4x4Wire TrailTalk

97 4Runner too Old to Keep?

Posted By: brink

97 4Runner too Old to Keep? - 06/05/19 03:17 PM

So I'm asking for advice from the most knowledgeable 4Runner people I know. I have asked questions before on this forum and have always received great feedback.
My question is: Do I continue to keep my 97 4Runner SR5 that has 199,000 miles and continue to invest money in it? I do all maintenance and repairs myself.I have read that it can go to 250,000 miles, but I'm not sure what that means in terms of parts replacement. I really love this vehicle. Its the best I have ever owned.
I use almost daily to work and to tow a small boat each year on vacation from NJ to northern Lake Champlain and as the mileage ramps up, I feel uneasy about using it with fear that something is going to fail on it (especially while on vacation!) I have owned it for 129,000 of the miles it has and meticulously maintained it. (new parts over the years: starter, radiator, timing belt, solenoids in transmission, rear axle seal, rotors, one fuel injector, plugs and ignition wires once)
It currently has steering wheel shimmy when it reaches 70 mph and also when I apply the brakes on a higher speed stop or coming down a steep hill. I have had this in the past and replaced the rotors / pads and it solved it for a time but it returns after a few months. Now I would like to replace the original calipers, rotors, pads and also the original front struts, even though the struts seem ok doing the "bumper bounce" test. I figure since the calipers and struts are original its time to replace them. Does anyone have similar or even higher mileage and any thoughts on what I may expect in terms of parts that may need replacement? Ball joints? Master cylinder?Alternator? How long do these darn things last???
Posted By: rxinhed

Re: 97 4Runner too Old to Keep? - 06/06/19 01:03 AM

One of my friends has approaching 400K on a 4Runner V8, and still uses as his daily truck.

I would suggest starting to look at tie-rod ens, control arm bushings. Without question, your struts will be toast...bumper bounce works on oil damped shocks, not too well on your Toyota.

Do the maintenance. Keep the paid-off truck. Enjoy it.

My $0.02.
Posted By: Tuxedo_Ranch

Re: 97 4Runner too Old to Keep? - 06/06/19 02:48 AM

I agree with rxinhed. I have a 99 4-runner with over 210K and it runs perfectly. I've had it for 7 years (bought it with 150K) and haven't had to do that much to it.

Put some money into the front end, but was still cheaper than a single months car payment. The tags, taxes and insurance are also less than a single months car payment, and that's with full coverage. Most expensive part I've had to replace was the catalytic converter. Did the install myself so it wasn't all that expensive either.

It's also our mine long distance driver, have no qualms about driving it any distance.

Hope this helps you out.
Posted By: brink

Re: 97 4Runner too Old to Keep? - 06/06/19 02:12 PM

Thank you for the encouragement. I forgot that I did replace tie rod ends and steering rack bushings. As Tuxedo_Ranch points out the money I will be putting in my 4runner is less than a car payment. I got sticker shock when I saw what a new 4runner SR5 costs! Thank you rxinhed and Tuxedo_Ranch. You really helped me out! I will be ordering parts tonight.
Posted By: brink

Re: 97 4Runner too Old to Keep? - 06/07/19 11:58 PM

Ok I just watched a video on YouTube about replacing lower ball joints on 3rd gen 4runners. The mechanic said 3rd gen 4runners are notorious for failing lower ball joints even with low mileage. Is this true?
Posted By: 4x4Wire

Re: 97 4Runner too Old to Keep? - 06/12/19 04:14 PM

All years and models are "notorious" for some type of failure. The engine, transmission and transfer case are the most expensive components to repair.

As long as the frame is sound (not rusted or bent) suspension parts are relatively cheap to repair. Fix it and wheel it and enjoy the ride!
Posted By: brink

Re: 97 4Runner too Old to Keep? - 06/13/19 12:02 AM

Thanks! I just received new rotors, pads,calipers, brake hoses, and struts.I am now committed to keep it it as long as I can. Many thanks to this website and folks like you!
Posted By: Tuxedo_Ranch

Re: 97 4Runner too Old to Keep? - 06/14/19 06:59 PM

Keep it up, 4-Runner parts, Original and Aftermarket, are a lot easier to find than parts for my Raiders, so I make it up just the way you want it and hang on to it as long as it's viable.

Best of luck and be safe,

LTUX
Posted By: brink

Re: 97 4Runner too Old to Keep? - 06/19/19 11:09 PM

Originally Posted by Tuxedo_Ranch
Keep it up, 4-Runner parts, Original and Aftermarket, are a lot easier to find than parts for my Raiders, so I make it up just the way you want it and hang on to it as long as it's viable.

