more Encounters

chronol. Sequence






in Deutsch

Ups and downs with:   TOYOTA

1982-1984 Switzerland:

From buying the LandCruiser FJ60 "surviving" the warranty until we owned a "worldworthy" 4x4-automobile

Our history with the Toyota distributors around the world started actually already two years before we left Switzerland – exactly the moment when we decided to buy a LandCruiser. Although at that time, i.e. spring 1982, we never had in mind to start a “never ending” journey, the possibility to have some adventure tempted us so much, that we chose this particular 4x4 vehicle. It offered not only the necessary length to sleep inside; also the engine had enough power for some odd escapades. Besides it was cheaper than e.g. Nissan – then still Datsun Patrol -, more robust than an American Blazer but still more “elegant” and more comfortable than a Landrover 109. The Mercedes agency was so snobbish, when we asked for the G300 Station Wagon, that we immediately turned around and left – probably the cause was the Citroen 2CV – our “little brown duck”– which we parked just in front of the sophisticated showroom.

May 1982 arrived and we received our blue FJ60 at Zurich’s biggest Toyota dealer ‘Emil Frey AG’, located at the Badenerstrasse. Already ordering it some months before, we wished to have a rear differential lock, an alarm system and additional beaming headlights. Brand-new as it was, we immediately started to adjust it to our personal needs: Roof rack, bigger gasoline tank and a possibility to sleep in the car behind the newly built in Recaro seats in the front. But also a “fashionable” winch had to decorate our bonnet. Although the sales lady of Emil Frey AG would have liked to sell this item, we drove to Nuremberg in Germany, where we bought it considerably cheaper. Equipped like that, we started in summer our first holiday trip to Iceland. But already soon after leaving home – we intended to drive via Basle – Luxembourg – Oostende – England to Scotland to embark there on the ferry to Iceland – the engine began to falter on the hill over the Boezberg. With the newly acquired tools we fumbled on the carburetor – without any success. Consequently we turned back, and driving downhill, the engine cooled down considerably and run normally again. As we experienced the same result at our second try, we definitively returned back home, changed the luggage into our second car – a Citroen 2CV, the good old duck – and took off with it direction Southern France. After the holidays we drove our LandCruiser back to Emil Frey to have it inspected thoroughly under warranty.

The sales lady blamed immediately the winch for the troubles: The radiator wouldn’t get enough air, what causes overheating and finally bubbles in the carburetor. Only after we were able to proof that our winch corresponds exactly to theirs, she was looking to find another excuse, which was the bigger tank – wrongly built in! Very soon it showed that not the tank itself was guilty, but the sand which was found in it. Some “envier” was so nice to throw a hand full of sand into the not lockable gas. Inevitably the cleaning of the container wasn’t taken over by the warranty but had to be paid by ourselves.

Shortly afterward we needed to know a detail about the alarm system, but our sales lady wasn’t informed und referred us to the distributor, who obviously installed all add-ons. Upon calling him, our question was immediately answered und just casually we mentioned the installment of the differential lock. The surprising reply was that there was never an installation of any lock done – that’s for sure! Back at the sales counter, the subdued answer was that it was simply forgotten, although we had already to pay it while ordering. Of course, now this problem was quickly solved, but what would have happened before, if we were in need for a locked differential?

1983 started and we decided to retry the Iceland adventure at the beginning of May - the same preparations, the same routes! Without any problems we made it to Luxembourg. Then the car had to climb a small hill – in the meantime the temperature was rising constantly the more northerly we drove – and oops! A new faltering of the engine. At this moment we were aware that there was no sand in the tank – firstly we had a lockable cover now and secondly we filled up before leaving Switzerland.

What are we going to do, as exactly one week later the one-year warranty was going to end? Shall we continue or shall we turn back? Because we had a bad feeling about the overheating, we decided to return again. One day later – it was a Saturday – we arrived back at our apartment. Luckily Liliana new of a lawyer, and while she was explaining the situation to him and asking him if he would represent our interests against Emil Frey AG concerning the warranty of our vehicle, Emil called some airlines to check whether there would be some places to any destination. By then still named Swissair – the airline offered two seats the following day to South Africa. As we never visited this part of the world, we just accepted. Immediately, we cleared our LandCruiser from the luggage and drove it to Emil Frey’s workshop, where we left it to the salesman on duty and told him that our lawyer will take over on Monday.

The four weeks of holidays with a rented motor home in South Africa and Malawi passed quickly, and on the first working day back home, we got a very obliging and cooperative phone call from Toyota Switzerland in Safenwil, the Swiss distributor. They apparently knew about the overheating troubles, particularly with a mounted winch and very high outside temperatures: The original mechanical gasoline pump showed to be not powerful enough. They promised to look at it and find another solution. The time factor was the only issue – everything else would be treated as warranty.

We accepted immediately the proposal to bring our LandCruiser for a longer period to Safenwil, where it was taken into the own research center, as we still had our Citroen 2CV! Due to our very positive camping experiences in Southern Africa, more and more the desire popped up to leave once for a longer period – probably even for one or maximum two years. Africa became then definitively the goal, because this continent promises still real adventures. And we felt very positively about our car’s special treatment and had therefore no worries in crossing the “black continent”, despite that we failed twice on Iceland.

On the few occasions that we visited our LandCruiser in the research center, we really had the impression that the technicians in Safenwil knew their job and tried to achieve the best results for us. Finally we were informed that we can fetch our “baby” - $5000 for work and parts have been invested, guaranteeing that a new overheating wouldn’t happen again. Having had so many troubles in the past, we were offered a full day to refresh our knowledge of car repairs and maintenance with an apprentice instructor – everything for free under warranty. Because of the really generous treatment of the Toyota distributor, we were finally convinced to have bought the right vehicle. Just to anticipate it: We really didn’t experience an overheating problem again during the coming 250’000 miles – the promise of the Swiss Toyota distributor proved to be true.