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Sulfur Smell from Toyota 4Runner



  • 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: 44,422
    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.


  • 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
        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: 44,422
    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.


  • I found a pdf relating to this here,

    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,

    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.
  • Of course it can be. Different refineries will produce gasoline with varying amounts of ethanol. I had a VW Jetta with the exact same problem and was able to correct it by changing fuel brands. The smell is the converter burning off is not the CO2 itself.
  • Any update to you plight? I've just purchased a 2005 4x4 V6 Sport and have the same problems.
  • mrwhipplemrwhipple Posts: 378
    the tsb works great. usually takes the dealer a couple of days to get the parts. once they do, it only takes them about half a day to replace the items and reprogram the computer. then you're good to go.

    the fix works just fine and it's fully covered by the warranty.
  • Okay, I have read many of the responses and it seems that the nay sayers are the ones that have never experienced what you are talking about, just too much time on their hands and respond just to be negative. I have a 2003 4Runner Limited and experience the smell almost daily. They apparently have never been exposed, because if they had ever experienced it, they would sing a different tune. When you are driving down the road and your vehicle "farts" and it smells like you are driving thru a very active sewage treatment plant on a hot day and you can't breath, there would be no question that something is seriously wrong with the vehicle. It is bad with the windows closed and even worse with the windows open. I took it to the dealer and they gave me something from Toyota that said there was no manufacturer problem, but a gas problem. Soon after that a TSB came out saying how to fix the problem. No problem, why do you need a TSB. I took it back to the dealer, a different one and wow there is no problem again, because it didn't stink for them. Sorry we can't fix it if there is no problem (duh, I gave them he TSB, must be a problem). It is in the shop today, I called the owner of the dealership I purchased the vehicle at. I said, remember the 2001 Corvette convertible I traded in on this vehicle, I need you to do something about my car farting (he drives the Corvette, by the way). He said bring it in and we will take care of it. Toyota knows there is a problem, otherwise no TSB. If the vehicle is under warranty, fix the damn thing. Enough said.....
  • SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
    A reporter is looking to speak with owners of Chrysler, Saab, Toyota or Volkswagen vehicles who did all the scheduled maintenance on their vehicle and still experienced engine sludge within the warranty period within the past year. If this describes your situation, please respond by 6pm Eastern on Monday, May 23, 2005 to
    Thanks for your consideration,
    Jeannine Fallon
    Corporate Communications
  • seanlhseanlh Posts: 2
    I've been having the sulfur problem as well, but my dealership refuses to fix it. They claim they would wind up putting the same part in since the 2004 part will not fix?!?

    What method did you use to fix this problem, and do you have a 2005 Model? If so, do you know what part number your dealership used?


  • marchanmarchan Posts: 3
    I own toyota 4R V6 2004 with miles on it,this week I drove to PA from New York 117 miles ,and we started suffering that terrible smell on and off .the thing I noticed was that when I used the cruise control the smell did not come on, I changed the air filters but nothing happens the smell is stronger then ever,that is to say toyota did nothing for the 2004 model.
  • busaturbobusaturbo Posts: 2
    I too, like the rest of you have the ever-annoying sulfur problem. However, I am becoming ever more aware of the presense of what smells like burning isopropyl alcohol, or perhaps methanol, this occurs, like the sulfur, under increased acceleration, ergo it leads me to believe its origins are shared with the H2S produced by the CAT, any help?
  • mah1mah1 Posts: 3
    I have a 03 4 runner v8 limited. This SMELL has literally made me ill......but (a little slow) it took me a while to realize my illnesses and the smell were related. My dealership Santa Monica Toyota has been totally non responsive and I am seriously at the boiling point!!!!
  • alize2004alize2004 Posts: 9
    Did Toyota ever help you? I didn't know that this smell was a 4Runner problem until I checked out Edmunds last night. Of course it's more noticeable now that I roll down my windows. I purchased in the winter when it was less notiecable. I called the dealership and was told that the "check engine" light would need to be on before they would do anything.
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