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Old 09-28-2014, 11:39 AM   #1
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New to 4x4. Need advise on reliable winter SUV.

Hey everyone, I've been in the import tuner scene for a little while now and am comfortable with sport cars, however I'm a complete noob to 4x4's and SUV's.

Originally I was going to put winter rims/tires on my Lexus for the winter, but when pricing it out it would cost me ~$1500. So I figured why not spend a few hundred more and just buy a winter 4x4 instead?
I'm looking to spend no more than $2k (less is better, Im a student) and want to buy something that I can bomb around in during the rain, and take it snowboarding the odd weekend, etc.
I started out looking at early 00 Explorers but were told to stay away from those. I know 4runners are the way to go, but the late 99's and early 00's are way outta my price range. I've been told that Cherokee's are fairly solid, but the few 99-01 Grand Cherokee's I've looked at in my price range felt like garbage (4x4 not working, having to hold the steering wheel at a 45degree angle just to make the car drive straight, etc). I've seen a few early 00 Nissan Xterra's in my price range, but not sure about their reliability.

So what is a good 4x4 to go with that wont be a money pit? Should I hold out and wait for a nice 4runner or Grand Cherokee? Am I kidding myself if I think I'm going to find a decent 2000ish year 4x4 for under $2k?
School me!
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Old 09-28-2014, 11:59 AM   #2
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Well .. if you're gonna go for a cherokee that cheap it'll probably be high mileage. If it's high mileage shy away from the 4.7L and go for the 4.0L i6 -- they're more reliable in the longterm (though my 4.7 hasn't given me any issues -- then again it's pretty low mileage still)

The 45 degree angle steering is a cheap fix -- tie rod ends are about $20 each and are wear and tear items that almost no one ever bothers fixing. Be careful of the 4wd system on these because if it's not maintained the transfercase goes to shit and is $$$ to repair. If you do get one, you want the laredo -- the limited ones with the automatic HVAC controls are prone to blend door failure, and it's a $2000 fix (having a car without heat isn't that bad .. until its winter and your windows are constantly fogging up)

Also the radiators will fail eventually, and if the engine overheats well ... time to do headgasket (which if you have the 4.7L is $2-3K .. most people just replace the entire engine at this point). Almost all the radiators fail where the plastic shroud meets the metal .. bad design but whattya gonna do.

Try to get one that has a factory tow package as it'll come with upgraded trans cooler + rear recovery points ... if you don't get a tow package one, GG if you get stuck because the only rear recovery point is the axle

Oh .. and axle seals seem to be a problem (hasn't been on mine yet) so look in and around the hub / brakes for any leakage. It's a pain in the ass to fix. Lastly .. if you are getting a ~2000 grand cherokee, try to find out if they got a recall on the front brakes done. Later models swapped front calipers to Akebono which stop a lot better and don't warp / eat up rotors like the older design. A few older jeeps got the recall done, which mean free upgraded front brakes



If I was you, I'd probably go the toyota route -- a lot more reliable, and you can fit almost 33's on stock suspension. You'll be paying ~$2000+ on a good lift kit to get those kinda tires to fit on a WJ without trimming fenders
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Old 09-28-2014, 12:12 PM   #3
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^ awsome, thanks for all that info. Especially on the Cherokee's. I was leaning towards the I6 anyways simply for fuel economy, but I'm glad you say they last longer as well. Seems like the Laredo tow package is what I want. I'm not too worried about mainenace as that will be the case with literally any car, but I just wasnt too sure about the big money repairs (like the transfercase or HVAC that you mentioned).

..I have a few more weeks before my summer tires are completely useless (if even that long), so I got some time to shop around still.

