Hilux Surf, are they any good?

Submitted: Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 18:30
ThreadID: 24062 Views:8490 Replies:7 FollowUps:11
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Hi All,

am looking at getting a used 4x4, and am thinking about the Hilux surf, I have heard that they can overheat in aust conditions, particularly when loaded or towing, due to them being imported and not built for our climate, but have been told that the 3ltr turbo diesel do not have this problem.
I would be looking at the 3ltr TD, any thoughts?

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Reply By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 18:48

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 18:48
OK. You've opened a can of worms.

You are right, the 3.0L (1KZ-TE) is the only way to go IMHO. But they still can suffer from overheating, but not because "they are not built for australian conditions". They overheat because they are neglected and not maintined properly. Because they are built for cooler climates they do tend to show signs of neglect sooner in the cooling system as there is less margin for error (so to speak).

We overload our poor surf evertime we go away, we live in WA and have HOT summers, we don't pussy foot around and we have now solved ALL of our overheating problems without doing any major modifications.

Things to do when you pickup your new surf:
1. Do an oil and filter change (you should do this with ANY new second hand car).
2. If you feel up to it change: air filter, diff's and tranny/transfer oils too. (why not).
3. Get the radiator to a specialist and get them to re-core it, get the system pressure tested. (mine had pin hole leaks that you couldn't see that were causing the system to loose pressure when worked, therefore over heat). MAKE SURE YOU RUN TOYOTA LONG LIFE COOLANT (the red stuff).
4. While the Rad's out get the Viscous Clutch Fan re built. (squeeze some special silicone into it).
5. If it's an auto (which I WOULD recommend, they are great) get a third party oil cooler fitted for the transmission (if it doesn't have one already). They are realitivly cheap and you'll find that the heat from the standard oil cooler in the bottom of the radiator is what causes most of the heat build up in your Rad. It will also make you tranny last longer if you work it hard a lot.
7. If it has a Safari Snorkel, ensure it doesn't have a restrictor in the top of it (a big metal washer). This will restrict the air flow and cause you motor to run rich. A Diesel running rich produces smoke and runs hot.

Now this may seem a lot, but really you should be doing most of those to ANY car you buy.

The surf is comfy, very nice to drive on road and off, very capable, the 3.0L has plenty of go and they are well priced. The 1KZ-TE motor is nice to work on and parts have been easy to get and well priced so far (touch wood). The Auto is very responsive and just "the bomb" off road, I'll never go back to a manual 4by.

Click on my Rig Pic (avatar) to see the surf mod's we've done.
AnswerID: 116760

Follow Up By: ZTG - Thursday, Jun 23, 2005 at 09:02

Thursday, Jun 23, 2005 at 09:02
thank you very much for the detailed advice, will be very usefull information.

FollowupID: 372492

Reply By: bushy04 - Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 19:02

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 19:02
The Surf is great, if you dont want any spare parts as some Toyota dealers will not get spare parts as they are not built for Australia, if you need to get a rebuild on the motor or G/box you may find that some parts are not available in Aus
AnswerID: 116762

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 19:47

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 19:47
Coz they are so poular now alot of those problems are no longer an issue. Best advice I would give would be to get on the net and join a surf owners forum (they do exist) should be able to get all the info on best places for parts etc
FollowupID: 372255

Follow Up By: malssurf - Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 21:44

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 21:44
Yes I am a surf owner and probably biased but-----
spare parts are not hard to get!!!! Any reputable toyo spare parts
dealer will have parts if you provide them with the model and frame numbers. Infact some parts for the more popular 80 series toyo are near impossible to source.
To get an even more biased opinion on the surf go to
Regards Mal
3.0 td surf
FollowupID: 372275

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Wednesday, Jun 22, 2005 at 14:38

Wednesday, Jun 22, 2005 at 14:38
Bush04 if you don't know what your talking about don't talk.

Motor's are the 1KZ-TE, same as the 3.0TD Hilux and all the Diesel Prado's (minus the intercooler).

Gearbox is the 4runner jobbie, all body work on the 90-95 models are exactly the same as the 4runner equiv.

I've never had a problem getting a part from a Toyota deaer. The only people I have EVER had a problem getting parts through are 2 bit backyard yobbos who use the excuse of it being an import as a good way to get out of getting off the fat asses. (and that has been very seldom).

FollowupID: 372381

Reply By: Member - Jimbo (VIC) - Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 19:10

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 19:10

I can't comment on the Surf but I do know this. It is a "Grey Import" and as such was never sold in Australia. Whilst it is virtually a 4 Runner, it will be likely to have some parts on it that are not available in Australia. This is the bane of all Grey Imports.

You may find something as innocuous as, say, an indicator lense impossible to buy. This could render your car unroadworthy until you are able to import one at great expense and time.

In addition the history of the vehicle will be unknown.

Prices of Grey Imports that I have seen from specialist dealers do not IMO warrant the associated risk.

