Took a rejuvenated Fuggly and got her dirty for the first time down here in SW Florida's Picayune Strand Forest. The deep mud holes that are prevalent in summer months are dried up which opens up a lot of trails. Last year's big fires and recent Hurricane Irma left many areas looking like war zones but it's all on the mend. My son led the charge in his black XJ and showed the old man how it's done.

I've read the rave reviews here and elsewhere but the Montero still surprised me with its off-road capability. The 34-inch Treadwright AT tires did turn to slicks in the mud we found, but they went over and through deep sugar sand like nobody's business -- usually without the need to shift into 4WD. I'm leaning toward downsizing tires for highway travel but the way the big, wide ATs handled dirt gives me real pause there.


Four issues with the Monty:

1. Still has a tendency to overheat when goosed. The gauge would rise to about the 3/4 mark after a higher-rev run through sand and then -- when I slowed down -- creep back to the midpoint mark. And it's legit heat -- not the result of the notorious faulty gauge. Pretty maddening since I've replaced thermostat, upper and lower hoses, coolant, and radiator. Was hoping the new timing belt and water pump would stop all of the fluctuating heat crap but no dice. I'm running out of options save for maybe a dying fan clutch -- I'll check that next with the old "turn off truck and see if fan still spins" trick.

2. Took a short drive last PM and heard water dripping on metal when I got out. Climbed under the truck and saw water dripping fairly steadily off of a transmission sensor and then off the side of the tranny pan. Fairly sure it's just water (no color or coolant smell, almost like AC evap) but I can't figure out why water would flow down the middle of the truck?

3. 4WD worked well in both high and low but once engaged the front diff made a clicking sound that increased in proportion to RPMs. Will be taking a closer look at it later today and will likely start by greasing the front axle vacuum actuator rod as described by poster Sabre here.

4. Still rattles and hums like a son-of-a-gun which I'm hoping new tires and wheels will fix.


Regardless, the build continues, if slowly. Installing a double-din head unit later this week and then it'll be tires, rims, suspension. Also eyeing the big-arse back door for camping-related mods.



On the overheating side, you did use an OEM thermostat right? :ylsmoke:

Personally I didn't and haven't had any issues, but there are plenty of stories on the boards about people running into issues with new - but still bad - thermostats. Other things to check are to really verify that the system has been well bled, there are several threads floating around regarding elevating the front end and cracking the bleeder screws. This probably wouldn't cause a heat issue, but it could be related to an indicated heat issue.

Sludge/crap in the radiators is also often mentioned on the forums, though I didn't have any problem with mine.
Thanks, coffeegoat. No, I did not use an OEM thermostat -- I installed a MotorAd "FailSafe" thermostat from RockAuto as insurance against the persistent overheating issues. If I keep having issues I'll tear it out and go OEM.

"there are several threads floating around regarding elevating the front end and cracking the bleeder screws. This probably wouldn't cause a heat issue, but it could be related to an indicated heat issue."

One of those threads (or at last comments) is actually mine. In my endless searching I found a suggestion on an Aussie board to elevate the front of the Monty to push bubbles up and out of the open cap. Dude said trapped air was a common if often overlooked problem in the Pajeros. Add the faulty temp gauge that affects so many Montys and you've got a real confusing scenario. Tried the bleed screws and elevated front-end thing before the radiator install and it seemed to work for a time. Tried it again last night, in fact. So it's said, even tiny hills are tough to find in SW Florida. :)


"Sludge/crap in the radiators is also often mentioned on the forums, though I didn't have any problem with mine."

I read that as well so I ponied up for a new one as part of the recent maintenance work. Ah, well, I'll keep plugging away at it until it's fixed. Truth be told I've never been one of those gifted types who intuits a problem and casually fixes it with a multi-tool on their lunch break. I'm a proud member of the busted knuckles, overlook the obvious, repeat the same mistake, lost the socket head again, wasted motion, wildly creative cursing of inanimate objects school of auto repair.
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Michael Brown

Try to look in the valley of the engine under the intake manifold for coolant leaks. A bad o-ring in the back of the water pump housing was the source of my overheating issues for about a year. It would dry before reaching pavement, but caused air bubbles and coolant loss. I also had to clean the overflow tank lines as they had become clogged with junk.
Thanks, Michael. You had mentioned that to me before and I've passed it on to my mechanic. Good news is that he asked me to bring the Monty right back in yesterday after I mentioned that water was dripping down the center of the motor. He thinks it could be AC condensation but is going to take stuff apart and have a good look.

When I get her back I'm going to have a look at the front axle vacuum actuator rod to see if it's the source of the strange clicking while the 4x4 is engaged.

