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Sulfur Smell from Toyota 4Runner



  • Good point. When thinking about the safety of your kids, it's not the smell that could harm them, it's the odorless carbon monoxide.

    I am seriously considering getting the borla dual exhaust system for my 4Runner though (the pipes exit the sides). I think it might keep the exhaust away from the rear window...
  • tacovivatacoviva Posts: 116
    The real issue is the smell inside the cabin. We all expect it outside, but inside. Furthermore, Toyota is buying these back. Don't hesitate to go to abitration. Mine is being scheduled and I hope I get fair treatment. I don't see how anyone could think it's acceptable to subject a newborn to 5-6 years of sulfur dioxide. My back seats now permanently smell like sulfur. I have a friend who works with NCDS (National Center for Dispute Settlement) and they said that Toyota is repuchasing or replacing these vehicles. I'll keep you guys posted.
  • vaughn4vaughn4 Posts: 106
    I had an 03 Runner Sport with the V8. It produced horrible sulfur smells - all the time - all brands of gas and octane ratings. It didn't matter if you had all the windows up and the A/C on recirculate, you could still smell the STRONG odor. Toyota was no help at all, they said it would go away. Not so, after 6K miles I traded the stink bomb in. I couldn't stomach the lemon law process and Toyota's refusal to acknowledge the problem. I have small children but they could care less who it's harming. No more Toyotas for me. I always thought they were excellent cars - Think again!!! It's normal for a slight sulfur smell on the OUTSIDE but not the inside. Toyota needs to get a grip on this situation and fix it!!!
  • mhallackmhallack Posts: 32
    I would certainly agree that if you are smelling it with the back window closed and recirculate going that is a major issue.

    No problem so far with mine, but it only has 1,000 miles on it...when did the problem start for those who have the issue?
  • q45manq45man Posts: 416
    I am missing the point why should Toyota fix something that is you the voters fault for not pushing low Sulfur fuel regulations.
    They designed the cats to work with the fuel the government PROMISED but didn't force the delivery of!

    This is why diesels still don't have catalytic convertors the Sulfur in the cheap oil would destroy them fast.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    many, many cars and trucks give this smell off because of the weird fuel that the EPA mandates. Not all vehicles and driving styles produce these smells, so how is it a manufacturer's responsibility?

    It's NOT just a Toyota thing - I've seen hundreds of complaints on this subject from owners of many brands of vehicles.
  • tacovivatacoviva Posts: 116
    You guys are missing the point. There are emissions INSIDE the cabin. The presence of Sulfur only makes you aware of it. Sulfur in the gas isn't the issue. Sulfur INSIDE the vehicle is the problem. It's actually a good thing that they put Sulfur in teh gas, otherwise, you may not be aware of it at all. It's a dangerous situation.


    The smell was very slight in the beginning. In fact, at delivery I mentioned it and they told me that since this was a ULEV vehicle the converter needed to "break in". I like to think that they were misled as well, but given that their one goal is to get you in the car, I think they intentionally lied to me. It appears to be getting more intense. I hope my hearing goes well.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    you smell rotten eggs, I smell the cigarette the guy in the next car is smoking, or the diesel from a bus - deal with it. Thank the EPA for your rotten eggs - we (consumers, through special-interest groups) caused it.
  • tacovivatacoviva Posts: 116
    The problem is smelling it for 5 years. I'm not too worried about myself but I have a big problem with my 3 month old having to "deal with it", and no you apparently don't "get it".

    Consider this. We don't smoke in buildings anymore, right? Why? Because people who don't smoke would be subjected to it. Breathing emissions for 5-6 years can't be good for you. That's apparently why the exhaust pipe is OUTSIDE the car.

    Furthermore, I'm a safety enigineer and I do analyses like this daily. Let me educate you. If you smell sulfur on a daily basis, it's dangerous and unhealthy. Prolonged exposure is proven to cause a vast array of cardiovascular problems. I understand that you are some sort of investigator? Before responding, read my previous posts. You'll find links to references that substantiate my claims. Investigate that.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    I never said that tailpipe emissions and other noxious odors weren't bad for you...

    I see no immediate cure for the problem of smelling emissions from vehicles as we drive, especially in close-in traffic.

    Just like I see no immediate cure for the problem of smelling the guy's cigarette or cigar in the car next to me.

