Tacoma engine trouble and a new truck

Marbles

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Well, as I bragged on my truck in thread about what makes a 23 year old truck worth $11,000, so I was going to give an update, then it spun in to lots of detail and I figured I would just start a new thread so see what people have to say.

The engine on my 1997 Tacoma looks to need a major overhaul/replacement at 298,000 miles (the speedometer ran significantly slow for about 100K of that, so I assume the actual mileage is higher).

Anyway, it had started burning oil about 40K miles ago, not enough to need to add more between changes, but enough to be noticeable. It had also developed a habit of running low on coolant with no obvious leak (needing 1-2 gallons extra per year, so not a huge leak). Then last winter it developed a small leak in the exhaust at the flange just forward of the catalytic converter. Then a few months ago it started to have a misfire at idle only, but drove fine with no detectable power loss.

Anyway, I finally got around to trying to fix everything. Compression was ok for a 300k engine (115, 90, 115, 120). Interestingly cylinder 3 was the one with the misfire, but cylinder 2 had low relative compression (new compression should be 180, so all 4 are low). I changed the spark plugs, and cylinder 3's plug was clean and wet while the other three looked appropriate. After the sparkplug change the misfire at idle resolved, so I figured I had fixed it. Decided I would take a closer look at the exhaust flange and try to clean up the mating surfaces to fix the small leak. That was when I noticed coolant dripping from the flange. Then, after about 5 minuets of idling the misfire returned. The engine still runs smooth when revved above idle RPM, however now there is also a knock when the engine slows back down to idle RPM (but only while slowing back down).

The oil is still good (no frothy or milky appearance). It could be a combination of a bad exhaust manifold gasket and a bad fuel injector on cylinder 3. Or it could be the head gasket is going or worse a cracked block/head.

I guess the question is, is the number 3 injector letting too much fuel flow and flooding the number 3 cylinder, or is a small amount of coolant getting into the number 3 cylinder and fouling combustion during low flow conditions. Guess I could swap the number 3 and number 4 injector and see if the misfire migrates.

Unfortunately I don't have the time or the work space to rebuild an engine and there is no one I trust in Anchorage that does it. Crossing my fingers and investing time and money in hoping the problems are distinct sounds like clouded judgement to me. Shipping things to the lower 48 adds too much cost. After researching, the only rebuilt engine I would want would come from Yota Tech, and at $6,000 for a long block 2.7L (before any of the costs of swapping them) that solution is not supper appealing at the moment.

I still think the trucks are awesome. Here is a list of everything that has been replaced due to failure on it that are not normal maintenance.
-Radiator x1
-Clutch master and slave cylinders (only the slave gave out, but I decided to go ahead and replace the master while I was at it)
-Heater core valve x3
-Valve cover gasket x1
-Tie rod ends (all 4 replaced once)
-U-joint x1
-Locks (all 4, but only the drivers door and gas cap where giving me problems)
-Both inside door handles
-Parking break cable
-Drivers side external door handle
-Drivers and passengers female portion of seat belt buckle

Things that are currently broken and need replacement not discussed above.
-Oxygen sensors
-Cup holder
-Hood needs to be painted due to chips and minor rust

I have been wanting a 4x4 that can hold my family, and I really wanted a manual. I put a deposit down on a Tacoma TRD Off-Road as it is surprisingly hard to find manual vehicles any more (in trucks you can get the Tacoma or the Jeep Gladiator with an MT, having driven a jeep, I don't trust them long term). Currently used prices are higher than MSRP on the Taco's.
 

Mischief209

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I'd start with cap and rotor and wires or coil pack? Which ever it had. I assume cap and rotor.Dont think its dumping fuel in, rather its not being burnt. O2 can cause a mis fire but it sounds like you've been running it that way pre-misfire. Unfortunately its probably head gasket. Just because you don't see oil in coolant doesn't mean heads not cracked or gasket bad. It could be sucking the coolant in rather then blowing oil out. Here in California you can get a 35k mile long block for 1100. Im sure its different in Alaska. That would be the route I went. Just get the long block and swap everything over. You can have that done in 5 hrs.
 

elkyinzer

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You might want to test drive the drive by wire manual tacos. The throttle response blows donkey dong. I'm at about 30k on my 2019 and still can't get used to it. Strongly considering one of the tune jobs but don't want to risk warranties.

If I had money to burn I'd do a regear also, 1 - 3 and reverse are too tall for a truck. GD EPA crap I assume.
 
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Vandy321

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I needed more room and the same capabilities of my built tacoma. Sold my 2nd gen w/GFC and bought a power wagon...couldn't be happier, a make/model to consider if more room yet more/similar capability is req'd
 

Silvereagle50

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I wouldn’t spend anymore money on it till you figure out the coolant leak.
As said, most likely a head gasket (easiest and cheapest fix) or a cracked head.
The motor is tired and done about all it can do. I would look for a good used motor or bite the bullet and go for a rebuilt long block.

