Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 21:44
Hi...... six grand.....which ever way you go be sure to have the car checked out by a mechanic. You can find some well looked after older fourbys but at that price you will also get something that will require ongoing heavy maintenance. You might find the little zooks fun off road but as said before the comfort level for long trips is not there. A rocky or upwards would be the better pick. Nissan Mq wagon stock standard diesel would be a good pic also. 60 series landcrusier would be ok to but for that money you would get a newer nissan than a crusier or a better quality one at the same age. Watch for rust in any thing as that will also also be prevalent in a car of that age and dollar value
Look at your long term needs and gear to carry and decide if in 12months time when you are really in the camping thing if the small car would still be an option.
Happy hunting and welcome to the four wheel drive family.
AnswerID: 11772

Reply By: royce - Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 21:50

Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 21:50
You could find a late 80s 4runner for that money. Diesel of course. It would do the job. A 60 series cruiser for more size and power and fuel consumption. Shop around..... privately might be best and then bargain! Cheers Royce
AnswerID: 11773

Reply By: bruce.h - Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 22:26

Thursday, Jan 23, 2003 at 22:26
Gday 4wd novice
you dont say if you have kids or not if you do suzi will be a bit small if ther is just 2 of you then they are quite a good car & would be cheeper to repair if you get a petrol version than the shorty nissan diesel ,nissan deisels do last well but buying second hand you would want to have it checked out well becauce if the motor goes you are up for big $$$$ to repair or replace a deisel,dont rule out any of the other cars ie landcruiser, pajero, jackaroo, hilux or any of the utes available $6000 is not alot of $$$$ when it comes to buying a 4wd so the braoder you leave your prospects the more chance you have of finding a well maintained vehicle. on any forum like this your responses may be a liitle biased by the type of vehicle the respondent drives, 4wd drivers tend to be very prejudice to the type of vehicle they own so my sujestion would be hire a vehicle & do a 4wd course so you have a better understanding of what you are up against you will probably find that if you like 4wding you may up date what you have within a shirt period of time anyway
best of luck Bruce
AnswerID: 11778

Reply By: kezza - Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 00:16

Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 00:16
Novice Ill try to keep this really simple,

The $6000 is the start of spending money,
Anything you buy at that price will cost you at least $2000 over the next 12 months to get up to scratch (my budget for any second hand vehicle I buy)
So pay less for a rough vehicle or more for a goodie (you need to be astute and patient to find the best vehicle)..
A diesel will cost more initially no matter what the condition and use about a third less fuel.
A petrol may cost 2-4grand less than the diesel of the same model.
So a diesel may save you $600 per year on fuel but cost you an extra few grand??

Unpopular models can be much cheaper too E.G. maverick vs patrol - same truck or RB30 vs 4.2 lit Patrol smaller engine less popular but may be far better on the highway but harder work in the bush cheaper to run(save another 2-3 grand)

Some vehicles will last 400,000ks (not zooks)

My choices (my opinion) with your cash and needs would be

1/ 88-91 maverick diesel short or long wheel base (only in 4.2lit diesel and petrol)
2/ 88-91 GQ RB30 (both about $7-8000 in ok nick)
3/ 84-87 Hilux 2.4 or preferably 2.8 diesel (not as comfortable as patrol)
4/ Cruiser to $8000 (more expensive to maintain than patrol not as comfortable) will most likely be in worse condition or have more kms than similar priced patrol.

Just an objective viewpoint (see if you reach the same conclusions checkout the redbook)


AnswerID: 11788

Reply By: chapo - Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 07:12

Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 07:12
G'day novice,
I am selling my 4 runner if you are interested.1991 diesel 2.8. bull bar, tow bar,dual batteries,uhf and am radios in roof console,series 2000 shocks,goodyear wrangler a/t only 12 months old, heavy duty rear springs,rego till june 2003.I have changed the oil and all filters every 5000 klm. major injector service every year.She has served me well for many years,I've just updated. She has a lot of k's but still plenty more left in her.I'm at Helensburgh(just south of Sydney) work at Kogarah, if interested give me a ring 42942501.
AnswerID: 11789

Reply By: Phil G - Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 11:11

Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 11:11
Don't forget the L-series Subaru! 1985-1994. You'd want the 5-speed, dual range. For offroading can go almost everywhere the big ones go with a suspension lift and bigger tyres. Lot cheaper to run, heaps of parts available, and very reliable if they've been looked after. .

