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Sulfur Smell from Toyota 4Runner

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    I don't understand at this point how your car can be filling with carbon monoxide (even though I certainly believe that your car stinks inside) without you being too dead to post, or, if not, at least seriously impaired with typical CO poisoning symptoms.

    How have you determined that you have CO in your car's interior?

    The reason I ask is because that's a pretty startling claim and should therefore have startling evidence.

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  • coranchercorancher Posts: 232
    Well, maybe not. I won't consume bandwidth by recapping all the previous discussions here, but would encourage anybody who cares to read extensively in this discussion.

    In summary, today's engines burn so clean that the old carbon monoxide problem (due to incomplete combustion) doesn't usually exist. It's a stink nuisance and would probably be improved if Toyota went back to the side-firing exhaust they used to use. Stink is probably coming from the rear cabin exhausts, so you can often avoid the stink by simply leaving the system on fresh (rather than recirculate) and having the fan on at least the low setting.

    If the stink is a problem, get the TSB(s) and keep leaning on your dealer and, by all means, complain to Toyota too. This kind of thing shouldn't be happening, but it's not unique to the 4Runner or to Toyota.
  • lear02lear02 Posts: 5
    The sulfur smell tells you that there is exhaust fumes entering the car.The exhaust is carbon monoxide . No matter how you look at it exhaust does not belong inside the car. And changing from one make of fuel to another is not the answer.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    All true but I don't see how you could have any appreciable amount of carbon monoxide in your truck. What I'm driving at here is that this claim substantially diminishes your credibility in an arbitration, since if you were breathing carbon monoxide in any harmful array you would be very sick indeed. We all breath a bit of CO every day of our lives unless we are really living in the woods or something.

    So I am suggesting you drop that one and stick to the obnoxious odor as being very annoying rather than life-threatening.

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  • lear02lear02 Posts: 5
    Suggestion well taken.I know that you know the obnoxious odor is from the exhaust system. If the CO content is 1% and 99% other gases thats still an extremely unhealthy environment to be driving in every day. Toyota knows it has a problem. They do not know how to come to terms with it. Maybe do to cost? This may become a class action suit time will tell. We all have big money invested in our cars and we deserve the best ride we can get.The one thing to remember here is the exhaust is getting in side the vehicle.
  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    in class-action evaluation on this, and after testing, we determined that there's no more noxious emissions in a new 4Runner than in several other vehicles tested. Comparitively, when tested by itself (4 vehicles), they were 70-80% less in cabin emissions, driving by themselves on deserted roads, than just driving the vehicle in normal traffic.

    If you can't tell, I'm NOT a "sky is falling, let's sue everybody" advocate. We have become a country of victims and plaintiffs instead of men, women, and consumers.
  • biyobiyo Posts: 5
    I've sendeng e-mails to Toyota Motor Co. copy to the director of my dealer, Toyota Motor Company said that TSB is not funded yet, and told me to contact the Customer Relation Manager of the dealer, I spoke with CRM and told me that they have to diagnose the vehicle but I doubt that even they will running for 2 hours, maybe they can't duplicate the problem due to the odor is not there all the time. Also I receive an e-mail from Dealer Service Director that asking me to make an appoinment and tell about the TSB and let him know once my car at the dealer. I will keep posted what ever the result.
  • biyobiyo Posts: 5
    I'm sure that changing fuel brand is not the answer.
  • bgsbgs Posts: 3
    I am going to arbitration with Toyota Oct. 21, 2004. Does anyone have any suggestions? I have put up with this bad smell for about 12 months. I had the TSB performed, but the smell continues. The problem was not fixed. I live in southern California and have tried every kind of gasoline. Nothing works, the vehicle smells everyday. Is there anything to help me in arbitration? Please HELP!!! I cannot take this smell anymore!!!

    How can Toyota blame this problem on gasoline? I have driven 5 different vehicles at work in the last year, and not one of those vehicles has a bad smell problem. Toyota says other manufactures are having the same issues. I would like to know who. Every friend and relative hate to get in our car. They don't have this problem.

    What can I use to HELP my situation? Am I just fighting a losing battle?
  • I am in Florida. I did the TSB about two months ago. The smell cleared up, and I have not had any problems as yet. Incidentally, they reprogrammed the ECU, then I had to wait a week for the new CAT. During that time, the smell changed from "rotten eggs" to faint "lit match". After the CAT change, it went to normal (disappeared).

    Someone pointed out that the cabin vent is under the right side of the rear bumper, next to the exhaust. (true. I checked it out). That is why the smell is so intense. A co-worker of mine has a '03 Accord that smells of sulfur whenever he guns it with the windows open. The emission is common in many cars. Volvos from the '80s were plagued this smell. The problem is that the 4runner has a bad vent location.

    Also, in driving without the fix for about 18 months, I found that recirculate kept the smell down. I was never one for driving with open windows, so it never bothered me.

