Should a shop do my gear change

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Aug 26, 2003
Beaumont, Texas
Hey again... I am finally ready to do my gear sets, front and rear but am not sure if this is something I could do myself or should I have it done at a local differiental shop. I have done everything on my truck myself and feel somewhat confident that I can do it but everyone I have talked to has said no way. There is just to much adjustments and such to ensure proper pre load and ring and pinion going together just right. I went to the shop yesterday to talk to them and they are supposed to get me a quote on parts and labor. I think we decided to go with Precision gear sets and will be installing 4.88's. Anyway, I know better than to get my own parts and letting them just install so I would just let them get the parts for the job. I just wonder what we should consider ball park for what this would cost. I don't want to get ripped off but really have no idea what is involved and for how much. That is why I have done all of my own work, to save dollars and be able to afford more parts and also to learn everything I can about my truck as possible. However, that being said, I would never attempt to pull the A/T and do work on it myself... I would have an experienced transmission shop do that work. So are the diffs and gear sets like the transmission in a way as far as precision and exactness is concerned?


Setting up the meshing of the new gears is something that takes experience to do. The downside of doing it wrong is either noisy gears or destroyed gears, which means a complete tear down again even if it's just to tweak the noisy gears. Pay someone to do it, and let them handle the parts as well. Can't help you on a quote, but don't accept the shop's word that they can handle it. This is not like changing belts, a tuneup or radiator replacement. It takes actual skill and years of experience. I would not pick a shop until I could speak with the ACTUAL MECHANIC that's going to do the job and hear of his gear setting experience. I would also like to make it clear and have it in writing that if the diff whines after initial breakin - (couple hundred miles max) that they will take care of it. That's the #1 mistake by far - improper adjustment of the gear meshing pattern itself. It is specified in the LandCruiser 80 Series Factory Manual.

Thanks Doug, This guy I spoke with is the actual mechanic who will be doing the work and he is also a drag racer of many years with plenty experience setting gears. He said that sometimes if they are at a track away from home, he has had to do gear changes on the tail gate of his truck. He is the guy that every 4WD owner in our area has do their gears and diff work. I also asked him to see what he could do on also installing ARB lockers front and back since we are already in there. I may be able to do the lockers myself after he does the gear swap but not sure yet what is involved. So you say that I need to get him to agree to if after 200 to 500 miles of break in, and they are noisy, he will go back in and adjust the meshing again? That sounds reasonable and hopefully he will feel the same way about it. I sure don't want to hear the gears whining so that is important to me.

Can someone please tell me the part number for Precision gear sets and install kits for front and back on my '97 FZJ80. I can't seem to find it on their web site but wanted to see how much I could get them for if I was doing it myself.
Do I need the Toyota Landcruiser 8" reverse or the TLC 9 1/2", or is one for back and the other for front?

Are you planning on doing the rip and tear on your own or just drop the tuck off? If you're doing the dirty work and dropping off the 3rd members expect to pay somewhere in the $150-$250 range for each axle on gear setup. All the additional seals, gaskets, lube and so-on will of course be above and beyond the $$ mentioned above. If you're dropping the truck off whip out the checkbook or plastic as I didn't go that route and I bet it would be several Benjamin's.

If you have OEM lockers make sure you ask them about the shims used to set up the rear gear as the average Joe Shmoe Jeep shop won't have the shims on hand.

Another option. If you can down the truck ~1 week you can do the dirty work then ship the 3rd members out in 5gal buckets to someone who has the parts and tooling to do the job right. The only consolation is on the off chance there is an issue you'll be shipping them out a second time. Here is a short list of guys that should be able to help you out; Poser setup mine, Christo has done many, I'm sure Kurt at Cruiser Outfitter has done a few and this a very short list.

Good luck.
Do I need the Toyota Landcruiser 8" reverse or the TLC 9 1/2", or is one for back and the other for front?

Yes, one of each. The front is 8" and the rear is 9.4" IIRC
Thanks for that information. I did not think about breaking it down to the thirds and dropping them off to be done. I am not exactly positive what the "third member" is but I think it must be the actual gear set and pinion together as one complete unit. I haven't even studied the FSM yet..... Just looked and it must be the differential carrier. Well, it looks like something that might be a bit difficult but if not then I might be able to go that route. Not sure what the mechanic would think about it and what if he will not be able to guarantee his work if I do the dirty work. If necessary, I could down the truck for a week or so if I decide to ship them to Slee. The truck was down for a couple weeks while I did the front axle rebuild for the first time. Anyway, we will see what he says tomorrow and I will follow up here for any comments.

... I'm sure Kurt at Cruiser Outfitter has done a few and this a very short list...


My gear guy (Carl) has literally setup up hundereds of Toyota 3rd members... he was one of the first guys to retrofit HP e-lockers into a non-elock 8" housing (~10 years ago :cool:). Not only can you destroy an new set of gears with an improper setup, but you can also wipe out bearings, seals, carriers, etc... Starts making the cost to have them professionally setup worth all the $$$.

Thats not to say they can't be setup by a competent shade-tree mechanic. With proper tools, research and trial and error, one could do it. However the tools alone cost alot more than the cost of install.
...I may be able to do the lockers myself after he does the gear swap but not sure yet what is involved...

