jimmy-buffett's Complete Guide to Buying or Selling an FJ Cruiser - Toyota FJ Cruiser Forum
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post #1 of 65 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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jimmy-buffett's Complete Guide to Buying or Selling an FJ Cruiser

Mods, please sticky this post either here or in the Vehicles For Sale forum, wherever it's most useful is fine with me.

If the subject / title of this post caused you to click on it, then most / all of the information contained below should be of some value to you. Yes, it’s long. I type for a living and I type fast. But here’s the best part: I guarantee you that it took me much longer to type this post than it will take for you to read it . So you’re getting the better end of the deal

Rough outline of this post:

1. Who am I to be writing this post?
2. What type of FJ owner is here on our forum?
3. Buyer's Guide
4. Seller's Guide
5. Contacts / Questions

I intentionally put the Buyer's Guide before the Seller's Guide so that the sellers will read that section and know who they're selling to. If you're just here to overprice your FJ to a market of enthusiasts, and then wonder why it didn't sell, you might want to read the Buyer's Guide again. Because I'm the guy showing people that your truck is overpriced.

Independent of whether or not you're here to buy or sell, this entire guide will help you understand who you're buying from or who you're selling to. So please read the whole thing.

1. Who am I to be writing this post?

I am a 42 year old software engineer from Denver, Colorado. I have owned my FJ since March of 2011, I moved to Colorado for offroading in April 2011. I was the September 2013 FJ Cruiser Forums Member of the Month, and I am one of the founding members of Colorado FJ Cruisers. I'm also a car guy. Between my wife and I, we have 5 vehicles (as of August 2017, this number fluctuates ).

I have been advising on FJ purchases for several years, and I am often tagged in purchase threads to evaluate vehicles that people are trying to buy or sell. I am happy to provide my knowledge and experience for free, I just like helping FJ's find good homes
2. What type of FJ owner is here on our forum?

Many car forums have as members a mix of enthusiasts for that vehicle and people who just want to know about common problems for their vehicle, engine codes etc. FJ Cruiser Forums are (a) primarily FJ owners who (b) offroad their FJ's.

If you're a seller, remember this for later: we are a group of FJ owners who offroad our trucks. The value of the mods on your truck to this audience depend greatly upon their suitability for actual offroading. If you've got an Expedition One bumper and a Fox suspension, those mods are useful to us and can be priced into your truck. If you've got a 6-inch ProComp spacer lift, Bushwhacker fender flares, 20-inch wheels and have said "bro" more than once today then those mods can't be priced into your truck, because anyone here buying your truck to offroad it will have to rip those mods off. I'm sure it looks great rolling down the street, but you're probably better off trying to sell it on Craigslist to someone else who will just drive it on the street. Spacer lifts and giant wheels are bad for offroading, and we offroad our FJ's.

If you're reading this, you're probably either looking for advice on buying a new FJ from people who know FJ's, or you're here to sell your FJ to a group of people who love FJ's. If you're new here and plan on sticking around, welcome to the club! If you're just swinging by to post your truck for sale with no pictures and an e-mail / phone # as contact info, don't be that guy . Read this post, write a good ad, post pictures, check the thread every couple of days.
3. Buyer's Guide

So you're here to buy an FJ, congratulations! They're great vehicles that can take you to amazing places. But I have bad news for you...

3a. Your first decision will cost you about $10,000.

What I often call the "$10,000 decision" is deciding between your average 2007 with 100K+ miles on it for around $15K, versus your average 2010 with <60K miles on it for $25K. Remember this saying: it's always cheaper to do it right than it is to do it twice. This applies to all things FJ, including buying your FJ. The most expensive way to get into the FJ world is to start with a 2007, realize you love the trucks but your current one has too many miles, then sell it to buy a 2010. All those mods you put on? Yep, you're installing all of them over again. Some of your suspension parts won't fit, so you'll have to buy those again too.

Buyer 1: All you have is $15K and you have to get an FJ now, and any late '07 or any '08+ will be fine. Buy the cheapest one you can get with the lowest miles and the best maintenance history, and enjoy the fact that it's a Toyota. You don't really need my help, there are plenty of old trucks for you to buy on Craigslist or within 100-200 miles of you. A few things to look out for: early '07 FJ's had weak rear differentials, and all FJ's until 2010 had a risk of fender bulging. Toyota produced more FJ's in 2007 and 2008 than any other years, so if you can find an '08 then you only need to look for fender bulging.

Buyer 2: This is the last FJ you ever want to own and then hand down to your kids, or you're on the fence and can afford such an FJ. You want the lowest miles 2010+ you can afford. Why a 2010+? Toyota updated the engine in 2010 and added crawl control in 2013, but most people don't consider crawl control to be worth the price premium of a 2013. If you want the crawl control, change "2010+" to "2013+" everywhere below.

