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Sulfur Smell from Toyota 4Runner



  • alfster1alfster1 Posts: 273
    "...and thats why we see lot of dust and road debris on rear window."

    Isn't that true for SUVs (and some minivans) in general? I assume you are referring to 4Runners without the rear wing because I know with the wing, my rear cargo window always stays clean.

    Interesting theory though. The 4Runner shape is unique and may have unique air flow characteristics, but even so, why do some 4Runners have the sulfur problem while others don't? It's a true mystery.
  • asif1asif1 Posts: 49
    Alfster1, its true that rear wing channels the air flow from top to wipe throught rear cargo window and cleans dust / debris.

    The issue of sulfur smell is a combination of certain wind conditions / Gas type and Road condition. curved roads, side ways wind, strong / weak wind might alter the exhaust getting in through vents.
    Do you notice sulfur/exhaust smell oftenly, even though you have rear wing. Diverting some air from top to flow sharply from rear window should help in reducing the exhaust getting in to some extent, but since top of vehicle is mostly at same level, air flowing from sides should be more responsible for poor exhaust's exhuast.
    just my thoughts
  • tacovivatacoviva Posts: 116
    This is from The Borla website.


    4.0L V6/4.7L V8 2+4WD AT/MT 4DR


    Part Number

    Your Price

    That's not even installed. You may have some inside track to a cheaper version, but most of us will pay $869.99+ installation. I thought, and still think, that $1000 was conservative.

    Please stop posting bad information.



    I sent you all the soft info I have. If you need more, I can use snail mail. I really hope this helps.
  • I agree with the air flow theory. When I have my back window open and driving on dusty roads the interior of my truck is coated with dust! I believe the rear window is sucking in more dust and contaminants that if the back window was closed and the side windows open. The rear 'spoiler' helps with water, but with fine dust/sand, you better keep you windows up unless you want to spend the entire day vacuuming the interior.

    At 9,172 miles, no unusual obnoxious odor or smell, with or without the rear window down.
  • You probably paid 'invoice' for your Toyota also. If that is all the research you did about your problem.....? Check out any aftermarket company, Borla sells for $609 to $675. Installation takes a 14mm socket wrench, the ability to read English and about one hour.
    Taco, you still here? I thought you were spending time with your family? Or writing rave reviews about your new Honda?
  • alfster1alfster1 Posts: 273
    I only notice sulfur smell occasionally if I drive with the rear cargo window open, which I almost never do.
  • tacovivatacoviva Posts: 116
    post the link.
  • tacovivatacoviva Posts: 116
    They don't offer the Borla for the 4Runner. Like I said, it's about 1k.
  • Did you call them? Again, try a little harder in your effort. Their site only lists the Tacoma. I have the Borla, I know how much it cost.

    Ok, using your inflated purchase price of $1,000, how much did you lose by dumping yours so fast? Don't say you almost broke even by trading it in, you lost at least $5,000. So, had you spent another 20% of what you lost by trading in early you might have remedied your problem.


    Goto and type in Borla exhaust under 'search', there are many members who have the set-up and again, the price I have seen posted ranged from $609 to $809.
  • tacovivatacoviva Posts: 116
    When it's all said and done, it'll be closer to 1k than 600.

    I got 26k cash for mine and I didn't trade it. I paid 29k for it. I owned it for 1 year and I didn't have to pay for a new exhaust.

    Look, it's a great vehicle but it does have a smelly problem that nobody, not even Toyota, can fix.

    And that's the bottom line.
  • Which dealership have you been dealing with in the DFW area? I live in Dallas and am about to buy a 2K4 V-8 4Runner Ltd. I've been reading posts on this board and others for about 9 months and am pretty confident with my decision to proceed. But extra info can always help. Thanks
  • toyboxxtoyboxx Posts: 150
    You lost all the tax money also, no? and then you paid taxes again on whatever you bought. Sounds like a lot of money to me.
  • tacovivatacoviva Posts: 116
    I would've paid that much tax money to fix the problem. Besides, I was fed up with Toyota and their CS.
  • tacovivatacoviva Posts: 116
    I bought mine at Toyota of Fort Worth. They have a great sales staff and good pricing, but aterrible Service department.
  • tacoviva, I think this Borla "$1000 fix" you keep repeating (and then comparing to your purchase/selling price of your 4Runner) is a distortion of the situation, and a distraction. Anyone who took the time to read all the posts in this thread would see a number of important things about what's going on:

    1. The Borla exhaust "fixes" the problem because it dumps the exhaust to the side of the vehicle (both sides, actually) and gets it away from the cabin exhaust vents that are close by, and are probably sucking in some exhaust smell when on recirculate. In terms of smell production, the Borla doesn't do anything to reduce it because it's bolted on *after* the catalytic converters which are producing it.

