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Old 09-29-2019, 05:33 PM #1
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Complete car noob, take it easy on me

Hey guys, I'm new to the forum and have the dreaded question asked 1000 times: Which 4Runner best suits my needs?

I have been researching for a few weeks, read many build threads, and just came across iBison's pre-purchase info thread. I know this forum will be very helpful and informative once I make a purchase, and I'm certain if I look around I'll find the answers to all my questions. There's only one problem, I don't know $hit about cars.

That being said, a lot of the information I'm finding is way over my head and frankly I don't know what you guys are talking about. I've been able to narrow it down to a 4th gen 4Runner over a 3rd gen due to towing capacity.

Part of the reason for looking at a 4Runner is space, originally I was looking at a brand new Tacoma, but I have 4 dogs I enjoy taking camping and even more importantly I do NOT want a car payment. I also need to tow a boat anywhere from 5 miles to the boat ramp, to 200 miles across the state to my parents' house at least once or twice a year. This has me leaning towards the V8. Based on my research I'm looking at +/- 2800lbs for the boat, trailer, gear, etc. I live in Central Florida and therefore don't have to worry about any elevation, other than the boat ramp itself, so am I really limited to the V8 or would I be fine with the V6? Again, I've read multiple posts on this topic, but to me its in another language.

Then there's the issue of 2WD vs 4WD. This is may exercise outside of Florida if and when I get the chance, and I'm planning to move to WA in the next 3-4 years (the 4Runner would come with, the boat would stay behind). Even with FL being relatively flat, I do like off-roading when I can and I really liked that my '12 Forester was AWD. Honestly, I would get another Forester in a heartbeat, but I'm needing that higher towing capacity, and my fiancé is not a fan of me taking her Crosstrek for a ride.

This brings up a specific question for me:
In iBison's thread I read that: "The v8 is full time all wheel drive while the v6 is selectable 4 wheel drive." From my limited knowledge that leads me to understand that the V8 is all time AWD like my Subarus and the V6 gives me the option to choose between 2WD and 4WD like, say my old Jeep Cherokee 4x4 did. Am I right? Please remember I am a complete idiot and half only a partial idea of what I'm talking about. The reason I bring this up is because in my search for a 4Runner I have seen V8's two different ways, one without the dial by the radio and with it. Again, my knowledge and understanding here is limited, but shouldn't there be no dial since its "full time all wheel drive"? Should there only be a dial for the V6 models with the selectable all wheel drive? Is the dial not for selecting? I figure I'm either missing something obvious and above my head, or I'm looking at a rebuilt car?

The other thing I found was info regarding cars built post 12/05 (if I remember correctly), and that has me wondering, is there a year or multiple years I should stay away from. Does that pertain to both the V6 and V8?

To sum up I need a car that is not only capable of towing a small boat at around 2800lbs but does it comfortably and reliably, and is also fun and capable off-road. I know modifications to the vehicle can help in both situations and I welcome and suggestions, just remember I know nothing about cars. I know with time I'll understand what things are, what they mean, and how they work but for now I need some help.
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Old 09-29-2019, 06:41 PM #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C.Rocks View Post
Hey guys, I'm new to the forum and have the dreaded question asked 1000 times: Which 4Runner best suits my needs?

I have been researching for a few weeks, read many build threads, and just came across iBison's pre-purchase info thread. I know this forum will be very helpful and informative once I make a purchase, and I'm certain if I look around I'll find the answers to all my questions. There's only one problem, I don't know $hit about cars.

That being said, a lot of the information I'm finding is way over my head and frankly I don't know what you guys are talking about. I've been able to narrow it down to a 4th gen 4Runner over a 3rd gen due to towing capacity.

Part of the reason for looking at a 4Runner is space, originally I was looking at a brand new Tacoma, but I have 4 dogs I enjoy taking camping and even more importantly I do NOT want a car payment. I also need to tow a boat anywhere from 5 miles to the boat ramp, to 200 miles across the state to my parents' house at least once or twice a year. This has me leaning towards the V8. Based on my research I'm looking at +/- 2800lbs for the boat, trailer, gear, etc. I live in Central Florida and therefore don't have to worry about any elevation, other than the boat ramp itself, so am I really limited to the V8 or would I be fine with the V6? Again, I've read multiple posts on this topic, but to me its in another language.

