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Easiest 4x4 to repair & rely on?

Hello, CarTalk gurus,

I’m going to be using a car to get through Alpine snow and drive on unmaintained dirt roads. My mechanical background is currently poor, but I plan on working on this. Can you suggest a 4x4 to buy? Obviously it’s preferable to have a high differential joint (a la 4Runner or FJ Runner), good center of gravity, and above average gas mileage. The main thing is to be able to fix this thing when something breaks – and it should happen as infrequently as possible. This is only the beginning of my research – I won’t be buying tomorrow!

Thanks very much!

Are you saying that YOU’RE going to be fixing it??

I have a 4runner with over 180k miles on it…Nothing broke yet…Just normal Maintenance (oil changes, spark-plugs, filters, tranny fluid, brakes and a couple of head-lights)…and that’s it…So it’s very reliable…and the maintenance items are very very easy to do. Haven’t had to deal with any failures, so can’t say how those would be to repair.

Also had good luck with my 90 and 98 Pathfinders also…Both went well over 300k miles…with less then $3000k in repairs total.

Where, exactly, will you be using this vehicle?

Id stay away from the FJ. Ive owned many 90’s model toyota trucks and find them very dependable and easy to work on.
I currently drive a Jeep Cherokee and one thing i like over the older 4 runner is more power and a lower center of gravity.
My guess is your going with a newer vehicle. My experiences are all with 90’s model

The 95 Cherokee water pump was the easiest ive changed of any vehicle.

Theres my 2 cents :slight_smile:

Much obliged! (Keep the ideas coming!)

I’ll be using the car in the West (Sierra mostly), but I’ve had plenty of snow experience living up in Vermont.

Actually, it’ll be an older-model 4x4. 1990s might be the way to go. Just can’t afford the up-front financial outlay of a recent vehicle. Which leads directly to the issue – I’ll be doing as much routine maintenance on it myself as possible.

Sad to hear about the FJ. It’s really grown on me. Glad to know the 4Runner has a solid rep.

I’m with Badbearing. I bought an 88 Cherokee (last year for AMC), about 5 years ago for 250 bucks, & I’m still driving it daily. Most repairs are pretty simple, & in my opinion, the 4.0 l straight six is bulletproof. 233,00 miles on mine.

I would suggest at least researching a Suzuki Vitara/Geo Tracker. You mention nothing about budget.

My father has a early 1990’s 4runner with 3.0 V6 and it had headgasket replaced twice on Toyota dime and once on his own. There is a defect in the design. It was corrected with larger motor.

Another vehicle that fits this bill well is Jeep Cherokee. The most recent ones built around 2000 were most reliable as Jeep had 14 years to figure this vehicle to a tee.