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mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/6/18 11:19 a.m.

This is my wife's 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser. She bought it at the end of 2010 with 78k miles on it. It's a base truck, 6spd manual, full time four wheel drive, no options. She's used it as her commuter, we put a third row seat from a company that seems to have gong out of business in it to haul the whole family when the kids were little, we drove the snot out of it and it's now at 183k miles. Of all the cars we own, this is one of the two "forever cars". 

Aside from being fun to drive, this truck is a dream keeper. My wife and I had kids pretty quickly after college and didn't get to do a whole lot of exploring the world before we were swamped with babies and limited vacation. For years we've held the dream of driving the four corners of North America together, and this truck is a physical manifestation of that dream. Get the kids to college, load up, and go driving for three to six months. To that end, it's never really been a project car. But age marches on, and things need to be fixed and even the most reliable cars need wrenches turned. 
The idea behind fixing or upgrading is OE+. When something needs to be fixed, replace it with the best parts available that don't require modification to work. If an aftermarket part fails in the future, I want to drive to the nearest Toyota dealer, order the factory part, and contine with the journey. So now we have a project, and now, after all this time, I'll start a very very very slow moving build thread. 

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
2/6/18 11:45 a.m.

I've always thought these were cool vehicles. There's a guy in my neighborhood that's been trying to sell a nice one for several months. They seem to hold their value better than some other Toyota models, and that's saying something!

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/6/18 11:54 a.m.

The truck has been largely maintenance free other than fresh fluids and a failed knock sensor. Over the last couple of months it had been very very slowly losing coolant. This is commonly a failing water pump which I wanted to ignore, but when a tensioner pulley started squeaking I decided to replace all of the spinny bits on the front of the motor. Not a whole lot to say about that other than Toyota uses FOUR idler pulleys in the system and when you replace one you should replace all of them at about $40 each. Thanks Toyota. Than and the idler pulley is reverse thread. Thanks to the internet for saving me some frustration with that. I do like working on the truck. There is generally room to work and everything comes apart and goes back together logically. 
I was so dedicated to this NOT being a project that I didn't even take pictures of the work, and you know how I love taking pictures. But...... the radiator. 10 years old, 183K miles, plastic end tanks that are starting to get that slightly chalky look. I started to feel like it was something I should deal with BEFORE it was a problem. 
There are shockingly few aftermarket radiators for the FJ considering how popular a platform it is. I happened to know that CSF made one because of a post on Speedhunters, but all of my internet skills couldn't find one online to save my life. I finally sent them an email directly and ordered one directly from them, but now it looks like you can find them from some of their stockists. Full disclosure here, when I reached out to CSF I was all ready to spend the $350 that the radiator costs. CC in hand and without me asking, they offered me a discount if I would write a forum post about putting the radiator in. When someone offers a discount for you to do something that you were going to do anyway, you say yes, and I did. This is where I tell Ravi at CSF that the discount was both totally unnecessary and much appreciated. laugh

So the radiator arrives in a box. I'm always nervous having radiators shipped. They last for decades in cars but they tend to die horrible deaths at the hands of UPS. This one was different. The foam packing is perfect. 

And the whole core is covered in a wrap of coroplast. Not flimsy cardboard, coroplast. I was impressed. 

Not much to say about installation. The shroud comes off and stays around the fan. The grill has to come off but that's just two screws and a couple of clips. I'm not sure if Toyota meant it to be this way (but I bet they did because they whole truck is clever like this) but you can snake an extension past the headlights to get at the upper bolts. 

And through the lower grille to get at the lower ones. 

You can't fit your hands into those spots, so a magnet on a stick is pretty much required if you want to leave all the rest of the front plastic in place. 

The only parts you have to swap over are the four rubber insulators and their sleeves. Even these are simple to get apart. 

And installation is the reverse. It all goes back together like stock, which is the idea. All aluminum, no plastic, and the new core is about twice as thick as stock. 

They managed to package all of that in and even have the stock air deflector fit. No clips in yet because almost all of them broke when I pulled it off to do the water pump. Underhood plastic is starting to age.....

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/6/18 12:02 p.m.

