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2003 and 2004 Runner - To buy or not

Discussion in '4th Gen 4Runners (2003-2009)' started by sdrocker21, Jun 21, 2019.

  1. Jun 21, 2019 at 9:34 PM
    #1
    sdrocker21

    sdrocker21 [OP] New Member

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    Hi All,

    Passed on the 4runners I had seen in the past but found two more this week and saw them today.

    Not sure either are worth buying? I have a 1953 Chevy chop top custom that is meant for cruising, a 1966 c-10 chevy truck meant to have fun and run to home depot, and a 2007 prius with 210k miles. Originally I was thinking to dump the prius and get something like a Lexus RX 350 or newer 4runner but lately im wondering if I should buy a 4th gen under $5k and alternate with the prius to lessen the load on either.

    I found a 2004 4runner with 182k miles for $5k. It seemed fine but the engine was pretty dirty with dust (the owner claims he took it to construction sites alot). I didn't see any issues other than an oil leak on the passenger side coming from near the top (every single 4th gen ive seen so far has this). The owner claims he's only had to do oil changes the time he's had it since 2016 since he bought from his brother and never serviced trans fluid, etc because he heard it's better to leave them alone after a certain age. TPMS light was on (he said he left it alone and just ignored it since it likely needs the sensor changed). He hasn't had it checked for smog.

    The other is a 2003 4runner with 232k miles. This one has a single owner and he seemed honest and told a bit about the vehicle. I didn't notice any issues other than the oil from passenger side near top. He claims the radiator and thermostat may need to be changed some time in the near future because he saw the temp fluctuate in one instant and it didn't happen again but he had a mechanic look at it because he cares about the vehicle running good and they said perhaps there's a tiny hole in the radiator. He said he recently replaced an ABS cylinder unit which cost him $2k and the catalytic converter and o2 sensors were replaced recently too. He says sometimes the heat only works if you turn the dial really high up to the max and then back off a little (he said maybe it was related to the thermostat). New shocks and struts recently, Recently did brakes in the back and front. I noticed the AC worked but not as good as the 2004... The lowest he would take is $4k.

    I'm inclined to get the 2003 for $4k because of price and maybe the maintenance the seller did will limit any big ticket items but don't know if that's not a good idea with that many miles? Planning to share the load with the prius so maybe driving it 3 times a week each day about 20 miles total. The guy with the 2004 seemed nice but says the vehicle never got anything besides oil changes and his brother owned it before and says he only really did oil changes.

    If I sold my prius for $3500 and used $5k, I don't know if I would find something great like an RX350 with $8500.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  2. Jun 22, 2019 at 6:35 AM
    #2
    chassis

    chassis New Member

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    V6 or V8?

    V6 oil at top passenger side can be cam cover, timing chain cover (the small square plate) or head gasket. The first two items are not very expensive or time consuming. Head gasket is anywhere from $1k to $3k, depending on if you or a shop does the job, plus 24 man hours of work. Not impossible, in fact very doable, just be aware.

    TPMS light can be permanently turned off with a 5 minute, easy, wire splice job. Google it. Bear in mind that the TPMS system would be then disabled/unusable. I went this route and am enjoying a TPMS light-free instrument panel, something that has not been the case for 14 years.

    Air conditioning evaporators develop leaks, commonly with high mileage. Replacement is a seats and dash removable job. Doable but be aware. A fix that lasts for a season is to replenish the refrigerant.

    The only other thing to be aware of in my opinion is frame rust. Nearly all vehicles of that age will have some rust, you need to make a judgment call on this. Look at crossmembers where they join the frame rails, and the rear suspension where the links join the frame.

    Almost everything else on a 4th gen is repairable with reasonable (subjective) cost and time investment. OEM parts from Toyota are plentiful and mostly reasonably priced, at least for now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2019
  3. Jun 22, 2019 at 9:05 AM
    #3
    sdrocker21

    sdrocker21 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks for your response. Both of them are V6's

    I didn't see frame rust on either of them. I thought it over last night and still can't decide which of the two is a better one to get.
     
