A few questions from person looking to buy one (long) (1 Viewer)

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Hello,

I was directed to this forum as I have heard it was a great place to talk/ask about Land Cruisers. Let me start by saying I'm NOT a very experienced car guy and do not expect to drive a car more than 3,000 miles a year, so the language in this post is going to be pretty basic. I live in the city of Philadelphia and work as a plumber by trade so I do have no issues with getting dirty or doing work myself. I use a truck provided by the company for most of my transportation but I have realized that I would like to have my own personal vehicle.

I have a family friend who has been storing a 1991 Toyota Land Cruiser for several years for her friend who moved back overseas several years ago and is not coming back to the United States. The friend is getting tired of having the car taking up valuable garage space so the car has not been moved in that time. This is why she wanted to sell it to me since she heard that I was actually looking for a car to use.

Thanks to Slee's off road guide for newbies, I have noticed several items that I wanted to ask about and any answers would help me towards finally purchasing one (or not).

This is a 1991 Toyota Land Cruiser, which I believe is the FJ80/3FE. It has around 85,000 miles. Car still smells like new. I brought a new battery and it started up great. Air conditioning works great, radio works fine. Interior is clean and not damaged. Exterior is dusty but pretty presentable overall.

I noticed several things:
  1. The steering knuckles are super greasy and dirty. There's a lot of caked on stuff underneath the car. From what I've read, this is an issue with the seals and would require the knuckles to be cleaned and rebuilt with new seals/gaskets. How expensive/time consuming a process would this be? I've attached a picture of what they look like.
    IMG_20140914_103900.jpg
    IMG_20140914_104340.jpg
  2. It's been leaking oil or some sort of liquid. I noticed several spots on the ground in the garage and the cross beam that acts like a brace (again, not a car guy) under the car is caked with grime due to being dripped on from above. This beam is located in between the oil drip pan and another pan which I believe is transmission?
    IMG_20140914_105040.jpg
    IMG_20140914_105716.jpg
  3. Power windows are slow. Is this because the windows are dirty or is this normal?
  4. Tires are misshapen obviously due to sitting for so long.
  5. Side mirrors vibrate a LOT.
  6. Steering wheel turns fine when sitting idle. It is when driving that the steering becomes super difficult. I estimate I could only turn the wheel 20 degrees from side to side while driving. I believe this is an issue with the aforementioned steering knuckles and not the power steering because it turns fine when idle. Am I correct?
  7. Have not been able to take it to the highway because of the steering problem. Had to make a literal 20 point turn at the end of the street to come back.
  8. Some rust on the frame, I think I would rate the frame 7/10.
  9. The lever that opens the tailgate snapped when I used it.
Because the friend wants to get this vehicle out of her sight, she is willing to eat the cost of repairs whether the dealer/mechanic or I fix them. What would you estimate the total cost of these fixes be? Does anyone recommend any mechanic in Philadelphia that specialize in Land Cruisers?

Thanks for bearing with me and I appreciate any insight.
 
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Sorry, I can't edit the post, but the third picture is what I believe is the front differential. It's greasy as well.
 

surfpig

The Anti-Tech
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Hi...

I guess it depends on the price of the truck. Front axle definitely needs to be rebuilt. If just the seals are bad, it could be relatively cheap.

For the other oil leak, it's hard to say. Could be a number of sources, some minor, some major.

With your steering issues, I have a question: does it have factory locking hubs? Sounds like they're locked up.

These trucks aren't cheap to work on but they're capable of running almost forever.
 
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Steering knuckles are not the cause of your steering issue. But not sure what is. Is the reservoir full of power steering fluid?

The parts to rebuild the knuckles are relatively cheap but labor intensive. http://cruiseroutfitters.com/lockers.html It's really a pretty easy job but is probably 10 hours on the book. Shop will probably charge $1200 to do the job give or take.

The oil leak by the transmission looks like motor oil so either the oil pan gasket or rear main. Rear main is harder to replace. No way to tell what is putting oil on the front diff from the picture. Could be many things from above. Do you know how to tell the difference between various fluids?

Parts are not cheap for cruisers but even with below average maintenance it should be a 200K truck. Taken care of 300K+. There is a lot of life left in it but sounds like it's going to need some love like any 20 year old truck to get it back in shape.
 
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Hi all,

Thanks for the replies.

I'm not sure if it has factory locking hubs. I've been trying to Google and I can't recall what they look like compared to the pictures that come up.

Power steering reservoir is full and goes right where it should be on the little dipstick on the cap.

I do not know how to determine the differences between fluids. Is there a guide somewhere so I can go back with it and take another look? While I'm at it, are there any other things that I should look for?
 
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Fluid ID:

Motor oil generally brown. Pull the dipstick to sample it.
ATF (automatic transmission fluid) generally red if in good shape. Again pull dipstick to sample. Power steering fluid basically the same stuff.
Gear oil generally brown but has more variants based on brand. Very distinctive smell. Pull the top fill plug on the diff to sample.

Compare what's leaking to what you learn from above.

The oil on the diff could just be spill over from the oil filter. Toyota designed that in a way impossible to not spill it all over while changing it out. Well on my 1FE. I'm assuming the 3FE is the same.

