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Hijet Renovation & Upgrade Project

Discussion in 'Daihatsu Hi jet' started by Liberty4Ever, Sep 8, 2022.

  1. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    I've seen the gear motors that protrude into the cab, replacing the hand cranks. I don't want those because there's very little leg room in the Hijet and they'd bang into my legs. They're also ugly as sin. I hope I can find some power window kits that mount in the doors of the Hijet. Modern vehicles have spoiled me and cranking down windows manually now seems so 1974.
    Slashaar likes this.
  2. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    Hijet - Impressions After One Month

    I couldn't be happier. The 4WD Hijet is a ton of fun to drive and even more practical than I expected. I get a lot of smiles, waves and thumbs up, so other people are also enjoying my mini truck. I'm zooming around town. It's easy to drive, very maneuverable, and I love pulling into a parking space that's now luxuriously spacious.

    I've driven the Hijet 403 miles in the past month, almost exclusively running errands around town. That's more driving than I usually do. I work at home and usually drive 3,000 to 4,000 miles per year. My 4Runner has been parked for the last month except for two times when I drove it to keep the battery charged and to carry some cargo that I didn't want to get wet.

    I've been doing minor repairs, maintenance that may have been neglected by the previous owner (a Japanese farmer who knew the truck was going to be sold), and some minor upgrades. I'm looking forward to the warm weather any day now so I can do some larger maintenance and upgrade projects.

    I made a spreadsheet to keep track of the Hijet mileage. I'm getting 31 MPG driving around town, and that's revving it out to accelerate with US urban traffic, and with a lot of stop and go driving. I'm definitely not driving it for maximum mileage. After the 4Runner, it's odd to only put 7 gallons in the Hijet. That's more like a fill up on my motorcycle. I had some $100 fill ups in the 4Runner. That's another reason to like the Hijet. It's a 4WD billy goat of a pickup truck with better cargo capacity than the Tacoma it replaced, and the Hijet gets 31 MPG.

  3. maboyce

    maboyce Active Member

    I've been enjoying this thread, since we have very similar trucks. You said earlier you got insurance through Geico - do you know which type of insurance they sold you? Was it the agreed value policy for 'classic cars', or regular liability? I just got denied by Geico saying they don't insure RHD vehicles, but I was trying for regular liability with no mileage limit (and no requirement for a locked garage, which I don't have).
  4. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    Your comment was a bit premature. I was already planning a follow-up post on my insurance saga. Short recap - GEICO initially told me that they wouldn't insure the Hijet, but a few months later when I had the Hijet I called them and they insured it. A few months passed and I got an email saying the VIN wasn't valid. I tried to resolve the issue online and couldn't. I was going to call and speak to a person to reassure them that the shorter chassis number is the equivalent of a VIN when I received a computer generated form letter from GEICO saying they are dropping my Hijet at the end of June. When registering a newly imported vehicle, try to finagle it so the registration has a 17 digit VIN, maybe by padding it with zeroes or something. That might make it easier to insure.

    I'm searching for another insurer for ALL of our vehicles (4Runner, RAV4, Hijet and G310GS motorcycle). Suggestions welcome!

    I'll make the revised insurance post when I have found a new insurer. Insurance is one of the pains of owning a JDM vehicle. :-(

    I have other posts to make soon - battery cover, dash cam, replaced air filter (periodic maintenance), replaced fuel filter and probably fuel lines (the Hijet now stutters and stops at extended high speeds, probably from fuel exhaustion), etc. My working theory is that the ethanol in US gasoline might be attacking the fuel lines that were manufactured before alcohol was a gasoline additive. The rubber lining in the fuel lines may be breaking down. If so, there's a much longer line from the fuel filter to the carburetor and that line isn't filtered, so there could be little chunks of rubber in the carburetor. I hope not. I haven't read of other Hijet owners having decomposing fuel lines, but maybe they have. I anticipated this possible problem. I now wish I'd replaced the fuel filter and all fuel lines as soon as my Hijet was imported. This is the type of problem that can be much easier to prevent than fix.

