Toyota Questions and Answers

Nov. 01, 2003 By Jack Geiger
Transmission Rebuilding

Question: I have been having problems with the 5-speed transmission in my 1983 Toyota pickup. It's making a whining sound especially on the freeway in top gear. How can I get it fixed?

Answer: The sound you hear is the main shaft bearings failing. The 1983 and earlier transmission had smaller main shaft bearings than later (and more reliable) transmissions. It's basically time for a rebuild. For the best work, check out Marlin Crawler He is the undisputed king of Toyota transmissions and transfer cases. One of his "tricks" is to bore out the case and install larger 1984+ style main bearings on the 1983 and older transmissions. This process essentially  updates them to the strength and reliability of the 1984 and later transmissions. Here is a photo of the Marlin rebuilt transmission  that went into ORC's Project "TrailToy".

80 Series Land Cruiser Towing Question

Question: It's not really an off-road question, but I can't find any answers on how much a 1995 Toyota Land Cruiser can tow?  Hope you can help.

Heidi Scott

Answer: US model FJ80's are rated to tow 5,000 lbs. When towing a heavy load you will want to press the overdrive button to turn off the overdrive. Also helpful is pressing the "ECT" button on the dash. This will change the shift points of the transmission, allowing the engine to rev up a little more before going to the next gear.

I've put thousands of miles on my '94 FJ-80 pulling ORC's project "TrailToy". The trailer and buggy together weigh about 4,000 lbs. I find the inline 6cyl motor does a good job but at altitude it can be a little slow going up mountain passes. I found the truck's cooling system up to the task, even with the air conditioning on. Here is a photo from last years Moab Easter Jeep Safari


Baja Fender Source

Question: Hello, I have searched all over the internet for 1984 Toyota 4x4 performance and Baja-style body parts.

Dawn Hayden    


Answer: Check out Hannemann Fiberglass, Their phone number is 626-969-7317. They make several different fenders for Toyotas and other trucks too. Here is a photo of their 3" bulge fenders on a 1984 Pickup. These fenders list for $145 each. They also have hoods and bed sides in several varieties.

4Runner Factory Locker

Question: Did 4Runners ever come with locking differentials? 

Kent Orms

Answer: Yes 1996 and later 4Runners have a rear electric differential  lock option. This locker works very well and has proven to be strong and reliable. Use of the locker off road dramatically adds to the available traction.

4Runner Window Trouble

Question: I have an 86 4runner w/back window stuck in the down position .... help. it worked fine before I took the top off. With the window down there is no way to access the motor......thanks

Robert Earl

Answer: On 1984-1988 4Runners, the rear window is supported by the fiberglass roof. The window movement is controlled by a set of relays and switches. Three conditions must be met before the window will be allowed to go up. When you reinstall the top, one of the bolts in the rear left corner of the top triggers a micro switch when it's inserted. If this bolt is missing or is replaced with a bolt too short to trigger the switch, the window will go down, but not up. The second condition that must be met is the rear window wiper must be plugged in. A small current is passed up through the wiper and back down to the relays. Any disruption in this circuit and the system assumes the roof is not properly installed. Make sure the small plug in the left rear corner between the bed and roof is plugged in correctly. The third condition that must be met is the tailgate must be closed. A small switch on the latch inside the tailgate senses if the tailgate is properly closed. Closing the tailgate too lightly will only engage the first latch. Firmly closing the gate will fully close the latch, ensuring the gate is properly secured. Again, all three safety switches must be clear before the relays will allow the window to go up.


Squeaking Noise

Question: Hello my name is Glenn and I have a problem with my 1990 Toyota Hilux 4-runner. When driving there is a noise that is so loud that people stop and stare! It comes and goes but is there about 80% of the time. It sounds like a loud high pitch squeaking. That's the best way I can think of to describe it! It sounds like its coming from directly underneath my seat (its right-hand drive, so about the area of the front driveshaft ). Is it possible that it could be that the driveshaft needs to be disassembled and re-greased or something similar? The only thing is that if I take it out of gear and coast it along ,the noise is still there and I thought that the noise would stop if I stopped the shaft from spinning. Whenever I take it to a garage it won't make the noise so its very frustrating. I am ready to pull my hair out!

Glenn Clarkson


Answer:  This noise is most likely your brake wear indicators. Most vehicles are equipped with a small metal scraper on each of the brake pads.  As the pad wears, the scraper gets closer to the rotor. When the pad is nearly wore out, the scraper starts dragging on the rotor, causing an annoying noise similar to someone running their fingernails down a chalk board. The photo below shows the nearly wore out brakes on the front of my Cruiser. Looks like I am going to need a new set of pads very soon.



Intake Systems

Question: I own a '99 Tacoma with the whole TRD package that I take off roading alot. I am thinking of putting in an intake system. What are the best
products out there boosting my hp?

Brenton Wells

Answer: Don't Bother. You're not going to see any significant gains from aftermarket intake gadgets. The stock paper air filter is the best tool for the job. Washable filters let in more dirt and debris. They also allow water to get in much easier. During a deep water crossing a paper filter will plug up and usually shut off the motor before damage can occur (assuming low engine RPM). With washable filters the water flows right in and increases the chances of hydro-locking the motor and often causes catastrophic failure of the piston rods.

Toyota Axle Widths

Question: I am currently building up a Suzuki Samurai and I am going to put Toyota axles under it.  I am looking right now to find out what axle I should be looking for that has the most strength available from the factory.  I hear the front axles from '84 to '85 were the strongest up front because they were trussed.  Please let me know if this is correct.  Also please let me know what axle I should be looking for out of the rear of a Toyota?  I would appreciate if you could give me some years and widths of these axles.

Tim Jacob


Answer: Toyota axles under Samurais are becoming very popular. The '84 & '85 front axles are the most common swap, but any axle from '79-'85 can be used. The housings are all very similar except for the gusset that goes along the bottom. In 1979, the first year Toyota introduced the 4wd to the US market, the front axle did not have a gusset at all. In 1980 Toyota added a gusset on the bottom of the housing going from pumpkin to just inside the driver side spring perch. In '84 & '85 the gusset  was changed again and lengthened a few inches. This longer gusset goes under the driver side spring perch. The larger the gusset, the stronger the housing. This extra strength helps prevent the housing from bending. This is more important for fast driving but not really an issue for low-speed rock crawling. Used under a lightweight Sammy,  it will be even less of a problem.

For the rear axle you have two options, the narrow early style ('79-'85) or the wide style that came on '86-'95 Trucks and 4Runners. For use on a Samurai, you may find the narrow early housing will work just fine. Sky-Manufacturing can build narrowed Toyota housings specially designed for use under a Samurai.

Toyota Axle Width Table

1979 - 1985 Front Axle 56"
1979 - 1985 Rear Axle 55"
1986 - 1995 Rear Axle 58"
1991 - 1997 FJ-80 Front Axle 63.5"

Front Gusset

A few years ago, Jay King of All Pro Off Road came up with a way to gusset the older axles in a unique way. Using a desert racing trick, he built a gusset on top of the housing. Thus getting the strength benefits of a gusset without loosing ground clearance.

This production version of Jay's over-the-axle gusset is available from


Tacoma Spring Compatibility

Question: Hey I need a set of rear leaf springs for 1996 Toyota Tacoma. Will a set off of a 2003 Tacoma work both being 4wd?


Answer: No, Toyota used shorter springs from 1995 - 1997. In 1998 they switched to a longer spring. These springs are not interchangeable. Newsletter
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