Tip # 67: Friends, Romans, Countrymen… “To Turbo Toyota” or “Not to Turbo”...

Submitted: Thursday, Sep 29, 2005 at 21:33
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That is the question I get now and then.. You can get any number of answers on grey areas, so you are forced to evaluate the validity and experience of the source… What experience, or just an unfounded opinion??? Opinions are like belly buttons, everyone has one, but you don’t necessary want a close inspection of them all. So, I qualify my opinion with an experience rating..

Tracy and I are paid to experiment around with all sorts of toys… We have done it full time for ten years with Bushtracker, but before that I did it off and on for about the 35 years previous with all sorts of 4x4 vehicles as an “Enthusiast”…. Mitsubishi horse truck to F-350 Ford... In Toyota in Australia, I have owned two 75 Series, one stretched Troopie, a 60 Series, still have a 61 Series Toyota Sahara, a 100 Series, and have seen the results of Tracy and his 75 Series, and two 80 Series and a 100 Series… I am also the hub of reporting from countless people, on their successes and failures with all sorts of vehicles, towing Bushtrackers… Also Tracy and I have towed all sizes of vans, all distances short and long to Shows and trips and such… So, maybe this is more than just another opinion on the matter of adding a Turbo or not… As some are purchasing the 75 Series or 80 Series or standard GXL 100 Series Landcruiser like I have done, to get away from some of the perceived problems with the new Turbo Cruiser like the weaknesses of the IFS (Independent Front Suspension) and on board electronics to run the engine and electronic accelerator.. Some are also going that way just because they are on a bit of a budget, and can get a few year old tow vehicle for half the money… So the question comes up: “Do we need to add a Turbo to our Standard or GXL Toyota?” I think I deserve an Expert Rating, on Toyota Turbos, 2-H motors, 1HZ motors, and even repowered one with a 12HT, and still own two now.

The answer is three fold: Size of van, size of tyres, and justification for fuel economy… First, on size of van with the 1HZ motor: I think it is more necessary on 20’, may 60/40 in favour of the Turbo. If you are happy to poke along maybe you will be in the 40% of people that could get along without the Turbo. A performance oriented, impatient, hurry up type person, and you will want the Turbo for the 20’…Definitely! On the 18’, it is probably more like 60/40 against the Turbo… In other words the 1HZ does the job well enough on say 18’, that I am not sure I would bother… As to the 1HZ fairing with the Turbo, yes, it does well. The older 2-H has a heat problem with about half of the them that have added Turbos, even with larger four pass radiators, as soon as they start large towing they overheat so NO to the 2-H, but the 1HZ goes strong with a Turbo. Any engine rumours of problems with a Turbo on a 1HZ, have been traced back to low water or oil maintenance and not Turbo related. The lowest kms I have seen in hard work towing a 20’ van with an aftermarket Turbo on a 1HZ, was 270,000km and then started using oil. But we have seen many going 350,000 km and up… The short and long of it, is I would try towing with it first to see if I would bother, at 18’ or 19’, maybe even 20’ if you are a relaxed sort of person in no hurry…

However, this judgement is thrown out the window if you have larger tyres than standard in height, because it decreases power to the ground due to the larger circumference … In other words, it gives you taller gears, and less grunt down low, and grossly increases the need for the Turbo…

Now on fuel economy, there is an argument for the Turbo, (primarily by the Turbo Sellers) in that it can increase your fuel efficiency… I would throw that one out unless you are an extremely disciplined person, as you would have to feather the accelerator and drive extremely conservatively to see those results.. In truth, most people will use the power if they have it, so the increase in fuel economy or efficiency if there remains any at all, is very minimal… So much so as to be almost non-existent when compared to the costs of the Turbo… The same goes for the Intercooler. The cost is severe, and while some claim a 4% increase in power, it does not equate to enough savings to pay for it in an average 5 year time… It is easier on the motor with “relieved heat stress”, but even in that case may not pay for itself in the long haul of potential increase in engine life… It is debatable. The truth is most people tow with a lead foot, and if they have the power they will use it, so the fuel savings is nil in the overall argument.

Now for any new Visitors stuck in the BOG, if you are wondering: “Why not just buy a the new Turbo 100 Series?” That is fine, and most are doing it, and it is still our most common Tow Vehicle for Bushtracker, But, if you are on a bit of a budget or mechanically inclined, I am not sure you are not better off with an aftermarket Turbo on a Standard or GXL 100 Series for about half the money… One Customer just bought a 2002, with 58,000 km, and a few goodies on it, for $35,000. Many find this quite attractive for the following reasons:

1) The full engine electronic management makes it very hard to trouble shoot out bush if you have a problem. While this is present in many new vehicles, I am just a bit uncomfortable with something you can't fix without a computer. Mind you, this is just my opinion.. It is the trend with all new vehicles, even Ford, but it is a concern. The Standard, or GXL 100 Series is still an all mechanical engine. That same motor back to 1997has the big 3500kg towing capacity, and takes the aftermarket Turbo well, that any Bush Mechanic can work on if need be.

