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Old 08-27-2019, 02:58 PM #1
TheHennDoggg TheHennDoggg is offline
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Solo Evap Core Replacement- DONE! Pics and Info

Hello everyone,
-------Story Time!------


I have been filling the freon in my 4runner's air conditioning system every 3 or less months for a very long time. After a long 2 week family vacation, I fired it up and was greeted with a VERY strong "hairspray" smell and very warm air. I tried a DIY kit and put a total of 36 ounces of freon in over the course of a month, filling it up as it leaked out. It just got worse, and now I couldn't use the heater because this smell was so overbearing I could not run the fans!

I stopped putting freon in and sucked up the summer hour-long commute until I got back to school (good thing that back window goes down !)

Researching the symptoms led me toward the "dreaded" evaporator core replacement, which feels like is referred to in hushed whispers and there is a surprising lack of any detailed information on the process. I want to keep this vehicle for as long as I possibly can, so of course I'm going to fix it. But $1900+ dollars??? Hell no! I'm in this to do myself.

QUICK INFO

This job took 5 days on and off, approximately 25 hours, which is embarrassingly slow. Unfortunately, I am not the most experienced and I also did this job completely alone. I am 21 in college and also did it all outside during a rainy week. Womp womp

Total cost: $300

DENSO 4760040 (evap core) $89
FOUR SEASONS 39143 (expansion valve) $21
UAC RS2584 Rapid Seal Oring Kit $20
Harbor Freight Vacuum Pump $80
Refrigerant $40
1 Gallon of Cherry-Flavored Coolant $17
Scribes $8
Screwdrivers $8
Mother's VLR $7

First Step is to download that thicc factory service manual. I have all of the relevant pages snipping- tool'd into a pdf but cannot get it to post even though it is under the size requirement. I'll post it later in the thread when I find out how.

Next buy some parts! I slid over to Rock Auto and bought a few things shown above.

Now the fun begins. For the love of God, make sure your passenger and driver seats are motored all the way back before you take the battery out. I did NOT have a lot of space and i realized way too late.

Take that battery out and we can start disassembling the heater and refrigerant from the firewall. Evacuate the refrigerant system either illegally by depressing the schrader valve on the low side and shooting everything out into the atmosphere, or responsibly at a shop.

Go to the heater side and get some pliers and undo the hoses. A solid amount of coolant will come out, so you might wanna try to mitigate the spillage. Here is a good vid on how I did it: YouTube

Next, the refrigerant side is a lil funky. You have these 2 weird Toyota quick disconnects which the manual states you need a Special Service tool to conquer. This is not the case as demonstrated in this video: YouTube

That's why i went and bought some scribes from WalMart so I can poke at it to get them off. Make sure to PULL the lines away from each other, not deform them with a screwdriver. And put a rag on your hand, because if you evacuated it the illegal way, there's a good chance there is still a little cold juice in there trying to make your fingers into ice.

Here is my gallery of the teardown: 2003 4runner V8 Evaporator Coil Replacment - Album on Imgur

Edit #1: 8/31/19

Alright, so you're done in the engine bay and if you're anything like me, I have never evacuated a system, disconnected refrigerant hoses OR opened up any of my 4Runner's cooling system. This is when I started second guessing myself, because these were "givens" that I didn't see anyone talking about (like the quick disconnects??). But seriously, you can do this job if you just have time on your side.

Next step is when the "scaries" happen and you need to play with bombs. If you have taken your battery out before you did that firewall work, it should be plenty of time to start ripping stuff apart.

Get a big torx bit (I forget which one) and an impact wrench if you have it to get the steering wheel nut off

Follow the steps on how to take a steering wheel off in this document:

Dash Removal.pdf - Google Drive

This document is simply the pieces of the factory service manual I found relevant to this job in (mostly) the correct order. This will bring you roughly to the end goal, but there are a few things that really suck along the way.

