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Mat777's "Lemon Cruiser" Experience


mat777

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Time to hit the road. Really hard. With my fists. 

This shite is renowned for holding value to a ludicrous extent. Thus, it's bye bye to my faithful daily of 2 years 

 

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Edit: not sure why it came out in Australian market spec! 

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  • mat777 changed the title to Mat777's "Lemon Cruiser" Experience

Well, now that this appears to have finally sold again (to some other poor unsuspecting sap), I can begin to tell the tale of my brief but traumatic experience with the world's only unreliable Land Cruiser Amazon! 

I bloody loved my Hilux, and it had been utterly faultless for 2 years and 35k miles - but unfortunately my hand was forced into changing it due to increasing difficulty in getting insurance for it. As a commercial vehicle privately owned for hobby purposes, but used for commuting to my day job, InsCos were naturally assuming I was a self-employed tradie taking the piss by using it for undeclared business use. It had got to the point where any online quote/comparison sites had removed the "social and commuting" option from their forms, with "social only" or "business inc commuting" suddenly now (in Jul 23 when my cover lapsed) being the only options. This was, well, inconvenient, unless I wanted to pay £3k for business cover.... 

And thus, I needed to get back into an SUV, and fast. But the choice of modern-ish SUVs that aren't just a tall car and are able to tow 3+ tons (essential for me), that weren't going to immediately shit themselves (ruling out anything with a green oval), was rather thin. @horriblemercedes had hit on the solution though, he had a Land Cruiser Amazon. Perfect! 
However, unlike his bargain priced, rot free manual, all I could find for sale was autos, either kwispy with moon mileage for a reasonable price, or a reasonable condition for "HFM?!"

Eventually, I stumbled across this one. Only 85k miles, and under £20k! Why? A previous Cat D, according to the dealer. I was shown photos, it had had a new wing, bonnet, headlight and bumper after a front corner knock.
And, for bonus points - it was for sale with the very reputable "prestige, SUV and supercar" dealer that my Hilux had come from, so I'd be in good hands. 

On 30/07/2023 at 14:00, MJK 24 said:

V8?

Nope, twas a 4.2D, a facelift with the 5 speed auto.

And so, the week before my collection post, I went down for a look. Not visible in the photos was a huge "key" scratch down one side. Hmm.... Well luckily I had a tame bodyshop guy who could sort that. More of a problem on the test drive were flat batteries requiring a jump start, a wheel wobble right around motorway cruising speeds, and an incessant squeak coming from somewhere. Oh, and it was due a service. 
No problem, shirley, for a reputable large dealer to sort out? Importantly, that fabulous big old engine pulled strongly, and the gearbox changed up and down nicely. Plus, the chassis was absolutely spotless!

Thus, a deal was struck which involved a very good price for my Hilux, and I collected the following week.

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1 hour ago, MJK 24 said:

I’m sensing a crushing part two…

You would be correct.....

I arrived bright and early at the dealership after a 2.5 hour drive (them being in MK, me being in Cheshire/Liverpool - but I've always been willing to travel for the "right" car).  Dropped off the Hilux, and walked around to do the paperwork for both cars. The dealer talked about how they'd done all the work for me, however they hadn't been able to find the source of the squeak despite extensive road testing.
It was at this point that I noted from the V5 that the previous "doctor" owner was from the Leeds area and had a rather foreign sounding name, however I'd say that due to my previous experience, my guard was probably much further down that usual, and so I also didn't think it odd when I came out to find the LC running and waiting for me, and didn't perform any cursory checks before climbing aboard. 

Anyhow, within 5 minutes down the road the squeaking was driving me mad, a minor "budgie chirping" over every minor surface imperfection. Luckily, I had my mum riding with me for the trip back, and she lifted the centre cubby lid whereupon the squeaking suddenly became louder. Inside was the head unit for the rear seat DVD player, and a brief steadying hand revealed this was loose in its cradle with metal-on-metal contact. 
Score one for mum! A pack of tissues was wedged down to the side of it and silence reigned.

Unfortunately, after another 5 minutes it became apparent that whilst the wheel wobble was definitely better, it was by no means cured. "Hmm, if its not the wheels, is it a ball joint? The last MOT did advise play...." 
Whilst irritating, none of this was a showstopper on an 17 year old car, but in hindsight it should have been a red flag for what was to come.....

 

However, time to focus on the positives. I'd never driven such a comfy car, and that includes my old Jeep Commander which was like a sofa on wheels! This LC had ridiculously wide, plush seats like a La-Z-Boy settee, and it had the benefit of a fully working example of the AHC (Active Height Control) suspension. This is a hydraulic system with adjustable ride height and firmness, that rivals Citroen for comfort (and complexity, and repair bills).

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It also had a wonderfully mid-00s infotainment system, with a million and one options to delve into. Sold until 2007, was this one of the last vehicles that came with a tape deck, too?

 

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Certainly, it must be the last vehicle to come with a fucking EXTENDY ARIEL?! 😁

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32 minutes ago, N Dentressangle said:

I've never known a dealer to actually sort out all of the problems they promised to.

