What sort of maintenance did you do? I ask because I am tearing into my truck with the same drivetrain, also before a overlanding trip.
If it could be replaced or serviced; we did it.
We spent $4000 on the truck and easily double that in maintenance and upgrades. So it is definitely not the cheapest option to keep these old trucks on the trails long term. But we would not have it any other way!
We bought the truck with 143,000 miles on it last year. It ran great except for a leaking steering rack.
In the past 6 months we:
1. Changed the spark plugs and wires (NGK)
2. Replaced the entire rack and pinion along with inner and outer tie-rods
3. Replaced the lower ball joints with TOYOTA OEM
4. Replaced the Radiator, Belts, and Hoses with TOYOTA OEM.
5. Replaced the Timing Belt, Water Pump, Thermostat, Cam seals, ect. with TOYOTA OEM
6. Replaced the front brakes (Calipers, Rotors, and Pads) with bigger/beefier TUNDRA Front Brakes
7. Replaced rear brake shoes
8. Replaced TPS sensor
9. Cleaned MAF Senors and Throttle Body
10. Replaced all filters including air, fuel, and transmission.
11. Drained and refilled transmission 5x to evacuate old fluid without a "Flush"
12. Bled and flushed brake system with DOT 4 Fluid.
13. Replaced Left and Right Front CV Axles
14. Upgraded suspension to Old Man Emu Springs and Bilstein 5100 Shocks/Struts
15. Brand New BFG Mud Terrain Tires
16. Obviously I have been changing the oil regularly! (RED LINE 5w30)
17. Road Force Balance and Wheel Alignment
18. New extended rear sway bar bushings and links
19. Over the past 5 months I have ran a fuel system cleaner every month. (Changed brands each time so it has seen Redline, Royal Purple, Techron, Lucas Deep Clean, and Gumout Regane)
20. Serviced drive line and greased u-joints every oil change
21. Replace muffler with Flowmaster 60 series
22. Drain and re-fill rear and front diffs as well as the transfer case
23. Flush and fill new Toyota OEM coolant
24. Im sure I am forgetting something and will edit it in later!!!
Soooooooo yea! It was definitely a labor of love!
These trucks are just so well made. Friends and family look at me crazy when I say that considering what I have put into it.
But these trucks have amazingly reliable engines and transmissions. As long as they have been maintained well, are in excellent working order, and the frame of the truck is not rotted out; they are worth fixing IMHO.
For your truck, I would strongly recommend the lower Ball Joints and Radiator as they are the two known killers of our trucks.
The lower ball joint design leaves alot to be desired. Should they fail, the lower control arm slams to the ground and the wheel tucks neatly into the wheel well allowing for the perfect opportunity to flip the vehicle at any common cruising speed.
Regardless of condition, it is strongly recommended by the community as a whole to replace at least every 100,000 miles with ONLY Toyota OEM units.
The Radiator is a dual chamber design that has a main chamber for coolant and small chamber for the trans fluid. Over time the metal inside **can** corrode and allow the trans fluid and coolant to mix. This allows for the infamous "pink milkshake" where the fluids create a foam that completely destroys your transmission.
Some elect to separate the coolers and add a independent trans cooler. Most other just plan to change out the radiator along with the lower ball joints every 100,000 miles to prevent it from ever happening.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!!!