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Old 05-15-2019, 12:42 AM #1
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Mohi's '98 Commercial Build: Aitex Nomad Project

Hey everyone,

I'd like to give a huge thank you to everyone helped me in my search for a 4runner here: Is this car listing fishy? Can I turn it into fantasy 4runner build?

I saw a ton of neglected 4runners out there, both 3rd and 4th gen, and was so close to getting a highlander instead for the time being but...
Last weekend I pulled the trigger on this '98 Sunfire Red Pearl 4runner as my first car. I really wanted multi-mode, but decided to settle for this. Didn't want to take an e-locker off the market from someone that would actually use it so I settled for this. No real complaints.
181600 miles bought for $3495 sticker --> $4100 out the door
VIN: JT3HN86R5W0187919
It was owned by a family or 3 individuals for a total of 14 years in Indiana and then 2 previous owner each had it for about 3 years. Now it is with me in the suburbs of Chicago, IL. On the carfax I'll be the 6th owner.


Background
I just recently finished grad school and just signed a 12 month contract for an engineering job with a salary that I cannot complain about @ 24 years old. This 4runner will be my daily commuter for that engineer job...but I also co-founded Aitex, a lotion that helps to prevent poison ivy/oak/sumac rashes. Once I make some important fixes/improvements, this 4runner will be a getting a commercial wrap (within 3 months). Then by next year, this 4runner very well may be traveling the country selling bottles at relevant events.

My goal for this build is to bring this vehicle to a point where I have absolute confidence in driving it across the country. It won't be doing any hardcore offroading, but I'd like this to be a pavement princess that, when needed, can take a road less traveled to a fishing spot or somewhere scenic.

I bought the car cheap, but will not be cheap on repairs, maintenance, mods etc. I bought it knowing I would eventually be putting a good amount of money into it. I also purposely bought it in order to learn how to work on cars myself.

Pictures

Exterior
Imgur: The magic of the Internet

Interior
Imgur: The magic of the Internet

Engine
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Wheels
Imgur: The magic of the Internet
Tires are Cooper Discovery AT3's

Frame
https://imgur.com/a/uVLKG6A

Damage
https://imgur.com/a/d3LenSe

Notes
No pink milkshake
Not sagging
4HI and 4LO work

Issues
The rust is bad, but definitely something I can fix and is nothing compared to the other midwest vehicles I saw during this buying process.
Missing 2 bolts on a wheel
E-brake doesn't work/gets stuck
Small chip in tail light
Needs an alignment
I have next to no service history on this thing

***PLEASE READ***
For the first phase of this, I need everyone's help.
What are my priorities to fix and how urgent?

I am going on a 2 week vacation starting next week (not taking the 4runner) and may need to put 260 miles on the 4runner the week I get back before I can fix/address anything that weekend.

The first thing I think I should do is new timing belt and water pump assuming someone did it at 90k (not written anywhere in the engine bay) and all new fluids for everything. I could probably get an alignment done at the same time.

The weekend after that I can work on the rust for the rear 3/4 of the car
The weekend after that rust for the front 1/4 (wire wheel via angle grinder and dremel and hand brush, rust reformer + RP-342)

Questions for all of you
Taking into account the fact that I have no service history,
What are my priorities to fix and how urgent?
How soon should I get new bolts for the wheel?

Lastly, pretend I am your neglected son whom you never taught to work on a vehicle. What tools and other equipment would you tell me to buy immediately? How many jacks/ jack stands, what kind of gloves, towels? Assume I own nothing.

Looking forward to sharing a build that's pretty different from what we typically see on here (commercial use with a twist). Once again, thank you for your help in vetting and purchasing this vehicle. I wish you good fortune in the repairs to come.
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:46 AM #2
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You can inspect the timing belt for wear as opposed to just replacing, pop the cover back and take a look, a lot of us get 250K+ out of them. Its a non interference motor so if it broke it wont wreck the motor. I replaced my original belt at 250K and it still looked good.
You say the rust is bad, not sure your situation but looking at your pics Id say its not too far gone...as far as rust, coat it every year with an RP of your choice. Really really really need to get serious about rust prevention if you're in the rust belt, search the forum for as much prevention info as possible.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:28 AM #3
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First I'd say congrats. To the truck. It's lucky to have you. I followed your first thread I thought was interesting because you were so specific on your plans and you pulled the trigger. I think you are going to do what you say, sound like an exciting adventure ahead and you know exactly where you are going.

