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Old 06-14-2019, 05:40 PM #1
Ferrett Ferrett is offline
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Went in blind on a '95, paying the price and almost in over my head

Hey everyone. I've been on here lurking for a few months and finally have a reason to start posting.

I got into a '95 with the 3.0 and auto trans for what I thought at the time was a pretty good deal. It is super clean inside and out and seemed to run fine. Power isn't anything to rave about but having never owned one before I assumed it was fine. Engine was supposedly replaced with a JDM unit and has an oil pan leak that I was well aware of as well as non-functioning AC. Both projects I felt super comfortable handling. California car all its life , original owner and looked well maintained.

So after the initial joys of a new ride, cruising it around and finding a few fire roads to play on, it was time to get down to business getting this thing super reliable and roadworthy.

First hurdle, SMOG. I took it to my local station and it failed for a number of reasons. Illegal cat (I didn't know there were supposed to be serial numbers on it in California), non-functioning check engine light (I didn't think to check. Out of sight out of mind), high emissions on all levels, timing way off.

Took the dash apart to chase down the check engine light. No bulb......my inner voice was starting to tell me something might be up. New bulb = Check engine light is now on. Jumped the leads on the diagnostics box and found code 27 which is the sub O2 sensor. So I bought the correct cat and welded it in as well as front and rear O2 sensors since we need 2 of them here in Cali. Hmmmm, so why do I have a code for the sub O2 sensor? Chased the wires in the loom up to a dead end where they were tied into some random wiring that I still cannot identify. I downloaded the FSM and have a Haynes my neighbor loaned me and became a 4runner wiring diagram pro. Chased the wires up to the computer where there are no pinouts in the harness for the sub O2 sensor (how did they pass smog all these years?). Dammit, now I'm really starting to feel screwed here. So off to pick-a-part where I pulled an entire wiring harness from another '95 that has everything intact. Dissect the harness to grab what I need from the sub O2 sensor and the various connectors and pins needed to connect to the computer. I ran the 2 wires to their respective homes in the ECU and tapped into the main O2 sensor wires for the ground and the pink and white wire since they are common in the main loom. So now the check engine light is off. But, and its a big one, the engine now momentarily loses all power from the 1-2 upshift at 2500rpm and immediately returns but overall power is way down. This is a repeatable phenomenon which goes away when I disconnect the sub O2 sensor. I retrace my wiring and everything checks out so I am assuming that one of the input signals to the ECU is incorrect causing this to happen momentarily. So now with the timing set correctly and the wiring corrected, I have a truck that is undrivable and won't pass smog because there isn't enough power to overcome the dyno. My smog guy was more than cool to let me try and dial it in while we were there and still get it to meet spec but I need to be at about 25*BTDC to keep the torque up with everything connected correctly which won't allow me to pass. As a plus (yes, there's at least one!) the truck passes emissions and everything else except the timing so I'm at least closer.

So now upon closer inspection, the distributor is rotated counter clockwise all the way to the limits of its movement in order to be at 10*BTDC at idle. So this tells me something deeper is off. As in, my timing belt might be off a tooth allowing the engine to run but having zero power which would explain why the truck had 35*BTDC timing when I brought it home. This might also explain the momentary total loss of power on upshift as the ECU tries to make adjustments on the fly.

Needless to say I'm pretty disheartened but I'm not one to throw in the towel so easily.

The first big question is if you guys know how to inspect the timing belt positioning without yanking the entire front off the engine? I didn't immediately see any inspection windows or anything but I honestly didn't poke around there too much yet.

Second, do you have any other suggestions on what to look for? No I'm not ready to junk the truck just yet! LOL

So hopefully this unfinished saga has at least kept you interested and possibly even made you chuckle a little bit. All I can do now is laugh it off and chase down the gremlins one by one because I am super eager to fab up some bumpers and sliders as well as a few other tasteful mods and get this thing dirty!

Looking forward to meeting you all via the interwebs, Ferrett aka Sean
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Old 06-14-2019, 06:34 PM #2
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Oh boy. What a project. Good luck with it. I donít have anything to help, but Iím wondering how you bought this truck. In CA the seller needs to provide the buyer with valid smog inspection certifications at the time of the sale, in order to be able to register it. He should have made it smog legal before selling it, not you.
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Old 06-14-2019, 07:01 PM #3
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Yes you are 100% correct. But I bought it as-is, etc thinking I knew better. Lesson learned.

I'm confident I can sort this thing out. I've revived way worse projects but they were all pre smog so this is just an uncharted road for me.
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Old 06-21-2019, 04:30 PM #4
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Sometimes on these old trucks the outside of the crank pulley (the part with the timing marks) slips on the inside portion which is connected solidly to the crankshaft. The outer portion of the pulley floats on a rubber bushing (to damp vibrations), which can get old and allow slipping. If that happens your timing will look right but be wrong.

Best way to check this is to remove the number one spark plug, insert a wooden 1/4" dowel, and turn the engine until you have it at TDC. Then check the crank pulley timing mark to see if it matches.

