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#4655740 - 02/04/18 10:49 AM Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle
sifan Offline


Registered: 10/21/03
Posts: 942
Loc: Maryland, USA
Hi,

I am currently looking for a used and reliable 4WD/AWD car that can climbs the mountainous I-68 because I need to make two round trips to West Virginia every month while coping with the hilly streets of WV in winter for at least another 18 months. My 4 cylinders Echo with AT is just too weak to climb the steep hills of I-68. Last time I pushed my Echo so hard that its transmission never sounds the same again. MY Wife's 2009 H6 Subaru Outback is adequate for the trips, but is very costly to maintain at dealer. With 96k miles it has gone through sun roof assembly, wheel bearing, front brake with disc twice, drive axles, cv joints, air bag warning, rear hatch wiring assembly, rear brake with disc, etc, that cost around $20k in maintenance over these years. So, I am looking for an used 4WD/AWD vehicle that can climbs steep hills but also cheaper to maintain. Most important of all I don't want to get stranded on the roadside in those mountains in the middle of nights especially in winter.

There are very few choices on the market. Subaru's 4 cylinder lineup is famous for blown head gasket. The dealer told me that 2012 and newer models should be good. If this is true, the price is out of my range. From the Craiglist I found a $6000 2004 Toyota Matrix AWD with 100k miles which has a 1.8L engine bigger than 1.5L in my Echo. And a $3500 1996 Toyota 4Runner 4WD 6 cylinders with 245k miles qualifies for a historic tag, which waives MD inspection and future emission test.

Now my Echo's check engine light is on and is due to pass the emission test before the end of March. I need a backup car while my Echo is in repair. So, what do you think of my two choices? Any other suggestions are welcome.

Thanks,

Simon

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#4655745 - 02/04/18 10:53 AM Re: Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle [Re: sifan]
smc733 Offline


Registered: 11/14/11
Posts: 283
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: sifan
And a $3500 1996 Toyota 4Runner 4WD 6 cylinders with 245k miles qualifies for a historic tag, which waives MD inspection and future emission test.


I'm not sure if this applies everywhere, but I know in at least some states, there are restrictions on driving vehicles registered with historic tags. Insurance may not be responsible if you drive outside of those restrictions. You may just want to look into that for your area if you go that route.
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#4655753 - 02/04/18 11:02 AM Re: Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle [Re: sifan]
FlyNavyP3 Offline


Registered: 07/04/16
Posts: 1407
Loc: Jacksonville, FL
It's hard to beat the tried and true drivetrain of a 1996-2003 4Runner. The 3.4 is a dead reliable engine with a timing belt that doesn't kill the engine if it breaks. Easy to maintain yourself if you so chose, but it sounds like you have all your maintenance performed by someone else. The automatic gearbox is dated as it's only a 4sp but it's robust, as is the remainder of the drivetrain. Gas mileage won't be great expect 12-15 in town and 17-20 highway.
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#4655765 - 02/04/18 11:08 AM Re: Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle [Re: FlyNavyP3]
Astro14 Offline


Registered: 10/10/10
Posts: 8533
Loc: Virginia Beach
Originally Posted By: FlyNavyP3
It's hard to beat the tried and true drivetrain of a 1996-2003 4Runner. The 3.4 is a dead reliable engine with a timing belt that doesn't kill the engine if it breaks. Easy to maintain yourself if you so chose, but it sounds like you have all your maintenance performed by someone else. The automatic gearbox is dated as it's only a 4sp but it's robust, as is the remainder of the drivetrain. Gas mileage won't be great expect 12-15 in town and 17-20 highway.


+1!
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#4655770 - 02/04/18 11:10 AM Re: Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle [Re: sifan]
supton Offline


Registered: 11/09/08
Posts: 11924
Loc: NH
I can't see how the transmission should be hurt by climbing hills--I mean, it should have a cooler, and the engine should be at high revs. Maybe it's because it's an Echo--which is to say, a car that is kinda old now?

Anyhow, 4WD/AWD jacks the price up. Meaning if you have a fixed budget, you are automatically buying something older and/or with higher miles. If I was on a budget (and who isn't?) I'd first buy good tires (meaty all seasons or preferably snow/winter tires on dedicated rims), then get something "reliable". AWD/4WD last on my list.

I'm not much of a fan of part time 4WD, as it (usually) is only good in a straight line if the roads are only iffy. AWD/4WD can also lull one into thinking the roads are much better than they are. What's best is driving along in (F/R)WD until traction goes south, then slowing down & engaging 4WD. [Old Subies used to be FWD until you engaged the rear--those are all probably dead now, but I always liked that setup in a car. Many cute utes are now FWD until traction is needed.]

The Matrix sounds interesting; the 1.8 should skip the 2.4 oil issues. But it's also heavier so I wonder if you'll wind up back where you are: feeling underpowered on the hills. [Question: when climbing long hills, do you manually force a downshift, to keep rev's above say 3k?]

