Buying Used Van/4WD

Submitted: Wednesday, Jan 03, 2007 at 13:03
ThreadID: 40826 Views:1971 Replies:6 FollowUps:4
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I expect this has been asked many times - but I couldn't find a lot with search so here it is again.
In a couple months I retire and will join the grey nomad brigade. Which means I am starting to look about at vans and 4wds. I owned a fourby in the nineties so I think I know pretty much what I want to do there - either 3.0L Prado deisel or Patrol diesel. Only a year so old. I need something that will sit 6 (for when we have the grandkids) and I was staying away from the larger models for fuel efficiency.

But I know bugger all about vans. Its just the wife and I so I don't want anything too big - and I would like to stay to single axle and a van - not a camper. I will be getting off the bitumen a bit so its gotta have some off road durability. So can anyone advise what sort of thing to check in second hand vans - what pitfalls to look out for. And anyone also suggest what the better brand names are please.
Anyone wanting to recommend what they use would be good too.
Thanks in advance for any help.
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Reply By: Exploder - Wednesday, Jan 03, 2007 at 17:39

Wednesday, Jan 03, 2007 at 17:39
I know squat about van’s LOL

I would recommend staying away from the 3.0Ltr Patrols even the newer ones, the last thing you want is to have a trip cancelled cause of a blow engine (No matter how good the new ones apparently are).

Stick with a 4.2 turbo diesel in Patrol form for proven reliability and the knowledge it will get you there.

Just my 2 cents.
AnswerID: 213059

Reply By: Keith_A (Qld) - Thursday, Jan 04, 2007 at 00:37

Thursday, Jan 04, 2007 at 00:37
Hi Des - Both subjects get pretty involved - some thoughts on vans:
1. The vehicle specs decide what you can tow. The 2 important specs are weight it is rated to tow, and rated down weight on the tow ball or hitch.
2. Most vans need an electronic brake controller fitted to the car. (Aprox $300).
3. The market can be looked at in three tiers : Mass production makers (eg Jayco); Small market players (Coromal; Traveller, Avan etc); High end quality (Bushtracker; Kedron).
4. Most manufacturers make on-road and off-road models. The offroad models generally have stronger chassis, and sometimes stronger frame and internals.
5. The word Off-road means different things to different people. Some consider off-road to mean graded forestry tracks. Others use the word to mean Cape York, or Central Aust cattle property tracks rarely graded with creek crossings etc.
6. You get what you pay for. If you can afford $70k to $80, the high end units are the way to go. If you need to balance the budget, the small market players have to add value or quality to compete - so you generally get value for $.
7. We paid $30k for ours (2nd hand); a friend recently paid $10k for a 20yr old unit, and it will probably go most places ours goes.
8. Some people are comfortable with minimal camping, while some like higher levels of comfort to enjoy the experience. Different folks, Different strokes.
Our current unit is a Coromal offroad Poptop (Pioneer Corvair) - 16.7ft single axle. Weighs 1800kgs; ball weight 200 kgs. We prefer offroad camping, so take our own toilet and shower etc.

Before you spend your $, perhaps hire several vans first, and discover your needs/likes. Best suggestion - join a 4wd club, where most have vans or campers.......................Keith.
AnswerID: 213136

Reply By: deserter - Thursday, Jan 04, 2007 at 15:05

Thursday, Jan 04, 2007 at 15:05
Keith - thanks for that good advice. I have refined my search on the site a bit and see there is plenty of previous comments. Trouble is there is as many cons as there is pros on certain brands. Your Coromal gets a number of good mentions - but Coromal as a company gets canned a fair bit for quality and after sales support.

Exploder - your comment surprises me - I understood the problems have been comprehensively fixed - and there doesn't seem to be any adverse comment on the later models on any of the forums ?
AnswerID: 213221

Reply By: billv - Thursday, Jan 04, 2007 at 20:11

Thursday, Jan 04, 2007 at 20:11
It depends on how much money you have in the pocket, but if you want to spend a modest amount, say,up to $35,000 and you want quality inside and outside, a Golf is a good way to go for a top quality second-hand van. As far as towing is concerned, a 4.2 diesel, turbo or not, and Patrol or LandCruiser is my pick, but Pajeros have an excellent name, diesel that is. But if you've got $100,000 or more to spend, well that's another question. 3l or 2.8l Patrols may well be OK but I've heard of a lot of problems with motors. Good luck. Narrow down you're question and you'll get more info particularly if you start talking money.
AnswerID: 213277

Follow Up By: deserter - Friday, Jan 05, 2007 at 15:10

Friday, Jan 05, 2007 at 15:10
Dunno if this will be seen now the post has dropped off the first page.

Billv - I will probably spend between 25 and 30G for a van. The brother runs a 4.2 turbo diesel Patrol and gets 22L per 100K towing a 17ft Roadstar. I was looking at 3.0L to get something less thirsty.
FollowupID: 473793

Reply By: disco1942 - Friday, Jan 05, 2007 at 00:00

Friday, Jan 05, 2007 at 00:00
For your tow vehicle have a look at the Hyundai Terracan. You will get a new one with the tow pack for the cost of a one year old something else - you will also get a 130,00km/5 year warranty. The petrol model has been around for some years and the diesel for over one and I am yet to see any negative comments on the caravan forums. Check out the specs on

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AnswerID: 213326

Follow Up By: deserter - Friday, Jan 05, 2007 at 15:14

Friday, Jan 05, 2007 at 15:14
Nearly bought a Terracan a few months back when the auto turbo diesel was 39K on the road. The seats are very uncomfortable but otherwise they seem ok. Don't see too many towing vans though. Thanks for the link - I will have a read.
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Follow Up By: disco1942 - Friday, Jan 05, 2007 at 15:23

Friday, Jan 05, 2007 at 15:23
I don't know where you have been traveling, but I noticed plenty of them towing in QLD in particular. You will probably now notice more now that the subject has been aired - I know I have noticed more now that I have been considering them.

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FollowupID: 473801

Follow Up By: deserter - Friday, Jan 05, 2007 at 16:41

Friday, Jan 05, 2007 at 16:41
I know the Terracan got some good write-ups a while back - particularly for the towing ability. Very fuel effifient too. I wonder if you can get after market seats ?

Test drove a Paj a couple months back too and was very impressed. Bit exe though.
FollowupID: 473821

Reply By: billv - Friday, Jan 05, 2007 at 20:54

Friday, Jan 05, 2007 at 20:54
Deserter, re your reply concerning van price and 4.2l Patrols. You will get an excellent van for 25/30,000. We have a Golf, 17'6" full van with shower/toilet etc, now about 13 years old and a lovely van, and gives us totally trouble-free travelling. Should last for ever the way Golfs are built. Can't understand your friend's fuel consumption of 22l/100km with a 17' Roadstar behind a 4.2 Patrol unless he was into a heavy headwind. We have a 4.2l non-turbo Landcruiser, done 240,00kms and never misses a beat. Without the van about 11l/100kms, with the van (on flat country) about 14l/100kms. Concerning Terracans, I too have heard very good reports about them (diesels) as towing vehicles but care should be taken not to expect them to handle as much as a Patrol or Landcruiser. I wouldn't tow anything heavier than about 1600/1700kg on the road with a Terracan. But I'm very conservative and believe that vehicles towing caravans shouln't be belting along the highways at 100 plus km/hr. About 90 is my speed. Good luck. Take your time in deciding. By the way, I think you maight be a bit hard on Coromals. Both friends and family have lthem and swear by them. Not as good as Golf of course.
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