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1fz-fe 80 Series buying advice

Mias O

New Member
Apr 16, 2023
Country Flag
Hi guys,

I currently own a 2016 Subaru forester and am wanting to sell it and buy an 80 series. I am thinking of going with the 1fz-fe as they seem to be a lot cheaper than the diesel models.

What are the common issues that I should look for when buying? and what are peoples opinions on using it as a daily driver? do the 1995-1998 models come with airbags?

Which country you are located in and the cost of fuel may have a bearing on your decision. My old diesel will do about 22/23mpg chugging around local. Very light footed long journey may see 28/29mpg. Start driving hard and the mpg will drop below 20mpg. The auto petrol are much more fuel hungry than the diesel.
Like Essexpete says, probably depends on cost of fuel where you are.
My LPG converted 1FZ-FE powered 80 gets high 'teens to the gallon in mixed driving and 10mpg towing two horses but with the cost of LPG in the UK is on a par cost-wise with my old KZN185 Hilux surf / 4-runner. Early petrol Scoobys aren't exactly renound for economy so it might not come as a massive shock to you!
The big petrol straight 6 is a joy - powerful, silky smooth and sounds lovely with a 3” stainless exhaust.
In the UK at least in my view the LPG conversion transforms it from eye-watering to practical in terms of fuel costs.
Other than fuel consumption, the other area the petrol loses out to the diesel is it terms of torque - which I do miss when towing heavy stuff. It gets along fine, you just have to use the revs!
Reliability-wise I'm not aware of any issues - mine is on 255k miles runs like a Swiss watch, uses very little oil. Has been well looked after but not rebuilt as far as I'm aware.
My UK spec '97 has drivers airbag - not sure about passenger.

Hope this helps
My 95, probably late '94 build has just a drivers air bag. Anybody' s guess as to whether or not it would deploy properly. Then there is huge chunky grab rail for the passenger to hit in the event of a head on. They are what they are, a design from the 1980s.
Here are random buying notes I’ve kept from other posts. Generally, look for a rust free, well maintained truck with receipts if possible. Yes, ‘95-‘97 do come with airbags. It’s a Good vehicle, but for driving daily, you’ll use a lot of gas. Good luck with your purchase.


80 Series Newbie Guide - Slee Off Road - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]

Services - OTRAMM Auto Repair - [Leaving Land Cruiser Club]

Pre-buy inspection

Don’t settle for an abused truck. Take the time and wait for the right one. Anything under 200k is a winner, but, not necessary.

Worth paying a premium for no rust and/or an enthusiast maintained vehicle. Check New Mexico and AZ rigs. Rust free and you can find some gems down here for a decent price.

Consider looking in the Southwest and ship it home or make the journey. No rust on these old Toyota’s is such a treat. Makes working on them fun instead of a nightmare with broken bolts and stripped nuts at every turn.

When you go to look it in person the most common areas for rust on these are the rear wheel wells where the seat belt bolts come in, rockers and then theres some areas on the fire wall. When looking for trouble areas on the fire wall crawl under the vehicle and there will be a gap between the fender skirt and fire wall where you can look up and see. You will need a flashlight for that. Also check for rust on the rear windows, top of windshield, the gutters and roof rack mounting areas.

Look underneath for leaks from the drivetrain, suspension and axles. Also have a look at the condition of various bushings. Inspect all doors/door jambs for rust or signs of past body work. Inspect under the hood to check all fluid levels, look for leaks and condition of all hoses and vacuum lines. Then start engine and listen for abnormal noises. Check overall interior condition and test all buttons/functions. Finally a test drive. Make sure to test lockers (if applicable) and 4 Lo.

Miles are less important than maintenance. Look for something with documented maintenance if possible, but not a deal breaker. I want to see receipts galore & do a very good inspection from running every last control to doing full lock circles to see if the birfields are ‘clicking’ AKA need replacing or swapping side-for-side.

I’d want to know if it uses oil & how much. Ideally, I’d wanna do an oil analysis and compression test before buying, but that might be a tall order.

I’d ask if the headgasket is original or a replacement? If replaced, was the head surfaced & were the stem seals changed?

I’d also want to know the last front axle service done? Look for caked on crap on the front knuckles since they are rarely serviced.


‘91-‘92 have smaller front disc brakes, no ABS, semi-float rear axle with drum brakes, and 15” wheels.

The ‘91-‘92 3FE engine parts are starting to become scarce. Most of the heater hoses on the 3FE are discontinued The 3FEhad such a limited run, there is really no aftermarket support for anything.

The 3FE is slow, dead reliable, super simple, easy to work on, and relatively impervious to neglect. It is pushrod in-block cam, direct drive (no timing belt or chains). Bullet proof. Non-electronic A440F transmission, no ABS system, no airbags, no PHH and fewer head gasket issues as it has an iron block and iron head.

The 3FE also has a lower torque apex than the 1FZ. Put 33’s on and you’ll hit third gear before you hit 20 mph, lots of low end control off road!

The ‘91-‘92 are slow on the highway, slower on steep highway grades, and happiest cruising in the mid 60 MPHs, which was the speed limit for which they were designed back then.

Some say the ‘93/‘94 are the best year, OBD1, best engine, best tranny... etc....

93 and up has a good following for aftermarket stuff or OEM.

Also keep in mind that the ‘93 and ‘94 model years had the slightly shorter birfields which makes them easier to find Aisin hubs for if you choose to convert to part time 4x4. And they also have the better looking front grill without the space cowboy emblem.

Lockers are a bonus, but if not locked, you can always add them later. Better to find a good condition, well maintained truck. ‘93 - ‘97 were available with lockers.

‘93-‘97 have larger front disc brakes, full float rear axle with discs, ABS, and 16” wheels. '93 & '94 were available without the ABS option, in which case the rear axle will be semi-floating. This is why you should exercise caution when you see Craigslist posts that say, "has the center diff lock option!" If it came from the factory that way, it means it's *missing* the ABS option.

‘95-‘97 have airbags, full float rear diff, OBD-II, and you can still get engine wire harnesses and o2 sensors.

‘95-‘97 has a mass air flow sensor, not a MAF meter, so you don’t have to worry about the MAF meter failing.

For turbo diesel’s, make sure that the owner doesnt have the truck warmed up when you get there! Make sure it doesnt take forever to start or has a hard time starting. Once started get it up to operating temp and watch for what color smoke you can see. If you get a white cloud and it could be the turbo is leaking causing oil to get by.


It's reasonable to expect deferred and ongoing preventative maintenance. Sunroofs leaks, cracked dashboards and front seat bottom cushion sidings are common. Also expect to replace rubber parts, especially suspension bushings, hoses, and belts, but also door seals, window runs, etc.

Plan on spending $2500+ to get it baselined (hoses, gaskets, cooling system updates, knuckle rebuild, fluids, etc). If you get a cheaper rig, budget for more funds for baseline maintenance.
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