80 conundrum: Better b/c of or in spite of PM?

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Jul 2, 2007
Northwest Arkansas
I am in in frequent poster but daily reader of Mud. But tonight as I waxed both poeticly and figurately on the Cruiser I asked myself...is the 80 series a better rig because of, or in spite of the PM I have lavished on her? At near 205K (and me being the 3rd and first OCD owner) she runs like a top with nary a drip, hesitation or fault about her.

Both repairs and PM have befallen her in the 3 years and 40K or so I have been behind the wheel (radiator and PHH as examples). I have modded her as necessary (see sig) and as most here, have more plans in the future.

But as I stored the clay bar and to shined her flanks I began to posit the question, is the 80 series the best vehicle on earth because of my attention or in spite of it? Would she still get me to the office every morning if I had not rebuilt the front axles last summer? Would I have been walking to the camp site in January had I not drained and refilled the transfer case with synthetic? Is my attention to the PS pump the reason I hear no groaning or would I have been fine living with a quarter size stain in the driveway?

I found Mud about 2 months after purchasing the Cruiser as I searched for an ARB on line (thanks Christo!) and continue to be amazed at the ingenuity and foresight of its members. So my question to you, as the members appear to run the gamut from 1st owner to 5th, from money-is-no-object to starving high school/college student is simply this:

Is your 80 better because of or in spite of your PM? and as a secondary query, if you could recommend one 1 single PM strategy what would it be (fluid change not acceptabled-all fluid should be changed in ANY vehicle upon purchase or at intervals)?

Thanks in advance.


On the way there
Mar 15, 2003
Sacramento, CA
It is arguably, one of the best vehicles ever built, and in stock form will run to 200k miles of road use with only a minimum of pm.

The PM added by OCD owners, just increases the time before failure. So while your axle PM wasn't needed to keep it on the road then, it means it will stay on the road from a front axle stand point, far longer. Oil changes are the same thing. You do it not to fix something now, but to prevent a failure in the future.

I've owned my 80 series almost 11 years. It's been in a shop once, when I didn't have time to fix it. (EGR VSV).

Heck, even my 25 year old 60 series still runs perfectly, and uses 1 quart of oil every 2500 miles. I attribute that to good maintenance practices of the first owner (up to 160k) and the OCD maintenance of the second owner(me, to 225k). It just did a 700 mile road trip this past weekend to 10,000 feet, and lumbered up all the Eastern Sierra grades without complaint.
May 20, 2009
Eagle, ID
Good thread. my 80 has made me better and so I try to make my 80 better as well. Before this '97 LX purchase (196k) and my new-found love for this frigging-half-billy-goat-half-mall-runner of a vehicle, my vehicles were just Point A to Point B and way utilitarian at that. I had always told myself that I did not know from my ass from my elbow mechanically, but I have to tell you now that that is simply not true. I have learned (Thanks Mud members and FSM) that I can do it all (well, most) and have the aptitude to learn and try. I have only done piddly little PM stuff on my 80 so far, but I have yet (knock on wood) to screw up so I will keep on keeping on. Best PM strategy? Get an objective new set of eyes (not the dealer but an 80 enthusiast) to go through the vehicle and lay it all out from top to bottom as to what they see. It helps to focus with fresh eyes. Then prioritize that list from the gnarly expensive or time-consuming stuff all the way down to the easy stuff. Then I flip it over and do the easy stuff first and use that to build up my confidence wrenching, flatten the learning curve and feed my sick 80 addiction while letting it drip, drip, drip until my skill set catches up with my desire to have a buffed out 80 and therefore, a buffed out me.:flipoff2:
Aug 28, 2005
Clarkston, MI (Detroit)
Excellent questions, young man.

Having owned my LX 4 years this month, and miles keep adding up, I'd say it's both, as suggested above.

These things are beasts (insert: tank, unbreakable, etc. alone, or in combo!). Overbuilt, designed for low stress (I'm paraphrasing a dozen other MUD elders), etc. Yeah, there are OCD individuals (most of us). But, again, as stated above, we prevent a potential breakdown from ever even becoming an issue that needs attention, beyond the PM we do.

So. I had a 1991 Civic Si 3D, from new. Lovingly maintained, per the manual. Lovingly revved to redline in 1st, 2nd, 3rd at every chance. Working at Honda in Ohio...I was able to get factory service at LOW prices. So I was doing oil changes every 3000-3500 (dino), 15,000 minor service, 30k and 60 major service. Timing belt and water pump every 90k. This car was a "beast," and only a series of minor fender benders and an unfortunate overheat due to a tired radiator, and the Civic found itself a Purple Heart donation with 267k on the odo...reliable beater at that stage in it's life.

As stated, it's kinda both. You'll see some commentary in the FAQ that you need to mentally prep for servicing a 12 y/o $50-70k vehicle, and budget accordingly. OTOH, you know how you drive, where, etc. You can very intelligently manage your costs for maintenance. My strategy has been to put synths in the diffs/transfer, not planning to change out (until birf job (front only, obviously)). Trans gets a several quart change every few oil changes (Mobil 1). Engine oil is now Mobil 1 or Shell Rotella, and not cycled out for at least 10k miles (and Blackstone says it's in decent shape at that mileage). The oil filter is the 'superior' 20004 P/N. Installed the washable air filter element, and have the washed spare on hand to exchange every so often. Then I just do a plug change about every 50k. Flushed brake fluid 18 months ago. Flushed P/S 4 months ago. One brake job about 30 months ago. (Getting the picture?)

You'll see some guys go nuts with fluid changes (they may be more the 'aquatic' or 'amphibious' types :steer: ). If you join in, go dino. There are a couple petrochem guru's here who can tell you anything and everything about Mobil 1, et al, and you'll learn that those synths will last hundreds of thousands of miles in a gearbox, and Blackstone reports posted every so often ALWAYS show the engine oil is in great shape from an additive, sheared molecule, and cleanliness standpoint. The feedback Mobil shows from it's commercial users indicates that the gear oil longevity mitigates the need for an annual flush...IMHO.

That's all there is to it. This may be one of those vehicles that rewards intelligent ownership, because rarely are there stupid or significant breakdowns that couldn't be predicted, or that there weren't enough clues available for the alert owner to pick up on, and make the next move the smart one.

Boiled down: Take smart care of your FJ80/FZJ80, and it will take care of you!

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