If you're Buyer 2, then this guide is mainly written for you.
3b. The market for desirable FJ Cruisers is a national market. Buy a plane ticket and drive yours home.

Yep, you heard that right. Some FJ's can be super rare: that 2014 Trail Teams Ultimate Edition in Heritage Blue (2500 trucks) with a Manual Transmission (250 trucks) might have 0-2 for sale in the entire country at any one time, and neither of them are within 1000 miles of you.

If you just want a 2010+ with 4x4 then FJ's aren't super rare, but they're rare enough that you can't just roll down to the local dealer and pick a color. And if you live in a snow state with an aggressive market for FJ's, you can save thousands buying one from California or the gulf states (Texas to Florida). 4x4 vehicles are cheaper down south because they're not essential to get around in the snow, here in Denver we pay roughly $2000 more for a same year / same miles FJ than the cheaper markets. Plane tickets and gas for a weekend spent driving home are cheap compared to getting a great deal on the perfect FJ.

Don't get me wrong, some people get lucky and find just the right FJ within 100 miles of them. And "lucky" is the right word, trust me on this. For everyone else, how do you find these FJ's? National searches on car search engines like AutoTrader and CarGurus. Here are some example searches:

AutoTrader - National Search - 2010+ FJ Cruiser - 4x4 - <60K miles - <$26K price
CarGurus - National Search - 2010+ FJ Cruiser - 4x4 - <60K miles - <$26K price

You can tweak these searches ^^^ as you like, or add your favorite color. Keep the 2010+ / 4x4 part but otherwise you can tweak price / miles to increase or decrease your search results.

So you've found a list of FJ's that you're interested in, congrats! Which one is the best deal? Make your choice based on miles, price, condition, and existing mods. If you're considering an already modified truck...
3c. What are the mods on this FJ worth?

It's always nice to buy an FJ from someone who has already modified it. It saves you some trouble, right? Most times, that's actually wrong. The US is full of poorly, cheaply modified FJ's that look good but perform poorly offroad. Spacer lifts, brush guards, metal tail-light protectors, 20-inch wheels with mud tires. CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP. Toyota dealers did this to FJ's in their showrooms for years to sell to unsuspecting customers who see the lift and the big wheels and think that's cool, then they show up with us on the trails and find out that the dealer charged you the same price for a $200 spacer lift + install that you would have paid for a real lift that can offroad well. And those 20-inch wheels don't have enough sidewall to air down.

A cheaply modified FJ will cost you more because the looks of these trucks drive up the price, and then you just have to take all that junk off. So unless you know the brand of lift on the truck and that's a brand you know is good, whatever lift is on there isn't worth anything. Wheels / tires, same thing. Don't buy somebody else's project for full price just to redo most of their work. But if you find a well modified vehicle by somebody who knew what they were doing for a good price, jump on it.
3d. OK I bought the FJ, now what?

First off, welcome to the FJ community! These forums are a great resource for information about how to modify your truck, for fixing problems on it etc. And second, make sure to get out to Colorado some year and come to FJ Summit! It is one of the largest Toyota events in the world, in one of the most scenic places you will ever visit. You will never see so many FJ's in one place, and you will see every mod you could ever possibly want at least three times. If you ever want to just come to Colorado and run some trails, look us up at Colorado FJ Cruisers for some trail advice or coordinating on a run.

Congrats on your truck, and I hope to see you around...
4. Seller's Guide

Welcome to the FJ Cruiser Forums! If you're reading this, you're probably new here. Remember up top where I recommended that all Sellers should read the Buyer's Guide? If you haven't done that yet, scroll up and do it real quick.

OK, welcome back. So, you're here to sell an FJ to an enthusiast forum full of people who love FJ's because...

4a. You heard somewhere that your FJ is valuable.

Let's get this out of the way right up front: your FJ is valuable. In fact, for 2013 and 2014 it was the #1 resale value vehicle in the country. And that resale holds strong today.

But if you read the Buyer's Guide section of this post (if not, scroll up), you know that anybody here on a national FJ Cruiser forum is also looking for their FJ nationally. So your competition here is pretty much every FJ Cruiser in the country. If you are that guy who rolls in here, asks a stupid price for your truck then posts a phone # / e-mail address so you never have to come back, your truck won't sell. I'm the guy who will be telling people to not buy your truck, because my loyalty is to the person looking to buy an FJ and participate in our forums, not to a person who is just here to dump a truck on a group of people who love them.

So, your FJ was a great vehicle, and you have to sell it for whatever reason. You want it to go to a group of people who will love it and care for it and take it driving over mountains . Then your next question is...
4b. What's my FJ worth?

