Need Advice on FJ...Automatic vs Manual Transmission

Discussion in 'FJ Cruiser' started by IDMtGoat, Mar 21, 2016.

  1. IDMtGoat

    IDMtGoat

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    I have been looking at the FJ's since they first came out.
    I currently drive a 95 Tacoma 4cyl 4x4 with 285k miles.
    I am considering trading her in on an FJ.

    In reading up on the differences between the manual and the automatic it appears that the manual transmission is geared a bit lower than the auto and in the past (Read 1995) the manual put a lot more power to the ground than the automatic.
    Is this still the case?

    I understand the manual is full time 4wd...is that an issue other than slightly lower fuel economy?
    Can the full time 4wd be upgraded to be able to shift it in and out of 4wd?
    I am used to having to lock the hubs and manually shift it in and out of 4wd so am a bit concerned about the full time feature and how well it works?

    I hope to use the truck for light adventure vehicle running around on logging roads, out in the desert but not out rock crawling like I did with the old Rubicon (to expensive to fix what breaks).

    I understand the automatic does very well out running around but does the manual transmission put more power to the ground or should I look to an automatic and not loo back (the full time 4wd is a concern as I have no knowledge of how it works or how robust it is or how it will drive in slick conditions)?

    What gas mileage should I expect with the manual vs the automatic? Are the factory specs close to correct?

    Everyone that I have talked to about their FJ have had the automatics so I don't have much knowledge about the manuals. I have just drive manual transmissions all my life.

    I have been looking for quite awhile but am now trying to make a decision on the manual vs automatic then start looking for the right outfit.

    Are there any other options that I should be looking at as well (it must have the locking capability to be considered).

    Lastly one person told me that I have to run premium gas and not regular, is that true (for $.10 to $15 per gallon more)?

    Thank you
    Pat
     
  2. LasCrucer

    LasCrucer

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    I'll give you a simple answer: I'd been a manual tranny owner for nearly 40 years. From '91 until '07 owned a 4wd manual 5 speed SR-5 v-6. Great truck BUT was annoying with in town stop and go, and having to downshift on steep highway grades before it popped out of 5th. Traded in for an auto trans '08 Tacoma Pre Runner, and glad I did. Started looking for an FJC last July, and last week bought an auto '08. Glad I did. Now the only manual I have is my '77 FJ40. Nuff said.
     
  3. 1911

    1911 chupacabra

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    No; modern auto transmissions are way better than they were even 20-30 years ago.

    No.

    Not easily or cheaply, but you can if you replace the stock transfer case with a "Lefty" transfer case.

    On the manual-tranny FJC it is not an issue; the front hubs are being turned all the time. On the auto-tranny models, it is an issue - the Toyota ADD system of using a tiny electric motor (with poor/weak contacts, and housed where it is liable to be flooded eventually) to move a sliding sleeve to engage the front hubs, is a weak point in the system and somewhat prone to failure (especially if you use your truck in water or mud).

    No.

    Neither has a significant advantage over the other, in my opinion. It comes down to personal preference. Though if I knew I was going to be doing a lot of water crossings, I would probably choose the manual just to avoid the ADD system on autos.

    Mine (auto) got better than advertised mileage when it was bone stock, but as soon as I started modding it the fuel economy plummeted from all the extra weight. If gas mileage is important to you, don't modify the truck.


    The factory electric locker in the rear diff is excellent and worth having. The factory skid plate is useless. The factory "rock rails" are not much better. You are far better off with aftermarket options for those two.

    Like my dear departed mom used to say, "you don't HAVE to do anything, except die and pay taxes".

    The 1GR-FE engine has a 10:1 compression ratio. To make maximum power it needs premium gas, but The FJC's engine management computer will simply retard the ignition timing if you run regular gas; you will likely suffer a slight degradation in power but otherwise there is no harm in doing so.
     
  4. AKcruiserfreak

    AKcruiserfreak

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    Some good info here^. I can only speak for myself. I own a 2007 FJC with the 6 speed. I also prefer a manual for pure driving enjoyment. That said, I would own an automatic if I lived in an area with stop and go traffic. I live in Interior Alaska, so I can drive from my house to work and downshift one time...I live a rough life. ;)
    Toyota has been building AWD rigs for quite a long time now with a measure of success (80, 100, and 200 series come to mind).
    It seems like mileage is rather important to you. Mine is mildly modified with a 3" lift, 285s, front bumper/winch, and sliders. I get 16mpg on the highway. If you are looking for mileage and a platform to build on, this may not be the rig for you. I 4 cyl Tacoma or 4Runner will still get around 20mpg built.
    All said, I love mine and whatever you end up getting, just continue doing research on it.

