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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This may be a tad bit premature, but I'm really close to pulling the trigger on buying my friend's Sequoia. Long story short, she's moving out of state and is selling her car before she moves next weekend. She went to Carmax, they offered her $10k so I can buy it for $10k if I want.

Here are the stats: 04 SR5 2wd, leather, JBL, hitch, premium alloys, blue with silver trim, homelink, keyless entry, etc. I think that sums it up. It has 85k miles and has been serviced by the Toyota dealer for each service (religiously). She's a small, older Japanese lady and it's never towed or really dont anything more than shuttle kids to Soccer practice. The interior is in great shape (one issue noted below) and the exterior is in good condition. Some surface scratches and two nickel size dings. Never been wrecked, but the bumper was replaced because she backed into the corner of her garage one day.

Anyways, I was all set to get it since she said it's really nice, and I trust her since I know she gets it dealer serviced and she's really on top of things. I also noticed it would need new tires.

Anyways, she let me drive it and I found a few issues:
1. The tires need replacing ASAP. The front tires are completely worn on the outer tread on both sides. She did have them rotated last October so I'm not sure where the majority of wear came from (from when they were on the rear or when they were on the front).
2. At any speed higher than 57mph there is a really bad tire rumble noise which causes a light vibration felt through the wheel. I'm not sure the cause, but I likely attribute it to the state the tires are in. My friend doesn't recall every doing an alignment and can't remember when it started, she just thought it was normal for an older car and the dealer never said there was a problem. She also spends most of her time under 57mph.
3. On the hwy the car pulls to the right, not horribly, but pretty obviously
4. The middle bench seems to have an issue tumbling forward. The 60% side has no issue, but the 40% side falls down, but won't tumble forward. It seems the latching mechanism is stuck/frozen on the side closer to the middle of the car. I could feel the side closer to door lifting up, but it seemed the latch was stuck on the other side. I didn't investigate it, but I felt getting a screwdriver in there or seeing if there's some other override. It may just be gunked up.

Other wise the car is great. Engine and tranny are great. Suspension at low/mid speeds feels fine (I assume shocks are ok, but anything's possible given the wear of the tires).

I'm hoping new tires and a good alignment will resolve this, but after searching online it seems the Sequoia is just awful when it comes to things related to tires/alignment. For what it's worth, she had the tires replaced 29k miles ago with the OEM Dunlop's.

I looked on autotrader and similar cars in retail were retailing for $15k so i think it's a good deal, but I don't want to purchase a car that I'm going to continually struggle to keep in alignment as I'm really obsessed with my cars driving straight and smooth on the highway. It seems the recommendation is to use non-standard alignment settings, but that seems risky and unusual.

Finally, since new tires will be an immediate purchase, what size can I size up to on the stock rims?

Here's a pic:
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Also, am I correct in thinking that I'll have to replace the timing belt around 90k miles? Factoring that and new tires and an alignment and it's basically a $12k purchase.
 

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Maybe I'm out of line with reality here, but to me, $10K seems high. I would think that a SR5, 85 K miles, 6+ years old, 2WD, that needs Timing belt, Tires and has some other unknown issues, is worth about $6-7K to me. New tires and timing belt will likely cost you well in excess of $2k, not to mention whatever repairs are needed to resolve the other running gear issues. I think I would shop around a bit more. Offer $7500 and keep shopping. JMHO and YMMV.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Maybe you're right, but let me restate a few things that might have been overlooked:

1) Other than the issues described, car is great
2) I know the original owner and have every single maint receipt
3) My wife's uncle is a mechanic and will install the timing belt for free (just pay parts)
4) Alignment issue could be worse, but even at worst case it would be suspension components
5) Carmax offered her $10k, they're professionals on market awareness
6) I live in Texas, big SUVs command premiums here and Sequoias are no slouch. Similar Sequoia maybe without needing new tires are selling at retail for $16k+ here and privately for 13-14k
7) Expeditions, Tahoes all the like competitors here are similarly selling for WELL over $10k.
8) At this age, mileage, budget, all used cars pretty much have some issue or need some basic immediate attention (tires, service, etc.)

That said, Carmax would've bought this, "reconditioned" it and sold it for $16-17k; they just sold two last weekend that were 03s and 04s for 16995 and 17995 if I recall correctly.

Here's an example of a retail car: 2002 Toyota Sequoia Sport Utility SR5

I shopped for months for a decent large SUV under $10k and it's just not available without getting into the 120k mileage area.

Remember, it's Texas, maybe if I go Northeast into the snow belt I can find a rusted out, worn out one, but I'm comfortable that i could sell this in a year or two and probably not lose too much; clearly Carmax feels that way.

Thanks!
 

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I think it's a fair deal. Even at the dealer the belt and tires won't be $2K. I'd figure $600ish for the tires and it sounds like you have a deal on the timing belt. I'd do the waterpump as well at that mileage.
I'd be confident that the tires will resolve your vibration issue at 57+mph. Sequoias are notorious for cupped tires which could be your problem.
It's a nice looking truck. We don't see too many in that color up here. I like that color.
 
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