Then there's the issue of 2WD vs 4WD. This is may exercise outside of Florida if and when I get the chance, and I'm planning to move to WA in the next 3-4 years (the 4Runner would come with, the boat would stay behind). Even with FL being relatively flat, I do like off-roading when I can and I really liked that my '12 Forester was AWD. Honestly, I would get another Forester in a heartbeat, but I'm needing that higher towing capacity, and my fiancé is not a fan of me taking her Crosstrek for a ride.

This brings up a specific question for me:
In iBison's thread I read that: "The v8 is full time all wheel drive while the v6 is selectable 4 wheel drive." From my limited knowledge that leads me to understand that the V8 is all time AWD like my Subarus and the V6 gives me the option to choose between 2WD and 4WD like, say my old Jeep Cherokee 4x4 did. Am I right? Please remember I am a complete idiot and half only a partial idea of what I'm talking about. The reason I bring this up is because in my search for a 4Runner I have seen V8's two different ways, one without the dial by the radio and with it. Again, my knowledge and understanding here is limited, but shouldn't there be no dial since its "full time all wheel drive"? Should there only be a dial for the V6 models with the selectable all wheel drive? Is the dial not for selecting? I figure I'm either missing something obvious and above my head, or I'm looking at a rebuilt car?

The other thing I found was info regarding cars built post 12/05 (if I remember correctly), and that has me wondering, is there a year or multiple years I should stay away from. Does that pertain to both the V6 and V8?

To sum up I need a car that is not only capable of towing a small boat at around 2800lbs but does it comfortably and reliably, and is also fun and capable off-road. I know modifications to the vehicle can help in both situations and I welcome and suggestions, just remember I know nothing about cars. I know with time I'll understand what things are, what they mean, and how they work but for now I need some help.
Any 4th Gen without the "dial" is a 2WD only, both the V6s and the V8s 4WD have the "dial" with the V6 you can select 2WD or 4WD, on both the V6 and the V8 you can also select hi and low range.

The year models that are a concern is only for the V6s, early models have a "possible" head gasket failure issue....meaning that not all early V6s will have the head gasket fail but one never knows if it will or won't fail, Toyota redesigned the head gaskets for any build date after 12/05 and no issues with the new design gaskets, so any 2006 (if the build date is after 12/05) and onward is a safe bet for the V6s, or if you find a early build 4th gen V6 and can confirm that the head gaskets were replaced at some point it would also be a safe bet as the new designed head gaskets would have been used in the replacement...IF OEM head gaskets were purchased for the replacement.

For your towing needs either the V6 or the V8 will do the job, I personally would prefer the V8 for doing any towing but that's just me, the V8 will tow easier but the V6 will do the job for the weight you will be towing, if when towing with either the transmission keeps down shifting from 5th to 4th gear to keep your speed up it's best to just tow in 4th gear instead of 5th gear, also an FYI a 2WD 4th Gen V8 can actually tow a tiny bit more weight than a 4WD V8 can, it's only 300lbs more rating and I'm not sure why that is, just thought you would like to know that the 2WDs are highly capable of towing tasks.

Whether to get a 2WD or a 4WD is up to you...BUT if I were moving to a state that has snowy winters, mountains and or deserts I would get a 4WD.

Also another bit of info, for the V8s models...the 2003 model only had a 4 speed transmission, all V8s after that had the 5 speed transmission, for the V6 models, the 2003 and 2004 only had a 4 speed transmission, all V6s after that had the 5speed transmission.
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Old 09-29-2019, 07:02 PM #3
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Side airbags were optional thru 2007. Standard 2008 and up.

There are 2wd 4runers in Washington State. They have lower resale. Do make sure the 4wd works. Find a dirt alley to test.
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Old 09-29-2019, 07:08 PM #4
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At +/-2800lbs total weight, the v8 or v6 would be fine. You'll want 4WD for instances when you back up too deep into the boat ramp. The V8 is full time 4WD which isn't the same as AWD. You have 4 Low with the 4runner with either engine, which would be good again if you start spinning at a wet boat ramp.

