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Sulfur Smell from Toyota 4Runner



  • alfster1alfster1 Posts: 273
    Many 03-04 4Runner owners, including myself, drive with the rear cargo window open without experiencing any sulfur or apparently high levels of CO entering the cabin. The longest that I have driven with this window open is 1.5 hours, under varying speeds. I have used a CO tester, but I am not how accurate it is since it was made for home use and is not a professional tester.

    Apparently, the exhaust issue only affects some 4Runners, either with or without the rear cargo window being opened, which is perplexing.
  • lukeglukeg Posts: 32
    I have 04 4runner v8 Sport. Today Toyota dealership fixed the smell problem. They have changed the catalyst and reprogramed the computer. The smell is gone. I don't drive with rear window down, but smell still was entereing the cabin from time to time. Also I am tired of hearing on the street on the red light that my truck stinks like $***. No more bad stink and I can drive with side windows open. Schedule this repair. It takes few days to get parts in.
    I still have problem with:
    - sit being loose
    - vibration with RPM between 1800-2000
    - vibrating breaks.
  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    ANYONE would ever drive with the rear window down - makes no sense - guaranteed to suck in your exhaust and everyone else's.

    Sitting parked with all the windows down, sure - lowering the rear window to use the rear cargo area when loading, sure.

    I can't believe anyone with any education would think that you could drive with your rear window down on any vehicle with a movable rear window and NOT get exhaust sucked into the vehicle - sheesh...
  • tloke1tloke1 Posts: 185
    "...ANYONE would ever drive with the rear window down - makes no sense - guaranteed to suck in your exhaust and everyone else's."

    There can be exceptions, like when hauling a long piece of lumber or other item that needs to stick out through the back window. I did that a lot of times when I owned an Explorer. I did close the window as much as possible and tied it down against the lumber, but I never did have a problem with exhaust getting in since Explorers have not had the sulfur issue.
  • sunking9sunking9 Posts: 6
    After 9 months of Toyota denying that my 2003 Limited V6 4Runner was letting noxious fumes into the cabin, I think my problem has been solved. But I'm not sure what solved it.

    I started the Lemon Law procedures in Florida which includes allowing Toyota up to 10 days to fix the problem. After one week, the dealer called to say that they had thoroughly checked the vehicle but could still could not reproduce the problem.

    I figured I would have go all the way through the Lemon Law hearing.

    But since getting the car back last month, I have NOT smelled any of the fumes entering the cabin with the vents on recirculate.

    I'm not sure if Toyota fixed it and doesn't want to own up to it, or what ever was leaking sealed itself. I have no idea what fixed it, I'm just glad the situation has been corrected.

    I was considering trading the vehicle and taking an $8000 loss. My 4Runner was delivered 9 months ago and has about 13500 miles on it and I am just now starting to enjoy owning it.
  • fl4runnerfl4runner Posts: 14
    Just because you don't smell a rotten egg odor or anything else doesn't mean you are ok. Carbon monoxide is odorless and very dangerous. The fact that some people can smell exhaust in their 4runners is alarming to me (with all windows up and air on recirculate). It's not a big deal to me that my truck's exhaust stinks. If the fact that it stinks indicates a more serious problem that will result in reliability issues in the future then I will want to fix it now. But the immediate problem is one of safety.

    Some may not smell exhaust in the cabin because their nose is not as sensitive as others. Maybe their truck does not emit the sulfur due to catalytic converter particulars, cleaner gas, tighter gaskets around the windows (so less gas gets in), etc. But the fact is that all 4runners are built pretty much the same (with minor manufacturing variance). This is a systemic problem, catbon monoxide getting into the cabin. All 4runner owners should be concerned.

    I originally taped up my vents to stop the exhaust from getting into my 4runner. That reduced a lot of it but did not completely eliminate it. Sometimes I still get the smell. I will soon divert the tailpipe to the side in hopes that it will help to eliminate much of the exhaust that gets trapped behind the truck in the vacuum created as the "box on wheels" travels at higher speeds. Have you ever drafted behind another vehicle before? Notice how you need less throtle to keep up and how the wind resistance decreases? It's the vacuum created by the vehicle in front of you. That vacuum sucks outside air into the cabin along the little spaces between rubber mouldings and glass, tail light assemblies, etc.