    Edit To Add: 27JUN23 - I don't think the problem is ethanol in the fuel, and even if I did the fuel line from the fuel pump behind the right rear wheel to the engine is stainless so ethanol wouldn't attack that. I now believe the problem is a small bit of crud that somehow made it into the fuel pump that was intermittently jamming the fuel pump, stalling it and overheating it. It's happened four times, and each time the problem disappeared after a few minutes. The problem hasn't happened in approximately a month, but the fuel pump was hot to the touch when it last happened.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2023
    Slashaar likes this.
  5. maboyce

    maboyce Active Member

    Ah, that's too bad. I had a grey-market Mercedes with a (slightly) short VIN that they insured for nearly a decade. I think that Hagerty is going to be my only option soon (I don't have a locking garage, which is a requirement of a lot of the other 'classic' coverages).
  6. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    Hagerty initially told me they'd insure the Hijet, but after I imported it and called for insurance, they told me they would only insure the Hijet as a display vehicle. I think the rules were garage parked, and a very limited number of miles per year to drive to car shows or maybe trailer transport to car shows. They weren't interested in insuring the Hijet as a daily driver, even in my limited use case of probably 2000 and no more than 3000 miles per year. Hopefully you have better luck with Hagerty. YMMV. We have some weird insurance laws in Kentucky that prevent many companies from competing here, which drives up the prices.

    Please let me know if you find an insurer for your Hijet.
  7. Jigs-n-fixtures

    Jigs-n-fixtures Well-Known Member

    correct addition to the VIN is I think, three Alphas which say it was manufactured in Japan by Daihatsu, and then enough zeros to pad it out. You could probably figure it out by looking up what the designators for Daihatsu are, for your year. The J is Japan, D is Daihatsu, and the third letter is a short code for the year. Then enough zeros are inserted to get the correct number of characters.

    Hopefully one of the guys with a Left hand drive can chime in with the leader on their vin. It would be everything to the left of 81, 83 or 100, or 110. I think it is JDH000. but
    maboyce likes this.
  8. Jigs-n-fixtures

    Jigs-n-fixtures Well-Known Member

    Some of the vans had the power windows, so the correct regulators are out there. Check the online parts catalog for an Atrai of the correct year and see what you find. If you have the part number, you can thne contact the Japanese used parts market, and possibly get a pair of regulators, and the switch set.
    Liberty4Ever likes this.
  9. JMM

    JMM Member

    Hey guys,

    Erie insurance knows how to handle the short VIN of a JDM. They are not cheap (they know they have you over a barrel) and though I've never had a claim I hear they can be a PITA, but at the end of the day they knew how to manage the Hijet.

    PS: I've been a Hagerty customer for 20 years, and they told me to pound sand.
    Liberty4Ever likes this.
  10. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    I just did an online quote for a 1996 Hijet, 1998 RAV4, 2005 4Runner, for me and my wife, 4000 miles each per year (a little high for me and probably three times what my wife drives). No tickets. No accidents. Multi-policy discount for homeowners insurance. With the least coverage and highest deductibles, it was $2261 per year. Yikes! And I thought GEICO was ripping me off.
  11. JMM

    JMM Member

    We only use Erie for the Hijet, other cars at a mainstream ins. company. Erie charges $600/yr. It's highway robbery, but they were a last resort if I want to drive this on the...highway.
    Slashaar, maboyce and Liberty4Ever like this.
  12. maboyce

    maboyce Active Member

    It's nice to know there's a backstop, even at that price. It does look like they only provide coverage within three states' distance of Pennsylvania, so they won't be able to help me on the West Coast. I bet the principle of finding a smaller insurer is sound, though.
    Liberty4Ever likes this.
  13. Jigs-n-fixtures

    Jigs-n-fixtures Well-Known Member

    My insurance is through progressive. I think it is around $200 per year for liability only. My agent knew how to pad the serial/chassis number to convert it to a “VIN”
    Liberty4Ever likes this.
  14. Jigs-n-fixtures

    Jigs-n-fixtures Well-Known Member

    Did a bit of looking online. Daihatsu’s Designator for VINs is either JD1 or JD2. So to convert the chassis number to a VIN start with the JD1 or JD2, and add enough zeros between there and your chassis number to get 17 characters. Not really valid, but it will work for most things.

    I just did a thread in General Truck Info, on How to make up a pseudo VIN for a minitruck.
    Last edited: May 2, 2023
    maboyce likes this.
  15. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    I don't want three insurance companies including the motorcycle, or four including the house, but I very well may need to have a separate insurer for the Hijet. My goal is to find a small insurance company with reasonable rates because they aren't spending billions of dollars a year on nationwide advertising, and get fairly minimal coverage for our very minimal driving, on all of our vehicles.

