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Old 09-21-2019, 04:12 PM #1
RevvTrev91 RevvTrev91 is offline
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Need advice on possible purchase

So I've been looking at buying a 3rd gen 4 runner for almost a month now. Must have looked at 8 or more in my area and nearly all of them have had frame rot issues and some have been maintained poorly and have oil leaks, oil in the coolant, 4wd doesn't engage properly, as well. Basically having a really hard time even finding one worth it, let alone with no frame rot. I don't mind fixing some issues but only if the price is right.
So I found this one 97 4runner with minimal rust for this area(no frame rot at all) and it needs all these things replaced: valve cover gaskets, rear main seal, rack and pinion, 3 drivebelts, timing belt and water pump, and probably the lower ball joints as well. It has 144k miles on it and drove kinda rough, was squealing when I accelerated quickly (from the belts needing to be replaced). The owner has no maintenance records and the oil and coolant levels were low. I had it professionally inspected by my friend who works as a mechanic at a Toyota dealership. I know he wasn't making issues up just so they make more money, because he told me I should go somewhere else to have that work done cheaper if I buy it. My mechanic friend said that other than those issues the engine seems fine, and the rust on the frame is not too bad. The 4wd also didn't work during the test drive, but my friend seemed to have fixed the issue accidentally by trying to diagnose the 4wd issue. He applied manual suction to the vacuum switching valve which got it to work, and apparently it is still working now. The seller has had it for sale for 5 months and is asking $3250 for it. I told him just repairing the rear main seal and rack and pinion can be pretty expensive and I offered him $1500 for it, which he turned down. What is a 4runner in this condition worth? It also has some cosmetic issues like a tiny crack in the windshield, the driver seat is torn, and the driver side door lock doesn't work all the time.
So what advice can some of you enthusiasts give me? Is it worth going up to $2000 or $2500 and then paying to have all that repaired? Minus a couple things like the valve cover gaskets and drivebelts which I can do myself.
As a comparison, great condition 3rd gen 4runners in my area are near impossible to find and ones with no(or extremely little) frame rust with miles above 150k to over 200k sell for $8,000 to $10,000
Thank you
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:31 PM #2
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Honestly if it were me, I'd expand my search and keep looking. I paid $4600 for a good condition 3rd gen. No major issues whatsoever. Keep looking man.
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:40 PM #3
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I once took a plane trip to buy a car I had been searching for. It had the right price, color, and mileage I was looking for. Flew in, the owner picked me up at the DFW airport in the car, we went to the bank and transferred the funds right into his account, then I got on the road for the return trip and to get to know my new mechanical companion; a 1998 Corvette.

Have you considered a trip down to the southern half of the country to buy one rust-free with low miles?

Example: https://phoenix.craigslist.org/searc...auto_year=2002
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:55 PM #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoomerBob View Post
I once took a plane trip to buy a car I had been searching for. It had the right price, color, and mileage I was looking for. Flew in, the owner picked me up at the DFW airport in the car, we went to the bank and transferred the funds right into his account, then I got on the road for the return trip and to get to know my new mechanical companion; a 1998 Corvette.

Have you considered a trip down to the southern half of the country to buy one rust-free with low miles?

Example: https://phoenix.craigslist.org/searc...auto_year=2002
I always thought this would be such a fun adventure. Take a big risk on the vehicle not being what they say, but if everything lines up right it'd be freaking awesome.
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Old 09-21-2019, 05:55 PM #5
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Yes in the rust belt. Most of all these 4 Runners have bad frames. Need to head south to areas that are rust free. Or buy one that has a properly rebuilt frame. Unless you love to tinker and weld, I pull a rust free one from the south and protect the steel from rust ..:-)
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:38 PM #6
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Yeah I've thought about traveling more down south to do that. That seems to be one of the only ways to get a rust free 3rd gen 4runner around here. It would just have to be well planned so I could do it over a weekend.