Next, congrats to you on your new job, new truck, and for bringing a new product to market. Looking forward to seeing Aitex become a household name one day.

What kind of engineering degree?

BTW - for sharing pics, if you right click your imgur picture, you can 'copy image address' and then in your post click the mountain above ^ and paste that address in there, makes it a bit easier to read your post and see pics.

See some red answers below in the quote box.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DiracSea View Post
Hey everyone,
...
Missing 2 bolts on a wheel

ASAP - pull one that's on there and take a look, these have a shoulder on the bolt it to locate the wheel properly. Local parts store might have a couple but be sure to match that shoulder.

Needs an alignment

Your camber adjustment bolts will certainly be frozen and rusted on. I wouldn't worry about that for now. That's camber/caster. Unless you have bent control arms or mounts, just set the toe. Do it yourself. There are loads of online videos, most of them not very good. I'll reply with a couple pics and comments. After you set it, drive through a free alignment check and if your toe is off, I can tell you exactly how many turns on your tie rods to get it where you want it, I need to check my notes. Then you can drive through for another free check. The free check usually tells you toe and camber. If camber is off, much bigger project to cut out frozen camber bolts and replace and set full alignment. You got this part, toe is easy and you can get it checked after you do it

I have next to no service history on this thing

***PLEASE READ***
For the first phase of this, I need everyone's help.
What are my priorities to fix and how urgent?

I'll put some comments below under quote box, take for what they are worth.

The first thing I think I should do is new timing belt and water pump assuming someone did it at 90k (not written anywhere in the engine bay) and all new fluids for everything. I could probably get an alignment done at the same time.

Assume timing belt has not been done. But as mentioned above, it's non-interference. Considering how much you need to do get warmed over, you don't need to rush into the belt before your trip. But first, do a visual inspection of the belt. Both outside and inside of belt. Look for any cracks. You will see these where the belt takes the sharpest turns or pry on it a bit to create flex. Look for any chunks out of teeth. You might look at it and realize it's needs help right away, but if it does not yell at you, do it after you get the very basics done. YES - replace it, but you have a lot of ahead of you. If it fails on your 260 trip, I'm sorry in advance, this is just what I would do first and concentrate on other stuff that have more serious consequences of failure.

The weekend after that I can work on the rust for the rear 3/4 of the car
The weekend after that rust for the front 1/4 (wire wheel via angle grinder and dremel and hand brush, rust reformer + RP-342)

Your assesment on rust seems about right. It's bad, but you can manage it. I think you know the control arm spot, and the pics looks like the color change has a 'halo' ring around it which makes me think that's the corrosion from the inside. At least wire wheel and get some product on there. For inside, fluid film has cans with a flexible hose to get to the inside. Once you use that stuff, it works great but everything you spray it on will make a mess.

Lastly, pretend I am your neglected son whom you never taught to work on a vehicle. What tools and other equipment would you tell me to buy immediately?

Buy as you need them. But put a kit together to take with you including a multi-meter and the basics plus some zip ties and duct tape

How many jacks/ jack stands

For now, you could get away with the jack in the truck if you wanted. But if you have a garage, one floor jack is fine and a pair of jack stands. 6 ton is safer and better than 3 ton, especially for a truck.

I think you have Harbor freight in Chicago? Online they always have a 20% coupon off an item. Learn what is okay to buy there, and what is not okay. My opinion is jack stands are okay , just don't get the small ones. Multi meter from HF not okay, it's already broken. zip ties and band clamps not okay. a lot is not okay there. but things like jack stands, floor jack (not a lifetime purchase, but I had a cheap one last over 10 years), or a $2 probe test light is fine and good to have somewhere in your truck.

, what kind of gloves, towels?

'Yes' lol.

Assume I own nothing.

