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Toyota Townace checks to be done before buy and CR27 vs CR36


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Hi all,

I am going to sold my Viva-Elite and buy a Toyota townace lotto van since our family is larger now.

Q1) Please give me points to be checked before buying which are especial to this Toyota town ace lotto.

Q2) And I noticed townace CR36 is more cheaper than CR27. 4WD is a good option and people says CR36 maintain is costly. Could I have an idea of extra cost in numbers, and repairing period of 4WD suspension system? ( I am willing to pay extra cost for 4WD option :) )

Thank you your attention


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Hi Vishwa

Welcome to the forum.

Please note that you are looking at buying a vehicle that is 30 years old. At this age, maintenance cost does not depend on whether it is 4WD or 2WD. It depends on how well the vehicle has been taken care of. So let it be a CR27 or a CR36....the car will cost an arm and a leg to maintain and you will spend a lot of time in garages if the car has not been properly taken care of. The vehicle you are looking at are strong workhorses. Sadly that is also the problem with the model. They have been used extremely harshly and poorly maintained (and they still keep on running). A CR27/36 in good condition is very hard to find. 

Sri Lankans believe stupid myths created by dumb car sales people. One is that 5 door models have less market because it is weak. That is utter rubbish. In fact the 5 door is stronger than the 4 door model because the 5 door has strong door pillars on both sides behind the rear door (4 door only has one pillar on the passenger side and the driver side is one flimsy and thin sheet of metal). The second myth is this whole thing about 4WD costing so much more than 2WD to run and maintain.

The whole 4WD having less market value than the 2WD is simply Sri Lankan myths...way back in the 80s and 90s we had some of those in our family company fleet. Both vehicles faired the same. I used to take the 4WDs on trips to udawalawe and up the mountains and it was far better than the 2WD. In fact the 4WD was stronger as the suspension was harder...so it required less frequent change in suspension bushes, etc...and the so called "extra maintenance of the 4WD system" was not that bad as people make it out to be. The only thing that is needed as extra is change of transfer case oil (which is usually at 50-75 thousand km when new back then); then the front CV joints and boots, which actually does not cost that much nor does it have to be replaced often if the car is taken care of well and when replacing it is replaced with good parts (not the cheap Chinese crap most owners of these vehicles stick because they are too cheap to buy decent parts). 

Again, 30 year old vehicle on average. Most have had very hard lives with users who did not have the means to properly take care of them. So you won't find good ones easily. Take it to the agents or a place like Car Ch**ks and get it inspected...check the mechanicals (most diesels by this point would have had an engine overhaul...transmission overhaul...etc...make sure it is done properly). Then check for rust...most cars would have the rust fixed...sadly that also means that it might have been fixed poorly by just filling the rust holes with cataloy/putty. The TownAces you are looking at are delivery vans...so the rear seat was just a bench type seat. Most have been converted by fitting after market passenger seats. Make sure that the seats are fitted properly and in a safe manner. There are a lot of vans out there with extra seats added in a very unsafe way by simply drilling holes on the floor at weak spots and fitting it with a nut and bolt (proper fitment requires welding in a support plate) 

Also, the two you are looking at are delivery vans...so it is not the most comfortable. the rear is very bouncy. So you might want to look for a WAGON variant of the vehicle (Super Extra grade and another one I cannot remember..I think there was an Extra and a GL). A little bit more rare, but the most family friendly and comfortable variant would be a Master Ace, but these are very rare in SL. 

You also might want to look in to a Lite Ace of the same period. It is the same vehicle with a different body. It will have the same problems as the TownAce.

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We have a cr27 at home. like irage said, its a very old vehicle at this point and its almost a gamble buying a lotto van as there soooo many components that would have worn out or need attention, time, garage costs, parts and many others. we have replaced almost all the things except for the engine and manual gearbox. our one is mechanically sound and in very good conditions thanks to timely repairs and maintenance being done after it has run over 450,000kms. can take up to speeds above 100kmph and would drive hundreds of kms non-stop due to timely maintenance.

