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Episode 1 of 'What's wrong with my LandCruiser?'


Active Member
Sep 26, 2017
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For the past 6 months I have been the proud owner of a 1995 HDJ80 and this is the first car I have ever actually owned (not counting driving mum's Nissan Micra to work about 8 years back). Having spent 11 years on a farm, it has certainly seen it's share of hard work.

Long story short, this time next year, I am planning to do a 10 month long overlanding trip in the 80 and will post another thread going into more detail on this soon.

When looking for an 80 series, I made what could be regarded as a foolhardy decision to go for a car that needed some work doing, as opposed to something that was ready to hit the road. The logic behind this was the hope that working with the support of more mechanically inclined would help develop the mechanical knowledge I so desperately need. I knew I needed to start somewhere. To provide some context, my current mechanical knowledge and skill set includes knowing how to watch someone change a car tyre and my tools consist of an adjustable spanner, a Philips head screwdriver and a 20 watt soldering iron.

Before joining this forum and talking to and meeting some of the kind and very knowledgable folks here, I was feeling rather overwhelmed. That said, I still feel I have bitten off more than I can chew as living in central London, I am lacking the 3 key ingredients required for car restoration: knowledge, tools and workspace.

After one of my initial pleas for help, Scott came to the rescue and after initially being slightly surprised by just how little I knew about cars, enthusiastically took to showing me the ropes. I learned how to inspect the car properly, carry out a basic service including filter and oil changes. Cheers Scott, I owe you a beer!

The car was inspected thoroughly and my 'to-do' list steadily grew. I decided to make this thread to capture the restoration process and hopefully also the development of my knowledge from non existent to somewhat mechanically competent.

Anyway, to the car!

The second thing I purchased (after the car itself) was a Haynes manual and although I like the simple diagrams and step-by-step it doesn't go to anywhere near as much detail as the FSMs.

and the 'to-do' list..
A simple look under the wheels suggested the the seals in the front axle have blown, with grease and axle oil mixing and leaking out onto the brake pad. Solution: Front axle rebuild (Chris? Help!)


We then drained the front axle oil to inspect the damage and found these...

We weren't sure whether these were shavings from a bolt. If it was part of the drive train, would we expect to see chips and teeth?

I explained to Scott that I always heard a loud 'thud' whenever lifting off the clutch suddenly or changing gears and I was soon pointed in the direction of the prop-shafts.

All Universal joints were found to be completely worn and with excessive play. This may be due to the years of work this cruiser has put in at the farm. All universal joints need to be replaced.

I also bought up the fact that the manual transmission operates like an utter bar steward...

A quick look at the clutch slave cylinder suggested it was in desperate need of replacement. I noticed recently, when driving up a steep hill that the clutch doesn't engage fully with the clutch pedal completely pressed, which contributes to a laborious gear shifting experience. I don't know if the slave cylinder is responsible for all this or if it's the clutch itself.

"Let's check your power steering pump" - Suggested Scott
"Wow! I have power steering?" - I replied

Turns out most of the fluid had leaked through the pump. Any tips on replacing/ rebuilding the pump welcome!

Scott also noticed that most bump stops were missing, which would land me in trouble if I ever attempted some offroading.

Additional problems, which haven't been photographed include:

1. Cam cover gasket failure - Should I take this opportunity to get a gasket kit and replace all gaskets or should I just stick with the cam cover gasket?

2. All electric windows run very slowly and get stuck - Thanks to ChapelGate for the new window rubbers!

3. Various bolts missing

4. Radiator is severely corroded and needs replacing
Progress so far

The car was thoroughly steam cleaned to remove the half inch thick layer of dirt shown in all the pictures above
Hi Shaun, how does the 80 drive with the new oil in the gearbox?

Re the front axle, it may be an idea to see if you can get your hands on a good secondhand axle that could be swapped in, in place of yours. With a full axle rebuild on the cards and possibly a diff rebuild, it could fix a few of your issues in one go and save a load of labour costs.

At least you can tick the rear tailgate gas struts off your list!
Hmm, these old trucks do suffer from a number of issues; unfortunately it would seem that your truck is suffering from all of them.

Front diff - that looks like the edge of a seal perhaps or maybe part of the oil ring. It's not part of the main diff components - I don't think. Time to take the axle apart. Scott is right about maybe finding a replacement but the problem is you've still no idea what's lurking.

Bleed the clutch slave and see what difference that makes. Takes a minute and can improve things greatly.

Steam cleaning it was an excellent idea. Makes doing the front hubs more pleasant.

Radiator is easy to do. I'd suggest a Roughtrax one. Had recent reports they were good quality

Powersteering - keep it topped up and do the more crucial jobs first.
Hi Shaun, I too bought a neglected 80 so I feel your pain to an extent. As for a front axle rebuild, I think most of them out there (that haven’t already had the treatment) will need doing, these trucks are all getting on a bit now and such work will most likely be overdue.

Always nasty to see curls of swarf like that coming out, but it may not be as bad as it looks, if you’re lucky. It may be from a failed oil seal or something less important than a differential or such like.