    I feel that the 4runner is a drafty truck, probably because of the roll down window and other non-airtight fixtures. With it's boxy shape it creates the vacuum that brings outside air into the cabin. The outside air right behind the truck is full of exhause because that is where the tailpipe is. People notice it because our 4runner has more rotten egg smell than the average vehicle. All these factors come together to cause the smell which created this forum.

    My concern is to eliminate the carbon monoxide that I know is present in my vehicle. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause you to pass out at the wheel and crash. It also has a cumulative effect that can cause health effects and death later on in life. I care about my quality of life enough to try and fix my problem.
  • toyboxxtoyboxx Posts: 150
    I would agree with all of this if there were good CO test done inside the truck and then compared to some other vehicles. Until then all I can say is that I NEVER get a smell inside my truck with the rear window up. With the rear window down I rarely get a smell and even that does not smell like sulfur, it smells like exhaust.

    I honestly would like to see someone who has these complaints/concerns do a good and comparative test.
  • As soon as I got out on the road after being at the Toyota service dept., I noticed that the "VSC Trac" and "VSC Off" warning lights were lit and stayed lit. I was hoping it would go away so I drove home, but since it was still lit I called the Toyota service dept. and alerted them.. They said I should bring it in tomorrow for them to look at. Has anyone else had this happen after going in for the exhaust fix under that new TSB?
  • gcmellogcmello Posts: 17
    Thanks for the TSB. I'd been away on vacation until today and hadn't had a chance to thank you earlier. I've had the work done--with a lot of hassle from the dealership (Newport RI). I won't bore you with the details.
    I hope I won't experience any more sulfur fumes from my 2003 V-8 Sport.

    Thanks again,
  • My toyota service dept. seems to have fixed the problems with the warning lights. If I am reading this invoice right, the check engine light had something to do with the 02 sensor heater control shorted against the body,......they repaired the wiring harness. The VSC Off/Trac warning lights were due to the Decel Sensor Undone. They recalibrated the Decel Sensor. I hope it lasts, I haven't driven much since coming home with the 4runner due to severe thunderstorms in my area. But everything seemed OK on the way home.
  • 4rnr4rnr Posts: 25
    Hey that's great news that the TSB worked out for you Gerry. I'll be on the lookout for any other TSB's Toyota may have regarding the 4 Gen 4 Runner and post them asap. Take care, 4rnr
  • mojaymojay Posts: 8
    I took my 03 Ltd 4runner to my local dealer about the smell. He said Toyota stated it was a normal smell for the 4runner and showed me a TSB that stated it. I then pulled out the June 14th TSB and showed him that Toyota has issued a fix for the"normal smell" if a customer complains. He said they would only fix it if the warning light was on. I then showed him that the TSB says nothing about the warning light. He went to his manager and came back and said he would call me when the catalytic converter was in. THANK You All! Here's to a clean smelling ride!
  • 4rnr4rnr Posts: 25
    Hey how are things re the sulfur smell repairs you guys? Since there have not been any posts for over 2 weeks I take it your 4 Runner's are operating perfectly? The reason I ask is on another forum there have been two reports that the smell has come back even after the TSB has been done.
  • Mine has been working just fine since it was serviced back in early July, no complaints.
  • 4rnr4rnr Posts: 25
    Thanks for the update. I'm the guinea pig/first one at my dealership so hope everything goes well. Taking it in on Monday and will report back on how it worked out.
  • I have a 2004 4Runner Sport with a V8. The sulfer emission problem started at around 2,000 miles. I am now at 5,000, and the problem seems to get worse over time. Toyota will do nothing for me and has no recommendations.

    What exactly is the Borla and where did you get it? Is it working for you? And where are you finding low sulfer grade fuel.

    I love this truck, but the stink is killing me.

    Any other recommendations or advice from anyone else with a 2004 V8?
  • I don't understand toyota not doing anything or having no recommendations. Take them a print out of TSB EG020-04 and tell them to fix it.
  • neumie2000neumie2000 Posts: 133
    I too have a 2004 V8 SR5. I noticed the smell and began to pay attention to where I purchased my gasoline. Sunoco ALWAYS stinks....however, my 4Runner has never had the same smell with Hess. I have no idea whether each of these companies actually puts different detergents or has different levels of sulfur in their gasoline...but it fixed the problem for me, so hopefully this will help you as well.
  • 4rnr4rnr Posts: 25
    Finally the sulfur smell has been cured after having the TSB done. I tried everything I could to reproduce the smell to no avail. The real stink was raised when I went to pick up the 'Runner and the service manager told me that it was ILLEGAL(HUH?) for me to have a copy of the TSB. Guess he's never heard of the internet!!
  • Toyota finally relented after I took the sales manager the TSB pertaining to the V8. The car is currently at the dealership having the work done, so hopefully that will fix the problem. They also made the poor service manager apologize to me! Still, I find it remarkable that any consumer has to go to all of this trouble to get something done. Not everyone has internet access. So, I still plan to file a complaint with the state consumer protection agency regarding my dealership

