JDM HDJ81 Owners in USA...any regrets about your purchase?

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Nov 28, 2022
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As more HDJ81s have become available for USA import in the last several years (suppose we've reached the final year for an 80 series import with 1997), I imagine the sample size for JDM HDJ81 ownership has grown a decent amount. I am considering joining the ranks with a pretty nice example running a 1HD-T connected to a fully hydraulic A442F, and would love to hear some anecdotes on the experiences folks have had with these rigs.

Have you had serious issues with parts aquisition and maintenance?

Has RHD been a pain in the butt?

Would you do make the purchase again?

I drove an FZJ80 for many years, and the dream of a diesel 80 has been present for a long time. I'm also striving to be realistic and not bite off more than I can chew. Thanks in advance for any anecdotes!
 
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RHD takes maybe a week to get used to. Only problems after that are drive-throughs and passing on 2 lane roads. Most vendors make RHD parts, like Wits End and Delta.

I rebuilt a whole 1hdt, and almost everything was readily available from partsouq. More US suppliers like Cruiser Outfitters are stocking parts.

The engines are simpler and have fewer failure points than the gasoline model. A few inexpensive tweaks and they are more powerful. One common failure point is air leaks in the fuel system. Be prepared to replace all old rubber from the pump back to the tank.

Diesel prices are a bummer right now, but I still enjoy stopping half as much as the gassers.

They do smoke off boost, especially in cold and at altitude. This is the price you pay for no computers or EPA devices.

If I were to do it again Id definitely buy another. I used to say I'd just build a LS swapped 80, but fuel stops in my LS pickup are too frequent.
 
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I wouldn't recommend the fully hydro A442 if you have options, from someone who has a full hydro A442F. That is unless you want to shell out for an updated valvebody from wholesale automatics.
 

FJ40 that green thing

1996 KZJ78 Prado
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Not an 80 owner but have a JDM 70 series. I feel like the RHD is less of an issue in a smaller town without freeway travel, busy traffic, lights, etc. It could be annoying in a bigger city tho. Think drive throughs, car wash, left hand turns on a green arrow and freeway maneuvers. Most parts can be found worldwide nowdays so as long as it isn't your only driver (you could be out weeks at a time waiting for international shipments) and appreciate the torque, efficiency and durability of a diesel motor and don't mind the diesel fuel prices, they do check alot of boxes for a recreation rig. A main reason I chose a JDM Cruiser over something available stateside is you seem to be able to find cleaner, low mileage examples for similar or less money than US vehicles in much worse condition. I daily drive mine but I do have backup vehicles for times like 2 weeks ago when my ECU crapped out and is getting rebuilt.
 
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I wouldn't recommend the fully hydro A442 if you have options, from someone who has a full hydro A442F. That is unless you want to shell out for an updated valvebody from wholesale automatics.
This is something I was concerned about. As durable as 80-series transmissions are supposed to be, I'm surprised to hear that the fully hydro A442F has such problems. The truck I'm looking at is a really clean example...this is the only thing that might be a deal breaker.
 
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Kodiak, AK
No regrets on my '92 HDJ81 w/ auto. Runs like a champ, gets decent MPG, and the RHD doesn't really feel out of place anymore. The ONLY time I've ever had issues was going through an automated parking gate, where you either have to pull a ticket out or put a PIN in. That is pretty much a pain in the butt and impossible to do without a passenger or putting the truck in park and sliding over.
Only true thing I wish is I had a manual transmission, and maybe factory lockers, but I haven't gotten too off road yet so neither has been a serious need.
 
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Chico Washington
no issues with parts or maintenance, i was able to get an entire spare engine from chaple gate, anything else is easy to find

RHD is no big deal, its still driving, just the steering wheel is 3 feet to the right

id buy another
 

Idaho Savage

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Question: Do all of you guys wrench on your motors or have you found that a competent mechanic can work on these rigs?

Also, how do these do in cold, cold weather. Like Rocky Mountain cold?
 
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mudgudgeon

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I would think one big enticement of buying a JDM RHD in USA would be the opportunity to have a 5 speed manual transmission?
 

ToyotaMatt

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As more HDJ81s have become available for USA import in the last several years (suppose we've reached the final year for an 80 series import with 1997), I imagine the sample size for JDM HDJ81 ownership has grown a decent amount. I am considering joining the ranks with a pretty nice example running a 1HD-T connected to a fully hydraulic A442F, and would love to hear some anecdotes on the experiences folks have had with these rigs.

Have you had serious issues with parts aquisition and maintenance?

Has RHD been a pain in the butt?

Would you do make the purchase again?

I drove an FZJ80 for many years, and the dream of a diesel 80 has been present for a long time. I'm also striving to be realistic and not bite off more than I can chew. Thanks in advance for any anecdotes!



i think everyone regretted importing there HDJ81 , when there 90982-08266 NLA / DISC. fusible Links burned up or age and time became ashes to dust and dust to

on the road side stranded ........ :confused:




- but and however ......


- with technical assistance and input consulting from HDJ81 Community members like @Dusten & @ZCissner , and @HillCountryTX to name a few ,


the once extinct 90982-08266 now LIVES ONCE again ....

and for the long term too ...:)


- so ,........... ,

- do not fear importing your dreams and your HDJ81 based on this once thorny issue of NEEDED parts availability topic at hand ........

is now in good hands ...






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1669718154382.png
 
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Louisville ky
I have zero experience, but wish I could help strictly due to your username. I do second the point about availability of a manual being one of the perceived perks of buying a non domestic 80 series. Best of luck!
 

