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Old 08-28-2023, 09:50 PM #1
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Need Advice Please... Swap, Rebuild, or Sell

Hello,

My 2002 4Runner with 336k miles is dying. Symptoms are coolant loss, oil loss, smoke out of the tailpipe (getting worse), valve tapping, smells like fuel and burning oil after driving. Oil dipstick smells like fuel. It runs but I keep it to as short of trips as possible and am just hoping it doesn't fail or lock up on me.

I was told it needs a new engine. He gave me a decent price of $3000 to replace but he has no history on the replacement. Doesn't know mileage (....but it has a 30 day warranty and "he sells me good motors"....)

I am in College Station TX looking for a decent motor to swap without much luck. My best bet seems to be in Dallas at some salvage yards.

I just replaced the radiator, throttle body, alternator and tie rods. I'm no mechanic but I am thinking cracked head, valve stems problem, piston rings, or all 3.

Should I do more diagnosis, just assume the engine is toast, or consider doing a rebuild?
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Old 08-28-2023, 11:04 PM #2
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At 336K miles and 21 years, I agree with your assessment. Fuel smell in the oil would imply worn piston rings or cylinder walls and unburnt gas is slipping past the pistons and into the crankcase. At the very minimum it would need a full bottom end rebuild. A swap is less work but you are correct in saying that engines are getting harder and harder to find. There's still a supply of JDM engines from overseas coming in but they require extra work to change parts over (the long block is the same but many other things including pulleys are not) and are getting pricey.

I think the deciding factor is the rest of the vehicle. If it has a straight body, good paint and good interior beyond a few worn cushions then I would say yes repair it and get it back on the road. If not, it may be time for another one. Hard to say also without knowing how much you drive and how you use the vehicle. For me 5 years ago it was worth it as my 4Runner was kept in good shape for the first 190K miles when I bought it. I also can't afford a car payment and new car prices are out of my league so financially it was my only option.
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Old 08-29-2023, 10:07 AM #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gamefreakgc View Post
At 336K miles and 21 years, I agree with your assessment. Fuel smell in the oil would imply worn piston rings or cylinder walls and unburnt gas is slipping past the pistons and into the crankcase. At the very minimum it would need a full bottom end rebuild. A swap is less work but you are correct in saying that engines are getting harder and harder to find. There's still a supply of JDM engines from overseas coming in but they require extra work to change parts over (the long block is the same but many other things including pulleys are not) and are getting pricey.

I think the deciding factor is the rest of the vehicle. If it has a straight body, good paint and good interior beyond a few worn cushions then I would say yes repair it and get it back on the road. If not, it may be time for another one. Hard to say also without knowing how much you drive and how you use the vehicle. For me 5 years ago it was worth it as my 4Runner was kept in good shape for the first 190K miles when I bought it. I also can't afford a car payment and new car prices are out of my league so financially it was my only option.
Thank you. The mechanic said it is solid and drives well. Majority has been highway miles and the mechanic could tell when he drove it. Paint and interior are in really good shape for the age.

It seems like not all 5fevz engines are interchangeable as I have been shopping around.
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Old 08-29-2023, 10:14 AM #4
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In my area, they rot out before drivetrain failure. Your issues would be with engine and transmission. Those 2 components would get heavy wear with high mileage. Except if the fluids were changed regularly. So it's your call. If the rest of the rig is great. Then, it's probably worth it with the cost of things.

These are super reliable rigs, but they do require maintenance and things wear out and are in need of repairs...

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Old 08-29-2023, 11:05 AM #5
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Originally Posted by pbain View Post
Thank you. The mechanic said it is solid and drives well. Majority has been highway miles and the mechanic could tell when he drove it. Paint and interior are in really good shape for the age.

It seems like not all 5fevz engines are interchangeable as I have been shopping around.
They are interchangeable in the sense that every one has the exact same bottom end and cylinder heads. In order to make it fit in a 4Runner you'll need to swap over the intake, some sensors, and other things. Even a Tacoma engine isn't 100% plug and play and has some slight differences depending on the year but the engine is identical. Same goes with T100 engines as many have EGR systems while we do not.

Some engine sellers will just call it a 5VZ engine code if they are not sure where it came from or from what vehicle. It's not correct as they are all 5VZ-FE's but what they are saying if you read in between the lines is that some of your old parts will need to be moved over in order for it to work. I think you'd be doing that anyway as you just did some work replacing the throttle body and alternator so those parts would be swapped over as you paid good money for those.
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Old 09-01-2023, 10:43 PM #6
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Since you are planning to pay a shop to swap in a used engine, that is a HUGE risk. HUGE!!!!!

You might pay for all that labor just to find out the engine is a piece of shit.

Your best option if you plan on keeping your 3rd Gen for a long time is to swap in a quality rebuild, and in my opinion, there is none better than Yota1 Performance in Riverbank, California. They will ship engines anywhere in the U.S.

My suggestion is learn how to turn wrenches and save yourself a ton of money.

Here's Part 1 or a 4-part series we did on swapping out a 3.4L V6. We put in a Yota1 engine.

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Old 09-18-2023, 09:23 AM #7
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Hi bpain, I am also studying at the College of Engineering. So, as a student working on an academic project about swapping in a used engine, it is a viable option, especially when the budget is not so large. While there is always some risk associated with buying a used machine, a few things can be done to minimize that risk, such as buying from a reputable shop, getting the engine inspected by a mechanic, and making sure it is compatible with your vehicle. In my project, I have researched the different factors to consider when swapping in a used engine and the best practices for doing so. Additionally, I get assistance from https://essays.edubirdie.com/do-my-coursework because I trust only these writing experts to do my coursework. So, this skilled team offers high-quality papers, and I've also interviewed mechanics and shop owners to get their insights on the process. My academic research will help people to make informed decisions about car maintenance tasks.

Last edited by martinland; 09-25-2023 at 03:14 PM.
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