Power steering - repaired

radiator - repaired/replaced

suspension bushes - replaced several times

paint - once and now its time to paint again as clear coat has almost thinned out after polishing 

AC - works but seems like there's another leak which needs attention

You will need to get used to live with rattle sounds, plastic bits creaking, interior parts going brittle and not to mention rust as the vehicles are very old. Also, ours doesn't have ABS so I don't prefer to drive the van as ABS has saved my from many crashes. But its a very practical vehicle as opposed to my Vits 130 which gets bottomed out in outstation areas. As someone who is moving from a Viva elite, you would have to get used to these things as newer cars has less rattling and noise issues.

Also, the noice, the engine at this point is very noisy. When I drive it in the highway at 100kmph you cant even hear music properly from the speakers due to sound of the engine which roars like a ship engine. 

It does very good on fuel though. We go to hasalaka and back to cmb with just Rs. 4000 diesel so that's a plus point.

Only good things of the cr27 is that it can carry 7-8 persons and has high ground clearance so can take it to places where the car cannot. 

I wouldn't actually recommend it as daily driver vehicle. Driving it is very difficult and driving my Vitz feels like playing a video game compared to the harsh driving experience of the cr27. Also, if safety is one of your concerns, cr27 doesn't fit in either. 


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Thanks you ghostwriter,

Pleasurer to have a comments as a townace user as well as a modern car user.

Yes. Agree with you. Diesel engines, 25 years old, Old technology too many things are there as drawbacks.

We has a Shell model van with 54-XXXX. It was a monster. We sold it 12 years back. Very Reliable. After we bought it, we faced too many issues at just after buying it. But we fixed  all  most all the issues, radiator, power steering, injector, ball joints, suspension, except transmission, engine.  But after 1 or 2 year no major issues came. We ran it for around 10 years running 60 km per day.  We used to transport many things including coconuts, cement. No engine tune ups. DS40 oil, parts are extremely cheep, No expensive sensors. 

Then we switched to viva elite. But I am will to drive reliable Shell model van compared to Viva elite with the Rattling diesel power. 

But no ABS, air bags. It the most serious problem.

Edited by VishwaR
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@VishwaR...if you buy the TownAce....be prepared to do similar repairs as you did in your "shell van". So make sure you do not spend ALL your money on purchasing the vehicle. Save some money for repairs, etc...and you should be prepared to do everything from mechanicals, to electricals to body. Things like rattles...its mainly because the plastics lose form and don't sit properly and what ever padding material was used has worn out by now...but then being commercial vans they were not very high on the sound proofing either. You can fix these by doing a full interior rebuild and reshaping the plastics panels...but considering the cost...it really is not worth it.

If the vehicle has been well taken care of, mileages like 450,000 is actually nothing for the mechanicals and will do a lot more. Sadly 99% of the townaces/liteaces did not fall in to the hands of careful owners like @ghostwriter. They were the typical pump and drive kind of users. Also, lets not forget what most of these vehicles did when they first arrived inthe country (look at the nick name we have given it !)

May I ask what your budget is ? Because if you are willing to buy the CR27/36 and then do repairs....maybe you can spend a bit more on a newer vehicle and save a little less for repairs ? Sadly 40 series ones are nearly double the price of the 20/30 series. Being newer the 40 series would offer a bit more in terms of features.

What are your requirements ? Do you still want to haul coconuts and stuff ? Is it just ground clearance and a bit more space you are after ? Would something like a Corolla van (elephant back) work ? You get mid to late 90s models...parts are still available...diesel ones have ship loads of torque..petrol ones are pretty good (1.5L ones). Safer and quieter than a TownAce.  Finding a good one won't be any easier nor harder than finding a TownAce in good shape. Unless you plan on going on some hard terrains, the front wheel drive will keep you moving (in otherwords do you really need 4WD ?).

Edited by iRage
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