Check the belt tension on the power steering pump. Maybe it's turning it at idle and slipping at higher RPM. These engines seem to wear out belts pretty fast. I change mine out every year as they are inexpensive.
 
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So you've found a '91 3FE with only 85k miles and an owner who is willing to pay you to fix it?? Is this right?

How much?
 
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About $2,500 if I take it now. Edmunds says $1,800 private party.

I think she's willing to reduce the sale price if repairs end up being costly is what she meant.
 
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Fluid ID:

Motor oil generally brown. Pull the dipstick to sample it.
ATF (automatic transmission fluid) generally red if in good shape. Again pull dipstick to sample. Power steering fluid basically the same stuff.
Gear oil generally brown but has more variants based on brand. Very distinctive smell. Pull the top fill plug on the diff to sample.

Compare what's leaking to what you learn from above.

The oil on the diff could just be spill over from the oil filter. Toyota designed that in a way impossible to not spill it all over while changing it out. Well on my 1FE. I'm assuming the 3FE is the same.

Check the belt tension on the power steering pump. Maybe it's turning it at idle and slipping at higher RPM. These engines seem to wear out belts pretty fast. I change mine out every year as they are inexpensive.

ATF / Power steering fluids were not red when I checked the sticks actually. They were closer to oil color (brown). Does this mean a leak somewhere from one system into another or are the fluids "expired"?

I will check the belt tension next time I go around.
 
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I think some of the leaks will resolve themselves. When a truck sits for a long time the gaskets dry up and leak. May seal right back up with some driving.

As for cost, you're getting HECK of a deal. KBB isnt representative of actual value for these trucks.
 
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at $2500 for such a low mile truck your in good shape. Of course with what it needs plan on spending some more. Talk her down if you can. But at that price/mileage really the only down side is the 3FE IMO.

No other oil is going to "leak" into the power steering system. Someone could have put the wrong fluid in it. It could be "burnt" from another problem. Could just be a brand that is brown? But most are red.
 
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You will never know what is leaking until you de-grease the engine/trans. You MUST do this to have any real idea of what is leaking, no exceptions. Do NOT waste your time trying to do it yourself. The cost of pressure washing and engine foam will be at least half what a steam cleaning will be and you will get it no where close to as clean as a steam cleaner. Not only that, it is SOOOOO much nicer working on a clean engine! :hillbilly:

I echo the statement that the problem with the steering is not the knuckles. Could be low on fluid or a problem with the power steering pump. Both are not a big $ issue.

Again, as stated before, these things are NOT cheap to maintain. If you are buying to use it then go for it as long as you are being open minded. If you are using it to pound the pavement or just a grocery getter there are far better buys out there for you.

If you do all repairs yourself it will cost between 1k and 2k to baseline the rig, rebuild the knuckles and replace all the hoses. The price shown also includes lots of smaller, cheaper parts like the steering pump.

Going to a dealer or repair shop and this will be very spendy...

Great rig for what it is intended but it is like using a sledge hammer to hang a picture if you are just using it for transportation. Just not the right tool for the job.
 
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Yeah, I have no issues with the fact that it's a 20 year old vehicle and understand the requirements needed to keep it in good shape. I'm just concerned about initial issues and things to look for (that's why I asked this forum!) and that it doesn't fall apart on me when I start driving it around, which from what I've learned, wouldn't happen on a car with a tough reputation like this one.

So a reasonable course of action would be to take it to a shop and have them do a tune-up, which means a flush of all fluids since it's been sitting so long. Since it's full-time 4 wheel drive, it has to be towed, ideally, flat bed due to the conditions of the tires which would definitely need to be replaced. The steering knuckle issue from what I've seen would require a lift, which I definitely do not have access to. The kit cost about $120 and would take 10 hours of work. That's not too bad.

I appreciate the help that this forum's given me and will try to haggle the friend down.
 
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where are you located ?

find a club close to you, and I am sure there will be someone to help - the clubhouse forum can be reached with a click on the tab at the very top of this website

I'm located in Philadelphia. I actually looked through that clubhouse forum and it is actually pretty sparse in the city as compared to further north or west towards the middle of the state. I'll definitely ask to see if anyone knows someone in the city though. Thanks.
 
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no lift needed for knuckle rebuild Just jackstands, normal hand tools, 54mm socket, and like a billion paper towels. It will take you a full weekend the first time. Basically tear down and clean on Saturday. Reassemble on Sunday. Enjoy a few beers along the way.
 

ppc

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If it has been sitting for several years then I would be concerned about the quality of the fuel if it was never treated with something like Sta-bil Fuel Stabilizer. You might need to drain and clean the tank, replace the filter sock on the pump and the fuel filter near the engine. Expect to spend another $1500 to $2500 in maintenance to get it a reliable condition.
 
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Sounds like a good base for sure.. As previously said replacing all fluids , tyres, rebuilding knuckles is a necessary start.
As also mentioned the leaky knuckles have nothing to do with the steering issue, I'd say its either a fluid problem or a bad pump. The pump can be rebuilt pretty cheaply if need be.
 

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