It would require setting up the correct backlash & carrier bearing preload... so you would be best served having the ARB installed at the same time. It shouldn't cost any extra at the time of the regear. If anything doing the ARB at install is a bit less work (you don't have to pull the ring or the carrier bearings). Make sure the mechanic is familiar with the ARB system... it requires drilling & tapping your differential housing, as well as a couple other little "tricks" (covered well in the ARB install manual)
The diff carrier + the gears = the third member.

Since you did a front axle rebuild, you can remove the third. Basically you pull the axles, drop the driveshafts, then unbolt the thirds. FSM has all the details, but you can do it. It's not as much work as a full front axle rebuild, mostly just a dissably/reassembly.

Interested to hear what price you are quoted.
OK Kurt, that is good advice and you are right about the tool part. Everything I have done myself, I many times wind up investing more just because I had to get certain tools to complete the job, but I look at it as an Investment and even if I save no money, at the end, I have a more complete set of tools and have learned how to do the work and I have the satisfaction of having been able to do the work myself, and as far as PM, I will now be able to do that myself as well. But on this one, I would feel better having it done right the first time and I can experiment on another set of diff's.

everyone has emphasized the importance that the mechanic be familiar with the Toyota landcruiser of I guess at least make sure he has the correct FSM, or just leave mine with him. I'll talk to him tomorrow and see what he says and let you all know. I just hate to have to spend $1,000 to $1,500 which is probably what it will cost. He explained to me the different lockers avaliable which says he has experience there as well. He said I could do ARB, e Lockers or Detroit's, and the Detroits he seemed to think are the strongest but I told him I wanted to go with ARB since I also want to have the onboard compressor for other uses.
The diff carrier + the gears = the third member.

Since you did a front axle rebuild, you can remove the third. Basically you pull the axles, drop the driveshafts, then unbolt the thirds. FSM has all the details, but you can do it. It's not as much work as a full front axle rebuild, mostly just a dissably/reassembly.

Interested to hear what price you are quoted.

That is what I figured and you may be right about me being able to pull the thirds myself. I'll see what he thinks and I may also talk to Christo about him possibly doing them for me.
Sorry for the confusion on the diff carriers (3rd members).

You've got the right idea about reading the FSM and getting familiar with the procedure. As Lovetoski mentioned if you did your frontendectomy it won't be any more involved, especially if you don't have the OEM e-lockers. The rear is a piece of cake for disassembly but the carrier is rather hefty.

If you're interested I'll try and find my parts list and put something together later tonight.
Yea, that would be great. A parts list would help me to ensure that the mechanic gets all of the necessary parts as well as any possible shims to set everything up correctly. No I do not have factory lockers (wish I did) so that is why I am going with the ARB's. I wonder if it is even possible or feasable to try and fit a set of factory lockers. Probably would be more expensive but are they better or stronger than the ARB's? Anyway, I will be in here tonight hopefully with more info after talking with the mechanic.

I called Ben at Slee and had him ship everything I would need. Gears, seals. new bearings etc etc. I then took them to my local wrench who did the install. The only hangup was measuring which shims I needed and waiting for them to come from Cdan. It is impossible to know beforehand what shims are needed so there is the possibility of needing to wait for those, unless you get a full set.(no shims up here in Canada).
Tens of thousands of miles and still good,

I will be in the same situation, and if I were you I would pull your thirds and send it to Slee or Cruiser Outfitters. I know that it is nice to use a local person, but if they aren't a Toy shop and haven't done this swap/install on an 80 the cost of shipping would be added insurance. I guess the way that I look at it is you can have it done locally, and if it's done wrong you can take it back and they can monkey around with it again or you can send it to a shop that has worked on several of these and who already supports the cruiser community and have a better chance that it is done correct the first time. I know sending the thirds might be a hassle, but so is taking a vehicle back to remedy a problem for the second or third time.
I'll put together the parts list I have tonight.

The shims aren't necessary since you don't have factory lockers. If I were lockerless I'd go ARB and not even consider retrofitting the factory setup. In the off chance one of my lockers fails especially the front I'm going ARB and dropping the e-locker.
The places you mentioned, Slee, Cruiser Outfitters are both well qualified for the job. Just one other name for the hat, Javier's Autos Unlimited. He is located in Houston and is a member and big supporter of The Texas Land Cruiser Club-Houston. He just did a disc brake conversion for a members 40 and ARb'd it with a new gear setup. He's great to deal with. Knows Cruisers and you can bring just the third to him.

Buck Buchanan
Ok, I just spoke with them and here is what they quoated. For the complete job with ARB front and back, 4.88 gear sets, Master Kit rear and install kit front plus labor would be $3,438 plus tax 8.25%. If I take out the ARB's and just do the gears, it would be $1440 plus tax. And if I pulled the third members and bring them to the shop, I would save about $1,000 just in labor. They said it would take two days if they have the vehicle and do everything or one day on the bench if I pull the thirds. So you see, thare is alot to be said about doing as much of your own work yourself. They also suggested I might want to go with ARB in the back and do the front later on down the road. But not sure about how the air inlets install but I think they can drill and tap the inlet on the third member and then I would have to do the case and run the interconnecting air tube to the third member. I am comfortable drilling and taping the diff case or housing for the air connection and I have seen it outlined here on MUD. I did not ask what brand gears they quoated but I believe it was Precision. I will be back in here later with follow up.

Forgot to give you Javiers number 713 461 5595. You should atleast call him. It won't cost you a dime.

Buck Buchanan
if you have them put the ARBs in, you may want to ensure that they'll put the air passthrough on the upper side of the housing rather than the lower....

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