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RESTORING ANOTHER PROJECT SOARER UZZ32 ACTIVE! and the common problems that always come up.
May 2007 , by Peter Scott

This is a good car - I like driivng it. Especially now that it is all coming together.

Common problem #1. Suspension struts leak oil, boots have split

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No springs, no sway bars, no airbags, no regular shocks - just computer controlled hydraulic active suspension struts.Years of weeping oil had attracted dust and dirt coating the strut. Instant fail for any road worthy test. Typically the boot had started to split. Time to yank them, new seals, new guides, new boots, cut open the accumulators, install new seals, re-gass with nitrogen to the correct pressure and they will be as good as new.

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I bought the complete set of parts to refurbish the top half of the struts. As usual ask for James Sloane at Castle Hill Toyota.
Complete kit comes in at around $1200. Fluid is extra - I always like to extra fluid on hand.

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I used to pull the whole strut out. Now I just unsrew it in half and remove the accumulator and fit all the new parts with the top half still in the car. Saves me time, a vice and I can do everything I want with the strut held firmly. It's so much better. No more mucking around removing the suspension arm or undoing hydraulic lines. In car accumulator removal is the way to go for me (the rears I have to loosen the top bolts to angle the strut to get the accumulator off).

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Accumulators I also get from Peter Taplin. He is continually improving the re-manufacturing process. These ones have new seals and R-134 valves. Although these valves have been upgraded to stainless schrader valves, I do like the ease of push connect fittings to recharge with nitrogen. All four accumulators have been replaced.

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600 psi Nitrogen regulators retail for $440 at BOC. I got myself this Smith regulator from EBAY US for $70 US plus postage. I then bought a $40 type 51 nitrogen fitting from BOC so it would connect to an Australian nitrogen bottle. The bottle I hired from an commercial airconditioning supply place-  $40 for the bottle plus a monthly hire rental of about $8 a month. I just set the regulator to the pressure I want and let it equalise with the accumulator.

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R134 fitting on the left - quick and easy push on fitting, twist the red knob to let the gas in. On the right is the rare schrader valve fitting - it screws on the valve and the T-handle turns to let the gas in.

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The most important thing when gassing the accumulators on the car is to open the bleed valve first. This makes the suspension sink to the floor so I always jack up the car first. With the bleed valve open the floating piston can rise to the top of the accumulator to let nitrogen in the bottom. If the bleed valve isn't open, oil is trapped on top of the piston, it can't move and there is no space below to pressurise nitrogen.

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With the bleed valve open, big car stands holding the car up,  the nitrogen regulator set to 218 psi for the rear accumulators (254 psi for the fronts), I push on the fitting, turn the red knob to open hear that short satisfying whoosh as gas pressures up. Then I close the knob, pull off, do the other side then up to the front. Don't even need to take the wheels off to regas the accumulators. This is so cool. The push on fitting and yellow hose will stay with this car so that the new ower can regas where and when they want. The brake booster accumulator has the same fiting too.

Common problem #2 - after market rims with no hub-centric rings.

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This Soarer had non-genuine rims fitted. While most after market rims come with a large centre bore of  73mm. The Soarer has a 60.1 mm hub. Getting hub centric rings to go from 60.1 to 73mm is a doddle - they are available everywhere for just $20 for a set of four.

These rims have a 70.6 mm hub. Getting rings that go from 60.1mm to 70.6 is hard - they have to be custom made. So fitting these rims to a Soarer (they have the same 5 x 114.3mm stud pattern) means getting custom spigot rings made. I got the above rings made for $60 delivered by express post to Adelaide from Sydney.

Tempe Tyres - Sam was the guy I talked to. 02 9573 1010
860 Princess Highway, Tempe  NSW 2044

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Now that the rings are inserted into the rims-  they will safely bolt up to the Soarer without putting any shear stress on the studs. All after market rims must have these rings installed to prevent stud failure. Every single car leaves the factory with neat fitting hubs and rims. With no spigot rings too much shear stress is put on the studs - failure can result:

Common problem #3  - leather gets old looking.

I installed a Soarer black upgrade pack. Coloured wheels are a bit old fashioned so I went for black leather upgrade for the shifter, handbrake grip, handbrake cover and steering wheel. I then had the plastic buttons, horn pad and steering wheel column covers recoloured to match.

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For this Soarer wheel I went the optional sport grip perforated leather option with contrasting white baseball stitch. My leather guy does all the HSV factory leather and had a pile of wheels ready to go - they looked good so I just asked for the same.

