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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently went to a dealership to see a Trooper (a car I only learned about maybe a week ago) and fell in love with how boxy and unique it is, it’s a car with personality but it was in a condition where the price point didn’t match and they refused to budge so I had to let it pass. After days of trying to find a replacement, I’ve considered maybe shipping and financing an excellent one from out of state or buying one with more than 160k miles on it that’s in good condition. My question is, is it worth it? Is it overly problematic? Am I going to be paying Beamer and Rover prices for something as basic as oil changes and brakes or just maybe a bit more than normal? Is it overall a reliable car that’s worth 10k plus and can last a good damn while if properly maintained? Plz help 🙏
 

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'99 Trooper, 3.5L V6
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Hey there, saw this post and just had to make an account to respond - I've got a '99 Trooper thats been in my family since it rolled off the factory floor, I've been driving it since I could drive and still drive it daily at Uni. Its got 134k miles and been across country more times than most vehicles. Also the vehicle that got me into mechanic work - the thing needed a fair amount of fixing after 22 years.

As for oil changes, theyre gonna be the same price as any other vehicle - 5qts of 5w30 is easy enough and filters are like $10, I use synthetic oil at this point, go with 4qt of Pennz High Milleage synthetic, a qt of LucasOil Stop Leak, and a K&N filter(might switch to Fram as I've heard they're better). So about $40 per change if you go the high end, $25 if you go cheaper.

As for reliability, I've abused that thing in a lot of ways, between different jobs using it as a utility truck, driving it cross country over the summer, mudding in Wyoming on that summer trip, etc, its about unkillable as long as you've got some skill working on em. Otherwise the reason my parents bought it was experience using them in Africa before moving back to the states, and according to them the Troopers they used(the diesel variants from what I remember) were just unstoppable in the worst of conditions.

Anyways, this is all coming from a fanatic who basically grew up in a Trooper, so take it with a grain of salt, otherwise, I highly recommend the Troopers as seen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think I’m turning into a fanatic myself, these things are beautiful. They remind me of a Land Rover Discovery with its boxy design but without all the Land Rover headaches. Is getting parts really as bad as people make it out to be? Or can I get by with a simple Google search and a willingness to pay a little more than normal for shipping? Also I’ve never really been too into fixing cars but im more than willing to learn now that im considering getting a car I actually want and care about and not just another 2000 dollar Accord.
 

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Welcome to the Planet! One thing you can do is post a pic of the type of Trooper you're looking for. The older rigs (30+ years old now) are very "square" and boxy, commonly referred-to as "Gen I" 1992-up has a larger, more-rounded body style (Gen II). Each has its own nice features and quirks.

Keep in mind you're looking at older vehicles that will likely need some sort of maintenance, either right away when you buy one or down the road. Commonly-replaced parts are still quite available and this is the best forum for folks who are looking to find parts. We do have connections! Although certain things are getting harder to find.

Stuff like brakes, shocks, steering parts, clutches, belts, sensors, you can usually find at Rockauto.com and other parts sites. Some harder-to-find items require a bit of hunting.

Certain engines and transmissions are more desirable/reliable, so that's a factor. I'd warn you right away to stay away from any V6 Trooper with an automatic. The GM auto trans used in these is quite problematic and very $$$ to fix.

At any rate, there are still good ones out there, you just have to look around for them. Craigslist, Offerup, Facebook Marketplace are all good resources. Bring A Trailer sometimes has a gem of a Trooper at auction.

Check rigs all along the West Coast, you'll be more likely to find a Non-Rusty one. Come on up to the Beautiful Rust-Free Pacific NorthWest, there's usually something somewhere!

This '97 5-speed needing a clutch caught my eye recently. It'd be a great project rig with a very reliable 3.2 V6:


This Gen I in Bend, Or, would also make a great project. It's pretty basic with 4-cyl and automatic. The 4-cyl automatic is a pretty good slushbox, BTW, made by Aisin in Japan. So not one to be afraid of. Needs a new engine but the seller has a good one to go with. These are only going up in value, as they are in true "classic" terratory.


Anyhow, if we can narrow it down to a specific body style, we can better help you find something you'll be happy with.

Cheers.......ed
 
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They're pretty dang reliable with the exception of the automatic transmissions. You mentioned paying over 10k though? That's an incredibly steep price. Like double what you should be paying for a nice trooper
Exactly, any Trooper you'd pay $10K for had better be extremely low miles and Showroom Fresh! You may have noticed the Gen I prices creeping up this past year, I've seen quite a few at $5k and up. It's made me re-evaluate my '90 3.4 LS, to the point where I'm considering getting it repainted. Hey, it's a 31-yr-old Classic! 😎
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
They're pretty dang reliable with the exception of the automatic transmissions. You mentioned paying over 10k though? That's an incredibly steep price. Like double what you should be paying for a nice trooper
Well, I found a 90 with 85k miles in immaculate condition from a dealer online for 13k and it’s beautiful. The one I was looking at on Friday was a 99 with 114k miles on it and it was just sort of shabby looking upon closer inspection as well as having two chips in the windshield and refused to budge from 7.9 which I thought was too much for its condition, hell, they didn’t even bother to dust it off. Also, about the whole manual VS automatic thing, I have to say that I don’t know how to drive manual so an automatic would be ideal I guess.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Welcome to the Planet! One thing you can do is post a pic of the type of Trooper you're looking for. The older rigs (30+ years old now) are very "square" and boxy, commonly referred-to as "Gen I" 1992-up has a larger, more-rounded body style (Gen II). Each has its own nice features and quirks.

