Later year or lower miles??

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Later year or lower miles??

Postby Stevets [OP] » August 13th 2018, 6:38pm

Hello! I WILL be buying an AWD Astro or Safari very soon. I've been "overlanding" in a 4Runner for several years and need more room. I love the size, durability, simplicity and capabilities of the Astro/Safari and this community is a total bonus!!
So my question ( and this is always one of the questions when buying a used vehicle) : am I better off with a low mileage vehicle or a later model year. Were there any great improvements made in a particular year that make the choice a no brainer? If I find a 1998 and a 2003 both with 95000 miles, is the 2003 necessarily better?
I've been reading up on these and have yet to find anything that definitively answers the question.
I will be installing a lift and there seems to be some variations there that are determined by year.

Any comments will be appreciated and I hope I can be a useful member here!
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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby CopperFiremistCopperFiremist is online! » August 13th 2018, 7:16pm

Get the 2003!
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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby WinnieVan » August 13th 2018, 7:20pm

Get the 03 -- disc brakes all around!
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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby TurnNburn » August 13th 2018, 7:37pm

whichever is cheaper, then drop the money you saved into replacing all of the wear and tear stuff
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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby WimpTech » August 13th 2018, 7:42pm

03-05 is GEN3, better fuel injection, disc brakes like WV said and beefier underneath. I would even pay a little more for one.
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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby AstroWill » August 13th 2018, 8:23pm

Not any different in the lifts between the two. But yes, they did get better as time went on and I would go for the gen3 as well. List of changes: https://sites.google.com/site/astrosafa ... enerations

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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby 1lowcab » August 13th 2018, 8:33pm

03-05 baby!!

And welcome to the forums.
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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby WinnieVan » August 13th 2018, 11:31pm

TurnNburn wrote:whichever is cheaper, then drop the money you saved into replacing all of the wear and tear stuff


I think TNB offers a good point of view here... there probably is a premium for the '03 over the '97 but if that premium is $2000, then I'd also go with the '97.

I honestly don't think that premium would be that much, however.
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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby gavio » August 14th 2018, 12:22am

They are all old enough that they are gonna be needing things.... And then later they will need more things....

If all factors were equal then the newer vans do have some nice improvements.... But all factors are pretty much never equal...

I would get the one that is the better van - better maintained, better condition, more of the features or upgrades you personally want your van equipped with, whatever...
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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby Stevets [OP] » August 14th 2018, 2:51am

Thanks for the comments. 3rd Gen 4Runners have dicey brakes so I'm familiar with the associated problems and discs are easy to service. 03 -05 it is!
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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby srdragonusa » August 14th 2018, 5:00am

I have an 03 awd and I LOVE IT! That said I wouldn't mind a 1st Gen rwd to have fun with.
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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby Meterpig » August 15th 2018, 12:15pm

The 03-06 has Chevy 1500 brakes..not just disc brakes all around. It stops like a beast. The rear axle shafts are also larger. The only downside can be the electrical gremlins in the newer rigs for power door locks and windows. Either way, any astro will make a fine mechanic out of you.
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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby icebrrg3rd » August 15th 2018, 6:11pm

Living up here in the rust belt, I would say the less rust the better. Many ads say "No Rust" but a quick look at key areas and you find it. Rockers are a common place, and behind the plastic cladding is another. If you're planning on fixing it up and keeping it for a while I strongly recommend finding a rust-free one. You'll be :banghead: when spend a bunch of $$$ on upgrades just to have it rust out from under you.

03-05 for 4 wheel discs & 6-lug wheels
'98 and earlier are mechanical AWD (IIRC)
'90 was the first year for AWD

Good luck finding one.

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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby tank2 » August 15th 2018, 6:31pm

I went with a '98, because it was low miles (42,000), high top, AWD, and low rust. All very hard things to find in Ontario, Canada. It really didn't matter much to me mechanically, because I planned all along to rebuild everything a little tougher anyway. And I like the older AWD better. That said, it would be nice to have rear disc brakes.
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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby WinnieVan » August 16th 2018, 12:18am

Nice find! Pics pics pics!
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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby SportsBoy » August 16th 2018, 3:38am

Unfortunately tank's not the OP Winnie

I think a huge factor is the rust as Andrew mentioned - rust just sucks.
98 and earlier awd's have the bw4472 tcase, which is better for sure (imo), but the np136 on the 99 and up vans is an easier 4x4 swap

So... I guess, if you want to keep it awd, consider 98 and earlier. If you think you'd do 4x4 go 03-05 (because 99-02 you get the worse tcase without the 03 upgrades so not really ideal...)
Of course, mileage, rust, and maintenance records are all v important.
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Re: Later year or lower miles??

Postby WinnieVan » August 16th 2018, 4:53am

Oh doh. Good eye on that one.


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