El Duderino's 1994 FZJ80 - The Crusher (2 Viewers)

Aug 2, 2011
Torrance, CA
Howdy ih8mudders, I've been lurking here for quite a while and decided to create an intro and a thread for my '94 FZJ80.

Most recent photos below:




I'm in the South Bay LA area. I work for Garrett (Honeywell) turbochargers as a development engineer for OE Motorsports, mostly WRC and LMP1, and GT endurance racing. In my "spare time" I run a co-op workshop with 15+ members, maintain a fleet of Volvos, Volkswagens, & BMWs including LeMons racers - and a motorcycle powered AW11 MR2. I work on DailyTurismo.com as the Technical Editor and DT Radio Show co-host. You could call me Duder, CFlo, or Chris. I'm getting more into my Cruiser since my daughter is 3 years old now and able to appreciate fun camping and 4-wheeling trips. My wife and I also recently started using it to tow our NA Miata to trackdays, and of course it is always the ski vehicle of choice.

It's a factory e-locked example that I picked up through this site in 2012. Original ad is still here. It had just over 150k miles at the time, and already had OME springs & dampers, and 315/75R16 BFG AT tires on it. It was cheap and local...cheap mostly because of deferred maintenance and some rust...but I couldn't resist its siren song.

I finalized the purchase one weekend when my wife was on a work trip and picked her up at LAX in the truck as a surprise. It went over well. She used to have a TJ Wrangler, and my family has always had Toyota trucks (4 Hilux pickups and 5 Land Cruisers over the years - 40, 60, 80, 200 series) so it was only natural.

Pics soon after buying the 80:



It had a bit of rust as mentioned - mostly in the driver's side rear dogleg / rocker area just ahead of the rear wheel. There were small spots around the windshield and rear glass. The OE roof rack had already been removed and thick reflective highway stickers plastered over the holes - which worked to keep the rain out, but rust is now developing there too. There's another spot in the rear passenger's side slider window frame.

I use this Cruiser mostly as a workhorse vehicle. I had an '86 Hilux 4x4 previously which was great but underpowered and too small for 3 people plus a dog and gear. The 80 can do just about everything the pickup did plus more. Whenever I need to haul large dirty items (motorcycles, engines) I use a converted jetski trailer.

I've been catching up on deferred maintenance and fixing issues as they arise. I'm almost to the point now where I can focus on making improvements past those mechanical jobs but there are still a few remaining, and I'm sure that will never end.

My goal for this vehicle is to keep it well outfitted for any job that arises, be it towing, hauling, shuttling us up the mountain for skiing, desert camping, offroading in the Sierras, you name it. I want it to be clean, reliable, and capable.

I'm more into the Expedition style of offroading vs. hardcore rock crawling, so I've started making changes in that vein.

In the posts below I'll catch up with past jobs done and future plans.

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Aug 2, 2011
Torrance, CA
Thanks guys - the 80 looks nicer in photos these days than in real life but mechanically it's improving so I'm happy for now. It has also been quite reliable lately.

That being said, I thought I should outline my plans for the truck, to keep everything in one place. This list represents a long-term goal since I am the type that switches back and forth between projects, but it keeps things interesting for me.

The List

  • Replace leaky valve cover gasket & plug gaskets
  • Replace original plug wires (date coded 1993!)
  • New battery - Diehard Platinum Group 35
  • Replace missing OE battery bracket & hardware
  • Transmission service: flush, filter, new ATF
  • Replace distributor cap & rotor
  • Replace rusty exhaust system
  • Rough alignment (toe only)x
  • Front end rebuild / reseal
  • Recharge AC system
  • Replace missing rear wiper & arm
  • Diagnose hard upshifts off-throttle (1-2 and 2-3)
  • Replace main aluminum oil pan (crack at bellhousing)
  • Replace power steering hoses
  • New distributor shaft seal / oil pump seal / water pump / PS pump reseal
  • Get handbrake operating more effectively
  • Replace accessory belts
  • Pesky heater hose service
  • Cooling system once-over
  • Change rear diff oil
  • U-joint play check & service
  • Reseal air injection system or delete
  • Replace all vacuum lines under hood
  • Adjust valves
  • Perform compression / leakdown tests
  • Simple turbo system using stock exhaust manifolds

Wheels / Tires / Suspension
  • New tires: BFG AT KO2, LT285/75R16
  • Steelies: Tundra/Sequoia spare 16x7"
  • Full size spare: used AT KO w/ similar steelie
  • Investigate softer springs: long travel or OME medium duty
  • Better shocks (ICON) when OMEs need replacement
  • Relocate rear brake LSPV due to lift, if deemed necessary