Keep in mind you're looking at older vehicles that will likely need some sort of maintenance, either right away when you buy one or down the road. Commonly-replaced parts are still quite available and this is the best forum for folks who are looking to find parts. We do have connections! Although certain things are getting harder to find.

Stuff like brakes, shocks, steering parts, clutches, belts, sensors, you can usually find at Rockauto.com and other parts sites. Some harder-to-find items require a bit of hunting.

Certain engines and transmissions are more desirable/reliable, so that's a factor. I'd warn you right away to stay away from any V6 Trooper with an automatic. The GM auto trans used in these is quite problematic and very $$$ to fix.

At any rate, there are still good ones out there, you just have to look around for them. Craigslist, Offerup, Facebook Marketplace are all good resources. Bring A Trailer sometimes has a gem of a Trooper at auction.

Check rigs all along the West Coast, you'll be more likely to find a Non-Rusty one. Come on up to the Beautiful Rust-Free Pacific NorthWest, there's usually something somewhere!

This '97 5-speed needing a clutch caught my eye recently. It'd be a great project rig with a very reliable 3.2 V6:


This Gen I in Bend, Or, would also make a great project. It's pretty basic with 4-cyl and automatic. The 4-cyl automatic is a pretty good slushbox, BTW, made by Aisin in Japan. So not one to be afraid of. Needs a new engine but the seller has a good one to go with. These are only going up in value, as they are in true "classic" terratory.


Anyhow, if we can narrow it down to a specific body style, we can better help you find something you'll be happy with.

Cheers.......ed
Well, honestly, I really liked the 99 I saw at the dealership so I guess anything below that is fair game for me! My only requirements is that it’s ready to go and drive right away since it’ll be my daily driver and, unfortunately, it has to be automatic as I don’t know how to driver stick. I mean, obviously things like low mileage, being in decent shape and price are important too lol
 

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Well, if one of the later models has caught your eye, I'd be looking out for one with a recently-rebuilt automatic. You are just about Guaranteed to have transmission troubles with one of these, if you buy one with the original trans or no history of replacement. One with a rebuilt trans at least might have a chance of living for a while.

Just to put a point on this, similar-year Toyota 4Runners have a WAY higher resale than a Trooper of like vintage. You can attribute some of this to the "Toyota mystique" but they are just about bulletproof. My Mom has a 2002 4Runner with 100,000 miles on it, and it runs and drives as new. And I'm not kidding. It is tight, no rattles, the engine and transmission run flawlessly.

Gen 2 ZuZu's do have a reputation for poor reliability, so best to look for one with good service records and few owners. In many ways, the chassis on the ZuZu is superior to the 'Yota but the Market don't care! The one that will run "forever" gets the nod.

BTW '98's are probably the worst year for the 3.5 engine, it was new in '98 and had some piston design issues which can cause a lot of oil burning. So a good question to ask the owner is "how much oil does it use?".

There's a "sweet spot" for Gen II's, the '97 model (last of the 3.2 V6's), which was a very reliable engine in the end. So if you can find nice '96-'97 with rebuilt trans, I'd take that over a '98 3.5.

Another thought, say you found a "creampuff" that needed a trans. You could probably have a rebuilt trans installed for less money than a dlr would charge for any rig, and you'd have a rebuilt trans right off-the-bat. Something to consider.
I see ZuZu's with bad transmissions all the time up here in the PNW; they used to be dirt-cheap, like $500-$750. Some still are, but not too many "cream puffs" in that price range anymore. A real nice Trooper with bad trans shouldn't run more than $1500-$2k and that leaves you lots of room for a rebuild.

My brother just had his Silverado 1500 pickup's transmission done at a very reputable small local shop for $2400 complete; that was removal, reinstallation, full rebuild with all new electronics and upgrades for durability. If you had something like that done to a bad 4L30E, it's possible you could get many miles of good service out of it. Install an external transmission cooler, use synthetic transmission oil, and make sure the trans is regularly serviced.

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

p.s. Yes, you Can learn to drive a manual transmission, and that would open up a whole new world of possibilities. And it's more fun, to boot!
 