Fortunately the Govt has finally placed a well overdue ban on Grey Imports.

Your money, your choice.

Hope to have been of some help.


AnswerID: 116763

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Wednesday, Jun 22, 2005 at 14:42

Wednesday, Jun 22, 2005 at 14:42
Jimbo they are exactly the same body wise. Talk to any surf 3.0L surf owner they will tell you parts are not a problem. In fact they are easier to get than on my previous "australian compliled" vehicle, a Daihatsu Rocky.

BTW - The government didn't ban grey imports, they just made it that they had to be older before they were allowed in, hence the rush of 60 sereies, MQ's and older Pajeros comming in now days, in fact the surf will be almost ready for import once again soon.

Do you really know the history of any second hand car? Oh, that's right "it's only be driven to church on sundays"...

My surf was $10,000 cheaper than anthing that came close to it when I purchased it. Thanks very much, but I and my family think it's worth it.
FollowupID: 372383

Follow Up By: Member - Jimbo (VIC) - Thursday, Jun 23, 2005 at 07:46

Thursday, Jun 23, 2005 at 07:46
According to Bill Tuckey, MOTOR, May 2005, page 120, Grey Imports have been banned.

Whether that is correct or not I can't say for sure. But given he's been a motoring jounalist for 40 years I'm tending to believe he's correct.


FollowupID: 372483

Follow Up By: malssurf - Thursday, Jun 23, 2005 at 08:06

Thursday, Jun 23, 2005 at 08:06
G'day Jimbo,
Perhaps this site may clear things up


Regards Mal
FollowupID: 372485

Follow Up By: Member - Jimbo (VIC) - Friday, Jun 24, 2005 at 07:31

Friday, Jun 24, 2005 at 07:31
Thanks Mal,

Interesting site.

So you can import cars made prior to 1989.

I reckon parts for a car over 16 years old that was never sold in this country could be hard to come by.


FollowupID: 372636

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Friday, Jun 24, 2005 at 11:12

Friday, Jun 24, 2005 at 11:12
Jimbo are you trying to say that 60 series cruisers, pajeros and GQ's were never sold in Australia and are hard to get parts for? Hmmm,news to me.
FollowupID: 372660

Reply By: Redeye - Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 20:27

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 20:27

I had one and it was great to drive. But keeping the money up to it was impossible,

Mine was a 2.4 litre. 3litre has to be better
Blew a motor, Broken crank.
Motor over heated all the time before and after repair.
Clutch was an issue. Only burnt one out on the sand.

Was the most expensive mistake I ever made.

Some love them. Owners are a proud lot but you have to be very loyal for a product such as this.

AnswerID: 116784

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Wednesday, Jun 22, 2005 at 14:42

Wednesday, Jun 22, 2005 at 14:42
The 2.4's were rubbish.
FollowupID: 372384

Reply By: Member - Matt Mu (Perth-WA) - Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 20:39

Tuesday, Jun 21, 2005 at 20:39
Zig...every 4WD has its traits...every 4WD will cost money...every 4WD needs maintenance unless you buy new and trade every three years (I dont have that luxury)

Dont listen to the scare mongers about grey Imports, there are all the parts you need out there for any of them and plenty of support groups (forums) dedicated to whatever you choose.

Find the veh that suits your needs and your budget and get out there!

Goodluck with it mate!

AnswerID: 116787

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Wednesday, Jun 22, 2005 at 14:46

Wednesday, Jun 22, 2005 at 14:46
Yep, Matt's right, I made the mistake of listening to all of these un educated scare mongers talking more rubbish than hot air, I went out and bought a different 4by, then 2 years later I learnt that these people had no idea what they were talking about and I bought my surf, best decision I ever made.
I find getting information on the surf easier than any other vechicle I've ever owned. There are so many forums, .PDF manuals, photo's of mods, repairs and installations all over the net on these things it's just fantastic.

Just don't get confused with the 2.4 (2L-TE) and the 3.0 (1KZ-TE). Because they look identical on the outside many a num nut will confuse the two and right them all off together. I've even known people who OWNED 2.4L surfs who didn't know the difference.
FollowupID: 372385

Reply By: KerryGaye - Wednesday, Jun 22, 2005 at 21:25

Wednesday, Jun 22, 2005 at 21:25
Hi Zach, could not talk highly enough about a turbo deisel Surf. Our first and currently second car is a 1990 turbo. Can't be killed as long as it has maintainance. You must make sure the water cap seal doesn't deteriorate! The imported ones don't like the additives we use! a fantastic work horse that has taken us to many wonderful places, but in our "old age" have upgraded to a Prado and is this fabulous! A couple of freinds had truble with their Surfs but they did not have proper maintenance and regard for the cooling system.
AnswerID: 116963

Reply By: ZTG - Thursday, Jun 23, 2005 at 09:06

Thursday, Jun 23, 2005 at 09:06
Thank you to all who replied, I appreciate the imput,

AnswerID: 117002

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