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Do I fix my truck before I sell it?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi gang -- with the arrival of a new baby and the fact that I'm having to commute about 100 miles per day for my job, it's time to get rid of my old Tacoma.  It's a 2004 with about 190k and still runs great, but it needs some work.  For example, it needs a new muffler, new front struts, and a new O2 sensor (which makes the check engine light turn on).  In the last year, I've put in a new clutch and timing belt.


I've never sold a car before, and was just wondering whether I should put in the $1,000 of work that it would take to repair the list above (which all really need to happen), or do I just disclose those problems and try to sell it as-is?


Any tips on how to go about selling a truck would be very much appreciated!


Thanks as always!!

post #2 of 9

I'll bite. That generation Tacoma has really held value incredibly well. My son has a 2002, V-6 SRD with 235K miles on it, and he could sell it today for more than he paid for it in 2009, when it had 85K on it. He lives in CO, and the market is hot. I think that it's worth doing the work. At the least, I'd replace the O2 sensor, and the muffler. If the struts are really shot, maybe them. But maybe not. Otherwise you can explain that if you were to keep it, you'd be planning on doing them soon, the buyer should, too, and that you've considered that in the price. The fact that it's got a recent timing belt and clutch will be big selling points with the crowd who buys these. 


Is it a six, or a four?  4WD, I assume?  And based on where you're located, rust free? If so, that's huge. 


Regardless of what you do, make it very clear when you sell that it's being sold in "as is, where is" condition, with no warranty. Just explain that you're not a dealer, and it has to be that way. Put that on a bill of sale that both you and the buyer will sign, and keep copies. Don't know what your state might have for requirements.....hopefully none. 


My experience is that the buyers of these things trust the owner a lot more than any reseller, or used car dealer. And you have two good reasons to be selling.....which is credible. You said it runs great. 


If the buyer is like the young guys {and ladies} that I know, that truck is FAR more desirable to them than the newer generation. Not looking into a debate on that subject. This generation Taco is very popular. The chances are that some guy might LIKE the fact that the struts are shot, as he might plan to replace the front and rear shocks, and springs right away, anyways. Frequently done. 


We have a family friend who drives one with about 500K on the odometer, replaced the engine at about 350K. Has no plans to get rid of it. 


Look around to get a feel for local prices. And check the online Toyota Tacoma forums as well. This is one of a few vehicles that I would have no problems selling used. And I think you may be pleasantly surprised about the value. 


As a point of reference, I sold a 2000 Landcruiser, with 245K miles on it three years ago. It was as badly rusted as i has ever seen one, a lot due to a faulty windshield install, and the fact that we live on the ocean. It had a well used interior, nowhere near mint. The climate control module needed to be replaced {they cost a fortune}. Exhaust was shot. A whole ton of nagging, expensive problems. I had intended to drive it into the ground once the rust "exploded", and did. I advertised it on Craigslist, and just guessed at the price, as I hadn't seen one in that model year with these issues. I was VERY honest about the good, the bad and the ugly. It had a great engine, great mechanical service with records, great brakes.....etc. So I guessed at $5500. I put the add on CL, and was contacted by over 40 people within AN HOUR. I had it sold, with payment in cash within about three hours. Gone. That's another vehicle that pulls people out of the weeds in terms of interest.


I think the market for the Tacoma is VERY strong. Many of them in my extended family. My son's about to replace his GF's Subie with a 4Runner of the same generation, as for them it makes a ton of sense in terms of value. He's found a good one. Like many of these fans... he also is very familiar with the vehicle. And there are a LOT of guys like him out there. 


Good luck. PM if you'd like. 

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice, Muleski.  You're the second person who suggested fixing the muffler and sensor, but leaving the struts alone (and the other guy is a client of mine who's been running a used car dealership for 35 years), so that's what I'm going to do.


As for the truck: I wish I didn't have to sell it.  It's been a great vehicle. It's an extended cab 3.4L V6 4x4 TRD with a nice camper shell on it.  No rust at all.  However, you can barely put a baby car seat in it, so it's just not practical with my new role as "dad."  I think we're going to get a Forester or something similar.


I'll let you know how it all turns out...

post #4 of 9

That's the exact same truck that my son has. Leer cap on his.  They are in hot demand, and the mileage is not a factor if it's been well maintained. It has been. I would seriously think about advertising it on Craigslist,  {and maybe on CL in a state like Colorado} but also on EBay. People travel to buy these. I flew 2200 miles to buy our last Landcruiser. My son and I made an 800 mile trip to buy his truck, and would have flown and driven much farther if we hadn't found this one. In my experience people do travel of the right vehicle. Guy who bought my last Audi S6 flew across the country, bought it, arranged to have it trucked back, then flew home. The $2K in flights and shipping was not an issue. Finding what he wanted was. This was no super car. $15K car. 


