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I'm thinking of buying a Surf, what should I check?

All Models: The normal checks when buying any vehicle should be made, if you are not sufficiently familiar with the Surf or 4x4's in general, consider bringing along someone who is. Do not simply trust the word of the vendor.
A checklist for the Surf can be found here (page coming soon). You should also take note of other items which may require attention or further expenditure after purchase, items to consider include the tyres, the stereo, any sat-nav equipment fitted and the cylinder head on 2.4TD models, click on the links to see why.
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Generation Surf, What Gen's are there?

To date (Apr ‘06) there have been 4 generations of the Toyota Hilux Surf (or Toyota 4Runner in some markets).
Model years and a quick way to distinguish the various generations are listed below.

1st Gen:1984-1989
2.0 Petrol; 2.4 Petrol; 3.0 V6 Petrol; 2.4 Turbo-Diesel  (see spec's below)

2 door models with a removable fibreglass rear section.
Heavily based on the Hilux pick-ups of the same era, retaining most of its features including a proper truck style drop-down tailgate.
Up to 1986 they also shared most of their suspension with the pick-ups, having leaf springs and solid axles all round.
From 1986 they had independent suspension (torsion bars) fitted to the front.

2nd Gen: 1990-1995
2.0 Petrol; 3.0 V6 Petrol; 2.4 Turbo-Diesel; 2.8 Diesel; 3.0 Turbo-Diesel  (see spec's below)

2 and 4 door versions (2dr discontinued in late 1993). The fibreglass rear section was replaced by an all steel integrated shell.
Completely redesigned body shell in keeping with the current pick-up models.
Coil sprung rear suspension in place of the pick-ups leaf springs.
1992 saw a minor restyle, the main difference being flush mounted aero headlamps, a one piece front bumper and a new grille, all cosmetic changes which the pick-ups did not receive.

3rd Gen: 1996-2001
2.7 Petrol; 3.4 Petrol; 3.0 Turbo-Diesel; 3.0 Intercooler Turbo-Diesel (see spec's below)

This time the new model was not based on the pick-up range, but was a new model in its own right. Slightly larger than prior models with increased legroom, shoulder room and cargo area. Production of the 3rd Gen was split, built built both by Toyota's Tahara factory, and also in Hino's Hamura factory.
Shares its chassis, suspension and most of its drivetrain with the Lwb Landcruiser Colorado (Prado) models of the era.
Front torsion bar suspension replaced by double wishbones and a coil spring, resulting in increased suspension travel.
Steering box changed to a rack and pinion steering rack system.
Additional safety features include dual airbags and ABS.
Drop-down tailgate replaced with a lift-up hatchback style one.

4th Gen: 2002-
This model is once again slightly larger than prior ones, although lower in overall height with reduced ground clearance. Heavier in appearance compared with the prior model with oversized C pillars and squared wheel arches. Once again sharing certain chassis elements with the equivalent era Colorado/Prado models. This model is available with a choice of new suspension designs and 4wd systems to enhance off-road abilities.
The 4th Generation Surf is not covered in these FAQ.

Model years change in August, so for example the 2nd Gen model, which was introduced for the 1990 model year, would have started production in August of 1989. It is therefore quite possible to find an ’89 2nd Gen or a ’95 3rd Gen etc. Also a vehicle which was manufactured late in its production, in July for example, could conceivably have remained unsold or unregistered until the following year. You could therefore have, for example, a 1st Gen model registered in 1990.

All UK market 4Runners are 2nd Gen models and are essentially identical to the Hilux Surf, minor differences exist in trim levels and specification etc. All UK 4Runners have 3.0L engines (both petrol & diesel models).
If you are unsure as to the date of manufacture of your Surf, check the base of the seatbelts, where they mount to the body, you will find a tag upon which is printed the month and year of manufacture. When looking for information or parts it is much more reliable to quote the model year, rather than the year of registration or the letter from the registration number.
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Model Specs, What different levels are there?

All Models: The Surf comes in a number of different trim levels, ranging from SSR, SSR LTD, SSR-V & SSR-X to SSR-G. Additionally some SSR-V’s and X’s have had the ‘Ltd’ badge as well.
In theory it runs from the base spec SSR to the SSR-G or Gold spec model. In practice these designations do not necessarily mean much. Many will have had a number of factory fitted options supplied from new, with the result that it would not be impossible to find for example an SSR-V with a higher level of options/trim than an SSR-X, or an SSR-X in seemingly identical spec to an SSR-G etc.
Despite the efforts of many who have tried, it does not seem possible to compile a definitive listing as to the standard specifications of the various trim levels due to changes with each model year and the tendency of the original owners to specify additional options at the time of purchase.
If looking at a Surf with a view to purchase, consider the actual condition and options fitted to the vehicle rather than being unduly swayed by the desire to attain any particular model level.
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Technical specifications

Please note; When trying to determine the specifications of these vehicles, official manufacturers data is somewhat scarce, therefore the following tables should be considered a guide, and not a definitive answer.

