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Old 09-23-2019, 11:41 AM #1
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Looking at 1st Gen, Advice Request

I'm looking into purchasing a 1st gen to have as a third car. I'm looking for something fairly stock and will mostly use it while our other vehicles are in the shop, fun weekend vehicle with the top off, and a few trips off-road a year.

What are the known failure points that I should be looking for in these vehicles? Known rust spots that I need to look out for? Known mechanical issues that could cost me a ton that I should be weary of?

Honestly my wife wants a Jeep and I'm trying hard to come up with an alternative that she will be happy with. Like me, she's a big Toyota fan so this is an easy sell. I just want to ensure I get the best vehicle I can.

Thanks guys
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Old 09-23-2019, 02:35 PM #2
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1988+ models offered a 3.0 v6 that had more reliability issues than the 4cylinder 22re but the v6 more enjoyable to drive. 22re models seem to hold their value much better.
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Old 09-23-2019, 02:46 PM #3
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3.0's are too tight in engine compartment, harder to work on and has more troubles than 22R-E.

Stick with 22R-E 5-speed. Automatic transmission robs power and harder and more expensive to work on. You can trade your starter on a 5-speed manual for beer or steak on the trail and still be able to start your engine - LOL!

First-gen 22R-E MANUAL transmission has fewer critical problems, mostly wear and tear items, so much easier and less expensive to work on compared to other trucks.

Radiator / cooling system may have been neglected so clogged and less efficient. My head gasket blew o@ 1pprox 180,000 miles, one year after I bought my 1986. Test going uphill in warm weather.

Sagging rear suspension. There are fixes ranging from maybe $50 for "Zuk mod" to $1500 for Old Man Emu leaf springs.

Expect shocks needing replacement, just from normal age. The common push down on bumper several times the release to see it bounce does not expose bad shocks.

Check steering components, especially the idler arm - normal wear and tear.

Ball-Joints may have play (especially upper ball-joint that carries more load than lower ball-joint). Would need replacement (easy process), but not likely to lead to catastrophic failure unlike 3rd-Gen

Intermittent click but no fire is a good problem to find on prospect. (search "Clicknostart 22RE" You can use it to bargain but is easy and cheap to fix using relays or simply rewiring

Dim headlights, also inexpensive fix, using relays on "H4 conversion harness".

Weak horn, also easy to fix using relay and possibly replacing contacts in steering wheel.

"Alexman Videos" on youtube cover a lot of fixes. Also LC Engineering and 22RE Performance.

Parts are often less expensive than other models.
Sources:
LC Engineering
22RE Performance
Summit Racing
Toyota Parts Deal, etc.
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86 4Runner, 22R-Eliable, 5-Speed Manual, dlx. WHAT'S YOURS?
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Toyota components are bullet-proof. Issues often arise from poor wiring, assembly and/or maintenance. Suspect those first.
Next only to our senses, the multi-meter is the most important electrical diagnostic tool. Spend $6 at Harbor Freight or $$$ blindly replacing parts.

Last edited by RAD4Runner; 10-15-2019 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 09-23-2019, 03:02 PM #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidR1 View Post
I'm looking into purchasing a 1st gen to have as a third car. ...Like me, she's a big Toyota fan so this is an easy sell.
Make it an easier sell. Show her this, more than a weekend driver
(https://www.toyota-4runner.org/899228-post1.html)
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86 4Runner, 22R-Eliable, 5-Speed Manual, dlx. WHAT'S YOURS?
If you want us to help from afar please let us see, hear, feel what you're dealing with.
A picture paints a thousand words.
Toyota components are bullet-proof. Issues often arise from poor wiring, assembly and/or maintenance. Suspect those first.
Next only to our senses, the multi-meter is the most important electrical diagnostic tool. Spend $6 at Harbor Freight or $$$ blindly replacing parts.
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Old 09-27-2019, 12:10 PM #5
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My 86 4R is used pretty much as you described, third(well, 4rth) car and weekend adventure vehicle. I'm so happy to have it. Nearly every time I stop at a gas station to fill up somebody comes up to talk to me about it. If your wife is the social type, she might like that.

Just try to get one that hasn't been off roaded or modified and has all the parts and doesn't look like wild animals have been living in it. 175k is considered pretty low mileage for first gens.