    My current insurance lapses at the end of June. I'll contact a local agent or two who know the insurance game and hopefully let them earn a commission by finding me a reasonable quote on our very little bit of driving. My state has some stupid insurance laws that limit competition by keeping most insurance companies out of the state which drives up the price.

    Insurance is a racket. It mostly operates as a cartel as they all share information and can fix prices. The problem started when governments mandated this product for everyone. Mandatory liability insurance was sold as a good idea to protect us from people driving without insurance, but both accidents I've had, the person at fault had no insurance so that was obviously a lie. Mandatory insurance forces me to pay for their insurance. This wealth redistribution is legislated socialism. The last accident, the guy claimed his brakes failed, and the cops knew he was lying. They let him drive home, ostensibly with no brakes and definitely with no insurance.
  16. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    Hijet - Replaced Air Filter

    I replaced the air filter. G&R Imports, $19. CNBF #17801-87512. Click the thumbnails for a larger view.


    Here's the inside of the air filter housing once I wiped out most of the yellow Japanese farm dirt.


    Hijet - Replaced Fuel Filter

    I'd experienced a couple of sputtering stops while driving under larger engine load. It seemed like fuel exhaustion. I replaced the fuel filter. G&R Imports, $13. K84811001A, Alpha Motor (Taiwan) #23300-87502.


    Here's an image that shows the fuel system. The fuel flows from the tank through the fuel filter to the electric fuel pump and to the carburetor via a stainless fuel line.


    Here are the tools I used. The new fuel filter is on the left. The red handled tool is the hose removal pliers (Amazon #B07G5QSQFQ) which aren't necessary but are highly recommended. I used the small needle nose vise grips to compress the spring loaded hose clamps so I could move them out of the way and to pinch the rubber fuel line to prevent fuel from leaking when I disconnected the fuel filter as shown in the next two images.


    Hijet-FuelFilter-HoseClampReinstall-20230503_150511.jpg Hijet-FuelLinePinch-20230503_150736.jpg

    I'd like to replace all the rubber fuel line with new ethanol resistant fuel line throughout. The plastic barbed fittings on the fuel filter are 6.9 mm OD, so 6 mm ID fuel line should fit properly. The fuel line didn’t seem to be deteriorating, at least not much. I was concerned that ethanol in US gasoline might be dissolving the inside of the old fuel line that probably isn't formulated for alcohol fuels. There are a few feet of rubber fuel line from the tank to the fuel filter, less than a foot to the fuel pump, and maybe a foot to the stainless rigid tubing that runs to the carburetor.

    I cut open the old fuel filter. It was very dirty on the outside, with a lot of yellow Japanese farm dirt. Inside, the pleated paper was impregnated with some fine muddy looking rust that may have been enough to reduce the flow rate, particularly when the fuel level in the tank is low so there isn't much head pressure for gravity flow.


    This might have been the original fuel filter.

    The 11 km test drive went well, although there was too much traffic to get up to speed to thoroughly test for maximum fuel delivery rate.

    The brake warning light is now intermittently illuminated so I need to diagnose that new problem.


    The brake fluid level is at the low end of normal. Probably brake drum wear. I expected some maintenance issues on a 27 year old farm truck, and my Hijet is living up to those expectations. On the plus side, the parts are fairly inexpensive and the maintenance is simple... at least so far.
    Slashaar and maboyce like this.
  17. Jigs-n-fixtures

    Jigs-n-fixtures Well-Known Member

    Japanese gasoline has ethanol. Less than in the US, but around 2%. The fuel line is probably ethanol resistant.
    Slashaar likes this.
  18. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    I was concerned that Japan wasn't using ethanol in gasoline when my 1996 Hijet was built. The gasoline I've been buying is 10% ethanol, a significant increase from the 1-2% used in Japan. I didn't see any visual evidence that the fuel line was degrading. I gave the Hijet a good test today and the new fuel filter seems to have fixed the fuel exhaustion problem. If it occurs again, I'll replace the fuel filter and fuel line.
    Slashaar likes this.
  19. maboyce

    maboyce Active Member

    I like those hose pliers - compressing a hose instead of stretching it should make it a lot easier to get off.
    Slashaar and Liberty4Ever like this.
  20. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    Hoses are simple and seem like no big deal, but they can be very frustrating and time consuming for the home mechanic. Pulling on a hose is like Chinese finger cuffs. The more you pull the tighter they become. The hose pliers were a good investment. I was very pleased with the quality considering the low price.
  21. maboyce

    maboyce Active Member

    How are you doing with insurance? I just bought coverage with Safeco through my credit union. The agent said Progressive would also have taken me, but at a much higher cost. Safeco used to be one of our regional companies until they were bought by Liberty Mutual, so they might be available to you now. PEMCO are our other regional carrier, but they declined.