Looking forward to sharing a build that's pretty different from what we typically see on here (commercial use with a twist). Once again, thank you for your help in vetting and purchasing this vehicle. I wish you good fortune in the repairs to come.
Hauling home a stranger and prep for your trip:

Put a grease gun on the driveline. Search in here for grease points on drive shafts. Can also hit ball joints and tie rods if they have zerks.

Clean MAF and throttle body. Most people don't realize that cars need their teeth brushed too.

Fluids. Motor Oil, diffs, tranny. Inspect the fluids. Look for any shavings and smells may be an indication of potential trouble. Remove fill plug first so you don't empty the drain plug and discover a frozen fill plug.

Flush the power steering.

Inspect plugs and wires.

Can of injector cleaner.

Fuel filter unless it looks recent. Air filter if needed.

This is a good start to ensure any neglected maintenance does not turn into a bigger problem and you can get done in the next two weeks. Your truck will start to tell you what is next.

For e-brake, take a look at the mechanism back by the drums. Might just need some encouragement and lube to get the cables happy again. Maybe adjust the drums, I think Tim's got a video on that.

For your tour of Aitex with the disc golf guys... your approach is a very concentrated focus at an individual level. For a product like yours, good to get a chance to educate your potential customers. Just a lot of work, but at 24 it will be a fun adventure. My suggestion would be that you have an opportunity to sell product because people not only like your product, but they will appreciate you. How about a canopy off the side of your 4runner with your product table there next to your Aitex truck. On the side have a little build sheet that shows your journey and maintenance with your truck. Will be interesting conversations, and they will see your passion and that you care about details and taking care of what you are responsible for.

Good luck man.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:52 AM #4
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Oh - and the money you save on alignment, use it for a new Denso radiator. Insurance against pink milkshake which is catastrophic.

Flush coolant. If youíre a detail guy, run it with thermostat out and heater valve open with a gallon of vinegar mixed w distilled. Then do the same with big dose of baking soda and distilled to neutralize. Then distilled only. Most guys in here will say Toyota red coolant only but if you want to save $25 can use Asian red has similar additives. 180 thermostat jiggle at 6. Get something to monitor temps digital through obd. The dash gauge only tells you itís hot after itís too late.

Vinegar at your discretion. But thatís what Iíve done. Some guys may say donít do something like that.
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:09 AM #5
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Good thing your Imgur pics are large so we can zoom into some details

Spark plugs may have been replaced, definitely the wires since OEMs are black.

I think that's a label indicating the timing belt was replaced, under the large vacuum hose by the "3400" decal.

Upper radiator hose is aftermarket, those are definitely not stock hose clamps.

Power steering belt was replaced, the original one would not have been made in Mexico.


Start an account (it's free) on the Toyota Owners site, you can pull vehicle specs and any dealer service history. It's on Toyota's main site.

Last edited by Ed_C; 05-15-2019 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:13 PM #6
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Radiator looks original and should be replaced (especially with unknown maintenance history + rust).

Ball joints should be replaced - OEM only here.

Minor thing: The throttle cable stay on the front of the motor should have the cable going UNDER it (one notch back) and the vacuum hose from the evap canister can then go where the throttle cable is now. That keeps it from rubbing and wearing things.

Get a better handle on that rust ASAP. At least summer is coming up...

-Charlie
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:36 PM #7
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Alignment. You can do it, be interesting to hear what a free check tells you how close your measurement is. With tight front end components, and care with measurement, my spot checks are nuts on.

Pull straight ahead on flat surface with steering wheel exact 12 o'clock. Rollout, don't straighten steering wheel after you stopped.

Set your hook exactly at hub height. Use fishing line, not twine or string. You'll see why in pics, you'll get much finer measurements.



Set a jack stand and hang the weight of fishing rod so it gets taught. Note the 3 ton jack stand. Do as I say, not as I do lol. My big jack stands are at shop.



Measure track width in back and front to make sure your line is parallel. My rear track width is 5/8" wider in back. So I keep my line 5/16" off the front tire. To measure track width, a tape measure inside rims works.

Set your offset of line on front tire for half the difference in track width. 5/16" for me (and probably you). Check front and back of front tire for offset, set the average of the two.