1st Gen:

Year1984   1987  
Model      E-YN61L-YN61N-YN61N-L61  
Engine Code      3Y-E3Y2L-T2l  
Engine Type      I4 OHVI4 OHCI4 OHC  
Engine Size (cc)           199824462446   
Bore (mm)      869292  
Stroke (mm)      869292  
Compression ratio      8.82222.3   
Max power (PS)      97888576   
@ RPM       480040004000  
Max torque (KG-M)      16.315.819.215.7  
@ RPM      3800340024004000  
Fuel System      EFICarbTurbo  
Fuel type      PetrolDiesel  
Fuel Cons (l/100km)Manual       14.614.217.417   
Auto      14.2N/A  
Drive Layout            
Wheelbase      2625mm  
Exterior Length      4440mm  
Exterior Width      1690mm  
Exterior Height       1745mm  
Front Track      1430mm  
Rear Track      1410mm  
Ground Clearance            
Weight (kg)      1510/1560147016001560  
Payload (kg)      275350350350  
Front brakes      Disk  
Rear brakes      Drum  
Turning circle      11.4m  
Interior Length            
Interior Width            
Interior Height           
Fuel Tank Capacity      65 Litres  
Steering Type      Ball & Nut System  
Front SuspensionSemi- elliptic leaf spring   Double wishbone torsion bar  
Rear suspensionSemi- elliptic leaf spring   Semi- elliptic leaf spring  


2nd Gen:

YearMay '89 to Jul '90Aug '90 to July '91Aug '91 to Jul '93

Aug '93 to Jul '95

Built at....All models were built by Toyota at the Tahara factory
Engine Code3Y-E2L-T3L3Y-E3VZ-E2L-T3L3VZ-E2L-TE3L3VZ-E1KZ-TE
Engine Size (cc)199824462779199829582446277929582446277929582982
Bore (mm)8692968687.5929687.5929687.596
Stroke (mm)8692968682929682929682103
Compression ratio8.8:121:122.2:18.8:19.1:121.1:122.2:19.1:121.1:122.2:19:121.2:1
Max power (kW)716967711107167110716711096
@ RPM480040004000480048003800400048003800400048003600
Max torque (nM)160216188160245240188245240188245289
@ RPM380024002400380034002400240034002400240034002000
Fuel typePetrolDieselDieselPetrolPetrolDieselDieselPetrolDieselDieselPetrolDiesel
Fuel Cons (l/100km) Manual11.0  1113.5 13.513.5   13.9  
Auto13.3   15.6  15.6   15.6  
Drive LayoutPart-time 4WDPart-time 4WDPart-time 4WDPart-time 4WD
Exterior Length4470mm4470mm4640/4795mm4490mm4490/4640/4795mm4490mm
Exterior Width1690mm1690mm1790mm1690mm1790mm1690mm
Exterior Height1745mm1745mm1755/1780mm1745mm1755/1780mm1745mm
Front Track1430mm1430mm1475mm1430mm1475mm1430mm
Rear Track1425mm1425mm1470mm1425mm1470mm1425mm
Ground Clearance210mm210mm220mm210mm220mm210mm
Weight (kg)1600~16701710~174017101600~16201730~18001730~178017101770~18701770~183017501790~18601860~1900
Front brakesDiskVentilated diskVentilated diskVentilated disk
Rear brakesDrum
Turning circle11.4m
Interior Length1770mm
Interior Width1400mm
Interior Height 1125mm
Fuel Tank Capacity65 Litres
Steering TypeSteering Box
Front SuspensionDouble wishbone torsion bar
Rear suspension4 link axle type coils


3rd Gen:

