New to 4x4, looking for advise on car to buy for towing

Submitted: Friday, Mar 05, 2010 at 19:26
ThreadID: 76587 Views:7527 Replies:10 FollowUps:11
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hi all,

i am in the market to buy a 4x4. The primary use will be to travel australia for a year. We will be towing a caravan (not yet purchased) and our budget for the car is around $17,000 (but if anyone thinks spending a little extra is worth it then i am open to suggestions).

What advise do you have in regards to the best car to buy in this price range? Make, model, are some cars better for towing, engine size, petrol / diesel or any other advise is more than welcome.

thanks in advance.

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Reply By: kend88 - Friday, Mar 05, 2010 at 20:01

Friday, Mar 05, 2010 at 20:01
In your price range I reckon one of the best choices would be a Mitsubishi Challenger.
You should get one under 5 yrs anjd 130,000km for that price. Unfortunately it won't be diesel, only 3.0 litre V6, but they do a great job towing up to around 1800kg.
They can tow up to 2250, ballweight 225 but I prefer not to go over 80% of maximum.
I averaged 16 litres/100km towing my 1600kg van over 15000km two years ago, (about 80% with the van)
I am biased, but well worth a look. Touch wood, the only money I have spent other than maintenance in 95000km is a new arial.

AnswerID: 407439

Follow Up By: justincale - Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 11:13

Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 11:13
Hi Ken

sounds good. i've checked ebay and they seem really reasonable. 2004's goind for around 18,000. My only concern is the 3.0 litre petrol engine. I have been told diesel is better for towing. And at 3.0 litres i worry it wouldn't be enought to tow something big.

What does everybody else think?
FollowupID: 677417

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 13:53

Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 13:53
The 3l Challenger goes alright but not in the same league as the gutsy 3.5 Jackaroos. I drove examples of both before buying my Jack. The mitz is the most economical v6 though.
You can pick up immaculate 3.5 v6 Jacks for less then $14000. Manuals give the best economy(we have one of ea)
Also the plugs are much easier to change in the Isuzu motor. Stay clear of the 3lt diesel Jack.
Cheers Pete
FollowupID: 677443

Follow Up By: Member - Old Girl (QLD) - Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 15:38

Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 15:38
Inlaws had Mits Challenger and sold it because it wouldnt pull their little pop top jayco up Drayton Hill in Toowoomba let alone trying the range.
FollowupID: 677459

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 21:15

Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 21:15
I'm with Pete - You can not beat the Jackaroo for a tow car in the price range you are looking at - You can get a real good car for the money you want to spend and have change to put more after market goodies on it.

Very good and very underrated car.

Cheers Tony
FollowupID: 677491

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 21:24

Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 21:24
There are many out there - look what your money can buy

A good Jack
FollowupID: 677493

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Sunday, Mar 07, 2010 at 08:30

Sunday, Mar 07, 2010 at 08:30
Thats a nice vehicle Tony and already kitted with a b/bar and snorkle.I have been looking to swap my 98 for a white 02/03 v6 man myself, but being reduced to one income for a while will have to put it on whole for a while. By the way no 1` son picked up an idential vehicle to that privately for $11500, which has also been faultless.
Cheers Pete
FollowupID: 677514

Reply By: Davo_60 - Friday, Mar 05, 2010 at 20:01

Friday, Mar 05, 2010 at 20:01
G'Day Justin,

I would consider an 80 serires diesel cruiser, if you intend towing a big van then look at the factory turbo models. There is heaps of information around if you want to research the model further. They are capable, comfy, reliable, good range and well known. Resale will aslo be good if you only intend to keep for a year. Lots of other good vehicles but I like the 80's. I would always budget a couple of grand for a top to bottom service of any vehicle allowing for parts and repairs etc.

AnswerID: 407440

Reply By: Hairs & Fysh (NSW) - Friday, Mar 05, 2010 at 21:08

Friday, Mar 05, 2010 at 21:08
Hi Justin,
I agree with Dave, Although I am bias towards the 80, having owned mine for about 5 years now, traveled some 60,000 odd k's.
I tow a horse float, My work trailer(Carpenter by trade) and our Jayco swan the weights about 1300 empty. Their not the fastest 4by around, but they are pretty easy to work on and parts are fairly easy to get too. There is no fancy electric gadgets and electronics to fail on ya, not saying they are faultless at all.
You should be able to pick up a 91-93 1Hd-FT for between $16k - $18K. Make sure the Big End Bearings have been done every 100 000K, put a bigger radiator in her, 4 core, not the plastic tank ones, Change the clutch fan fluid/silicone, Check dif/gear box oils for water contamination
If you're real serious about and 80 become a member of LCOOL, there is some great advice and info there.
I'll give an 80

Happy 4by hunting.