    I have purchased gas in 3 states, including at Hess dealerships, so it may just be a matter of time before your vehicle starts have the problem regardless. Mostly, mine was always worse in a lot of stop and go driving. I definitely recommend that you go ahead and ask Toyota to make the fix anyhow. The more people that do this, the more likely that the TSB will become an overall recall and all consumers can benefit without jumping through a thousand hoops.
  • neumie2000neumie2000 Posts: 133
    Understood. My apprehension about having the fix completed is that if you read the TSB, there are any number of things that can go wrong in performing the service that will truly damage the vehicle. I have yet to read anything that indicates any harm is being done to the vehicle when it smells. Assuming no harm is being done, perhaps the easier solution is to simply role up the back window. Has anyone heard that whatever is causing the smell is actually harming anything internal?
  • toyboxxtoyboxx Posts: 150
    The smell is absolutely NOT causing damage to the engine.

    The smell is from a reaction to material in the catalytic converter.
  • my sulfur smell goes away when I use mid-grade gasoline. Switched to mid-grade shortly after purchase after a discussing it with another 4runner owner who had the same problem. As long as I burn mid-grade, the smell does not occur. As a test, a few weeks ago I filled up with regular and the smell returned. Going back to mid-grade solved the problem for me.
  • my smell went away when I had the dealer fix it under the TSB. I use regular grade. I would rather save my money and get it fixed than upgrade my gas esp. in today's market.
  • biyobiyo Posts: 5
    I just got the information today regarding the sulfor dioxide odor from my friend, and I notice that that smell already, I called my dealer immediately and they said they will initially charge me $125.00 for diagnostic just in case that nothing wrong with my car while it was only 5K plus only the odometer.I don't understand why dealership charge immediately for $125.00.
    I beleive that TOYOTA MOTOR COMPANY should pay attention regarding this Sulfor Dioxide Complain. They need to issue a recall for those affected cars.
  • biyobiyo Posts: 5
    I have 2004 V8 4 runner, I just called my dealer yesterday and they know the problem already, Try to call your Toyota dealer and tell the problem. But I'm not sure if this is covered by warranty, because there is no recall yet from TOYOTA...Any idea if this should cover the warranty?
  • lear02lear02 Posts: 5
    I have filed the Lemon Law in the state of Florida because of the sulfur smell inside my vehicle. Toyota replaced my catalyst converter because I had the sulfur smell at low speed. It was replaced on 6-24-04 on a TSB EG020-04. I still have the smell inside the vehicle when I accelerate to a high speed and then let off on the accelerator and come to a steady speed. In about 15-20 seconds the cab fills with exhaust.
    The sulfur smell is carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is odorless, the sulfur smell is a detection warning of carbon monoxide inside the vehicle, not outside, where it belongs. I have had the vehicle back to the dealer three more times to fix this problem, to no avail. Following the lemon law procedure, my first arbitration was denied, based soley on a road test. I had used their recommended fuel and it had helped, but not solved, the problem. During arbitration Toyota recommends only BP Amoco gasoline to help with the sulfer smell. They acknowledge that it's a fuel problem. They are asking me to mask the detection smell that warns me of the presence of carbon monoxide inside the vehicle. At the end of arbitration Toyota told me that other manufacturers are experiencing the same problem. The arbitration company's is NCDS (National Center for Dispute Settlement), which is hired by Toyota. Now the office of the Attorney General takes over for a new arbitration hearing. This is a very serious health hazard.......I will keep you posted.
  • lear02lear02 Posts: 5
    There is a way to help our cause. Read the lemon law For your state and file your case.It does not cost a dime.
  • biyobiyo Posts: 5
    That's a good idea if Toyota Motor Co. is not aware on this issue. This is absolutely health hazzard. Please keep posted the result.
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