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Hey folks,
I'm about to be a first-time FJ owner, as soon as I find just the right combo of price, miles, features... I gotta laugh when I see others here post about how they're looking at two or three FJs and need help deciding. I've got about a dozen tabs open to individual vehicles and another dozen open to search sites that I refresh daily. I'll find it.

For the record, my rough criteria are: 2012-2014 with off road and convenience packages or TTSE (though not gonna spend for the TTUE) or 2011 TTSE; under 80K miles (though I may go higher for the TTSE); under $35K; preferably out of the salt belt unless I can get an independent inspection — being a lifetime West Coast guy, I'm super salt-averse. I know, that combo is a tight fit. I may have to up the mileage a bit, but I'll keep looking.

So far, perusing the forums, you all have helped me decide definitively against salvage titles (almost went for one till I read everyone's opinions here), made me aware of what a NSSE is so as to not get suckered by a paint job and badge, and lots of other info that has complicated my search process but also made it so that I'll more than likely be happy with the FJ I end up with.

I split my time between NorCal and Southern AZ, with lots of road trips everywhere west of the Rockies. (I've heard the world drops off into space if you go further east.) I've been driving the older, pre-Tacoma 4x4 trucks on backroads for 25 years. I miss them, tbh. I haven't really wheeled much for the sake of it, but more for getting places to camp, hike and take photos. I think I'll probably try out some more serious rock crawling once I get the feel of the FJ.

I am a photographer and a storm chaser. I'm thinking the FJ will make an awesome chase rig. I see from discussions here that sunroofs are possible, so I'll probably have one put in that I can at least partially exit through. Often when chasing, I need to get the camera up high, above a fence line or 8' mesquite bushes along the road, so I use the rig as an elevated tripod stand. I want to be able to hide in the truck, but pop out every few minutes to check camera setting, wipe droplets off the lens, etc. while hunkering down inside where there's more lightning protection.

I also often carry camera gear that I have to leave while I go hiking, so the first mod will be a built or bought locking drawer for the back. (Suggestions on the best welcome.) I'll need to do some specific mods that might be tricky. I'll look at the mechanics of how the rear door lock/unlock works and then try to figure it out. What I want is the ability to modify the rear door latch so there's no way to open it without the key. In other words, I don't want someone to be able to bust a window, open the door and spring the rear door open. That way, getting into the locking storage drawer would take a hard, noisy, effort. But then I want to re-enable the normal release mechanism when I get back to the truck so it opens normally and is openable from the inside back. I use things in unconventional ways. It makes life awkward sometimes.

I'm 5'8", so can sleep in the back of an FJ. That was my first question when I test drove one. I'll probably just pull the rear seat entirely and make the bed/locking storage mods permanent. I don't really "camp" the way most people think of it; I go places and do things, sometimes at night like astrophotography, and then crawl in my truck to sleep afterward. Doesn't have to be fancy.

One last bit of intro: how I took down a scam vehicle sale site yesterday.
Looking for every possible sale outlet for FJs, I found Auto-hut .com. They had some killer FJ deals! Almost...ya know...too good to be true. I pondered one rig for a day or so and decided to contact them. The first red flag was that they didn't answer the phone. Calls went to a recording that said to send an email for more info about any vehicle. So I did and started mailing with "Alex". Then... I dunno, something felt off, so I screencapped a photo of the rig and did a reverse image lookup. Bingo. It had sold on Bring-a-Trailer 6 months prior. Then I checked several more vehicles and all were the same. Auto-hut populated their site with photos and descriptions scraped directly from Bring-a-Trailer. Then I looked up "is auto-hut a scam?" There was only one review site, full of glowing (fake) reviews and several "this is a scam!" reviews, with one person saying they'd actually sent (and lost) money. Also, a site that rates the likely trustworthiness of other websites gave it the lowest trust rating.

So I looked up their webhost and DNS (easy to do, just search "how to find who is hosting a website" or something like that). It turns out it was Namecheap.com, a reputable company with good internet politics (which is why I use them myself). The domain auto-hut.com had been registered with them by someone in Iceland about three months ago. I filed a complaint with Namecheap, including screencaps of the fake site and of the previous sale pages on B-a-T. It took a couple days, but they investigated and took the site down.

I kept leading "Alex" on and he sent me an invoice that included his bank account number and routing number and an Adobe Docusign link. I've since filed a complaint with the bank, with Adobe and with IC3, the federal site that takes fraud claims and directs them to the appropriate agency.

So, anyway, one less fake site scamming would-be FJ buyers. I do this for fun. I hate scammers.

Cheers!
 

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I Have a V-8!! Moderator
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Welcome!
 

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Welcome aboard!
 

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Hi Random Subversion, welcome from Ohio!
Thanks for the detective work and serving up some justice. Proof that people who like FJs are the best people 😉
 

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Welcome from Oregon :)
 
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