An expert’s view
Andrew Sacre, Owner, Jeepster: “The first time we had [FJ Cruisers] in, my technician had a chance to have a look at them. They were all three years old or thereabouts – quite low mileage – and my technician honestly thought they were virtually new. We haven’t had one single warranty claim, not one issue. And they’re nice to drive, even after I’ve messed with suspension lifting and terrain tires. I sold one to Steve Grantley (of the rock band Stiff Little Fingers) and he says it’s the best car he’s ever owned – and he has a little fleet of cars.”
Engine: High oil consumption can be an issue. The oil rings don’t seal properly over time and the oil passes through and causes burning issues. The level of oil will drop and require topping up. Also, black smoke coming from the exhaust will be another symptom of an engine that has oil burning issues, so make sure the engine doesn’t smoke.
Watch for blow-by, too. This is where the piston rings are not sealing properly and air finds its way through the gaps between the compression rings and the cylinder walls. When inspecting an FJ Cruiser, start the engine and remove the oil dipstick. Place your hand on top of the dipstick pipe and if it blows a lot of air, then this engine has serious issues. A small amount of blow-by is normal, though.
The water pump can also develop leaks and the front and the rear crankshaft seals can leak oil. The oil pressure sensor can develop glitches and you might see some false alerts. The timing belt tensioner pulley is also known to fail and this can cause the belt to wobble. With a hefty naturally aspirated V6, don’t be surprised if your FJ Cruiser averages around 20mpg – so brace your wallet for the petrol pumps.
Transmission: The gearbox is regarded as pretty much bulletproof. The only problem in some models was a transmission shudder that can cause vibrations.
Interior: Toyota US recalled around 310,000 FJ Cruisers from the 2007 through 2013 model years because of a problem involving the seatbelt retractors. The seatbelts for the driver and front passenger are mounted on the rear doors, and because of the insufficient strength of the rear-door panel, cracks can develop over an extended period of time, especially if the rear doors are repeatedly and forcefully closed. If cracks appear around the lower seatbelt retractor’s anchor, the retractor could loosen and detach.