The ones without the dial are 2WD only.

Not to muddy the waters any more necessary, but you may have more space for 4 dogs and camping equipment in an older model Land Cruiser or Sequoia. I've got a wife and 2 little ones, and we don't have room to bring our dog when we camp - it just depends on how minimalist you are with your camping style, how big your dogs are, and how long your trips are.

Since you said Fiancé... If kids are coming during the span you want to own the 4Runner, you'd probably be best served getting a Sequoia. The first gen Sequoia used the same V8 as the 4th Gen 4runner. The second generation has the newer, larger V8 available. Both Gens are much larger and would handle multi-dog camping trips better. Not being a car enthusiast, a lot of the knocks against Sequoias are probably non-issues for you. AND, a lot of the things people really like about (and Value $$) in the Land Cruisers would be equally non-issues for you as well.

If you've already eliminated Land Cruisers or Sequoias for whatever reason, a 06-09 V8 4WD 4Runner is "the one" to have - every issue they have has a work around that someone here has probably documented. Ones in good shape hold value and can go many hundreds of thousands of miles with good maintenance.

Whenever you find one, you could probably take a bunch of pictures underneath and in the engine bay and post them here for people to point out any obvious issues. No matter what, you'll want to get a mechanic to inspect it. You'll come out cheaper paying for an inspection and not buying a piece of junk than you would unwittingly buying a piece of junk and having to fix it later.
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Old 09-30-2019, 11:27 AM #5
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Originally Posted by AuSeeker View Post
Any 4th Gen without the "dial" is a 2WD only, both the V6s and the V8s 4WD have the "dial" with the V6 you can select 2WD or 4WD, on both the V6 and the V8 you can also select hi and low range.
If my limited understanding is correct, the V8's are AWD all the time? So getting a 4WD model lets me switch between 4Hi and 4Lo, but otherwise it is still technically AWD? What would be the biggest disadvantage of a V8 that wasn't 4WD?

If it comes down to availability would I be worse off with a V6 4WD or a V8 (2WD?) I'm still a little confused about the V8's being AWD or 2WD
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Old 09-30-2019, 11:28 AM #6
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Originally Posted by wcjeep View Post
Side airbags were optional thru 2007. Standard 2008 and up.

There are 2wd 4runers in Washington State. They have lower resale. Do make sure the 4wd works. Find a dirt alley to test.
Plenty of dirt roads here to test it out, thanks for the airbag info!
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Old 09-30-2019, 11:49 AM #7
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Originally Posted by doofenshmirtz View Post
At +/-2800lbs total weight, the v8 or v6 would be fine. You'll want 4WD for instances when you back up too deep into the boat ramp. The V8 is full time 4WD which isn't the same as AWD. You have 4 Low with the 4runner with either engine, which would be good again if you start spinning at a wet boat ramp.

The ones without the dial are 2WD only.
So the V8 without the dial is a 2WD? Thats the biggest thing I'm confused about. Is it that the V8 4WD is full time 4WD where as the V6 4WD is part time 4WD? Is that the difference I'm missing or do I just have incorrect information.

I'm sorry lol





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Originally Posted by doofenshmirtz View Post
Not to muddy the waters any more necessary, but you may have more space for 4 dogs and camping equipment in an older model Land Cruiser or Sequoia. I've got a wife and 2 little ones, and we don't have room to bring our dog when we camp - it just depends on how minimalist you are with your camping style, how big your dogs are, and how long your trips are.

Since you said Fiancé... If kids are coming during the span you want to own the 4Runner, you'd probably be best served getting a Sequoia. The first gen Sequoia used the same V8 as the 4th Gen 4runner. The second generation has the newer, larger V8 available. Both Gens are much larger and would handle multi-dog camping trips better. Not being a car enthusiast, a lot of the knocks against Sequoias are probably non-issues for you. AND, a lot of the things people really like about (and Value $$) in the Land Cruisers would be equally non-issues for you as well.

