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Light Overland Vehicle Tech Tech issues, tips and hints, prepping for travel
Under 3500kg vehicles, e.g. Land Cruiser, Land Rover, Subaru etc.
Photo by Ellen Delis, Lagunas Ojos del Campo, Antofalla, Catamarca

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Ellen Delis,
Lagunas Ojos del Campo,
Antofalla, Catamarca



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  • 1 Post By eurasiaoverland
  • 1 Post By MichaelAngelo

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  #1  
Old 10 Apr 2018
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Fixing a 500,000 km 4 Runner vs buying an older 2000 era Subaru Forester?

I'm located in Toronto and I'd like to ship the car to Norway and start my trip through Russia and the Stans from there.

Unfortunately, I'm at the time where my current vehicle... a 1997 4 Runner with over 500,000km is in need of about 5k in repairs.

I'm considering spending 5-10k on an older Forester with less km... but unsure of their reliability. Especially the prospect of taking a newly acquired used car on a 20,000km road trip. Sounds risky.

Unfortunately, I find myself dead set on driving manual transmission and this cuts out a lot of vehicle purchasing options in North America .

Suggestions?
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  #2  
Old 10 Apr 2018
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I take it that you know the 4 runner very well, and can identify those things that may well fail in the next 20,000 miles? If so, then that is your best option - replace all those things that may well fail. This way you have a vehicle you know well and have faith that it will do the job.

If you don't know either vehicle well then ... time to learn. Which one will be more reliable .. ask mechanicS (get more than one) for their thoughts - do mention the trip so they have context. Then learn that vehicle.
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  #3  
Old 13 Apr 2018
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A Forester is great, but a 4 Runner (in normal condition) is better I think.

More importantly, I think you have more chance to find spare parts for a 4 Runner than for a Subaru.

What kind of engine is in the 4Runner and why is the 5k in repairs needed?
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  #4  
Old 14 Apr 2018
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warin View Post
I take it that you know the 4 runner very well, and can identify those things that may well fail in the next 20,000 miles? If so, then that is your best option - replace all those things that may well fail. This way you have a vehicle you know well and have faith that it will do the job.

If you don't know either vehicle well then ... time to learn. Which one will be more reliable .. ask mechanicS (get more than one) for their thoughts - do mention the trip so they have context. Then learn that vehicle.
Unfortunately I have deferred judgement over the past 10 or so years to the mechanic that I do know well. He says at this point I could blow a piston or gasket even if we fix up the rest of the issues and doesn't recommend repairing the 4 runner.

Perhaps a 2nd or 3rd opinion is in order like you mentioned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lovetheworld View Post
A Forester is great, but a 4 Runner (in normal condition) is better I think.

More importantly, I think you have more chance to find spare parts for a 4 Runner than for a Subaru.

What kind of engine is in the 4Runner and why is the 5k in repairs needed?
It's a V6 with around 550,000 km. Amazing it's made it this far, but it's been regularly maintained. I brought it in for a whining noise which is apparently the water pump going and timing belt. The alternator is apparently going as well, but the car still starts fine.

It also needs new tires with is irrelevant because any newer vehicle I get would need new tires.

I'm just hesitant to spend money on a car that already has this amount of mileage. Wonder how far these old 4 runners can go.
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  #5  
Old 14 Apr 2018
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20k km is not that far, so chances of anything major going wrong with a given engine are not too great. On the other hand, your mechanic is right: there are lots of potential points of failure in an engine with that many miles on it, and there's no way to check them all out or do preventative maintenance--not for $5000, not for any amount. Even a complete engine rebuild will leave transmission and rest of drivetrain, suspension, steering, electrical and electronic systems, cooling, etc. etc. etc. vulnerable.

You'll decide about the Suburu, probably based on whether you can find parts and have repairs done in the places you're going. You probably already know that Foresters are pretty reliable, run for long distances, and manage difficult conditions well. Again, 20,000 km is not a long distance in the general scheme of things.

If I were you I'd be questioning myself closely about the need to limit myself to manual transmissions. If you're determined to bring a vehicle from North America, you've eliminated virtually all the possibilities before even getting started. That had better be pretty important to you, because it's going to have a huge effect on everything--preparation, budgeting, levels of anxiety during the trip itself, resale value, and more. I might even think about buying a vehicle in Europe, where manual transmissions are far more common (but I don't know much about how that might work, so take with a grain of salt).

Hope that's helpful.

Mark
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  #6  
Old 14 Apr 2018
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Originally Posted by markharf View Post
You'll decide about the Suburu, probably based on whether you can find parts and have repairs done in the places you're going. You probably already know that Foresters are pretty reliable, run for long distances, and manage difficult conditions well. Again, 20,000 km is not a long distance in the general scheme of things.
Thanks for the reply Mark.

I'm unsure if the forester offers good enough ground clearance for some of the roads in Russia and Mogolia? Sounds like a lot of members here take quite beefy modded 4x4s.

Wondering if anyone can comment on the suitability of a smaller SUV for the road conditions between Russia and Mongolia.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
I might even think about buying a vehicle in Europe, where manual transmissions are far more common (but I don't know much about how that might work, so take with a grain of salt).
It doesn't seem possible to register a vehicle purchased as a foreigner in a different country unless there's some sort of address I can provide in that country. If anyone knows otherwise, please do let me know!

