Considering 3rd Gen 4Runner...Advice?

Wanderlusty

Explorer
Ok, had a 2004 Tacoma for a couple years a while back and had no complaints aside from the axle seals that kept blowing, thankfully covered by warranty, thankfully...and yes, did diff breather mod.

Now I am considering a 3rd Gen 4Runner. Probably not much older than 99.

I have always liked that body style, and really don't care for any of the newer ones.

Also, they are (finally) coming down to somewhat reasonable price range considering they are now 9-15 years old. Still a bit high IMHO for the age, but it is what the market will bear...

My needs are not much. It would be sort of a DD, but I do a lot of my commuting on my motorcycle, so this is mostly for picking my son up from school, may become the grocery getter to save wear and tear on my wife's new Corolla, may see some long distance travel, again to save wear on her new car. And OF COURSE it will see some overlanding :wings: which I have missed for the last little bit.

Question is, as most of these trucks are a decade or more older, I really don't want to get into a situation of chasing maintenance gremlins. My current vehicle, a 2003 Maxima that I inherited when trading my last truck in for her new car, has 166,000 miles on it and a laundry list of little gremlins that need chasing. None terminal, just annoying.

Maintenance, be it preventative or otherwise, does not scare me in itself, but wondering from those that have had these trucks a bit longer (My Taco only had 50K on it when I got rid of it) can give me an idea of what to expect maintenance and durability wise on the 3rd Gen 'Runners with the 90K-130K miles most in that age range seem to be sporting.

Off the top, I know the timing belt needs checked, water and fuel pump too, but I am talking more about nitpicky stuff like slow leaks, electrical gremlins, how it handles overall wear and tear...

I am encouraged to see many of that generation out there with 200K plus miles, so not generally concerned about durability, but would you load up and take that truck with 120K miles and drive cross country and into the back country with not a lot of worry?
 

Wanderlusty

Explorer
Oh, and to add to the mix, but kind of an aside...

Wondering about going ahead and buying now, or perhaps wait until mid-summer.

With rising gas prices, I am curious if the prices will drop enough to make the wait worthwhile.

I miss having a vehicle capable of off highway travel, so part of me wants to get going, but if the prices go down...
 

tacoma_AL

Adventurer
I have a 98 Tacoma V6-5vz 5spd 4x4 with 120k stock and from 120k to 212K(as of yesterday :)) beating the bloody piss out of it towing, farm work, offroading and overlanding, and just daily driving. I've NEVER (knock on wood) had any major issues with it besides timing belts, replacing the clutch, and various things that, well after a while you'll have to do anyways. I take care of my truck, regular scheduled maintenance.

I do however have a small small really really small oil leak that i can not find, and that started around mile 100 so 212k miles later and its still running great. The only electrical gremlin i'm tracing now is, when i turn my lights on sometimes my passenger side brake light isn't on but lights up when i hit the brakes.

My sister owns a 3rd gen kinda like what your wanting to get and it runs great, just regular maintenance that you would do on any other vehicle that you own. Oh yea and i drove my truck following my sis in her 3rd gen, and my brother in laws f-150 from Fairbanks, AK to Ft. Campbell, KY---is that cross country enough for ya:smiley_drive:

My big thing is, who you by from, thats what you gotta be careful with and inspect it very thorough and don't forget the Toyota Buy Back for rusted frames for those particular years. I think i've rambled enough, hope this helps
 

slus

Adventurer
I've posted in a couple threads like this before, they should turn up in a search.

In short, they're great. I've logged over 200k over 4 of them, 96 97 99 and 2002. All were over 100k when I bought them, I still have the 99 and my parents have the 02. Most expensive think I have replaced was an alternator. There was like 130k on the second timing belt of my 1996 when I sold it and I was WAY hard on that one, it's a non interference engine and I never was worried about it letting go anyway.

