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stroker PowerDork
2/21/24 2:14 p.m.

THIS would be a significant purchase for me and I'm anxious to not make a mistake.  Need a Daily with room for adults in the back (per a thread from a couple of years ago) and this popped up unexpectedly.  What do I look for as a potential problem?

akylekoz UltraDork
2/21/24 2:30 p.m.

Nothing valuable to add other than I've been eyeing these as a cruiser for my kids to ruin.  I was looking at cheaper versions of this, they are basically a Toyota Buick.  

rdcyclist HalfDork
2/21/24 2:36 p.m.

That might be a little heavy on price. Probably worth 5 Steves.

Engine mounts can be problematic. Maintenance on these can be overlooked because of the Appliance Attitude of some owners. The two I've come in contact with had spark plugs that were about 80k overdue. Substantial improvement in the driving experience. And the aforementioned engine mounts.

They'll go well over 200k with minimal care though.

stroker PowerDork
2/22/24 10:29 a.m.

Well, the owner bought it at an insurance auction after a deer hit and then rebuilt it.  No maintenance documentation and with 150K I would need to know whether the timing chain's been done, etc.   Car was very nice--ran well and had lots of room so an Avalon is definitely on my list of options, but I don't think this one is the one I wanted.

HotNotch Reader
2/22/24 11:05 a.m.

May not apply to this particular Avalon, but I don't think I've heard of any of the 3.5l Toyota / Lexus V6's needing a timing chain.  My BIL has an RX350 with over 230k on it with no timing slap / loose chain issues, and I don't think my Dad (Lexus tech) has done any. Resealing the cover, sure, but I don't think he's ever had to replace a chain.

RyanGreener (Forum Supporter)
RyanGreener (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
2/22/24 11:35 a.m.

I won't call myself an expert on these but I'm familiar with them because my mom owns a 2005 Avalon (same generation) with not-so-timely-maintenance intervals. These things are in my opinion, idiot proof and you really have to be negligent to ruin them. Common sentiment on the internet echoes my experience and knowledge as well, but what you are looking at is a car with a 2GRFE (port injection, non DI). Things that people complain about that sometimes happen, but not always are:

- Front Timing Cover Oil Leak (has no effect on oil levels even when it happens, it just gets sloppy in the area)
- Dogbone/torque mount going bad (there are 3 mounts, this is just one of them)
- Rack and Pinion Leaks (not an engine issue, but avalon-specific)

My mom's car has none of these issues and its chugging along at ~288000 and its the years where problems were most apparent yet none of them happened. The Avalon also does not have an oil cooler so the lines are not an issue as they are with the minivan/SUV 2GRFE's. Spark Plugs are annoying to change but they are a VERY long interval (120k) and if you have a front timing cover oil leak, I'd suggest just cleaning the area over and over because to fix it is basically a motor removal/disassembly. Water pump is not an engine-out job like the public recommends but you can check out YT  videos for how to do it. Also if you hear a clicking in the steering wheel check to see if the TSB  (intermediate steering shaft grease, effects 05-06 years)) was done under warranty. Its basically a 10$ pack of grease and if you have an average GRMers skill, you can take care of it. Note: It does not effect the operation of the car, it just feels crappy. My mom's avalon hasn't had the TSB done and its been this long and nothing has happened. I'm probably going to do it for her eventually.

RaabTheSaab Reader
2/22/24 9:03 p.m.

I really like Avalons and ES300/330s even though some call them soulless.  They don't spark the same joy as carving canyon roads with a Miata or the reverence for mechanical precision compared to something German, but I've always thought they provided a well rounded, solid, comfortable ride. Materials are high quality and maintenance is reasonable and mostly DIYable. They're also not terrible to drive with a smooth v6 and automatic that's well matched to the power band. I owned a '97 ES300 for awhile and found myself sometime driving it just for fun. Something je ne sais quoi about it for me--probably a weird personal quirk, but hey, that was my experience. 

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) UltimaDork
2/23/24 6:35 a.m.

If you manage to kill it, let us know how you did it. They are indestructible. 

bmw88rider UberDork
2/23/24 7:15 a.m.

In reply to SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) :

Give one to a teen that never checked the oil. That is how my nephew killed his. Then he didn't learn and killed a second car by doing the same thing. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
2/23/24 7:23 a.m.

Avalon = The finest fwd Buick LeSabre ever made ( and I like Buick LeSabres)

Patrick MegaDork
2/23/24 7:29 a.m.

it is a comfortable place to spend some time and the trunk plus huge back seat have kept me from having to take my truck to pick up stuff several times. Mine just rolled 247k and I am not getting rid of it. I planned to drive for winter then flip but it's too good a winter daily. 

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher Emeritus
2/23/24 7:30 a.m.

As many know, my daily since 2005 has been a series of Honda Ridgelines. I hav wracked up nearly half a million miles on thee car/trucks. Just towed a Mustang to Alabama for some engine work. Rides like a car, works like a truck. Incredibly comfortable and reliable and older used ones are cheap. Second gen (starting in 2015) gets 25 mpg on the highway and is way better in every way.

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) Dork
2/23/24 7:35 a.m.

I bought one new in 2008ish. Great build quality, and the most comfortable cabin and ride of any vehicle I've owned. Never had a single problem with it. I sold it with around 100k miles to replace it with a "cool" FJ Cruiser, still regarded by my wife as my single greatest automotive berk-up. The FJ was gone less than 2 years later. 

