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Old 02-14-2020, 09:46 PM #1
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Looking for 2nd gen buying advice

Hi everyone, I am looking around at a few 2nd gen T4Rs with the 3.0 V6, manual transmission, @ ~150,000 miles. I intend to use it as a daily driver and am not particularly concerned about the MPG.

I am no stranger to the platform as my brother has owned a 1994 since around 2002, still going strong at 250k. I have plenty of experience with it, and with working on it and other vehicles doing various repairs such as clutch replacements, timing belts, head gaskets, etc., so doing routine or preemptive maintenance doesnt worry me.

That being said, I am trying to get a feel for what sort of preemptive maintenance or upcoming maintenance I should expect on a 25 year old vehicle with 150k miles on the clock. For example:
  • Are there any rust-prone areas that need to be checked in detail? Any areas that are prone to rust that are especially difficult to repair? Anything specific on the frame, body, bumpers, interior, etc.
  • Any engine or drivetrain quirks to be aware of, any failure-prone areas of the 3.0 V6? For example, I have heard these motors have somewhat weak head gaskets.
  • Any specific areas of the suspension / steering that need to be checked for wear?
  • Are parts becoming difficult to source?
  • Anything else? What would you look out for if you were considering buying one?

Additionally, I would like to hear your thoughts on what a good condition 2nd gen is worth. I am having a hard time determining what a fair value is on a 2nd gen in good shape, since the market is kind of all over the place on various models in various conditions. KBB is telling me that the private party value of one in near perfect condition is around $3200, which seems low considering what I have seen them selling for. NADA Guides value tops out at $4500, by comparison. Clean ones with relatively high miles seem to go for $10,000+ on Bring a Trailer.

In any case, thanks for reading. Hoping to be a member of the club soon.

Last edited by Snypr18; 02-14-2020 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 02-14-2020, 10:39 PM #2
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Valves, especially the #6 (rear driver) side exhaust valve are the killer on that engine. If compression is low in that cylinder it's likely already burned and will need a valve job to gain full power. Will run forever either way but won't be quick about it. Plan on doing valve lash using the SST set either way. Head gaskets of course also, but that'll happen to any vehicle eventually, I've owned several 3.0s and only had one issue with HG that was previously replaced by some dumbass who installed on wrong head

Rust will always be first behind rear bumper on sides (impossible to spot without removing bumper), then usually front of rear tires/back of rear doors and rocker panels, then lower fenders. Never had a frame issue.

Parts are everywhere, and cheap.

Prices vary widely. You can get a beater needing a head gasket for ~$500 these days, I've bought several in running condition for less than that but that was years ago. Nice - perfect ones will go for $5-10k, yes. Paying that for a 3.0 is foolish, IMO.
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Old 02-15-2020, 03:44 PM #3
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Thanks man, great info. I take it you are more a fan of the 3.4 than the 3.0?

Any particular adjustment tools you would recommend for doing the valves?

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Old 02-15-2020, 05:21 PM #4
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https://www.amazon.com/Schley-Produc.../dp/B0014DF1AG

3vz was great for its time, but came out 32+ years ago and most people never adjust valves which is critical on this one, so by the time you get it, ~17% of your compression is going right out the #6 exhaust valve, throw in all the other valves, rings etc and prob double that. It would have pretty poor displacement and fuel consumption to power ratio by modern standards even when new. If you get a deal and rebuild top end and maintain it, it can be a decent and reliable engine.

I don't think they're worth the prices most people are paying for them, but honestly I think that about most used Toyota 4wd these days. Nostalgia market has gotten a bit crazy, it'll correct next recession. The 3vz def wasn't a high point for Toyota though, and they're kind of a pain to work on.
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Old 02-15-2020, 05:40 PM #5
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Wheel wells, windshield frame, door bottoms. Do check the frame. They don't have known trouble spots so look everywhere. The frames rot in random areas. I recall a few years backing working in a shop. A guy came in showing off this mint 2nd gen he scored cheap. He wanted an oil change. When the lift started going up we started hearing crunching. The frame floor was rotten.
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Old 02-15-2020, 09:38 PM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbtvt View Post
~17% of your compression is going right out the #6 exhaust valve, throw in all the other valves, rings etc and prob double that.
How often do you figure adjustments would have to be made to the valves to keep compression loss to a minimum? Does the issue stem from a faulty design or just inferior parts at the time of production?

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Wheel wells, windshield frame, door bottoms. Do check the frame. They don't have known trouble spots so look everywhere. The frames rot in random areas. I recall a few years backing working in a shop. A guy came in showing off this mint 2nd gen he scored cheap. He wanted an oil change. When the lift started going up we started hearing crunching. The frame floor was rotten.
I definitely plan to inspect the frame closely, it seems rust is just about the only thing that can stop these trucks. Do most guys typically sand / grind down rust spots and treat with an inhibitor like POR-15? Any special consideration for rust forming around welds?

