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To Tank the 4 Runner or replace the engine... that is the question

My 23 year old son has a 1994 toyota 4 runner (okay. it’s in my name). The engine is kapoot and it is now a lawn ornament. He loves the car and wants to replace the engine to the tune of 4 or 5 grand. The car is high mileage, a gas guzzler and old. Still he can’t stand to let it go. Advice?

Personally I would let it go.

The engines if V6 are terrible. They are known to blow headgaskets and Toyota at one point replaced them free within a certain period. My dad has the same vintage that has had 3 head gasket changes (two on Toyota’s dime).

It is not one of those Toyota’s people think last forever. It may with some deep pockets.

Really NOT worth keeping it unless he does all the work and saves himself a few grand. A 94 with high mileage even in the BEST condition isn’t worth $5k.

You could swap in a used 22R turbo. That would be better than the 6 and they run for ever.

First off, I think he needs to shop around. He should be able to find a used engine for pretty cheap, especially if it’s the four cylinder. For 4 or 5 grand, I’d say no way, but if you could get a used engine in there for under 2 and the truck is in otherwise okay shape I’d say it’d be worth it. These are pretty nice trucks (they were one of the last years the 4-runners were directly based on the bullet-proof Toyota pickup chassis) and especially with the 4-cylinders they are known to run well past 200,000 miles. The V6’s aren’t as nice, but they’re not terrible by any means, other than the head gasket issues on some of the earlier ones.

The V6 used in the 4 Runner of that vintage is pretty reliable, it doesn’t suffer from the sludging problem that the newer Toyota V6 do. 4 or 5 grand is pretty high. a remanufactered long block can be had for about half that figure. The actual swap is pretty easy by modern car standards. As far as being a gas-guzzler, The 4 Runner is pretty frugal as far as SUVs go. I have a full-sized Bronco, that struggles to get double digit MPG figures.

The V6 used in the 4 Runner of that vintage is pretty reliable, it doesn’t suffer from the sludging problem that the newer Toyota V6 do

The Toyota sludge problem was only from 1999 thru 2001. the newer V6’s do NOT have a sludge problem.

I should clarify. The engine itself is about 2-3,000 dollars. The installation would bring it up to about 5,000. Thanks for your feedback!

How’s the rest of the truck? I’d bet you could get a salvage yard motor for less than $500 . . . install it yourselves. Look around, I’ll betcha there are lot of rolled-over 4-Runners in the junkyard with less miles than yours. Rocketman

Where are you located? Locale makes a difference in labor rates but 2 or 3 grand for labor on a simple engine install? While I do not know what flat rate is on this job that amount sounds high; way high even for 2 grand much less 3.

As to the actual job I would say fix it but not at that price. Do some searching on eBay, Craigslist, or a local yard and find an engine yourself. Odds are you can find one for far less than a couple of grand.
Of course it’s always better to try and find one that you can actually hear run before buying it (wrecked vehicle, etc.) and keep in mind that sometimes used units may have problems also.

1999-2001 are newer than the OP’s 1994 :slight_smile:

We’re located in Portland. I understand that the 1994 engine had problems with blowing head gaskets so replacing with a wreckage yard engine might be replacing one problem with another. Do you know of any good resources in Portland that won’t break the bank?

My son has a 92 Toyota Pickup with the same engine. The comments about the V6 and headgasket problems are true, but these vehicles can last a long time. His has 277K miles on it. We did have to address a burnt valve issue recently at which time we replaced the headgaskets, timing belt, knock sensor and other parts to the tune of about $1,500, but this truck still runs suprisingly strong.

From a purely financial standpoint, the advice to let it go is very sound, especially considering the age of the vehicle and the high mileage. They do tend to nickle and dime you to death when they get to a certain age.

If you can get the cost down (4-5 grand seems high to me and there may be other options depending on what’s wrong with the engine), then it might be worth considering the repair. If the condition is good and if you can be patient in dealing with periodic fixes, there could still be some signficant life left if you decide to fix it.

I always lean toward fixing if the overall condition of the vehicle is good because old Toyotas continue to serve me well and are suprisingly reliable for their age (87 Celica GTS 198K, 90 4x2 Pickup 128K, 92 4x4 Pickup 277K and 2000 Sienna 91K), but determining when to let go of the vehicle versus fixing it is always a subjective call.

4Runners and Pickups of that vintage are still in pretty high demand, so as a fall back, you could consider parting it out if you are mechanically inclined or sell it as a fixer upper.