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Toyota 4Runner - dead Engine - Need advice!

drtimecodedrtimecode Posts: 4
edited April 2014 in Toyota
Hey... First time here, and let me start by saying, I'm not a car guy, so bear with me.

I have 1999 4Runner, 98,000 miles. I've used the Toyota Service regularly (I've still got all my reciepts). If fact, at 89,000 (back in Jan) it had it's Major Service done.

Well, now it has a hole in the engine block. Not clear whether it threw a rod or a piston (like I said, not a car guy), but I'm facing potentially a $6000+ bill for a new short block, or less for something rebuilt.

First questions:

How does this happen suddenly? Is this maintence issue (i.e. something Toyota missed), or can these things 'just happen'?

Do I get the repairs, or do I sell it for parts? I'm looking over it's Edmunds value now, but i'd like some other opinions.

What advice can you give me?



  • cbhoocbhoo Posts: 4
    I have a similar story. I have a 2000 4Runner that has been regularly serviced by my Toyota dealer since I bought it in 1/00. I have 78,000 miles, and it was just serviced (oil change) at the dealer 1 month ago.

    Two days ago I was driving on the expressway, when I accelerated, the car began to shake and the engine lost power. The engine light came on. When I pulled off the road, the oil light came on too. The engine quickly seized up and stopped. There was oil and radiator fluid mixed together on the road under the car.

    I had it towed to the Toyota dealer that does my service. I suspected a blown connecting rod. Not sure of the actual cause for the engine failure but the dealer agrees the engine must be replaced. Incredible!! They told me I could do a teardown of my old engine (an $800 and 2 week job) to find out the cause of the failure -- the only way Toyota might be able to help me out. I decided to have the used engine put in the car (~ $4200) and asked them to hold the old engine for me to have inspected. Unfortunately having a used engine installed is the only way to get most of the value back into my 4Runner.

    Learned today that Toyota is having a significant engine sludge problem with 6-cyl engines, including the 3.0L 6-cyl in my 4Runner. They do not want to institute a recall, but according to sources on the internet, 1000's of engines between 1997-2002 are prematurely failing for this reason. Check it out -- this may be the cause. I intend to call Toyota on Monday and raise cain. I have kept my last 4 cars over 140k miles and never had engine failure (Chev, Jeep, Honda, Nissan). I paid a premium to buy a Toyota so I would not have these kinds of problems. Engine failure at less than 250k miles is only going to happen if it is abused (i.e., no maintenance or extreme driving) or it is defective. Either way, this falls in Toyota's lap by me.

    If you have had a similar problem and/or success with Toyota resolving this type of problem, let me know.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    You stated you have a 2000 4Runner. Therefore, if you have the V-6 it is a 3.4L engine, not 3.0. This is one of the most durable engine series Toyota has ever put out, so your story is most surprising. However, you should look somewhere besides the oil sludge thing, as no 4Runner was ever affected by that problem. The only affected V-6 was the 3.0 from the old Sienna and the Camry from two generations ago.

    If your dealer is telling you that you must replace your engine and are not telling you what has actually happened, then they are a bunch of bozos and you shouldn't settle for this level of incompetence. Take it to a shop qualified to work on cars, and get a real opinion as to the cause of your problems.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • Here's the way my story turned out.

    A connecting rod blew a fist sized hole in my #6 cylinder. 1 week, $3400 later I have a remanufactured engine installed. The headers were fine so the only new parts except for the block, were a new air filter, a thermostat, and a water pump. The engine has about 400 miles on it so far, and it's running fine. No leaks or problems.

    Even after having my old engine removed, dismantled and picked over, the mechanics at Coast Motor (where I took my 4runner) couldn't give me a solid reason why it happened. Could've been any number of things of the course of those 98,000 miles. ">
  • cbhoocbhoo Posts: 4
    You are correct that it is the 3.4L engine -- I was mistaken. I bought this 4Runner for its advertised quality and reliability. I had a Jeep for 140k miles before this.

    The dealer claims they checked it and found no sludge. The dealer is telling me now that the connecting rod broke, was thrown through the block and into the transmission -- needs both an engine and transmission (~ $8k).

    When the problem first surfaced, I call the Toyota Customer Care number in CA. They told me I must work through the dealer Customer Service Rep. So, I immediately contacted the dealer Cust. Service Rep, who then had the Toyota Sales and Parts Manager (DSPM) (Ron) for my area look at the car. Two weeks ago but after my earlier post, the Toyota DSPM apparently inspected the car and told the dealer he would give $1000 toward a new engine -- net $8000 installed per my dealer. A used engine is only $4500 so I chose to go with the used engine and continue to try to work out with Toyota. This (or any) engine does not fail after only 78,000 miles unless it is defective or not cared for. I did all service according to the manual at the dealer. I am the original owner.

    This week they started to remove the old engine and I learn that I need a transmission too -- another $3200! I went to see it 2 days ago and met with the mechanic and service manager. When I asked what would cause this problem (I already knew) the mechanic said that he did not want to accuse me of anything but did I ever change the oil. It was easy for me to say yes -- the dealer (you) changed it over the years including this year in Jan, May and 30 days before the failure! He said that's about the only way it could fail.

    I immediately spoke to the Customer Care rep at the dealer (Kings Toyota in Cincinnati) who told me to call the Toyota Customer Care person in CA again. The Toyota Customer Care person told me that I must resolve this with the dealer or the the Toyota DSPM for this area. Toyota told me no one, not even the CEO of Toyota could overrule the decision of the DSPM -- ridiculous. The dealer told me to work through Toyota so I am getting jerked around. My neighbors and friends -- some who bought Toyotas from my dealer at my recommendation -- are shocked that Toyota will not take care of this problem.