If you've already eliminated Land Cruisers or Sequoias for whatever reason
I haven't ruled them out, or even considered them. The 4Runner was an "accidental find" while looking for a Tacoma, and honestly I'd much rather have an SUV than a truck with the dogs. They're all good sized, but we rarely take them all anywhere at once (one of them hates being in the car) and currently the two "adventure dogs" fit in the back of the Crosstrek, with all the gear piled up in the back seat. The biggest dog is just too tall for the Crosstrek, but he fit in the Forester just fine, we actually took him and one of his sisters on a 2 week trip from FL to NM, AZ, UT, CO and back a couple years ago with most of the camping gear in a rooftop box. Since you mentioned the Sequoia, I did go ahead and take a look at it and I do like the similarities to the 4Runner. It seems like its quite big though and that would be my only reservation. I'm going to carrying a kayak around with whatever car I get so I'd like something that isn't giant, as I myself am not either. That was one of the biggest pros of the Tacoma actually.

I like the Land Cruisers as well, I had seen a few prior to your post, but they seem to be a tad out of my price range. I also don't want to pay for a bunch of luxury that I don't want or need, I don't even like sunroofs



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a 06-09 V8 4WD 4Runner is "the one" to have - every issue they have has a work around that someone here has probably documented. Ones in good shape hold value and can go many hundreds of thousands of miles with good maintenance.

Whenever you find one, you could probably take a bunch of pictures underneath and in the engine bay and post them here for people to point out any obvious issues. No matter what, you'll want to get a mechanic to inspect it. You'll come out cheaper paying for an inspection and not buying a piece of junk than you would unwittingly buying a piece of junk and having to fix it later.
I appreciate this info and I'll definitely be looking here for advice once I find a potential vehicle. I'm feeling a lot better about the information I've been given thus far and It's certainly going to make this an easier process!

I know it all comes down to maintenance and condition of the vehicle itself, but for a 06-09 car, how much mileage is "acceptable" and where should I start to maybe reconsider?

There's a couple of cars around me with less than 150k but both are 2WD V6's. If I couldn't find a 4WD V8 with low milage and in good condition, would I ne better off with a 2WD V8 (for the towing capacity) or a 4WD V6 (for the off-road, future living situation)?
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Old 09-30-2019, 01:27 PM #8
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No dial means no 4 wheel drive no matter what engine.

I own a 2WD V8 - so I have no dial.

If you have a dial and a v6, you can drive in 3 modes- 2WD, 4Hi, and 4Lo. If you have a dial and a V8 you have 2 modes- 4Hi and 4Lo. You’d drive 99.9% of your driving in 4Hi.

On the V8 specifically, I’d look at condition and maintenance records before I worried about mileage. The 2UZFE with VVTI (the specific engine for 06-09 V8 4runners) has gone over a million miles in two tundras, and there’s a couple 4Runners in here with 400k or more. If it’s got less than 18,000 miles annually, I wouldn’t really be concerned if everything else is in order. If there are other issues, then the mileage starts to be a factor to consider. Like, no maintenance records, no records on toyotacare for the VIN, noises on startup, AND it’s high mileage, walk away.

There’s one main thing to make sure of on the V8 maintenance and that’s the serpentine belt / water pump every 90,000 miles. So anything approaching 180,000 or 270,000 should have that service already or get it done soon. I had my timing belt, serpentine belt, water pump, thermostat, and transmission serviced for $1400 about a month ago at dealer prices. It sounds expensive, but if you put a quarter in a jar every time you filled up your gas, you’d have it saved up by the time you needed to do it again. (Literally)

I wouldn’t fret about the towing capability of V8 2WD vs 4WD. The difference is literally only due to the gross vehicle weight rating. The V8 4WD is heavier due to the physical 4WD components, but the vehicle has the same GVWR as the lighter 2WD V8, so the towing capacity is offset by that weight difference.

In reality, you’ll find that in order to meet the rated capacities of your vehicle, you’ll reach max payload before you hit your max trailer weight, but that’s a long discussion in and of itself. You’ll likely have no issues with a sub 3,000lb trailer regardless of choice.

