CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

1984 landcruiser, Needs A/C

My family and I need a new car and we cant spend much. we found a 1984 toyota landcrusier that is big engouh, and “runs well” according to the sign in the window, but it dosent have A/C. Its only 3500, so Im wondering if it would be worth it to get the car and have the A/C fixed.

Doesn’t have AC, or doesn’t have working AC? There’s a big difference.

This is an older vehicle that would have used R13 refrigerant if it originally came with AC. You can’t buy R12 anymore, so you’d have to have it converted to use the new R134a refrigerant. This could easily cost $1,000, depending on why the original AC isn’t working.

If the vehicle never had AC from the factory, the cost to install it now would probably equal the asking price. And even then you’d have a 25 year old vehicle. How many miles on this beast, anyway?

Landcrushers are generally considered to be reliable, but they’re not cheap to own or operate, and with any vehicle this old there are no guarantees. You could easily triple your money in a year or two. Have you examined and driven this vehicle, or are you just trusting the sign in the window?

Can’t you find anything a little newer?

A lot of vehicles from this era never came from the factory with A/C and many of the A/C units were either dealer installed or port installed.

Assuming this vehicle never had A/C to begin with, you should do some calling around to see if a complete A/C kit can be located. The kits come in a big box with everything included and the plus side of this is that the A/C install should be comparatively easy.

I’ve never done an install on a Landcruiser but have done many on Subarus, Hondas, and Nissans. Generally speaking, the Asian vehicles are comparatively simple to add an A/C unit to.

My memory is fuzzy as it’s been a while since I did one but most A/C installs usually paid about 3 to 5 hours labor; dependent on car make and model of course.
Price the kit and verify the labor is not out of line first and this might be a doable deal.

If the vehicle does have A/C and it’s not working odds are it likely needs a compressor and drier. Ballparking on that (varies a lot by locale, etc.) one could figure on a grand, give or take.

This vehicle is good for an offroader or third world, not a family.

If you live in the US have you thought of a <10 year old Ford Explorer or Dodge Caravan? The safety is factor of these vehicles is liked 10 or 100 fold over an old tin can Land Cruiser.