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Old 11-27-2015, 01:32 AM   #1
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Why not buy an old tow vehicle

Low mileage 2012 V6 RAV4's (my current TV of choice) are listed at $22-$27,000. Is there wisdom in buying an old tow vehicle? The April 2015 edition of Consumer Reports magazine (page 80) contains a short list of quality vehicles CR would recommend to "family and friends." One recommendation: 2005 Honda Pilot (4,500 pounds tow capacity; 17/22 mpg when not towing). Granted maintenance and repair costs are higher in old vehicles, but the initial purchase price is $12-13,000 or less. Appreciate your thoughts!
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Old 11-27-2015, 01:42 AM   #2
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All I know is that my 2008 RAV4 V6 with tow prep and hitch and brake controller is not for sale. It's low mileage, just about to hit 50,000 miles and has had every service on time.
But, people do sell for various reasons. Maybe came into money and need a luxury SUV to boost ego. Or the tranny is about to give out.
Can only suggest that you get a used tow vehicle checked over by a good mechanic and that you ask for all the service records.
The guy that bought my '87 Subaru wagon got all those records, and I think he talked to the owner of the garage where the work was done.
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Old 11-27-2015, 05:20 AM   #3
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If I was doing shorter regional trips, needed to save $, or if I had been a mechanic, buying an 11 year old used vehicle could well be a smart move. As none of the above pertain to me, including being smart, I went new.
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Old 11-27-2015, 06:18 AM   #4
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Buying an older car can be iffy even with low mileage and complete service history. Who knows how hard it had been worked. You want to be able to tow that new 17B where ever the winds may blow and feel confident your TV will get you there without any problems. Peace of mind is priceless. Just my opinion.
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Old 11-27-2015, 07:04 AM   #5
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Hi: Steve R... If you want an "Old tow vehicle"... Buy a new one. With an Escape trailer they get old fast!!! Alf
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Old 11-27-2015, 07:22 AM   #6
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As none of the above pertain to me, including being smart, I went new.
I dunno Bob, you sure duz look smart on these here interwebs.
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Old 11-27-2015, 10:25 AM   #7
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I bought a low mileage 11 year old Ford Explorer cheap, to tow my Burro, and towed from the sands of Provincetown to over the Rockies, never a problem. At 174K miles the head gasket died. You pays your money and you takes your chances.
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Old 11-27-2015, 10:43 AM   #8
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My wife and I made a 7000 mile trip to the west coast this fall. We bought a new truck to make the trip. We would have not attempted the trip in an older ,high mileage vehicle.
The truck is now a year old and has 19,000 miles on it. (14,000 miles towing) A lot depends on how far and how often you will be traveling. Being stuck at home due to vehicle problems is bad enough but being stuck 3000 miles from home is even worse. As said above " Peace of Mind" is priceless.
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Old 11-27-2015, 11:10 AM   #9
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I think a three year old V6 RAV with low miles is just broken in and well worth considering. I have had no problems with purchasing low mileage vehicles with good reliability ratings. Have them checked out by an independent mechanic and try to get service records.
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Old 11-27-2015, 11:30 AM   #10
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I think that I would have much greater comfort towing with an older vehicle that I had owned for most of its life, rather than towing with an older vehicle that I had just purchased. I would then have previous knowledge of how the vehicle was treated and how it performed, and maybe a better feel for what things were likely to go wrong in the future. But then life is a crapshoot and anything could happen, even with a brand new vehicle.
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Old 11-27-2015, 11:46 AM   #11
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My favorite radio automotive advice guys (and comedians) "Click and Clack" used to say if you own 2 vehicles, have one be a travel vehicle and one a local use vehicle. The travel vehicle should be the newest and by far the most reliable. The local use vehicle can be older and less reliable, since if it does break down, you are still close to home and your known/trusted local mechanic. So, if it were me, I'd make my tow be the newer more reliable and save money on a "local use" vehicle. As Donna would say, YMMV.
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Old 11-27-2015, 12:01 PM   #12
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My RAV4 is still going strong after more than 127,000 miles on it, more than half towing. I do use synthetic oil (not required for the 2010) and change the transmission fluid every 30,000 miles. I will probably look at replacing it in the Spring, but other than routine maintenance (and brakes), I've only had to replace one axle seal & one O2 sensor.
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Old 11-27-2015, 12:14 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
My RAV4 is still going strong after more than 127,000 miles on it, more than half towing. I do use synthetic oil (not required for the 2010) and change the transmission fluid every 30,000 miles. I will probably look at replacing it in the Spring, but other than routine maintenance (and brakes), I've only had to replace one axle seal & one O2 sensor.
John, that's why I have a hard time getting myself to buy other brands than Toyota. Several friends with old Camry's at 200K+ with no real problems. A buddy bought my old 90 Corolla wagon and almost got it to 300K with no significant work done to it, but the body/frame rusted out to unsafe levels before he could make quite make it - another Wisconsin road salt premature departure.