Last edited by MichaelAngelo; 14 Apr 2018 at 21:41.
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  #7  
Old 15 Apr 2018
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A search on this site will fill you in on some options for local registration by foreign nationals. Addresses are easy to come by, particularly if you're willing to just flat out ask for one once you've figured out what you'd like to do. When researching bear in mind that anything workable for motorbikes will also apply to cars and trucks.
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  #8  
Old 6 May 2018
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How many kilometres does the Forester have? Generally Subarus are pretty sound cars and the first-gen was excellent. The 2.0L motor isn't a bad jigger but it is pretty gutless, though in saying that they are very reliable; the occasional one will start to play up with oil leaks around the 250,000km mark, by virtue of being a boxer design. Otherwise they are solid engines. They have a timing belt, so make sure that's been done as needed at a minimum. Gearboxes are OK because they don't make a lot of torque, and while it won't be as good off-road as a 4Runner, they still have low-range and their lightweight is very advantageous too.

Surely $5k on a 500,000km 4Runner is much more than the car is worth? The benefit of taking a Toyota anywhere is spare parts are probably going to be easier to come by than for a Subaru...

So, all that said, any decision yet on going forward?
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  #9  
Old 9 May 2018
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Those issues mentioned for the 4runner should not cost you 5,000 dollars.

Why not do some of the simple stuff like alternator yourself, pay a mechanic to do what you can't, and spend as little as possible? Then you can use the 4runner in Eurasia and find a way to leave it there when finished. Save yourself a couple grand shipping it back. And lets face it, with that mileage, you are not going to sell it for much money in Canada.

With a good look over, I wouldn't be afraid to take the 4runner. (I own one too)
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  #10  
Old 11 May 2018
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I just completed a 43,000 kilometre trip across Russia and back in midwinter in a specially equipped 4Runner. It's the simpler, lighter 2.7 4 Cyl which is an awesome engine, and a manual transmission.

The only thing I would check on the 4Runner are the front ball joints in the suspension.

Changing a water pump is not a big deal - you probably want to do the timing belt while you're at it. The alternator may need nothing more than a new brush pack, but if the copper slip rings are badly worn, it'll need a new rotor (change the front bearing while you're at it).

I fully overhauled mine before leaving as it was basically ready to be scrapped when I bought it (a petrol with a manual transmission is extremely rare in Europe).

Here's a pic on the Lena River Ice Road this February:



Now I've never driven a Subaru Forester but it looks like it's basically a 4WD road car, so not as strong as something like a 4Runner. But then you don't necessarily need the 4Runner's extra clearance in Russia / Central Asia. It just expands the limits of what you can do.

I've driven my friend's Impreza STi and it feels nothing like Toyota quality; notchy gearbox, flimsy rear suspension and horrible fuel economy. But that's a sports car, maybe the Forester is different.

I'm looking for a LHD 4Runner shell (mine's a RHD Japanese import) so if it did blow up over here, I'd buy it off you as I want to keep my engine, transmission, suspension and drive-line

EO
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  #11  
Old 13 May 2018
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@EO, well, there are 4runners for sale in Europe too. Not a lot, but half the time they come with the diesels, which means 4 cilinders, which means gearbox and stuff to match your 3RZ engine. The v6 versions usually have a much different gearbox, and final gear ratios that are completely different.

If you ever have a spare difflock lying around, let me know
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  #12  
Old 1 Aug 2018
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Update of what I ended up doing:

Ended up buying a great condition 2010 Nissan Xterra locally with factory diff locker and skid plates (very glad to have these based on some of the Kyrgyzstan back-roads I decided to take).

Unfortunately at the time I wasn't aware this vehicle does not exist on this side of the planet. I cracked rear leaf springs in Kazakhstan and needed my family to ship the replacement parts to Almaty. This was an unfortunate inconvenience of poor research in the availability of nissan parts on this side.

If i was to do it again i'd definitely look for a 4 runner or car with parts on this end. Maybe one day I'll bring way less stuff and try and buy a Lada Niva hahaha.

4 weeks to go and hopefully nothing else breaks that needs to be shipped from Canada.
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  #13  
Old 1 Aug 2018
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Originally Posted by MichaelAngelo View Post
Update of what I ended up doing:

Ended up buying a great condition 2010 Nissan Xterra locally with factory diff locker and skid plates (very glad to have these based on some of the Kyrgyzstan back-roads I decided to take).

Unfortunately at the time I wasn't aware this vehicle does not exist on this side of the planet. I cracked rear leaf springs in Kazakhstan and needed my family to ship the replacement parts to Almaty. This was an unfortunate inconvenience of poor research in the availability of nissan parts on this side.

If i was to do it again i'd definitely look for a 4 runner or car with parts on this end. Maybe one day I'll bring way less stuff and try and buy a Lada Niva hahaha.

4 weeks to go and hopefully nothing else breaks that needs to be shipped from Canada.
OK, well you live and learn

Not sure about the Niva... I was travelling with some Finnish friends who were driving a Niva across Russia and Mongolia a few years ago. The Niva kept eating wheel bearings, eventually they had to ditch it in Mongolia. Nice design but very poor component quality.
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Last edited by eurasiaoverland; 1 Aug 2018 at 19:34.
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  #14  
Old 1 Aug 2018
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Just saw your thread and I had some (late) input about the Forester (especially the 2.0 turbo as it's my daily driver). The ground clearance may not have been confortable for Mongolia, but I saw some locals crossing rivers in toyota prius with more ease than me with my bike so...And as said previously, the 2.0 is not torquey as a Xterra might be, especially if you don't get the turbo. Regardless, it's pretty easy to fix and fiddle with, the boxer design is easy to understand and you've got clearance around the engine to work on it.
Anyway, I think for travel, you might be better off with the extra space available in an Xterra : I can only squeeze a 90cm wide matress in the back when I fold the backseats...
Have fun in the 'Stans !
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