    The Toyota manual has a warning against running the engine in idle for more than 20 minutes (as in slow traffic). I hope that is not because they are aware of the risk of exhaust coming in through the cabin vent. CO is still produced even with the best CAT. I could see it building up to lethal levels in a cabin. But that is still possible if one has recirculate off while sitting in traffic behind any car.

    Lastly, I have been checking to see if my fuel inefficiency has changed. (by calculating at fill ups) It appears to remain the same.
  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    Two factors, as I have experience in both - first, a "Toyota arbitration" managed by the Dispute Settlement Board will waste your time. You have to participate, since it's a step the manufacturer takes to try to resolve the situation, but the DSB is hired and funded by the manufacturer, not some indepedent federal entity - who would you find for? A single consumer, or the guy who's paying you?

    Secondly, although it's a nuisance, the condition DOES NOT meet with any lemon law statutes in ANY state - it is not a "significant impairment of use, safety, or value".

    Don't get your hopes up with this arbitration - if it falls in your favor, great.

    Your mileage may vary.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    Well I wonder if this thing keeps getting publicity, if one day it will need become a significant impairment to value. I agree, I don't think it's a safety issue or use issue, you'd lose big time arguing that. But value, I think there may be a case for that if the "stink" made by consumers doesn't abate with Toyota's continued cooperation.

    The success of the TSB procedure in some cases in encouraging.

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  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    and one whose opinion is accepted in courts in PA, DE, NJ, MD, and NY, I don't think it bears on value, considering this IS NOT solely a Toyota 4Runner issue - I lost count long ago of the number of people who've complained about this smell/exhaust problem - people who own vehicles from every mainline manufacturer is the US.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    Well let's break it down here...if there are two similar cars (type, value, condition, etc) you have to sell, and one stinks to high heaven and one doesn't when you drive it, all other things being equal, which one do you think will have to be discounted?

    If I were a referee and we could drive the car in question and it was actually exhibited a truly sickening odor during the test drive, with me driving, I'd rule in the owner's favor. If it was a case of "Smell that?" "Smell what?" "THAT" "WHAT?",....then maybe not.

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  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    however when the Jaguar X-Type or GMC Envoy parked next to it does the same thing, it's not just a Toyota 4Runner issue.

    Value? OK, let's say 10%. Still not a "significant" impairment - those are strong words and standards to comply with. And mostly, use and safety aren't affected at all, unless the safety issue is pushed by great-acting, overly dramatic Academy Award nominees.

    Not to be mean - I wish all these folks the best of luck, and sincerely hope the manufacturer ponies up some money. It's just that it's not happening (monetary or buyback resolution) with other manufacturers, and you'll never get me to testify in an arb or trial that it meets any lemon law criteria.
  • lear02lear02 Posts: 5
    BGS it probably will be a waste of time with toyota's Abitration.It was with me.I filed with the state lemon law. They just accepted my claim. Iam waiting for new abitration date.This time with the Office of the attorney General,lemon law arbitration program. Keep trying.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    I don't really agree with the logic that because a couple of other types of cars also stink that this lets Toyota off the hook. The point is that not ALL cars do it, only some, and further, that some of the ones that DO stink a lot don't let the stink into the car's interior.

    So I think there is an argument that can be heard regarding the Lemon Law. It really depends on whether the owner can convince anyone that this is persistent, obnoxious and incurable.

    And I don't know the answer to that, never having experienced the problem.

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  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    in a couple of my vehicles, beginning with a 1992 GMC Yukon with a bad 02 sensor. Annoying, yes, but hardly a "defect" in the legal definition.

    Hey, people win lawsuits and claim arbitrations all the time - more power to 'em.

    Just don't ask me to testify. I'll step out of this topic, I suppose, since I don't agree with the layman definition of a "defect", a "lemon" and "resolution".

    Unfortunately, I deal with the real world and practically-applied meanings of those words, not what a consumer wants them to be.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    Well the consumer is often put in that position, isn't he/she?--- of being outside the "system" and not knowing the jargon, or even the rules.

    California has an interesting wrinkle on the Lemon Law:

    "Any defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of your vehicle under warranty, and that you have tried to have repaired by an authorized dealer, entitles you to seek a refund or replacement under the Lemon Law, even if the manufacturer continues to say it cannot find a problem"

    Caifornia also has a "presumtive" clause that throws a bit of extra weight to the consumer, in the same way people are "presumed" innocent until proven guilty by the courts. You the consumer may presume your car is a lemon if you can solidly prove that attempts have been made to fix it and have failed.

    Of course, laws vary state to state, I'm not a lawyer and don't want to be, blah blah blah.....

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  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    in New Jersey, for instance. As soon as you send the state a "fix it now" letter, they have 10 days to respond, and there's a presumption that the vehicle is a lemon. That STILL doesn't engage the manufacturer, usually, until the suit ends up in court. Just because the law SAYS the manufacturer should do something doesn't mean it happens - in fact, it seldom does until they're sued. I wouldn't have a job and 5,300 cases under my belt if the manufacturers did what the law said - you can understand why I'm doubtful that any vehicle mfr is going to just pay down and roll over for a consumer - ain't gonna happen.