The V8 with towing package is a very good thing to have though. It’ll have a separate transmission cooler and there’s an adapter to install a trailer brake controller that came with it or that you can buy cheaply if it’s been lost.
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Old 09-30-2019, 01:40 PM #9
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Its my humble opinion that the 2005+ V8 4X4 is the best 4runner. the options are up to you after that.
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Old 09-30-2019, 06:00 PM #10
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Originally Posted by C.Rocks View Post
If my limited understanding is correct, the V8's are AWD all the time? So getting a 4WD model lets me switch between 4Hi and 4Lo, but otherwise it is still technically AWD? What would be the biggest disadvantage of a V8 that wasn't 4WD?

If it comes down to availability would I be worse off with a V6 4WD or a V8 (2WD?) I'm still a little confused about the V8's being AWD or 2WD
Your question to me seems to have been answered by others so no need for me to respond.

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No dial means no 4 wheel drive no matter what engine.

I own a 2WD V8 - so I have no dial.

If you have a dial and a v6, you can drive in 3 modes- 2WD, 4Hi, and 4Lo. If you have a dial and a V8 you have 2 modes- 4Hi and 4Lo. You’d drive 99.9% of your driving in 4Hi.

On the V8 specifically, I’d look at condition and maintenance records before I worried about mileage. The 2UZFE with VVTI (the specific engine for 06-09 V8 4runners) has gone over a million miles in two tundras, and there’s a couple 4Runners in here with 400k or more. If it’s got less than 18,000 miles annually, I wouldn’t really be concerned if everything else is in order. If there are other issues, then the mileage starts to be a factor to consider. Like, no maintenance records, no records on toyotacare for the VIN, noises on startup, AND it’s high mileage, walk away.

There’s one main thing to make sure of on the V8 maintenance and that’s the serpentine belt / water pump every 90,000 miles. So anything approaching 180,000 or 270,000 should have that service already or get it done soon. I had my timing belt, serpentine belt, water pump, thermostat, and transmission serviced for $1400 about a month ago at dealer prices. It sounds expensive, but if you put a quarter in a jar every time you filled up your gas, you’d have it saved up by the time you needed to do it again. (Literally)

I wouldn’t fret about the towing capability of V8 2WD vs 4WD. The difference is literally only due to the gross vehicle weight rating. The V8 4WD is heavier due to the physical 4WD components, but the vehicle has the same GVWR as the lighter 2WD V8, so the towing capacity is offset by that weight difference.

In reality, you’ll find that in order to meet the rated capacities of your vehicle, you’ll reach max payload before you hit your max trailer weight, but that’s a long discussion in and of itself. You’ll likely have no issues with a sub 3,000lb trailer regardless of choice.

The V8 with towing package is a very good thing to have though. It’ll have a separate transmission cooler and there’s an adapter to install a trailer brake controller that came with it or that you can buy cheaply if it’s been lost.
I do however want to post a correction on what @doofenshmirtz posted above which I highlighted in red, I'm sure he didn't mean the serpentine belt but instead mean't to type "timing belt", so that should have read..."There’s one main thing to make sure of on the V8 maintenance and that’s the timing belt / water pump every 90,000 miles"

That being said the timing belt on the V8s being replaced every 90,000 is very important maintenance item because if the timing belt breaks or slips a few teeth on the cam/crankshaft gears the piston will hit the valves and the engine will either have to be replaced or rebuilt, and as he mentioned the water pump should also be replaced at the same time because if it goes bad after a new timing belt is installed all of that work has to be done again to replace the water pump.

If the V8 timing belt is replaced when it should be and all other normal engine maintenance is done regularly the V8s are bulletproof for the most part and as mentioned there are 2 Tundras with the same V8 engine that have reached the 1,000,000 miles mark and Toyota bought those trucks from the owners to do research on to see how they have held up, I have read the report on the first one after Toyota took the engine and all other components apart to inspect them, Toyota stated that the cylinders still looked in the same state as they did when the engine was new, they still had the honing/machining marks still on the cylinder walls, which is very remarkable from a mechanical standpoint!!

