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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, I am trying to purchase a used older highlander on ~$6k budget. Most listings in my area at this price that have the timing belt replaced are the hybrid version.

I'm looking at a 2006 180k with recent timing belt change, and all regular maintenance done.

There was no inverter change in the maintenance records. Also I am worried about the ABS accumulator problem.

The specific car I am looking at is ~$4500. I saw online that replacing the hybrid battery costs $3000.

Is it a bad idea to buy this car today, where the inverter was never replaced, and also where it has high enough mileage where more money would be shelled out for the battery replacement?
 

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I'd rather be opposed to buying it. It is too old and hybrid batteries are time sensitive. You don't want to buy a car with ticking bomb under the 2nd row of seats. I'd be less worried about brake actuator, they do go bad and early models had their spell of them.. yet, battery is rather main concern.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much for your response!

What if I got the price down low enough to be able to spend $3-4k on the new battery whenever it will be needed, while still remaining in budget? I am having difficulty finding the right non-hybrid highlander.

Also, how do I know if the inverter was changed by the dealer? Maintenance records just show regular interval maintenance. Would the inverter be included in that?
 

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Dealer will have access to Toyota national database based on VIN. It should have any repairs done by dealer in it.

Everyone financial situation is different. It would have been foolish to make a certain advice. I'd suggest to ponder over old wisdom: you always get what you paid for.
What you could do, is to make small investment into OBD2 BT dongle and, say, Dr Prius app. Then, scope hybrid battery for state of charge.

Here's my used car buying principle: good cars are keepers. No one is selling good cars, they are rare and tend to stay with owners. But that's me.
 

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Why are you so bent on buying a hybrid? Is it to feel better about burning less gasoline or some perceived lower cost of operation after your purchase? The vast majority of us do not drive the exact type of driving mix (mostly city where much of the driving can be done on battery only) to make a hybrid really make sense. Even if you take the raw cost difference new to new (hybrid vs gasoline) and extrapolate the savings over time assuming that the EPA combined fuel economy ratings play out exactly as prescribed it often takes 150K miles or more to "break even" on the hybrid model due to the extra up front purchase cost. Plug-in hybrids or pure electric are frequently easier to justify if (big if) your driving habits are the right fit, but again it takes exactly the right set of circumstances.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I am seeking to get a used Highlander under $6k, and the only ones that are decent enough are hybrids (the non-hybrids have too many miles and too high of a price). So it is not that I am "bent" on buying a hybrid. I am bent on getting a reliable car that I can trust for a few years with a $6k budget, aiming for a Highlander, in a relatively short amount of time. My only options are yielding the hybrids. Thank you.
 

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Does it have to be SUV? There are VERY reliable cars in that price range that are not SUV.
Also, wonder, why is it that folks are ridding of hybrids, aye, mate?
 

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I am seeking to get a used Highlander under $6k, and the only ones that are decent enough are hybrids (the non-hybrids have too many miles and too high of a price). So it is not that I am "bent" on buying a hybrid. I am bent on getting a reliable car that I can trust for a few years with a $6k budget, aiming for a Highlander, in a relatively short amount of time. My only options are yielding the hybrids. Thank you.
I have found that it's the "relatively short amount of time" that is really restrictive when looking for a needle in a haystack so to speak. I don't know where you are located and thus what your local market is like, but around me $6,000 buys a decent 2006-2008 Rav4.
 
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Discussion Starter #9
Yes, unfortunately it has to be an SUV as the size is needed for regular transportation of a large musical instrument (a wagon would also work if you have any suggestions). I am looking in the Greater Seattle area, and have been looking at the RAV4s as well. The 2006-2008 RAV4s are listed for ~$7k, and are selling like hot cakes which is surprising to me. So right now my best alternative to the Hybrid Highlander is an equally old, equivalent mileage non-hybrid Highlander for ~$5500. I am so open to suggestions for other cars, especially newer. The only problem is that this is for my sibling who has no tools or repair experience, so any repairs would be done by a mechanic. Would be nice to have a lower car cost to plan for repairs within the budget (as opposed to spending $6-7k on just the car). Thank you all for your responses.
 