AnswerID: 407453

Reply By: Tenpounder (SA) - Friday, Mar 05, 2010 at 22:30

Friday, Mar 05, 2010 at 22:30
Hi Justin. My first reaction is that, if you have not bought either a van or a tow vehicle, then you have, well, a fair deal of choice!!
My mind then says are you buying just for next year, and then who cares?. Or are you planning to keep the tug for a while?
But why buy the tug first, and then think about the van? Why not concentrate on the van you want, and then buy the tug to suit?
Lots of people have bought a tug, then a van, and then realised that the van is too much for the tug. Unless you buy the biggest tug, you will find yourself pushed towards a smaller van. This may be fine, if you know what you are doing.
Both van and tug will have to suit where you are going: if you want to go off the main tracks, you'll need a van and tug to suit. How many are you? do you want to keep to the bitumen and paid caravan parks? or are you aiming for the dirt and free camping?
AnswerID: 407469

Follow Up By: justincale - Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 11:04

Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 11:04
Hi Chris,

thanks for the response. I'll fill you in with more detail. We will be travelling, seeing the country, but also, marketing an online business we have, so we won't be travelling along the coast but rather all over the place (anywhere there is a decent sized town). The caravan will have to be pretty big as not only will we be living in it but we will also need space for an office.

If we were to go bush i think we would probably leave the caravan at a park and just head off in the 4by. I'm not sure how often we will get the chance to do this but hopefully enough so that we get to see this great land.

We intend to go for a year, leaving around august but the trip could take longer. I'd like to buy something that i could keep for when we settle back down somewhere, or we may even set off for another round so, all in all, we're looking for something with enough grunt to tow something big and heavy for a year or 2.

thanks for your advise and time.
FollowupID: 677416

Follow Up By: OREJAP - Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 11:15

Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 11:15
You are spot on tenpounder. If you look at a T/D Toyota L/Cruiser for that sort of money I would suggest it would have high Km's on the clock, probably tired & needs $$$$$ of work. They are a great vehicle,very popular & high resale if you are offered a bargain get it checked out thoroughly by a top 4X4 establishment. If you don't mind driving a pig buy a non turbo Yota or a 4.2 Patrol....good strong vehicles & can't break them. Take Sundays paper with you to put over the headlamps so the vehicle won't see the hills approaching!!! A dual fuel patrol is also a recommendation. They handle the LPG a lot better than the other 4X4 around IMHO. However LPG in some states is so expensive you may as well be driving on unleaded...I have heard of LPG selling for 49.9 cents in Vic but $1.89 in W.A.!!! All these vehicles have a high towing capacity ie...3 tonne however if you are going to tow a 2.5 plus van around Aust. God bless you!!! Probably one of the nicest,safest & most comfortable vehicles to drive is the Pajero. You could pick up an auto 3.2 I/Cooled T/Diesel auto for a little bit more that what you have mentioned but a vehicle just as good as the afore mentioned w/out the 3 tonne towing weight though. I am sure your partner would be less than overalled by a big cruiser & patrol if she did happen to drive the paj. Heaps of creature comforts & great seats. Hope this helps.
FollowupID: 677418

Reply By: OzTroopy - Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 14:47

Saturday, Mar 06, 2010 at 14:47
As others have said .... Get the Van sorted first

... and spend a bit of time doing it.

Cutesy little cupbards, drawers and mini storage space with cottage window curtain trims all look great at first ... but bigger cupboard doors and storage containers work much better IMHO.

Things like kitchen space and the hassle of getting past the cook while they are busy, etc also need to be given serious thought.

A vehicle for towing over those distances ... My personal preference is for something with a motor that wont be working at 90% engine capacity ALL the time trying to drag the van ... and you need a bit of tow vehicle length for on road stability / control ... so I would be limited in choice to a toyssan wagon with a 4.0l plus engine. ... dealer networks figure prominantly in the vehicle choice too.