I expect to get at least 500,000 miles or more out of my V8, I do all my on maintenance and mechanical work on my vehicles.

That being said the V6s are also very good engines, there have been 2 posted in these forums with over 800,000 miles on them and still running great, the V6s have a timing chain instead of a belt and they usually last well over 200,000 to 300,000 miles before the chain needs to be replaced, but some have many more miles than that on the original timing chain.
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Old 09-30-2019, 06:09 PM #11
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I do however want to post a correction on what @doofenshmirtz posted above which I highlighted in red, I'm sure he didn't mean the serpentine belt but instead mean't to type "timing belt", so that should have read..."There’s one main thing to make sure of on the V8 maintenance and that’s the timing belt / water pump every 90,000 miles".
Thanks for the correction! I had both done at the same time a few weeks back. I wasn’t planning on doing the serp, but they mentioned it looked like it could use it. Since it was an extra thing, it’s been stuck in my head every time the timing belt stuff comes up...
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Old 10-01-2019, 12:23 PM #12
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So I found a semi-local 2008 V8 4WD Limited with 132k. I was able to pull up the service records through Toyota and it seems its been maintained and serviced regularly through the dealer it was purchased from. Service records from 0-115k show regular 5000/10,000 mile service, and no issues along the way. No mention of timing belt except for a "inspect belts, hoses, lights, fluids, etc" at a different dealer at 131K.

Seems like the car lived in Oklahoma from new(08) to 115k (18) then was seen by a dealer in FL at 131k this August. The car is for sale at a Toyota dealer and they are asking $13,800

The interior looks to be in great shape, the exterior looks clean, and I'm not at all upset that its dark gray with tan leather.

I've contacted the dealer for more pictures of the car, including the undercarriage and we'll see how that goes. The car is about 5 hours from me, but its not too far from my parents and I make the drive pretty often.

What's the deal with rust in Oklahoma? I've read that while they do get quite a bit of snow they don't salt the roads. Paint looks great which is a nice contrast to sun baked paint here in FL



This is the car:
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Old 10-01-2019, 12:29 PM #13
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I'm not tied to the V8, I think the V6 would handle the towing I'm looking to do and finding a 4WD in good condition is more important to me. But this car seems like its in good shape with a solid service history and low mileage, so I humbly ask for opinions, questions, comments, concerns

(also, its what you guys recommended )
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Old 10-01-2019, 01:16 PM #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AuSeeker View Post

Also another bit of info, for the V8s models...the 2003 model only had a 4 speed transmission, all V8s after that had the 5 speed transmission, for the V6 models, the 2003 and 2004 only had a 4 speed transmission, all V6s after that had the 5speed transmission.
Ummm...I believe all V8s had the 5sp auto from day one. The V6 didn't get the 5spd until 2005.
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Old 10-01-2019, 02:31 PM #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C.Rocks View Post
No mention of timing belt except for a "inspect belts, hoses, lights, fluids, etc" at a different dealer at 131K.
Ask them to verify if the timing belt has been changed. If there is no verification available, see if they'll do it and the water pump for you pre-delivery as part of negotiations. A lot of people put it off or trade-in when bigger maintenance items start to become pressing items, and you'd be in a really good spot not having to worry about that for another 90k miles.

One thing nobody has said yet is anything about XREAS (not KDSS as originally posted). It's a special suspension option. It's good to be aware if the car does or doesn't have it, since it is a thing that is more expensive to repair. A lot of people just remove it if it fails and put in a new suspension for the same price.

This looks really solid, albeit maybe a little pricey - but I live in a cheaper market of the country in general, so it may be in-line with your location. This one is also FULLY loaded if you weren't aware. Edit: this also has the towing package with the aux transmission cooler and upgraded hitch.

It does look pretty mint, too, which is harder and harder to find. What you'll find is that these things don't feel like or sound like 12 year old cars when they are in good shape.

Last edited by doofenshmirtz; 10-01-2019 at 02:49 PM.
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