But a rebuild it will need, do you hav a clicking on full steering lock, forward or reverse? if yes, that will be the CV joints inside each of the cannonballs, each end of the axle.

The problem with a job like that is the lack of knowledge, so a search on here will reveal several write-ups of similar work, by @Chris and others...

You will likely need some special tools, which you may be lucky enough to borrow or buy, if you can afford them. LC parts are not cheap, but once replaced (with OEM genuine parts) it’s unlikely that you’ll be doing that work again, even if you keep the truck for another 10-20 years :thumbup:.

The UJs on the props are not so expensive and they are DIY jobs, but again a search on here will reveal some very useful tips.

Don’t rush to replace parts until you’re sure they need it.

Replace all fluids, brake, clutch, gear, axle, transfer box and engine oils/ filters. As Scott has asked, did the g/box oil change make it drive any better?

Watching with interest, you’ll be surprised how better it will drive with a few bits and pieces sorted.

Best of luck and don’t give up...
I would guess if the dif is silent running and not leaking oil out by the drive flange it would be OK.
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But if it's had grease in there I'd want to flush it out at least once. So the drain and refill, run for a while, let an egg cup full out, inspect and if it's golden then happy days. But most likely it will be grey. When it's good and warm, drain again. But this time jack one side up, then the other to get as much of the old oil out as you can.

If the diff is quiet like Frank says and not leaking at the flange then double happy days.
There’s write ups for most things on here and used spares available from @karl webster as well as for new genuine parts at good prices. You haven’t mentioned rust. If you don’t have any or don’t have much then you’ve got the makings of a good truck. It sounds like it’s been seriously lacking maintenance but these trucks are so well made that they just soldier on. They’re sort of like the Black Knight in Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

Changing all your prop shaft UJs will tighten everything up in that section of drivetrain and aren’t difficult if you cut them out with a cutting disc in a grinder.

The power steering pump if not completely done in by having no oil is a straightforward job and is well documented on here.

One of the best tips is to be methodical, take lots of photos of bits before and during disassembly and don’t be afraid to do the whole job of anything rather than half of it and having to revisit. If in doubt, ask. Better still read up on what you’re going to do first.

Like your axle stands, they’re better than mine. :)
Thanks rich.

I'm happy to pass any info I have over me red if you get stuck anytime.

The club meets are worth coming along to. There's always someone repairing a truck and lots of tips and information to learn.
gary at 80 breaker is a other option for used parts, myself and everyone I know around here use him.
drink a case of beer then re-think the whole project. Its not just getting the knowledge but acquiring the tools to some of the jobs can be expensive. Depends on the time scale and budget of course. Buying a ready prepped truck is no guarantee that none of these issues will arise or what miles are left on certain parts assuming they were installed correctly. At least you will gain the knowledge to complete repairs quickly as you travel.

My only concern would be finding out where that clunk of metal came from. Top up your PS reservoir with leak stop and see how it goes. I have been doing that for 6 years and get about 10k between top ups. flush all the old oils out and put cheap ones in for a few months to check for fresh leaks. You could go all out and rebuild the hole truck otherwise. A few oil weeps wouldn't be the end of the world so as long as your engine is sound, your wheel bearings are secure and a couple of the calipers are working then off you go.
Hmm, I think you’ll need to have the brakes in tip top shape before anything and that’s a job to do with somebody that knows what they’re doing if there’s work to be done.

You say you’re learning from basically nothing. Is this nothing on cars but you do aircraft mechanics or do you not know one end of a spanner from the other? You sound like a chap with his head screwed on but it’s probably best starting off these things with someone to learn from and reassess your capabilities as you go. It takes a lot of cost in time and tools to do good work and you need to use genuine bits where it matters. All these can add up in cost. As IRL says, have a think about the timescale here. At the very least you need somebody that knows teaching you and to know your limitations. That said if you can do it and do it well, you’ll get all the info and encouragement you need here. Tools you’ll need to buy though.
use that manual as bed time reading, the 80 is a relatively simple vehicle to work on. ive known people in the past say they don't need to work on there vehicle as they can afford to pay someone to do it for them, ok great but if you ever find yourself miles from anywhere and you break down, knowing your vehicle and being able to fix even the simplest of things is a great asset.
Largest bottle brush you can buy on the end of a stick and use it in the axle tube with some sprayed in paraffin and gunk should drain out of the drain hole. Then as Chris says.
I would be very careful doing that because you can dislodge the oil retaining ring that is pressed into the end of the axle tube. Most don't know it's there but some vigorous thrusting could end in tears. I tipped mine up on the jack and used a hot air gun on the outside and blew it up the tube a bit too so that the oil and grease were mobilised. A lot came out that way. Maybe some pressure brake cleaner blasted in might work as well. Just mind that oil ring. It's a better job with the diff out really.
Frank, neither did I until I heard this tinkling sound as the oil ring rolled down into my diff. In the end, I managed to get it back by making a sectional slide hammer which I fed up the axle and out through the hub. It's not listed anywhere as a part. It just keeps oil up against the seal when parked or over at an angle.