A New Opponent Enters!

By new, I mean the 2001 4Runner I bought earlier this week. On Tuesday I had a chance to get it up on the lift and really check it out. For an 18 year old vehicle with 255k miles, it’s in damn good shape. Here’s the immediate to do list:

  • Timing Belt - It has 170k miles on it, they have a 60k interval. Oops.
  • Lower Ball Joint and Tie rod on driver side have to be replaced. Going to do the passenger side as well for safety, they are both junk aftermarket parts on the truck.
  • Oil Change
  • Get rid of wheel locks. Wish there was a key.
  • Power Steering fluid is low.
  • Bumpers need to be replaced, currently covered in duct tape.
  • Replace radio with newer unit with bluetooth and Carplay.

So not bad on the immediate list. Longer term needs are:

  • Deal with undercarriage rust. Inspection camera didn’t find any surprises, inside of the frame is clean aside from the very end by the rear bumpers. I’ll have the section cut and patched with new metal where it is rusted through, and I’ll clean up the rest and paint the frame with some rust killer.
  • Shocks are on the way out, springs have a ton of rust that annoys me. I don’t intend to lift it, but I may do a minor 1-2" lift with good quality components that can handle some weight.
  • Tires are at 7/32 now, so they are good for a while. However, they also have a 2013 date code, and not much siping (Yokohama Geolandars), so they’ll be replaced with Duratracs. Had them on my Jeep and loved them. Amazing off road and in snow and ice, very good on pavement. Best all around truck tire I know of for those of us in the snowy north.
  • Front receiver mount hidden in the bumper for a removable winch.
  • One tear on side of driver’s seat needs to be patched before it gets worse. It’s not on the seating surface itself, but it will spread.
  • Front brakes are fine, but they have some vibration and will be replaced. Common upgrade for these is to put on Tundra calipers and rotors. They bolt right on and are much thicker and heavier duty without the tendency to warp that the stock setup has.
  • Possibly lose the running boards and put on a set of rock sliders.

In all, not bad for a $2k 18 year old truck that has lived in NH its whole life. I have an appointment for the timing belt and water pump next week, ordinarily I’d do it myself, but it’s cold and I just don’t feel like it, still nursing a hurt elbow and a broken left index finger from wrenching on the BMW.


I already dealt with the wheel locks by buying 4 cheap 19mm sockets from Home Depot and hammering them onto the locks. Also did the driver side ball joint and tie rod yesterday. Working on this truck is a joy. There is so much room, and everything is laid out in an obvious manner. The ball joint took less than an hour not including the time I spent finding a socket to hammer onto that lock lug so I could get the wheel off.

Oil has been changed, power steering topped up. I’ve put a Sony XAV-AV100 in the dash for radio duties, and new black bumpers are on the way. Apparently the bumpers come via freight, and no one can provide any tracking on them. Annoying.

I’m deeply smitten with this 4Runner. I love driving it, and I love working on it. Parts are practically free compared to what I’m used to buying parts for. When I buy a cheap project, I usually have the next thing in mind for when I sell the project, I’m not feeling that this time. This truck is special.

Ball joint out. Finally broke down and bought a puller for the ball joint and tie rod. $30 for both. Should have done it years ago rather than hammer on things or renting.
Home alignment. Tracks great after replacement.
The instruments of a wheel lock’s death.
Fun with sledge hammers
Screw you, wheel locks.

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