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Looking at 1994 4Runner

913 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  paoli
Hey guys. I need some 4Runner advice.

We've always been a Toyota car family because of the reliability. My in-laws have a 2003 and a 2008 Camry and my father-in-law can't bear to part with my wife's old 1992 Corolla or his 1987 PU. I've got a 1996 Camry with 237,000 miles on it and a 2004 Camry with 104,000 that my wife drives. I know that my car isn't gonna last forever so I've been thinking about finding something else with less miles on it soon. I just need something to get me back and forth to work every day (20 interstate miles each way). It would be nice to have the room and versitility of a truck/SUV.

Well, the other day as I was pulling into my neighborhood I saw a 1994 4Runner with 151,000 miles on it for sale for $2,500. It's a 2WD Automatic 3.0L V-6 and looks to be in pretty good shape. I called the lady and she said that she got it a couple of years ago from her mother who had it for a couple of years and bought it from the original owner. She said that when she got it from her mother she had to get some oil leaks repaired and while they were in there the mechanic kept suggesting more and more things to fix (she mentioned timing belt) so she's basically looking to get the money that she has invested in the repairs out of it. She said that she thinks she's still got all of the repair paperwork. Since they've had it they've only put a couple of thousand miles on it taking the kids camping.

From my experience 151k isn't a lot of miles for a Toyota. The 2004 Camry has never given me any trouble and the 1996 didn't start having any issues until 175,000 miles and then it was stuff that was a fairly easy/inexpensive fix (had the air conditioning worked on, radiator cracked, starter locked up, etc.). I've only been scanning the forum for a few minutes but I've seen some things that are making me nervous.

Is there anything else that I should be aware of besides the head gasket thing? I saw where someone said you could take the VIN and Toyota would tell you if it's ever been replaced. Can someone explain how to do that? I was flirting with the idea of getting a 1995-1998 Land Rover Discovery and the guys on that forum said to get one with more than 100,000 miles because the head gaskets go at about 80,000 miles and once they've been replaced you're good forever. Is it the same way with the 4Runners? When have the head gaskets been going out on these vehicles?

Any insight/advice you could share would be greatly appreciated.
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Yeah, unfortunately what you've read is what I'll tell you too. If I was facing the decision to buy my truck again, knowing what I know now, I wouldn't buy it. The 3VZE really is a very badly designed engine that for many owners is trouble-plagued and a money pit. This seems to be true especially of the 92-95 engines - many of them have had 2, 3 or even more than 3 head gasket failures. Those of us with the 88-91 3VZEs seem to make out a little better, but even so I've had to replace the head gaskets on mine.

If you like the 4runner, go with the 22re. You do have to watch the timing chain guides on it, and replace the guides/chain when they're up to 100k - 120k, but aside from that, it's the kind of motor you expect from Toyota. The V6 unfortunately isn't.

Another option for a similar type vehicle is the RAV4. Every RAV4 owner I've talked to, without exception, just "raves" about how great they are. When I see one I always ask the owner if they would sell it and they always laugh me off with a "yeah, right!" They get far better gas mileage than the 3VZE and are much more reliable.

Their resale is high, I guess cause no one wants to sell them, but if you look in craigslist you might find a bargain. You know the Toyota drill - you have to keep an eagle eye on the listings and when a good one comes up you have to be ready to jump on it.

I find the msn auto pages to be pretty helpful when I'm shopping for a car or helping friend/family do so:

Anyhow, good luck. Sorry to give you bad news about the 4runner you were interested in, but better now than later(!)
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go for it!

The timing belt probably needs done if it hasn't been changed yet, but these motors are non-interference(if the belt breaks, your stuck, but the engine is not damaged.) I just bought a 2000 4runner tonight, 47k mi-a mere baby. Our rav4 has 205k mi. on it and still strong. Make sure you check the oil/trans fluid to see if they are clean-always a good indicator of someone maintaining it properly.For 2500 bucks, you'll get at least another 50k out of it, if not more I'm betting.
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