Protection & Offroady stuff
  • Decide on front bumper
  • Weld & install 4x4Labs rear bumper, with hitch receiver, tire swingout, recovery points
  • Buy a winch & install
  • Fab or buy simple rock sliders, grip tape on top side
  • Q-tower roof rack gutter mounts for Yakima bars
  • Roof rack basket

Body / Paint
  • Rust Abatement:
    • windshield frame
    • driver's rocker panel / rear dogleg
    • rear wheelarches
    • rear hatch
    • roof rack holes
    • passenger side rear slider window frame
    • misc. underbody - small spots
  • Replace fender flares
  • Paint touch-up on rust repair areas
  • Remove OE running boards
  • Repaint hood
  • Repaint roof
  • Repaint upper/lower hatch

  • New floor mats: Weathertech universal rubber
  • Replace driver's window regulator
  • Clean / R&R master window switch assy. in driver's door
  • Fix handbrake warning light switch
  • Replace transfer case shift knob
  • Clean steering wheel leather
  • Install driver's door card - cloth '91
  • Strip interior for full cleaning incl. carpet & headliner
  • Clean all plastic panels, trim, etc.
  • Install sound deadener (RAAMMAT or similar)
  • Install insulation in floor
  • Clean & lubricate all window mechanisms
  • Install 3 remaining cloth door cards w/ new moisture barriers
  • Seat covers - replace leather with cloth '91
  • Fix passenger's power seat fore/aft
  • Replace driver's power seat back toggle switch
  • Replace main shifter leather cover
  • Replace all window channel rubber
  • Replace damaged door weatherstripping
  • Clean remaining 3 window switches
  • Rattle Abatement: Loctite on fasteners, foam tape where needed, mass damping
  • Replace broken/missing trim clips
  • Improve storage compartments in rear cargo area (& tailgate?)
  • Cup holders in console

Electrical / Lighting / Electronics
  • Replace all dome lights w/ LED panels (pfran)
  • Repair R. taillight socket (no light when brake & tail on simultaneously)
  • Install backup camera
  • Install seat heaters
  • Head unit: source & install double-DIN touch screen unit, bluetooth, nav, reverse cam
  • Replace radio antenna
  • Add USB charging ports in dash, center console, rear seat area, cargo area
  • Auxiliary battery & charging system
  • Install built-in 120V AC power inverter in console and/or cargo area
  • Keyless entry
  • Trailer brake controller - finalize installation
  • Install LED reverse lights
  • Camp light @ rear
  • Driving lights @ front
  • Fog lights
  • Add electric AC condenser pusher fan
  • CDL switch
I think that's it for now...
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Aug 2, 2011
Torrance, CA
It's taking me longer than expected to make progress on any of my car projects, Cruiser included, as evidenced by the progress on this thread so far!

Since this is going to be a place for me to collect all my thoughts, plans, and photos of the vehicle, I'd like to continue with a few photos from over the years showing how I've put this thing to work so far. This is a wide variety of jobs but it's how I use the truck most of the time. The primary reason for buying it was for camping, expedition, and offroading trips but those are less frequent - hopefully to change soon.

I mentioned towing the Miata to trackdays, which it will continue to do. Here it is with team Eyesore Racing's lightweight Miata trailer which they generously loaned to me for the last weekend at Laguna Seca. It's certainly no diesel pickup in terms of towing capability but it does the job just fine for lighter loads (this is <3000 lb total).



I've used it to tow several Volvo 240 projects on a tow dolly, also no problem at all for the beast.


My mother-in-law lightly wrecked her CRV in Sonoma County last year; it was stored there by her family until I could come pick it up for her and fix it. The tandem axle trailer was a heavy one so this load did put a strain on the cooling system. Especially since the tow was made during the summer, and included the steep southbound grade of the Grapevine on I-5 here in So-Cal. No big issues but temperatures did climb and the old neglected AC system was not up to snuff at this point - it was windows down for much of the drive.



For lighter duty action, it sees plenty of car parts and motorcycles in the cargo compartment. Here is my 1971 Yamaha JT-1 Mini Enduro (60cc 2-stroke) loaded up for transport. Didn't even need to fold down the bars or anything, only fold half of the middle seat forward. I took out the 3rd row long ago and have not needed it at all in the past 4 years.


Skiing with my extended family usually involves the Crusher - the snow over the past few years around Lake Tahoe has been disappointing, but I always get compliments on the truck regardless!


The shots below were from one of my first offroad trips in the Crusher, in the Carson-Iceberg / Stanislaus area of the Sierra Nevadas. This was on a high altitude trail near CA highway 108, if I recall correctly.



I'll add more pics from over the years as I find them.
Aug 2, 2011
Torrance, CA

One more from Yosemite below, plus I added some pics to the first post from our Memorial Day trip to Big Bear Lake - more coming soon.

Aug 2, 2011
Torrance, CA
Do it! Always better to get this stuff written down somewhere instead of just floating around in the mental queue (for me anyway).

