Toyota HiLux: What you must know before buying used

Where Can I Find the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)?

The vehicle identification number (VIN) is composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) that act as a unique identifier for the vehicle. A VIN displays the car's unique features, specifications and manufacturer.

The VIN can be found in a couple of places including on the car's registration label (1), on the compliance plate in the engine bay (2) or on the passenger side windshield (3), or on one of the door posts (where the door latches when it is closed) (4). See the image below:

Look for the VIN in these other locations:

  • Insurance card/Insurance policy
  • Vehicle title and registration certificate

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8 Jan 18

The Toyota HiLux is known for being unbreakable in all conditions, and is a fantastic four-wheel-drive option. The team at Top Gear UK even put it through the ringer by drowning it in the English Channel, setting it on fire and dropping a wrecking ball onto it. After all that punishment, the beast coughed to life and showed that it couldn't be killed.

When you're buying a used Toyota HiLux in Australia you need to be aware of a few things.

As far as utes go, the HiLux has everything you could need. It's big and sturdy, has a large tray, a comfortable interior, and lots of different models to choose from depending on how rough (or corporate) you need your next vehicle to be. When you're buying a used Toyota HiLux in Australia however, you need to be aware of a few things.

Check the engine thoroughly

Toyota HiLuxes come in diesel and petrol variants, and there are some different issues that arise depending on what engine you choose.

The diesel engines can fall into disrepair if they haven't been serviced regularly by a qualified and authorised technician1. The pumps and injector nozzles need constant monitoring, and if the car you're looking at doesn't have a clean service history, it might be best to avoid it. The same goes for petrol engines (the V6 variants). If the car feels sluggish under acceleration, it could indicate a fuel pump issue which might just be a filter, but could be a bigger fix1.

You can check the reported history of a used HiLux you are interested in purchasing with a CarHistory report. A car history report includes information on whether a vehicle has been written-off, whether there's a potential odometer wind-back and if it has been stolen. It's vital that you check the history of any second-hand ute you want to buy.

Be careful of aftermarket modifications

The HiLux is a popular car among four-wheel-driving enthusiasts, and as such, older models are often modified with aftermarket parts like a snorkel, lifted springs and huge mud tyres. All of these things look cool and could be what you're after for your vehicle, but beware the garage mechanic2. If the parts haven't been installed by a professional and then certified, the car could not only be illegal to drive on the road, but also very dangerous.

Check the car you're buying doesn't have any damage from off-roading.Check the car you're buying doesn't have any damage from off-roading.

Badly aligned springs can become loose and wobbly over some terrain, and then collapse without warning. If you're travelling on a highway when that happens, you could be in serious strife. Large mud tyres look great and make off-roading a breeze, but they can minimise handling and reduce your turning circle if they've been installed incorrectly. Wheels that are too big overall will also make handling tough, and that's not an issue you can simply see - you must take the car for a test drive before you buy and ensure these mods aren't going to cause major issues down the track.

Look for signs of off-road damage

Check the underbody of the car for rust caused by saltwater, crushed parts from rocky roads, and worn suspension or CV boots around the wheels and axles.

You might be planning to use your HiLux off-road a lot, or to launch your family boat, but that doesn't mean you want it to already have damages from doing those things before you get your hands on it. Check the underbody of the car for rust caused by saltwater, crushed parts from rocky roads, and worn suspension or CV boots around the wheels and axles. All of these problems (minus the rust) are easily fixed by a mechanic, but could be expensive2.

If you spot something that needs replacing, get a second opinion from a mechanic and ask how much it would cost to fix. You can even use that information as a bargaining tool to get the sale price down.

There can be some issues with a used Toyota HiLux, but overall they're fantastic machines, whatever model you get. Make sure you check the reported history of the one you're thinking about buying with a CarHistory report. Get in touch today for more information.

1. Motoring. Buying Used: Toyota HiLux (2005-12). Accessed November 2017.

2. MudMap. Top ten tips for buying a used 4WD. Accessed November 2017.

View a sample report >