Help with first 4x4 ute


New Member

I am looking to buy a 4x4 ute as follows
It will just be a weekend car, for camping, going to the beach, transporting 2 adults and 2 dogs and kayaks or bikes that kind of thing. Maybe a bit of offroading in the future but even then it will only be a couple of times a year so i don't need the best of the best
We have a budget of around $20k and we're in Adelaide.
I have no preference of make.
I have been browsing the local ads and it seems Hilux's command a premium but they are more common
I have been reading about legal lifts, wheels etc and a lot of cars seem to have illegal mods

I was thinking of
1) tub not tray
2) to be a double or crew/half cab or whatever they want to call it, the crew cabs seem rarer than a hens tooth
3) not decided about petrol/diesel, and not too bothered about manual or auto.

The more I have read I think my best strategy is to just buy the car in the best condition I can afford and just take whatever fuel gearbox it has, is this a good plan?
Are there any models or years or certain engines I should avoid like the plague? I have read about Toyota having injector problems on certain engines.
Any buying tips? Is the best thing to look for in a 4x4 one that hasnt been offroading and well maintained?
Would you buy one with the lift, big tyres etc or just go for something stock and then mod as I want down the track?

Anything info, links to websites, advice appreciated



Well-Known Member
Petrol is an option for what you want. You could.possibly buy and build a petrol dual cab for the budget you are talking.

Think Colardo, Triton or Hilux. They will be around 2004-2009 models from memory. Can't recall if Nissan or Ford had petrol engines around then.

Les PK Ranger

4x4 Earth Contributer
Very tight market right now . . . demand high, people are hanging onto vehicles longer, AND 4x4 popular with more wanting / having to holiday in their own backyards, the covid situation and world travel as it is for a while still.

Keep in mind, people are generally asking a premium $ on ALL used vehicles right now, so it's a sellers market it seems.
So don't rush it, you could save by hanging around for new listings that aren't inflated (use to get a market feel).

The more I have read I think my best strategy is to just buy the car in the best condition I can afford and just take whatever fuel gearbox it has, is this a good plan?

I'd say this is a good plan.
As a first 4WD, you will probably do mostly minor stuff, learn lots, and then later you can look for the right vehicle, take your time and get out there initially in what you can.

If it was me, I'd be looking for a good deal on an older Pajero, they are usually good value for $ 2nd hand, and they are generally underrated in capability.

If it's ute you definitely want/ need, then same thing . . . but unless early model, most will be diesel, which is good, but usually prices are relative.

Here's Gumtree offering in ADL, sorted cheapest to highest in pricing.

You can filter some more, crew cab, auto / manual etc . . .
Plenty there, get an inspection if you're not confident about checking mechanicals.

Make sure it gets put and driven a bit in 4WD high and low range, carefully in a local park on grass or gravel etc is needed to ensure those systems are working ok. is also worth keeping an eye on.
Get onto the sites every day or two, looking for the right deal.

Good luck with the search.


New Member

Thanks for the info, all useful

What do you think to the Nissan Navara?
I have seen one for $18k 2011 model 155,000km 6 speed manual 2.5L diesel, got a few mods but nothing crazy, says its mainly been a highway car
Redbook says $12,500 -17,300

Or there is a 2014 Triton for $21k, 196,000km manual 2.5L diesel, a LOT of mods been done in the last year, looks like its been off road a fair bit since the mods. Redbook says $18,100 - 22,800

Or Ford Ranger XLT extra cab - $18k, 180,000km, auto 3.2L diesel, a few mods, looks very well looked after, doesnt appear to have been offroad. Redbook says $18,700 -21,500

Its extremely doubtful that I am am just going to go and buy one of these as still many to look at/consider but from purely looking at the numbers and details which one would you go for?

Would you look purely at the mileage or is it a combo of the mileage and where the mileage has been done? Say higher mileage on highway better than lower mileage city driving or offroading?

If a car has done a lot of offroading would you still consider it, or does it make it much more likely to have been thrashed and have problems?

Last edited:

Les PK Ranger

4x4 Earth Contributer
Triton or Ranger would be my pick there, both are reasonably priced, but due diligence will be the key, gut feel on appearance . . . usually a good sign of how it's been looked after, but not TOO nice, like it's been pro detailed and all over shiny (inside and out).

Auto in my opinion is better overall for offroad, it's just great in general for sand, hills, like a manual pick your gear / high or low range, and go, but easier to slip down if needed, revs are being lost, to keep momentum.
Manuals are fun to drive, depends on your like / dislike of either.

Mileage isn't always best to go for, some vehicles are lemons from new, others fail at 150k, 200k in some ways, trans, heads, whatever.
Others go great for a lot longer.

Check service history, most people now know how valuable this is when selling, if it's up to date (even past book limits, with receipts etc) then it's a good sign.
It's always a bit of a crap shoot when buying, something might seem fine on a mild day, first hot days you could get overheating, things can be done to mitigate risks, knowing what to look for mech, a good test drive on and off road, get an inspection if not confident mechanically.
Even get a mobile mech to go over it, check all the stuff usually looked at in servicing, brake pads, coolant / oil condition, trans / box / diff oil, air filter, tyres, steering and suspension bushes, etc.
If all this is in good condition then it's probably a good prospect.

Off roading can be as mild as on roading, no need to thrash a vehicle off road.
Look underneath, signs of it being a mud pig ? Lots of obvious damage to bash plates, cross members, floor, fuel tank etc. A bit more caution or walk away.