A few potential faults on the Toyota FJ Cruiser

Mechanics will always have work, as long as there are FJs on the road


“Mechanics will always have work, as long as there are Toyota FJ Cruisers (especially the 2007 model) on the road.” This seems to be an overall feeling, especially considering that the 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser has been rated as the worst model in its class. This rating is based on several factors that brought about problems for its owners. Let us have a look if statements such as these made above, are not blown out of proportion.


Transmission And Drivetrain Issues

Transmission lines

Your vehicle’s transmission lines are typically made of metal or composite aluminium and rubber hoses because they handle the flow of hot transmission fluid. These may become rusted so it is important to have these regularly inspected.

Throw out bearing

Do you at times hear a sharp whirring, rattling or grinding noise when you depress the clutch, which then slowly ebbs away as you release it? Most likely your vehicle’s throw out bearing isn’t working correctly. Have this inspected as soon as possible.

CV Joints

Any loud clicking noise when turning your vehicle? This may be one of the most common and most noticeable symptoms of a bad or failing CV axle shaft assembly. When CV axles become excessively worn, the joints will become loose and click when turning. Have this inspected and replaced.

Transmission shudder

It has been a common complaint that there is a transmission shudder between the 1500 – 1800 rpm’s range. It was initially thought that brakes and bearings were responsible for this, but having them changed did not resolve the issue. The problem with the Toyota FJ Cruisers seems to be either an imbalance in the transfer casing/housing that activates at particular RPMs, or a faulty torque converter, which needs to be replaced. Some owners attempted to flush their vehicles’ transmission but that proved fruitless because the 2007 FJ Cruiser has a sealed transmission with a lifetime transmission fluid. If you experience a shudder in your transmission, follow the best advice and have a professional take a look at your FJ’s transmission.

Slipping gears

Some owners of 2011 FJ Cruisers complained of slipping gears. The problem presents itself as a hard jerking sound when changing from 1st to 2nd gear. The gearbox will start shifting at different revs and ultimately it will slip gears. This issue is closely related to the transmission shudder, as discussed above. The FJ Cruiser surely has immense issues with its transmission.


Fender Tear/Bulge

There are two types of FJ’s, those that have fender bulge/tears and those that don’t have them yet. This typically occurs in the 2008 model. Once the bulge starts, it’s only a matter of time before the tear starts. The fender tear is not a life-threatening issue, but in some extreme cases the front end sags so much it begins to impede the proper opening of the driver and passenger doors. Toyota placed a Band-Aid on later models by redesigning a double layer inner fender, thereby resolving the issue.

FJ Fender Tear


Left Foot Rest Pedal

The clips of the left foot rest pedal may become loose, break or fall off completely. Replacement of the foot rest may be required if this occurs. This is a huge safety issue because it can easily become lodged under brake pedal.


HVAC Ducting System

The Toyota FJ Cruiser may develop an issue with the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, causing noisy and faulty operation of the blend doors. The blend doors are actuated by the selector button and change the direction of airflow to the selected location, i.e. vent, floor, defrost etc. If ever you experience a faulty operation in this regard, have the HVAC inspected and if necessary, have the blend doors replaced.


Fan Belt Noise

A fan belt type noise may develop from the front of the engine. This is commonly caused by a belt idler or pulley issue. Have technicians at your nearest SAC diagnose any fan belt type noise when they arise.


Seat Belt Retractors

Toyota recalled more than 300 000 FJ Cruiser models built between 2007 and 2013. This was done because of a problem involving seat belt retractors. In the FJ Cruiser, the front seatbelts are mounted to the back doors. Ordinarily the front seatbelts would be mounted to a metal pillar between the front and back doors, but the FJ Cruiser has no such pillar. Because of the insufficient strength of the rear door panel, cracks could develop over an extended period of time, especially if the rear doors are repeatedly and forcefully closed. If this happens, the retractor could loosen and detach.



