Q: My dealer asked me to change my timing belt at my 60,000 mile service, is it really important?

A: This is something that opens a lot of debate. Toyota suggests that under some driving types you may experience failure of the timing belt after 60K, if you drive under different circumstances then it may never fail. The $24,000 question is what does that mean and what should I do?. My suggestion is to replace the timing belt between 60K and 75K. This takes the guess work out of the potential failure. If the timing belt fails all that happens is the motor stops running and you are towed to the dealer, whatever plans you had are delayed night or day. Sounds a little severe, yes it does, if you drive a Toyota long enough prolonging any maintenance it will fail and never when its convenient.

Q: My truck stopped running but when I went back it started, any ideas?

A: Several things come to mind, the main relay (sometimes its the fuel pump relay) , the ignition coil, the fuel pump pick-up tube may have a rusted connection that kills the fuel pump. Your Toyota dealer should be able to help once they can (I know that you'll hate these next words) duplicate the condition.

Q: I have a 93 6 Cylinder truck will I need to have my head gasket replaced?

A: Toyota has started to actually recall most 88-93 V6 Trucks and 4Runners to replace the head gaskets under warranty. In the past they has a Special Policy Adjustment to correct any problems. If you have had yours done already you will not be notified again to have the gaskets replaced. Those of you that purchased the newer trucks with the 3.4 V6 engine you may experience a leak of red fluid from the left or right head gasket, this is repaired under warranty and has been corrected in production in 96.

Q: I have a noise from the front of my engine, I have a 89 4 Cyl 4X4, any help?

A: You may have several items causing the noise. The timing chain is my first choice. The timing chain is not a serviceable item and should last the life of the truck if you or the previous owner were very good with maintaining the engine. The reason the chain fails is normally lack of lubrication and wear follows. This is very expensive to repair but your vehicle should be worth the expense. The water pump can be worn and noisy, some models have an idler pulley for the Power Steering that may have failed. Take your truck to your Toyota dealer they will be able to tell what is wrong. Note: Sometimes if the timing chain gets loose enough for long enough it will actually wear a hole in the front timing case cover. What happens then is you will start to have coolant in the engine oil because the front cover also carries engine coolant to parts of the engine and the spot the chain wears opens up this area. Many a owner and some mechanics will mistake this for a cracked engine block, head gasket or some other coolant related failure.

Q: I had my timing belt replaced six months ago now its failed again, my dealer says that the water pump failed., is this normal.

A: You did not tell me your model but if it is a Camry, Corolla, Cressida, V6 Truck or Supra then its possible. In these vehicles the timing belt drives the water pump. Normally when the timing belt is replaced we do not have to replace the water pump, to do so would add unnecessarily expense to the repair. I've seen the water pump fail and there is a idler pulley that may seize causing the belt to overheat and melt. To blame one on the other or blame the dealer is not fair since, believe me, they would have been happy to replace both items along with the timing belt replacement.

Q: When I start my Camry in the morning the throttle seems to be stiff until I tap the gas peal, then its fine the rest of the day.

A: To be rear technical this is called "throttle sticking". It is caused by the evaporating gasoline in the intake manifold turning to varnish on the throttle plate. Normally your dealer should clean this plate at each 15,000 mile service.

You can clean this yourself if you want to try. You will need an old tooth brush, a can of carb cleaner (available at any discount store) and a phillips screwdriver. You need to take the large black tube off the throttle body then while holding the throttle plate open spray some carb cleaner into the chamber. Then use the tooth brush to clean the walls and the throttle plate. It may take a couple of tries to get it clean and varnish free. Then reconnect the large tube and start the engine. It will not start right up, since you added the carb cleaner, but after a little longer cranking it should fire up (and yes smoke for a short time). Once cleaned the idle should return to normal and the gas pedal should stop sticking in the morning. If the check engine light came on after doing the cleaning just remove the EFI fuse from the fuse panel under the hood for about 60 sec. and it should reset.

Q: Is there a computer that my dealer can attach to my car to see what's wrong?