YearAug '96 to Jul '97Aug '98 to Jul '00Aug '00 to Aug '02
Built at....Chassis numbers starting with "0" were built by Toyota at the Tahara factory, those starting with "9" were built by Hino at their Hamura factory
Engine TypeI4 OHCI4 DOHC 16vI4 OHCV6 DOHC 24vI4 DOHC 16vV6 DOHC 24vI4 DOHC
Engine Size (cc)2982269329823378269333782982
Bore (mm)96959693.59593.596
Stroke (mm)10395103829582103
Fuel SystemIC TurboTurboEFIIC TurboTurboEFIEFIEFICommon Rail IC Turbo
Compression ratio21.2:121.2:19.5:121.2:121.2:19.6:19.5:19.6:118.4:1
Max power (kW)1039611010796136110136125
@ RPM360036004800360036004800480048003400
Max torque (nM)333289235343289294235294352
@ RPM200020004000200020003600400036001800-3400
Fuel typeDieselPetrolDieselPetrolPetrolPetrolDiesel
Drive LayoutMulti-Mode 4WDRWDMulti-Mode 4WDRWDRWDMulti-Mode 4WD
Fuel Cons (l/100km) Manual 11    
Auto 11.812.21312.71111.512.29.6
Engine Oil Qty 4.7L (5.4 inc Filter)6.4L (7 inc Filter)4.9L (5.2 inc Filter)  
Cooling System 10L (11L with rear heater)7L (8L w rear heater)  
Front Differential1.15L
Rear Differential2.45L
Exterior Length4850mm4645mm4655/4840mm4645mm4654mm4655/4840mm
Exterior Width1800mm1720mm1800mm1720mm1720mm1800mm
Exterior Height1805mm1700mm1765/1770/1805mm1700mm1700mm1765/1770/1805mm
Front Track1505mm1455mm1505mm1455mm1455mm1505mm
Rear Track1495mm1445mm1495mm1445mm1445mm1495mm
Ground Clearance240mm195mm240mm195mm195mm240mm
Weight (kg)183016101720~17701820~18901780~1810165016101740~17801780/18201870~1920
Front brakesVentilated Disk
Rear brakesDrum
Turning circle11.4m
Interior Length 1850mm
Interior Width 1395mm
Interior Height1165mm
Cargo VolumeSeats up44.6 cu ft
Seats down79.7 cu ft
Fuel Tank Capacity70 litres
Steering TypeRack & Pinion
Front SuspensionDouble Wishbone & Coil
Rear suspension4 link axle & Coil springs

4rd Gen: (all data for US 4Runner models)

Built at....  
Engine Code1GR-FE 2UZ-FE
Engine TypeV6 DOHC 24VV8 DOHC 32v
Engine Size (cc)39554664
Bore (mm)9494
Fuel SystemEFIEFI
Compression ratio10:19.6:1
Max power (hp)245235
@ RPM38003400
Max torque (lb-ft)282320
@ RPM38003400
Fuel typePetrolPetrol
Drive LayoutRWDMulti-Mode 4WDRWDFull-time 4WD
Fuel Cons (l/100km) Manual
Engine Oil Qty6.4 quarts6 quarts
Cooling System
Front Differential
Rear Differential
Tyres265-70R16 or 265-65R17
Exterior Length189in189
Exterior Width73.873.8
Exterior HeightExc Roof Rack69.168.969.168.9
Inc Roof Rack71.671.671.671.6
Air SuspN/A68.5
Air Susp + Roof RackN/A71.2
Front Track6262
Rear Track6262
Ground Clearance
Weight (kg)4025 ~ 4320 lbs4155 ~ 4450 lbs
Payload1055 ~ 1100 lbs
Towing Capacity5000 lbs
Front brakesVentilated Disk
Rear brakesVentilated Disk
Turning circle11.12m
Interior Length
Interior Width
Interior Height
Cargo VolumeSeats up40.6* / 42.2 cu ft
Seats down72.4* / 75.1 cu ft

*with optional Double Decker cargo system

Fuel Tank Capacity23gallons
Steering Type Variable gear rack-and-pinion
Front Suspension
Rear suspension4-link rigid type with coil springs


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Mpg, What can I expect?

All Diesel Models: Fuel consumption varies with many factors including driving style, terrain etc. Some owner’s claim over 30mpg, whilst others report only 20mpg. A realistic figure to expect is around 24/26mpg for mixed styles of driving. Fuel consumption for the 2.4TD & 3.0TD is virtually identical. Manuals should be able to achieve around 1 to 2 mpg more than automatics. 1st Gen’s should also prove a little better if in good condition due to lower overall weight.
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Weight, What can I carry?

