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Panda Cub
12-03-2009, 02:05 PM
So I have decided to keep my Element and buy another truck as a tow vehicle. Currently I am in between two different cars, and want anyone's opinion, experience and any advice they can give on the topic.

Car 1:
94 K5 Blazer: 90k miles asking $5K

Car 2:
92 Toyota Landcruiser: 130k miles, asking $6k

Note: Both cars are from southern states and rust free.

This car would also become my daily driver, I am giving the Element to my fiance, so I want something I can put 12k miles on a year, and have the car last me at least 100k miles.

Everyone tells me how bullet proof the Chevy 350 motor is, and to confuse me even more I've never heard anybody say how much they hate their Toyota.

If you have first hand experience with owning one of these trucks, please let me know your experience, good and bad! How did the vehicle tow your mastercraft? Your help is much appreciated!

Additionally this vehicle is going to be purchased solely because I need a tow vehicle, and I know both of these vehicles are gas hogs. Currently I am leaning toward the Landcruiser because any full size Toyota SUV is awesome.

ttu
12-03-2009, 02:13 PM
So I have decided to keep my Element and buy another truck as a tow vehicle. Currently I am in between two different cars, and want anyone's opinion, experience and any advice they can give on the topic.

Car 1:
94 K5 Blazer: 90k miles asking $5K

Car 2:
92 Toyota Landcruiser: 130k miles, asking $6k

Note: Both cars are from southern states and rust free.

This car would also become my daily driver, I am giving the Element to my fiance, so I want something I can put 12k miles on a year, and have the car last me at least 100k miles.

Everyone tells me how bullet proof the Chevy 350 motor is, and to confuse me even more I've never heard anybody say how much they hate their Toyota.

If you have first hand experience with owning one of these trucks, please let me know your experience, good and bad! How did the vehicle tow your mastercraft? Your help is much appreciated!

Additionally this vehicle is going to be purchased solely because I need a tow vehicle, and I know both of these vehicles are gas hogs. Currently I am leaning toward the Landcruiser because any full size Toyota SUV is awesome.

as much as i love toyota products and own a sequoia, that year land cruiser is a 155 hp inline 6. not sure what the tow rating would be but that is not a lot of horse power.

Monte
12-03-2009, 02:49 PM
Little more money, a lot less mileage, but it may take some elbow grease

http://www.erepairables.com/my_pages/1029/vehicles/1471105/2006_ford_f-150.html#top

Panda Cub
12-03-2009, 02:55 PM
Little more money, a lot less mileage, but it may take some elbow grease

http://www.erepairables.com/my_pages/1029/vehicles/1471105/2006_ford_f-150.html#top

Appreciate the link, but after working in the family auto body shop through middle school and high school growing up, I have no interest in turning wrenches anymore. I would buy a nicer truck than the ones I posted, but I'd rather spend the money on a mastercraft; it's all about priorities.

cmw
12-03-2009, 04:01 PM
I have a 95 (hell of a 4X4) and an 07 Tahoe. I have never had trouble with either. The 95 pulled the boat and an Airstream trailer. I swear it was smoother when it was towing something. I bought the 07 so I can take the 95 off the road to do bushings, shocks, etc. I still drive it to work everyday and the 07 sits in the garage. The 07 is nice on the weekends and for trips. I also tow with it. I have a Toyota Camry that is on it's third transmission and has had a ton of warranty work performed. The warranty expires in 300 miles and I am scared to death. I might have bought the lemon, because I don't know of anyone who has had the same issues I have. Most folks love their Toyotas. Good luck making the right choice.

Thrall
12-03-2009, 04:22 PM
I'd go with the 94 Blazer with out hesitating. 90k is low miles for what these'll run. I've owned several of these era GMs (pickups, not Blazers or Tahoes). None of them have been less than stellar from a reliability standpoint.
Like you said Chevy 350 (what engine has MC used in their boats for the last 15 years?).
Rest of the drivetrain is solid too. I've put over 150k mi on 2 different ones. One '90 and one '97 with no major mechanical work. And I worked/beat the tar out of them.
Parts are very plentiful, easy to work on.
If I had to buy a truck on a budget of less than $10k I wouldn't consider anything other than a 90's era GM fullsize.
Also, quiet, smooth riding, good 4x4's, tow well for their size, etc. Only issue I had other than normal maint on any of these was one truck the front axle 4x4 actuator crapped out, and another one lost the starter, alternator, and rear wheel cylinders, but that truck was 10 years old when I bought it.

bcampbe7
12-03-2009, 04:25 PM
One thing Thrall touched on....

Expect part failure with a vehicle this age regardless of mileage. I am sure you have thought about this, but just wanted to make sure. Good thing about these older vehicles is that they are easier for DIY types to fix.

Thrall
12-03-2009, 04:39 PM
One thing Thrall touched on....

Expect part failure with a vehicle this age regardless of mileage. I am sure you have thought about this, but just wanted to make sure. Good thing about these older vehicles is that they are easier for DIY types to fix.