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Old 02-16-2020, 10:48 AM #7
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Can't remember interval specs but they're out there, gut feeling every 50k is enough. #6 issues are due to crossover pipe design creating heat but all other cylinder shims also need more attention than any other Toyota shim over bucket design, in my experience anyway. Whether metallurgy or design issue, don't know.

Oh and for rust - Ultimate oil undercoating guide (DIY Waxoyl) You can go right over rust and this will last longer and protect better than POR15 or any solid coating, or fluid film 1-2x winter
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Old 02-17-2020, 03:41 PM #8
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Wow, 50k interval seems uncharacteristic for Toyota given their reputation. I guess the fact that they still run after 500,000 miles, although not as well, is good enough for most owners. Come to think of it though, my brother has mentioned several times that his '94 doesnt seem to have as much power as it used to. With 200k miles I am sure hes overdue for a valve job.

I see in your sig that you did a 3.4 swap to your 1990, how much of an improvement is that over the 3.0? Not as high-maintenance?

Quote:
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Oh and for rust - Ultimate oil undercoating guide (DIY Waxoyl) You can go right over rust and this will last longer and protect better than POR15 or any solid coating, or fluid film 1-2x winter
That is quite an undercoating process. Fortunately I live in a pretty mild climate and rarely see snow / salt, but I will keep this in mind if I need to up the ante. My Jetta is living proof that a continuous application of oil does a great job at rust-proofing the undercarriage...

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Old 02-21-2020, 07:00 PM #9
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Yes, any oil undercoat is much better than no oil. 3.4 and 3.0 blocks are similar if not identical, just a better head design and less vacuum line rat's nest.

Know several people who owned that era Honda engines and had valve issues also, believe one said it was an adjustment issue that caused a top end rebuild, but unlike the 3vze, he was dead in the water until he did his. I'm sure all the other brands would have it too if they lasted this long without dying other deaths. Different time different technology.

Yes, at 200k without adjusting valves your bro prob has zero exh valve clearance on #6 and would need a top end rebuild to regain compression if he wants his power back.
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Old 02-22-2020, 04:18 PM #10
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Thanks again for your input on this stuff. Not a lot of guys talking about the older generations these days.

It sounds like the 3.0 is a real coin-toss on head gaskets; some go early, some go late, and some are repeat offenders.

Quote:
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3.4 and 3.0 blocks are similar if not identical, just a better head design and less vacuum line rat's nest.
What are your thoughts on the 3.4 swap? Worth keeping an eye out for clean but higher-mileage 2nd gens as possible candidates for a future conversion? Im eyeballing a '91 out in CA sitting at about 250,000 miles; wondering if I can expect it to continue running for a while if everything checks out, or if its just a time bomb. I am looking for a daily driver, it would be nice not to have to do an immediate motor rebuild.

Personally, I have always thought the 2nd gens were the coolest runners out there, but I can see why they command less of a premium than 1st and 3rd gens. Works for me, though.

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Old 02-23-2020, 12:32 AM #11
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Swap is more work than some make it out to be. I'm in the northeast so plenty of rotted out 3rd gens around and had a clean CA '90 with severely neglected motor, but wouldn't set out to do one if I didn't have to. Like 2nd gen styling also but they are a big step down in crash ratings from 3rd gens so drive defensively if you do get one. They'll run forever but 3vz has the rep of "all the power of a 4cyl with the gas mileage of a v8" for a reason, esp when the valves are burned. And with an auto trans they're about worthless, no balls at all on any I've driven. Same for the 3.4
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Old Yesterday, 02:51 PM #12
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Also looking to buy a 1990 2nd gen 4Runner with the v6 and 5 Speed....

I'm on the East Coast and the car was in California for most of its life. Very clean underside but the rear bumpers have a few rust spots showing. Even the paint itself is really nice, no fading/ messed up clearcoat

Car has 207,000 and seems to run good but white smoke when i started it up. Guy said it was normal that it did that in the cold (it was 15 degrees out when i went to look at the car)

There is no record of the timing belt or the head-gasket ever being serviced. Guy is asking for $2500 but if he takes $1400 is that a good deal?

I would want to do the timing belt and headgasket ASAP for piece of mind so trying to factor that in
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Old Yesterday, 05:45 PM #13
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Quote:
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Car has 207,000 and seems to run good but white smoke when i started it up. Guy said it was normal that it did that in the cold (it was 15 degrees out when i went to look at the car)
At 15 degrees almost any car will have white condensed water vapor coming out the tailpipe immediately after starting. The major products of combustion are CO2 and H2O, so when the tailpipe is cold some of the water vapor will condense before exiting.

If the white smoke seems excessive, or continues when the weather is warm, then it's a problem. As it is, it's inconclusive.
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