  4. Jun 22, 2019 at 11:04 AM
    #4
    chassis

    chassis New Member

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    If it were me, I would go with the newer vehicle with fewer miles. $1k price difference is not a lot in my view, although everyone has a different view on this.

    You didn't say whether the 2004 owner is flexible on price. Can you negotiate the lower mileage vehicle to $4k?

    Dusty engine compartment is no issue.
     
  5. Jun 22, 2019 at 12:46 PM
    #5
    sdrocker21

    sdrocker21 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks, so the guy selling the 2004 for $5k said he had 5 other people interested so I didn't try to talk him down in price and he said they were looking at it today.. I would imagine one of those 5 would buy it for $5k... I may have already lost my chance. What worried me is that 4runner seems to have only gotten oil changes and maybe no other maintenance. I didn't notice anything wrong but maybe the 2003 one has had more parts replaced that the 2004 will need soon... not sure.

    I was thinking to ask the 2003 one if he would take $3900.... its only $100 less than he would take and it seems like a good deal if its in the 3000s? not sure
     
  6. Jun 23, 2019 at 5:25 AM
    #6
    captsolo

    captsolo New Member

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    Did you drive both 4 runners? How do they compare? Any slip or shifting issues?

    What about body rust? Undercoated frame?

    Leaking head gaskets might take this quick fix:https://www.bing.com/videos/search?...1E6CDF2814192A29DB551E6CDF2814192A2&FORM=VIRE

    Head gasket replacement costs over $1,000 to $3,000
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
  7. Jun 23, 2019 at 9:05 AM
    #7
    jdevtac

    jdevtac New Member

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    I think if you are fine dumping some more money into an older 4Runner it’s a good choice. But I’d personally shy away from a 200k mike vehicle that’s only had oil changes and that’s it. If your comfortable with the impending maintanence then it’s fine.

    I bought an 04 with 125k on the odo that had pretty great maintenance records by most standards and I’ve still had to do quite a bit on it just from it’s age.
     
    captsolo likes this.
  8. Jun 23, 2019 at 9:13 AM
    #8
    sdrocker21

    sdrocker21 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks I drove both and they both felt fine. I didn't feel any slip issues. The 2004 felt like I had to push the pedal a little farther to brake (but could have been just my imagination). I didn't see rust on either underneath.
     
  9. Jun 23, 2019 at 9:15 AM
    #9
    sdrocker21

    sdrocker21 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks, so the 2004 for $5k with 185k miles is the one that has had only oil changes for the past few years (supposedly). The 2003 for $4k with 232k has had o2 sensor, catalytic converter, abs cylinder, brakes, shocks struts, etc.. The older with 232k seems to have been maintained better just from what the seller described and his personality but i dont know if the 2004 with lower miles is still a better buy or not.... I was hoping to get something around $4k or $5k and put maybe $1-2k over the next 2-3 years if needed but not sure if I'm dreaming. The other option is to sell the prius and get a Lexus RX 350 for $7500 or so.. maybe a 2007 or 2008 and just have one daily driver.
     
  10. Jun 23, 2019 at 1:13 PM
    #10
    chassis

    chassis New Member

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    $1k-$2k over the next 2-3 years for maintenance cost is overly optimistic in my view. 15 year old vehicles nearing 200,000 miles need more maintenance than $60 per month. A lot more in my experience.
     
  11. Jun 23, 2019 at 1:18 PM
    #11
    sdrocker21

    sdrocker21 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks! What about a 2007 RX 350 with 169k miles for $6500 (or lower if I can talk it down)... Maybe that will get me a few years without much maintenance?

    Also, with the 4 runner, we're talking 2-3 times use per week, 20 miles or so each time so low mile usage. I'm guessing my biggest issue is dealing with the age of the vehicle more than anything else?

