No basic skills - how should I get started?

Joined
Dec 21, 2019
Messages
7
Location
Australia
I'd like to be able to work on my vehicle but I've only recently learned how to use basic tools (sockets etc). I keep wanting to jump into projects like rust removal, electricals, and heater core replacement but since I lack basic skills I'm getting frustrated at myself. Have already spent a bit over $1000 on labour costs in the short amount of time I've had my 80 and I'd like to do more on it by myself.

What are some small projects and jobs you started with, when you were learning?
 
Joined
Aug 2, 2006
Messages
4,035
Location
Jefferson
 
 
Watching vids and reading manuals gets you started. But you have to learn by fire.

If you are serious, buy TOYOTA factory repair manuals. Read them and reference them. Manuals are made so people not familiar with the vehicles can get there sooner.
DO NOT mess with electric without manuals and some kind of actual understanding of the theory.
 
Joined
Dec 21, 2019
Messages
7
Location
Australia
Watching vids and reading manuals gets you started. But you have to learn by fire.

If you are serious, buy TOYOTA factory repair manuals. Read them and reference them. Manuals are made so people not familiar with the vehicles can get there sooner.
DO NOT mess with electric without manuals and some kind of actual understanding of the theory.
Thank you, that is great advice!
 
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
27
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Same here, bought an FZJ80 and have been wondering what needs to be done. Prior owner did not keep records. I'm open for any suggestions. I hear the front and rear axle maintenance is on the top list of maintenance/repairs done by new 80 owners. @thatcabledude Any other tips? Differential fluid exchange? Is that the same thing as an axle maintenance?

Things I did myself (little mechanical knowledge + videos + FSM)
1. Oil change (easy)($4 filter from toyota)
2. Changed gas tank (moderate/hard) (had a leak when I bought it) and while at it changed the fuel filter (easy)
3. Spark plugs and wires (easy/moderate)(NGK brand for both)
4. Distributor cap and rotor (easy) (~$30 from toyota)

Took it for a free inspection. Things I need done:
1. Wheel bearing (front)
2. Thermostat (~$20 from toyota)
3. Brakes died on me while offroading - will order powerstop brand for all 4 wheels even though the rotors are good I definitely want to be safe than sorry. Does anyone know of a mechanic in LA for the brakes?
4. Radiator is good but there is an electrical issue that twice now did not let me start the car. Had to jiggle the keys a bit before it started.
5. Windows regulator.
6. Need fan shroud ($110 from toyota, ~$70 junkyard)
7. Brake fluid exchange
 

brettwilm

SILVER Star
Joined
Sep 4, 2014
Messages
173
Location
Tucson
 
Basic maintenance is good ongoing learning project and confidence builder. Check and replace brake pads. Change oil and grease suspension and drive train. Check and maintain fluids. Replace hatch and hood struts as-needed. You'll figure out the harder stuff as you go (and acquire more tools). Don't leave anything nice visible in your truck if you don't want it broken into.
 
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
8
Location
Atlanta, Ga
I'd like to be able to work on my vehicle but I've only recently learned how to use basic tools (sockets etc). I keep wanting to jump into projects like rust removal, electricals, and heater core replacement but since I lack basic skills I'm getting frustrated at myself. Have already spent a bit over $1000 on labour costs in the short amount of time I've had my 80 and I'd like to do more on it by myself.

What are some small projects and jobs you started with, when you were learning?
Hows it going boss, I'm not a mechanic and have minimal experience turning wrenches beyond assembling store bought furniture for myself. This is my second cruiser, had an 1995 80 series in South Africa and just got a '06 LX470 in the US. I want to do most of my work myself, because 1. I want to save money, 2. I like to tinker 3. I overland often and dont want to get stuck somewhere and not have the ability to fix in a jam. I've saved a ton of money but wasted a ton of time, my lessons learned are below

1. Get the vehicle thoroughly inspected, you may be able to fix, but you likely arent able to diagnose. Before I bought my LX I took it for a thorough pre-inspection at ACC here in Atlanta before purchasing and have used that as a starting point for the work that I will do on my cruiser.

2. It's super important to make sure you have the tools you need to do the job as there is nothing more frustrating than tearing apart your car and then having to either put it back together to drive to the store for tools or walk (my cruiser is my daily driver as well). You will definitely need an impact driver and a good socket set.

Example: I was planning on changing my heater Tees and hoses this weekend, didnt have yota red coolant nor clamp pliers ( I didnt even get started because I knew from other work that I've done how important it is to have the tools at hand, before starting).