Note: This has nothing to do with your timing belt. It only affects ignition timing, not valve timing. The fact that your distributor is rotated fully CCW to get 10degBTDC suggests that either your crank pulley timing mark is off (as per my suggestion above), or the distributor is inserted incorrectly.
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Old 06-21-2019, 11:56 PM #5
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^ this. Gotta ensure mechanically it's right first. So verify the crank dampener isn't f'd as well as distributor is in right.
Another quick way: you can remove a few upper timing cover (plastic top front piece) bolts and should be able to see the cam's timing marks. From there, rotate crank to what its TDC mark is and see if it all aligns with cam marks. Further, at the Cam's TDC marks you can pull off the distributor cap and verify rotor is pointing at the #1 cylinder spark plug wire pin. You're getting close.

Also, if you get totally burnt out on it, look up the 3.4 swap... Getting CA legalized is hard, but not impossible. I did it. And I'll never look back. But there's a healthy budget and even healthier amount of time needed to accomplish that... Something to ponder.
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Old 06-22-2019, 08:44 AM #6
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Ferret - I don't know if you have resolved your issue yet?
I am most certain all of us here on the forum hope you have - or its going well.
I have owned '92 my T4R for over 20 years.

You had a couple replies to help guide you from a couple members that were spot on.

You had a lot to say in your post. Let me say this "IT'S a TOYOTA" don't throw in the towel - especially when it comes to the 3.0 it can be very temperamental in a couple areas related to you SMOG conditions.

I am very new to the forum. But browsed for sometime.

You were given guidance to make certain the distributor was installed correctly.
You need that baseline in any vehicle (not insulting your intelligence).

But make certain everything is lined up to TDC. Make certain it is at TDC. (make certain the valves in #1 are closed)(the piston is just not up)
There was a mention of using a wood dowel to make certain the piston is UP. But you need to make certain the valves are closed.
It can take a few attempts to achieve this and sometimes a second person can be helpful.

I am a car guy. My T4R is my faithful pride and joy. My Z06 Vette is a monster.
For me - (I say humbly) when I try to get the #1 to TDC I install a compression gauge into #1 hole, with ALL other plugs removed.
A helper can help "bump" the ignition while the gauge is installed. As #1 valve train closes you will see the gauge begin to climb.
Do this a few times with a helper - you will get the grasp.

When you feel #1 is beginning to close - you can use that wood dowel or like there of inserted in the hole and hand crank it up the rest of the way via breaker bar on the nut on the front of the crank.
Assuming you are now at TDC, (piston up - valves closed) note the mark on your crank balancer. - 0 degrees?

Now that you are at TDC as the other member mentioned - make sure your "dizzy" distributor rotor is in line with your #1 tower on the distributor cap. (If it is your distributor is "stabbed" installed in correctly).
If not it could be that its installed a bit off - even 180 (doubt it your engine runs). But a dizzy installed "before or after" is "uncomfortable" in performance attitude.

Lets assume you are all lined up. A simple twist of the key and you fire up. (that's what you want) (a very simple twist) (bam - fire).

Reading all you post - flat spot - SMOG failure...
Lets say the 3.0 fires after accomplishing TDC..
Do you smell gas? If you have the smell of gas - or even visual evidence of leaking gas - O-rings at your injector(s) are leaking. You need to address this. (obviously)

Lets say you smell no gas.

Then you need to dial in the TPS - Throttle position sensor. A Denso - TPS may never fail electrically - but the mechanism (spring) can get sticky.
The TPS is VERY temperamental. It needs to be spot on. From flat spots to SMOG failures, it must be spot on.

Line yourself mechanically as others have mentioned to TDC, to ensure the dizzy in "stabbed' correctly.
move on to the TPS.

It's a Toyota - set your mechanical baseline at TDC and get that TPS (throttle position sensor) spot on. I think you will smile.

Oh and... True story a plugged fuel injector on a 3.0 is like the freaking end of the world. It really is. It will run like s*it.
Some guys run a cleaner through the lines to free it up- some guys awkwardly tap on each one to free up the sediment.
Me - I use a cheap woman's sex vibrator.... Seriously. while the truck is running, just place it on the injector(s) buzz it for a spell on all 4-6-8
IT WILL CLEAR IT. (smile) (ahhhh).
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Old 06-22-2019, 08:53 PM #7
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Awesome guys! Thank you for the sound advice. I have parked the truck for the moment while I read and read and read about installing a new timing belt, water pump, idler and thermostat in one fell swoop. I figured there had to be a way to verify a few things before I dove in head first.

No now with a direction to go and a few tricks up my sleeve I'll get in there and get a little dirty. I'll have something to report back on in the next few days. Good news I hope.

I can't thank you guys enough already! Ferrett aka Sean
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Old 06-23-2019, 09:57 AM #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferrett View Post
Awesome guys! Thank you for the sound advice. I have parked the truck for the moment while I read and read and read about installing a new timing belt, water pump, idler and thermostat in one fell swoop. I figured there had to be a way to verify a few things before I dove in head first.