People love that generation Tacoma. You can replace anything on one. No rust, arid part of the country is money. 


Good luck. 

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

I traveled to Salt Lake City to buy this one in March of 2010 -- didn't hurt that my brother was out there working at Alta at the time and we got to ski in knee deep powder that week (not to mention four-wheeling around Moab on the way home).   ;)   Just talking about my truck this way is making me miss it already...

post #6 of 9

Didn't mean to trigger that!  Fun memories of that trip, for sure. Being a dad is pretty tremendous, and yeah, I can see where the Taco is not baby seat friendly. BTW, best modification to my son's was a set of leather Recaro seats bought right. What a difference in comfort. Still no good for a baby seat!


Hey, somebody here must want it. When you're ready.....try the gear forum here, on Pugski, on TGR. Seriously......


Good luck. 

post #7 of 9

Another thing you can do is disclose the repairs needed, but quote a lower price required to do it once you have the guy face to face.  

But don't start your negotiations low.  I haven't studied all the Salesman tricks, but you should still start the negotiations with the high number and then say because of X, I'm going to knock it down by $500 (even if you were to get it done by your trusted mechanic it'd cost you $1000).   

So the guy feels he is going to get a 100% truck and the numbers in his head are going down, he'll feel he's getting a discount.

post #8 of 9

This particular truck will be sold, IMO easily, as they are in demand. If you check out what the younger male population of any ski town, or outdoor mecca, drives, the vehicle of choice is often the 2000-2004 Tacoma, set up like AD's. This is a desired truck, and 200K is NO obstacle. The two questions that every guy buyer will ask are: when was the timing belt replaced? And, is that the original clutch? My son has 235K on his original clutch, BTW. These trucks wear very, very well with the basic maintenance. 


Any buyer is going to need the O2 sensor replaced, the CEL light out, and ay CEL light codes cleared.  I would replace the muffler, with a decent one. Not an OEM exhaust form the dealer, but not the cheapest going. You're going to get back the costs in the price, no issue. 


When you advertise, you mention something along the lines that "It's had great maintenance, service records available. Timing belt done at XXX,XXX miles. Clutch replaced at XXX, XXX miles. New Exhaust at XXX,XXX miles."  You also mention that the truck should have the struts replaced before too long. 


Person buying the truck can drive for a while as is, can replace with an OEM-type shock, or if like most of the buyers, will probably replace them with a beefier Bilstein or similar, which might also give it a couple of inches of lift. Easy job, not expensive. One of the weaknesses of the truck is the original leaf springs. Again, in my experience, very often the beer will be planning on replacing the shocks and springs. That's a DIY job for a lot of these guys. If the clutch feels worn, the timing belt is overdue, the CEL light is on and the truck is full of codes......and the muffler is "loud", then the buyer probably says, No thanks, this truck has NOT been maintained, and there's a lot that could go wrong. 


If the only issue is that the front struts/shocks are at the end of life, it's a non-issue IMO. My son's crowd would actually think that finding a truck like that, and maybe paying $500 less than asking, etc. would be ideal. 


As I've said, this is a truck that, IMO, one should have no hesitancy of selling privately. Being 100% honest is the way to go. If you trucked this to New England.....a rust free 2004 {forget the mileage}, you'd sell it in a few hours, if your price is fair. You might sell this one on-line quickly. 


2004 is probably the most desired model year. V-6 is the preferred engine, 5 speed, check. The cap, check. TRD package, all good. From New Mexico, rust free.....for some people, priceless. 


I know young guys who have swapped engines, and over time replaced almost every working part on these trucks. I have seen them going stop with twice this mileage. 


If you trade it in, it's not going to bring anything close to the market value that private sales bring, as counterintuitive as that sounds. The dealer will quickly dump it, at auction most likely. It won't bring much at auction as used car dealers don't buy 200K mileage trucks for the most part. 


Check out Ebay motors, and Craigslist. Look at tacomaworld.com


Just my $.02........

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

I really appreciate the advice and the encouragement, Muleski.  Just for reference, here's the subject vehicle (in all its dusty glory).  My favorite part of the camper is that the whole side window opens (in addition to having a sliding window embedded in it) -- it's a very handy function.




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