Sterling_vH111's 1997 T4Runner "Build" Thread

Discussion in '4Runners' started by Sterling_vH111, Feb 19, 2024.

  1. Feb 19, 2024 at 8:15 PM
    #1
    Sterling_vH111

    Sterling_vH111 [OP] Go do something real instead.

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    Gonna preface this one by saying that this will be the most boring build thread.
    Mostly just doing maintenance items and other things to bring this 26yr old Yota back to life.

    1997 Toyota 4Runner Limited 4x4

    How it currently looks (February 2024):
    IMG_2385.jpg

    Milage as of (Feb 2024): 308,000

    MPG's:
    City: idk i use this to commute on the freeways
    HWY: 20-21mpg... I swear.

    Short story time..

    This car has actually had a history with my family and I.
    My parents got it almost new from a neighbor in in maybe 2000?, so this is the car I grew up in.
    I got memories of driving up the mountains with my family, packed to the brim with my sister and dog and all the snow gear. Desert moto trips on my PW50.
    This can is also my first vehicle, as my mom passed it down to me when I got my learners permit. This is the car I learned to drive offroad in, spent countless hours in Highshool thinking I was the SHIT, and ultimately led me to explore the world of long travel Toyotas...
    I drove it for a few years, until I sold it to a close friend of mine to get my current Tacoma back in 2016. The old family truckster had about 240k miles on the clock the last time I saw it.

    My buddy drove it for about a year or two, and the passed it down to his younger brother, why drove it for a year or two... and passed it down to their youngest brother who drove it up until about early 2023!

    Late November 2023 rolls around... I'd been commuting about 120miles a day to the new job I got earlier that year. Summer mostly on the street bike (until it dropped a valve.. another story for another time...), fall and "winter" in the truck and thankfully in my moms car when the truck was broken or simply sick of driving it 600+ miles a week on the highway... (not fun in an LT truck. Expensive to drive and upkeep)

    My buddy gives me a call and says "hey, I'm thinking about selling or even just donating the 4runner. Any chance you'd want it back?"
    I didn't even know they still had it... as last I heard it was having some electrical problems and the brakes went out on their youngest son circa 2022.
    I told my friend "maybe, where's it at right now?"
    He told me that it had been sitting at his moms house, but that he didn't know the shape of it really. He warned me of a few elecgtrical issues, leaking tires, and some ripped seats.
    I said I'd take a look and then let him know. He was cool with that.

    On one hand, this could be a cool daily that I would not have to worry about. Cheaper than anything else I was going to find for the price (legit beer money).

    I went over to his moms house, and poked around.

    1. paint had been sun bleached and something corrosive spilled on it
    2. no running lights worked, and it kept blowing the underhood fuse
    3. front seats were trashed
    4. tires were years too old, cracking, and flat
    5. sound system that was originally installed when my parents bought it 20 years prior had started to deteriorate and short out
    6. interior was overall... definitely been used by 4 boys as a first car in the last 10 years.
    I did some math, and worked out what it would cost to get it dailyable for me. Not reconditioned fully, or built into some sick 3rd gen 4runner... but daily driveable.
    Some things helped offset any money I'd need to put into it by switching it to my main vehicle, ie insurance would go down and operating costs per mile were lower than my truck or bike.

    I transferred the title and then it failed smog... not too surprising for and engine that obviously leaked and burned a tiny bit of oil and an OEM cat that had been through 304,500 miles.

    I worked my way through that... and the following posts will go through what I've been doing since its been in my name.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2024
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  2. Feb 19, 2024 at 8:16 PM
    #2
    Sterling_vH111

    Sterling_vH111 [OP] Go do something real instead.

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    The "mod" list

    Wheels/Tires:
    • 265/70/16 Cooper Adventurer All seasons on a end of year Pep Boys buy 2 get 2 sale
    • OEM 16x7" Alloy wheels
    Suspension:
    • 10+ year old KYB gas-adjust shocks
    • OEM coils
    • OEM everything
    Exterior:
    • Rain-X Latitude front wipers 17"
    • New OEM rear 12" Wiper blade
    • $14 Amazon Keyless Entry Kit
    • Dusted Out Detailing FULL recondition inside & out
    • This honestly is the best few hundred I will ever spend on this car. I cannot physically explain the difference between his before and after (see posts below)