    2. A cheap (less than $100 at a muffler shop) diversion of the existing exhaust tip to the side would have the same effect and should do as much as the Borla in terms of reducing smell inside the vehicle.

    3. From reports here, only a small minority of 4Runners produce the smell frequently, and they're not the only vehicles that do so. For the 4Runners, it's mostly V8s that have the problem.

    4. You said you'd try the cheap exhaust diversion, but instead decided that this problem was entirely Toyota's, and you would take no steps to experiment with a fix on your own. You tried to get Toyota to do something about it, but were unsuccessful and sold the vehicle. You did what you did as a matter of principle (as you saw it) and not because it was the easiest or cheapest fix.

    I'm not saying you weren't treated badly by Toyota (and that they shouldn't be fixing this themselves), but don't think you've been fair in how you've represented this situation in recent posts.

    By the way, the conditions here this morning were just right for showing a lot of visible steam from the exhausts of cold vehicles, and it demonstrated to me how much one's own exhaust "follows" vehicles around. It was certainly true of my 4Runner, but it was surprisingly similar with sedans I saw, too. Putting engine exhaust and cabin exhaust vents close together at the back of any vehicle seems like a bad idea, and I suspect you and I agree entirely here. I'm just trying to emphasize that an adequate fix for some 4Runners need not be a $1k expense.

    Also by the way, taking only a $3k hit for 1 year of wear & tear & depreciation speaks really highly of the resale value of this vehicle.
  • $3,000 lost depreciation 4Runner
    $1,300 TTL 4Runner
    $1,300 new TTL Honda?
    $3,000, or more, lost new vehicle depreciation Honda?

    Taco, looks like you lost $8,600 by your frustration. Wish I had money to burn. What's a new exhaust in the scheme of things. Just visited my dealer this AM and noticed two new Runners and a Sequoia with the dual Borla.

    Taco wrote, "I would've paid that much tax money to fix the problem."
    Why didn't you? The Borla is, according to you $1,000, according to real world pricing it is $800. You lost that much on one trade/sell.

    You confuse me, you say you would have fixed the problem, and when offered a solution, you refuse and continue to harp about Toyota. What makes you happy?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,349
    Well let's not hound him. What's done is done and there's no going back.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • tacovivatacoviva Posts: 116
    I'm happy with my Tacoma. I'm happy with my wife's Honda. I wasn't happy with the 4Runner.

    You only lose when you sell; I haven't sold the Honda so it shouldn't be in the equation. If you invest you know this.

    Besides, it's my wife's work vehicle so it doesn't matter.

    Toyota should fix the problem, not me.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    FWIW: yesterday i noted a 4runner in the parking lot at work which had a side exhaust (the pipe leaving the muffler pointed to the side of the vehicle - not to the back and downward).

    that side exit was further extended via a tailpipe extension [like the kind those pregnant roller-skate drivers (heh heh) use to make noise] which further sent the exhaust to the side...the ultimate exit appeared to me (looking from behind) a few inches beyond the farthest extent of the rear wheel and mud guard.

    then this morning, while driving i saw a different 4runner with an extension (this wasn't like the previous type - it was almost the same OD as the tailpipe) but again to the side, but not to the same did not exit beyond the extent of the wheel and guard.

    finally, when at work, i looked at another 4runner which had a side exhaust, which was pretty corroded by rust and ended like half-way across the rear wheel looking from behind.

    these vehicles didn't look like new vehicles... all three of them appeared to be at least a year or more old, perhaps 3 years...

    so i wonder did toyota change how the exhaust exited the muffler at the back of the car, or were these mods applied by their owners?

    see i could be wrong about this, but i think i've recently seen a new 4runner (with temp tag) where the exit was down and not to the side.

    if true, extension would not be a pretty proposition. wouldn't it be better (if you wanted to do it right) to have a muffler shop manufacture a muffler with an exit tube that goes off to the side of the car?
  • user777, thanks for the observations and specifics. You spurred me to compare my vehicle and a recent one from the previous generation.

    The previous generation 4Runner I checked had the outlet exiting the vehicle perhaps 12-18 inches ahead of the bumper and extending several inches outboard of the lower bodywork. The tip ended about 4 inches inboard of the wheel/mudguard/fender flare. That's about the same as the unmodified vehicle you saw and it matches what I've seen in the past, so that was probably standard.