A: There isn't any one computer that can tell any technician what is wrong with the entire vehicle. They have some diagnostic equipment that can read the engine and transmission computers and help in the solution. In the future Toyota is making available a direct connection with their home office to help in those unusual cases.

Q: I've been told that by adding additives to my engine that it will last longer, any truth to this?

A: Unless you drive or operate your Toyota in some extreme or very harsh environment you do not need to add anything extra to a good brand of motor oil. The quick lube places, for all the bad they do, have educated us to change our oil and filter at 3500 mile intervals. This is more than adequate for 95% of all drivers without adding anything to the oil. The major oil companies add all the additives to their oil that you would add from off the shelf products, so save your money.

Q: I have an 86 4Runner EFI that has the fuel pump replaced about 3 months ago. As I was leaving work yesterday it stalled several hundred feet away. It started right up again and I made a stop about one block from where I started out. It turned over but would not start. I drove home, which is about 35 miles with a long hill en route. The next morning the same thing happened. My daughter and I do most of the minor work ourselves do you have any ideas, all assistance will be appreciated. Sherrie M.

A: Several things come to mind. You may have a failing main fuel pump relay that will act like this. It is located above the fuses on the left kick panel. Try to find two relays that are the same and swap positions to see if it starts and runs. Under the right front seat is a electrical connection that joins the front and rear electrical items. This connection can corrode and cause problems. Remove the seat and raise the carpet for inspection. If you find corrosion or damaged wires then repair and try it again. The last is the hardest. The fuel pump is supported in the fuel tank by a fuel pump holder which also is the electrical connection to the pump from the vehicle. These have been known to fail and cutting out the pump form working. We normally replace these on older vehicles when the pump is replaced since the tank has to come out again. The very last item was it a Toyota pump from a dealer that you had installed, if not get one and get a refund for the one installed. PS I could not email you since the address was not assessable to me.

Q: I would like to know if there is a recall on T-100's and or 4Runners for defective engine head gaskets. I received a notice from my selling dealer to this effect. I now live 280 miles away and can't bring it to them. What do you suggest I do? Susan G.

A: In December 97 Toyota decided to start a full campaign called V6 for Head gaskets replacement for V6 engines in trucks produced from 90-94. Not all engines in those years are affected so contact your dealer for more information or wait for the notice from Toyota. The early models from 88-90 fall under another program and will be repaired if they develop a leak. If your vehicle has had the head gaskets replaced by a dealer since October 96 then it is considered repaired and will not be performed again, unless a leak develops. What you received is a solicit ion by the dealer to do the work to boost their service business. Should you have it done now is up to you. I would wait a little since, if there is no problem, then just the head gaskets will be replaced but if a leak develops then more is repaired. If you are going to keep the vehicle for a long time the repair will benefit you. There is not time limitation for this update at this time.

Q: I have a 95 4 Cyl Camry and it now takes forever to start when its cold. I just had it serviced for the winter should I go back to the dealer, maybe they missed something. Ryan P.

A: I hope the dealer did all they should but what you are experiencing is becoming normal for that model and is repairable. The part that failed is called an IAC (Idle Air Control valve), it gets plugged from engine oil vapors and does not let the engine idle high when cold. This has continued into later years and includes the RAV 4. These are able to be cleaned so ask your dealer for the cleaning and you can save 200.00 and it takes about 1 hour.

Now if you want to try to clean it yourself you can do this. You will need to purchase some carb cleaner from a parts store or some place like WalMart or Kmart. Then you have to have someone help you start the engine and kind of keep it running if needed. The process requires that you take the large black tube off the throttle body and unplug the Idle Air Control Motor. Caution, if you have no idea of what I just described do not proceed without having someone there to assist you. You then take the carb spray and spray a little into the small square hole you will find in the throttle body opening. Have your helper start the engine while you hold the connector for the IAC to the valve so that it makes contact. When the engine is running spray into the square hole and at the same time make and break the contact with the IAC connector so that the cleaner gets into the working parts of the IAC. You know when its clean when you hear a louder rushing noise from the throttle body when the connector is making the IAC work or open. Then all you have to do is clean the area and inside of the throttle body with a tooth brush (old one is preferred) and connect everything. Your check engine light will be on so when you shut the engine off open the fuse panel under the hood and remove the EFI fuse for about 30 sec. and it should clear. If it does not then turn the key to the on position and try it that way.

