Reader Question: Fix the $4-Runner?

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Heres’ the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Greg asks: In your last appearance on the Tom Woods show, Tom asked you about what kind of vehicles we should try to buy at this time. Your reply was specific to Dodge V8 vehicles and you suggested get those because they won’t make them anymore with that engine. I’m guessing the same applies to keeping the V8 vehicles we own, which bring me to my 2004 V8 4runner. I’ve done a bit of research and people seem to be pretty solid on the car. Mine has just over 200,000 but recently got some problems when I took it to the dealer to run a diagnostic (the suspension system was acting weird and making noises). They found about $15,000 worth of repairs. Is it worth it at this point to put that much money into this vehicle? The 4runner is paid off and I actually have the money saved up to turn it into an overlanding rig, but this would wipe out almost all of it. Here’s the summary of the report:

Replace the transfer case actuator (it’s had a small leak which I’ve known about for over a year) – ~$4,000.
Front Sway bar links replacement – ~$500.
Tires – ~$1,000
Replace the suspension system (I’ve wanted to do this anyway) ~ $6,000…

For the suspension system they currently have an aftermarket ICON suspension with a three inch lift. I don’t know anything about ICON but looked into it and seems like a decent, middle of the road option. In summary, I want to keep the truck, turn it into an overlander and have money to put into it.  The V8 that is in demand is a big driving force behind this.  Am I on the right track here and is this worth it?

My reply: I think it’s worth it to drive as fast as you can away from that dealer! $500 to replace $35 (see here) sway bar bushings? $4k for a$200 (see here) transfer case actuator? Holy Johnson Rod! Replace the entire suspension system? As opposed to replacing the worn components?

I urge you to find an honest independent mechanic – who will probably be able to fix what needs to be fixed for half to a third less than what the dealer is hoping you’ll pay. The 4Runner is a very rugged/sturdy vehicle and well worth putting money into.

I just wouldn’t put money into that dealer’s pockets!

. . .

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  1. 15 grand. What a croc. Guess they’re importing everything from Japan at those prices. Or more likely they just don’t want to work on it, so they throw that quote at you to get you to walk away or buy a new car. Agreed with others, find an independent shop.

  2. Yep. Never bring an out-of-warranty to a dealership…especially an old vehicle. They’ll have a field day, at ridiculously inflated prices…and likely won’t even address many of the real issues, while replacing things that don’t even need replacing but which are just out of *new condition* spec.

    Find a small one or two person shop…you’ll get a different opinion, and make the vehicle much better for a third of the price. For $15K, you could essentially restore the entire vehicle…..


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