    It seems I've been super lucky with my 2007 Prius thus far. Got in in 2015 with 163k miles and it now has 210k miles, mostly just oil changes and a water pump (I did it myself).... I was hoping to get something that would give me 3-4 years without too much maintenance needed... maybe the $1k to $2k... I'm thinking it would be nice to unload the Prius soon while it's still in sellable condition.
     
  12. Jun 23, 2019 at 2:18 PM
    #12
    jdevtac

    jdevtac New Member

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    I think at the end of the day if you just allow yourself like 1-2k right off the bat to fix any issues, you’d be fine with the 4Runners. And that’s if you do all the work yourself. Taking it to a shop will eat into that big time, but if you’ve done water pumps you must be good with DIY. If that’s not the plan then I’d pick something newer. But even still, there’s no guarantees that you’d have less issues with the newer Lexus than the older 4Runner.
     
  13. Jun 23, 2019 at 2:41 PM
    #13
    chassis

    chassis New Member

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    What are your needs for a vehicle? Emphasis here is on needs, not wants.

    Prius, RX350 and 4Runner are three different vehicle categories.

    You have two old vehicles and a daily driver. What causes you to want to "dump" the Prius? Are you bored with it, or do you have money burning a hole in your pocket? Either are valid reasons. The question is posed because it is not clear which vehicle you want, or why you want it. Maybe it's no one's business but yours.

    There are plenty of Toyotas in the 2010-2015 model range, in the $6500 price range, with less than 150k miles that will deliver far less maintenance expense than any of the vehicles you have mentioned. Ditto for Hondas.

    How about a 2010 or 2011 Honda Civic with 60,000 miles? This fits the price you mentioned.
     
  14. Jun 23, 2019 at 3:14 PM
    #14
    sdrocker21

    sdrocker21 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks! Yes, originally I was thinking of getting rid of the Prius because it's harder to work on etc... I have a 1966 c-10 and 1953 Chop top and I work on those two myself... ive taken cylinder heads out etc. My initial thoughts were I wouldn't mind working on a 4runner as much as I would a Prius due to how tight everything is with space etc...
     
  15. Jun 23, 2019 at 3:27 PM
    #15
    sdrocker21

    sdrocker21 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks so much! My issue with the Prius is the embarrassment I feel sometimes having the older hot rods and occasionally feeling like the Prius has a bad reputation for its looks, etc.... I tend to park farther from my building at work and at times try not to look at anyone who knows me when I'm driving away. If I see an attractive lady in a parking lot I sometimes hope I don't get noticed getting into a Prius. I also find its a little harder to work on since its a hybrid and simple things like flushing brake fluid can be a pain...

    Needs:
    -I need something to get me to work Mon-Friday and that is 9 miles away so 18 miles round trip. A small segment (2 miles) of that is freeway the rest non freeway.

    - I need something that is easy to put my surfboards inside with folding the seat down and make an occasional run to home depot (I've fit 8ft planks in the prius!) without needing to use the racks which can be annoying.

    - Something I can fold the seat down and sleep in the back (occasionally I have done this after going to friends parties, etc)

    Wants:
    - Something with a rear window that goes down so I can fit paddleboards inside and let them hang out the back. (the 4runner is perfect for this)

    - Something more "masculine" looking like a 4runner or tacoma (tacoma won't be easy to sleep inside though)

    - Decent gas mileage 20 mpg or higher but this is optional, I only do very occasional 1 hour trips up to surf a different spot and I don't mind the extra gas money for this..

    - Leather seats (for the 4runner I would buy the Kat skins and install)

    - Something reliable (and I know Toyota is the way to go for this) I won't have to dump a lot of money in, ideally under $7500 that would get me by for 4 years without much more than $2-3k maintenance... after 4 years I'll probably get rid of it and see if I am ready to buy something new or keep going the used route.