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Common problem #4  - due for a cambelt/ waterpump service

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The water pump was weeping and needed to be replaced. With the labour involved it made sense to replace everything with new stuff. Timing belt, bearings, water pump, caps and rotors, plugs and thermostat and serpentine belts to be replaced.

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I went for new genuine Toyota pump and belt, BOSCH caps and rotors, KOYO tensioner and idler bearings and generic serpentine belts. There is a bearing not shown for the pump idler.


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Getting there. This is only my 2nd timing belt install on a 32-  it's much easier second time around. I always triple check that the timing belt is lined up with the two cams perfectly - I have heard to many bad stories of it being out buy just one tooth. Nothing breaks but the car has no power and won't rev if out by one tooth. That's a re-manufactured air-conditioning compressor as well.

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The great big plate across the front of the engine on the 32 is always a bit of a struggle. I find it gets caught up on the rubber power steering hoses. I'm getting better at it but it ain't much fun. Apparently it's easier on every other 1UZ-FE - but the Actives are all different. Some workshops will quote an extra 5 hours labour doing an Active belt over a regular Soarer, Celsior etc!.

Common problem #5  - hinges stuffed

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The door hinge was worn - so I unplugged the loom from the foot well, supported the door with a trolley jack and wood, and changed it over. The loom goes through the hinge so I thought it would be a bit easier to unplug it from the foot well rather than remove the whole loom from the door. Better than new hinges are now available from Daryl

Common problem #6 - Boot struts failure.

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I bought some of those $48 ebay Soarer boot gas struts. This 1991 model Soarer needed the ones with the nut and bolt end. There are two types I think. I found them hard to install. I ended up removing the clip that holds the bolt, and then pressing the strut as hard as I could to get it on.

Common problem #7 - Door window regulator failed

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Another common Soarer problem- the plastic bit on the window regulator had broke. It is expensive at $240 retail to replace. New one on the left.

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The EMV screen talks to the built in GPS and insists I'm driving in Japan.


Common problem #8 - Transmission shifting from 1st to 3rd - solenoids playing up.

Now and again the trans would short shift 2nd gear and go to third gear. This made the car sluggish. It had happened to my own Soarer years ago and it probably was the solenoids in the trans playing up. I wanted Michael at MV Automatics to put a pair of new solenoids in the trans and give it a service. Before I gave the car to Michael I flushed the trans with copius amounts of fluid!

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For the V8 I always use Toyota T-IV trans fluid.

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To flush the trans I connect a rubber hose to the trans cooler line that exits the radiator on the battery side of the car. Then I start the car for a few seconds, watch the fluid pump into the bottle, turn off refill with new fluid and do it all again. This pumps new fluid through the trans, the torque convertor, the cooler and out into the bottle. When the bottle starts to fill with new looking clear red fluid I stop and refill. Usually takes me around 20 litres to do the job. Correct fluid level is with the car running in park.

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Here is Michael at MV Automatics with the Soarer. I leave it with him all day and catch the train to work from Blackwood to Adelaide. Michael serviced the trans and replaced the solenoids with new ones. The trans is fabulous now.

Common problem #9 - Brake discs, fluid bleed and booster accumulator.

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Front discs had plenty of meat and pad left so a light skim for them

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As usual the rear discs where marginal so new ones for the back. I like Castrol Response4 - easy to get, high boiling point and affordable.

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I always like to remind myself before putting the disc on which way to adjust the handbrake shoes with the screwdriver.

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Handle down and the handbrake gets tight - I like to get it so I just hear it start to touch the hub.

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The rear pads had lots of life left so used my special pad pusher to push the piston back. I bleed the whole system with new brake fluid. Bleeding the TRC booster as per the manual always gives me a nice high firm pedal.

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I removed the accumulator on the master cylinder with the key off and having pressed the brake pedal 40 odd times to release any pressure.

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The accumulator at rest has about 1200 psi of nitrogen above a floating piston when new. I got a Peter Taplin recond job with new seals and a valve on top to top up with nitrogen if needed.

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I made a bit of a too up to remove the accumulator from the master cylinder. Next time I'll just use a pipe wrench - it scratches it a little bit but I don't think it matters. I didn't bother unscrewing the accumulator into top and bottom bits-  the bottom lip is rolled over the thread making to stop it coming apart. Peter Taplin uses a lathe to remove the lip before rebuilding them. New price is around the $400 to $600 mark I hear.

Now the brakes are terrific.