    Interior:
    • Ebay replacement front bottom seat foam
    • Ebay replacement front leather seat upholstery
    • Full sound system (see below)
    Audio:
    • Kenwood DPX 500BT Radio
    • Boss PV3700 5-channel amp
    • T-spec V10R176 6channel RCA cable
    • Crutchfield CK4 Amp Install Kit
    • Crutchfield 14-awg speaker wire
    • JBL Club 622 component speakers (front door)
    • JBL Club522F component speakers (rear door)
    • Metra 82-8155 rear door speaker adapters
    Engine:
    • NGK Iridium Spark Plugs BKR5EIX-11
    • Gates Micro-V accessory belts (last changed 100k miles ago... by me!)
    • New Driver PCV valve, hose, & grommet (original was clogged and cracked)
    • New OEM air intake tube (from airbox to TB; original was cracking)
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2024
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    #2
  3. Feb 19, 2024 at 8:16 PM
    #3
    Sterling_vH111

    Sterling_vH111 [OP] Go do something real instead.

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    Secretly Long Travel & Supercharged
    Saved for wheeling trips.

    I know I know, this is a stock daily driver right now with 0 intentions for every seeing dirt again... but it's 4wd and we all know this thing will have meaty tires and be a rock crawler one day. What's the fun in having nice things if you cant beat on them?!
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2024
  4. Feb 25, 2024 at 10:34 AM
    #4
    Sterling_vH111

    Sterling_vH111 [OP] Go do something real instead.

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    First things first, the ol' 4runner needed some love.
    26years, 300k miles, and 6 owners later, she'd seen better days.

    I usually do my own car care, but this was gonna be beyond my skill level and machinery.

    I gave a local guy Dusted Out Detailing a call.

    His pricing was very fair for the amount of effort, time, and care he put into this car.
    I'd recommend him to anyone in the SoCal area. I believe he's based out of Orange County.

    Before:
    • 4 consecutive 15 year old boys learning to drive
    • Food stains and crumbs and smells
    • dirt and dust from 1/4 century
    • Last vacuum was probably a few years ago
    • Last full detail was probably when I sold it to my buddy in 2015
    • 1 automated car wash the week before I picked it up
    IMG_2390.jpg IMG_2392.jpg IMG_2393.jpg IMG_2394.jpg

    Dusted did a full interior carpet and headliner extraction, ozone machine, and combed over every inch of the interior.
    Pictures don't do it justice before or after.
    This went from you friends mom's funky car that you don't like to ride in as a kid, to looking and smelling like it was rolling off the showroom floor in 1997.

    insert photos of AFTER
     
  5. Feb 25, 2024 at 10:48 AM
    #5
    Sterling_vH111

    Sterling_vH111 [OP] Go do something real instead.

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    Next up was getting rid of those poot OEM front seats.
    The rear ones were alright, no rips or tears. Just average use for the age. I'll leave those be.

    Being that the main point of this car is to make it daily-able on a budget, I decided to give some Ebay "vehicle specific" foam and replacement leather a try.
    I had nothing to loose with the OEMs in such poor condition. I couldn't find replacement seat back foam, but those were not deteriorating like the bottoms.

    IMG_2584.jpg << Before vs. After >> IMG_2612.jpg

    I'd never done something like this before, watched a YouTube video, and bought everything for around $230, including a set of hog ring pliers and assorted rings (used to attach the leather to the foam, and foam to the seat base)

    As you can see, the leather was not exactly a perfect OEM fit -- but part of that was probably my own lack of skill. I tried to et everything as tight as I could, but the leathers seemed to be too large almost. * mind y'all that these are not seat covers, but replacement leather. I double checked once I started to put them on and see the fitment! *

    A month or so later now, the leather has actually relaxed into the shape, and fits a little bit less lumpy -- not really tighter, but less lumpy.
    I was afraid of them relaxing and getting even more loose, but it actually seems to have gotten better.

    Overall, well worth the few hundred spent. A lot cheaper than a shop, or nicer options like clazzio or katskinz. I briefly looked for take off seats, but they were at least $200 per seat and usually in just as bad condition & cloth seats.
     
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  6. Feb 25, 2024 at 11:09 AM
    #6
    Sterling_vH111

    Sterling_vH111 [OP] Go do something real instead.

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    After that, I decided to re-do the sound system in the car.

    Another ball-on-a-budget project; I wanted something decent as I will be driving the car about 120 miles a day.

    I stuck with the Kenwood DPX500BT head unit I put in the car about 8 years ago, even though it was a bit beat up and outdated. I've since figured out that half the outputs for this unit are dead, so I will most likely swap in the Pioneer from my Tacoma when I put an android head unit in that truck.

