Ultimate FJ80 must-haves

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Nov 26, 2003
Hello all,
It's been 4 years since I parted w/ my '73 FJ40, but now I'm back...

I hate to jump in as a newbie with an obviously overdone question, but I didn't see anything in the FAQ/etc. I'm shopping for a '94-'97 FJ80 with three goals in mind: 1) Towing a 3500lb car trailer, 2) capable mild off-roading and snow travel right out of the box, and 3) Occasional grocery-getting and Home Depot trips.

What features should I make sure it comes with? What specific things should I look out for? I know the basics (timing belt, etc.), and am OK with an automatic, but any suggestions from your collective heads of Landcruiser would be great.

Wilmington, DE

Answers to your questions...

1) Towing a 3500lb car trailer:
==> Make sure it has tow package - stock capacity is 5000lbs

2) capable mild off-roading and snow travel right out of the box:
==> Any stock vehicle would do - but lockers are more desirable when you wanna be xtreme off-roader

3) Occasional grocery-getting and Home Depot trips:
==> 3rd row seats are foldable/removable along with 2nd row folding up would give you plenty of room.

Well, ya better be "OK with an automatic" cause that's all they come with. And ya better be OK without a timing belt 'cause they only come with timing chains. Heh.

There is no specific feature on an 80 that is a must have, excepting the 80 itself.

Any 80 series will amaze you in its factory configuration. They can do almost anything except go fast. No matter what year in the 94-97 range you end up with, you will have quite possibly the best engineered out-of-the-box soccermom/hardcore-ready vehicle ever.
Good intel re: belt/chain... and obvious bad intel from my local Shady McShifty Auto Sales selling a bald-tired w/ junked interior '95. Thank you.

To clarify, I meant I'm OK determining an automatic in good condition vs. a beat one...

Lockers will be preferred. Though probably not up to the hardcore stuff some of you guys are into, the valleys of WV throw out some good stuff now and then. Are lockers an option on 94-97s, or standard?

Does the towing package consist of anything more than the hitch? Axles, etc.? I recall that the trans cooler is stock...

Anyway, thanks for the responses!

The towing package was standard on all US trucks--it included the tranny cooler.

If you really don't plan to wheel it hardcore, then you don't really need the lockers--it's quite the capble truck without, and there are many more non-locker trucks available than with lockers. You can always put a center diff lock switch in it to lock up the center in 4H anyway if you want a little more. My truck doesn't have lockers and I've yet to get stuck anywhere, even in 2ft snow going up a steep hill.

Don't forget about the 93's! :'( No difference between us and the 94's. The lockers were optional from 93-97. Look on the left side of the steering wheel, they look like this...complements of The Ferg.
Oh, but there is a difference. We '94s get blacked out rear mudflaps and cheaper recharges on the a/c. ::)
Don't forget the second row outer seat belt retractors :rolleyes:
The 94 is obviously superior. :D

And the self-adjusting caliper bolts :flipoff2:
That wasn't the trucks fault. It was the Dumb-A owner.

Also the break-away rear shock bolt, and special modified knuckle housing. ::)
Towing package standard on all us trucks??? I aint got no hitch, on my rig...hmmm,, it's a 97

I said HITCH not B#*CH, I got's me a B#*CH, Matter of fact, C-dan wrangeled a credit card # out of her the other day..GO C-DAN!!!
Make sure you get the optional, leak-free head gasket.
You mean leak-reduced head gasket, no? :flipoff2:
Don't buy one without Toyota Cup Holder with inbuilt cooler. A Must :cheers:

Pay no attention to the jesters.

* The center console cooler was not a US option.
* Locking F&R diffs were an option but only 5-10% of US 80's will have them.
* No timing belt and all US 80s have automatics as Doug mentioned
* Forget about all the head gasket stuff. They are just taunting some of the regulars.

If you are lucky, the perfect 80 would have.

1. No roof rack (it causes rust)
2. No running boards (meaning it has front mud flaps)
3. Diff lock option (someday you will want this.)
4. White or desert dune with tan guts (cooler in summer, doesn't show scratches as bad as dark colors).
5. Steel wheels
6. ABS (disk brakes x 4 and FF rear axle)

The above vehicle would be impossible to find but many of us would consider it the perfect base 80.

Welcome, try the newby intro to 80s write up on www.sleeoffroad.com for a good technical introduction to changes in the 80's over the years. My 2 cents is get a 93-97 in as good condition as you can afford with front and rear lockers, because they make it a stunningly capable stock offroad vehicle and they don't usually add to the price, just require patience to find. Check the upper tailgate closely for rust, otherwise rust is not an issue. Find out if the front birfield/axles have been repacked if the mileage is over 90k (probably not). If not, they need to be done soon and will either take a day and a half of your time or about $1000 from a mechanic, so factor that into your price. Mechanically, if the oil has been changed regularly the only major issue to be alert for is head gasket failure caused by overheating in the 93-97s. The Slee site has some tips in spotting the problem if it is developing. Check the condition of the coolant and be concerned if it is not red. The original Toyota brand "red" coolant does not mix well with regular "green" antifreeze. Together they form a gel that blocks rads and causes you to run at high temps which many believe causes the h/g problem. There is also a tendency for stuff to build up in the rads anyway. A partially blocked rad is not picked up easily as the temp indicator does not register a change from normal until you are running very hot. If you have a blocked rad you will probably want to replace it to be safe especially if you tow. Also, don't worry about bald tires. If you go offroad at all you will almost certainly want to replace the street tires for slightly bigger ATs anyway.

When looking to buy be aware of confusion about diff lockers among sellers, some of it honest. Many told me they had front and rear lockers when they didn't because all 80's have an automatic central diff locker (cdl) that engages when you go into 4 lo. 91 and 92 80's also had a cdl switch that allowed you to engage/disengage the cdl anytime. For 93-97 the CDL switch was not installed by the factory but can be bought from toyota as a plug in option. Many equate this to "diff lockers", but front and rear lockers were a rare factory option signified by a dial switch to the left of the steering wheel (the slee site shows a photo). There has been one instance reported on this board of someone buying the locker switch and installing it in the dash of a truck without lockers when selling. If the dash doesn't light up like a christmas tree when you engage the lockers, check the VIN# with a toyota dealer and they can tell you if it had factor lockers.

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