FJ80 Test Drive - Center Diff Lock Question

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Will Van

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This afternoon I test-drove a triple locked 1997 Nightshadow Pearl FJ80 with 150k miles (pictures are for reference only).

1996_FZJ80_Star.jpg


I'm sorta new to the 80 series, and not very familiar with the full-time 4WD and center locking diff. I wanted to test all of the lockers and ensure they were working properly.

I put the truck in neutral (with my foot on the brake) and moved the center diff from "Hi" to "Low." No dash lights came on to indicate the center diff was locked, or that the truck was in 4WD low. I drove the truck around the parking lot and took several turns, and the front tires weren't scrubbing like you would expect when the truck is in 4WD low and the center diff is locked.

image-2947945729-jpg.611792


Then I tried to engage the Rear and Front lockers, just to see if they would work (the FR and RR lockers won't engage unless the center diff is locked, correct?). The FR and RR diff lock lights came on, but were flashing, indicating that the front and rear diffs weren't locked (presumably because the center diff wasn't locked).

Did I do something incorrectly trying to engage 4WD low/center diff? Should a dash light come on to indicate the center diff is locked in 4WD low?

The seller mentioned that he did not use 4WD low often, and had only engaged it once in the 10 years he had owned the truck. Is it possible that the electronic solenoid for the center diff needs to be cleaned or has gone bad from non-use?

Thanks in advance!!!
 
Last edited:
Was it equipped with a center diff button?

No sir, it did not have a center diff button. Did US market trucks ever come with a center diff lock button for 4Hi? I thought those were all retro-fitted.
 
No sir, it did not have a center diff button. Did US market trucks ever come with a center diff lock button for 4Hi? I thought those were all retro-fitted.

True but with a CDL button it could/would explain why no center diff light light in LR.
 
So neither pic is of your truck, right?

Odds are that your CDL switch (on the transfer case) is gummed up. That explains why it won't light on the dash when you go to 4LO. In turn, diffs won't lock unless the CDL light (the orange one on left) is on...they'll (the 2 red ones) flash forever, though. The ABS light should also light up when the CDL light comes on.

THIS is what you need. You'll want a stubby wrench (adjustable is fine) to remove the switch. Definitely clean it and hit it with some voltage (9v battery is fine) and try again before simply replacing it. Good luck. Should take about an hour if you're slow like me. Less since now you know about the stubby wrench.

The factory situation is that the CDL engages when 4LO is selected. Many people add a CDL dash switch (harness plug is already there) to select CDL when they want to but CDL must still be engaged for the lockers to engage.
 
That pic looks like TLC LC... I’ll find the you tube vid.
 
So neither pic is of your truck, right?

Odds are that your CDL switch (on the transfer case) is gummed up. That explains why it won't light on the dash when you go to 4LO. In turn, diffs won't lock unless the CDL light (the orange one on left) is on...they'll (the 2 red ones) flash forever, though. The ABS light should also light up when the CDL light comes on.

THIS is what you need. You'll want a stubby wrench (adjustable is fine) to remove the switch. Definitely clean it and hit it with some voltage (9v battery is fine) and try again before simply replacing it. Good luck. Should take about an hour if you're slow like me. Less since now you know about the stubby wrench.

The factory situation is that the CDL engages when 4LO is selected. Many people add a CDL dash switch (harness plug is already there) to select CDL when they want to but CDL must still be engaged for the lockers to engage.

Correct, neither picture is of the truck I test drove this afternoon.

Yeah, I agree with your analysis, it was probably the fact that the CDL hasn't been engaged in 10 years. I just wanted to make sure it wasn't operator error preventing me from engaging the center diff (and subsequently the FR and RR lockers). Interestingly, the CDL dash light also didn't illuminate when I keyed the ignition on.

Thank you for the link to the writeup! I think I'm going to pass on the truck for other reasons, but more knowledge is always better.

That pic looks like TLC LC... I’ll find the you tube vid.

Yessir! TLC FJ80. And it's actually not factory Toyota Nightshadow Pearl (I should have picked a better example!). I think they painted it a Lamborghini color.
 
If you can get your hands on it for a good price with those low miles and lockers, fixing it will be a piece of cake. Buy it and hang out here to learn how to fix it!
 
If you can get your hands on it for a good price with those low miles and lockers, fixing it will be a piece of cake. Buy it and hang out here to learn how to fix it!

Agreed! Unfortunately the seller is out of his mind. Asking price is twice what the truck is worth. I'll keep looking.
 
Use it as a negotiating tool. I had the same issue. $13 off Scamazon.

Granted I didn’t have front locker wiring so it cost me another $70.
 
That’s a 93-94 dash. I know because I have one.

6C766900-E641-4596-99F6-855F330B7EF2.jpeg
 
Yes
 
This rig was built and converted by TLC Land Cruisers in Los Angeles, correct? I remember watching the video on it.

Edit; pictures are for reference
 
This rig was built and converted by TLC Land Cruisers in Los Angeles, correct? I remember watching the video on it.

Edit; pictures are for reference
Yep. Jonathan Ward does some amazing work.
 
The front and rear lockers should lock regardless if the CDL is engaged or not. And yes the CDL should lock when put in Low
 
Just general advice, verify that it actually has f/r lockers and not just the switch.
 

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