    I need to contact the Toyota DSPM; I know his first name is Ron, but nothing else. Toyota Customer Care said they did not know but to contact the dealer and it could tell me. I have left messages at the dealer for this contact info but now, radio silence. Anybody have any names/address/phone of a person at Toyota where they had success resolving a problem?? Any other suggestions?
  • hey guys and girls i've got a 1985 4runner with a dead engine does any pne now how much hassle it is to put a 3l turbo diesel from a newer 4 runner or hilux would be :sick:
  • Have you located a website or dealer who specializes in selling cars with blown or failed engines? Many hobbyists are looking for a "project car" and I would like to start converting these to series hybrid electric cars and see how successful an Electric Used Car Lot ( might be; but I have not found anyone in this business yet (I'm searching the Internet for such a dealer for the first time tonight). For now I can only consider manual transmission vehicles, is the Forerunner a manual shift??

    Please let me know if you come up with anything and I will email you back if I find it. I strongly suspect that in the Internet age, there must be enough of these cases to make a business out of selling cars with major engine failure.

    Thanks, Mark
  • Mark,

    I have two 4runners that are currently out of service. They both went out within two weeks of one another. The older of the two, an '87 with over 200,000 miles is available. If you are interested, let me know. For now, the plan is to fix the head of the 1996 and run it for as long as possible. The '87 has been mine for the past 10 years and has great body integrity and all new suspension. The seats could be reupholstered, but it has the off-road dash components. It's been nice having it. Time to see it off...............

  • wryheartwryheart Posts: 1
    i have a 6/94 4runner with a blown 3.0 motor.

    lookin to replace it. Been told that a 3.4 from a 95 toyota p/u will slide right in with no problems.

    Has anyone seen this done or know this to be true?
  • ts99ts99 Posts: 1
    Your situation is total deja vu! I hope you ended up getting yours resolved with some satisfaction -- we sure didn't...
    Our problem was with a 99 Camry in 2005. Had only 55K miles. All service done at the dealer, on or ahead of schedule, with receipts. Was 1 month over the 72 month extended warranty. Huge hole blew in the engine block while merging onto the interstate with a semi-truck coming up behind. Still thankful made it to shoulder with no accident.

    Toyota tried to blame us for not doing maintenance until we showed them 6 years of receipts. (I am anal about keeping receipts, though turns out doesn't matter.) So then they told us they wouldn't accept an evaluation from independent mechanic. Made us pay for their own sham "evaluation." Of course they determined it wasn't a problem with their maintenance, and their engine wasn't defective either. Determined must have been the way we drove it. Right. 55K back and forth to work in 6 years. We drive like maniacs.

    We got the same Wizard of Oz customer service that you got -- corporate said must talk to local, local said must talk to corporate. No one behind the curtain.
    Bought the car for 20K. Toyota wanted over 7K to put in a used engine with more than 55K miles.

    We ended up being so disgusted with them that we sold it for scrap for 2K, minus the 700 we had to pay for tow, evaluation, etc. The really crummy thing is we never even liked the car from day one. We wanted a Mustang, but went with the practical, "reliable" choice. It was even beige. Ugh.

    I came across your post when I googled 4Runner to see how much we could get for our 97. We have been itching to sell it for two years and be done with Toyota for good. This time we are getting the Mustang, and we figure as long as we get 55K miles out of it we'll come out ahead of Crappyota.
    Can you tell I'm still a little bitter? :-)
  • vortizvortiz Posts: 2
    I was driving and my '91 4Runner made this screeching noise and then died... Before this, I had the starter replaced because it wouldn't turn on when I would turn the key... It would do nothing for a couple of tries and then after about 3-4 minutes it would finally start...

    My question: What could be the problem? I was able to get it to start once after it initially died, long enough to get out of the intersection and coast into a parking lot nearby.

    Would it be best to purchase a rebuilt engine or is it something else?

    Help!! :sick:
  • Okay, here's my problem: My 2000 4Runner engine threw a rod last week. I have over a hundred thousand miles on my car, but it has not been abused. The oil is changed on a regular basis. I may be grasping at straws, but after hearing about Toyota's problems with oil gel sludge in a lot of their other engines, I called Toyota 1-800-331-4331, and was told there are no complaints about 4Runner engine problems. I also called NHTSA 1-888-327-4236, and filed a complaint at My dealer wants $9000 to replace the shortblock. I have seen several posts about similar cases involving 4Runners. Please if you have a similar incident, call these numbers and file a complaint. Get a case number from Toyota, so if there is a recall you may be reimbursed. My first car was a 1986 4Runner. Back when you could drive two and three hundred thousand miles with no problems. This is why I bought another one.
  • Deja Vu! Same thing just happened to my 2002 4 runner 3.4 V6 sport edition with 124k babied miles. I bought it new. The dealer performed all my oil changes at 3000 to 4000 miles too and not the 7500 Toyota recommends. I was getting on to the highway and my engine made a loud buzzing noise for a second then a LOUD pop! Then oil dumped out of the engine leaving a huge cloud of smoke. Once on the tow truck I found half of a connecting rod bearing cap and a bolt setting on the rock guard. Happy Thanksgiving! I am now looking for a used engine.
This discussion has been closed.