Two final thoughts on the radiator, the first is that it takes about half a gallon more antifreeze to fill than the old one. I say about because I'm an impatient man and it took more time to drain the stock radiator than it took to pull it. I "may" have spilled a little. Less than a cup, I swear. cheeky

Second, are these little guys. I'm really excited about them. 

These are the input/output for the automatic transmission cooler/warmer. It didn't even occur to me to ask if there was a different manual version of the radiator, and I'm glad I didn't because I have plans. Some high temp hose, some diconnects, a 12V pump, a bucket, a shower head, and all of a sudden we have a heat exchanger for hot water wherever we are. I need to gather the parts together to make it work but I already know it will. I'm excited. 

If you ever come across a naked dude showering by an FJ Cruiser, you can thank Ravi at CSF for building these in. laugh

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/6/18 12:07 p.m.

In reply to ultraclyde :

These are fantastic trucks with just a couple of downsides. The most obvious is visibility. Forward overhead isn't great (you spend a lot of time leaning over to see stoplights) and rearward is pretty bad. The side morrors are big and we've added a backup camera. That makes it tolerable. The other thing is the clamshell doors. They're dumb. I know they need to exist to get four doors in this wheelbase, but when you open both of them and try to help a pile of kids get out you all end up trapped in the V of the doors. 

The early ones like this ask for premium, which is a bit annoying, and they're not fast at all. With the manual they drive like a road legal tractor which my wife and I both happen to love. In the last 7 years and 110k miles the truck has lost maybe $2k in value. If I didn't already know how much I love it I'd find it hard to think I wanted one for the prices the sell for. 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
2/6/18 12:23 p.m.

A former coworker has one (at least I think he still has it).  I was about > < this close to installing a leveling/lift kit for him, but he never got around to ordering it.  Some years ago he went on a long vacation with his wife out west and did the Rubicon trail with it.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/6/18 1:57 p.m.

In reply to Ian F :

Suspension is one of the next things to think about. I don't want to lift it. Bilstein makes 5100's that let you run stock or slightly leveled. I really like the 5100's on my truck and they're cheap. However, FOX also makes a set for stock height trucks, and who doesn't want to spend $2500 for totally unnecessary 2.5" remote reservoir shocks at all four corners? 

onemanarmy
onemanarmy Reader
2/6/18 2:11 p.m.

Always curious as to why people bought these over the 4 runner.  Just because of the manual?  I feel as they were/are a joke and slap in the face to the original FJ40 and other 'FJ' models.

They seem to be less usable (small rear doors) and worse visibility than the Runner.

Or is it the 3 front wiper blades?

Just curious.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/6/18 2:19 p.m.

In our case, yes, the manual is about 95% of the the reason. Mrs. Deuce will tolerate driving my auto cars, but since I met her in college (driving a 5spd 4x4 two door explorer) she's only bought manuals for herself. I'm in love with the drivetrain and often dream of finding a lightly rolled one to strip the body off of and replace it with an early 4runner. The three front wiper blades are just a super cool bonus. They almost make up for the stupid rear doors. Almost. 

onemanarmy
onemanarmy Reader
2/6/18 2:34 p.m.

Yea...I'd love to swap the manual into a newer 4 runner....a vehicle they should have made (and make today)

759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
2/6/18 5:43 p.m.

i'm thinkin' neither 'black' nor 'white ' are the other 'forever' car........must be that expensive red Vee Dub wink

A few years back I went to the new  car extravaganza at the NRGatorium.....and was amazed at how much less expensive these where versus a Grand Cherokee...... not same same perhaps????

Oh.....there's retro and there's retro .........IMHO, this conveyance is well executed in that regard.  

mikedd969
mikedd969 New Reader
2/6/18 5:53 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:

In our case, yes, the manual is about 95% of the the reason. Mrs. Deuce will tolerate driving my auto cars, but since I met her in college (driving a 5spd 4x4 two door explorer) she's only bought manuals for herself. I'm in love with the drivetrain and often dream of finding a lightly rolled one to strip the body off of and replace it with an early 4runner. The three front wiper blades are just a super cool bonus. They almost make up for the stupid rear doors. Almost. 