See how rear wheel the line sits on the lettering? I measure off the lettering in front too. If rear sat flat on sidewall, not lettering, I measure offset in front same way.

This measurement is not critical because tolerance for parallel is de-levered over the wheel base so the error is only 180" wheel base over 32" tire = 5.6x error is de-levered. But get it nuts on, it's easy.

Now you are parallel with a taught fishing line. You can get your measurements perfect now with calipers. If you don't have calipers, get them. You're an engineer. These are a fine harbor freight item.

Measure front and back off of rim edge. This IS a critical measurement. Your error is levered up because you measuring at rim width and toe is measured at tire width.



Measure front and back. The difference is your toe at the rim. To get toe at tire, lever your measurement up by ratio of tire to rim. Mine is easy. 32" tire, 16" wide at rim width, so I double my rim toe to get tire toe.

Do the other side and net both to get total toe.

Adjust is easy. We are rear steer, so extend tie rod for more toe-in, shrink tie rod for toe-out. Mark your tie rod inner and outer so you know your starting point. Tie rods are 16 threads per inch. So if you rotate 1/6, which is one face of the hex bolt, you changed length by 0.010". The tie rod mounts at spindle about half way between king pin pivot and outer edge of tire (on my 32" tire). Extend the tie rod by 0.010" pushes out rear of tire by 0.020" and pulls in front of tire by 0.020" for a total change of toe = 0.040".

Change of half rotation of one tie rod ~ 1/8" toe change.

When you adjust and re-measure, rollout again. Drive backward, pull forward again with steering wheel straight ahead. Don't just measure after adjust, you need to rollout to be accurate.

Even with perfect alignment on both sides, your steering wheel may be crooked because of uneven tires. So, I'll adjust to keep steering wheel straight if necessary, but good tires will keep you straight. If your steering wheel points left going down the road, you need tires to point further left so you compensate right. In this case, lengthen the right tie rod and shorten the left tie rod (by same amount if you don't want toe changed, just steering wheel).

With those tires, I'd shoot for 1/16" toe in. Get it checked afterward if you want. Hunter machine will report in degrees. For my 32" tires, 1/16" toe-in would be 0.11į, but they report in 0.05į increments, so 0.10į is what I expect to see when I shoot for 1/16".

If you don't feel like doing any measurements on your truck, get a free check and adjust based on expected change in bold above.

Everything is out the window if your ball joints or tie rods are not tight.
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Old 05-16-2019, 02:23 AM #8
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Was not expecting this response, you guys are the best.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaMonkey View Post

What kind of engineering degree?

Fluids. Motor Oil, diffs, tranny. Inspect the fluids. Look for any shavings and smells may be an indication of potential trouble. Remove fill plug first so you don't empty the drain plug and discover a frozen fill plug.

How about a canopy off the side of your 4runner with your product table there next to your Aitex truck. On the side have a little build sheet that shows your journey and maintenance with your truck. Will be interesting conversations, and they will see your passion and that you care about details and taking care of what you are responsible for.

Good luck man.
My M.S. and B.S. are in Biomedical Engineering, which is what my 12 month contract will be about. Biomedical is like Mechanical Engineering Lite + Electrical Engineering Lite + Extra biology courses. I know enough about a lot of things...but that lack of in depth knowledge for either mechanical or electrical work comes back to bite me pretty often haha. No school has really figured out a proper curriculum (I went to an average and elite school) for it.

The canopy is a great idea and definitely something I will do.
Fluids are definitely high up on my list as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaMonkey View Post
Oh - and the money you save on alignment, use it for a new Denso radiator. Insurance against pink milkshake which is catastrophic.

Flush coolant. If you’re a detail guy, run it with thermostat out and heater valve open with a gallon of vinegar mixed w distilled. Then do the same with big dose of baking soda and distilled to neutralize. Then distilled only. Most guys in here will say Toyota red coolant only but if you want to save $25 can use Asian red has similar additives. 180 thermostat jiggle at 6. Get something to monitor temps digital through obd. The dash gauge only tells you it’s hot after it’s too late.

