How to Pick a Good Second-Hand Hiace (for Rare Usage)

Hi all, I'm thinking of getting a Toyota Hiace van.

I want to use it for storage, occasionally sleep in it using air-con to keep cool when it's particularly hot and to move my stuff whenever I move house.

I'm hoping for it to last roughly 5 years, with very minimal servicing.

So it would basically be just sitting there on the street 99% of the time and not being driven or switched on.

The most I can foresee using it for is 30 minutes driving time per week on average. (Most weeks just give it a 5 min drive round the block, to keep things running, occasionally drive it for 1-2 hours, as I said, when I need to move house or run it with the air conditioning on for a while.)

For these purposes, do you think a 2nd-hand Hiace with say 300-400km on the odo would be reasonably reliable?

Again, it's very rare that I would use it, and when I do, it would only be driven for ~30 minutes.

I really don't want this to turn into a $50k+ purchase. Ideally I'm aiming for a ~$10k price point.

What do you think? Is this van at this KMs and this price point likely to be fairly reliable for a few years?

And what are some good things for me to check before purchasing, apart from the service log?




    not exactly rocket science

    carsales seach hiace starting from cheapest

    see how many times its been the moon and back

    work out how much risk you want to take on a 20-25yr white box on wheels

  • +11 votes

    You're better off just renting one when you need it. I can imagine rego and insurance alone would already be more than the cost of renting given how infrequently you're intending to use it.

    • +5 votes


      Would cost less to put excess stuff in storage, get a a house with a/c (sleeping in a van in the street because it's hot, with the car running for a/c, is a terrible idea for many reasons). Hire a pantech truck for the odd time you need to move.

      Also, a $10k HiAce with 400k km probably won't have a filled out logbook.


        he wants to be an occasional van dweller

  • +1 vote

    conwy, are you a chemistry teacher with a student called CaptnCook?

  • +4 votes

    So you are going to sleep in it with the engine running to keep the aircon going? For a quick nap maybe thats ok, but surely not more than that?

    • +1 vote

      Op will be having a really long nap from the carbon monoxide poisoning.


        Not if the vehicle is outdoor but still a bad idea nonetheless


          I'll take "what is an exhaust leak" for $500 Alex (rip).

  • +2 votes

    Sleeping in it because of air conditioning seems daft. The noise and vibration would be more uncomfortable than without AC and using a pedestal or ceiling fan.

    Buying an old vehicle with the intent of using it very little would likely cause more problems than running it daily. Older cars like to keep moving.

    Just rent when you need to move stuff otherwise it’s a waste of rego etc.

    Alternatively, if you really want a van for this usage make it your only vehicle.


    I'm hoping for it to last roughly 5 years, with very minimal servicing.

    do you think a 2nd-hand Hiace with say 300-400km on the odo

    Hahaha you are dreaming if you want to buy a $10000 van with that mileage and do no maintenance. Most vans have had a very hard life.

  • +4 votes

    I see you're in Western Australia? I understand that vehicles in your state can be sold with a roadworthiness check, which is why backpackers on the east coast are often seen driving them. One of the disadvantages would be that Hiace vans from Western Australia have been re-sold many times over (every 1-2 years by backpackers) without getting a proper inspection every few years.

    I have a 90s Hiace that's done over the 400,000km mark. I don't know who all the previous owners were but you can see at least one of them decided to hack random parts together and DIY. My model has a carburettor (i.e. no fuel injection like going back to the 80s), non-E10 petrol engine and it's a manual. It's obviously well below your price target of $10,000 (at least before the COVID-19 van surcharge and van shortage came into effect). The previous owner changed the clutch and did a major service but it's not enough to fix the parts that were hacked. The auxiliary accelerator pump in the carburettor is known to fail and doesn't work on mine (it's disconnected, so the van doesn't get sufficient fuel on initial starts). It's a slow start on winter mornings.

    You should be able to score an early 2000s Hiace unlike mine (if you can find them). 90s Hiace vans were famous for being "indestructible" but there are lots of things that are known to wear away over time. You would probably have a minor oil leak somewhere (e.g. rocker cover gasket). You will probably have water penetration causing some rust and wiring damage. The rear window of mid-90s Hiaces nearly always have rust beneath them unless patched up. The left headlamp often has a melted connection for whatever reason. The tail pipe is probably rusting away, and the emissions aren't as clean as modern vehicles (Hiace with EFI not as bad). You wouldn't want to sit in an idle vehicle with the windows down for long. Shifting gears won't be as smooth, especially in reverse (where it often fails to engage with the first attempt). I don't use aircon so I can't comment on whether it even works in mine. The cigarette lighter/charger might fall in if it's pressed too aggressively. The temperature sender wire and other wires on the right might melt. Hiaces are notorious for poor fuel efficiency even on highways but this won't matter to you.

    Ironically, a van is only economical if you use it as a van, since you pay a hefty premium over similarly aged cars. If you plan to live in it more than you drive it (and the price is right) you may quickly recover the cost of rent. If you have a short term business that needs van space then it might be worth the premium if it's your only vehicle.

    A standard height (non-commuter) Hiace van isn't a great choice for static storage space for more than one person. For an idea, you can't fit something large like a queen size bed horizontally or vertically (it needs to be squished in diagonally) and the wheel wells take up floor space. Beyond that, you'll be driving the stuff around and may lose your side and rear window vision perpetually (the side mirrors aren't great). If the stuff you're storing is valuable you obviously don't want it to be stolen during one of your drives to keep the battery going.


      Such a thorough response… have an upvote from me


    Does "free Candy" mean rare usage?


    I'm hoping for it to last roughly 5 years, with very minimal servicing. For these purposes, do you think a 2nd-hand Hiace with say 300-400km on the odo would be reasonably reliable? What do you think? Is this van at this KMs and this price point likely to be fairly reliable for a few years?

    I know of one person with a Hiace van that has clocked over a million kilometres and they are now past 0 back around the 300,000k. Most of them had the 3.0 diesel but I also know one guy with the 2.8 diesel at about 900,000km. So hope that answers your question. Also one thing to note is because they use these as work vehicles and service them religiously and repair any parts as they are on their way out. This is what inspired me to buy a Toyota Hilux and I'm not disappointed.


    Hi OP, you may be interested in another thread about Hiace reliability here with the general consensus being that a few hundred ks is barely anything for these vans: . I think for your usage the above commenter's advice on renting definitely makes a lot of sense as you'll save the cost of rego (~$400) and compulsory CTP/motor injury insurance ($425) which you'll have to pay annually in WA. Once you add some regular maintainence and some 3rd party or comprehensive insurance it starts to look pretty expensive if it'll just be sitting unused most of the time. The cost of ownership is probably comparable to any other larger car but for one that's not being used it's definitely quite steep to keep.


      Yes and No.
      If he's going to be paying $300 in rent, going van-life even with all these costs is going to be cheaper for him and allow him to save.

      If he goes for a sharehouse, and is paying $100 a week, then things look very different.

      I think the median renter in Australia is paying about $450 per week in rent, so it's no surprise that Van Life is a thing. Saving $20k every year in rent is no joke, and an expectation by the market if you intend on being a landlord.


        i'm ok with people wanting an alternate to the terrible state of housing here, the police dont like people living in vans so expect some skirting of the law in your hi ace

        there was a guy who i worked with who parked his van outside our workplace but since it was an industrial area

        work had showers etc so he slept in his van between shifts as he lived on the other side of town

        its doable like this

        long term????