Great trucks, but I'm picking up on the fact that it's always something.


You would have to go through the whole truck for the most part if you want it to be 100% done. I mean as an older vehicle there are going to be details to be done all the time. I'm getting ready to pick up where I left which is valve guide seals, they were fine, now 35k+ miles later not so much so this time I will fine tune some stuff that is more cosmetic than functional. Keep it up it gets fun to know you fixed all those little issues and completed the maintenance.
Yeah, I'm familiar with older vehicles -- owned a lot of them and I accept the fact that all things deteriorate over time. Even older 4Runners -- for my money the gold standard for 4x4 SUV reliability -- keep their owners hopping...all the more so if used regularly offroad.

Mechanic could not duplicate the overheating issue. Ain't that the way? Also says the water dripping down the block is AC-related...which just seems wrong. I'll keep poking around to see what I can uncover there. I did lube up the axle vacuum actuator rod (per Sabre's recommendation in another thread) and seems to me the clicking sound that appeared when the front wheels were engaged is quieter now. Thanks, all.

Michael Brown

Clicking noise might also be the U-joint in the front driveshaft. It has a grease fitting that needs to be serviced occasionally. If the bearings are bad, then it can be replaced or fixed at a local driveshaft shop.
Hard to believe that I first posted about Fuggly back in October of last year. I envisioned this build proceeding quick, linear fashion but it has instead taken a labored, winding route. Such is life. Fuggly has come a long way under my watch, regardless. Beyond the mechanical and cosmetic upgrades detailed above I've also added:

- 265/75/16 KO2s all around
- 1mm offset Fuel wheels with centering rings
- eBay-sources crossbars
- Yakima rooftop box (Craigslist, $100)
- Hood guard (stolen off my wife's 2003 Grand Cherokee)
- Double-din JVC head unit
- a host of smaller items such as first aid kit, heavy duty scissor jack, tire puncture kit, portable air compressor, Rhino shackle hitch receiver, tow strap, Weathertech cargo liner, collapsible cargo storage, and more.


Beyond those additions she's had two tie rods replaced and been road force balanced and I fixed her twerky rearview mirrors with a liberal dose of hot glue.


Is Fuggly perfect now? No. Despite a lot of effort and expense a slight vibration persists through the steering wheel, especially at higher speeds. Maddening. I'm now convinced that these trucks just don't handle alterations to tires and suspension very well. The gauge still jumps up to High regularly then scales right back down; I'll attempt to fix this common issue by re-soldering the R10 resister soon. I need to trim some wheel-well plastic to remedy a slight rubbing issue, there's still a click up front when 4L is engaged, and the back door still shakes like a rent-by-the-hour motel vibra-bed. But I love the truck and so do the wife and kiddos. Its offroad ability has surprised me, it's comfortable for the entire fambly, it's comically easy to maneuver despite its considerable size, and its debadged state sparks a lot of puzzled looks and "What in the hell is that thing, a Toyoter?" comments.


Anyhoo, nine months or so after purchase Ole Fuggly is finally ready for her first cross-country jaunt. I'll be heading up to the Boone, NC area in June to do some light offroading, camping, hiking and fly fishing in Cherokee National Park. I'm fired up to see how Fuggly fares on a long trip and in a hilly environment rather than Florida's flat terrain. I'll post a trip report at some point. And the Fug's evolution is not yet complete. Once the vacation dust settles I plan to install a complete Dobinson's 2" lift kit which I will of course provide my thoughts on in here.


Thanks again for the fantastic support and advice.
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New member
Great thread!

Just purchased my 2002 a few weeks ago and been waiting for parts/tools to come in to start getting it up to snuff as you have. Excited to start driving it....one day. Yours looks great so far.
Great thread!

Just purchased my 2002 a few weeks ago and been waiting for parts/tools to come in to start getting it up to snuff as you have. Excited to start driving it....one day. Yours looks great so far.
Thanks, and congrats on your purchase. I've discovered that Gen 3s have some maddening characteristics but they're great trucks. Hope you enjoy the process as much as I have. A number of folks in here were kind to me whan I was just getting started. Michael Brown was especially helpful. If you're interested I'll gladly forward the info he sent my way via PM. I can assure you that it will steer you in the right direction re: avoiding common issues and maintaining your Monty properly. Just let me know. And don't forget to join the Montero USA Facebook group for almost real-time feedback.


New member
Please do send it!

I'm starting off having to do some suspension repairs before I can get to the regular maintenance, but figure I'll be spending the next year or so doing what I can when I can to get it ready for another 100k or so miles of driving.
nam, the rear tint was darker than stock -- I just had the two front windows tinted at 10% and it matched pretty well. Also had a strip added across top of windshield.