Vinegar at your discretion. But that’s what I’ve done. Some guys may say don’t do something like that.
I definitely will get a Denso radiator and do that job myself, saw a few videos and looks like a perfect introduction to working on cars...or at least for 4runner specifically because of how toyota designed it.
I plan on following this process to flush and will definitely see if I can plug something in to monitor temperature correctly.
YouTube

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_C View Post
I think that's a label indicating the timing belt was replaced, under the large vacuum hose by the "3400" decal.

Upper radiator hose is aftermarket, those are definitely not stock hose clamps.

Power steering belt was replaced, the original one would not have been made in Mexico.

Start an account (it's free) on the Toyota Owners site, you can pull vehicle specs and any dealer service history. It's on Toyota's main site.
That label is illegible because the hose rubbed/melted off whatever was written on it. So yeah I have no clue when timing belt was done. I noticed the radiator hose and clamps too. Others say radiator looks like the original yet this person must have put in new hose and/or new clamps? I thought it would be something you naturally do with radiator replacement, but I guess I'll replace everything again myself to be safe.
I do have an account on toyota owners site and only maintenance history is from 2012 when the catalytic converter was stolen and repaired. That's literally the only thing in there somehow...carfax showed more maintenance history.

Quote:
Originally Posted by phattyduck View Post
Radiator looks original and should be replaced (especially with unknown maintenance history + rust).

Ball joints should be replaced - OEM only here.

Minor thing: The throttle cable stay on the front of the motor should have the cable going UNDER it (one notch back) and the vacuum hose from the evap canister can then go where the throttle cable is now. That keeps it from rubbing and wearing things.

Get a better handle on that rust ASAP. At least summer is coming up...

-Charlie
Definitely looking to replacing that radiator after a week of commuting (260 miles) to work with some prestone flush cleaner and then flushing the system before replacing the radiator. (flush video linked above)

I forgot to mention ball joints are definitely on my list since one of the stickies recommends every 150k miles

For you viewing pleasure, comedic value, and for a youtube channel, I'll be posting the work I do. This build was not at all what I made the youtube channel for, but might as well throw it on there.
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Old 06-02-2019, 10:11 PM #9
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Mission Failed, We'll Get'em Next Time

My oil is perfectly fine, but I wanted to be a father figure to my cousin and teach him how to change the oil and oil filter.

I studied how to do it over and over again all week. I know my tools and have built things in the past but never worked on a car so I was figuring out some of the nuances of dealing with aged components.

I couldn't even get the skid plate off and therefore didn't pursue the oil change because even though I could still drain the oil I believe, the oil filter would have been too much of a hassle as I don't want to do it from the side (via the wheel):

The only bolt I tried taking off was so rusted that it snapped in half on the way out and so the threaded part is still stuck inside. What should I do here? My gut instinct is to drill into the bolt to break it into pieces so that it falls out.

2 bolts on the skid plate are rusted and stripped, what should I do to get these off?

My plan is to do flush the coolant and replace the radiator next weekend and then change the oil afterwards. Radiator replacement should go smoothly because the bolts are all in better condition.

Broken bolt:



Rusted and stripped bolts




Really wish any of the 5 previous owners would have replaced these bolts lmao.
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Old 06-03-2019, 05:56 AM #10
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I had to drill out a couple of those screws and my 4Runner came from South Carolina.

Rust is the worst.
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Old 06-03-2019, 01:35 PM #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiracSea View Post
I couldn't even get the skid plate off and therefore didn't pursue the oil change because even though I could still drain the oil I believe, the oil filter would have been too much of a hassle as I don't want to do it from the side (via the wheel):

The only bolt I tried taking off was so rusted that it snapped in half on the way out and so the threaded part is still stuck inside. What should I do here? My gut instinct is to drill into the bolt to break it into pieces so that it falls out.

2 bolts on the skid plate are rusted and stripped, what should I do to get these off?
First - 6 point sockets ONLY! Since it looks like there are plenty of rust issues, soak the bolts for any upcoming project in penetrating fluid ahead of time.

Soak that broken bolt. It looks like one from the front cross member in front of the radiator? If so, center punch it and drill it out - start with a small bit. The heat and penetrating fluid will probably spin it out the back without damaging the threads too much.