All Models: In the absence of official figures for the Hilux Surf as an Import, we must rely here partly on the data available for the UK 4Runner and the experiences of others. Some have reported carrying up to 900kg without difficulty, however it is believed that the max weight permissible by the manufacturer is 610kg.
Whilst the 1st & 2nd Gen models utilise a version of the chassis’ fitted to the Hilux pick-ups which have a payloads of up to 1 ton, the 1st Gen models utilise leaf springs at the rear have one less leaf compared to the pick-up. The 2nd & 3rd Gens use coil springs in the rear. In all cases these rear suspension setups do not permit it to carry as much as the leaf sprung pick-up versions.
My own 3rd Gen has been weighed as 1880Kg and has a Design Gross Vehicle Weight of 2515Kg (according to my paperwork, I've no idea where this figure originated). This gives me a payload of 635Kg.
Remember also that the Surf has a larger and heavier body than its equivalent pick-up, this in itself reduces the payload in comparison, these are certainly not "1 ton" vehicles.
Recommended max payload is therefore 610Kg for the 2nd Gen and 635Kg for the 3rd Gen. Remember the payload includes the driver and any passenger’s etc.
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Weight, What can I tow?

All 3.0 and above models: We do not have any official figures available for the Surf, but can be guided by those figures available for the 4Runners.
UK 4Runner 2nd Gen 3.0L V6 & 3.0TD (manual gearbox), max braked load is 2200Kgs. (Data from UK 4Runner brochure of June 1995).
US market 3rd Gen 3.4L V6 4Runners are rated for 5,000lbs (2268Kg).

All Models: Conventional wisdom dictates that an unbraked load should not exceed 750kg, whilst a braked load should not exceed 85% of the vehicles weight or 100% for drivers experienced in towing.
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Jack and wheel brace, Where are they?

1st Gen: Its in a compartment on the left side of the boot. The tool kit lives on the right-hand side.

2nd Gen: The Jack & extension handle are under your rear seat. Each half of the rear seat base is hinged at the front, to lift, pull on the release strap at the centre or the rear of each base half. The strap may have been pushed down the gap between the base and backrest, so be prepared to squeeze your fingers through and rummage. The jack is under a flap of carpet beneath the seat base. Your wheel brace and other items should be in the toolkit in the offside rear storage compartment in the cargo area.

3rd Gen: The Jack, extension handle and toolkit are under your rear seat. Each half of the rear seat base is hinged at the front, to lift, pull on the release strap at the centre or the rear of each base half. The strap may have been pushed down the gap between the base and backrest, so be prepared to squeeze your fingers through and rummage.
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What's this 'Winter Pack' I've heard mentioned?

All Models: Japan covers a very large geographical area, covering a range of climates. The northern areas of Japan can endure very low temperatures and all Surfs sold in these areas come fitted with a winter pack. This adds various options to the vehicle, some of which are already fitted to higher spec models or are available also as independent options.
Among the items fitted as part of the winter pack are twin batteries, heated fuel filter, winter spec wiper blades and rear passenger heater.

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Why do I keep sliding the back end in the wet or on roundabouts?

All Models: There are a number of possible reasons for this. Firstly you may be more familiar with the driving characteristics of a front wheel drive (fwd) car. When a Surf is in 2wd (its normal operational mode) it is rear wheel drive, these will naturally have a greater tendency to 'loose' the back end compared to fwd cars, you may need to adjust your driving style accordingly.
The Surf is not the same as a family car, from a construction point of view (with a ladder chassis and separate body) it has more in common with a HGV than a car or even a Transit type van. You must learn to drive it accordingly. It is not built for speed or exceptional road holding, if you want than buy a sports car.
Damaged or worn components in the rear suspension can also cause this to happen, but the biggest culprit tends to be the tyres themselves.
If your Surf still has the original Japanese tyres fitted, these could well be the source of the problem. Tyres for the Japanese domestic market tyres generally use a harder compound than we would. This gives them great thread-life, but as many of us have found terrible grip. This harder compound and longer thread-life coupled with their lower average annual mileage results in tyres still being used years after we would have dumped them, i.e. they can be very, very, old tyres. The rubber compounds can also harden further with age, thus worsening the problem. These tyres will clearly be past their best and will often exhibit many small cracks, or a crazing pattern in the sidewalls and/or between the threads.
Despite possibly having plenty of thread left it is generally advisable to change the Japanese fitted tyres as soon as possible, especially if there is any evidence of cracking or crazing, as once these appear the tyres will not retain the desired handling characteristics, often with greater flex in the sidewalls leading to poorer grip and handling, additionally the chances of a punctures are greatly increased with the very real possibility of suffering a blow-out.
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Can I use vegetable oil in my Surf?

All Models: If you're thinking of using veg oil in your Surf, this is not a decision to be taken lightly. So sorry, you won't get a quick or short answer on this page, you should take the time to read this section here.
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