This 4runner just popped up a few hours ago on OfferUp near me. It's a 2000 SR5 with 163k miles. The ad says it spent most of it's life on the west coast and is rust free, and they have records of regular maintenance, and timing belt/water pump has been replaced recently. The pics show the frame does look pretty rust free, and looks like it's in excellent condition except for some minor front bumper damage. Could probably just buy a replacement bumper for it. It is priced at $8500. Is this price reasonable for a rust free good condition 4runner with 163k miles? I don't really want to spend that much but if that's not a bad price maybe I should check it out.
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Old 09-22-2019, 12:45 AM #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RevvTrev91 View Post
Yeah I've thought about traveling more down south to do that. That seems to be one of the only ways to get a rust free 3rd gen 4runner around here. It would just have to be well planned so I could do it over a weekend.

This 4runner just popped up a few hours ago on OfferUp near me. It's a 2000 SR5 with 163k miles. The ad says it spent most of it's life on the west coast and is rust free, and they have records of regular maintenance, and timing belt/water pump has been replaced recently. The pics show the frame does look pretty rust free, and looks like it's in excellent condition except for some minor front bumper damage. Could probably just buy a replacement bumper for it. It is priced at $8500. Is this price reasonable for a rust free good condition 4runner with 163k miles? I don't really want to spend that much but if that's not a bad price maybe I should check it out.
I would say that is a ton of money personally, but surprisingly, people are buying them. Try to figure out if it really is up to date in all the weak areas. I think a lot of sellers are asking big money because they can, not because it is worth it.

It might be a good buy if you really have to spend no money after purchase. At that mileage you might see if the Lower ball joints are still original, if the rad is original, and suspension too. Just those 3 eat up a lot of coin if they haven't been done.

Unless it's a 5spd with elocker. That'd be like gold.
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Last edited by Kanoe; 09-22-2019 at 12:50 AM.
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Old 09-22-2019, 05:40 PM #8
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Well I messaged the seller and we chatted a little while and I said I could do $6500 if it was as described, great condition, no rust, and no other issues. So he said he could sell it for that and we were going to meet today around 5. Well he just messaged me last minute saying he changed his mind and wants to keep it. He apologized and said if he does ever decide to sell it he would message me. Ugh, darn it. I'm going to have to buy a different kind of vehicle for the time being cause I'm in need of a reliable vehicle and don't have time now to look for weeks or months even and maybe not even find a good 4runner. I still want to get one eventually but I guess this is just not the right time.
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Old 09-25-2019, 11:29 PM #9
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Well a miracle happened and I ended up buying a 1997 4runner from my friends brother. It was from Texas and had a completely clean frame, no rust at all! They maintained it very well and it has 207k miles, and they've replaced the radiator, lower ball joints, springs and shocks, and a few more things. I think I got a pretty good deal. I'm getting new tires, a new windshield and I'm having my mechanic friend replace the valve cover gaskets on it. I can't wait to start driving it!
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Old 09-25-2019, 11:34 PM #10
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Old 09-26-2019, 12:00 AM #11
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Congrats and what a great looking T4R!!!!

You seldom see red so me thinks you done real good.


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Old 09-26-2019, 06:20 PM #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RevvTrev91 View Post
Well a miracle happened and I ended up buying a 1997 4runner from my friends brother. It was from Texas and had a completely clean frame, no rust at all! They maintained it very well and it has 207k miles, and they've replaced the radiator, lower ball joints, springs and shocks, and a few more things. I think I got a pretty good deal. I'm getting new tires, a new windshield and I'm having my mechanic friend replace the valve cover gaskets on it. I can't wait to start driving it!
Make sure the LBJ's are OEM, if not, redo.
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Old 09-27-2019, 02:10 AM #13
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I like it. I'd have gotten a non-metallic color if one had been available when I was shopping. Do check that the LBJs are OEM. Check the rear axle area for seal leaks.
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Old 09-27-2019, 07:05 AM #14
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Nice find. congrats on the runner. Now you just need to do some serious rust prevention. My brother lived in Downers Grove for a few years and fighting rust was a real battle.
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Old 09-28-2019, 04:48 AM #15
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Spend the time and extra money for one without the problems. expand your search. You can even have one shipped for a grand from another state.
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