I'm about to hit 200k on my 99 SR5 5speed. Bought it from the first owners, with all records from day 1 from the same mechanic. It basically added up to 9 grand worth of oil, fluid, and filter changes. They replaced a couple little things like the antenna, clutch pedal assembly (twice, the spring was sqeeking) and did the timing belt and water pump twice. Things I all but ignored on my 1996 and I sold that right near 200k too, and honestly it ran exactly the same.
 

slus

Adventurer
and don't forget the Toyota Buy Back for rusted frames for those particular years. I think i've rambled enough, hope this helps
I may be talking out of my rear here, but I thought that was only for Tacomas? 4runners are fully boxed frames, I didn't think they were running into the same issues as Tacos, but I could easily have missed that, since I'm spoiled by rust free southwest trucks.
 

Wanderlusty

Explorer
I do however have a small small really really small oil leak that i can not find, and that started around mile 100 so 212k miles later and its still running great.
The Maxima I am driving has a similar small leak. Thought I got it fixed, but nope. Ugh. Nothing fatal, but sheesh I hate those leaks you can never find.

The Maxima has been a great car (we have owned since new) but after just 4 months without a truck I am going nuts. Just not a car guy. But if I found something in a truck that was as reliable as that Max has been...

My big thing is, who you by from, thats what you gotta be careful with and inspect it very thorough and don't forget the Toyota Buy Back for rusted frames for those particular years. I think i've rambled enough, hope this helps
Here is where I run into a bit of an issue. Have scoured local ads, etc. It appears that in this area they command a premium, sometimes 2K more than neighboring states. Not afraid to go across state lines, I even have driven to Chicago before (to pick up the Tacoma) but the downside to that is that you have to be pretty sure about a vehicle to drive that far, and hope it works out for the best...
 

tacoma_AL

Adventurer
I may be talking out of my rear here, but I thought that was only for Tacomas? 4runners are fully boxed frames, I didn't think they were running into the same issues as Tacos, but I could easily have missed that, since I'm spoiled by rust free southwest trucks.
No i think your right now that I think about it, kept rambling and forgot to switch from Tacoma to 4Runner....my bad

The Maxima I am driving has a similar small leak. Thought I got it fixed, but nope. Ugh. Nothing fatal, but sheesh I hate those leaks you can never find.

The Maxima has been a great car (we have owned since new) but after just 4 months without a truck I am going nuts. Just not a car guy. But if I found something in a truck that was as reliable as that Max has been...



Here is where I run into a bit of an issue. Have scoured local ads, etc. It appears that in this area they command a premium, sometimes 2K more than neighboring states. Not afraid to go across state lines, I even have driven to Chicago before (to pick up the Tacoma) but the downside to that is that you have to be pretty sure about a vehicle to drive that far, and hope it works out for the best...
Yea i thought i fixed mine too, but to no avail.

I've always wondered why that is and why the prices can shot up like that

Know what ya mean, I drove from here in Columbus, Ga to Ky to look at a truck a few years back, and came home steamed because it wasn't the same truck they listed. Then i drove to Franklin Tn the Following week and brought home a 85 Toy that i ended up selling as i couldn't have both.
 

CA-RJ

Expo Approved™
At 90k miles or more, you should make sure the timing belt and water pump have been replaced. Spark plugs every 30k and if they have the original spark plug wires do those too. I've read that the 01-02 auto transmissions are prone to slipping issues around 100k and there's quite a few people who have had the infamous strawberry milkshake problems (trans fluid and radiator coolant mixing).

I bought my 97 with 136k miles on it and am now at 204k miles. In that time I've replaced the timing belt, water pump, idler bearings, drive belts, lower ball joints, tie rod ends, sway bar end links, front sway bar bushings, steering rack bushings, 2 oxygen sensors, spark plugs (2x), spark plug wires, and a clutch.
 

Wanderlusty

Explorer
The timing chain and water pump has me worried some so far as the search goes. If I find one with 100K+ but can't verify for certain that it has been done, but is otherwise a good deal...do I walk, or buy, knowing a several hundred (or more?) dollar shop visit is in my future.