    The tip on the new 4Runner extends to within about an inch of the length of the bumper. It is well inboard of the lower part of the bodywork, but that bodywork tapers inward as it goes backward and downward, so there isn't a specific number to quote.

    It is possible to estimate what you would do if you wanted to modify the current generation to match the last one, though. If you started turning the pipe just after it left that last bulge (silencer? extra muffler?) and turned it 45 degrees or more, you could exit approximately where the previous generation did. If you wanted to stay inboard of the bodywork (to prevent scrapes/burns and funny looks) you could extend the pipe 10 inches more to the side (from its current location) and it would stick out about like the previous generation (held back from the tire/mudguard/fender flare 4 inches). That would do the trick, and it wouldn't look any more funny than the previous generation did. There would be no need to modify anything but the short straight pipe that is the very end of the exhaust system.

    Of course, you could always attach some huge-diamater chrome attention-getter if you felt the need!
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    you could also probably fit the previous years pipes and muffler to the 2003 and be done with it, yah?
  • I appreciate the comments about attempting to have another muffler shop fix my 4runner, but there are issues in trying to do so. You can not simply put an elbow on it and divert it like the Borla does. The problem is the exhaust pipe is short after leaving the muffler, and suppossedly there is not enough room to "bend" it without it looking funny (all this according to Midas). I have been gone for a few days and just got a chance to catch up, I am totally confused why other people are annoyed at Taco's decision to sell. FACT: The truck has a problem. FACT: He gave Toyota more than a fair opportunity to fix it. FACT: They refused. Could he have come with some kind of fix on his own? Perhaps (I am trying to, but have not yet). At some point, your time becomes more valuable, so trying to assess his losses based purely on a financial model is inherently incorrect. The entire time (and even now) he owned it the only thing he has tried to do is educate other owners and potential owners.

    I am open to new suggestions, has anyone who has the problem actually solved it, including the Borla solution?
  • Had more of a chance to compare the side exit of the previous generation with the current ones today. If you put a 90 deg elbow just after the last "muffler" and carried the exhaust about 8 inches farther to the right side of the vehicle, you'd be a pretty close match to the previous generation (and probably to the Borla, from the pictures I've seen). This would be no more unsightly than the previous generation, and nobody has complained about the looks of those.

    Looking at that older vehicle, it seemed that they were taking some pains to get the exhaust out into the flowing air at the side of the vehicle. Not sure why they changed their approach, as the new version is only slightly more unobtrusive.

    derrickjones, I have no problem with tacoviva's decision to sell, or the principled stand he took. You've probably read my respectful comments on that stand in this thread, though it was not one I would have taken. My only annoyance was with his (and others') statements that they would take action on the advice they asked for here, and not following through. In your posts you've made some comments that hint that you're a lawyer or have ready (inexpensive?) access to one, so perhaps the lawsuit approach would be cost effective for you. For the rest of us, it just seems simpler and less expensive to try (even temporarily) diverting the exhaust outlet. Heck, even the Borla system installed would be less than the hit on an early trade, or the simplest lawsuit.

    swschrad, I wish you could use exhaust parts from the previous generation, but I think they're just too different. You'd probably have to start with cutting that last little muffler off entirely.
  • Replying to post #551 by mylasttoyota Dec 01, 2003 (10:20 am)

    mylasttoyota, You responded to me on post #551 with these comments: >>>>>>'Your "informal" survey was extremely useful. Thanks for the help, pal. I now realize that everyone, except for people you talk to, is making up a fictitious problem. Toyota even issued a TSB for the made-up problem. Aren't you waiting for your new highlander to arrive? I have tried low sulfur, re formulated gas, every brand, every grade and they all stink.'<<<<<


    You are very welcome! I am very pleased that my "informal" survey was extremely useful to you and others. Now that I have taken delivery on my 04 Limited, I will continue this survey adding my trucks results to my data. Since Wednesday I have driven 200 miles and no smell yet. Maybe my first tankful had low sulfur grade gas, or perhaps mine that was made 10/03 does not have the problem.

    When does the odor begin? Will I be o.k. for a few thousand miles then have the problem? What do I look for? Probably over 99% of the new 4Runner's owners never experienced this sulfur odor. If they had and complained to Toyota, it would have been fixed. Toyota fixes their problems, they are not like Ford. My experience with Ford is that they could care less about their customers!!!

    Looks like a very small percentage of 4Runners is have this problem and you unfortunatly had one.

    I should change my user name to (NeverBuyAFordAgain) Ford, GM and Chrysler does not have a product anywhere close to the quality and reliability of the 4Runner and doubt they ever will. You should have considered installing the Borla. The money you would have saved in agrravation, trade value lost and legal fees for starters. Wish you well with your new purchase.