    - Something easier to work on because I like working on my own cars.. in a pinch I could use my 66 C-10 and 1953 Chevy for a couple days at a time if I had an emergency come up and needed to fix whatever I have as a daily driver.


    I can't decide whether to sell the prius now, I'd probably get $3500 for it... and maybe get something like a Lexus RX 350 that seats fold down, has leather seats, etc and will do most what the Prius can (minus gas mileage) or keep the Prius and get an older 4th gen 4runner, or even get rid of the Prius and get an older 4th gen 4runner and have the extra money on hand to service/maintain it for 4 years. I found a 2007 Lexus RX 350 with 169k miles for $6800 and guy is flexible on price.

    Originally I thought I could share the load between the Prius and a $4k to $5k 4runner but am thinking it's really about the cars aging more so than sharing the mileage/load... maintaining two older cars for daily use might be too much? The old Chevys in my garage are more a hobby thing and I could unload them at any time if necessary so I view those totally different with regards to maintenance,etc.

    Lastly I forgot to mention I was looking at RAV4s... they are ok... a little wimpy looking but not as bad as the 2nd gen prius in my opinion... but also don't know if a Lexus RX 350 is better for my wants/needs.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
  16. Jun 23, 2019 at 5:29 PM
    #16
    jdevtac

    jdevtac New Member

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    If you do look into RAV4s, be sure to look at their respective forums. The 2 previous gens had some widespread issues. I don’t remember specifically what they were but I remember when I was in the market and also looking at RAVs there were some specific years that were good within generations and some that were bad. I think issues related to torque converters/driveline shudder where some were retroactively band-aid fixed and then a production year where they came from factory fixed and were much better.
     
  17. Jun 23, 2019 at 5:35 PM
    #17
    sdrocker21

    sdrocker21 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks! I will keep that in mind if I venture into the Rav4 territory!
     
  18. Jun 28, 2019 at 6:12 AM
    #18
    captsolo

    captsolo New Member

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    Book value on 2005 4 runner is over $8,800. https://www.kbb.com/toyota/4runner/2005/
    But sellers are asking $2,000 above book.

    My 2005 4 runner runs like a 2019 $36,000 4 runner. https://www.kbb.com/toyota/suvs/
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
  19. Jun 28, 2019 at 6:42 AM
    #19
    Hyper15125

    Hyper15125 Headlight Retrofitting Hobbyist

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    For the TPMS check the spare tire underneath, it ALSO has a sensor.

    I know this BC my dash light was on for about 3 years on my 04 V8 Sport before I figured it out. Added air to the spare and the light magically went out.:eek:
     
  20. Jun 28, 2019 at 9:19 AM
    #20
    sdrocker21

    sdrocker21 [OP] New Member

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    Thanks that is a good point. How many miles though? Some have pointed out with a vehicle approaching 200k like the ones I have looked at or even the one with 232k I am asking for a lot of maintenance.. I understand they can run great and for a long time but I also don't want to maintain an old 4runner and an old Prius if it's going to be more expensive than getting and maintaining a single car like a Lexus RX350 maybe 2008 or so year.
     
  21. Jun 28, 2019 at 9:21 AM
    #21
    sdrocker21

    sdrocker21 [OP] New Member

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    That is good to know and the seller mentioned it might be the TPMS sensor battery or the spare.
     
  22. Jun 28, 2019 at 9:55 AM
    #22
    chassis

    chassis New Member

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    Maintaining one car is always less expensive than maintaining two cars, of similar type and age/condition. Especially when including insurance and registration and annual inspection if your locality requires it.
     
  23. Jun 28, 2019 at 10:04 AM
    #23
    sdrocker21

    sdrocker21 [OP] New Member

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    l thought so too. At first I thought it would be good to load share two vehicles by keeping the Prius and buying an older 4 runner but I bet the age of the vehicles will be the issue for parts/maintenance more so than the lower miles I put on them by having two vehicles to share daily driving....
     

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