For maintenance and repairs on this truck I started with some simple jobs back in 2012. First thing was getting the OE battery bracket and bolting it down - the previous owner had the battery loose in the tray. I've bought more vehicles this way over the years than with properly secured batteries. What gives?



I also upgraded to a DieHard Platinum Group 35 battery sometime soon after, which has performed flawlessly since.

The previous owner was convinced that the engine needed a new rear main seal due to the presence of a substantial amount of oil around the bellhousing and back of the engine. You can see this in the pic below, as well as the missing piece of the upper aluminum oil pan. The PO said a mechanic recommended it. I wasn't so sure - oil was present all over the back of the head as well so to me, the valve cover gasket was the most likely culprit. I replaced that with a new OE part along with the spark plug gaskets. New plug wires replaced the original 1993 date coded parts; the truck ran much smoother and oil leakage slowed down markedly after this.


The transmission has always (in my ownership) upshifted roughly from 1st to 2nd, and 2nd to 3rd, whenever I'm cruising at part throttle and lift off the pedal to coast. I tried adjusting throttle cables to no avail. I took the Crusher to my local independent Toyota shop to see if they could diagnose and/or fix the problem. They did a full transmission service since apparently rough shifting can happen due to old or burned ATF. I know very little about automatics; this is my only auto trans vehicle out of 10 cars at the moment. Unfortunately the service didn't have much effect on the shift roughness but it was due for a fluid flush and new filter anyway. Recently I discovered here on 'mud that the issue could be caused by corrosion at the TCM connector near the PHH, down low in the engine bay. That's next on my list for diagnosis.



Dec 17, 2004
Boise, Idaho
Welcome to the sight - you have a nice looking rig. I bought mine in 2004 and did all the PM actions on it then. I am now entering round two of the same sorts of items - at least I know the history now of the parts.

Yours looks like the rad was replaced at some point - is that a plastic top tank?
Aug 2, 2011
Torrance, CA
The AC never really kept the interior cool in this thing in 2012/2013, especially on uphill grades and desert trips. In early 2014 I noticed that the floorboards were getting extremely hot during full load driving, and thought some of the OE exhaust heat shields must be missing. I got the truck up on the lift at my shop but didn't find any issues, and was still stumped. We went on our annual ski trip to Lake Tahoe, and that's when I found the root cause finally.


I had my wife, 1 year old daughter, and older brother in the Crusher with me. It was probably 9pm on a Thursday night and we were chugging up Interstate 80 eastbound, towards Donner Pass - elevation 7,057 feet. It was snowing and the conditions were not nice, but I've driven in much worse, so we pressed on without much worry. On a few of the longer uphill grades my wife (in the back seat) said that the floor was getting unbearably hot.



The lights flickered once or twice and I was a bit concerned but kept on driving. Then the engine died completely on a short downhill stretch. I was able to safely coast to a decent turnout area on the right shoulder. I had plenty of tools with me, so we got out and checked for anything obvious. We found the main fuel pump fuse was blown. I replaced it - the truck started briefly but then died again shortly thereafter, with the same fuse blowing again. OK, this is a more serious issue - that's when I called the tow truck. After a long wait we were towed into Truckee where we dropped the truck at a local shop who doesn't mind finding broken trucks at their doorstep on a Friday morning. Since we were already at our destination and other family members had space in their vehicles, the trip wasn't ruined, but the Crusher needed to be functional again by the end of the weekend.

The shop called me early the next morning without being able to pinpoint the issue, other than coming to the same conclusions that I had. We waited patiently while they poked around. The next day they decided to drop the fuel tank and found that the pump/sender wiring harness was completely melted. The main connector there by the tank was fused into a gooey ball of gray plastic. This was obviously the cause of the electrical short, but why did it happen?

A bit more poking around and they discovered a huuuge (like 6" x 6") hole in the top of the main muffler. No one, including me, had noticed this before, since it was perfectly situated a the top of the muffler and couldn't be seen from below or even beside it. Needless to say all of the exhaust escaping from the hole had superheated the floor (hence the uncomfortable temperature in the back seat) - enough to melt our camera bag to the carpet - and had also cooked the top of the gas tank including the pump wiring and connectors. This also solved another seemingly unrelated mystery of excessive pressure in the fuel tank. I thought there was an issue with the evaporative emissions system but couldn't pinpoint it, and the tank would blow-down and hiss for many many seconds sometimes when the filler cap was removed. Now knowing that the tank had been heated by exhaust, it all made sense.

The friendly guys at this shop ended up doing an exhaust patch job for me - some heat shield material secured to the muffler with large hose clamps. They made some DIY repairs to the fuel pump/sender wiring harness and got everything working again for the drive home.

