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New guy looking for Tacoma

Discussion in '1st Gen. Tacomas (1995-2004)' started by ramcummins, Nov 30, 2009.

  1. Nov 30, 2009 at 10:41 AM
    #1
    ramcummins

    ramcummins [OP] Member

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    Mike
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    Hello all. I am new to the site. I am looking at buying a Tacoma but am very uneducated on them. As I am new to this site I am slowly learning about them but sure I will learn more as I research, It looks like there is a great amount of info on here, Looks like I found a good site.

    What I am looking for is a "first gen" (as I learned here) mid to late 90's. I want it for a "run around" and "hunting" truck so it needs to be 4 wheel drive. I live in the rocky mountains and the highway I usually take is a 13% grade so I want something with plenty of power to do so also to pull my Polaris Ranger from time to time.

    The reason for this post is to get an idea from you enthusiasts as what to look for. Any year better than another, different engine options, tranny options, t-case/front end issues, or any other specific things that I need to be aware of.

    I am looking forward to getting one and being a part of the TW family.

    Thanks in advance, Mike
     
  2. Nov 30, 2009 at 10:49 AM
    #2
    roddyrod72

    roddyrod72 Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to TW. Even though I am a 2nd gen owner, I like the body style of the first gen the best. Good choice! It was just hard for me to find a clean low mileage first gen around here. So, I gave up. I just think they are tough looking trucks.
     
  3. Nov 30, 2009 at 11:03 AM
    #3
    ramcummins

    ramcummins [OP] Member

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    Thanks for the quick reply.

    My main reason for the 1st gen is they are in the right price range and I hate using a new truck for hunting.
     
  4. Nov 30, 2009 at 12:05 PM
    #4
    STLharry

    STLharry Lube: It's the key to penetration.

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    '95-'97 camouflaged, ARB bull bar, RAT Products skid plate kit, sliders, Green Mountain Customs rear tube bumper and overland bed rack, King coilovers with Icon neoprene covers, defenestrated sway bar, OME Rear Suspension: CS046R leafs + AAL/5125 shocks/NWOR greasable hardware/U-bolt flip kit; S13WL Tundra calipers/pads/rotors, IPF H4 lenses and bulbs, IPF 968 DCG 100W lights, clapped out CB radio, Aussie-spec FJ60 inclinometer, ARB CKMA12 compressor, Superwinch S9000 with 12V Guy clock switch, 4' Hi-Lift, deckplate mod/grey wire mod/dif breather extensions, Duratrac tires, Sockmonkey bedside decals, boat cupholder, Dakine bike pad
    Youre looking for a 95.5-04 Tacoma then, which is the "1st gen".
    The 4wd engine options are a 2.7L 4cyl and a 3.4L V6.
    Cabs are reg. cab(bench seat, 2 door), xtra cab(front bucket or bench, 2 rear seats, 2door), double cab (front bucket, rear bench, 4 door, <5 foot bed).

    You will probably want a V6, and if its a hunting rig, than double cab will be a bit worthless because of the SMALL bed. Xtra cab is the best option in my opinion; you get a 6 foot bed, but also a little room to store stuff behind the driver and passenger.

    All double cabs are also Automatic. I don't know if that is bad in your opinion, but I know that I would much rather drive a manual.

    Here's the important part: Read up on the rust recall!! It now concerns the 95.5-00 buyback, as well as the 01-04 frame replacement. There are several threads in this forum regarding this issue. So make sure you know about those recalls before you buy.

    Any other info other want to add?
     
  5. Nov 30, 2009 at 1:03 PM
    #5
    ramcummins

    ramcummins [OP] Member

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    Thanks for all the info STLharry, this kind of response is exactly what I am looking for. Good ideas and any precautions.

    So far I am leaning towards a V6, Xtra cab, and I am with you about liking manuals better, but I don't know how reliable either are on these Tacoma's so that is open for discussion. Thanks for the heads up on the frame rust.
    Any one else?
     
  6. Nov 30, 2009 at 3:16 PM
    #6
    STLharry

    STLharry Lube: It's the key to penetration.

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    My 2.7 does fine with 32s and a full bed of wet compost on VT hills, so a 3.4 with an ATV and stock size tires should do pretty well.

    And I believe you're right about the transmission cooler on the autos.
     
  7. Nov 30, 2009 at 4:18 PM
    #7
    1998tacoma4x4

    1998tacoma4x4 Well-Known Member

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    I have a 1998 xtracab 4x4 with 3.4L V6 and an auto tranny. I have never had any problems pulling all my toys and gear ever. I have loaded the truck and trailer from top to bottom and drove hundreds of miles and the truck never even hesitated. Great trucks, very reliable, you will not be sorry if you buy a first gen tacoma. I only have 91,000 on mine but i know i will have it till it hits 4 or 5 hundred thousand. Only thing i would change on mine is i wish i had a manual for those long steep grades, but still would never trade the truck for anything.
     
  8. Nov 30, 2009 at 5:31 PM
    #8
    da0023

    da0023 The One, The Only

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    Welcome to TW! You will not be dissapointed with a tacoma, they are all around tough trucks and are also very dependable. One issue you will want to watch our for, which is also a common problem with all 1st gens, is the issue with the leaf springs. They have the tendency to get weak over the years and will cause such problems as "axle warp" and they can also eventually break. So watch out for it. The best way to check is just to see if they look like they are smiling or frowning, this seems kind of crazy, but it is a good quick check. Try searching for the site for "axle warp" and you will find all the information you need to know. I just thought you should be aware of that problem. Other than that I have been nothing but pleased with my tacoma. Good luck with you purchase!
     