Coniglio Rampante
Coniglio Rampante Reader
2/23/24 7:39 a.m.

Avalon's were popular with realtors because they offered space for signs in the trunk, room for people in front and back, and lasted forever.  

Now I've got the Roxy Music song by the same name playing in my head. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
2/23/24 8:08 a.m.

In reply to stroker :

Though older, this one might warrant looking into...

'99 Lexus ES300 w/ 135k @ $5.6k.  Generally a fancy Camry V6.  The price might be a little high but its real condition might be the deciding factor.  The ad doesn't give much insight like age/quality of the tires, etc

πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ† MegaDork
2/23/24 8:41 a.m.
John Welsh said:

In reply to stroker :

Though older, this one might warrant looking into...

'99 Lexus ES300 w/ 135k @ $5.6k.  Generally a fancy Camry V6.  The price might be a little high but its real condition might be the deciding factor.  The ad doesn't give much insight like age/quality of the tires, etc

Just a heads up, the late 90s ES300s call for premium fuel, unlike the Camrys.  I think they are rated ~10 or 20hp more.

bobzilla MegaDork
2/23/24 8:50 a.m.

Don't forget the Hyundai Azera and Kia Amanti as well. Korea's version of an Avalon that's Toyota's version of a Buick Lesabre. 

EDIT: Kia Cadenza. The Amanti was based on the old XG chassis and not that great a car. It was Korea's version of an early 90's FWD Chrysler New Yorker. 

stroker PowerDork
2/23/24 11:50 a.m.
John Welsh said:

In reply to stroker :

Though older, this one might warrant looking into...

'99 Lexus ES300 w/ 135k @ $5.6k.  Generally a fancy Camry V6.  The price might be a little high but its real condition might be the deciding factor.  The ad doesn't give much insight like age/quality of the tires, etc

John, thank you for finding that!  I never would have considered a Lexus as I assumed they'd be out of my price range.  I do have one important consideration, though, and that is rear seat legroom.   My kids are quite tall.  I sat in that Avalon and there was plenty of room but the specs that I'm finding online show that Lexus is smaller--in fact, there's supposedly less legroom than the Grand Vitara I'm currently driving which would make it a non-starter.  I'm going to try to go look at it tomorrow, if the seller responds.  We'll see.

bobzilla MegaDork
2/23/24 12:27 p.m.

Azera for $5600 may fit the bill. Look at all that leg room!

Or a Cadenza with equally impressive room.

πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ† MegaDork
2/23/24 2:22 p.m.

The wheelbase on the originally posted Avalon is 6" longer than the camry/lexus thing.  Its a stretched version of that platform.  Even the rear seats recline.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
2/23/24 4:23 p.m.

In reply to stroker :

Yes, the Carmy will have less rear room than Avalon.  

Thinking of something like a Suzuki but more rear legroom brought me to Isuzu Rodeo  This one is cheap at $700 but make note that it is rwd only (missing second shift lever.)  

If you want mega-rear legroom, think Ford Five Hundred (later rebadged to Ford Taurus)  But, advance with caution:
'05 & '06 all were cvt... AVOID
'07 became 6 speed auto...GREAT but AWD version remained cvt...BAD
'08 & '09 rebadged Taurus...all were 6 speed.

'10+ the body was changed and strangly though the exterior remained the same size the interior got smaller in most every way.  

Also Ford Flex is mega rear seat but often still expensive.  Before the Flex there was the Taurus X.  Those are good.  But before the Taurus X nameplate the same car was the Ford Freestyle.  All Freestyle are cvt...AVOID.  

Here are some weak samples just to make you familiar with...
'08 Ford Taurus
'08 Taurus X


Rather than a Japanese LeSabre...try a real LeSabre (or whatever they renamed it.)

stroker PowerDork
2/24/24 10:06 a.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

Damn, that LeSabre sold already.  I appreciate the heads-up, though.

The problem I'm running in to is that every candidate I find is being flipped and there's no maintenance documentation.  I have no way of knowing the oil's been changed regularly, etc.  I  think I may enlist an acquaintance with a Dealer license to start scanning dealer/insurance auctions...

rdcyclist HalfDork
2/24/24 1:44 p.m.
dj06482 (Forum Supporter)
dj06482 (Forum Supporter) UberDork
2/24/24 2:46 p.m.

The 2GR-FE is a good motor, we have it in our '06 RAV4 that's somewhere around 233k right now. We have the oil seepage from the front timing cover (I just clean it every oil change), and it could use some new valve cover gaskets.  I changed the VVTI oil hose when there was a recall (the original one had a piece of rubber that wasn't rated for engine oil and would develop leaks), but I actually replaced it with the all-metal one from a Lexus.  Like others have said, plugs at 120k, and it's a great motor.  I prefer it to the J35 Hondas.

My oil change intervals are 5k or less, so I'm not worried about the timing chain.  I do the 3x drain/fill on the transmission, then just do a drain/fill every year (about 10-15k) just to be on the safe side.

stroker PowerDork
2/24/24 7:41 p.m.

I drove the Lexus that John Welsh found.  It was nice, but even with the driver's seat all the way back my right leg was pressed against the center console.  It might be something I'd get used to but given how irritating it was for just a 10 minute test drive, I don't think so. 

I found two candidates on Copart that I hope to look at Tuesday.

rdcyclist, I appreciate you looking but I'd need something closer to home.  

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