The first one being the REALLY hard to disconnect airbag connectors. Good thing there are only 2. You will see your first after you take the steering wheel off and get to the spiral cable. I found the easiest way to disconnect them is getting a flathead screwdriver and pushing the "flat" part forward and just slightly in. As far as I can tell, the easy-to-push part is just a red herring that caught my attention for way too long until i pressed on the flat part.

You probably do not need a steering wheel puller, it is handy, but I was able to get mine off by just rutchin' it around.

So you keep chuggin' along on that document for awhile, most things are pretty strait forward until its time to rip out the dash. Remember, you must have BOTH A-pillar trims removed to make it possible to yank out and a kinda- secret bolt I missed that is in the upper part of the void the glove box used to fill. Not the latch bolt, but more up and toward the firewall. Ask me how I remember

The dash will come out pretty easy if everything is removed the way it needs to. I don't remember the clamps at the firewall being "hard" to pull out.

Theeeen your stress levels rise because instead of a dash being in your car, there's basically metal and a big ol' wiring harness. But now your target is in sight: that big white box that seemingly the entire interior was built around.

Also you better be taking pictures starting now, because even though you have mine, you will ALWAYS wish you had more. Get your Ziploc bags too and label them when you get done with a small section.

Dropping the steering column sucks because when you do, you will almost CERTAINLY lock it in a new position than the way it fell off. The only problem I found with this is that it is a bit harder to reinstall and the steering wheel will be crooked as hell when you put it on "strait" the first time. Just turn the car on (when everything is done of course), recenter the front wheels and put the steering wheel on AGAIN with the clock-spring and wheel centered.

You're STILL chugging on the document, taking pics and correctly labeling groups of nuts/ bolts and stuff you take off. You're also probably cursing Toyota for the step that states "release the 27 clamps". I know I was, and I don't really have anything there to help you. You just gotta find all of them and not break at least half.

Then its time for removing the dash core support. You take out the 5 bolts, give it a tug, and no go. Didn't you just take every single nut out of the entire interior?? Why isn't it moving?

Its because its also kept in place by that white box you wish didn't exist. I personally took a hammer and lightly tapped up and out on the bar for awhile and it broke free. Then please get a buddy to lift it out with you because I scratched the hell out of my driver door doing it myself. Metal beats plastic any day.

BIG REMEMBER/WARNING

REMEMBER that this core dash support needs to go into THREE slots on the top of the white airbox/ blower box when FIRST placing it in. Not 2, not 0. I messed this up and wondered why my dash didn't line up with the holes on the core support. Guess who had to reinstall the dash twice. The manual doesn't expressly state that it has to go in those grooves, and I just forgot and went on with my day.


Post is incomplete and still in progress!


This will end up being a long post and it has gotten long already, so I will post and edit it as I go along. I am happy to answer any questions you might have!
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Last edited by TheHennDoggg; 08-31-2019 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 08-27-2019, 06:44 PM #2
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Old 08-27-2019, 07:35 PM #3
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Old 08-29-2019, 06:07 PM #4
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Dude, you're my hero! Please continue with the steps before you forget!
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Old 08-31-2019, 06:55 PM #5
TheHennDoggg TheHennDoggg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alia176 View Post
Dude, you're my hero! Please continue with the steps before you forget!
Edit 1 is almost complete! I hope this has helped you so far!!
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Major Parts List:
Energy Suspension, full front end rebuild, 885& Toytec, SPC upper arms, dual-amped 7 speaker stereo, 5100's, rear swaybar delete courtesy of rust, v6 junkyard skidplates and a lot of elbow grease
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Old 08-31-2019, 06:57 PM #6
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Also, if anyone has any tips with dealing with airbag warning lights, please tell me! I thought it was very simple to reinstall the airbags and harness. After all, they are bright yellow and literally idiot proof to put back in, but I seemed to have messed it up. How to I check these codes and where could I check to find failure? Everything is 100% except for the light!
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Energy Suspension, full front end rebuild, 885& Toytec, SPC upper arms, dual-amped 7 speaker stereo, 5100's, rear swaybar delete courtesy of rust, v6 junkyard skidplates and a lot of elbow grease
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Old 08-31-2019, 07:25 PM #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHennDoggg View Post
Also, if anyone has any tips with dealing with airbag warning lights, please tell me! I thought it was very simple to reinstall the airbags and harness. After all, they are bright yellow and literally idiot proof to put back in, but I seemed to have messed it up. How to I check these codes and where could I check to find failure? Everything is 100% except for the light!
Have you had the codes read, if so what are the codes?