Reassemble things with anti-seize on the threads. Keep the undercarriage covered in Fluid Film or similar to slow/stop future rust issues.

-Charlie
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Old 07-20-2019, 09:40 PM #12
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Okay so here's an update of where I'm at.

I got the car with 183k miles in May and now it's at 185.2k
Business and work related expenses (clothes), etc have been sucking up all my paychecks so I'm seriously delayed on my car work.

About 3 weeks ago, I finally got the skid plate off but I needed to drill out a few bolts. I went out and bought new bolts and some anti-seize that I'll put in place once I get the skid plate back on. I left it off because I knew I had an oil change coming up. I'll take a pic next time I post.

Went to a local trustworthy mechanic who took a look at my radiator, hoses, etc. and basically refused to replace it unless I really was paranoid because he thought the truck was a great buy considering it's age and the radiator seemed relatively new. He quoted me some great prices when I told him I planned on doing timing belt + water pump, and other work. He's retiring next year (at a very limber 78 years old!). He did tell me I had a leak that was widespread, told me to the clean the bottom, drive a little, and then come back to him so he could find the source. Still need to do this.

Aitex will be selling bottles at the mid america open (disc golf) in 2 weeks and so I need the 4runner in shape to make the 6 hr drive there and then back. My co-founders stock 95 jeep grand cherokee with only 93k miles just had "death wobble" kick in so there's no way we're taking that.

I went to do a simple oil change today now that the skid plate is off. My only worry was the oil filter (take a look at the pic lol) and whether it was stuck on but I managed to crack it loose with an oil filter wrench. Was really surprised at how hard it was to maneuver in that area. Went to drain the oil and...after cracking the bolt it started spinning....and spinning...and spinning. Cross-threaded. I decided it wasn't worth the risk to try and push and turn and cut some new threads because I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get the new bolt and washer on. I also opened up my O'Reilly bought K&N filter to find it didn't have any packaging on it and didn't look too clean. Gonna return that and buy one from somewhere else.


Couldn't even re tighten the bolt but luckily no leaks after running the engine for 30 seconds and hand tightening oil filter. It really needs an oil change before monday (I drive 60 miles a day) and my mechanic isnt available tomorrow so I am going to bite the bullet and let jiffy lube take a crack at it. (My brother works there so hopefully his co-workers don't make a mess of things). Hopefully don't need a new oil pan. Like I said, I bought this 4runner to learn how to work on cars so considering my risk/reward I'll hand it over to jiffy lube this time. And do the oil change myself next time when I'm not so stressed for time.


Getting new tires, alignment, and rotating them on Monday as well. The alignment is so bad I couldn't do it myself like suggested.
Still need to get a jack, jackstands, and attack that rust underneath before summers over too.

This is fun. It will be really fun to look back at this thread when I've sunk 20k into this thing to make it something really special from such humble origins.
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Old 07-21-2019, 03:46 PM #13
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Jiffy Lube decided not to try and get the bolt off for the same concern of not being able to put it back in. So they sucked the oil out instead to replace it.
Since I did crack the bolt loose (no leaks yet after driving it around), I'm going to put on some silicone sealant just to be safe.

Something like this should work right?
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...332602d5a4f827

Next oil change when I am not as stressed for time I may look into putting in an oversized bolt to cut new threads in.
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:08 AM #14
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Congrats on the job! Any job right out of college is a great start and it sounds like youíre setting yourself up for success. And the fact that you want to do everything yourself on your vehicle is admirable.

Sorry about all your issues right off the bat. Iím glad you found a reliable, honest mechanic though. Some mechanics, more so some larger chain companies, will try and up charge like crazy.

Iím actually in a similar predicament as yourself, primarily highway/road driving, but want to have the ability to have some fun on the weekends if need be.

My questions to add to yours would be advice on suspension and tire set up. Iím sure with you driving so much on the highway, youíd want a nice ride at those higher speeds, so those two areas of suspension and tires can make a world of difference.

Iím no expert on these two areas, Iím more of a interior and engine connoisseur, so does anyone have any advice for him on the subject?


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