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I just bought a 98 trooper 2 days ago. $1k!! Running. It looks pretty rough though. It was definitely a toy. I plan on using it as my deer lease vehicle after I work the kinks out. Seems like it may have something funny going with the 4x4. Not to sure yet
 

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Only one trooper is worth 10K and they are rare. Troopers can be purchased all day long for 500 to 5k.
My best advice is to stay clear of automatics and don't worry about the mileage to much. Its not a BMW, 160k miles is nothing. Ive seen these troopers consistently run for 250k with ease and 400+ thousand miles happens often.
I own currently own 3 troopers. All the model years are good vehicles. Each generation has its own attraction however I am convinced that the 1992 to 1996 with a manual transmission are the better years.

If you are anywhere near Reno I have a couple great troopers for sale in the 5k range.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Only one trooper is worth 10K and they are rare. Troopers can be purchased all day long for 500 to 5k.
My best advice is to stay clear of automatics and don't worry about the mileage to much. Its not a BMW, 160k miles is nothing. Ive seen these troopers consistently run for 250k with ease and 400+ thousand miles happens often.
I own currently own 3 troopers. All the model years are good vehicles. Each generation has its own attraction however I am convinced that the 1992 to 1996 with a manual transmission are the better years.

If you are anywhere near Reno I have a couple great troopers for sale in the 5k range.
Thank you for the offer, but unfortunately, I’m in socal. I guess I have to learn stick.
 

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Only one trooper is worth 10K and they are rare. Troopers can be purchased all day long for 500 to 5k.
My best advice is to stay clear of automatics and don't worry about the mileage to much. Its not a BMW, 160k miles is nothing. Ive seen these troopers consistently run for 250k with ease and 400+ thousand miles happens often.
I own currently own 3 troopers. All the model years are good vehicles. Each generation has its own attraction however I am convinced that the 1992 to 1996 with a manual transmission are the better years.

If you are anywhere near Reno I have a couple great troopers for sale in the 5k range.
Which one? My guess would be an First Gen RS?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Exactly, any Trooper you'd pay $10K for had better be extremely low miles and Showroom Fresh! You may have noticed the Gen I prices creeping up this past year, I've seen quite a few at $5k and up. It's made me re-evaluate my '90 3.4 LS, to the point where I'm considering getting it repainted. Hey, it's a 31-yr-old Classic! 😎
Is this worth the price?
 

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It's nice but IMHO it ain't $13,900 nice. It has a lot of cosmetic issues, a dent on the body, things like that. For almost $14K I'd expect near-perfection.

Check out these closed auctions at Bring-A-Trailer, these are indicative of prices paid for really nice Troopers of different years:

 

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Ok, check out this 1989 Trooper RS for an example of one that's only going to go up in price: One-year imported to the States, rare 2-door model, this one looks super-clean and straight. He's asking $7000 for it. It'll have a 5-speed and a 2.6L 4-cylinder MPFI engine. I had one just like this, only it wasn't anywhere as nice. Super-fun to drive, too, with the shorter wheelbase.

If you'd ask me which one I'd get, the $7K RS or the $14K 4-door, no question! Half as cheap, and Twice as Cool.


The Cragslist ad he linked to is expired, so IDK if it's sold. You'd have to contact the seller thru Facebook.

Wheel Automotive side marker light Automotive parking light Tire Automotive side-view mirror
 
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Ok, check out this 1989 Trooper RS for an example of one that's only going to go up in price: One-year imported to the States, rare 2-door model, this one looks super-clean and straight. He's asking $7000 for it. It'll have a 5-speed and a 2.6L 4-cylinder MPFI engine. I had one just like this, only it wasn't anywhere as nice. Super-fun to drive, too, with the shorter wheelbase.

If you'd ask me which one I'd get, the $7K RS or the $14K 4-door, no question! Half as cheap, and Twice as Cool.


The Cragslist ad he linked to is expired, so IDK if it's sold. You'd have to contact the seller thru Facebook.

View attachment 120479
When it comes to out of state cars, isn’t that expensive considering the shipping n everything? N how “difficult” is it to register an out of state car?
 

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You're in Commiefornia, right? Anything that comes in has to meet the smog standards, so you'll have to check the local rules on that and how old the rig has to be before it's exempt.

And yeah, it isn't cheap to ship in. I was looking for a 2004 Mach 1 for 1-1/2 years, there were a lot of 'em all over the country but it's difficult to get to them to check 'em out (or pay someone to do that), and besides the local guy with cash in their pocket is gonna beat you out of it most times.

Then I found a really nice, low miles, one-owner car 30 minutes away from my place. So I was the "local guy" with the pile of cash in my pocket! It's sitting in my driveway now and is a great-looking and driving car.

Not to say that you can't do well having a car shipped, but yeah it will cost. I was looking at shipping charges of $1000 up to ship on an uncovered carrier to the PNW. Covered would be even more.

Anyway, maybe someone well-versed in CA emissions requirements could chime in. That being said, if you have a Fakebook account go on Marketplace and do a search with a 250 or 500-mile radius from your location. I pulled up a ton of Trooper of all years, searching within 500 miles of L.A. and Sacramento.
 
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