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90 Series Prado, not been maintained

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  • 90 Series Prado, not been maintained

    Hey all, I'm new here and to buying a 4WD. I have a family friend who has a 1999 Prado Grande with the 3.4 V6 sitting in their drive way that I am thinking of buying off them. It does run, but it has trouble changing gear (or I'm told has trouble getting over 40km/h) (suspected low oil in auto box), and the brakes are fairly shot. I know it has had the major services, but the owner has skipped all the little services inbetween. It's done about 280k, and barley used off road, mostly as the family run about. I was wondering if anyone has been able to bring these back from the dead (assuming theirs no metal in the oil, or the engine hasn't been starved)? I know these cars are tough, but can the engine handle missing services.

    Thanks all

  • #2
    Hi and welcome
    I would steer clear ,missing services means a neglected car and accelerated engine wear, the auto is most likely buggered running them without proper fluid levels will do damage ,
    Plenty of better kept 90s around -


    • #3
      Agree with brissy 100%, heaps around that have good service history and running as they should. Sounds like it will turn into a money pit. As brissy said engine wear due to lack of oil changes will kill it if it hasn't already, new engine, new transmission, will soon cost you double compared to one that's up and running and been treated as it should have been.....If treated right and serviced as required will see these engines do over 500 thou without any drama's obviously except the usual stuff like water pump, alternators etc but the block and heads them selves will go the distance, While there a tad on thirsty side there reliable...Cheers Steve
      Face lift 150 Prado V6 auto. No mods yet


      • #4
        Whereabouts are you? Australia is pretty broad. There are a few guys around who could look at the 90 and give you an honest opinion.
        My 150 build -


        • #5
          Our Prado was fairly well neglected before I got my hands onto it. It does have a bunch of small problems that I'm slowly working my way through, but at the end of the day... Mechanically it's all recoverable.

          But as for the one you're looking at... well, price weighs in a bit and also how much of the work you can do yourself. If you need a mechanic to do much of the work for you, it could be better of avoiding it.


          • #6
            I'm in western sydney, the hills district. I'm mainly looking at it as a cheap car, they want about $1000 but i think I can get them under that. To give a bit more background i'm moving out west soon (wagga wagga) And would like to start offroading. I had a look around and used auto boxes are $2000ish for one out of a wreck if it comes to it, which I can put in myself if it comes to it. (Personally i'd like a manual but can't have everything). I'm hoping to get it running if I can all up for under $5000.


            • #7
              If it's 1000$ buy it ! It's pretty hard to do serious damage from neglect on these motors unless it's had no oil in it
              Box not going above 40ish is probly low oil , but why is it low on oil ??? Top it up with oil an see what it does
              Parts are getting cheaper by the day for the 90s now


              • #8
                Face lift 150 Prado V6 auto. No mods yet


                • #9
                  Are there any other issues due to the neglect?

                  If not, $1000 or less sounds like a good starting point providing its not a basket case.

                  Can you get a mechanic to check out the box? As you said you can always throw in one from a wrecker and that can be overhauled before it goes in.

                  All the usual stuff like brake pads, rotors, wheel bearings, CV joints, suspension, water pump, alternator, starter motor, etc, etc are things that need attention on a high mileage vehicle anyway.


                  • #10
                    Being a 95 series you can wack some trannie oil down the dipstick hole. Do whats required which is bring up to correct operating temp first, while sitting still run it from park to 1st back upto park then check the level with engine idling. Add 250ml at a time so you don't over fill it and keep checking after each addition following the same procedure, make sure its off when you add the fluid.....then when at correct level take it for a run and see what happens....Will give you a bit of an indication. In saying that not sure why the level would be low anyway unless it dripping/leaking it out ?? IS the oil that's in there now pink/red or brown dark brown ?? What about radiator ?? any coolant in it or just straight water ?? Even if its always had oil in it, if it hasn't been changed it will turn to sludge and the motor will eventually be screwed. It will cook itself to all the internals. I have seen a crank in a corolla absolutely scored to buggery from lack of oil changes (my sisters) Their not like the old 202 holdens and fords, valiants etc that had huge tolerances and you could get away with it even though the oild wasn't as good as these days, current motors have such fine tolerances they need fresh flowing oil, coolant etc to keep them singing sweetly.....Cheers Steve
                    Face lift 150 Prado V6 auto. No mods yet


                    • #11
                      I'm going tomorrow to check it out thoroughly, but from a quick glance over I did yesterday the bodies in extremly good nick, not a scratch. The interior is fairly worn (they had 5 kids climbing in and out of it), but as its just me, this doesn't phase me. I was also told some of the electric windows are faulty, but thats nothing urgent and I can fix it on my uni break (when I'm not working which seems to be never). If i can get it to work reliably, I'm not to fussed with interior wear and the like, I plan to take it camping and offroading anyway, so it will get a few scratches and dings. Thanks all for the advice, I'll let you know how it goes


                      • #12
                        A good body is a great start - something you can't restore easily.

                        Take particular attention to the engine. Whilst transmissions and transfers are quite easy to replace from the second hand / wrecking market ($500-800 parts only) - the engines are not. The engines tend to get shipped overseas very quickly.
                        glen_ep - engineered, 4" lift, 33" 255/85R16, lockers, 4.88 ratios


                        • #13
                          I have a 90 in the driveway - soon to put in my father in law's driveway. Its mechanically perfect I think. The belt is due in perhaps 40k - its now a time thing ...

                          But its worth about $4k.

                          So, I would not buy a crook one for $1,000. IMO its better to spend $4 to $5k and buy a good one. There must be lots like mine. Mine is a one owner. Look for a one owner, or one bought with a couple of years from the original owner.

                          A good body, that it drives well, that is idles perfectly, has great performance etc etc and goes well on a mechanical appraisal.

                          As far as that one goes - how much is a tranny? How are the diffs?

                          I would not worry about the brakes though ... sounds like rusty rarely used rotors and the brake fluid has absorbed moisture which happens when the vehicle is not used much and the fluid has not been changed for some time ... You can get corrosion in the brake lines though ... my service guy said I had some .... its not apparent in the braking performance, but maybe something is going on with that one ...


                          • #14
                            no brainer buy it


                            • #15
                              sorry for lack of feedback, I haven't been able to go see it (family issues, christmas blah blah excuses) however finally I'm going over tomorrow to check it out, but the more I look at it, the better deal it seems especially since I intend to bush bash this, a cheap 4WD that is easy to fix and modify makes more sense to me then buying a more expensive version where I would be worried about scratching it and the like