    Considering 4 throat surgeries, I'm extremely sensitive to odors like these, often gagging and losing my lunch over tailpipe emissions or a cigarette - believe me, I "get it".

    The only fix I see is beating the smoker with a stick so you don't have to inhale their smoke - unfortunately, it's not the right thing to do and I could get into trouble for it.
  • tacovivatacoviva Posts: 116
    Agreed. I too am sensitive to such environments. My son I'm sure is more so than I. The cure in my case is to replace the vehicle thereby removing the immediate danger from my family. Sorry if I sound angry, but I've lived with this for about 8 months. I just want them them to replace it with one that doesn't have this problem. I think we can agree that if you have Sulfur emissions INSIDE the car, it's not a good thing.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    that's the problem.
  • tacovivatacoviva Posts: 116
    If you see it a lot it could be a problem.

    I just Toyota's official response to the arbtitration. It's their postion right now concerning the problem. I don't think they even understand the problem. They say the smell comes from the fuel. Well, I think we can all agree the Sulfur is in the fuel. I have explained to Toyota no less that 6 times and even had the customer servie rep write it down as I was saying , then repeat it back. The problem is that the smell is INSIDE the vehicle! I can just see it now....we finally get to the day of arbtitration and the Toyota rep says "ohhh, it's inside the cabin". I'm going to request in writing that they bring all my case documents in from all my phone calls so I can show the guy what's been going on . Toyota is being Extremely evasive. I'm never buying another Toyota.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    I see it a lot, and not just from Toyotas. Many, many other manufacturers - all, in fact.

    It's a fuel/EPA issue, not a Toyota issue.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    never once. the fuel in the late 1970s, when this was the only cat on the market and everybody else had to buy them from GM to meet emissions, could not have been cleaner than we get today.

    so how is it, then, that we have regressed to bonehead technology that accumulates sulfur from the exhaust and stinks it away under load?

    maybe E V E R Y T H I N G !! ought to be recalled that was made with the current technology to be destunk.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    I first noticed the sulphur smell when my right side upstream 02 sensor went bad on my 1992 GMC Yukon - changed it under warranty, fixed the problem.

    A few years later, it seems like 1 in 10 cars smells like that - weird, and nasty.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    granted, the 70s GM cats could melt down inside, too, in which case you were out over $1000 for housing, shield, and catalyst beads. nowadays it's around $100 for a flat-bed cat.

    but I don't think they're doing the job based on the amount of stinkers on the road.

    which means they were improvidently approved based on insufficient testing. specifically, the old GM jobs were probably sniffed on the test track, and the new ones aren't. just like the Mack diesel engines about 5 or 7 years ago that were faked up to pass EPA bench testing, and they all blow black clouds like exploding volcanoes when you accelerate under load on those things. it was tricky programming on the injector computer that did it. Mack had to pay a dinky-[non-permissible content removed] fine (some dozen millions or so) and promise their next engines and subsequent rebuilds would pass.

    surprise, there was no next engine, they have outsourced engines in the new trucks.
  • renshorensho Posts: 42
    driving thing home from the dealer, i had the rear window down for the dog. I noticed a strange smell and wasn't sure it was the sulfur. I rolled the front passenger window to get more ventilation. That made it a LOT worst smelling inside.
    My poor GF following me, immediately smelled the horrible odor, but she didn't know what it was or where it came from. Boy that sucked for her the whole 11mi home.
    This was a 3mi new car. In no way was I driving it fast. I was a granny the whole way home.
    I'm really hoping this is going to go away soon.
    I bought the V6 thinking that everyone said the CLEAN CA gas was not causing sulfur smells. No quite the case.
  • mhallackmhallack Posts: 32
    I've thought a lot about this discussion, and what I realized is that the sulfur smell is actually doing you a favor. If you smell sulfur inside the vehicle, then I think its very likely that you have other, dangerous exhaust gasses inside the vehicle. The question is, what is not working? Certainly, if you have your rear window open while the vehicle is running, you are going to have an issue with exhaust gas (I have had this issue on at least two other vehicles, so my feeling is, you should never have windows open in the area of your exhaust output).

    However, if your windows are up, your air-system is on recirculate and you still have the odor issue, then something is wrong, beyond the presenting symptom.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    the car to emit mercaptan (aka skunk juice.)
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    Read the owner's manual. It specifically tells you NOT to drive with the rear window down. When you drive with the rear window down, aerodynamics causes the exhaust to be sucked into the truck through the open rear window. Even if it didn't smell like sulfur, you would be breathing the odorless carbon monoxide.