  9. Nov 30, 2009 at 6:46 PM
    #9
    ForeRunner

    ForeRunner Scotch before noon. Moderator

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    Tacoma's are great truck but for hauling a Polaris Ranger, that might be a stretch. Polaris Ranger, when I think of them I think a side by side like what we have at work (Polaris Ranger XP with Mattracks). Not sure of the weight of your Polaris and trailer though so I'm just speculating. I'm not sure but I want to say the tow capacity was 3500lbs (something is telling me that with a tow package it was 5000lbs but I'm not 100%).

    The double cab on the "1st gens" were only made from 2001-2004.

    If you get an auto I recommend and after market transmission cooler. Mount it and reroute your lines to it. These radiators have been known to make "strawberry" milkshakes out of coolant and transmission fluid making for some costly repairs.
     
  10. Nov 30, 2009 at 6:59 PM
    #10
    humtaco

    humtaco Well-Known Member

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    13% grade is a pretty dang steep highway grad. Get a V6 manual, a 4 cyl will crawl.
     
  11. Dec 1, 2009 at 8:10 AM
    #11
    ramcummins

    ramcummins [OP] Member

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    Thanks for the heads up on the "axle wrap". Also on the towing capacity. My ranger and trailer combo is probably aprox 4,000 lbs which I will usually pull with my main truck (Dodge Cummins) but it would be nice to be able to pull it with the Taco. So from what I have learned so far I think I will lean towards the V6 with manual trans. in an Xtra cab truck.
    Are these manual transmissions 5 speed?
    How are the back fold down seats in these trucks for kids? Does anyone have any good pics of the back seat area with the seats in the up / down position (possibly with a kid siting in one)?
    What kind of mods. did they make from year to year? is one year better than another (drive train, interior, exterior, exc...) or are all the 1st gens basically the same?
     
  12. Dec 1, 2009 at 8:38 AM
    #12
    STLharry

    STLharry Lube: It's the key to penetration.

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    Heres what the back seat area looks like
    [​IMG]
    The seats are not like ranger jump seats. Quite cramped, but for smaller kids it may not be that bad (I've shoved a 6'5" friend back there for a three hour car ride)

    As for the transmission, it is a 5spd.

    The model changes between 95.5 and 04 are minimal, except for the introduction of the TRD pkg (rr diff lock) in 98 and the double cab option in 01. Engines are still 2.7 and 3.4 for 4wd.
     
  13. Dec 1, 2009 at 12:01 PM
    #13
    ramcummins

    ramcummins [OP] Member

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    Great! Thanks for all the info. 6'5" is good, I am 6'4" so not far off. That's good to know about the locker in the TRD (that might come in handy). Is that the only difference with the TRD package?

    I got thinking about the frame rust thing. Is that in a specific area of the frame or the whole thing?

    At what mileage should a guy start getting nervous about buying one? I know they say you can easily get 300 or 400 k, but in the real world what is you guy's thoughts?
     
  14. Dec 1, 2009 at 12:14 PM
    #14
    STLharry

    STLharry Lube: It's the key to penetration.

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    Hahaa well I wouldn't recommend that you sit back there for any length of time, but you can surely fit in the front!

    TRD package included a rear locker (if it was 6cyl, most are) and bilstein shocks.

    Rust-wise, 95.5-00 rusted near the front leaf spring mount and behind the front wheels (under doors) mostly, I believe. 01-04 seem to have a problem with rotting from the inside out, which is not necessarily visible.
     
  15. Dec 2, 2009 at 9:46 PM
    #15
    MTgirl

    MTgirl too many frogs, not enough princes... Moderator

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    i have driven both manual (past) and auto (present) '99 V6 Tacomas and personally i would rather have the manual. the ratio of the gears is more tuned to towing/hauling in the manuals. the transmission in my truck now was hard to adjust to. when trying to go slower in the mountains - steep and winding roads - drive is too fast but 2nd is too slow. i wish i had another gear inbetween. for the conditions you described, go manual. MPG's for the two are about equal (from what i can recall) anywhere from 19 to 25.

    and rust - all depends on where the truck has resided until now. there are dozens of threads already on here about rust - check them out. seems like everyone is spotting lots of damage hiding around the spare tire. take it down to get a good look there. for the record my truck is rust free, just really muddy.

    as for the "backseat" - be kind and dont try to fit any human over 4'0" tall back there. its more of a gear storage area.
     
  16. Dec 2, 2009 at 10:06 PM
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    pittim

    pittim mittip

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    +1 on the back seats in the XCab not really being for adults. I sat in the back of mine for about 4 hours. My knees wanted to explode by the time the trip was over. 4 adults in the XCabs just doesn't work. With 3, the passenger in the back could lean against the side of the truck and stretch out into the other side.
     
  17. Dec 3, 2009 at 6:50 AM
    #17
    STLharry

    STLharry Lube: It's the key to penetration.

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    You had to sit in the back of YOUR truck? Isn't that some sort of crime?
     
  18. Dec 3, 2009 at 7:08 AM
    #18
    Kuneff

    Kuneff Carpe Diem

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    If I were in your position... I would be looking for a V6 xcab, and start looking for a TRD supercharger on ebay. I had one on my 02 Xcab several years ago, and it was a GREAT improvement to me. Kept me from having to downshift on hills.
     
  19. Dec 3, 2009 at 7:21 AM
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    graymaurer

    graymaurer Well-Known Member

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    How on earth did you ever get 25mpg out of the V6??
     
  20. Dec 3, 2009 at 2:56 PM
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    ramcummins

    ramcummins [OP] Member

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    How does a 1997 Toyota Tacoma V6 4x4; Manual transmission; manual locks & windows; cd player; air conditioner; matching shell w/lights; front brush grill; aluminum wheels; 272,000 miles - for $3,500 sound? The amount of miles is what makes me nervous.
     
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