Brake rotors

If ever you experience a shutter when applying the brakes, it may be highly likely that your vehicle’s rotors need to be replaced. Brake rotors (also called brake discs) are what your vehicle’s brake pads clamp down on to stop the wheels from spinning. If they are damaged it will reduce the rotor’s ability to absorb and disperse heat, causing the brake system to overheat. Faulty rotors can progress to the point that the brakes are ineffective and may entirely fail, putting you and your vehicle in danger.

Brake kits

Certain Toyota Racing Development (TRD) brake kits and TRD High-Performance brake kits for Toyota FJ Cruiser models 2007 to 2012 may cause problems. The TRD brake kit is specifically designed for the front wheels of these FJ Cruisers. Due to the shape of the outer brake tube of the brake kit, the clearance between the outer brake tube and a TRD 16 inch 6-spoke alloy wheel is minimal. If wheel balance weights are installed in an incorrect location, there is a possibility that the outer brake tube could be damaged due to interference with the balance weight, and brake fluid could leak from the damaged tube. If this occurs it may result in increased loss of front braking performance, which could increase the risk of a crash. To fix this, the vehicle’s brake calliper hose need to be replaced with a newly designed one.



Ensure to have your Cruiser’s water pump checked for slow leakages. You may also consider checking for crankshaft seal leakages. The oil pressure sensor tends to have its glitches at times so have this inspected as well, and finally, let trained professionals inspect your FJ’s serpentine belt tensioner bearing because this also tends to fail.


Seats: Heater/Cooler

FJ Cruisers in the 2007 – 2010 range has an issue with its electrical wiring in the seat heaters. These may be damaged when the seat cushion is compressed. If damaged, the copper strand heating element may short circuit, increasing the risk of a fire. To remedy this, the seat heaters need to be disconnected and replaced with a seat heater accessory kit.


Air Bags Sensor Module

FJ Cruisers falling in the model years 2009 – 2010 may have a passenger seat occupant sensing system not operating as designed. If the front passenger seat occupant sensing system is out of calibration, the front passenger airbags may either not deploy or deploy inappropriately for the passenger’s size and position. This could increase the risk of personal injury during the event of a vehicle crash necessitating airbag deployment. It should be checked whether this censor is properly calibrated, and if not, this ought to be done.


Tire Pressuring Monitor (TPM)

The TPM on some of the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruisers may not have been properly calibrated and as a result the low tire pressure warning lamp may not illuminate should the inflation pressure in one or more of the vehicle’s tires fall below the threshold for when the warning lamp should illuminate. This may increase the risk of a vehicle being driven with one or more underinflated tires, increasing the risk of tire failure that may lead to an accident. The TPM needs to be checked and recalibrated if required.


Intermediate Steering Shaft

In certain 2014 FJ Cruisers, the intermediate steering shaft, which connects the steering wheel and the steering gear box, may have an inadequate weld. If the intermediate steering shaft weld fails, there would be a loss of steering control, increasing the risk of a vehicle accident.

This brings us to the end of looking at the issues the FJ Cruiser has to dish up for its owners. It seems as if the statements made at the beginning of the FJ Cruiser discussion has not been blown out of proportion. There surely are some issues with the FJ Cruiser. We should nonetheless not label the FJ as an unworthy vehicle. As someone rightly said:

“Sometimes FJ‘s have been known to spew some awesomeness from their tailpipes.”


Related Articles:
Toyota’s FJ Cruiser Gets the SAC Stage 1 Treatment


Within the above article, potential problems, causes and fixes have been identified as founded on the experience of vehicle owners and repairers, online sources such as discussion blogs, technical service bulletins and SAC experience. This information is provided solely for reference purposes. SAC strictly instruct readers that only properly qualified individuals should carry out repairs and/or modifications on your vehicles. It should also be made clear that the number of times an item is identified within this discussion should by no way be seen as an indicator of a model’s reliability or the frequency with which they may occur. Two of the exact same vehicles, owned by tow entirely different owners, driven in entirely different ways and on different terrains, and looked after in their own unique ways, will each behave differently. As mentioned, this information is provided solely for reference purposes but we hope – in the process of doing so – to empower you with relevant information which may enable you to make informative decisions whenever you experience any of the mentioned setbacks.