Seeking Advice - Front Axle Repair

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Jan 3, 2008
Eden Prairie, Minnesota
My Althea ('96 FZJ80 w/ 166k mi) needs new knuckle seals. Oil, dirt, and crud everywhere. I'm going to be taking her to the local Toyota dealership for repair (~$1,200). :crybaby: I'm a handy guy, but honestly I don't have the time to even try. I would like to know what other front axle repairs I should consider since it will be all tore apart? :meh: Althea's lifted 2.5 w/ OME, 33's BFGs to follow soon.
Also, how do I explain to the dealership how important it is someone look it over closely. I would rather be safe and make an added repair now than be stranded in Wyoming later this summer. Making a solo trip to the Big Horn mts, some trails, but mostly backpacking.
I'd consider new wheel & trunnion bearing while your in there. Also check out your rotors.
I understand the fear, but I would really recommend doing it yourself. I found one side with 2 spindle gaskets and the other side with out any. You do not always get what you pay for at a shop. As daunting as it seems, if you plan and get the right stuff it is really rewarding. You will do a BETTER job, learn about your truck, and gain a bunch of confidence. Then, with the $$ you save, buy a fun MOD. I am planning on getting a roof-rack that I need desperately for camping. I feel I am justified now!:clap:
Where are you located?

If not doing the work yourself I'd look for a mechanic that specializes in Toytoa Trucks rather than the dealership. Labor rate probably less and may take more time inspecting for other problems.

Dealerships are too often more concerned about their bottom line to worry about taking any extra time. If you have a good relationship established with yours then great. But if not, I may be worth it to look elsewhere.
I know a lot of folks on this board say to do it yourself, you'll save money, gain a deeper understanding of your mechanicals...etc... but the reality for many of us is we don't have the place, time or tools to do it ourselves. The 80 is my only vehicle, so when its down, I'm renting car. As much as I wanted to do my axle rebuild, I don't have a garage - I have a 1/4 mile dirt lane and my 'clean room' would mean parking on the lawn instead of the dirt. And it was winter in Maine... so I used Cruiser Solutions in New Hampshire - 4 hours away.

My local mechanic is a great guy but he has never worked on an 80 before I showed up with one. My Toyota dealer has proven to be fair and competent, but I bet they never did an axle job, as we see very few LCs this far north, and I didn't feel comfortable having the dealer do it. But every dealer is different, and some are well-versed on 80s.

I read and printed (almost) every thread on the job, so thanks to this board I have a pretty solid mechanical understanding of the process, but entrusted a Toy-only shop to do it.

Cost about $1400. parts and labor, picked it up 3 days later, and moved on.

Now, if you have some cruiserheads who can help out, and feel fairly confident as a wrench, and have a garage or at least a paved drive in a dry climate - it may be a fun weekend project. Check with your state TLCA club (you can find that link on this website) for an independent shop/mechanic recommendation. Alternatively, there may be an 'enthusiast' who would do this with you, for fun, or beer, or some pocket money.
Make sure the dealer changes the INNER axle seal, not just the OUTER 3 part felt/steel/rubber seal. That is the #1 screwup with this job. It is the inner seal that is bad, the outer seal is merely where you see the diff oil coming out.


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