    TK
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
  5. IDMtGoat

    IDMtGoat

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    So the manual transmission FJ simply has 4Hi and 4Lo? You drive around in 4Hi until you need the lower gears or is it 4wd with 4Hi lock and 4Lo?

    Pardon my ignorance but I have been driving a 1995 Tacoma 4cy for the last 19 years.
    Manual hubs, standard 5 speed transmission.
    If I have the Tacoma in 4wd it hops around when turning sharply.
    How does the manual FJ avoid this "issue"?
    Does the manual FJ have "smarts" so it is not engaged until a wheel slips or is it always actively turning a front and back tire?

    I asked about the manual transmission operation at the Toyota Repair shop and they didn't know it was "full time 4wd" so they couldn't explain much as to how it worked.

    For the automatic if I recall it has 2wd, 4Hi and 4Lo, but it does not have hubs.

    Do either manual or auto transmissioned FJ's physically engage 4wd and/or 4Hi or 4Lo via a link or are they both electronic so they send a signal to a servo or what ever to adjust the transfer case to the correct position?


    My current thoughts for a build would be:
    White Knuckle sliders.
    Light weight (or factory) skid plates.
    Front bumper with receiver hitch so I can slide my winch in if needed with stout tow points.
    Rear bumper with stout tow points.
    I like pizza cutter tires which tend to limit the height.
    I don't plan to do much more to it other than drive it.

    I am sure there will be a few more must do's as I continue to read on this forum. :)

    Thank you for the feedback to date. It has helped a lot.

    Pat
     
  6. IDMtGoat

    IDMtGoat

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    Mileage is important from the standpoint that my Tacoma got 23 mpg for 20 some years which would get me from Boise to the last exit before Sparks Nevada on one tank (where I could use a jerry can to get me the rest of the way into town :) ) about 400 miles. A number of rigs find it tough to get 300 miles out of a tank.

    If you get 16 mpg and the FJ has a 19 gallon tank that's about 300 miles on a tank of gas so 2 - 5 gallon Jerry cans would be recommended.
    I need to add to the upgrade list above a way to carry two Wedco gas cans externally to the rig.

    Pat
     
  7. cheFZJesse

    cheFZJesse

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    I have wheeled with people in automatic and manual Fj's and most of the auto drivers had less issues on steep or slippery stuff than the manual guys did! My 07 auto Fj is incredible offroad and super capable.
     
  8. IDMtGoat

    IDMtGoat

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    Great point.
    Having to only worry about the throttle rather than throttle and gears (and slipping the clutch as needed) is a big advantage with the automatic.

    I just remember my daughters 95 Tacoma 4cyl with an automatic was a dog compared to my exact same truck with a manual. Due to gearing the manual had about half again as much poop as hers with the auto.

    Pat
     
  9. cheFZJesse

    cheFZJesse

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    image.jpeg My auto has plenty of power for everything I have thrown at it.
     
  10. alabamatacomaguy

    alabamatacomaguy SILVER Star

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    I have a 6 speed fjc
    I am happy I went with it as in my mind a Toyota 4 wheel drive is a manual haha. Guess it brings memmories of younger fun days.

    I had a 5 speed in my 01 taco and wanted that to continue in the fjc. I was pretty aggravated about the fjc only having all wheel drive but after driving it for 60 k miles I've got little bad to say.
    Don't expect good gas mileage in the fjc
    I do find myself skipping gears on purpose (going from 2 to 4 then 6, or something like that) in the fjc the ratios seem to be close together and going from 5 to 6 leaves me wishing the 6 th gear would drop rpms alittle more at highway speeds
    The fjc feels more like a fullsize vehicle to me especially coming from the mini pre 05 taco. This is probably the reason I've kept mine on pavement but I like to keep things in new condition
    Like another poster said the only option to have 2wd as an option with 6sp is the aftermarket tcase. But without being able to unlock the hubs I wouldn't worry about that as the cvs will still be spinning even if no power to the front diff. A few years back someone was trying to find a way to get manual hubs but I think the cost ran into the same territory as a solid axle.

    If you do end up test driving one make sure he locker engauages the tcase 4low sensors on toyotas around the fjcs year span have a problem of going bad randomly if not used often. It can be a easy fix but a pain, I was lucky and was able to clean it and use it alittle to get it working.

    Also make sure your insurance is good at replacing windshields I chipped mine at 200 miles and I was carful no to tailgate. Also check the front fenders for rips. The design pre 2009 ish had thinner/unsupported front fenders and they can crack somewhat easier.... Supposedly. mine hasn't and niether have lots of people
     
  11. 1911

    1911 chupacabra

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    Yes and yes.

    Correct.

    Both have a transfer case that is shifted physically/manually by a lever with corresponding shift forks in the transfer case.
     