I hate the "your vehicle is worth whatever someone will pay for it" crowd. Jerks. Your vehicle is worth what other FJ's comparable to yours -- year, miles, mods -- are selling for. What are other vehicles selling for? Whenever I sell a vehicle I do a full work-up: KBB, Edmunds, NADA used vehicle prices on a spreadsheet. I recommend averaging the three at each pricing level -- Private Party, Trade-In, Retail -- to satisfy the "but KBB says your car is worth less" crowd. But the price estimators are just a baseline, the real value of your vehicle is determined by other listings from AutoTrader and CarGurus with your year / miles.

Your goal here is to be able to justify your price to a buyer, who may or may not know very much about FJ's. If you can't justify your price to a buyer against all the other trucks I told them to look at in the Buyer's Guide, your truck won't sell.

Selling your truck to a buyer hundreds or thousands of miles away can be a hassle, right? So go trade it in, drive a hard bargain and enjoy the sales tax benefits of trading your truck in. Watch how much the dealership marks it up when you're done ($4-6K happens a lot). If you sell it on Craigslist the same process above applies: KBB, Edmunds, NADA, then compare it to other vehicles for sale on your local Craigslist.
4c. How long will it take to sell?

"I want top dollar!" and "I need it gone!" aren't really compatible in the car sales world, sorry. If yours is the best priced truck in the country for its year / miles, it should sell quickly here (1-2 weeks). If you have the aforementioned only-one-for-sale-in-the-US '14 TTUE in a manual transmission and you want top dollar, you are waiting for a very specific buyer. That wait might take 2-3 months, so spam it for sale everywhere: here, AutoTrader, CarGurus etc. Your biggest challenge isn't price, it's connecting with that one specific person who wants to buy your exact truck.

If you don't want to wait, trade it in to a dealer and aggressively haggle them on the price. Dealerships have been giving great trade-in values on FJ's then marking them up the way I advise against in this entire thread. But they have a better marketing department and can stand to wait a month or two for that extra $2000 that you can't. Dealers also attract a different type of buyer than our forums do: that Tundra on 20's and a 6-inch lift with the "bro" behind the wheel, that's not us. But that guy and 30 just like him walk into that dealership every month. Dealers know this, so they throw cheap mods on the truck to make it flashy then put it in their showroom. Then they sit back and wait for the biggest, dumbest fish to walk in and over-pay. They have the floorspace and the audience to do that, you don't.

So your truck has a few mods, how do those add to the value? Odds are that...
4d. Your mods probably aren't worth much to anyone else.

If you didn't come here for advice about what mods to buy when you owned your FJ, you probably didn't buy good mods. Especially if you didn't spend a lot on those mods. And if you bought your truck already modified from the dealer, they probably overcharged you for cheap upgrades.

Is your lift from Old Man Emu, Icon, King, Fox, Toytec? A company we've heard of that charges more than $800 for a suspension kit? If not, it will probably have to be replaced by a serious offroader, which means that it isn't worth anything to them. Your truck may look great rolling down the road lifted and on 20's, and some kid on Craigslist may pay full price for bad mods, but we won't because we have to replace them to go offroading.

If you've got good mods on your truck and you're absolutely sure of that, price them into the truck and good luck.

4d ADDENDUM. What's my highly modified high-miles FJ worth?

I'm adding a section here to address highly modified high-miles trucks, as we're starting to see a lot of these coming on the market lately and they can be difficult to price.

My own '11 TT FJ with ~$13K in mods sold for the base market value of the truck (~$26K) plus 45% of the value (not counting install) of the mods (~$6000). The value of your mods to any specific buyer is highly dependent on the buyer. If that person doesn't like your specific bumper, they will pay less for it. If they have a suspension in mind that your truck doesn't have, they may talk you down on the price to help pay for their upgrade.

For the FJCruiserForums audience, my advice is to list your mods and their new value, total them up and pick a % of their value that you add to the base value of your truck (calculated by looking at similar trucks for sale). The more heavily modified your truck is, the lower the % needs to be. The price pressures on your truck will be lower-miles / newer trucks that a new owner can buy and lightly modify into what they wanted originally. Your truck for $22K versus a $20K 2010 with an extra $5K mod budget means they've bought down your miles on a newer truck with cash. Some buyers will buy your truck, some will buy the 2010 and build it themselves.

So I'll say it again, if this description matches your truck then it is difficult to price. I wouldn't put any of this ^^^ in a Craigslist ad for your truck, as the buyers there aren't typically enthusiasts. If you want to have this discussion with the buyer in-person to impress them with your FJ knowledge, that might help make the sale.
4e. It probably seems like I'm being hard on you and your truck.

