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Old 06-08-2022, 01:59 PM #1
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1997 4runner with 260k miles for $5500

I saw this 1997 3RZ-FE 2.7L 4X4 Automatic 4unner on sale in the California central valley for $5500. What are your thoughts on this rig in terms of long term ownership, say seven to ten years, as well as an overlanding rig? It has 260k miles on it with the original engine, one owner according to the carfax, and never been involved in an accident.

I attached pictures of the 4runner I'm talking about.
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1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_3116906748533103-jpg  1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_1614032175623387-jpg  1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_1351466041947052-jpg  1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_1022191855054743-jpg  1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_994782914490697-jpg  1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_992389684985670-jpg  1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_963755224317378-jpeg  1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_919257635417681-jpeg 
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Old 06-08-2022, 02:02 PM #2
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more pictures

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1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_919257635417681-jpeg  1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_764851524902069-jpeg  1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_764145211636197-jpg  1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_713490560010166-jpg  1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_695840304900573-jpg  1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_668646437704562-jpeg  1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_667672250957525-jpg  1997 4runner with 260k miles for 00-received_649313492796363-jpg 
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Old 06-08-2022, 03:33 PM #3
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The 4-cylinder 3RZ engine is a bit underpowered but it'll get the job done, just don't expect to tow anything with it or be able to cruise at 70 MPH up the pass into the Sierras with a load of camping gear. The 4Runner looks clean enough but at 260K miles it's not the engine you'll be concerned about. Steering and suspension parts will start to wear out and break at that mileage. Accessories like the alternator, for example, might fail. It's nothing that will cost $1000's to replace but you will find yourself working on it. If you have the space and tools, great. If you do not, I would suggest looking for a lower mileage one if you can afford it.
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Old 06-09-2022, 01:52 AM #4
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The 4-cylinder 3RZ engine is a bit underpowered but it'll get the job done, just don't expect to tow anything with it or be able to cruise at 70 MPH up the pass into the Sierras with a load of camping gear. The 4Runner looks clean enough but at 260K miles it's not the engine you'll be concerned about. Steering and suspension parts will start to wear out and break at that mileage. Accessories like the alternator, for example, might fail. It's nothing that will cost $1000's to replace but you will find yourself working on it. If you have the space and tools, great. If you do not, I would suggest looking for a lower mileage one if you can afford it.
^^This is a realistic assessment.
It's in good cosmetic shape (no rust) so the price is about par for today's market. Keep in mind that [most likely] it will immediately need new springs and shocks. New LT tires if you want to 4 wheel it. New radiator and lower ball joints are a priority. Auto trans might be OK for another 100K miles, or if they are selling it because it had a pink milkshake event, the trans could take a dump next week. Many unknowns...complete service records might help you decide.
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Old 06-09-2022, 06:43 AM #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gamefreakgc View Post
It's nothing that will cost $1000's to replace but you will find yourself working on it. If you have the space and tools, great. If you do not, I would suggest looking for a lower mileage one if you can afford it.
It's not miles that's the issue with 3rd gens, it's the time since they were built. Arguably, a low mile example could be in MUCH worse condition than a high mile simply because maintenance isn't done "because it's low mile", but all the rubber hoses/seals/bushings still age.

And it cost me about $3000 to baseline my '99, doing ALL of the maintenance items that are known and common issues... and that's just parts costs, I did all the labor but changing the tires and an alignment. All bushings, new suspension, radiator, timing belt, crank and cam seals, valve cover refresh, vacuum lines, trans filter, etc... Just a mechanics mentality, I'd rather do it up front then find it was an issue while out and about (plus, this is my wifes DD, you do *NOT* want your SO to be stranded if you enjoy a calm and peaceful life). I did splurge on suspension with the Bils 6112/5160 combo, and didn't opt for the Cheapest tires out there which accounts for $2k, but the rest of that cost was nearly all OEM parts.

OP, so long as you know what you're getting into and are willing/able to do the work yourself, you'll be fine. If not, you might want to look for something Newer. I'm in GA, and the 4th gens (v6, 4x4, mid 200k miles) are half the price of the 3rd gens at about $4k. Newer vehicle means less important to do any/all undocumented maintenance Right Now, plus more $$$ to do that work. I think they fixed the LBJ issue for that gen too...
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Old 06-09-2022, 08:03 AM #6
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It be interesting to know the reason itís for sale if itís a private sale.

First thing I usually do is plug in my scanner and see if all the readiness monitors are set. If they are not and the battery isnít brand new I walk. It means they reset the check engine light.