Common problem #10 - Cooling system

Seems like the most common cause of engine failure is top radiator tank failure! I have seen some disasterous top tank failures. Nowadays it is easy to get any radiator repair shop to replace the top tank. My radiator mate reckons the top tank should be replaced regularly like any serviceable item rather than waiting for it to fail and risk destroying the engine due to overheating. Another thing he showed me was scrape marks on the thermostat means it should be replaced too.

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Apparently these marks means it's time for a new thermostat. So I popped on in with fresh coolant.

Common problem #11 - Spark plugs

Genuine platimim plugs should be replaced every 100 000 km. I got these Iridium plugs because that was what my brother provided me-  it wasn't a special preference or anything.  Biggest cause of misfiring I reckon is water in the sparkplug holes. Biggest cause of plug lead failure is changing the plugs and pulling a lead wrong and breaking it. I use a pair of pliers on the plug cap where the grip is - I never touch the actual wire itself - too easy to break and pull out of the cap etc.

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Other UZZ32 links from

279iconb.jpg (7942 bytes) UZZ32 Owners list and other links.



iconregas.jpg (13468 bytes) May 2006

Fitting Schrader Valves to Soarer UZZ32 Active accumulators

Back in 2004 I regassed using needles. This time I wanted a solution that could be regassed without removing the shocks from the car. Looks like the accumulators have to be cut open, resealed and welded back up to make it worthwhile.

2dollartest.gif (34697 bytes) April 2006

Estimating nitrogen volume in Active UZZ32 shocks

High pressure nitrogen forces fluid from the bleed nipple from UZZ32 shocks - I looked at fluid volume expelled and flowrate to estimate good and bad nitrogen accumulators. (moive links fixed)

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September 2005

Cutting open the UZZ32 Nitrogen Accumulator

Active Soarers have piston accumulators that leak nitrogen and cause the dreaded suspension bounce. Here's one cut open with the faulty o-ring exposed before being re-built. Perhaps all accumulators should be opened and res-sealed to make the job last.

nitorgenicon.jpg (49544 bytes) August 2004

Nitrogen recharge of Active Struts - My Active suspension used to be harsh and it bounced when it shouldn't. Now at last it's like new. I wish I did this years ago!

PaperIcon.jpg (8984 bytes) January 2003

Active Suspension and Active 4 wheel Steer  A Toyota technical paper all about the UZZ32 Soarer. Read why it stops quicker, turns sharper and out handles every other Soarer.

fluidbleedicon.jpg (14516 bytes) February 2003

Bleeding the UZZ32 hydraulics   Changing the old suspension hydraulic fluid for new Toyota fluid for a smoother compliant ride and better handling. A successful suspension test is essential for a good bleed.

connectorIcon.jpg (11309 bytes) June 2003

Active Suspension Computer Diagnostics  Richard Ashcroft has a UZZ32 - after an alarm install the suspension wouldn't work! It was a loose plug! Here's the list of all the pinouts for the computer and range of standard values and problem locations.

engineDiagnosticIcon.jpg (11862 bytes) January 2003

Active Suspension Test Detailed instructions on how to make your UZZ32 dance in the driveway - great part trick and terrific for lifting the before an oil change.

U10icon.jpg (8681 bytes) October 2002

UZZ30 Owner drives the Active UZZ32  - Peter Kerwin, a UZZ30 (US spec SC400) owner, looks at both the UZZ30 and UZZ32, features, ride, cornering/handling and loud exhausts.

lg31.jpg (24468 bytes) February 2003

UZZ32 in a Magazine   Martin Donnon is HPI editor of HPI, he drives my UZZ32, order back issues too. Look carefully on the left hand side of the cover and you will see "ACTIVE SOARER" - that's the bit about my car. Back order issue number 31.

rearshock2icon.jpg (10335 bytes) February 2003

UZZ32 Active Shock rebuild   - $160 gets you the parts you need - not that complicated.

raceicon.jpg (7498 bytes) Race Pics - Gallery of Soarer Race Pics. Some wallpapers. More UZZ32 pics on the circuit


iconvideos.jpg (7388 bytes) The Active and Twin Turbo doing circle work in Japan.

back to Planet Soarer

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Same speed, same corner - UZZ32 looks like it's just parked there but check the tortured tyres - it's really moving.

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Blank switch between TRC and Height is only distinguishing feature on a '32 without looking at mechanicals. Outside the car look for the rear steering rack above the diff, in the engine bay look for rubber shock boots that say Active and UZZ32 prefix on firewall chassis number.