That 4Runner, hmm. Sounds cool, but: older cars usually cost more to keep going. That 4Runner has the "good" 3.4L but it also has a timing belt. At this age I'd be concerned about the radiator; I'd replace it proactively so as to avoid the internal trans cooler failing & taking out the transmission. Tall top heavy vehicle too--it's not unsafe but it's not a low slung car either. It will drive more like a truck. The 3.4L will feel the hills, especially if loaded up--but with good tires I'd think it'd be quite the snow that would stop it.
_________________________
2011 Toyota Camry, base, 2.5L/6MT, 160k, hers
2010 Toyota Tundra DC, 4.6L/6AT, 143k, ours
1999 Toyota Camry LE, 2.2L/4AT, 181k, his

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#4655797 - 02/04/18 11:27 AM Re: Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle [Re: sifan]
supton Offline


Registered: 11/09/08
Posts: 11924
Loc: NH
Just re-read the OP. This sounds like a spare vehicle? As in, not your daily driver. If so, then I'd opt for the 4Runner (again with good tires!). There are other options that I won't snub, but if you're an import guy (who doesn't like older Subaru) then I'm not sure what would be better & in budget. And easy(ish) to repair.
_________________________
2011 Toyota Camry, base, 2.5L/6MT, 160k, hers
2010 Toyota Tundra DC, 4.6L/6AT, 143k, ours
1999 Toyota Camry LE, 2.2L/4AT, 181k, his

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#4655826 - 02/04/18 11:53 AM Re: Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle [Re: sifan]
Wolf359 Offline


Registered: 04/27/12
Posts: 4744
Loc: MA
Sounds like the real problem is that you go to the dealer. Find an indy garage and learn to do some basic DIY repairs yourself.

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#4655838 - 02/04/18 12:01 PM Re: Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle [Re: sifan]
HoosierJeeper Offline


Registered: 11/23/16
Posts: 1276
Loc: WI
x2

Otherwise in that $5000ish range you could get a used Jeep or Land Rover, I wouldn't drive anything else in the snow or mountains! But both would probably need some maintenance.
I think you'd be better off keeping the Subaru and finding a new shop. Anything else is kind of a band aid.
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#4655850 - 02/04/18 12:08 PM Re: Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle [Re: HoosierJeeper]
SatinSilver Offline


Registered: 01/24/08
Posts: 10135
Loc: OH
I'd skip the Matrix idea since it's slow and even worse with the AWD option. Plus it's narrow and taller than most cars so it really moves around on the hwy from cross winds. Which is another factor you will encounter on I68. You would be much better off with an 05 or newer Camry. Power is fine, wider and lower than the Matrix. Factor in some decent rubber and you will be golden.

The Matrix is better suited for zipping around town. The Camry is much, much better on the hwy.

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#4655875 - 02/04/18 12:31 PM Re: Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle [Re: sifan]
AZjeff Offline


Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 2632
Loc: PV Az
Originally Posted By: sifan
And a $3500 1996 Toyota 4Runner 4WD 6 cylinders with 245k miles qualifies for a historic tag, which waives MD inspection and future emission test.


A 22 year old vehicle with 245k is going to nickel and dime you, don't care what brand it is. IMHO.
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#4655884 - 02/04/18 12:37 PM Re: Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle [Re: sifan]
andyd Online   content


Registered: 09/25/04
Posts: 7139
Loc: Marshfield , MA
A 22 year old vehicle with 245k is going to nickel and dime you, don't care what brand it is. IMHO

Amen to that. Another hard lesson learned.
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#4655892 - 02/04/18 12:46 PM Re: Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle [Re: sifan]
donnyj08 Offline


Registered: 08/12/12
Posts: 3030
Loc: Cincinnati
https://dayton.craigslist.org/cto/d/2011-jeep-patriot-4x4/6440613179.html


https://cincinnati.craigslist.org/cto/d/2004-ford-escape-limited-4wd/6467745168.html

Id be looking for something like the two above but in your area. A good used ford escape 4x4 would be great for driving on hilly snow covered roads.
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#4655912 - 02/04/18 01:00 PM Re: Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle [Re: sifan]
Nick1994 Offline


Registered: 02/19/13
Posts: 10097
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Chevy Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, and Isuzu Ascender with the 4.2L are all on the same platform. A 4x4 version of any of these should be decent, my grandfather has a 2002 Trailblazer that has been a pretty good car, has plenty of power too.
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2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4L 79k PU 5w30 & OEM
2000 Toyota Camry 2.2L 228k M1 AFE 0w30 & Wix
1996 Jeep Cherokee 4.0L 146k M1 HM 10w40 & Fram Ultra

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#4655936 - 02/04/18 01:21 PM Re: Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle [Re: sifan]
AZjeff Offline


Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 2632
Loc: PV Az
Another idea: check into renting something for your 2 trips a month. Not sure if any of the majors have AWD vehicles but it may cost you less overall.
_________________________
86 Samurai 1.3 leftovers
14 RAV4 2.5 5W-20 PP *gasp*
16 Silverado 1500 4.3 Ecotec3, DI, AFM 5W-30 PP

Why know when you can guess?!


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#4656009 - 02/04/18 02:34 PM Re: Buying a used but reliable 4WD/AWD vehicle [Re: sifan]
skyactiv Offline


Registered: 03/02/13
Posts: 4394
Loc: The Midwest
You could get a set of dedicated wheels with winter tires and install them as needed to keep the wear down.
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