  12. IDMtGoat

    IDMtGoat

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    I assume fjc is FJ Cruiser?
    What is fjcs as in:
    "If you do end up test driving one make sure he locker engages the tcase 4low sensors on Toyotas around the fjcs year span have a problem of going bad randomly if not used often. It can be a easy fix but a pain, I was lucky and was able to clean it and use it alittle to get it working."

    If the transfer in and out of 4wd is manual (physical vs electronic) is the issue with the 4 low sensor just the light won't come on or are there more bad things that happen?


    I hadn't even started on what model year to look for as the manual vs automatic had taken precedence.
    Is there a model year to avoid or one to look for (or a range to look for)?
    I assume that the FJ's were mostly the same with a few minor changes.
    Is that not true?
    Are later model years "better" than '07's or '08's?

    Thank you for all of this wisdom.

    Pat
     
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  13. LasCrucer

    LasCrucer

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    FJC is FJ Cruiser, yep. I believe he meant FJC's year span, so Toyota 4wd models 2007ish to 2014ish. I've read the threads here working from the earliest ones towards today, and it seems the '07 model year draws the most complaints, one reason I only looked at '08+. Prices asked for '11+ were higher than I was willing to cough up, so my search was for '08 - '10. This should draw some fire!
     
  14. AKcruiserfreak

    AKcruiserfreak

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    Whew! Good thing mine was made in 2006! ;) Seriously, If you are serious about buying one, it's time go on some test drives. I think all model years are similar enough that you should shop based on how much you can afford, maintenance records, and options that appeal to you.


    TK
     
  15. LasCrucer

    LasCrucer

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    Once I decided to commit to a purchase, I found a local dealer who had a '10 with <50k miles, asking $29k. First time I'd driven one, and when my wife pronounced it 'driveable,' I knew I was gonna buy one - - just not this one (personal choice to not spend more than $20k). Two weeks later we drove to Phoenix and found an '08 with 90k miles for $10k less. Better deal!
     
  16. lgrt

    lgrt

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    couple of things to think about:

    manual trans (MT) AWD normal driving, power is a 40/60 (30/70 i can't remember) power split between the front and rear. in HL or LL the transfer case locks into a 50/50 power split.

    Early 2007 (2006) auto trans (AT) has weakend rear diff gears the were not hardened correctly. You find the VINs of affected models. Then have the gears changed out or get a different year.

    anything but harder trails both MT and AT will be equal. on harder tails, AT will allow you to "Left foot brake" and get a bit more control. on hard trails (say rubicon trail) the MT can be frustrating. The MT has a Clutch Start Cancel switch that is handy if you stall and need to restart on a hill off road.

    I love my MT but hard off road is all about gears so I've regeared and swapped out the transfer case to give me better gears on the gnarly stuff. On easy and moderate... what ever you are more comfortable with. Both have their fun.

    Good luck selecting the one that is right for you.
     
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  17. IDMtGoat

    IDMtGoat

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    I am more looking at something very reliable to help get me around washouts and up old logging and mining roads. I don't plan to trying the Rubicon Trail type stuff but am looking for a truck that is capable so I can get to the Rubicon Trail :)

    As has been said several times already it looks like an automatic would be a better choice.

    If I recall the manual was geared lower than the auto. It is interesting that you needed to gear it down even more.

    So it sounds as if I should be looking at rigs '08 and newer.
    Interestingly enough what I found locally are the first year rigs and newer rigs not much in between. I was thinking the FJ's new were about $34k or $35k.
    Used they are asking $36k. o_O

    Are the Trail Teams rigs just Bilstein shocks, special paint and badging or are there other features that are worth the premium?

    Pat
     
  18. LasCrucer

    LasCrucer

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    Dude, you may have do a road trip to Oregon or Washington - bigger markets. ;)
     
  19. IDMtGoat

    IDMtGoat

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    Wow, just looked in the Portland area on Craigslist. :hmm:

    What does it mean when they say "base"?
    It sure appears that it has the important bells and whistles.
    It may or may not have the roof rack.
    They seem to all have diff lock and A-Trac.

    One difference I noticed was an electrical outlet for the back and a woofer (must be an upgraded stereo system so us old duffers can hear the phone calls on blue-tooth better :lol:).

    There are manual and automatic transmissions.
    A myriad of different wheels (not sure if they all were factory options).

    Are there any other items I missed?
    Any mechanical adds or differences other than transmission?

    Thank you
    Pat
     
  20. LasCrucer

    LasCrucer

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    Base usually means no 'packages' have been added, so standard bells and whistles only. Don't let lack of roof rack stop a potential buy. Mine has no roof rack, but there are 4 plastic covers over where the roof rack mounts would go. Look at '07-'09 models and you'll see two factory rim types - 6 spoke and 5 spoke. '10 up had different styles offered from '07-'09. TRD black rims are popular.
     
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