3. Things will take longer than you expect and much longer than what folks here on mud say, especially if you are a beginner and thats OK.

Example: Changing the alternator without removing the radiator on a 100 series according to some on the forum is a 1 hour, 1 banana job. Ha, I toiled in my garage for 6 hours trying to swap out the alternator, which involved loosening and moving to the side the power-steering pump, removing intake valve, and wiggling the alternator from underneath the bottom of the cruiser. In hindsight it should have probably taken about 1.5 hours max (and if I have to do it again or change anything in that part of the engine bay, it certainly wont take as long, but I was scared s***less of messing something up, losing a bolt, and didn't have deep sockets (needs to be deep to remove the power steering pump) so I had to walk 1.2 miles each way to the shop to pick up tools (see point 2 - have the right tools!))

Things I have worked on in about 2 months of owning the car: Swapped alternator, replaced heater Tees and hoses, will do the valve cover gasket soon

Its just rubber and metal, follow instructions be organized and go slow! Good luck!
 
Joined
Dec 21, 2019
Messages
7
Location
Australia
Hows it going boss, I'm not a mechanic and have minimal experience turning wrenches beyond assembling store bought furniture for myself. This is my second cruiser, had an 1995 80 series in South Africa and just got a '06 LX470 in the US. I want to do most of my work myself, because 1. I want to save money, 2. I like to tinker 3. I overland often and dont want to get stuck somewhere and not have the ability to fix in a jam. I've saved a ton of money but wasted a ton of time, my lessons learned are below

1. Get the vehicle thoroughly inspected, you may be able to fix, but you likely arent able to diagnose. Before I bought my LX I took it for a thorough pre-inspection at ACC here in Atlanta before purchasing and have used that as a starting point for the work that I will do on my cruiser.

2. It's super important to make sure you have the tools you need to do the job as there is nothing more frustrating than tearing apart your car and then having to either put it back together to drive to the store for tools or walk (my cruiser is my daily driver as well). You will definitely need an impact driver and a good socket set.

Example: I was planning on changing my heater Tees and hoses this weekend, didnt have yota red coolant nor clamp pliers ( I didnt even get started because I knew from other work that I've done how important it is to have the tools at hand, before starting).

3. Things will take longer than you expect and much longer than what folks here on mud say, especially if you are a beginner and thats OK.

Example: Changing the alternator without removing the radiator on a 100 series according to some on the forum is a 1 hour, 1 banana job. Ha, I toiled in my garage for 6 hours trying to swap out the alternator, which involved loosening and moving to the side the power-steering pump, removing intake valve, and wiggling the alternator from underneath the bottom of the cruiser. In hindsight it should have probably taken about 1.5 hours max (and if I have to do it again or change anything in that part of the engine bay, it certainly wont take as long, but I was scared s***less of messing something up, losing a bolt, and didn't have deep sockets (needs to be deep to remove the power steering pump) so I had to walk 1.2 miles each way to the shop to pick up tools (see point 2 - have the right tools!))

Things I have worked on in about 2 months of owning the car: Swapped alternator, replaced heater Tees and hoses, will do the valve cover gasket soon

Its just rubber and metal, follow instructions be organized and go slow! Good luck!
Thank you! Your point about how long a job takes is so true...as a complete beginner I've gotta stop getting frustrated at myself for not being able to do basic jobs quickly. I'm hoping to jump into a heater core replacement soon and I'm expecting that to take a lot longer than what others report! I just have very basic tools currently, haven't done much beyond oil and filter changes on my own
 

brettwilm

SILVER Star
Joined
Sep 4, 2014
Messages
173
Location
Tucson
 
Hows it going boss, I'm not a mechanic and have minimal experience turning wrenches beyond assembling store bought furniture for myself. This is my second cruiser, had an 1995 80 series in South Africa and just got a '06 LX470 in the US. I want to do most of my work myself, because 1. I want to save money, 2. I like to tinker 3. I overland often and dont want to get stuck somewhere and not have the ability to fix in a jam. I've saved a ton of money but wasted a ton of time, my lessons learned are below

1. Get the vehicle thoroughly inspected, you may be able to fix, but you likely arent able to diagnose. Before I bought my LX I took it for a thorough pre-inspection at ACC here in Atlanta before purchasing and have used that as a starting point for the work that I will do on my cruiser.