    The irony is that the US manufacturers ASSISTED in writing every state's lemon law, as well as the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act.

    What folks don't understand is that what you, I, or your neighbor considers to be a condition that "substantially impairs the use, value or safety" and what the courts believe to be a condition that "substantially impairs the use, value or safety" are usually two different things.

    Consumers try to take this fight on with little or no research or knowledge, or they stop reading when they've read what they wanted to read...not what they needed to read.

    Just like people hearing only what they want to hear, same concept.

    I recommend counseling and advice from a professional, especially when it doesn't cost anything - most lemon law lawyers (that I've dealt with) work on a contingency basis instead of demanding a retainer.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    I think safety criteria are much harder to prove than value criteria, that's correct. If in fact one could prove that their car smelled like a dead rat, I would hope that the court would find this a serious detriment to value.

    As for manufacturers assisting in writing regulations, this is the age old problem with solely using regulations to force a change. The lobbyists adhere very closely to the legislative process (often providing much of the information necessary) and end up being partial creators of the regulations. Happens all the time in EPA regs, labor regs, etc.

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  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    that make us look good to consumers (and why most consumers think you just go into the dealer for an "exchange" like at Wal-Mart or Target), but we still won't comply, as a whole, and there'll be no penalties for a pattern of non-compliance because we helped write the laws.

    They sure pulled one on us!
  • bgsbgs Posts: 3
    I had my arbitration hearing 10-21-2004. The only response Toyota could give to the arbitrator was that due the poor quality of crude in the worldwide market, there is a higher content of sulfur in our gasoline. This is why the 2003 4Runner smells so bad. Toyota expressed there is nothing wrong with the working condition of the 4Runner.

    I asked if they had any proof from Shell, Exxon or Mobil to name a few. She expressed that she had spoke with a service tech at the manufacturer and that this was the information he was given.

    This is pretty said for a major corporation like Toyota.

    I will be receiving an answer next week. I will keep you posted.

    By the way, I did take the arbitrator on a test drive and the car smelled bad. I hope he smelled the smell. He was about 80 years old.

    I keep preying. BGS
  • rjordanrjordan Posts: 30
    BGS,
        There is a technical service bulletin #EG020-04 issued on June 14, 2004 to address this problem on the model year 2003-04 4Runner with the 2UZ-FE engine. I believe this is just for the V8 engine. I have a copy which I had downloaded after getting an address I think from this forum. Do a search on the "Problems and Solutions" section using keywords " TSB or Technical Service Bulletin and/or sulfer dioxide to see if this web address is mentioned. This TSB is also for sale on the Toyota web site by subscription I believe.
  • bgsbgs Posts: 3
    This is BGS. I have won my arbitration with Toyota. I stressed in my case that the value of the vehicle was the major issue besides health. I pointed out that if two vehicles were exactly the same; one exception being the Sulphur smell, what vehicle would you purchase.

    I do however have to pay a mileage offset. I still lose about $5000.00 in the end, but I will get most of my money baack. Toyota must pay all taxes and registration back as well.

    Arbitration in my case was worth the wait. Now I can go and buy a vehicle that doesn't stink.

    The only ground that Toyota would stand on was that due to the lack of poor quality crude in our world market, there is more sulphur in our gas, thus your vehicle smells.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    That's a bit weak since not all cars smell.

    Good thing that you used the value argument and the analogy of two identical cars, one smelling and one not. That was a smart way to argue. The "health" argument doesn't cut it IMO.

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  • I found a pdf relating to this here, http://www.autosafety.org/Toyota%2003-04%204Runner%20Catalyst.pdf

    It appears is affects the v6 (1GR-FE) models. Check the VIN number's to see if you are affected.

    hope this helps
  • I found a pdf relating to this here, http://www.autosafety.org/Toyota%2003-04%204Runner%20Catalyst.pdf

    It appears is affects the v6 (1GR-FE) models. Check the VIN number's to see if you are affected.

    hope this helps
  • yobow1yobow1 Posts: 29
    Hello jayray,
    I read your message and went to the provided link concerning the 2003-2004 "Excessive Sulfur Dioxide" issue. I recently bought a 2005 SR5 V6 and really like the vehicle. A week or two later after I got it, while the vehicle was under load on the highway going up a hill, I noticed a similar sulfur dioxide smell coming from my 4Runner. I took it into the dealer and they checked it out. I also made them aware that I knew of this problem with the 2003 and 2004 models. They were polite and checked the computer/fuel settings, but said that there was no service bulletin on the 2005 yet. They said that they couldn't replace the catalytic converter at that time. It sounds like this issue is carrying over to the 2005 model, but I have no recourse at this time to correct it. Do you have any comment/suggestion? It's not a big deal, but I would like it not to happen. Thanks.
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