AnswerID: 407519

Reply By: petengail - Sunday, Mar 07, 2010 at 08:20

Sunday, Mar 07, 2010 at 08:20
i just brought a 06 holden rodeo dsiesel dual cab ute. got it through great way to view heaps and heaps of vehicles while sitting in your home with a beer in hand - wouldnt do it any other way. there are quite a few car searches and with advanced search you can really define what you are looking for. no used car salesmen either lol
AnswerID: 407591

Reply By: Member - rick g (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 07, 2010 at 08:36

Sunday, Mar 07, 2010 at 08:36
as a mechanic i would not buy a v6 to tow they suffer from lack of torque
and a good test drive will confirm that,which means reving the crap out of them to get up a hilll and holding in a lower gear for too long ie;;; excess fuel usage
i'd rather see you buy a 95series turbodiesel prado, just check service records
the early ones had problems with heads cracking, check if thats been done
stay away from surfs
prado has two fuel tanks good fuel economy
the only v6 i'd look at is the prado
but the best tow vehicle for money is the old gq diesel patrol
mine did 400k before i sold it to one of my customers and he is still talking to me.
AnswerID: 407594

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Sunday, Mar 07, 2010 at 10:03

Sunday, Mar 07, 2010 at 10:03
Rick You got to like forums :-) - Ive towed with Cruiser, hilux and Holden Diesels and I have towed with the v6 Jack - Though you use more fuel in the petrol jack - in my opinion the Jack was the best tow vehicle I have had by a country mile - Never once had the issue of revving the crap out of it?

Cheers Tony
FollowupID: 677530

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Sunday, Mar 07, 2010 at 22:42

Sunday, Mar 07, 2010 at 22:42
A gq na diesel would not have seen which way my 3.5 Jack went even towing 650kg. Mine will pull my boat up the long hill from Sofala to Wattle flat in 4th at between 80 and 100. Must admit though it does go better on 98, and it has also had the restrictors removed.
We just sold at work a 120 Prado for $30000 with 180000ks, and you reckon that is value.
Cheers Pete
FollowupID: 677652

Reply By: Member - Barnesy - Sunday, Mar 07, 2010 at 14:36

Sunday, Mar 07, 2010 at 14:36
Diesel, and preferably a big 6 cylinder so it isn't working hard to tow the van. Basically any vehicle that fits this description will be fine. Whether that's a GQ 4.2, 80 series Cruiser 4.2, Troopy, GU 4.2 whatever you choose they will all do the job. Obviously a turbo will be faster up hills etc. but at the end of the day they will all get the job done, just at different paces. It's good advice to select the size van first.

As someone said allow at least a couple of grand for a top to tail service from a reputable 4wd mechanic. Also a good idea to get a 4wd mechanic to inspect it before purchase so you get an idea if it's been maintianed well and how much work needs doing on it. If it's something easily fixed on an otherwise sound vehicle then that gives you extra bargaining power to drop the price.
AnswerID: 407658

Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Mar 08, 2010 at 18:45

Monday, Mar 08, 2010 at 18:45
Hi Justin

As already mentioned, get the van first. Do your homework on both, but if you get the van you are happy with (and check its fully laden weight), you can then make sure you get the right tow vehicle is right for the job. If it is long term travel, you may find your load will be too much for the average caravan and tow vehicle at your target price. Allow a 'margin of error' or 'margin of safety' in your calculations. You will also be safer if your fully laden tow vehicle outweighs the fully laden caravan. Also make sure your chosen caravan is suitable for the routes you want to take. Shorter trips can be taken for a couple of days with a tent.


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AnswerID: 407919

Reply By: Member - Wayne B (NSW) - Monday, Mar 08, 2010 at 22:55

Monday, Mar 08, 2010 at 22:55
Yep get the Van or at least the specifications for it. Weight ect

I use to wonder why Toyota 4by4 were so popular and expensive even with high Ks.

I use to be Customer relations Manager for Nissan and I loved the Patrol MQ/GQ. They were the ahead of Toyota with Coil Suspension.

However I recently went looking for a Old 4By4 to do a trip into the Center. I already had an X-Trail but that was not suited to my needs. I needed a second vehicle so I went looking. I test drove many Patrols all with 250,000+ km and they were crap i must say. I found by accident a 1991 HJ80 non turbo diesel with 470,000km. Not interested I said to the salesman too many k. He insisted I drive it. I now own it.

Mate what a vehicle rides like new uses bugger all oil and runs like a clock. It was one owner fully serviced every 5000k by a Toyota dealer and other then the paint going off on the roof it is almost like new. I picked it up for $7000 with brand new (one day old)Goodrich AT Tyres already fitted.

Conclusion Toyota last for ever if looked after. The Non turbo will pull a house down but not at any great speed. So I recommend the factory Turbo if you can find one.

Shop around after you get the info on the van.

AnswerID: 407969

Follow Up By: Member - Wayne B (NSW) - Monday, Mar 08, 2010 at 22:56

Monday, Mar 08, 2010 at 22:56
PS Stay away from the older 3lt Diesel Patrol and Diesel Jacks. Heaps of engine failures.
FollowupID: 677875

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