Another good reason to never buy a car from one.

I was going to start a thread titled 'Dealers That Do What They Said They'd Do' but imagined it would be quite short. 

Honestly I've never seen or heard of one that isn't at least 50% bent

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8 minutes ago, grogee said:

I was going to start a thread titled 'Dealers That Do What They Said They'd Do' but imagined it would be quite short. 

Honestly I've never seen or heard of one that isn't at least 50% bent

I've always taken the view that a private sale means at least you're buying a car from an amateur con artist than a professional one 😉

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23 hours ago, N Dentressangle said:

I've never known a dealer to actually sort out all of the problems they promised to.

Another good reason to never buy a car from one.

22 hours ago, grogee said:

I was going to start a thread titled 'Dealers That Do What They Said They'd Do' but imagined it would be quite short. 

Honestly I've never seen or heard of one that isn't at least 50% bent

22 hours ago, N Dentressangle said:

I've always taken the view that a private sale means at least you're buying a car from an amateur con artist than a professional one 😉

This is all very true, however there is one big advantage to buying from a dealer, even if they are economical with the truth - as will become very apparent later in this saga. As I say, I had had a brilliant experience with them 2 years prior, which just goes to show the variability....

 

Anyhow, 'twas the day after the purchase, so no time like the present for a bit of fettling. One thing that was obvious when buying was that the one replaced headlight was lovely and shiny and clear, but the original unit on the other side was badly yellowed, and had a comedy circle in the middle where a beam deflector had clearly been fitted for a while in the past. This was clearly not going to work with my "CDO" tendencies.

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Luckily, I had an unused headlight restoration kit in the parents garage, so this was the first thing to rectify. Having never actually used one before, after the first stage of heavy sanding I was beginning to wonder if I'd just fucked it up entirely, but "patience, youngling!"

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Nearly an hour of wetting, sanding, polishing and drying later, it was finished with a ceramic clearcoat and looked infinitely better. The annoying circle imprint had gone, too.
 can highly recommend the Turtle Wax DIY headlight kit - one of the key USPs is that this doesn't require a drill or buffer to use, it's all done by hand and it's relatively cheap to buy compared to most of them. 

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Second of the immediately address-able irritations was this horror story of a towbar setup. Presumably a part of some long-lost bike rack accessory, it meant that the towbar was spaced a good 4-5" out from the mounting. "Can you say 'shear loading'?"

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Luckily, again I had a spare set of new, shorter towbar bolts as well as a heavy duty flange (ooh, matron) that I could throw on.  Time to break out the big boy tools

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Ah, much better!

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Unfortunately, this is where the good news ends, as I then delved under the bonnet. 
Immediately, alarm bells started to ring, as I recognised the same mismatched pair of batteries (2 batteries on a J100 Land Cruiser, because why the fuck not for extra oomph!) that had been on it when it was jump started. Obviously, they still worked for the trip home which had multiple stops for fuel and food, but for how much longer? Delving further with a torch, it was also evident that the oil filter hadn't been replaced, which tallied with the oil condition (although it's always hard to tell on a diesel after even just 100 miles, of course). So, evidently not serviced as promised then. Luckily, as a "premium dealer", this dealer includes a comprehensive 3 month warranty with all purchases, so there wasn't much wriggle room for them here.

Cue a telephone call to the dealership. It was obvious they'd just skimped and expected me not to notice, but I decided to play nice and take the "missed in error" line rather than getting anyone's backs up.
The dealership is run by 2 people, supposedly with one overseeing sales and one overseeing servicing on the very large amount of stock they keep.  Surprise surprise then, that there had been a "miscommunication":

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Rather than schlep all the way down to MK, they agreed to pay £300 towards the cost of a service up here (the local Toyota main dealer that looked after my Hilux - Oakmere of Northwich - being a unicorn of excellent customer service, competent work, all work actually being carried out, and reasonable pricing too). They also agreed to pay back the cost of me buying whatever reasonably priced batteries I could source and fit myself. 

One other thing I did notice, however, was the header tank being suspiciously empty, when it was conspicuously full during my test drive the week before. Hmmmmmmm. 

 

 

22 hours ago, MJK 24 said:

I’m now mildly petrified for Part 3…

Just wait for the next couple of parts.....

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6 hours ago, mat777 said:

2 batteries on a J100 Land Cruiser, because why the fuck not for extra oomph!

The starter is 24v. So when you start the batteries are joined for this one job, then revert back to normal 12v status.

What people do is convert the starter to 12v and have one battery for car stuff and then the other battery becomes a leisure battery.

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On 06/02/2024 at 15:00, N Dentressangle said:

I've never known a dealer to actually sort out all of the problems they promised to.

Another good reason to never buy a car from one.

 2015 Consumer legislation, 30 day, hand it back, get refund. If they argue, let 'em. And the 30 days pauses while they "give me a chance to fix it mate" stall...

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