I have the same truck but in a manual transmission. I’m asked about daily what I want for it. I use to say $8500. Now I have to say more to get them to call me crazy and leave me alone.


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WRO

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Find a used jdm 3.4 motor for like 2k and swap it.

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2five7

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You might want to test drive the drive by wire manual tacos. The throttle response blows donkey dong. I'm at about 30k on my 2019 and still can't get used to it. Strongly considering one of the tune jobs but don't want to risk warranties.

If I had money to burn I'd do a regear also, 1 - 3 and reverse are too tall for a truck. GD EPA crap I assume.
Have you looked into the Banks Pedal Monster? I think they are available for the Toyotas? Ford guys really seem to like them.
 

elkyinzer

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Have you looked into the Banks Pedal Monster? I think they are available for the Toyotas? Ford guys really seem to like them.

Haven't heard of it, I'll look into it, thanks. Looked into OV tune and one other I can't think of the name. I figure they are all pretty much the same, like I said I just hesitate to put my warranty at risk. I'm not a big mod guy and don't do much actual offroading. But I enjoy actually driving and not having the throttle respond how I want kinda ruins the experience of driving stick.
 

ceejay

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You might want to test drive the drive by wire manual tacos. The throttle response blows donkey dong. I'm at about 30k on my 2019 and still can't get used to it. Strongly considering one of the tune jobs but don't want to risk warranties.

If I had money to burn I'd do a regear also, 1 - 3 and reverse are too tall for a truck. GD EPA crap I assume.
I couldn't agree with this more. I owned one very briefly and was so underwhelmed with the crappy gearing and throttle response that I cut my losses early and sold it. I could not believe how lame it was after driving it in conditions that called for some low end umph. I swear in 2nd gear at low speed you could give it gas and it couldn't get out of its own way.
 
OP
Marbles

Marbles

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I'll be interested to see what I think of the throttle on the new one. The 2.7L in my 97 is the most powerful engine I have owned, so I'm hoping not to notice what I'm missing.

I have to agree that the engine is tired, I feel that making repairs short of a full rebuild is putting a bandaid on the problem, so I'm not inclined to spend much attempting that. Especially with new plugs fixing it for 5 minutes, makes me inclined to think the root of the issue is not plugs/wires/coils. If anyone knows better I'm interested, my knowledge on mechanics is limited.

I'm thinking I will keep my current truck and turn it into a project in a year or two. At the moment I don't have the time to weld in new motor mounts for a 3RZ to 5VZ conversation. And not having a garage it would be miserable working on it during an AK winter anyway. I like the idea of something other than just replacing the 2.7 L in it. I also like the idea of dropping a 4BT Cummins in it.

Thankfully my wife likes the truck, so she would be happy for me to keep it.
 

flyinsquirel

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I hate to say it, but Elkyinzer nailed it on all accounts. You'll be learning Japanese so you can curse toyota in the native tongue once you experience the disgusting throttle response that is drive-by-wire. And don't get me started on the mushy clutch pedal or the gearing, especially reverse. I don't know for sure but I'd presume some EPA crap is behind the throttle response problem.

Having driven manual Toyota's since high school I was not a happy camper when I got my hands on an 05 with the 4.0 and the 6spd. From what I hear the same problems continued over to the 3rd gens. But hey, at least the 3rd Gen got its pilot bearing back.

Long live the 3.4 paired with a 5-spd manual.
 

Yarak

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From OP's description it definitely sounds like a head gasket is the issue and a quick replacement would cure most of your ills
 

5MilesBack

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But I enjoy actually driving and not having the throttle respond how I want kinda ruins the experience of driving stick.
The control and throttle response is 100% why we drive a stick. That's most of the problems with an automatic......bad throttle response (both up and down), and them trying to think on their own. I'm not familiar with this manual "fly by wire" system......when did that come around? Here I was thinking that I needed to get me a newer manual truck soon (over my 33 year old Toyota) before they're gone forever. Sounds like they've been gone for awhile now. :( I guess a new Toyota is no longer an option.
 
OP
Marbles

Marbles

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The control and throttle response is 100% why we drive a stick. That's most of the problems with an automatic......bad throttle response (both up and down), and them trying to think on their own. I'm not familiar with this manual "fly by wire" system......when did that come around? Here I was thinking that I needed to get me a newer manual truck soon (over my 33 year old Toyota) before they're gone forever. Sounds like they've been gone for awhile now. :( I guess a new Toyota is no longer an option.
From what I have found, around 2004 the throttle by wire started in the Tacoma.
 