I am, and on purpose. Far, far too many sellers show up and do exactly what I'm telling you to not do above. Dozens do this every year then wonder why their trucks don't sell. My goal is to help a new FJ owner get a truck and become a participating member of our forum. That's not you, that's the person buying from you, and they don't have to buy from you.

Make your truck a good deal for them based on all the other trucks they're looking at, and they will buy from you. But you have some homework to do first. The best advice I can give you to help you sell your truck is to pretend that you're buying your truck. Is it a better deal than comparable vehicles? If not, it won't sell. Is there a forum member a few miles from you who would gladly spend a little more to buy a truck they can see / test drive first? If so, then you can probably ask a little more.
5. Contacts / Questions

If you need help evaluating an FJ that you're interested in buying / selling, feel free to reach out to me directly via PM's. You have to have 5 posts here on the forums to send / receive PM's, so if you're a new member please get your post count to 5 before trying to reach out.
The End

And that's the "Complete Guide to Buying and Selling". I'm sure I left some things out, so it will be updated over time. Thanks for reading!

Want to see what FOUR years (updated!) of offroading in Colorado looks like? Click Here

Join the Colorado FJ Cruisers Facebook page for Colorado mod days, trail runs and other organized events! Not from Colorado, but planning a trip here? Join up, we'd be happy to suggest some offroading locations for you or even coordinate a run with the locals!

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post #2 of 65 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 10:29 PM
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Re: jimmy-buffett's Complete Guide to Buying or Selling an FJ Cruiser

STUCK. Shall I close it or do wish people to comment? This comment can be deleted as well.

I leave it up to Winterpeg where he wishes it to be placed when he returns from Holiday.

Thank you!
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post #3 of 65 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 10:30 PM
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Re: jimmy-buffett's Complete Guide to Buying or Selling an FJ Cruiser

Great post, thank you

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post #4 of 65 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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Re: jimmy-buffett's Complete Guide to Buying or Selling an FJ Cruiser

Quote:
Hannibal previously said: View Post
STUCK. Shall I close it or do wish people to comment? This comment can be deleted as well.

I leave it up to Winterpeg where he wishes it to be placed when he returns from Holiday.

Thank you!
Happy to leave it open to discussion, the article is probably less technical than some would prefer (i.e. differences by year, number of trail teams etc) so I'm open to editing it going forward.

Thanks for sticky-ing it!
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Want to see what FOUR years (updated!) of offroading in Colorado looks like? Click Here

Join the Colorado FJ Cruisers Facebook page for Colorado mod days, trail runs and other organized events! Not from Colorado, but planning a trip here? Join up, we'd be happy to suggest some offroading locations for you or even coordinate a run with the locals!

My CB Radio Install+Parts Thread

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post #5 of 65 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 10:57 PM
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Re: jimmy-buffett's Complete Guide to Buying or Selling an FJ Cruiser

Great sticky JB! Thanks for all the work you do getting FJ people hooked up with their dream trucks!

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post #6 of 65 (permalink) Old 08-17-2017, 01:27 AM
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Re: jimmy-buffett's Complete Guide to Buying or Selling an FJ Cruiser

Thanks James! Interesting read. :-). I doubt I ever sell my FJ! :-)

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post #7 of 65 (permalink) Old 08-17-2017, 09:33 AM
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Re: jimmy-buffett's Complete Guide to Buying or Selling an FJ Cruiser

@jimmy-buffett

Thanks for the write-up.

Sorry/not sorry my first couple posts pushed you over the edge to write this!
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post #8 of 65 (permalink) Old 08-17-2017, 11:23 AM Thread Starter
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Re: jimmy-buffett's Complete Guide to Buying or Selling an FJ Cruiser

Quote:
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@jimmy-buffett

Thanks for the write-up.

Sorry/not sorry my first couple posts pushed you over the edge to write this!
I started talking to the moderators about writing this up months ago, so no sweat I end up typing some version of this ^^^ in many threads like yours, so it helps to just centralize it. I hope this info helped!
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Want to see what FOUR years (updated!) of offroading in Colorado looks like? Click Here

Join the Colorado FJ Cruisers Facebook page for Colorado mod days, trail runs and other organized events! Not from Colorado, but planning a trip here? Join up, we'd be happy to suggest some offroading locations for you or even coordinate a run with the locals!

My CB Radio Install+Parts Thread

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Re: jimmy-buffett's Complete Guide to Buying or Selling an FJ Cruiser

Great Read.

"2014 Trail Teams Ultimate Edition in Heritage Blue (2500 trucks) with a Manual Transmission (250 trucks)" are the sticks really that rare? only 10%?

i drive a 2010 TTSE with a stick...does that mean theres like 150?


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Re: jimmy-buffett's Complete Guide to Buying or Selling an FJ Cruiser

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with the community!
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