2005 4runner worth it?

Hey guys,

I joined the forum to help diagnose a problem with my previous car, and you were all super helpful. I really enjoyed the experience of bouncing ideas around and just getting to chat with the community.

I’m now in the market for a new car, and I’ve found a 2005 4runner for sale in my area, and the owner is asking $5500. Some info on the car:

2005 4runner Sport Utility SR5:

  • 220000 miles
  • Damage to front and back bumpers
  • Peeling paint on hood
  • Might need struts, timing chain, and likely head gasket within 20,000 miles
  • New tires

I have no clue about frame rust, but I intend to look when I test drive the vehicle tomorrow. I’d like to assume it’s just surface rust, but I won’t know for sure until tomorrow.

The owner is selling because they no longer need 2 cars since both him and his wife work from home.

I plan to offer $4000 assuming everything above is true, but that can change if the rust is severe or if I notice any other issues.

I need a 4x4 for light off-roading, snow, and hunting land access. I’d prefer not to have the V8 because of gas prices, but oh well.

Anyways, how does this price sound for a vehicle like this? 4runners are hot right now, so it seems like a decent deal.

Which engine is in this 4Runner? If it is the V6, it does not have a timing belt. If it is the V8, it does have a timing belt.
We own a 2003 4Runner which has been trouble free, although it only has 90,000 miles. I have had the struts replaced. Our 4Runner has the V6 with selectable 4 wheel drive.
As with any used car, the maintenance it has had through the years is most important.

In my part of the world, around $4000 is about right in terms of price.

However, personally, I’d be subtracting something for the possible struts, timing chain, and head gasket repairs. Timing chains generally last the life of the engine; what makes you think it needs to be replaced? Or do you mean timing belt?

And why do you suspect the head gasket is about to fail?

I’d have a mechanic check it over before buying it, and then go from there. It would concern me that you already know about some pretty expensive repair items.

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That price ($5500) seems decent if it doesn’t need a timing belt and a head gasket replaced, has less than 200k miles, and everything (AC, 4wd, etc) is functioning. My opinion only, I may be too picky in today’s market.

@ledhed75 @Triedaq

It is the V8, and I meant to say timing belt, my bad.

I suspect the head gasket simply because that is a really common issue with 4th gen 4runners. Could be paranoia, but I just wanna prepare for the worst.

The owner voiced that the suspension is a bit rough, so that is why I planned on looking into new struts. I would likely put on a set with about 2-3" of lift just for extra clearance.

I don’t think the car “needs” struts or a head gasket yet, but I just want to keep in mind the things I may have to replace in the near future, as a bit of insurance.

I also agree that his original price is at the high end of fair.

$5500 for a 16-year old SUV with high miles, rust, and body damage, which runs perfectly? Sure. $5500 for a 16-year old SUV with high miles, rust, and body damage, which needs new struts, timing chain, and head gaskets? GTFOH. Seller is dreaming.

Even in today’s overpriced used car market, there are still vehicles for sale for less money with less mileage and less problems. I would consider a Dodge Grand Caravan, or its cheaper twin, the VW Routan, before I’d consider this.


I wouldn’t worry too much about fuel economy. There’s only a 1 MPG difference between the V6 4WD and V8 4WD models. I get that used car prices are up, but this thing sounds pretty rough. Doesn’t sound like the previous owner really cared about it’s upkeep or has decided to unload it instead performing repairs/expensive maintenance. Unless you absolutely need a vehicle right now, I’d wait another 4-6 months to see if the market evens out. If it needs new struts, timing belt, and a head gasket, that’s a couple grand right off the bat. You’re probably going end up spending $8k-$9k overall to get this thing reliable. Might be better off seeing what $8k-$9k can buy you from the begining rather than spending $5k for the 4 Runner and then another $4k to sort out it’s mechanical issues.

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That wouldn’t work for what the OP needs, though:

That said, I agree with everyone who’s said that $5,500 is too much…

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@pyrolord314 @FoDaddy @bcohen2010

I assume rust because I’m in the Denver area in addition to the rust problem that is typical of 4th gen 4runners.

You guys all seem to be mirroring my opinions. I think I’m still somewhat interested because I’ve always liked the look of them and the roomy interior would come in handy for car camping, stuffing friends into the car, etc. Toyota also has such a good rep for reliability, so I also want to believe that this car will last much longer.