    My 'VIN' on the title is just the chassis number without the hyphen, and in the Safeco system it's padded with 1s at the right end.

    I actually went with 250/500/100 limits, plus collision and comprehensive. It should be about $50 - $60 a month.

    All this assumes an underwriter actually saw my info, and I'm not going to get a cancellation notice two months from now once they do see what they just insured...
  22. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    I have a couple of quotes in the works. I need to follow up with both but have had a few days of nonstop issues that have kept me busy. I should have some quotes soon.

    I'm going to try to get minimal liability insurance on my Hijet. I figure it's such an oddball that an insurance company wouldn't have any idea how to write a comprehensive policy when it's difficult to find parts and a mechanic to work on it. I thought about asking for a full replacement policy on my $264 Hijet. o_O
  23. maboyce

    maboyce Active Member

    Actually, the only value they asked me was the value of the truck when new (I used $8,000), so your low purchase price might not be an obstacle to comprehensive/collision. I'm not sure what they consider the depreciated value to be right now, of course... I feel like the fully depreciated value of any vehicle with no significant mechanical problems is $8 - $10,000 nowadays, at least.
  24. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    I joke about the $264 purchase price, except when paying the 25% Chicken Tax import duty on light trucks and when paying state sales tax. With insurance agents, I tell them I paid $264 for the truck, $1935 to ship it, and have $5600 invested in the truck so far, will probably top out around $7500 plus sweat equity, and comparable trucks sell for $10,000 and up.

  25. DeadEyeGuy

    DeadEyeGuy New Member

    This has been a great thread to read for new diahatsu owners (we don't have a lot of love on youtube)
    Have you done a wheels and tire upgrade at all? I didn't see anything might have missed it
  26. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    I have 70% of my Hijet To Do list to go, but have lost some momentum this summer. For the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to spend a few hours to finish fabricating and installing my battery cover.

    My wheel plan is fairly simple. I'll order a set of Yokohama Super Digger II or Geolander tires (probably 5 so I have a new spare as well). I'll do the wheels one at a time, myself. Remove the old tire, blast the rust off the rim, alcohol wipe it to clean and prep the surface and powder coat the rim, baking it in an insulated temperature controlled heated box I make myself as a powder coat curing oven. I'm an electrical engineer and programmable temperature controllers are cheap. In fact, I already have the electrical stuff left over from a previous project so all I need to buy is fiberglass boards to build the oven. Then I'll install the new tires using some heavy duty motorcycle tire irons I have. Apparently, these little mini truck tires aren't that hard to install. I'll use the supports from the powder coat oven to statically balance the wheels with stick-on wheel weights, just like balancing a motorcycle tire.

    I thought about larger tires for better off road performance but my little Hijet does very well off road with the Dunlop Enasave street tires with almost no tread, as long as the surface is firm and not muddy. I drive almost entirely on the street and even when I go off road I don't climb over big rocks and ruts, so I probably don't need larger tires, although a larger sidewall would soften the harsh ride. My solution for that is a two inch lift and progressive rate springs on the front and good shocks in the back. I don't want to increase the effective gearing ratio with larger tires because that prevents the little engine from revving out to produce peak power that's needed for top speed. I usually drive 60 MPH but I'd like to have the ability to go 70 MPH on occasion. I can tolerate a little more road noise from the more aggressive tread on the Super Digger II tires.

    The brake light came on so I'm going to need to install new brakes on my Hijet soon. I hope to eventually have everything caught up so it will go a while without needed maintenance, although it is fortunately easy to service and maintain.

    The big project will be sanding, some minor body work, and then painting the Hijet inside and out with Medium Quartz Gray Monstaliner bed liner, probably in July or August when it's hot and I can rely on a few days without rain. A snazzy paint job will spruce it up a lot and make it no longer an old Japanese farm truck.