Q: My 94 Camry is running rough and my mechanic tells me that I may need new fuel injectors. This is going to be expensive and I told him I had to save some money. What do you think? Mary G

A: I'm not sure who your mechanic is or if it is a dealer. The injectors don't go bad or except for routine cleaning require any repair. Many things can cause symptoms that may fool technicians. If you have not taken it to a dealer then do so they have the knowledge and scan tool that can check for other factors causing the problem. The O2 sensor may have failed, a vacuum line split, ignition wire defective, defective spark plug, camshaft timing is off and so on. The injection is the last item and then only replace the one affected the chances of all needing replacing is unlikely.

Q: I have a 94 4X4 Truck and each 15K my dealer replaces my fuel filter. I've been told that I may not need this done as often, what do you think. Judy J.

A: The fuel filter on fuel injector engines do not need replacing at all unless some sort of contamination happened in your fuel system. Toyota has designed these to be lifetime filters so save your money. In case I was not clear all Toyota vehicles are included from Tercel to Land Cruiser.

Q: My 83 Toyota truck is hard on gas, about 25 MPG on the highway. Is this normal? I have gobs of oil in the oil filler cap, why? Corbetw.

A: Your fuel mileage is a little low. Several things can cause this, valve adjustment , the condition of the Ignition system, carb float level (too high causes more fuel to be used), the power valve in the carb may be leaking (this also caused harder starting after sitting). If all of these are in good condition then enjoy your truck, remember its 15 years old. Your second question is a case of engine breathing and normal operating temperatures. If the crankcase vent system PCV is not free and working then moisture is the a result. If the thermostat is not allowing the engine to get to a normal operating temp then water vapor will gather in the oil fill cap.

Q: I have a 83 Toyota Grande with noisy lifters. This is my second such model and the previous one did exactly the same thing. I change the oil at some 5000km and have had the engine flushed but it still comes back. To quiet the tappets or lifters is very expensive in New Zealand and not worth it. Is there any way to get rid of the noise? Frank G.

A: I too like older Toyota's but your problem may need mechanical repair. The cause is that the oiling system was allowed the develop some deposits (sludge) and it has affected the flow to some of the very small orifices that keep the lifters filled. I'm not sure what is available in your country but some excellent engine oil conditioners are available to "break up the deposits" and in time help with the condition. There is no magic in a can but id some cases I have been surprised. I also recommend that you always use a Toyota oil filter and this may add some protection to your oiling system.

Q: I have an 88 Celica that started to use oil after I had the cylinder head gasket replaced, about 1 quart per 700 miles. Did the dealer do something wrong? I have 100,500 miles on the vehicle any ideas. Donna

A: I don't know why the cylinder head gasket was replaced or if you were using oil before. If all the repairs were done at a Toyota dealer did the repairs I have to assume that all was done correctly. The amount is a little high for normal usage. You did not mention any oil leakage or smoking after starting or while driving. When you replace a cylinder head gasket you increase engine compression, which places more stress on the piston rings. The piston rings are already worn at this mileage and possibly they have lost some of their tension against the cylinder walls. The lower ring set is called an oil control ring which acts as a squeegee to wipe off the extra oil used in cylinder lubrication. If you are not seeing any blue smoke when starting or while driving, I have to guess that the rings are the cause, remember that at the speeds that the engine runs a very little amount that slips by will add up to a quart soon. Did the dealer make a mistake in not replacing the rings? Its hard to say and unless there was something to suggest wear, they probably had your financial interests in mind when the repair was done.