Yeah, the alternator and starter actually broke at the exact same time. Truck wouldn't turn over,push started it (5speed), and then alternator died. And it wasn't the battery low. I drove it 40mi just on the battery in subzero weather with headlights and heater fan running. Battery charged right back up with new alternator (and another push start, this time because the sarter was out and the battery was half dead). Wheel cylinders went out a week later. That particular truck had only 27k mi when I bought it. Old man owned it for 10 years, sat outside in the sun, everything was dry rotted/cracked from the sun.
My first '90 went at least 220k on the original drivetrain. Sold it at 165kmi and saw it 2 years later pulling a 4 horse slant load gooseneck. Guy said he towed the GN all the time (1500, Z-71) and used it exclusively as a ranch truck with a cr@pload of highway miles when it wasn't bombing thru the fields on the ranch. Had 220k mi on it when I saw him pulling the trailer.
You're in Chicago or near, right? You're on the right track. Don't buy an older vehicle that lived in the rust belt. Find one from down south or the desert.

Kevin 89MC
12-03-2009, 04:58 PM
I'll come out and say first that I am a big Toyota fan. I've had 2 Celicas, an '85 pickup, an '84 LandCruiser, and currently own a '96 LandCruiser and an '89 Supra Turbo. They have all been very reliable, but I have found the need to wrench on all of them at some point, mostly due to wear issues, not failures. I drove an '04 TrailBlazer as a work truck for 120,000 miles, and had only a few minor problems with that as well. I've had friends with the older Chev trucks with some issues, but like you said no engine issues. Some transmission issues, some 4wd issues, but mostly more minor things. A lot of family & friends own Toyotas, and I don't think any of them have had any major issues. I'm sure you'll get lots of responses the other way on here as well.

While I absolutely love my LC, I will admit that it is a bit underpowered for towing, at least compared to the '04 trailblazer, and likely the blazer you're looking at. I bought the LC at the time as my only tow vehicle, and it has performed just fine. The '92 LC has a bit less HP than my '96, but not much. You will get more grunt with the 350, but I don't know how the braking & suspension capabilities match up. I would bet you could get at least another 100K out of the LC, at least from a drivetrain standpoint, they are built like tanks. Not sure of the longevity from the Chev, but I agree the 350's are pretty stout too. One thing you do need to keep in mind, is that the LC was mainly designed to be an off-road vehicle, not a "tow" vehicle. The blazer may be more adept at towing, due to the 350. If you have the opportunity, see if you can tow a bit with both. Kinda like skiing behind a boat before buying it, it's tough to know how it will work for you, until you do it.
As others have said, stuff will break at some point regardless of what you buy. While IMHO the LC may break less (but maybe not), it's still going to. Obviously both will need service, and it can be more expensive and/or harder to find parts for the LC (the front axle birfields for instance). The other thing, depending on where you're located, is finding good shops to work on them, due to their relative scarcity, compared with the Chev.
Good luck!
Kevin

Panda Cub
12-03-2009, 05:28 PM
I really appreciate all of the help and suggestions! Since I am in the Springfield area, and all the vehicles of that year are rust buckets, I'm going to go down south to do some looking.

I'm a really big Toyota fan, and everyone I have talked to that has owned one tells me that they're bulletproof. I've even heard of people getting 400K plus miles out of the Landcruiser.

I do like the K5s, but they don't have the cool factor to em.

What type of mileage does the K5 get? I've heard that getting 11 mpg out of them is expected. Is the short wheelbase a problem for towing?

What is the reliability of the trans in a K5? My engine lift is at my dad's house north of chicago, so...... I hope I won't need it.

rholmes
12-03-2009, 10:07 PM
Go with the K5. We had the same drivetrain layout in our 92 suburban. That thing went 276k miles before needing a head gasket, and I don't think anyone did a trans flush on it till it started slipping around 200k. New filter and fluid later, that thing ran like a SOB. We would get about 18mpg in it (2wd barn door style suburban). We sold it to a local halfway house back in '03. We still see it around, my sister know the group who has it, and still works great. Has over 350k miles on it. Again, only major work done was a head gasket in 2000.

Panda Cub
12-04-2009, 10:12 AM
The K5 is located in Oklahoma; not to sound like an idiot, but they never salt the roads down there, correct?

ttu
12-04-2009, 10:20 AM
The K5 is located in Oklahoma; not to sound like an idiot, but they never salt the roads down there, correct?

no, we just throw sand all over the roads. heck i don't think we even have any snowplows.

if it's close by let me know and maybe i can look at it for you.

Thrall
12-04-2009, 10:53 AM
The K5 is located in Oklahoma; not to sound like an idiot, but they never salt the roads down there, correct?

No, you're safe in OK. Just make sure it's actually from there.

When I moved from IL to NM, we sold my wife's GMC Jimmy down there. Had a fresh paint job under warranty for rust bubbling thru the fenders (5 yrs in northern IL will kill any vehicle I swear!).
Guy was from MN, moving back up there and wanted a "southern vehicle" to take back to rust land. Just married, no money, didn't have the heart or fat wallet to tell him otherwise.

Panda Cub
12-04-2009, 11:58 AM
No, you're safe in OK. Just make sure it's actually from there.