ToyotaMatt

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I have zero experience, but wish I could help strictly due to your username. I do second the point about availability of a manual being one of the perceived perks of buying a non domestic 80 series. Best of luck!

How exactly is the availability of a manual a perceived perk ?



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Joined
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This is something I was concerned about. As durable as 80-series transmissions are supposed to be, I'm surprised to hear that the fully hydro A442F has such problems. The truck I'm looking at is a really clean example...this is the only thing that might be a deal breaker.
I wouldn't make it a dealbreaker, it's still a good transmission.
 

jellis

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They are more expensive to maintain and harder to understand (the fully mechanical injection pumps are a true work of mechanical genius, 24V start, turbo). The 90-early 92's kinda suck because there are a number of items specific to just 90-92 which makes them harder to find. That includes the fully hydro A442F. You will almost never be able to put your vehicle into a US-based website and get functional results. You will get ridiculously good at navigating the various Toyota parts websites and buying only OEM because that will often be the only option (or buy non-OEM from Australia and pay $$$ for shipping). Because your parts are often coming from across an ocean you will need to plan on weeks of downtime during maintenance or buy every conceivable part you might need (more $$$).

I've spent $30k on mine over the last 5 years, most all my own labor. But that's also a sign of how much I enjoy the HDJ and plan to do so for many years to come. It's an epic rig. Replacement with anything else, including a gas-powered LC, is essentially unimaginable. There is NO comparison to me. That's the biggest "problem" with making this jump, it's a one-way road. I view it a bit like my shipping container house: When your house has 1/8" thick steel walls it makes normal stick-built houses look like toys. Other trucks are like toys after driving an HDJ. I tow a 4000lb M101A military trailer with a custom-built hard-sided popup camper on top, anywhere. Thousands of miles a year on gnarly washboards hauling ass, and gnarly slow 4x4. E-P-I-C!

In stock form I think they suck. They absolutely need a turbo upgrade at minimum to get anything near modern driveability, and a valve body if you have a lot of mountains. Plus gauges of course. Tranny cooler if you'll ever see grades/mud/snow/towing. Just factor that into the cost and plan on doing it within the first year.

The fully hydro A442 isn't super rad but I wouldn't consider it a deal breaker. I hate the 3-4 transition even with an upgraded valve body, I often just run it in 3 instead of D. The tranny that came with my truck had something faulty and the TC would lock up right when it shifted to 4th so that transition was super, super bad for many years. I swapped out a rebuilt one + valve body+ new OEM torque converter and that made a really big difference.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Colorado Arkansas Valley (Salida, Buni)
Question: Do all of you guys wrench on your motors or have you found that a competent mechanic can work on these rigs?

Also, how do these do in cold, cold weather. Like Rocky Mountain cold?
There are plenty of mechanics that can work on them, but you might have to order parts for the mechanic.

I just moved to 8500 ft, and the temps have been ~15 F the last few days. She's not necessarily happy, but with direct injection it fires up almost immediately. Some sort of block heater will probably be a good idea.
 

jellis

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They do great in cold so long as your glowplugs are in working order. Major issues in -20 without glowplugs functioning, but 0 to 10 with glowplugs isn't a problem. Some claim 12V start conversion works well in these temps as well.

Anyone know of a good block heater for these? I thought that you couldn't install the normal ones and we were forced to do a magnetic oil pan type? PO had one in my lower rad hose but I removed it because I couldn't figure out how it would help at all (it could only heat the radiator and up to the thermostat but not the actual internal block).
 
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Anyone know of a good block heater for these? I thought that you couldn't install the normal ones and we were forced to do a magnetic oil pan type? PO had one in my lower rad hose but I removed it because I couldn't figure out how it would help at all (it could only heat the radiator and up to the thermostat but not the actual internal block).
Circulating block heater is the way to go if you can plug in. Feed from the coolant drain and y-in to the top of the heater hose.

If you can swing it get a Webasto/Espar, expensive but worth every penny in my opinion. It gets extremely cold where I live (deep into the -30's) and my truck always starts.
 
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Some statistics:


So why might right-hand drive cars be wrong for Canadian roads? In 2007, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) looked at accident data and found right-hand drive cars were up to 40 per cent more likely to get into a crash. A 2009 study by Quebec's insurer found right-hand drive cars to be 30 per cent more likely to get in a crash.

"The research showed that right-hand-drive vehicles represent an increased crash risk in a left-hand drive environment like B.C.," said Lindsay Olson, Insurance Bureau of British Columbia (ICBC) spokeswoman, in an e-mail. "In the study, we also found the average time for a crash to occur after first purchasing a right-hand-drive vehicle was 223 days which is 68 per cent sooner than for left-hand-drive vehicles, which was 705 days."

 
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Kodiak, AK
Some statistics:

So why might right-hand drive cars be wrong for Canadian roads? In 2007, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) looked at accident data and found right-hand drive cars were up to 40 per cent more likely to get into a crash. A 2009 study by Quebec's insurer found right-hand drive cars to be 30 per cent more likely to get in a crash.​
"The research showed that right-hand-drive vehicles represent an increased crash risk in a left-hand drive environment like B.C.," said Lindsay Olson, Insurance Bureau of British Columbia (ICBC) spokeswoman, in an e-mail. "In the study, we also found the average time for a crash to occur after first purchasing a right-hand-drive vehicle was 223 days which is 68 per cent sooner than for left-hand-drive vehicles, which was 705 days."​

🙄
 

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