A few weeks later I was able to find another guy here on 'mud parting out a 1994 FZJ80 in San Diego. The exhaust system was perfect so I scored everything except the manifolds for about $300, and the time helping him remove the system from the wrecked truck. It took a few days of work on my lift to get the old rusted original system completely pulled, but the new stuff bolted in without any fuss and has been working great since. It's nice to have mild temps in the cabin again, and not worry about superheated gasoline vapor hissing out of the tank!

I don't seem to have any pics of the old or new exhaust but will post them if I find 'em.
Aug 2, 2011
Torrance, CA
Welcome to the sight - you have a nice looking rig. I bought mine in 2004 and did all the PM actions on it then. I am now entering round two of the same sorts of items - at least I know the history now of the parts.

Yours looks like the rad was replaced at some point - is that a plastic top tank?

Thanks for the compliments; must be nice to have a known baseline for everything maintenance wise. I'm getting to that point now, but not there yet.

The cooling system is next on my hit list. I noticed a small weep from the water pump over Memorial Day weekend after some offroading. The radiator does indeed have plastic end tanks. I thought this was an OE rad but maybe not? At any rate, I'm going to do a full "front of the engine" service to fix the remaining oil leaks, replace the water pump and hoses, and will evaluate the radiator at that time. It doesn't look particularly fresh but I haven't seen any issues so far.


Jan 30, 2003
All over Arizona
That broken flywheel/bell housing cover is a first for me. I would guess that someone scewed that up while bracing the engine and torquing the front crank pulley to spec @ 309 #ft. If you bought it from a MUD member then there should be a back story?
Aug 2, 2011
Torrance, CA
That broken flywheel/bell housing cover is a first for me. I would guess that someone scewed that up while bracing the engine and torquing the front crank pulley to spec @ 309 #ft. If you bought it from a MUD member then there should be a back story?

Yeah, very strange damage for sure. I was wondering if it may have been bashed against a large rock, but your idea probably makes more sense. I didn't notice the damage until after I bought the truck, and didn't bother contacting the PO to ask about it. I'll source a replacement pan at some point and modify it with a turbo oil drain fitting before installing. :D

Awesome write up. I'll be following this thread. Did you fix the ac problem.?

Thanks - and yes! Fixing the AC was a two step process:

1) Fix exhaust - no more leak superheating the floor and cabin. Hey, it's much quieter too!

2) Recharge AC. I know this sounds unlikely (when does an AC system ever "just need a recharge" as commonly claimed?) but in this case it worked. I futzed around with a Harbor Freight AC manifold for an hour or so before giving up and buying a much nicer one at an auto parts store. I think it was about $100 but now I can work on any R134a system. I checked the pressures with AC running and they were well under spec - I forget how much exactly, but topping off with a small can of R134a did the trick. It blows nice and cold now even in hot weather. Still a bit weak at low vehicle speeds but I think that's a function of low airflow through the condenser. I want to install an electric pusher fan to help with this.

Feb 2, 2004
It works for now... I had the same problem with my AC system. You could charge it and get it to work, but there is a reason it is low. For me it was a leak in the cab.
Aug 2, 2011
Torrance, CA
It's been running cold for about 6 months now with no apparent degradation, so if there is a leak it must be a very slow one. I was skeptical at first but had the AC manifold and extra refrigerant handy from another project, and figured it wouldn't hurt to try a simple recharge. Pleasantly surprised at the result and still enjoying cold air when desired.
Aug 2, 2011
Torrance, CA
Catching up with past work done...

In March of this year I did the standard front axle rebuild using parts obtained from cruiserdan. I can say it was great dealing with someone who was able to give me a complete parts list and at a competitive price. I've found online dealerships that charge about the same prices, but then it would've been up to me to ensure I was ordering all of the right part numbers. Since Toyota took away public access to their diagrams that has become a tad difficult.

I'm not sure why I put this off for so long but the rebuild was very straightforward. For some reason I was dreading it. I think it may have been the first front end rebuild for this truck, and at 165k+ miles it was long overdue.


Brakes were much fresher than the bearings and seals. There was an alarming amount of play in either the wheel bearings or trunnion bearings (or both) so of course I replaced them all. It would've been rude not to. The "birf soup" effect was happening although not as bad as some photos I've seen. All seals were replaced.



The only trouble area was popping the old lower trunnion bearing out of the passenger side knuckle. I ended up getting creative and using a 3-jaw puller which I had to disassemble and then rebuild in situ to get it to fit inside the knuckle. This worked after applying a few tons of force. I was super pleased to find the notches in the bearing bores for knocking the old races out with a drift. Thanks Ferdinand Toyota! Such thoughtful design.


New bearings and seals went in easily using various sockets and drifts; no problema.



The truck was immediately much nicer to drive with new tight bearings, and it always feels great to tick off another box on the list.

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