No now with a direction to go and a few tricks up my sleeve I'll get in there and get a little dirty. I'll have something to report back on in the next few days. Good news I hope.

I can't thank you guys enough already! Ferrett aka Sean
Get yourself a timing light. When i'm getting bad spark the timing pulses at idle. Factory is 8 degree mine would pulsate from 6-8 because of the mis-timed spark.

Plugs, wires, cap, rotor, fuel filter, and a new cat (not sure how to go about that in CA) is a great start.

I'm sure some or all of this was all mentioned just going through what I did to get mine to run correctly when I was seeing weird timing, rough idles, and just in general poor running.
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Old 06-23-2019, 04:20 PM #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferrett View Post
Awesome guys! Thank you for the sound advice. I have parked the truck for the moment while I read and read and read about installing a new timing belt, water pump, idler and thermostat in one fell swoop. I figured there had to be a way to verify a few things before I dove in head first.

No now with a direction to go and a few tricks up my sleeve I'll get in there and get a little dirty. I'll have something to report back on in the next few days. Good news I hope.

I can't thank you guys enough already! Ferrett aka Sean


Sean - don't get too into that timing belt yet....
Make sure the "dizzy" is installed correctly.
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Old 06-25-2019, 05:30 PM #10
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OK I was able to put in a little time this morning.

Crank pulley at BTDC set at 0*, pulled back the timing belt cover and the cam pulley notches are at 12 o'clock. Distributor set at 10* at idle still cranked all the way CCW to get that setting. Rotor pointed at #1 on the cap where the pkug wire comes out of the distributor cap.

Loosened the distributor and rotated the rotor CW 1 gear tooth so it pointed at the molded #1 of the dist cap and centered the dist bolt. Couldn't get her to fire after futzing with the timing. Moved it back to the original rotor position and fored right up.

When I touch the plug wires coming from the cap I got zapped several times. So either my plug wires are bad or the cap has issues. Could possibly explain the lurching/stall condition on the 1/2 upshift if theres arcing in there.

So I'm kinda back to square one after checking everything is mechanically sound.

Crank pulley notch is verified correct with cam pulley notches so I'm confident there. The over rotated dist is not right. It bothers me because I know something must be off there. I'm just stuck as to how I should proceed without buying parts blindly.

I'll keep at it. Ferrett
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Old 06-29-2019, 02:19 AM #11
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If what you're referring to as sub O2 is the downstream O2, that only tells the ECU if your cat is working correctly, no other function at all. So if your wiring that up causes an issue, it's you're wiring that's the problem, not the signal it's transmitting. You swapped ECUs when you did the harness I assume as didn't you say the stock had no terminals for it (non CA model)? Try moving the dist the other way a tooth as well if you didn't.

One other small correction for future searchers - the belt can't slip on the the crank/sprocket unless your keyway is sheared or partially sheared. Which is also a possibility I suppose, but unlikely. Crank is solid metal to sprocket inner race, tied in only by key, sprocket is solid metal to teeth the belt rides on. Vibration damper/balancer is glued onto front of fan pulley, nothing to do with timing belt.
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Old 07-01-2019, 08:58 AM #12
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I've chased spun crank pulleys, crank pulleys wiith bad timing marks...or multiple and distributors butchered to get "more adjustment" when they were simply off one tooth.

Hang in there, you have got to be close with the distributor, if the crank and cams are mechanically in time, which you did confirm right?. I don't normally throw parts at engines but plugs/wires/rotor and cap might be a good investment at this point.
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Old 07-10-2019, 11:10 PM #13
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Ok back at it today with new plugs, wires, cap and rotor. Timing still at 10* and no change in performance or drivability.

Disconnected the sub-O2 sensor and the miss at 1-2 upshift goes away so obviously I need to chase that.

Moved the distributor 1 tooth CW and it ran as flat as a dog. Went the other direction 2 teeth and it would run like a raped ape off idle but would die. I rigged the throttle to keep it running and it idled at 68* advance! Man it was sporty sounding though!

So back to baseline and it runs but the distributor is cranked all the way to the limit to get 10* at idle and runs poorly. 25* advance is about the middle of the distributor and it runs nicely but definitely a no-go for smog.

So my next move is to verify the correct distributor part number and also to verify that the front pulley is properly lined up with BTDC by pulling the #1 plug. Although I think that will be alright as the crank pulley and cam timing marks all like up but I need to eliminate all possibilities before I drive this thing off a cliff! Lol

Any other suggestions, please throw 'em out there. I must be super close and again, thanks for all the help!

FERRETT
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Old 07-11-2019, 01:09 PM #14
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This may be a stupid question, but are you jumping E1 and TE1 when you check your timing?
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:55 PM #15
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Quote:
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Yes you are 100% correct. But I bought it as-is, etc thinking I knew better. Lesson learned.
Hopefully you at least got it at a good price... bit curious to know what you paid for it buying it as-is. Seller must have known full well what he was selling.
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