Then I check fluid levels and pull the trans dipstick to look at its color and smell.

After that Iíll walk around the vehicle.


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Old 06-09-2022, 08:30 AM #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian. View Post
It's not miles that's the issue with 3rd gens, it's the time since they were built. Arguably, a low mile example could be in MUCH worse condition than a high mile simply because maintenance isn't done "because it's low mile", but all the rubber hoses/seals/bushings still age.

And it cost me about $3000 to baseline my '99, doing ALL of the maintenance items that are known and common issues... and that's just parts costs, I did all the labor but changing the tires and an alignment. All bushings, new suspension, radiator, timing belt, crank and cam seals, valve cover refresh, vacuum lines, trans filter, etc... Just a mechanics mentality, I'd rather do it up front then find it was an issue while out and about (plus, this is my wifes DD, you do *NOT* want your SO to be stranded if you enjoy a calm and peaceful life). I did splurge on suspension with the Bils 6112/5160 combo, and didn't opt for the Cheapest tires out there which accounts for $2k, but the rest of that cost was nearly all OEM parts.

OP, so long as you know what you're getting into and are willing/able to do the work yourself, you'll be fine. If not, you might want to look for something Newer. I'm in GA, and the 4th gens (v6, 4x4, mid 200k miles) are half the price of the 3rd gens at about $4k. Newer vehicle means less important to do any/all undocumented maintenance Right Now, plus more $$$ to do that work. I think they fixed the LBJ issue for that gen too...

Aren't the 3rz 4 cylinder engines more reliable than the v6 5vze?
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Old 06-09-2022, 08:53 AM #8
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Quote:
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Aren't the 3rz 4 cylinder engines more reliable than the v6 5vze?
Not that I've read on here since early 2010 or am aware of.

If anything its the other way around.

My 5vz is at 340K, uses virtually no oil between 5K OCIs, pulls hard, keeps up and exceeds most traffic and has given me little issues other than one blown out sparkplug.

If driving at sea level and levelish roads it'll probably be acceptable, otherwise I'd hunt for a far more common 5vz. I'd also look for one with the bigger brakes from the factory, the ones that come on 16" OEM wheels, so some SR5s and all Limiteds have them. Luck.
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Old 06-09-2022, 11:30 AM #9
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Not that I've read on here since early 2010 or am aware of.

If anything its the other way around.

My 5vz is at 340K, uses virtually no oil between 5K OCIs, pulls hard, keeps up and exceeds most traffic and has given me little issues other than one blown out sparkplug.

If driving at sea level and levelish roads it'll probably be acceptable, otherwise I'd hunt for a far more common 5vz. I'd also look for one with the bigger brakes from the factory, the ones that come on 16" OEM wheels, so some SR5s and all Limiteds have them. Luck.
340k miles with original engine?
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Old 06-09-2022, 01:34 PM #10
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340k miles with original engine?
I wouldn't be surprised... LOTS of original engine 300k+ rigs in this forum, a few 400K+
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Old 06-09-2022, 03:12 PM #11
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Aren't the 3rz 4 cylinder engines more reliable than the v6 5vze?
Similar levels of reliability. Maintenance is easier on the 3RZ and it gets a touch better gas mileage, but that's about it. All the 3rd gen drivetrains are rock solid.
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Old 06-09-2022, 03:45 PM #12
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Similar levels of reliability. Maintenance is easier on the 3RZ and it gets a touch better gas mileage, but that's about it. All the 3rd gen drivetrains are rock solid.
Would you get this 4runner for $5500? Is it a good buy? Should I be worried about maintenance?
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Old 06-09-2022, 04:06 PM #13
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Would you get this 4runner for $5500? Is it a good buy? Should I be worried about maintenance?
Itís not a bad price for what it is. Nothing on these trucks is hard to fix and there are lots of resources here. Budget another $2k to really update the maintenance and do some fun upgrades.
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Old 06-09-2022, 04:40 PM #14
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Itís not a bad price for what it is. Nothing on these trucks is hard to fix and there are lots of resources here. Budget another $2k to really update the maintenance and do some fun upgrades.
Most definitely. If I get the 4runner, I will budget around $5000 to take it to a family mechanic and really update the maintenance. I plan to keep it stock because it will be a daily driver.
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Old 06-09-2022, 04:53 PM #15
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Itís not a bad price for what it is. Nothing on these trucks is hard to fix and there are lots of resources here. Budget another $2k to really update the maintenance and do some fun upgrades.

I plan to take it to a family mechanic. Is $5000 enough to update the maintenance?
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