Q: What are valve seals? My dealer is telling me that replacing these will stop my engine from smoking. Dan

A: Valve seals are used in the cylinder head to wipe the oil from the valve stems. These seals will get harder the more mileage your Toyota has on the engine. If the seals cannot clean the valve stems then very small amounts of oil will drip into the engine and be burned. You may be seeing some smoke on startup after the engine has been off for some time. Replacing the seals can be done on some models with the cylinder head still on the vehicle. It is sometimes advisable to have the dealer check the carbon on the valves, it may be wise to have the cylinder head removed and the valves cleaned, it will improve your performance and not add a lot more to the repair.

Q: I want to adjust my valves on my 84 Celica. Can you tell me where to find the valve timing marks. mally

A: Most engines allow valve adjustment when the engine is positioned in two locations. Remove the valve cover and align the timing marks on the crank to TDC. You will now find that 1/2 of the valves are loose, adjust these to spec. When done rotate the crank 360 degrees to TDC and do the remaining ones. It is best to adjust the valves when the engine is hot. The spec for this engine is Intake .008in and the Exhaust .012 in.

Q: I have a 1988 Toyota Camry with a starting problem. After the car sits overnight, it takes about a full 30 seconds to one minute of cranking to fire the engine up. I have a decent Chilton's guide, but there doesn't seem to be a good procedure for testing the cold start injector. I suspect this might be the problem... perhaps there is a cold start relay I need to test and replace? After the car warms up, it runs excellent, and it restarts fine. This does not seem to be a fuel pump problem to me. This is my wife's car, and I am always a little reluctant to work on it, even though I am a pretty decent shade tree mechanic. AB

A: Your problem is probably the cold start timer switch. It screws into the thermostat area. It cost about $60.00 and is easily replaced.

Q: My '87 carbed 22R long bed head gasket corroded through at the #2 Cyl, exhaust side on 8/20/98. So, I had the valves done and the head surfaced with .005in removed. Upon reassembly in accordance to a Haynes manual, the timing chain is way loose. The timing came back advanced 15 degrees, and the idle is way low. I'm $400 into the repair. Considering what is needed to change the chain, should I pull the engine and do a rebuild. My ride ran like silk until this, and I want that back. What do I need to do other than pay big labor costs to have the engine reconciled? Thank you for any help you can render. Sharon

A: I don't know if you did the repairs or a garage or dealer. At your mileage you should have been told that doing the chain is advisable since its probably worn out. You will have not choice but to replace the chain, guides and tensioner to solve the condition. Most Toyota techs can remove the front cover without removing the head gasket (saving some money). The machining of the head did not affect this condition.

Q: Hi, my brother has purchased an auto repair facility which is franchised. He was told that it is company policy in Japan to replace engines at 30,000 miles. These engines reportedly are then sent to the U.S.A. for resale. I can't believe this. Have you ever heard of this.
Thanks for your reply. We have spent one hour on this issue! Yours
truly, E K.

A: There are engines that come from Japan. I can't tell you why there were separated from the original vehicles but normal replacement is not normal. My feelings is that come from accident vehicles just like the ones available stateside. Thanks for the reply Jack. I spoke with someone who imports Japanese auto engines. He says that it is in fact almost true. What happens is that the cars
do not hold up well in Japan due to tough weather conditions and the fact that
they do not put a lot of mile on the car (too congested). At 30,000 miles, they
have driven the cars between 5-10 years, not the two-three like in California.
The requirements for passing smog and other test to keep using the cars are
far more rigid than the U.S. and the fines for polluters ie small oil leaks)
makes it cheaper to just dump the cars and buy a new one The engines are
still good so they are stripped of the attachments and sent here for resale.
Interesting! Ernie

Q: I have a 94 Camry 4 cylinder with 88000 miles which has a small but annoying oil leak coming from the cover plate over the rear oil seal. I presently use Castrol 10-30 oil. Would it help to increase the viscosity of the oil? I live in Austin, Texas where it is normally warm even in winter and very hot in summer, like 90-100 F. Also isn't this unusual for a rear seal to leak at this mileage? I have been quoted from $300 to $550 to replace the seal.Thanks. DS
A: Normally changing the oil viscosity will not correct a leak. The seal can leak at this mileage and its rather involved to change.
The trans. has to come out to do the job so the prices you were given is not too far off.

