Northeast Overland is an outdoor adventure based community in the Northeast Region of the United States. We pride ourselves in the use of Treadlightly! and to provide an outlet source for individuals to come and converse about their rigs and adventures.


    My 2001 4Runner Fiasco

    Share

    Guest
    Guest

    My 2001 4Runner Fiasco

    Post by Guest on Tue Mar 15, 2016 1:07 pm

    So it is time to start telling a new story about a 2001 Toyota 4Runner I acquired this past December.

    This was one of those situations where hindsight is 20/20 and has been one giant forehead slap after another. The truck was for sale on the side of the road at an arguably sketchy looking used car / garage lot. I'd been driving by the truck for weeks and figured it was far out of my price range. After all, we all know these trucks in terrible condition still seem to sell for $5k, and most of them are full of rust and other problems. I didn't have $5k, and even if I did I'm not sure I really wanted a rust bucket.

    After awhile though my curiosity got the best of me and I stopped to take a look at the thing. $2500 on the door sticker and the whole truck was in near-pristine condition. There was no rust anywhere except for a couple strange spots in the middle of the driver door...and even that was just surface bubbles under the paint. A quick call on the door sticker and I had an appointment set up to drive it. A few hours later I met up with this royally sketchy middle eastern guy that easily outweighed me 3 to 1. I started it up and noticed immediately both the strong smell of gasoline and white smoke out the tailpipe. A quick check and it was clear gas was spewing out of the fuel rail....white smoke..."oh, its been just sitting awhile. This is a great truck!". Perfect.

    So he said he'd fix the gas leak and to come back in a few hours. I did so and the leak was fixed. Started it up again and more white smoke but it disappeared quickly. No coolant in the oil and no oil in the coolant so I figured it was just...um...something totally fine. I ran a CarFAX on it and the truck had been in Florida its whole life up until 2012. Dealer serviced the entire time with all the right things being taken care of along the way. It had been in Maine 3 years but only had been driven another 5k miles (total of 170k) in that time period.

    Test drive was great but the interior stunk of wet dog and cigarette smoke. While I was driving I figured I should test the 4WD out. No 4WD lever to be found anywhere.

    I'm an idiot. It was a RWD 4Runner. Back I drove and promptly told the guy the truck was fine but I wasn't going to buy a 2WD 4runner. He quickly said there was no way he'd part with it for that and we parted ways.


    That was a Friday. On Monday afternoon the guy calls me and asks what I'd be willing to pay for a 2WD 4runner. I said I really wouldn't consider anything more than a couple grand.

    5 more minutes and the phone rang again and we had a deal of $2k.

    After getting it home and going thru it with lots of carpet shampooing and baking soda the interior wasn't too bad anymore.

    The engine was running rough and after cleaning the TB I noticed the intake hose connector at the TB was cracked and letting in unmetered air. Hot glue to the connector and seafoam in the gas tank and the truck was running really well. Still smoking at startup but the level of coolant never really dropped so I didn't think much of it.

    The steering was really drifty on the highway and it was clear that the factory rack bushings were totally shot as a result of an oil leak which had clearly been going for a long time. I ordered up some poly bushings and installed them along with finding the oil leak to be an oil filter that wasn't really screwed on. I did an oil change...a VERY long overdue oil change and properly applied the new factory Toyota oil filter.

    The steering was MOSTLY fixed, but there was still an annoying "click click" when turning. I disassembled the rack and found the slip joint deep within the column was worn out and had a ton of axial slop. A couple small spot welds fixed it and I think they would still collapse in an accident. Rock solid steering.

    I found a sweet deal on some FJ wheels and a set of 245 75 R17 Duratracs. The wheels needed to be refinished which ended up being way more work than I wanted, but the end result was pretty sweet.



    I have a 2" Front and Rear spacer lift sitting on the shelf but....that white smoke. Yeah. Still had it at EVERY start, cold or warm. The smoke smelled like coolant for just a brief amount of time, then it all cleared up and no smoke, no smell. I tore down the intake manifold down to the lower intake and replaced two very crappy looking intake gaskets which I really hoped would fix it. While I was in there I also discovered that I had completely different fuel injectors on the Left bank and Right bank....like 1 set had 2 holes, the other had 4. I installed a new set of matched injectors and found that only 5 of the 6 spark plugs had been recently replaced, and they were the wrong ones anyway.

    New plugs, new injectors, and new gaskets seemed to do the trick. For 2 days. The truck ran better than ever with lots of power, but on the 3rd day the smoke was back and this time the coolant was being consumed at a noticeable rate.

    So it was either head gaskets or a cracked head. I really didn't have time to deal with it, but options were limited and paying somebody else to do this job would have set me back many thousand....certainly more than I paid for the truck in the first place. Normally I'd just cut my losses at this point but I honestly have fallen in love with this stupid old Toyota and with 0 rust, it could last a very long time if I take care of these issues.