Best of luck and be safe,

LTUX

You guys are awesome. I knew I came to the right place. Thank you all.
Posted By: brink

Re: 97 4Runner too Old to Keep? - 06/22/19 09:50 PM

Well.......I need some advice. Today I replaced front struts. (Old ones were shot), calipers, rotors, pads, and rubber brake hoses to each caliper. Also found a pin hole leak in the drivers side metal brake line, three inches up from the rubber hose connection, there was a bubble in the line's coating and sure enough a leak started as I was bleeding the DS caliper. Just what I needed to find a few weeks before taking my trip to Northern Vermont. Now I'll be worrying about all the other brake lines!!! I installed a new 12" line ( at least it was the shortest line).
Before I started the work, I did my best to flush the brake lines stating at PS rear, then DS rear, then PS,the DS. Old fluid really wasn't so bad. I picked up a vacuum bleeder from HF, although when I used it there always seems to be some streams of bubbles in the bleed hose. Not sure if this is from the vacuum.
After bleeding with all new parts, the brake pedal gets pretty solid, but when I start the engine the pedal goes down about halfway. This is where is has been since I can remember, but I thought after installing all new parts, the pedal would be higher even with engine running. Am I missing something?
I read online that the key may need to be ON while flushing. Also read the engine should be running. And also read engine OFF, Key OFF and just bleed farthest wheel to closet which is what I did and always have done to my Ranger and other vehicles, no key on, no engine running and then I used a bottle and helper in the vehicle.
Am I doing it correctly for the 97 4runner?
Any help on this is greatly appreciated.
Posted By: Snowtoy

Re: 97 4Runner too Old to Keep? - 07/16/19 07:55 AM

With the V-6, there is usually some amount of depression of the brake pedal before you feel pressure, and since the pedal feel is the same as before, what you are experiencing is likely normal. As long as you started with the tire that was furthest from the master cylinder by the way the lines are run, and worked your way back to the closest, you should be fine brake wise, I would be more concerned with the brake lines that may have issues with rust like the one you found.
Posted By: brink

Re: 97 4Runner too Old to Keep? - 06/03/20 06:10 PM

A HELLISH update: Last July took the 4runner with 199k miles from NJ to Vermont for two weeks towing a small boat. Ran fine the whole time except when on the way home. It was hot 100 degree day, traveling on Rt 87. Made it to Kingston NY and took an exit for a pit stop. Wife stayed in 4runner with it idling and AC on. I was in a store and after 5 minutes she came running in with my keys saying the 4runner had smoke coming out from under it's hood. My stomach sank to the floor. I came out ,saw antifreeze under it, opened hood and saw no sign of a leak just steam. Turned ignition on and temp gauge was normal. Thought the overflow blew out some stuff. So we went to eat dinner, let it cool, when to an auto store to buy premixed antifreeze. As I added a half gallon to the radiator, iI notice a small amount of antifreeze leaking below the filler neck. Thought I spilled some.
We took off, and all was good for a few miles on RT87 and then it died. Every indicator light came on. Stuck in the shoulder on RT 87, boat in tow, 100ft from an exit to a service area. and its 100 degrees out. After many phone calls, the thruway tow company appears with two flat beds. I protested and said one could tow both 4runner and boat, which they did. After the 4runner is on the flatbed I notice gobs of grease on the flat bed. We got towed to the nearest exit to get us off the thruway, and were dropped at a Best Western parking lot along a side wall.. We waited a few hours there for the second tow company. Getting dark. The second tow company shows, proceeds to get 4runner on flat bed. Guy calls me over as he's taking photos with his phone of the front end. He shows me that the first tow company had it incorrectly J hooked and tore both CV boots. Hence the grease I saw earlier. I took photos too.

$1,700.00 later, we were home at midnight. Turns out the seven year old radiator ( I did not know they had a short lifespan) I had replaced when the original blew out, split along the front where the plastic tank meets aluminum. I was very concerned that the overheating damaged the motor, trans, etc. But I took a gamble and after a few days of work, new stat, radiator, hoses, it started right up like nothing happened. Then I installed new CV joints that I managed to get the first tow company pay for the parts. Photos came in handy. I has been running fine until a brake line blew in November. It now has 206k miles since then. Of course now there is a leak at the top of the CAT. Always something.

I learned my lesson and I hope my experience helps anyone else out there who may think about taking a long trip with an older vehicle with high mileage and after market parts that are unknowingly cheap. Now when I take it to work or anyplace within my AAA insurance circle, I think about that it has the original fuel pump, ball joints, master cylinder, on its way for a second timing belt, potential CAT if the muffler cement doesn't hold up and keep wondering it its really worth it to keep.
I hate the thought of throwing money into it for one thing, lets say a new CAT and knowing the others can potentially go anytime. The exterior is holding up some rust spots on hood, and both bumpers have small rust holes. Interior is perfect. There are times I wish it would just blow the trans or motor so I would have no choice. And then there are times I believe I have the toughest vehicle ever made. Anyone else go through this kind of thinking?

BTW: If you are ever stuck on a Thruway push your vehicle off it and save $300 for a one mile tow charge.
Posted By: bryan9F

Re: 97 4Runner too Old to Keep? - 08/07/20 11:05 AM

Quote
I learned my lesson and I hope my experience helps anyone else out there who may think about taking a long trip with an older vehicle with high mileage and after market parts that are unknowingly cheap. Now when I take it to work or anyplace within my AAA insurance circle, I think about that it has the original fuel pump, ball joints, master cylinder, on its way for a second timing belt, potential CAT if the muffler cement doesn't hold up and keep wondering it its really worth it to keep.


It's great when you have a nice insurance circle for doing such thing. I prefer insurance agencies, which can guarantee the highest quality of service like one called American Insurance ( https://www.americaninsurance.com/ ). They have pretty nice insurance quotes for auto insurance, and for house's one as well.
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