Q: My 88 pickup has never failed to start..ever. I had used my truck today all day with no problem. I stopped at my office at the end of the day to check my messages,
when I turned off the truck it knocked 2 times and then it turned off.
5 minutes later when I tried to turn it on, it wouldn't start. The starter turns over, it just whines away, but the engine won't start.
A: My guess is that the timing chain may have broken. If the engine is turning over physically but not starting its a good bet.
This is rather an extensive repair and you will need to have a dealer or some Toyota specific garage do the repairs.
When it gets there they can confirm my guess.

Q: My car is using oil like there's no tomorrow. Recently I had an oil change and after only 700 miles it was down half the dip stick. After adding a quart of oil and driving another 1000 miles there was no oil registering on the dip stick. I had to add another 2 quarts of oil. I'm still about 1700 miles from having an oil change. I park in the same spot at work and home everyday and there is no sign of any oil leakage.
What do you advise?? Cindy
A: I always hate being the bearer of bad news but you condition is not all that uncommon for the Tercel.
This is a fairly dirty engine inside and if it has not had really good maintenance in its life this problem shows up later on.
You have stuck piston rings and probably valve seals that are stiff and not doing their job.
The repair is fairly involved and may cost around 1500.00, but as strange as this sounds the Tercel is probably worth it.
If your cash or credit situation is not able to handle this some people find that buying another car is an option but the repair is the best way to go unless you really hate the vehicle.

Q: The SAD shaft on my 93 Previa started to go out at about 55,000 miles but I didn't know what it was. I thought it was the air conditioner compressor starting to fail, since turning the AC on made the problem apparent. It started with a rattling sound that quit when I turned the AC off, and a general mechanic agreed with me that my diagnosis was correct, but since a new compressor would have cost in excess of $800 I put it off, and just used the AC sparingly. This continued for nearly a year, when I noticed that anything else that took power from the engine, such as the power steering, or excessive electrical loads also caused a rattling sound. I finally found a web site devoted to the SAD shaft problem and was glad that I hadn't replaced the AC pump, but then I found out that a dealer would charge me about $1200 to replace the shaft, so I've been limping along with my rattley Previa ever since. My question to you is: Did you know about this problem, and if so, what are my alternatives? I'd like to just change the worn out rubber bushings myself if that's possible, or maybe get a used or rebuilt shaft. Where can I find one, and how much will it cost? Kyle
A: Yes I know of this problem as do most Toyota dealers. The shaft you described drives most of the engines accessories. A kit is available for the repair of the shaft go to SAD Kit and get the information you need. Sorry but it only works on the 94-97 Previa. There is a place you can go to and they offer an assortment of Previa parts, www.previaparts.com. More information is available in a Service bulletin DL001-00 that came out Nov 00. Your dealer can supply you with a copy or you can contact me for a copy if needed.

Q: I have just found out that I need to have a valve seal job, plus new rings and they are going to machine the valves. I am disappointed that I have to do this since my car only has 90,000 miles, although it has been incredibly dependable (knock on wood). Why did this happen and can I get some tips on how to prevent this from happening in the future. I do my regular maintenance, get oil changes and also use the 89 octane gas like it says in the manual.
A: You really did nothing wrong. I do not know what level of maintenance your Tercel has had or what kind of driving you do but in general its a design problem.
This motor is what I call a dirty engine in that it does not use the fuel effectively and needs an abundance of emission controls to help that awful carburator. The engine need to run warmer than it does or if short trips are the norm then this adds to the problem.
This is a low price car that Toyota added to its lineup but suffered from the carb/engine combination from 88-91.
Once the repairs are done it will return to normal and you will have many useful miles left on the vehicle.

Q: Could you please tell me where the gas filter is on 89 4X2 truck? I have tried to find it but I can't seem to find it. Thank you for your help. Dave
A: If you have a carb them it on the frame in front of the right rear wheel.