Hunt_Jefferson

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I wouldn’t write off the Gladiator with the 8 speed auto until you drive it. As someone that likes manual transmission sports cars it’s actually really good. Quick upshifts, it will downshift to engine brake on hills, has a manual mode that actually holds gears well, and with the 8 gears it can have steeper lower gears while still being not too bad on the highway either.
 

Billy Goat

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I wouldn’t write off the Gladiator with the 8 speed auto until you drive it. As someone that likes manual transmission sports cars it’s actually really good. Quick upshifts, it will downshift to engine brake on hills, has a manual mode that actually holds gears well, and with the 8 gears it can have steeper lower gears while still being not too bad on the highway either.

As someone who spent a lot of time and effort to avoid an auto transmission, I really like them now. My CTD with Aisin transmission is pretty nice. My last 6 speed was an '11 and after full delete and a big single disk clutch to hold everything it pulled almost as good as my current stock truck with warranty. Pulling hills I was constantly stuck between gears, either pushing 3k or below my powerband.


The early auto's left some sour tastes, but they have come a long ways. They seem to pretty much always know what to do, and can do it faster than I can. Plus you have the option of picking a gear anyways.






Favorite thing is not putting my beer down to shift.
 

IdahoElk

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Did you pressure test your cooling system, it's either leaking out somewhere or it's your head gasket.
 

Billy Goat

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I think you should go get a dozen eggs. Crack a few in the radiator, then make some omelettes, preferably with a small frying pan sitting on your exhaust manifold.


It might not fix it, but if it does you will forever be the hero of the taco world. Dude fixes head gasket in nowhere alaska with an egg.
 
OP
Marbles

Marbles

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Thanks everyone, you have helped me think things through. A none refundable deposit has already been put down on a new truck, so that is settled, but I would still like to fix the old one. Plus, if I don't like the new one it will be worth more than I payed for it once I drive it up to AK from Boise, so no point in eating that $1000 deposit.

Did you pressure test your cooling system, it's either leaking out somewhere or it's your head gasket.
I did not. Out of curiosity, what would that change? I'm not a mechanic, so I'm legitimately curious if I'm missing something. I was thinking I already know coolant is leaking into the exhaust somehow, so even if I found a leak somewhere else I would still feel the engine needed work.

Something else I did not mention in the original post, when testing compression cylinder three had noticeable moister coming out through the spark plug hole by the end. I was turning it over 5-10 times for each cylinder, an noticed a few droplets at cylinder 3 after it had turned over about 15 times.

I did not pull the fuse for the fuel system, so some fuel was going into the cylinders, but number 3 stood out as wet compared to the others. It was not enough fluid to be able to distinguish if it was fuel/oil/coolant or some mixture of those.

This combined with the fact that new plugs fixed the misfire for a few minuets has me thinking the problem is not electrical.

I think you should go get a dozen eggs. Crack a few in the radiator, then make some omelettes, preferably with a small frying pan sitting on your exhaust manifold.


It might not fix it, but if it does you will forever be the hero of the taco world. Dude fixes head gasket in nowhere alaska with an egg.

You have me wondering about trying stop leak. I have never used it because I know it can clog things up. But, if I already believe the engine needs a rebuild, would it hurt to try it? I'm inclined to still stay away from the stuff, but I'll mull it over.

From OP's description it definitely sounds like a head gasket is the issue and a quick replacement would cure most of your ills

I'm inclined to agree. As I said above, I'm not a mechanic, so I'm going to give my thinking so that people can punch holes in it. I can also do more research and find the answers to some of these questions. But I'll ask just to see what others know.

I'm inclined to say if I'm pulling the head I should go ahead and rebuild the engine considering the age. It would also be nice to have the head and block checked for cracks and see if anything needs to be machined.

Now, I can get the head off without removing the engine from the truck. Would pulling the head, replacing the head gasket, and putting the head back on be only a 1 or 2 day job if I left it in the truck? An OEM gasket set would run me $350 (not sure if I would need the whole set). Also, would I need to retune the engine if I just pulled the head and replaced the gasket?

It sounds like (from a TacomaWorld thread) that the 2.7L is susceptible to burnt valves if an exhaust manifold crack is left too long. The O2 sensors have been a problem since 2014, and that can be caused be a cracked manifold.

Does it make since to just replace the head gasket and leave rings and such alone? Can I check that the head and block matting surfaces are flat without taking them to a machine shop if I pulled the head to replace the gasket? (Edit: yes, that would be easy). If they are not flat could I just put the head back on and save the new gaskets for a future rebuild?

How would I check for burnt valves?

Anyway, I have my research cut out for me, but if anyone has an answer I would appreciate that easy button.
 
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