    You did bring up an interesting point, the possibility that some folks may be making up a fictitious problem. This is a possibility, particularly with people that dislike Toyota's. I don't believe you have a problem with Toyota products, just had a bad experience with a 4Runner. Others on this forum have had no problems at all with the 4th generation Runner. And I am yet to find a person that has this sulfur odor concern.

    Imagine if you had bought a 2004 Ford Exploder and for a reason like the transmission kept breaking every 7000 miles or you were receiving weekly recall notices so you decided to unload it. Then on your trade you were offered 50% of what you paid. This is for a three month old truck, imagine if it was a year old. (That is not made up, Ford's depreciate more in a week than a Toyota does in a year.) So be thankful you had bought a 4Runner.

    I'm sure that there are loyal Toyota owners that dislike Ford, GM and DaimlerChrysler products for reasons like engine's blowing up after 3000 miles and early transmission failures and poor dealer service. Of course, some people find this acceptable.

    Check back from time to time, maybe the data from my ongoing survey will convince you to purchase a 4Runner in the near future. That is if you want a real truck!

    I took delivery on my Limited V8 AWD Wednesday afternoon. Amazing SUV, I will recommend it to anyone.

    Good luck with your new purchase and look forward to your reply.

    aka NeverBuyAFordAgain
  • alfster1alfster1 Posts: 273
    "I should change my user name to (NeverBuyAFordAgain) Ford, GM and Chrysler does not have a product anywhere close to the quality and reliability of the 4Runner and doubt they ever will. "

    Congrats on the 04 4Runner purchase. I have a V8 Limited (03) myself and no sulfur problem here. Maybe you should change your name to 4Runner7? :)
  • alfster1,

    Thank you.

    When I decided to trade my former car in on a Highlander late summer, early fall in 2001, I began looking at 4Runners. At that time I had chosen the user name Highlander7 expecting to be spending some time on Highlander forums. Then in November of 2001 I found a 02 4Runner 4x4 Sport Edition in Thunder Cloud Metallic. What a truck, it has been the best vehicle I had ever owned. After driving my new 04 Limited in 4" of snow and ice this morning, all I can say is WOW, this AWD is excellent. The GPS, suspension, the very logical controls, the power of this V8 and much more. My wife really likes the back-up camera. This hand down from Lexus will eventually be a safety item on many cars. I know my new Runner will exceed my expectations just like my 02 did.

    Yes I should change to 4Runner7, then I will not get comments like..>When you going to buy your Highlander?<

    Its unfortunate that a very few folks did not try a fix. If this (odor)is the only problem and the solution would be the Borla, modified side exhaust or change to a low sulfur burning fuel then I do not understand why they would let such an excellent vehicle go. I test drove and compared much of the competition and other then the MDX which is not as rugged as the Runner, nothing else came close. Just cannot please everyone.

    Again appreciate you congrats. I look forward to many years of satisfied ownership.

  • alfster1alfster1 Posts: 273
    "Yes I should change to 4Runner7, then I will not get comments like..>When you going to buy your Highlander?<"

    Unless you are THE Highlander....There can only be ONE. :)

    I am waiting for the snow myself to fall later today so I can do a little driving in it. Bonsai!
  • rogers12rogers12 Posts: 140
    "Its unfortunate that a very few folks did not try a fix. If this (odor)is the only problem and the solution would be the Borla, modified side exhaust or change to a low sulfur burning fuel then I do not understand why they would let such an excellent vehicle go."

    Why not try and fix the problem...? I suspect that many people do not modify their vehicles under any circumstances. The Borla exhaust is not a sure thing and is thus too expensive to try on a whim. Also, that and the side-routed exhaust really do not fix the problem, only cures one of the symptoms, that is smell in the cabin (maybe).

    Also, none of these fixes are a sure cure for this problem. Low-sulfur fuel is not available everywhere and it doesn't seem to always fix the problem. Maybe you need to burn off the sulfur in the CC and then no more will accumulate. I don't know, and I doubt anyone does.

    I don't have a 4th gen. 4Runner, but if I had this problem, I am not sure what route I would take. I have low-sulfur fuel available so I would try that for a month or two and hope that solves the problem. I doubt I would go to an aftermarket exhaust system until the one that came with the vehicle rusted out and needed to be replaced. It is difficult to justify replacing a perfectly good part with another that may or may not have a benefit. The side routed exhaust may be impractical or cause some problem no one has forseen.

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