Look up the Subaru club websites.

I own a TD Prado but have also had 3 of the Subes over the years. they are a lot of fun, and for $6000, better value than the big 4wds.

Phil G
AnswerID: 11800

Reply By: Member - Willem- Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 11:39

Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 11:39
As you see, there is plenty of advice around and most of it good. With a budget of $6000 you will be hard pressed to find a decent diesel 4x4. You will most likely find a vehicle with more than 400,000 on the clock and it may be tired. And this applies to all the mechanicals as well. The last thing that you want to do is to immediately spend another $2000 to $3000 getting your purchase up roadworthiness. Early model diesels were inherently slow on the road and this may not suit your purpose. A 3.3 litre Nissan diesel may be the way to go. Probably around 1984 to 1986 if you are lucky. Start with a long wheel base as I have found that a short wheel base never has enough space. Check for rust as both Nissans and Toyotas are prone to rust. Any repairs to diesel engines are costly but on the up side diesels, if looked after, can run higher k's. Economy is also better than petrol models. Do not buy a 2.2litre or 2.4 litre diesel as they are extremely sluggish especially when fitted to Hilux models. You may consider buying a vehicle which has dual fuel with a gas tank fitted underneath the body. The smaller short wheel base 4x4 's give a choppy ride. Subarus and Suzuki Vitaras have a smoother ride but for 6 grand you are still looking at a pre-1990 model.

My advice would be to go for a long wheel base Nissan or Toyota, diesel or petrol/gas. Make sure your purchase has power steering.

Happy hunting and good luck. Cheers, W
AnswerID: 11804

Follow Up By: Zigglemeister - Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 17:06

Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 17:06
"Do not buy a 2.2litre or 2.4 litre diesel as they are extremely sluggish especially when fitted to Hilux models."

I'd agree about the 2.2, but I would have said the 2.4 was quite acceptable.
Regards, Tim Z
FollowupID: 6742

Reply By: 4wdNovice - Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 14:19

Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 14:19
Hi again everyone, I am the original poster. First of all iwant to thank all of you for responding so quickly and sharing your wealth of knowledge with me. I can see that there iare a lot of choices and a lot of opinionsover which 4wd would best serve my wife and I (no kids yet!). I suppose what i was really hoping for was some sort of general consensus that 4wd "X" was the best one for our needs, but i guess that was a bit naive.

So, having looked over your responses, i have broadened our search to include sierras, patrol swb (lwb is too much car for our needs), mavericks, and 4 runners and rockies (particularly interested in these now, after a few people mentioned them).

what i would like to roughly know is, if the vehicle has been decently looked after, how many kms can the various 4wds do before they need new motors etc. eg, if i get a sierra with 150000km, but the shelf life is only till 200000km, then it is not a very good idea! on the other hand, a patrol for example with 250000km done seems a lot, but if it'll do 500000km, then it is great. i hope that makes sense. anyway, thanks everyone for all the advice. please keep it coming!
AnswerID: 11810

Follow Up By: Member - Willem- Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 22:39

Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 22:39
My experience with 4x4's( 20 of them), and I seem to have always had older vehicles, is that petrol engines need a rebuild between 350,000 and 400,000. Smaller vehicles such as Suzuki's normally need a rebuild around 150,000. Subarus however can go up to 350,000 without a rebuild. It depends on how they were maintained. My current 'old dear' (petrol)has 445,000 on the clock and had a rebuild at 380,000. Diesel engines should give you 400,000 to 500,000 and once again depending on maintenance. But the engine is only part of the equation. The running gear of the 4x4 is very important including gearbox, clutch and transfercase. Remember to check all wheelbearings, suspension, driveline universals and steering gear before you buy. If you are unsure of a vehicle but keen on it, take it to your Automobile Association mechanic and have them check it out. Cheers,W
FollowupID: 6752

Reply By: Brian - Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 18:25

Friday, Jan 24, 2003 at 18:25
You have had a few replies ...and might have enough but for what it's worth .........for $6000 I wpuld be looking at a 4x4 with lowest spare part cost. If you get a little ptrol suzi how much would it cost to drop another engine in?????because the disel will cost heaps.
Also new or secondhand when it comes to the camping gear the bigger the vehicle the more you take. My wife and I have been unable to do much camping this season but when we do, we keep to the basics, That way you gety setup quicker and enjoy more free time. Give it a thought and enjoy
AnswerID: 11818

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