The only issue that I actually know of is cosmetic damage and possibly struts. All other “issues” are purely suspicion since those are typical issues of that year model.

I could also be way overthinking it, and my backup idea has just been to get a little old truck and throw a camper top on the bed lol

When any vehicle has been driven for 200k–or more–miles, the way that it has been driven and the way that it has been maintained by the previous owners (in 16 years, there could easily have been several owners) is far more important than the vehicle manufacturer’s “rep”.

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If the seller can’t SHOW you a receipt for the last timing belt change with the mileage and the date, you MUST change it the week after you buy it. 90K OR 6 years whichever comes FIRST. This is an interference engine from what I read. Keep that in mind when negotiating price.

If the frame has just “surface” rust you won’t be able to poke a small screwdriver through it anywhere. Bring one along and poke it in the ugliest spots. Body rust is cosmetic, frame rust-through is a BIG NO-GO.

Smell the dipstick, gasoline smell is bad. Look at and smell the ATF fluid, brown with a burnt smell is bad. The coolant should be bright, not brown and oily. The brake fluid should not look like brown sludge.

We don’t know the market where you live so $5000 might be OK, might not. Check KBB.com or Edmunds or Autotrader for comparable prices near you. You’ll know if this is a good price or not.

If you are OK with the cosmetics, great. Ugly drops the price for most people. Just don’t admit you don’t care how it looks.

Maybe an aftermarket front and rear bumper and Rhino-Liner on the hood would pretty it up a bit.

Good Luck


Will the 4Runner be your only vehicle? Will you be using this vehicle to commute to work? If so, how many miles is it to work and back?
The 4Runner is a great off road vehicle and we have also found the 4Runner comfortable on long road trips. The 4Runner is good in snow. My wife was a university administrator. When the university was closed for snow, the students and faculty didn’t have to be there. My wife, as a professional administrator didn’t have to be at work, but her staff either had to be at work or lose a vacation day. Mrs. Triedaq didn’t think that was fair, so she would put the 4Runner in four wheel drive, and go pick up the staff that reported to her.
Think about how you would use a 4Runner. Is it going to be your only vehicle? In my opinion, this should be your first consideration.

@Triedaq @Mustangman @VDCdriver

You all make excellent points.

This would not be a “primary” car in the sense that one of us would be driving it constantly. If either me of my wife were to drive it, it would be her. Her commute is 2.5 miles, while mine is closer to 20. I would use it only when heading out to the mountains, where I would expect to be on dirt roads/trails for camping or hunting.

I will still go see the vehicle tomorrow and go through all of the inspection points you suggested @Mustangman and see what happens. If everything looks great, I’ll keep my original offer. If not, then I’ll pass or offer way less than he would ever take lol. We’ll see!

Thanks for the info everyone, and I’ll keep you all posted with updates!

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$4000 for a 16 year old piece of junk on its last legs? I think you’re ( I’m trying to think of a polite word for crazy).


But would that apply to this one , I think not .

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I would not put my wife in this thing to drive around the block . Have you even asked her what she thought ?

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@old_mopar_guy @VOLVO-V70

Your frank speech has helped push me back into my senses. I think I’m gonna compromise on the cool factor of the 4runner, and just get something cheaper, less miles, with more reliability.


When you find something you like, check it out as @Mustangman said. If you still like it, pay a mechanic you trust to inspect it before purchase. It’s worth a good going over with professional tools and on a lift to find out what’s wrong. If you still want the truck, adjust the offer down from the asking price with anything you found in the prepurchase inspection.

I would be worried about the frame rust and rot. Toyota trucks have been known for it. there are frame recalls for other Toyota trucks, but not the 4 runner. just class action lawsuits.

@jakeenloe25 I went through something similar over 20 years ago. I always wanted an MG Midget. A family owned reputable dealer from whom I had purchased a car in the past, had an MG Midget that needed body work and a clutch for $700. I went to the dealership to look at the MG. The two brothers were busy with customers, but their mother who managed the business, gave me the keys to the MG Midget and said to go start it up. She then said, “If you can get into the MG, we might just give it to you”. I went out, got into the MG, and started the engine. The woman then came out and said, “I hope you can get out or you will have to buy the car”. I almost had to buy the MG it was so hard for me to get out. I am sure Mrs. Triedaq would have had a fit if I brought the MG home and would have said “Why do we need that piece of junk”.