2. It's super important to make sure you have the tools you need to do the job as there is nothing more frustrating than tearing apart your car and then having to either put it back together to drive to the store for tools or walk (my cruiser is my daily driver as well). You will definitely need an impact driver and a good socket set.

Example: I was planning on changing my heater Tees and hoses this weekend, didnt have yota red coolant nor clamp pliers ( I didnt even get started because I knew from other work that I've done how important it is to have the tools at hand, before starting).

3. Things will take longer than you expect and much longer than what folks here on mud say, especially if you are a beginner and thats OK.

Example: Changing the alternator without removing the radiator on a 100 series according to some on the forum is a 1 hour, 1 banana job. Ha, I toiled in my garage for 6 hours trying to swap out the alternator, which involved loosening and moving to the side the power-steering pump, removing intake valve, and wiggling the alternator from underneath the bottom of the cruiser. In hindsight it should have probably taken about 1.5 hours max (and if I have to do it again or change anything in that part of the engine bay, it certainly wont take as long, but I was scared s***less of messing something up, losing a bolt, and didn't have deep sockets (needs to be deep to remove the power steering pump) so I had to walk 1.2 miles each way to the shop to pick up tools (see point 2 - have the right tools!))

Things I have worked on in about 2 months of owning the car: Swapped alternator, replaced heater Tees and hoses, will do the valve cover gasket soon

Its just rubber and metal, follow instructions be organized and go slow! Good luck!
Many great insights and I agree with all except...I've maintained my FZJ80 for six years, completed many tasks, never needed impact driver.
 
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
8
Location
Atlanta, Ga
Many great insights and I agree with all except...I've maintained my FZJ80 for six years, completed many tasks, never needed impact driver.
On the lx470 there’s a mud plate on the undercarriage that you always need to remove to work underneath the card. Can be done with a socket for sure, but faster with a driver. But I agree not 100% necessary
 
Joined
Dec 27, 2017
Messages
223
Location
Grande Prairie, Alberta
I would say sell the 80 series and start much simpler.

Get an old wheelbarrow. Rebuild that. Next old bicycle, do that one. Buy a failing smoky motorcycle, rebuild.

Ok, now you're ready for four wheels. Starting really simple, old Ford car or truck, old Willys jeep for a friend. Old Landrover or FJ40 even.

You can maybe take a shorter path than i've suggested here, but you only get good at something by doing it. Michael Jordan didn't start shooting nets as a toddler; he did have to work on it.

Skip some of the complexity on a modern vehicle like the 80 series and start far simpler. Perhaps have your neighbour buy the old wreck for himself and he supplies parts and you wrench on it in exchange for free beer.

Start simple.
 
Joined
Aug 2, 2006
Messages
4,035
Location
Jefferson
 
 
If you think an 80 is complex, you're in the wrong game.
Its the future ladies. If you aren't good at electrical and don't want to be. Suck it up and HIRE a real mechanic.
Trying to discourage someone of something because you think its too "complicated" is nothing but ignorant.
 
Joined
Dec 27, 2017
Messages
223
Location
Grande Prairie, Alberta
If you think an 80 is complex, you're in the wrong game.
Its the future ladies. If you aren't good at electrical and don't want to be. Suck it up and HIRE a real mechanic.
Trying to discourage someone of something because you think its too "complicated" is nothing but ignorant.
Start simple. Noone builds dining room tables their first day in shop class, they start with a birdhouse. I think I can establish what complicated is, we'll compare notes sometime.
 
Joined
Dec 21, 2019
Messages
7
Location
Australia
Thanks everyone! My expectations for what I can do are definitely too high. Will be starting very simple. Maybe a simpler vehicle would be smarter, but I'd be worried about even more issues and rust etc. in a much older vehicle. My 80 is a non turbo diesel, no electrics, part time 4WD so it's the simpler model in the series
 
Joined
Dec 27, 2017
Messages
223
Location
Grande Prairie, Alberta
What you can do is limitless, don't put stops there.

You need to crawl before you can run. You probably have a lawnmower in the back garden you can rebuild before you tackle any 80 series engine rebuild, that's all.

Too many folks now want to start at the top. In order to master anything you can't skip any steps in the learning. Don't limit yourself to the 80 series though, that's all, pick off smaller achievable repairs and rebuilds wherever you can.

There's probably even mechanical kits you can buy, assemble a clock for your family for example. Same assembly principles apply there. Too many people are ham-handed, and lack hand-eye coordination by lack of experience and not trying. Don't be that guy.
 
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