Updated: Sep 22, 2022
Ok, so you've made the decision to buy a classic Land Cruiser FJ60, but you don't necessarily know what all the sounds and creaks mean. Well, your anxiety will hopefully subside after reading this article, and it will give you the confidence to go into your next purchase. Here is a list of 5 things you need to do when test driving a Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60.
1. LISTEN FOR WEIRD SOUNDS
It's important to let the engine idle so the FJ60 can talk to you and so all the systems reach their operating temperatures. Here are a few sounds you might hear and what they might mean.
SQUEAKS: These are minor and shouldn't cause too much alarm. The most common squeaks are from the following...
Pulleys drive major components of the engine like the alternator, the drive system, fan, or AC compressor. After years the bearings within them start to go bad and squeak. It's really annoying.
Some just need tightening, and some need replacing. If you replace a pulley you should replace the belt as well.
Another squeak would be a sign that your AC Compressor is going bad. It can cost you some money, but not as bad as you think. See full details on your AC system below.
VIBRATIONS: Unlike the song, there is no such thing as good vibrations with an FJ60. Chances are it's your vacuum system or smog system not working properly. It's also a sign that there isn't enough fuel going into your engine. If the engine idles rough and feels like it will turn off at any moment then your carburetor needs adjusting or rebuilding. A decent rebuilt will run you about $350. GRINDING: Just like if a stranger was grinding on your daughter, there is never a good outcome when you hear grinding coming from you Land Cruiser FJ60. ($$$) This usually means the car is in serious need of a tune up or repair. It could be your flywheel, crankshaft or pistons, all of which are vital engine components that are necessary for operation.
RATTLING: If the engine sounds like a diesel engine instead of a gasoline engine when it's idling, this issue could be as simple as a bad timing adjustment or bad gas (both causing improper ignition or "pinging" or "knocking"). In severe cases your valves need to be adjusted or replaced. Valve jobs can run you anywhere from a few dollars in materials and a lot of elbow grease to $800 at a machine shop.
2. DRIVE IT: through all gears and up to 65 mph. Get her on the highway and let her scream at ya! If you're driving and you hear a squeak coming from the back door, the tailgate or anywhere else in the cabin that shouldn't be of any concern. All old vehicles tend to squeak and rattle a bit on the road. Most often than not, all older Toyota's squeak in random spots and it's completely normal. I call it character, some people call it annoying. However, here are a few things to keep in mind when you're driving at highway speeds.
If there is a grinding noise when turning the wheel to the right or left then your vehicle needs power steering fluid or hoses. Worst case scenario, you'll need to buy a power steering pump. ($$) When you stop the truck and it actually grinds to a halt then not only do you need to consider a brake job, you'll most likely need to repack your hubs with grease.
Once up to speed, feel for any vibration in the steering and under the vehicle. You'll most likely feel a little bit of vagueness in the steering. This shouldn't be cause for any alarm, however if there is more than a few degrees of slop in the wheel, the steering system needs addressing. If there is a constant vibration under the vehicle when at highway speed, a driveshaft or wheel(s) may need balancing.
3. CLUTCH It's one of the most important parts of your Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60. As you continue to drive the truck feel for ease of shifting. If it's hard to get into gear then the clutch will need some attention. If the clutch engages too quickly or too slowly then its a simple pedal adjustment, and if you hear a squeak, then you should smile... because it's a Toyota. According to the factory specs your clutch and brake pedal height should be adjusted every 15,000 miles or 12 months.
4. RUN THE AC
Warning: The air conditioning system is under high pressure. Do not loosen any hose fittings or remove any components until the system has been discharged by a dealer service department or an automotive air conditioning repair facility. There are few things you can check so you'll have a better idea of what the AC unit needs if it's not working property.
-Inspect the condition of the drive belt to see if it's worn or deteriorated. -Check the drive belt tension. It should be firm with minimal flexibility, but not rock solid. -Are the hoses cracking? Do they have bubbles? Are they hardening/drying? These items are a great preventative maintenance checklist and to gauge the quality of care from the previous owner. So leave the AC running for at least 5 minutes to get a good idea of how it operates. Remember problems with the AC compressor is not spotted until the system is brought up to operating temperature and pressure. The most common cause of poor cooling is simply a low system refrigerant charge. If the refrigerant is low you might want to consider converting it from its factory R-12 system to the new R-134a system. There are conversion kits you can buy for cheap, and the right mechanic can install this for you very easily. This job will run you around $350 total, including the conversion kit and R-134a charge. This transition is very inexpensive and will last you about two years before having to charge it up again.
5. LOCK THOSE HUBS - TEST THE 4WD SYSTEM
Finally, one of the most important parts about test driving the Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60, is to lock both hubs and engage it into 4 wheel drive. First, bring the truck to a stop and place it in neutral. (Engage the emergency brake) Go outside and lock the hubs on either side of the front wheels. Check the factory manual to find the locked and unlocked position. If the hubs don't move or are jammed then you'll need to re-pack or rebuild them. ($$)
Once they are locked, go back inside and engage the truck into 4 wheel H for "high." It should easily slide into gear. If it's tough getting into 4H then you might need the transfer case fluid changed. It doesn't necessarily mean your 4 wheel drive system is broken.
Start to drive the truck and get it up to 3rd gear. Make sure it doesn't slip out of 4WH,or the front wheels are not wobbling, vibrating,
or hopping around. People call this death-wobble.
It sucks and can really ruin your day.
Bring the truck to a complete stop, place it in neutral and slide it into 4 wheel low (L4). Once it's active, you'll really start noticing the Toyota 4-wheel drive system working. The front tires almost grab the road like suction cups and you'll hear the RPMs run at a higher level. Keep in mind that since it's 4L, you will not be able to go very fast.
The Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60 is a very basic truck, including its 4-wheel drive system. If taken care of, given the proper maintenance and repairs, you'll be able to drive it daily with minimal issues. This list is based on my experience of owning over twenty five FJ60's in my life. I don't know absolute everything about these trucks and I'm sure there are some things I'm missing.