Do Toyotas have any glitches? "None--vastly superior vehicles, army tanks." So says Sickles of Downey. He points out that the '79-'84 trannies are too weak for big tires and big engines but they improved in 1985. Hendricks of Northwest says Toyotas are well-designed trucks, but notes that the '84-'85s had problems with rust in the bed and doors (usually owner-inflicted, he says), but with IFS in 1986 the rust problem went away. Czajkowski of Marlin Crawler notes that the rust decreased with newer vehicles. Hendricks of Northwest has also seen upper shock-mount breakage, but wonders if it's more the fault of the owner than Toyota.
Czajkowski says the front drive axle joints, called Birfield joints, are the most common parts to break if you add a front locker; he won't leave home without spare Birfields. Another notable dysfunction is the left horseshoe steering arm, which fatigues and cracks--another spare part he won't 'wheel without. He also says the exhaust manifolds can warp. And we've heard the '85s have the weakest of the engines.
The '79-'83 Toys--the sturdiest of the bunch?
The Best Year
Czajkowski says the best years for lifting are the '79-'83s because they have the largest wheel openings--you can stuff 35-inchers and a 5-inch lift, no problem. In the luxury department, the '84-'85s have more creature features, such as a bigger cab and buckets. He'd lean toward a fuel-injected '85 shortbed since it gets good mileage, torque, and power--and because it was the last year for that rockcrawler's fave, the live axle.
Hendricks says the '79-'83s have the sturdiest bodies and most solid construction. He would pick an '83 since it was the last year of that body style, before refinements came along. It's a popular choice because of its classic style and large, round wheelwells. And Sickles' votes for the Xtracab 'cause you get the new body style and the extra cab space.
Downey Off-Road Mfg.
Northwest Off-Road Specialties
1543-B N. Maple