fj40 odometer issue: Need your opinion

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Jun 17, 2013
First off, I may be in the wrong section and forgive me if I am but I want your opinion...

Looking at buying my first 40 (1979). It is in great shape considering the year. All original minus drivers floor pan and possibly front fenders which were replaced using OEM parts.

So the only downside in my opinion is an issue with the odometer. The current owner bought the truck and the odometer was not working. It was stuck at 95K miles. The current owner fixed the odometer and it now reads 98k. However, the exact true mileage is technically unknown. As a potential buyer is this a deal breaker for you? The price is 13k for the rig and again it is a well kept 40 minus the odometer issue. I posted a picture of the engine bay just to give you an idea of its overall condition and how its been maintained (rather than letting it turn to junk)
I bought mine with unknown mileage :meh:
I did too. It was never going to be a collectors thing for me. Just a daily driver. I was a bit shocked though when the crew at Stoney's suggested that I not take my fj40 off road in Florida due to the effects of the salt around here. They said that these things were appreciating too much to beat on and encouraged me to get a Samurai to have fun :/
Unknown mileage is not an issue. Unknown engine condition is. Do a compression test and that will tell you a lot more about the condition of the engine than the mileage will. Any garage can do that for you, if you don't have the equipment.
On most 40 series it seems like the odometer packed it in somewhere in the 120,000~150,000 mile point. Frozen odometers are pretty much typical and many get rebuilt, with one degree of success or another.

I recently obtained one for my '82 which had 123,599 on it, from new. I could tell it had never been rebuilt as the '82 odometers have a little brass cup over the circlip which keeps the individual odometer wheels on the shaft. That cup has to be bent back to access the circlip, and there is no way to do it without marring the brass cup, so it would show that it had been tampered with. Earlier odometers lack this feature so you would have no way of knowing if the odometer had been rebuilt or reset for any reason, unless whoever did it was particularly ham-fisted in their work.

When the odometer is frozen though, what are you going to do? Letting it keep spinning while frozen only invites wearing out the sides of the odometer wheels. Either fix it or get a new odometer - but these have never been available from Toyota, and new combination meters are not available from Toyota any more either, though the odd one pops onto the market from time to time.

I disassembled my odometer and cleaned the wheels and shaft thoroughly, then put it back together with new lubricant, but it went only another 5000 miles before starting to seize up again. I was talking to some folks up at Cruiser Parts in NH last week and they have had this same problem with a few they have rebuilt. Not sure why it happens really.

Hard to believe that an odometer from the factory only went 123,000 from new. Maybe that is about all they expected the truck to last?

I suspect that direct sun on the meter causes the factory grease on the odometer spindle to congeal and harden over time, making the odometer seize up.
All these trucks are at least 30-40 years old. A 5-digit odometer could have rolled over 1, 2, 3+ times by now. Even if the odometer works, I'd be skeptical. My truck reads 79,000mi, the odometer is still ticking, but I'd be willing to bet that's really 179,000 or 279,000...

The bottom line is, you never know. As Mcgrath said, I'd check for engine condition as the main deciding factor - do a compression test and see if the engine is strong, or on its way out. If everything meets your criteria, buy it, and drive it!

If your goal isn't to have a collector's item, but rather a fun truck to drive, mileage is a non-issue.
I bought mine. W/200,000 miles... I have since put 250,000 more miles on it... But... As far as you know it's 82,343 miles .... You don't know for sure ... If everything looks good and works good and is overall good... Then get it ... 20 yrs from now you'll think how silly it was to be worried about the mileage :)

... Just like I was ;)

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