When I moved from IL to NM, we sold my wife's GMC Jimmy down there. Had a fresh paint job under warranty for rust bubbling thru the fenders (5 yrs in northern IL will kill any vehicle I swear!).
Guy was from MN, moving back up there and wanted a "southern vehicle" to take back to rust land. Just married, no money, didn't have the heart or fat wallet to tell him otherwise.

I wouldn't even consider buying a car without looking at the carfax. I still need to do that for both of these vehicles.

I grew up outside of Chicago my entire life, and I have seen first hand what salt and chicago weather does to the vehicles. The problem isn't the salt, the problem is the Chicago climate; I could be wrong but salt doesn't oxidize until it hits 27 F. So all of that thawing and freezing of the snow where the salt has a chance to mix with melting snow and get in every little crack of the vehicle then oxidize.

We like to say that vehicle looks great with all of the rust and duct tape..........Wisconsin Chrome!

DooSPX
12-04-2009, 12:57 PM
I agree... if maintained the chev 350 is a hell of a motor. I have built many from street to super charged strip.

uncleboo
12-05-2009, 02:45 AM
The 350 in the Blazer will be better than the Landcruiser. However, the weak points in the Chevy are the transmission and rear end. Many of those models have a 10 bolt rear, which is pretty weak for towing. Make sure you check for metal shavings in the rear diff as a sign of excessive wear. The automatic transmissions are known for problems past 100k. I had a two door tahoe with an auto trans. It was fine until I put 33's on it and towed the boat occasionally. The tranny grenaded at 105K. Upgraded the rear end to 14 bolt full. Best thing about the chevys are the availability of parts. The bad thing about them are all of the problems with these vehicles. I read constantly about these folks with great experiences with their chebbies, but I think they are the exception and not the norm. If you get the chevy, hopefully you got the one that wasn't built on monday or friday. :)

RMUDBUGS
12-05-2009, 09:17 AM
My Uncle has a K5 and it towes just fine. One thing to consider when buying an older truck the blazer will be cheaper and easyer to work on.

DooSPX
12-05-2009, 01:39 PM
IF the trans and diff were maintained as they should have been, you will be fine. a friend pulls his 24' enclosed car hauler with a 92 Sub. with a 350 w/ headers, and stock tranny and rear. has been hauling that trailer every weekend since 95.

CruisinGA
12-05-2009, 04:08 PM
My family has 4 Land Cruisers and a 4runner, I personally own 2, and I've worked at a Land Cruiser shop in the past.

91-92 Land Cruisers are unbelievably reliable, tough trucks. But the 3FE I-6, while very reliable, good for several hundred thousand miles, doesn't have enough power to get the FJ80 out of it's own way. It would tow your boat, and likely be a very reliable truck, but it sure won't tow it fast.
'93 + Land Cruisers got the 1FZFE, dual overhead cam 4.5L I-6. Much more power than the 3FE, still not a v8. That year also began 4 wheel disc brakes (not all '93s or '94s), and a front and rear differential locker option, which greatly increases resale value and off road capability.

I have towed my X9 in the mountains with no trouble, and towed my '74 Land Cruiser all over the southeast with my '93 on 35's. Any land cruiser can have a part time 4wd kid installed to remove the full time 4x4 and add a little power/mileage. I did this to my '93.

Good part about the Land Cruisers- while the engines are smaller than say, a K5, the transmission, along with the rest of the running gear is heavier. Failed transmissions, transfer cases, and differentials are very rare.

This site - www.ih8mud.com is THE internet resource for Land Cruiser and Toyota 4x4 owners. Been a member and poster for 7 or so years now, same handle as here.

Let me know if you need any more information on Land Cruisers.

CruisinGA
12-05-2009, 04:10 PM
My Uncle has a K5 and it towes just fine. One thing to consider when buying an older truck the blazer will be cheaper and easyer to work on.

The parts might be cheaper (not really), but when you need so many more of them, it's a wash. ;)

DooSPX
12-05-2009, 11:52 PM
I will say that my dad has a 89 4runner, and that truck is a beast. that little 2.2 is insanely torquey with crazy low gear it has. of course at 60mph it is wound like a rubber band.

Ski-me
12-07-2009, 03:38 PM
I had a 95' Landcruiser and it was really gutless! Also, because it was a full time 4wd, the mileage was terrible too. It looked good.....going slow!

If it had any punch in performance, than I would be OK with the lower gas mileage (10-11 mpg if I recall). Unfortunately, it was a dog by itself so I don't think it's going to tow very well.

Our 02' Tahoe got better gas mileage, a lot more room, more comfortable to drive and a lot quicker. It was just no contest so we sold the Cruiser after about a year.

My 89' K5 did great with the 350 and the 94' would be better as well. I think 95' or 96' they went to Vortec heads. 95' they changed the dash layout. I don't know what year the 2 dr K5 was eliminated but I think it went into these years.

For drivability, towing and comfort, the Blazer is a better choice. The mileage would probably be around 15 mpg or so. Not earthshattering compared to the Cruiser but better.

Good luck!