2) The IFS ( Independent Front Suspension), may have too many moving parts, and people have had problems already in the bush. It may be a luxury town car design, just not robust enough for the Outback.. Mind you, this is also just my opinion, and not the gospel, but I am concerned. There have been reports of sideways drift in the steering on the corrugation on a big curve in the road..... Not good... It is reported that it can be overcome by decelerating on the curves, to stop the harmonic motion of the IFS reacting to the corrugation; but is not a good sign.. And there have been some reports of mechanical failures and such that are a bit worrying…

3) The IFS required that the wheels be off-set 65mm to the inside, and they cannot work with our suspension in any case.... The tyres would just rub on the chassis, and the wheels go inside of the backing plate on the brakes, so the emergency hand brake would not work.... Now if you want to buy one, and many have, it is not a terminal problem. We can adapt the IFS wheels to your van with 65mm spiders that actually space out the wheels that 65mm offset... There are however two drawbacks. Firstly it costs $1000 for the adaptors and spare wheel carriers, and secondly they weigh about 35 kilos of steel to drag around plus bigger spare carriers to total about 40kg extra... I am not sure it is worth the bother, maybe just consider standard 5 stud 100 Series wheels.

It may come down to that cost is high in the IFS, when you can get a very good vehicle second hand for half the money, and add an aftermarket turbo.. In summary, I no longer think that a new IFS Landcruiser is the only game in town as far a Toyota is concerned, and you may want to rethink as it seems that there are several other choices that make sense.. People still buy the new IFS Landcruiser Turbo as our #1 tow vehicle, because of parking in the city, or tax considerations, or other reasons, but there are other options...

As to selection of a tow vehicle.... Here is possibly another option to consider.... A secondhand vehicle for half the money.... You should take a look at a magazine called the "4 x 4 Trader". There will be 500 vehicles in there for sale every month.. About once every three months for some reason there will be a half a dozen vehicles reduced to ridiculous prices all at once!! You have plenty of time while your Bushtracker is being built.....You can get the RACQ to have a look at it, send pictures over the internet, negotiate a price, and have them meet you at the Airport to pick you up... For half the money, I am not sure that it isn't attractive. For example-I know personally, I would like a 97 to early 2000’s Toyota 80 Series or an a couple of year old GXL 100 Series for half the money, maybe even with extra equipment already on it; rather than all the fancy electronic run injectors and injection pumps of the new IFS Electronic Turbo model. The same goes for the other Brands. It seems as though the Company Engineers are designing the engines to take the maintenance out of the hands of the do it yourself people and make them dependent on the Dealerships for all service... That works in the Big Smoke, with only a $50 towing bill to the local Dealer.. But what about in Augathella? I would rather one I could work on myself… It is what I did in getting a new Cruiser for my wife, I bought a 2000- 100 Series, aftermarket turbo and intercooler, and it was loaded with extras like long range tanks, diff locks, air compressor, and much more.. It has no engine electronics to run the injection pump, injectors, and controls; and I feel that for a remote location, it is twice the vehicle as new, for about half the money. It also has the tried and true solid front monobeam axle housing... Same comfort and power and looks as the new IFS Cruiser, but possibly better “Bush Maintenance” reliability at a reduced cost.

Kind Regards, from the Lone Ranger on the look out...
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Reply By: Kiwi1 - Friday, Sep 30, 2005 at 10:25

Friday, Sep 30, 2005 at 10:25
Steve,

What you've said about the economics of using a sound second-hand cruiser makes good sense. But as an owner of one of those IFS TD cruisers, your continued warnings of weaknesses and failures are a concern and I accept that you have our best interests at heart in giving the advice that you do.

As you say, these tow vehicles are the most common vehicle amongst BT owners so it is obvious that you are getting the reports first-hand rather than via rumours. For the benefit of those like me who are entertaining plans to venture away from civilisation, as well as for those who may be on the verge of purchasing a new IFS model, can you give us an indication of the extent of the problems? How many BT owners are towing with IFS cruisers and what is the percentage of them that have met with failures in the bush?

It might also be of interest to hear from some of the BOG members who have been experiencing these problems as there may well be a case for a joint approach to Toyota to seek some sort of recompense. Towing a BT, reliably, in the outback should be well within the capabilities of the vehicle and if this is not the case we should be asking them why not. What has been Toyota's response to the failures?

I can appreciate the point regarding serviceability of the older models but the reality is that these are not going to be available forever. If Toyota needs to lift its game with its current and future models, now is the time to bring owners' experiences to their attention. I doubt that Toyota could afford to ignore the experience of what is probably the strongest off-road caravanning group in this country.