Note if it has had a clutch replacement, head gasket or valve job. Regardless, #1 thing I always do with a Toyota is replace the thermostat with a new one as soon as I take ownership. I used to get 80's Toyota's free-cheap with blown head gaskets from stuck thermostats back in the 90's.
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Old 09-27-2019, 10:35 PM #6
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Common rust spots would be fenders and wheel wells. You will probably expect to get some rust unless your budget is high.
No glaring weaknesses in these. I'd agree with you in looking for a stock example with a solid drive train.
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Old 09-28-2019, 12:37 AM #7
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Originally Posted by Blind Cleric View Post
Common rust spots would be fenders and wheel wells....
But almost always guaranteed to have rust AND critical is the windshield surround.
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86 4Runner, 22R-Eliable, 5-Speed Manual, dlx. WHAT'S YOURS?
If you want us to help from afar please let us see, hear, feel what you're dealing with.
A picture paints a thousand words.
Toyota components are bullet-proof. Issues often arise from poor wiring, assembly and/or maintenance. Suspect those first.
Next only to our senses, the multi-meter is the most important electrical diagnostic tool. Spend $6 at Harbor Freight or $$$ blindly replacing parts.
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Old 10-06-2019, 02:40 PM #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RAD4Runner View Post
3.0's are too tight in engine compartment, harder to work on and has more troubleshoot than 22R-RE.
The other side of your opinionated coin is that V6 autos have the ability to have a 3.4 dropped in and done in a matter of hours, for less money than a 22RE headgasket job...
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Old 10-07-2019, 12:11 PM #9
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A good bet all around

I'll just echo what pretty much everyone else is saying. Expect some rust, 22RE with a manual tranny. I had one go till 385k on the motor before it needed major work, sold it to a buddy..she now has 616k on the odo. They run forever. It's hard to go wrong with that combo and there are some nice ones to be found if you have a higher budget.
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Old 10-13-2019, 08:41 PM #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by williamlv282 View Post
1988+ models offered a 3.0 v6 that had more reliability issues than the 4cylinder 22re but the v6 more enjoyable to drive. 22re models seem to hold their value much better.
88's were the 1st year of the 3.0, i think they were a one off year, making it have some parts peculiarity year specific.

3.0 head gaskets tend to blow around 160-200K

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The other side of your opinionated coin is that V6 autos have the ability to have a 3.4 dropped in and done in a matter of hours, for less money than a 22RE headgasket job...
where are you get the wiring harnesses etc done for less than the cost of a head gasket?
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Old 10-15-2019, 01:56 AM #11
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Quote:
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The other side of your opinionated coin
My strong opinion is that a 3.4 swap into a a first-gen would not be the "fairly stock" that O.P. is looking for ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidR1 View Post
...I'm looking for something fairly stock

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Originally Posted by Dropzone View Post
...where are you getting the wiring harnesses etc done for less than the cost of a head gasket?
Curious, too
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86 4Runner, 22R-Eliable, 5-Speed Manual, dlx. WHAT'S YOURS?
If you want us to help from afar please let us see, hear, feel what you're dealing with.
A picture paints a thousand words.
Toyota components are bullet-proof. Issues often arise from poor wiring, assembly and/or maintenance. Suspect those first.
Next only to our senses, the multi-meter is the most important electrical diagnostic tool. Spend $6 at Harbor Freight or $$$ blindly replacing parts.

Last edited by RAD4Runner; 10-15-2019 at 04:12 PM.
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Old 10-16-2019, 02:08 AM #12
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Quote:
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88's were the 1st year of the 3.0, i think they were a one off year, making it have some parts peculiarity year specific.

3.0 head gaskets tend to blow around 160-200K


where are you get the wiring harnesses etc done for less than the cost of a head gasket?
From a local guy who has done a bunch of these swaps. The info is out there on how to do it, but of course if you buy a plug and play harness, it will be easier, but cost a lot more.

My point was more of a “don’t hack on the 3.0 too much” thing. They have their good points too. 22REs are great engines, but have just about the same number of issues as 3.0s. I’ve owned lots of both, and the best overall condition Toy gets the win in my book, be it 4 or 6 cylinder.
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Last edited by Redthies; 10-16-2019 at 02:13 AM.
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