If not take it to an autoparts store, most will read the codes for free.

Are you sure you didn't damage the clockspring when removing the steering wheel?

If you're not sure it could be very well the issue if it got damaged.
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Old 08-31-2019, 08:18 PM #8
TheHennDoggg TheHennDoggg is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AuSeeker View Post
Have you had the codes read, if so what are the codes?

If not take it to an autoparts store, most will read the codes for free.

Are you sure you didn't damage the clockspring when removing the steering wheel?

If you're not sure it could be very well the issue if it got damaged.
I tried to have the codes read at Autozone, Advanced Auto and O'reilley's. Unfortunately, all 3 said they couldn't, which is weird because I thought at least O'reilley's would. And I was very careful to not damage the clockspring, as I did understand they could be broken easily, but maybe it was damaged just from handling it.

I plan to trace all the airbag wires back since there are only 2 main ones and they are easy to get to. After that, maybe I will buy a cheap clock spring if I can't figure out what's wrong!
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Major Parts List:
Energy Suspension, full front end rebuild, 885& Toytec, SPC upper arms, dual-amped 7 speaker stereo, 5100's, rear swaybar delete courtesy of rust, v6 junkyard skidplates and a lot of elbow grease
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Old 08-31-2019, 08:27 PM #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHennDoggg View Post
I tried to have the codes read at Autozone, Advanced Auto and O'reilley's. Unfortunately, all 3 said they couldn't, which is weird because I thought at least O'reilley's would. And I was very careful to not damage the clockspring, as I did understand they could be broken easily, but maybe it was damaged just from handling it.

I plan to trace all the airbag wires back since there are only 2 main ones and they are easy to get to. After that, maybe I will buy a cheap clock spring if I can't figure out what's wrong!
Check all the connectors for the airbags, even if they look connected correctly, disconnect them again and reconnect them, the same on the clockspring, it could be just a loose/poor connection even if they appear to be connected properly.
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Old 08-31-2019, 09:51 PM #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AuSeeker View Post
Check all the connectors for the airbags, even if they look connected correctly, disconnect them again and reconnect them, the same on the clockspring, it could be just a loose/poor connection even if they appear to be connected properly.
Yep that's my plan, disconnect all airbags and reconnect all of them quick. I just tried the battery terminal trick and no dice. I still really doubt I broke anything, so I have high hopes! If no dice, I will try the clock spring
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Old 09-01-2019, 07:38 AM #11
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Incredible! Thanks for all your hard work on this.
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Old 09-01-2019, 11:24 AM #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slowgoat View Post
Incredible! Thanks for all your hard work on this.
No problem, thanks for looking at it! I hope once it's done it can really get people on the right track and getting this PITA job done once and for all. It's just going to get more and more common, especially since old 4th gens are almost 2 decades old!
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Old 09-01-2019, 01:10 PM #13
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For anyone visiting this thread later, I have found and fixed my airbag problem. The connectors under the middle part of the dash can be pushed in and LOOK like they're in all the way, but I did not click in the passenger side one. Check your connectors before final assembly for sure!!
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Major Parts List:
Energy Suspension, full front end rebuild, 885& Toytec, SPC upper arms, dual-amped 7 speaker stereo, 5100's, rear swaybar delete courtesy of rust, v6 junkyard skidplates and a lot of elbow grease
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Old 11-12-2019, 12:18 PM #14
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Strong smell again

Going into the colder months of winter, a smell of Freon greeted me as i turned on my heater. Hopefully it is just a fluke because the only thing in the air box that can leak is the evap core, the new expansion valve and o-rings are all located just outside. That means the brand- new DENSO unit has to be bad if the smell persists.

I still have compressor function and cold air no problem, so we will see.
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