    I'm still daily driving the Hijet, and still loving it. It's the only one in the county so I get a lot of smiles, waves, thumbs up, and positive comments. I've been hauling huge loads of limbs to the county's compost pad several miles away, hauling a 25 foot tall cherry tree cut up into firewood to a friend's farm probably 20 miles away, etc. I force myself to drive my 4Runner once a week to keep the battery charged. Compared to the Hijet, the 4Runner feels like a barge.
  27. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    Insurance Update

    After GEICO said they wouldn't insure my Hijet, then insured it after I bought it, then sent me a cancellation notice a few months later when they decided they didn't want to insure a JDM kei truck that didn't have a 17 digit VIN, I switched all three of my vehicles to an insurer who would cover the Hijet. A few companies wouldn't quote the Hijet, but I got decent quotes from Eerie and Kentucky Farm Bureau, which had the best price. I went with them. I also liked the company and the agent was friendly. If you're in Kentucky, I recommend Kentucky Farm Bureau for mini truck insurance. You might also try Eerie. Both companies had cheaper rates than GEICO... before GEICO cancelled my Hijet insurance. When my motorcycle insurance lapses in October, I'll be moving that to Kentucky Farm Bureau as well.
    Slashaar and maboyce like this.
  28. Jaiden

    Jaiden New Member

    What filter did you buy? im looking here under my 96 and the fuel filter has two inlets and one outlet but the only ones i see pop up have one inlet and one outlet.
  29. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    I bought an air filter and fuel filter from G&R Imports. Both fit perfectly and were OEM quality. There may be less expensive domestic parts that fit but I liked getting original equipment parts. It's easy to spend the better part of a day looking over the course of a couple of weeks, buying three parts that didn't fit to finally get a part that is a cross to the part you need. There is a skill to finding compatible parts, and I don't have it.

    My fuel pump issue was weird. I replaced the fuel filter even though it didn't look too bad and that seemed to help but then the fuel pump quit working again. It always recovered when allowed to cool a few minutes. Then I thought the fuel problem only happened when the fuel level was low and there wasn't enough pressure from a head of fuel in the tank. That might have partially contributed to the problem but it eventually stopped with nearly a full tank. It was a very intermittent problem and I determined that the fuel pump was overheating as if the pump motor was stalled. I bought a new universal 12 VDC fuel pump on Amazon and was going to replace the original fuel pump, but it hasn't failed since then, pretty much all summer and a lot of miles. My best guess is my Hijet was parked for a long time in Japan, maybe there was some crud in the fuel tank or some rust and it was eventually chewed up and spit out by the fuel pump impeller. The problem eventually fixed itself. At least I hope so.
  30. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Active Member

    I had no idea that painting the Hijet would be so labor intensive. After three weeks of intermittent and seemingly never ending prep work, I worked on my Hijet mini truck again all day today and managed to finally get the body painted on the outside... with only one of the two coats of Medium Gray Monstaliner bed liner, and I didn't paint the tailgate, bed sides or headache rack. Tomorrow's forecast is scattered showers after 3 PM, so that's out. Every day for the foreseeable future is isolated showers or a chance of showers, so I'll need to wait for another rare nice late October day to paint the parts I didn't paint today, roll the second coat on the outside of the truck, and then a second coat on the parts that I painted a couple of hours earlier, which is not optimal. At least I now have a good understanding of the Monstaliner cure schedule and working properties.


    I pulled the masking off the truck this evening before the paint sealed it to the truck, so I'll need to mask everything again, but that won't take as long because I won't be cutting in close on the second coat so I can over-mask onto the first coat of Monstaliner. I have some areas under the truck that need some more paint brush trim work on the frame. I may do that when I paint the inside of the truck as it won't use an entire gallon for that. I'll do a lot of touch ups at that time.

    Next time, I'll roll the Monstaliner on first, everywhere I can, then follow with the brush trimming. It's difficult to know what the roller can and can't reach. I wasted time brush trimming places the roller could reach and didn't trim places the roller couldn't reach. It'd be easier and better to roll where I can and then finish by brushing wherever the roller can't reach. It's also better to roll the fresh Monstaliner first, before it starts to thicken because it covers better and the thicker Monstaliner can pull chunks off the foam roller and ruin the finish.

    The darker it became this evening, the better that first coat looked. It probably looks great from 30 yards away, at dusk. :)

    I'm sure I'll see the defects in the morning.

    I came into the house, sat down, and suddenly felt like a ton of bricks landed on me. I'm getting too old for real work.
    JMM likes this.

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