    So last Friday I tore it back down. I have about 8 hours into it so far and the heads are stripped out.













    There is still cross hatch on the cylinder walls and very little ridge. The heads...



    Cracked between the Intake and Exhaust ports on BOTH heads...cylinders 3 and 4.





    The heads are trashed. I was able to find a rebuilt set on ebay with a 3 year warranty from California for under a grand, and of course all the other stuff that can be replaced at this stage should be, so I'm nearly in this for about what I paid for the truck in the first place. The book value on the truck will still exceed my investment after this is done, and at this point I should be looking at another 75-100k miles before I run into much else (knock on wood).

    I'll post up more pics and details when things start going back together.

    SG

    avatar
    REDrum

    Posts : 211
    Points : 264
    Reputation : 29
    Join date : 2013-01-17
    Location : People's Republik of Cambridge

    Re: My 2001 4Runner Fiasco

    Post by REDrum on Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:02 pm

    As Mike Tyson would say "that thucks"

    Like adapting a cat only find out 4 weeks later it came with kittens...

    Only upside is that you have extended its useful life significantly. You could get 7 years out of that truck, which amortizes to 1K/year of capital investment, which aint too bad.

    avatar
    NMW 4X4

    Posts : 120
    Points : 144
    Reputation : 16
    Join date : 2015-02-10
    Age : 24
    Location : Nine Mile, Maine

    Re: My 2001 4Runner Fiasco

    Post by NMW 4X4 on Fri Mar 18, 2016 7:51 am

    I wonder how much of a job it would be to convert it to 4x4?

    Guest
    Guest

    Re: My 2001 4Runner Fiasco

    Post by Guest on Fri Mar 18, 2016 9:23 am

    NMW 4X4 wrote:I wonder how much of a job it would be to convert it to 4x4?

    Everything bolts in from a standard 4x4 model, so not much work relatively speaking. I've got my eye out for all the bits and pieces and will be collecting things over time. I almost pulled the trigger on a complete 4x4 parts rig (with a mint leather interior) a couple weeks back before it became obvious that the money for a parts rig would be spent instead on a top end rebuild.

    But yes...the relative cost of this truck is still very small compared to newer models and once this engine is back together I should have many years of use out of it.

    Heads still haven't arrived, but all sorts of other goodies are showing up. (Goodies being relative....nothing actually "fun" about water pumps, catalytic converters and gaskets)

    SG

    Guest
    Guest

    Re: My 2001 4Runner Fiasco

    Post by Guest on Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:48 am

    Finally got back on the road 2 days ago after nearly a month of monkeying with the heads. I was able to locate a rebuilt set in CA for a relatively decent price, but it took nearly 3 weeks for the heads to get here. While the heads were on the way, I ordered all Toyota factory timing belt components, a new Denso water pump, thermostat, front oil seals, etc. While still waiting for the heads I was able to get the new water pump in, and when the heads arrived last Friday I got to work. The heads went in well enough and I was able to get a few extra exhaust studs from Berlin Toyota down the road in short order when I realized I had a few studs that weren't able to be recovered. The timing setup was not too bad, but I was rushing a little bit due to the terrible spring weather and working in the driveway. I ended up discovering only after having EVERYTHING reassembled that my exhaust and intake camshafts were not correctly phased. Luckily, the phasing can be reset without needing to break back into the timing belt, so it basically just required digging back under the valve covers for a quick reset. It is REALLY nice not having to worry about piston/valve clearance with these 5VZ engines as the pistons can spin free of the valves, and the intake and exhaust valves can be out of phase with each other without any detriment. Once it was finally all back together correctly it fired right up and I've put about 200 miles on the motor thus far. It is running stronger than ever without any smoke! All in, a head swap with new timing and water pump components and high end head gaskets cost around $1000 in material, and from turning the first bolt off to putting the last bolt back and turning the key, total wrench time was around 24 hours. I could have done it much faster but in all the haste I found myself going back and double (and triple) checking critical items and correcting foolish mistakes. If I were to do it again I'd probably cut that time in half.....but I have no desire to do it again so forget I said that.

    No pics...when you're actually trying to get something done I find the camera to be the very last thing I'm thinking about.

    SG
    avatar
    REDrum

    Posts : 211
    Points : 264
    Reputation : 29
    Join date : 2013-01-17
    Location : People's Republik of Cambridge

    Re: My 2001 4Runner Fiasco

    Post by REDrum on Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:14 pm

    Nice follow up right up, that engine should last you easily 100K more miles.

    Now about that 4WD....

    jahamm88

    Posts : 2
    Points : 4
    Reputation : 0
    Join date : 2016-09-19
    Age : 29
    Location : Bethel, CT

    Re: My 2001 4Runner Fiasco

    Post by jahamm88 on Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:00 pm

    this is one of those projects id love to get into...if only i had a 3 car garage.......

    Sponsored content

    Re: My 2001 4Runner Fiasco

    Post by Sponsored content


      Current date/time is Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:40 am