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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

I am looking at a 2005 TH AWD V6 with 67,000 for $9,500 and a 2009 TH AWD V6 with 54,500 miles for $12,800 . Both appear lightly used and garaged.

I've not owned a TH before and don't know which to choose. I am looking for a good daily driver that can do some light adventuring on the weekends, such as fire roads once a month and up to the Sierras for skiing a few times a year. Personally, I am leaning toward the 2005 for the price and because it was a later model in that generation.

Is there anything I should look out for in particular when I inspect these guys this weekend? Is one year better than the other?
 

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I would save up and buy a 2013. I think you will spend less in the long run if you are going to drive it away from civilization and can’t afford a breakdown.
 

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Honestly I think the price on the 2005 IMO is a bit high BUT I do think it's a simpler and slightly more rugged vehicle. I think in some ways the 3.3 is a little nicer engine. Yes it has a timing belt BUT it's not that expensive a job and if you have good skills can be done yourself but even having it done not bad. I had mine done recently AT THE DEALER so all OEM parts. They did belt, water pump, all front seals, idler and tensioner, new accessory belts as well, full coolant flush and an oil/filter change for $1300. On a 100k cycle I don't think that's bad. I also find the hydraulic steering nicer to drive than the electric power steering. (No matter how much I try I cannot get absolutely used to electric steering), the 1st gen is easier overall to work on as well. If you could get that price down to $7500 I think it would be my choice. Don't get me wrong I LOVE my 2011 HL. That 3.5 will run rings around the older 3.0/3.3. It even gets better MPG. I just notice that driving my old 2001 is more pleasant (in terms of handling and input feedback through the steering). It just "feels" like it handles better. Though in the 2nd gen I don't know when they went to electric steering. Perhaps the 09 doesn't have it? Than that argument is off the table LOL
 

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I agree UTH, the price is high for a 15 year old vehicle. That is about the age some of the sensors start to go. Low mileage on an older car can mean a lot of short trips, which is severe service. If the OP has a significant other who will not be happy sitting on a fire trail I would still hold out for newer rather than trying to chase reliability.
 

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Red dog, how experienced are you at inspecting used cars? That will play a role. Definitely get a professional presale inspection on either, even if it is at a dealer. You will be surprised at what I have found on “certified used” cars.
 

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You will be surprised at what I have found on “certified used” cars.
Yes, they are Certified as previously owned, as in:
Our trained Mechanic spent almost 15 minutes checking this used car.
  • 4 wheels
  • Air in tires
  • Oil in engine
  • Starts
  • Goes into gear
  • - OK!
 
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If it matters to you, I drive a 2007 hybridV6 and 2012 v6 - mostly highway. I still prefer the 2007 for the ride quality and seat comfort, but otherwise like the newer one in terms of cupholders and size. Normally wouldn't have opted for the hybrid, but I do like the acceleration power it has mated with the 3.3L V6. My only other complaint on 2012 is it can't go 80+ uphill very well - wants to down shift, but it's mostly flat in Texas, so isn't really an issue for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the comments. I'll have to drive the two different generations to get a feel for them. I agree that the price was high. The seller ghosted me, but I'm still on the hunt.

I'm not a mechanic so a 3rd party inspection would be needed.
 

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We never really answered the direct question on common failure points.
My take on the 2005 V6/ 5spAT. Disagree if you wish:
0). Always get a vehicle history report. They are not 100%, but the best you can do.
1). Climate control failure. Manual control is fairly easy to repair. The automatic climate controls fail and are expensive. Displays fail, especially in heat. Expensive. Control failure will eventually wear out the actuators, which are fairly expensive.
2). Transmission shift delay causing hesitation when you want full throttle acceleration from a stop.
3). Transmission flare
4). AWD transfer case fluid leaks out axle seal and transfer case gets damaged/ makes whining sound
5). Engine sludge leading to oil consumption but the ‘05 - ‘07’s had some improvement in the V6 baffles. Still, oil changes are critical to the MZ engine series with first generation VVT-i and flat tappets. I would want evidence of 5000 mile oil changes or better. Oil consumption poisons catalytic converters.
6). Struts at this age
7). Front control arm bushings, though you need to differentiate between surface cracks and structural cracks in the rubber.
8). Timing belt, full kit. Even though the car might not have reached 90k miles yet, you are pushing by going over 10 years
9). Radiator- look for stress cracks in the plastic tanks. I replaced the radiator, thermostat, and radiator hoses when the timing belt was done.
10). Knock sensors. Expensive and hard to replace. Replace both sensor and harness when needed.
11). If the MZ engine series leaks coolant then the most common place is between the heads on the transmission side. The water inlet cover.
12). Parking brake. Poor design and especially bad if exposed to road salt.
13). Power steering rack hoses and fittings.
14). Was designed for API service grade SL, which has more ZDDP than the current SN. This was done to preserve cats, not engines. Street rod guys know that SN is not as good as older oils to protect cams, though probably better at reducing sludge. Tappet noise might be a sign of a problem. Keep up the oil changes.
15). Normal maintenance items like O2 sensors, brakes, plugs and coil packs. Any inspection requires a good scanner to query Mode 6 of OBD.
16). If it is 2004 to 2007 and it has a hitch, I would walk away. Too easy to over-pull these and wear out the transmission. Tow prep package option without the hitch is good. Hitch is bad if the light kit was also installed. I believe the 2001-2003 tow package includes the hitch, so can’t tell that way if it has towed.
17). Wheel bearings, but I believe many of these are incorrectly diagnosed by not understanding correct clearance and not confirmed by listening for noise. I would get a second opinion.
18). Unless you are very experienced, take it to an ASE certified pro for a presale inspection
19). It is a 15 year old car. Parts are going obsolete. Electronics will begin to fail, though Toyota is better than most. If you need to replace sensors and coils and you are go to keep the car, stick with OEM or Denso.
20). You can check for OEM options by entering the VIN on the Toyota Owner’s site.
21). With V6 AWD expect about 13 mpg on short trips around town.
22). There were many improvements starting in 2004. If I really wanted a first generation Highlander I would buy only a 2005 to 2007 and try to hold out for the 2007.
If just for around town the 4cyl FWD drive lighter.
 
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