I hope you don't mind if I say this Seth, I've always been a huge fan of Mrs. Deuce, but after reading this post I think I may be in love. blush

DrBoost
DrBoost MegaDork
2/6/18 7:58 p.m.

Die-hard Jeep fan here: These are cool. I am totally biased toward Jeeps, but there are a few vehicles that are on the short list of 4X4's I'd own that aren't Jeeps, the the FJ Cruiser is the only modern one on the list.  

And if I'm not mistaken, this is the car with the highest resale value. A not terribly-bought used example will actually increase in value!!  I like that color combo too.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/7/18 6:34 a.m.

In reply to mikedd969 :

She's a special girl. laugh

In reply to DrBoost :

Mrs. Deuce also drove Wranglers when she was shopping. Her feeling was that the on-road experience between a four door Wrangler and the FJ was significant enough to justify the FJ though part of that might be that she's not a whole lot over five feet tall. If we were doing hard core offroad stuff or really wanted to throw money at a project then Jeep would be the winner hands down. If they build a standard cab truck on the new chassis I'll be shopping for one. 

Woody
Woody MegaDork
2/7/18 7:25 a.m.

Did you have any trouble bleeding the air out of the cooling system? I changed the water pump and pulleys on my Tacoma (same engine, I think) and I still can't get all of the air out of the system. Of course, I didn't even notice it until I started using the heat. I can hear the bubbles in the system. Top radiator hose feels solid and the overflow tank is staying full.

MazdaFace
MazdaFace HalfDork
2/7/18 7:42 a.m.

Cool vehicle. We can never seem to get enough of these on our lot and when we do, they sell fast and for more money than I would have expected

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/7/18 7:56 a.m.

In reply to Woody :

It takes a couple of heat/cool cycles for me. I get to temp while driving with the heat on. Let it cool, top up radiator, repeat until it starts drawing from the reservoir when it cools. When it has big bubbles it doesn't seem to want to draw for some reason. Am I 100% sure all the air is out? No, but the heat works, temps are in the mid 180's and it's using the reservoir properly, so I'm calling it good.

docwyte
docwyte SuperDork
2/7/18 8:42 a.m.

Unreal that you put 110k miles on it and it's worth $2k less than what you paid.

Billy_Bottle_Caps
Billy_Bottle_Caps Dork
2/7/18 8:51 a.m.

Thanks for posting about your experiences with the FJ. I always thought they were cool, but never talked to anyone that actually had one. Can’t believe how well the hold their value.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/7/18 9:13 a.m.

Full disclosure, there was more than a little dumb luck involved in the pricing. We bought it at Carmax. It was high mileage for it's age and a manual. Their pricing algorithms knocked the price down pretty hard and we bought it less than 24 hours after it was listed. Combine that with an absurd market and there you are. 

Woody
Woody MegaDork
2/7/18 9:15 a.m.

In reply to mazdeuce - Seth :

The heat works on mine and it never overheats, I just can't get rid of the gurgling. I thought about bringing it into the dealership for a "coolant change" and not mentioning anything about the air in the system and letting them deal with it, but that Toyota coolant is so damn expensive and i know that one of my block drains is frozen. I'm sure that they'd insist on replacing it rather than just removing and replacing it after all the coolant is out. It behaves as if a lot of this system is above the radiator cap.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/7/18 9:19 a.m.

In reply to Woody :

I assume you've done the "put the front way up in the air" trick? And seriously, mine won't draw coolant unless it's full to the top of the neck, even if I only have to add a couple of ounces to get it there. 

Crackers
Crackers Dork
2/7/18 2:54 p.m.

Why do I get the feeling this thread is the result of some kind of wager involving your ability to draw attention to non-enthusiast vehicles? 

llysgennad
llysgennad New Reader
2/7/18 3:07 p.m.

I love these! If Jeeps didn't exist, I'd have one, even with 3-year-old models selling for 112% of MSRP. Unbelievable. I'd have to flush mount the taillights, though. Thanks for the build thread, it'll be fun to watch. And gratis for the CSF link, that's new to me.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
2/7/18 3:19 p.m.

Here's some inspiration for you:

 

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