EDIT: How will I know if its a tow package? Do I just look for a tow hook out back? Or..?
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Old 09-28-2014, 01:09 PM   #4
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If it's got the tow package it'll have a hitch on the rear and it'll be inset / moulded into the bumper

like so:


also regardless of what you read, i6 MPG = v8 MPG lol. They're both equally bad on gas


For the brakes, look at the front brakes. If the caliper has retention wires (or whatever the hell they're called) on it, you don't want it:


This is what you want:


note that there's no wires
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Old 09-28-2014, 01:16 PM   #5
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Perfect, pics were a huge help. Thanks again!

Currently looking at this one..
http://vancouver.craigslist.ca/bnc/ctd/4581975367.html
..as it seems to be the only one with a tow package in my price range.
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Old 09-28-2014, 02:13 PM   #6
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^ that Jeep seems to have a little too many kms for me personally.

A coworker of mine had an 08 Jeep and 2 years in already had a bunch of transmission problems.

I'd stay away from Jeeps to be honest.
You can get a tow/hitch installed for not too expensive

Personally for your price range I'd go for a 4Runner like you said, Pathfinder or Xterra. Maybe even a Tacoma?
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Old 09-28-2014, 02:24 PM   #7
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4runner and Tacoma's are definitely out of my price range. And I was told by mutiple people to stay away from Nissans.

Due to my limited budget I'm going to have to settle for something with higher miles, which is why I am asking what I should look out for. Tips like what 'dhillon09' gave me are exactly what I need.

(Btw I know that the newer Cherokees, 05+ do have a lot of issues).
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Old 09-28-2014, 03:02 PM   #8
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Any opinions on this Freelander? I know RangeRovers are garbage but not sure about Freelanders..
landrover freelander 2003 low km
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Old 09-28-2014, 03:43 PM   #9
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freelanders are junk. stay away from them..

what kind of lexus are you currently driving?
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Old 09-28-2014, 03:54 PM   #10
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Ok guess I'll stay away from Landrover entirely lol.
I have a SC400.
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Old 09-28-2014, 04:03 PM   #11
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unless its a show car or slammed right down, just rock it in the winter. all it does is rain here during the winter anyways..
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Old 09-28-2014, 04:16 PM   #12
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Haha not gonna happen man. It's a mint low mileage 1 of 905 built, lowered, Volks, and summer tires. A new set of cheap winter rims with winter tires is gonna run me about $1500 so at that point I might as well just buy another car and keep this one in pristine shape.
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Old 09-28-2014, 05:18 PM   #13
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find a new tire shop, another vehicle will open up another can of worms and expenses, maintenance etc.

I think most economic is fwd civic with winter tires, bonus if you can find awd wagon or Toyota tercel 4x4. 4x4 is overrated for skiing applications.

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Old 09-28-2014, 05:51 PM   #14
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Its not the tire shop. The thing is that I'll need whole new/used 18" rims that will fit over my BBK, and a set of winter tires to go with them. Also if I change the tire size, rim offset, or width I'll have to spend $120 to get it realigned to my current specs - then aligned back to those specs I put my Volks back on for the summer. It'll just be too time consuming and costly to spend $120 for a custom alignment to my exact specs twice a year when I swap out my summer/winter tires.
So there's a few reasons why I'm considering it'll just be easier to buy a winter beater and not have to worry about all that.

^ Thanks for the links though. I'll definitely look into them, but I kinda have my heart set on something a little bigger since the Lexus is a 2+2, it'll be nice to finally have a bigger car for snowboarding, camping, road trips, etc etc.

Seems like I may have to increase my budget a bit for something proper.
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Old 09-28-2014, 08:09 PM   #15
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that makes more sense. In that case 3rd gen 4runner is one of the best bang for buck, especially with a working elocker.
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Old 09-28-2014, 08:15 PM   #16
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elocker + snow =

i'd look at a second gen in good running order or a pickup.

can also wheel them in the summer for camping trips
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Old 09-28-2014, 08:48 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scENFORCER View Post
4runner and Tacoma's are definitely out of my price range. And I was told by mutiple people to stay away from Nissans.