    Keep the rear window closed when you drive.
  • klaudnycklaudnyc Posts: 36
    Bought a 2003 SE V6 3 weeks ago.

    I just noticed the smell from my car yesterday when I did some highway driving with the tailgate window down. My back seat passengers complained of a really foul rotten egg smell. When I closed the tailgate window, it went away.

    Some of you have compained of getting the smell with the windows rolled up. I haven't experienced that problem, fortunately.

    But even so, what is the point of having a power tailgate window if you can't use it while driving? If Toyota doesn't do something (i.e. recall or post a TSB), I have to admit my trust in their name will be tarnished.
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    This isn't unique to the 4Runner. It is true of any vehicle with a back window. This is the well-known "station wagon" effect. It is simple aerodynamics. As the truck (or any station wagon) moves through the air, it creates an area of low pressure directly behind the vehicle. The air passing over the truck and under the truck will rush into the area directly behind the tail gate, as it tries to fill in the void behind the truck. Thus air from below the vehicle will curl up and into the truck if the back window is down.

    This was as true of a 1960s station wagon as it is of the 4Runner today.

    That is why, on page 29 of the 2003 4Runner's owners manual, there is a big yellow box labeled "Caution" that reads, in part: "Keep the back window closed while driving. This not only keeps the luggage from being thrown out but also prevents exhaust gases from entering the vehicle."

    Why does the 4Runner have a power back window? I find it more convenient than the flip-out windows used in some competing trucks.
  • renshorensho Posts: 42
    I did a 10 mi test drive with the rear window open ( to listen to the added noise) and never smelled sulfur once.

    So does that mean, you can never carry long lumber home from the store, or anything else that needs to stick out the back without smelling rotten eggs?

    As well as, people following you smelling it. I follow my friends in their new cars all the time going places. I never smell any terrible smells, as they not smell my 02 GTI.
    I didn't smell my friend's 96 4runner with the same open back window, open while driving.
    I bought this car specifically for my dog in order to carry her around so she can stick her head out the back. Otherwise, it would have been mdx, or rx300 all the way.
  • asdfasdf Posts: 9
    We can still smell it with all the windows roll up! Could be worst if the tailgate down, but my point is they are all up, UP, closed, Circ ON.

    In CA with 03 V8.
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    Even if you don't smell the rotten egg smell, you will get exhaust in the car. One major component of exhaust is carbon monoxide (CO). CO is colorless and odorless. And it is also poisonous.

    Like it says in the manual, roll up the back window when you are driving. Otherwise you will get exhaust in the car. Whether it smells like sulfur or not, exhaust is bad for you.
  • renshorensho Posts: 42
    Thanks for the education. We didn't realize exhaust is bad for us... ;-)
    Yes, CO puts you to sleep and kills you.

    My point is why does the 4runner emit so much sulfur smell? I'm a physicist. I can map out the vortex behind a 4runner travelling through the air very well. I understand the low/high pressure situation of the cabin and its relation to the opening of the back window WRT to exhaust coming in or not.

    Maybe we should agree to disagree on the issue of whether or not I should be able to drive with the window down.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    turn up the blower all the way and use a fresh air setting.

    under no circumstances whatsoever should exhaust get into a closed passenger compartment (he seethed, knowing full well that in traffic, the fumes from every other car in the road are pulled over the hood and into the car by the air intake.)

    if you're by yourself on the road and you smell your stinky exhaust, that is a safety problem with your car that the dealer needs to remedy under warranty. again, tell him I HAVE A SAFETY ISSUE WITH EXHAUST GETTING INTO MY CAR and see if they look awake this time. they are supposed to wake up for safety concerns.
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    You understand that exhaust gets into the car when driving with the back window down. The manual tells you not to do so. But you still think you should be able to do so? Ok, whatever.
  • tacovivatacoviva Posts: 116

    Go back and read the rest of this thread. I have the same problem with sulfur entering the cabin with the windows up and A/C on recirc. The fortunate thing abou the sulfur is that is lets you know that something/s wrong with the vehicle (can 't smell CO). I am scheduled to arbitrate on the 9th. Let me know if you guys need help.
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