Michael

AnswerID: 567181

Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Friday, Sep 30, 2005 at 17:43

Friday, Sep 30, 2005 at 17:43
Hello Kiwi1, Michael,

I think your perception is probably a slight over reaction, when the article was not really written to someone that already has the IFS, more written to expose what I think might be a better alternative to new for a major cost savings… Yes, I have heard of a couple of people first hand that have had electronic breakdowns, and yes, I have heard of a couple of people have had to rebuild the front ends, of the new 100 Series.... Yes I have heard some first hand reports of people that have torn them up.... But in the overall scheme of things, you do not need to worry about it if you already own one..... MY POINT IS: That if you have not purchased one yet, the alternative of a low kilometres non-electronic and non-IFS, naturally aspirated diesel Cruiser with the good old fashioned Mono-beam front end, makes good sense for the Outback from an engineering perspective. And you can choose to Turbo it or not, depending on your requirements and size of van.. Especially when right now you can still get a late model one for about half the cost of the IFS Electronic one....

MY POINT IS, not for you that have the IFS already to get in a panic, my point is that I am offering a sound alternative that makes good sense and costs far less.... As to the upgrade on the IFS to help the retaining of the a-frames on the downside, you may contact ARB and Toyota for both sides of the argument.. Please read again a re-cap on the issue, POST ID 1665 Bushtracker posted: "To Bernie and Donna: The Fix on the Possible 100 Series IFS weakness…"

Kiwi1, you might be taking this too personally and I am ABSOLUTLEY NOT suggesting you cannot do it with your IFS. I wrote “I am not sure that the IFS Cruiser is the only game in town” for perspective Buyers of Toyota…. If you did not already own the IFS, my point was that there is an alternative to new that makes good sense, and in fact is what I have personally done.. The model is still being made, so this alternative will exist for many years in the future, and if you had not bought the IFS TD Cruiser already, or were trying to do all of this on a bit of a budget, you should at least consider the possibility that my argument has merit, and might even be a stronger vehicle for the Outback at a sizable savings… I certainly would want the Monobeam front axle instead of the IFS.. But people still will buy the full electronically run IFS TD Cruiser, because they are not mechanical, or afraid of second hand, or get a tax consideration for new, or prestige, or any other number of “new purchase” reasons like Warranty.. Just not me, and I suggest it is a possibility for others as well, that agree with my K.I.S.S. Engineering for the Outback, or have budgetary constraints… OK?

For the rest of you that already have the IFS Cruiser, please read that above listed Posting, and realize that the IFS does have the best ride, and if you are not going extreme rock climbing 4x4, or trying to run it like a Rally Car hitting the jump ups or grates and going airborne, then you are fine… This is only directed primarily towards those that have not bought yet, facing an expensive purchase, with a perspective of mine that in this case second hand might not only be cheaper, it could arguably be better for the Outback….

Kind Regards,
another effort from the Ranger trying to help out…
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Follow Up By: Kiwi1 - Saturday, Oct 01, 2005 at 02:03

Saturday, Oct 01, 2005 at 02:03
No problems, Steve. I agree with all of your comments about the beam axle models.

My truck is a 100 series TD GXL. I suspect that you are referring to the 105 series when you say GXL. The current 105 has the beam axle up front and is naturally aspirated.

Probably the main issue that attracts buyers like me is that the IFS 100 series is the only one that has the towing grunt of Toyota's intercooled turbo, making it a good choice when you intend to tow a hefty van and would like someone else to be responsible if it blows an engine. To add a turbo to a 105, while giving a practical power boost, probably also voids the warranty, creating a big financial risk if something goes wrong.

I'm guessing that everybody, you included, has heard about the same handful of IFS TDs that have had either electronic problems or damaged front ends. The more the same stories are repeated, the bigger the problem appears. The truth is that there are probably many, many, more vehicles stranded in the bush at any given time due to failure of other parts, than there are IFS TDs stranded due to electronic or suspension failures.

Two months ago in Central Queensland where almost everybody seems to be driving a 100 series, I had to wait two weeks for the local dealer to come up with a pair of replacement headlights. Headlights, for chrissakes! One ended up coming from Melbourne and the other from Sydney. All that proves is that a supply glitch on the most common spare part imaginable can strand anybody anytime, no matter how many bush mechanics or computer operators are on standby.

The only point that I wish to make is that while you are entitled to your opinion on the viability and economics of pre-owned LCs (and I do agree with you), I don't believe that it is neccessary or correct to call into question the reliability of the IFS TD. It has already been acknowledged that the few recorded IFS failures have occurred under the most extreme 4wding conditions. Electronics failures are rare and certainly no more prevalent on the LC than they are on Fords, Nissans or pretty much any modern vehicle on the road today. Think about how many of us would board airplanes if it were not so.

Your opinions, while your own, are nonetheless the opinions of the MD of one of Australia's leading off-road van manufacturers, and therefore should be carefully considered. If one or two BT failures led to Toyota's MD making a statement that Bushtrackers, in his opinion, were proving to be a bit frail when towed by his cruisers, I reckon you'd be a tad less than happy. LOL.

Just tryin' ta keep ya honest. Honest (wink)

Michael

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