And no, I honestly am NOT trying to start any auto brand arguments.....
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Old 11-27-2015, 12:21 PM   #14
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I would get older tow vehicle if I could reasonably do most repairs myself. I can't so I don't.
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Old 11-27-2015, 12:28 PM   #15
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Since we left the VW era decades ago, we have only had Hondas and Toyotas. The reason: I had asked a friend of mine who owns an auto parts store for recommendations, and he said that he sells the fewest repair parts for Hondas and Toyotas. The reliability and economy of both have confirmed that assessment.
So, when we went looking for a T.V. (Tow Vehicle) for our new Escape 17, made a list of possible choices, and found the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander at the top, we weren't surprised. Ended up driving about 150 miles to get a well cared-for 2011 Pilot. It had 80,000 miles (all road miles) on it, so it's practically new.
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Old 11-27-2015, 01:38 PM   #16
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Newer vehicles may be better .. Or worse. Purchase Consumer Reports yearly auto issue and keep it handy for reference. At the moment I tow with a 2004 4Runner with 71,000 miles. Purchased 5 years ago with 41,000 miles. For pleasure I drive a 2004 Avalon with 145,000. Bought it 4 years ago with 110,000. Excellent vehicles as predicted by Consumers Report.

Splurged and bought a brand new 2000 GMC Jimmy to pull the scamp. Saw it in the "cars to avoid in CR a few years later. By then I knew it was a dog. The worse vehicle I ever owned.

Use a trusted source like CR an take your time sorting through 4-5 year old cars. That's what I do .. And recommend.
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Old 11-27-2015, 01:41 PM   #17
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For the trip vehicle we went with new. A lot of our trips end up being in lonely, large expanses of the west and breaking down out there creates one big hassle. But this isn't saying that a new vehicle can't fail also, it's just the odds of it not doing so are better. And with a planned trip to Alaska, reliability is very important. I have two spare tires for the trailer and will get another for the truck. Am I paranoid? Better to have and not need than need and not have. Loren
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Old 11-27-2015, 01:54 PM   #18
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Steve I think you need to buy what YOU like, need, can afford and will do the job etc. Ask 100 people what to buy and you will probably get 125 different answers. LOL

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Old 11-27-2015, 02:11 PM   #19
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I'd buy a used Toyota with proper service records without blinking an eye. Great article to read

Toyota Recalls 1993 Camry Due To Fact That Owners Really Should Have Bought Something New By Now - The Onion - America's Finest News Source
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Old 11-27-2015, 03:19 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Loren & Cathy View Post
And with a planned trip to Alaska, reliability is very important. I have two spare tires for the trailer and will get another for the truck. Am I paranoid?
Been there, done that, probably worst case, you don't need one of the spares.

In my case I found out the hard way that my truck, "full size spare" was still only a temporary use tire. Depends where you go in Alaska whether you need a second spare and yes, I know there will be some that say they went to Alaska and never had a flat tire.

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