    The previous owner had also purchased a Boss PV3600 5-channel amp, and wired it in to the existing oem wiring -- This car has had an Alpine 5 channel since my parents owned it, circa 2001. It was spliced into the factory wiring by using the high voltage outputs in the OEM loom running from the dash to under the driver seat, and back to the dash to use the OEM wiring running out to the speakers. Everything was very early 2000's late '90s when I ripped it all out. Wired had been worn down, overheated (never meant to be used with a 3700 watt amp)

    TLDR; the amp was good, so I used that.

    IMG_2570.jpg

    I picked up a 4awg amp wiring kit from Crutchfield, along with 50ft f 14agw speaker wire, and some new JBL speakers.
    You can see the exact models and info on the first post.

    Spent a day wiring up everything -- taking off pretty much every interior panel forward of the trunk, all the seats, lifting up the carpet.
    I also took that time to vacuum and wipe down everything underneath. Lots of dust and more crumbs.

    End result:
    IMG_2653.jpg * an actual fuse block, instead of a sketch inline fuse from the battery *
    IMG_2611.jpg I ran the batt + in through the firewall by the brake booster, and tucked in into the center console. Zip tied and sheathed everything in place to prevent shifting interference. This should also keep out some alternator whine from the speaker wires. The amp Neg - runs a short distance to the driver side kick panel and grounds on a nice bolt to the body.

    IMG_2649.jpg Much cleaner and color coded wiring.

    Running close to 40 ft of speaker wire to each door was a hassle, but worth it.
    IMG_2632.jpg IMG_2651.jpg

    Crutchfield is awesome enough to throw in the speaker adapters and other little odds and ends for wiring for free with their orders.

    Only thing left to do is pull out a random subwoofer and box I have sitting in the attic to complete the system.
    Ill probably run the sub wiring along the drive side doors under the carpet to the trunk.
     
  7. Feb 25, 2024 at 11:32 AM
    #7
    Sterling_vH111

    Sterling_vH111 [OP] Go do something real instead.

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    Addressing some of the initial inspection issue:

    1. no running lights
    2. mismatched tires that were old, cracking, and worn
    Tires were a convenient timing, as I picked up a set of Cooper Adventurer tires in the OEM size on the last day of a pep boys sale -- buy 2 get 2.
    I also had them align the car while it was in there. It didn't pull, but tire wear was random an I figured it would be good to do.
    Around $675 later, I had new shoes on and a truck that drove dead straight.

    The electrical issue took a bit of diag. Headlights, turn signals, and brake lamps still functioned.

    The under hood "tail" fuse kept blowing. Something was shorting to ground.
    A quick google and common sense revealed that the following items were linked to that fuse"
    1. exterior running lights
    2. interior dash lights
    3. trailer harness plug-ins at the rear lamps
    I figured at worst... I'd be tracing harnesses for days and looing for pinches, sheathing, or corrosion.
    Another possibility was the Rheostat in the dash had failed. Not bad, but expensive to replace for a dumb thing.

    I pulled the trailer harness off, and the issue persisted...

    Did a quick glance at the under body wires that I could see, but nothing looked bad...

    Then I thought.. what are the most likely failure points... probably not OEM toyota stuff.
    "What's the only aftermarket part on the car"... Kenwood Radio!

    I unplugged the radio and it's harness, and BINGO the lights stayed on without the fuse blowing.

    Following the theme... I simply snipped the orange dimmer wire on the radios aftermarket harness and buttoned everything back up.

    Issue solved.
     
  8. Mar 1, 2024 at 3:06 PM
    #8
    Sterling_vH111

    Sterling_vH111 [OP] Go do something real instead.

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    Spark plug change:

    Didn't read the timing belt cover on the engine and ordered some single ground strap iridium NGK's

    These engines are so nice and easy to work on.

    Valve covers were caked in grime, dirt, oil, and all of the above. Added a PCV valve and valve cover gaskets to the list in my Amazon cart.

    IMG_2744.jpg

    Noticed that the spark plug shafts each had a few tablespoons of oil in them. Spark plugs were at best hand snug on all 6 cylinders. probably because of the oil marinating them...
    Soaked up the oil and swapped the plugs. Of course, 2/3 of the driver side spark coils snapped off the wire running down to the plug... fun times fishing those out with some pliers and determination.