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It helps to know the location as markets vary significantly and I don't have to tell you that your area is probably a 20% or more premium for just about anything. That budget in the mid west goes a lot further.

As far as considering other models with the idea of a wagon try looking for a Subaru Outback.

Here is an example and a search of CL with a $6,000 max price turned up some others to look at.
 
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That looks like a great car. My sibling had an older used Subaru wagon and it experienced a conrod bearing failure while driving, ruined the car instantly. I also have a 2015 Forester and the upkeep and emergency maintenance I have to do with it are so finicky I would hate to put that on her. I even considered giving her my newer Subaru and buying my own old Highlander to upkeep myself, and determined the Subaru with >100k miles has way more maintenance items and weirdness than a Highlander. (2015 Subaru, all window motors have broken at some point, consumes extra oil on highways needing it added during a trip regularly, electromagnetic interference with a cell phone and the seat causing emergency air bag issues, have heard stories of same car with radiator hose coming loose, and more just finicky but easy things). Love the car for myself because it's easy to work on, but I don't need a mechanic whereas sibling would. Not sure if that is justified. I may be overthinking this but it's a lot of money and I just want the thing to last. Really appreciate your help!
 

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That's a difficult price point in any market, just even tougher where you are and likely quite a distance before you could get away from it. The other idea might be a Volvo CX70 from that same era of 2004-2008 sticking with the 2.5L engine. Many markets have good independent mechanics that work on them reasonably. I owned 2 S60s (same drive train) and found them to be very reliable even at high miles. The key though is identifying a good shop first of course. I would stick with the XC70 as the XC90 is more problematic. Often the shop helps customers buy and sell, so if you can't find one advertised call around.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I have heard that Volvo parts and service are expensive -- are they more than a Toyota ($1800 for ~200k maintenance I think)? I saw a Volvo V50 T5 with 133k, I tried using "YourMechanic" to get prices for new alternator and other items and according to the app they are pretty much the same cost as Toyota. Can't tell if that is true... And having difficulty finding things beyond anecdotes. I will give a Volvo place a call, thank you!
 

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I have heard that Volvo parts and service are expensive -- are they more than a Toyota ($1800 for ~200k maintenance I think)? I saw a Volvo V50 T5 with 133k, I tried using "YourMechanic" to get prices for new alternator and other items and according to the app they are pretty much the same cost as Toyota. Can't tell if that is true... And having difficulty finding things beyond anecdotes. I will give a Volvo place a call, thank you!
IMO similar parts cost and there is a fabulous aftermarket supplier by the name of IPDUSA based in Portland because that area is such a hotbed for Volvo. You'll have to do your own research on the V50 as I don't know anything about that platform.
 

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Get Volvo station wagon or, Subaru station wagon. Depending on instruments to be loaded, maybe even a Crown Vic or Park avenue, and toss rear seats out for extra cargo area. I have MGM, trunk is cavernous and office chair fits into rear seat just fine. Got mine for 1500 and wish I had one years ago.
Not suggesting Roadmaster, though it would have been just about right. Parking spots are tiny here in Seattle and, parking that behemoth, will be interesting.
 

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I had a 2006 XC70. Rode real smooth, quiet (you could tell how overbuilt it was externally, like a tank), and best seats I had ever ridden in that I can remember so it was great for long trips. Cargo area was a decent size too especially after folding the second row down.

Had to spend a pretty penny getting a second key/fob though. That's a dealer visit. Couldn't just start up VIDA and program a new key like we can with Techstream.

If you're willing to DIY a lot of stuff with a Volvo, get a copy of VIDA and a DiCE clone. It really helps with diagnostics and allows you to tweak a few settings here and there much like Techstream does for our Toyotas. For the stuff you can't DIY...well...be prepared to part with the $$$ much like any other car; just possibly even more so because European.

I replaced mine with a 2007 HiHy. Burnt exhaust valve in cylinder 1.

I can only DIY so much without a garage...and time.

Oh, and money too. Definitely need money.
 
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