Have my eye on a '99 right now one state over, clean Carfax, one owner, with 125,000, but haven't found out if it has had this work done yet.

Asking price is a bit over $7k, but would hope/expect to get it for under $7K, which is a LOT less than they go for here.

But, at that price, do I need to think about waiting for the next one if the belt and water pump are still orig?
 

Applejack

Explorer
The timing chain and water pump has me worried some so far as the search goes. If I find one with 100K+ but can't verify for certain that it has been done, but is otherwise a good deal...do I walk, or buy, knowing a several hundred (or more?) dollar shop visit is in my future.

Have my eye on a '99 right now one state over, clean Carfax, one owner, with 125,000, but haven't found out if it has had this work done yet.

Asking price is a bit over $7k, but would hope/expect to get it for under $7K, which is a LOT less than they go for here.

But, at that price, do I need to think about waiting for the next one if the belt and water pump are still orig?
Not sure of your mechanic ability but, doing the timing belt and water pump is not a very difficult job to do, it just takes some time. You can get some good quality Japanese parts (not Toyota thought) for under $200.
With that said, I wouldn't be afraid of buying the one your looking at if it passes a good inspection and CARFAX.
I'm on my second '99 and have not had any issues with either. No leaks no bad axle seals, nothing. Except for my current '99 is getting a bit thirsty but I think I have that sorted now.
 

bigwapitijohnny

Adventurer
My 3rd generation 4runner has been great...

Wanderlusty,

I have had my 4runner for several years now and it has been in our family since the showroom floor in 1998. It has been a TREMENDOUS vehicle that owes me nothing. The things that I have had to repair are things that are wearing out...

Maybe it is me, but ours was assembled in Japan, and it has been an exceptional vehicle. It will be a sad day when I have to send it to the razor blade factory...

Good luck on your search!

Regards,

BWJ
 

slus

Adventurer
The timing chain and water pump has me worried some so far as the search goes. If I find one with 100K+ but can't verify for certain that it has been done, but is otherwise a good deal...do I walk, or buy, knowing a several hundred (or more?) dollar shop visit is in my future.

Have my eye on a '99 right now one state over, clean Carfax, one owner, with 125,000, but haven't found out if it has had this work done yet.

Asking price is a bit over $7k, but would hope/expect to get it for under $7K, which is a LOT less than they go for here.

But, at that price, do I need to think about waiting for the next one if the belt and water pump are still orig?
I wouldn't be too concerned about the timing belt. Plenty of people run WAY past the change interval, I know of 2 3rd gens with over 200k on the stock belt, and it is a non interference engine so if it does let go, you're not going to be wrecking your drivetrain. That said, get it if it's the one you want, change the belt down the road for peace of mind when you have some spare cash. As said above, if you've got any kind of mechanical ability and a free weekend, you can do it yourself.

Plus-99s are the best:sombrero:
 

MountainBiker

Adventurer
Wondering about going ahead and buying now, or perhaps wait until mid-summer.

With rising gas prices, I am curious if the prices will drop enough to make the wait worthwhile.
I also am looking for a 3rd Gen and I'm wondering the same thing!

At this point, what I've learned from this forum is that I want the rear diff lock and the multi-mode transmission, which means I need a '99-'00. Prices out here in California seem a bit higher, with low mileage Limiteds listing in the neighborhood of $10k
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
At this point, what I've learned from this forum is that I want the rear diff lock and the multi-mode transmission, which means I need a '99-'00. Prices out here in California seem a bit higher, with low mileage Limiteds listing in the neighborhood of $10k
The only way to get multi mode + locking rear diff is to get a limited.

Of course, you could also get an 01-02 or for that matter a 4th gen and put a locker on it.

My point being: It's easier to put on a locker than to put on the multi-mode T-case.
 
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