    IMG_2746.jpg

    Luckily O'Reilly's Auto Parts had an AC Delco replacement ignition wire set in stock. Swung by in the Tacoma and picked that up to finish the job.

    T4R stared up and then threw a misfire coed and CEL -- I cleared it, and it hasn't come back. My guess it was from some of the oil that had dripped down into some of the cylinders when removing the old plugs had caused it. The single ground strap plugs don't seem to be an issue either. My guess is that Toyota spec'd dual strap plugs because this engine fires a spark every time a piston hits TDC on at least two cylinders, as the LH and RH side banks share a coil (located on the passenger side) but simply run a wire to the driver side. Two straps would last longer than one, but I don't think this will be an issue with the iridium plugs. More so when using the OEM copper plugs that wear quicker.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2024
  9. Mar 1, 2024 at 3:37 PM
    #9
    Sterling_vH111

    Sterling_vH111 [OP] Go do something real instead.

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    Next weekend, belts and PCV valve showed up!

    The joys of working on a 27-year-old vehicle. Absolutely everything that used to be rubber is hard and brittle, cracking the moment you touch it.

    carefully removed the valve, and then even mooore carefully picked apart the "rubber" grommet for the valve in 100 pieces, retrieving the small bits that dropped into the upper valvetrain. good times.

    IMG_2993.jpg

    Belts were about 100k miles old, 10 years old, and definitely showing age. Off they went and on went new Gates Micro-V series ones.
    The alternator holding nut decided to strip out, but I luckily got it off with an 11mm (normally a 12) socked pounded on. Luck would have it that in the "bolts and bits" drawer in the garage, I found the perfect match!

    IMG_2992.jpg

    They've been on for about 500 miles, so I'll be re-tensioning the power steering one. Maybe giving the alternator tensioner a slight snug. The A/C belt seems good.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2024
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  10. Mar 18, 2024 at 9:44 PM
    #10
    Sterling_vH111

    Sterling_vH111 [OP] Go do something real instead.

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    Air intake tube decided to but the dust, literally. Crumbled when I changed the plugs so I decided to order an Amazon generic replacement… keeping things just cost effective to work.

    old
    IMG_2996.jpg

    & new
    IMG_3040.jpg
     
  11. Mar 18, 2024 at 9:46 PM
    #11
    Sterling_vH111

    Sterling_vH111 [OP] Go do something real instead.

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    Old girl hit 310k miles !

    Flushed the power steering fluid out for new OEM Toyota ATF.

    Also got some 1.25” wheel spacers & Durobumps coming !
     
  12. May 9, 2024 at 2:17 PM
    #12
    trailmix

    trailmix Active Member

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    Nice! I have an identical 96 that ive owned for 13 years now, something lunched in the motor on the way to hidden falls a month or so ago at 253k so it's getting a new heart now. No clue what happened and no warning whatsoever!
     
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  13. May 10, 2024 at 6:34 AM
    #13
    Sterling_vH111

    Sterling_vH111 [OP] Go do something real instead.

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    Dang! I’m sorry to hear that. Usually these and the 1st gen Tacomas are solid, with semi-regular maintenance they usually don’t die on their own volition.
    Happy to hear yours is getting a new engine though !
     
  14. May 25, 2024 at 7:15 AM
    #14
    Sterling_vH111

    Sterling_vH111 [OP] Go do something real instead.

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    Secretly Long Travel & Supercharged
    Finally addressed some of the engine leaks: valve covers!

    Bought a valve cover gasket set on Amazon for $30 that included the spark plug seals, rubber bolt washers, and intake plenum gaskets for both banks.
    As well as a tube of Toyota FGP seal packing, (2) camshaft plug PN 11188-62010, (4) half moons PN 11183-62010, and the throttle body gasket PN 22271-62040.

    Took the better part of a weekend, mostly due to how much cleaning had to be done before, during, and around replacing the gaskets on each bank.
    Each spark plug seal shattered when taking off the covers, so fishing those pieces out of the top of the head was fun.
    I’m not kidding when this engine has been leaking about a liter every 3000 miles for the better part of its recent life.

    Before photo taken from when I did spark plugs.
    upload_2024-5-25_7-10-37.jpg

    During:
    IMG_3375.jpg IMG_3382.jpg

    After:
    IMG_3384.jpg

    314,000 mile cams don’t look bad at all. A little baked on oil stain from some longer oil change intervals, but I’ll take it.
    IMG_3376.jpg
     

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