Due to my limited budget I'm going to have to settle for something with higher miles, which is why I am asking what I should look out for. Tips like what 'dhillon09' gave me are exactly what I need.

(Btw I know that the newer Cherokees, 05+ do have a lot of issues).
Cherokees are dirt cheap for a reason. They can be good while they're working, but the key word is "while."

I rocked a 99.5 Pathfinder for winter last year. Bought it cheap off an RS member (only thing that needed to be repaired at the time was the rear shocks, which were pretty cheap). It was pretty damn reliable until my driving style started letting it down. Driving 300km's a day, half of which was often in a minimum of one foot of snow, will do in any car during winter

Not sure if I missed it, but are you planning on driving in a lot of snow during this winter or were you just looking for a winter beater to tool around in the GVRD?
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Old 09-28-2014, 10:47 PM   #18
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It'll mostly be for tooling around the GVRD, I drive pretty aggressively as well. But if I have a capable 4x4 then I'll definitely be using it for trips up to Whistler and interior. I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of that since owning a 4x4 will be new to me and the novelty of being able to take it almost anywhere will be fun.
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Old 09-28-2014, 10:58 PM   #19
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It'll mostly be for tooling around the GVRD, I drive pretty aggressively as well. But if I have a capable 4x4 then I'll definitely be using it for trips up to Whistler and interior. I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of that since owning a 4x4 will be new to me and the novelty of being able to take it almost anywhere will be fun.
To be perfectly honest, you don't need a 4x4/SUV for tackling the S2S and Whistler/Blackcomb. I used to make that trip with a slammed GTI many years ago, no problem. So long as you use a set of good winter tires, any vehicle will be fine for that sort of trip.

However, if you're looking at doing trips further North or East into the Interior, especially if you plan on driving Hwy3/5/97, then consider a 4x4. But, to be honest, a set of good mountain rated tires and chains thrown in the trunk will be a better way to spend money for those sort of trips than picking up a four wheel drive. Only real reason why I had my Pathfinder was because I lived at the top of an unplowed mountain road and constantly came across two feet of snow while driving up it.
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Old 09-29-2014, 10:32 AM   #20
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3rd gen 4Runner all day!! But since your budget won't allow it try looking at Classic Cherokee's(the boxy ones). They can be had for cheap and the i6 4.0L is very reliable as others have mentioned.
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Old 09-29-2014, 03:23 PM   #21
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I'm debating increasing my budget so I can try to get into a 4runner.
There's a few cheaper ones out there that I hope I can negotiate down into the $2500-3000 range..
2000 Toyota 4Runner
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Toyota 4Runner... ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
2000 4runner
..but damn thats some crazy high Km's on some of these lol
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Old 09-29-2014, 04:23 PM   #22
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^4runners are pretty stout -- I have friends that have had them since new with now over 400,000 kms on it
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Old 09-29-2014, 05:32 PM   #23
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Theres a guy my my group whos almost at 700 or 800,000 km lol
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:22 AM   #24
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What's wrong with pathfinders? Strut towers corroding? Open the hood and check the wheel wells. Its pretty obvious if its bad. I drive a 2001 pathfinder with 300km on the original motor and transmission. I use it to pull a boat/trailer in the summer and snowboarding all over BC in the winter, sometimes pulling a trailer in the winter also. 4runners are great and all ( I had a 94) but they're pretty damn expensive when compared to everything else.
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:27 AM   #25
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I wouldn't be too worried about mileage as long as the timing belt service has been done and the frame isn't rusted. Also, do a CarProof. Everything else you can eyeball and discover on a test drive. I prefer to deal with private parties as then tend to have some service records.

To put it in perspective, I search for 8 months for a 99-00 Limited(I wanted the multi-mode) and finally scored a 2000 Limited, original owner, e-locker, and 204,000kms with all service records and scored it for $6500. Other ones that I was considering were all in the $9K range. The deals come up from time to time, you just have to be patient.
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