Jump to content

1st Gen 4runner


Recommended Posts

Hello TIA;


Money is getting tight and affording school, mortage, truck payment, and a wife is almost impossible! Unfortunately I was forced to sell my 2010 Dodge Ram, I took a $2k loss but no longer have payments & high insurance. This was a preventive measure, to avoid more serious financial troubles when my GI Bill expires this Spring. I decided to leave the TIA sticker on for the next owner :)


So I made a deal with my wife, jokingly she said I could buy the 1st gen 4runner I'm drooling over if she gets a newer car too. The next day we bought her a 2010 Subaru Outback Limited for under $10K. Dealer was asking $12 (already low) but I got the car inspected and noticed the battery was bad and timing sticker missing. -$2K, deducted another grand by giving him the stink eye. A few minor paint defects but nothing serious. Clean leather interior. I was able to inspect the care before it was detailed. Owners stuff still inside. Figured out he lived local and worked about 40 miles away, high miles 100K, but mostly highway so we decided to roll the dice.



So now I am scheduled to view the 1st generation 4runner this Saturday. I found the truck on craigslist and really liked the mods the PO did. My plan is to use the truck as my daily driver for the next few years then turn it into my toy when I get a new truck. I love the 4runner and have always wanted a 1st generation. (1984-1989)

A little about the 1st gen 4runner:

Nearly indestructible and prized in the off-road community. All 1st gen 4-runners have a removable top, often mistaken as a pick-up with backseat. 1984 & 1985 had a solid front axle so it's a beast for rock crawling. In 1986 & 1987 the 4runner switched to front independent suspension but added a turbo option to there bulletproof 4 cylinder. Although still underpowered, the turbo 4 had enough power to overcome altitude HP losses. Plus a really cool digital dash


Toyota changed the 4runner body in 1990, no longer offering a removable top but adding the option 4-door. 


Although I would like a 1985 solid axle, I found a modified '86 that looks promising. A 2 owner car with nothing serious via Carfax. The PO had the car for 19 years and dumped a bunch of money into it. Including an engine swap to the even more bulletproof 3.4l 5VZ engine from a 1998 4runner and factory TRD supercharger. Suspension upgraded with long travel FOX. Some other goodies also. New paint that just happens to match our new Subaru.






I should be able to get into it for around $7K - For me it's a good price but I might have blinders on because I'm a ToYo Fanboy. The engine swap was professional and its registered in California, which is a pain in the ass. I will have the truck inspected, I'll have to find someone who knows this stuff. I know this engine, I owned a 2000 4runner limited. 


So.. what do you think? Good buy or am I being stupid? Obviously I'll need a blue TIA sticker if I buy it. 







Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bought the 4runner.



Maybe a stupid decision but it should be a fun ride.



First thing it needs is a steering upgrade and recondition. I'll be tackling that shortly. Sloppy steering is scary.



We (Wife and I) didn't buy two matching cars on purpose but its kind of funny how things work out. 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

So smog was fun. I should've held the previous seller to the smog check but figured I was getting a deal so I didn't worry. I had a check engine light for evap so I would of failed before even testing. I pulled the charcoal canister and found the damn thing was held in place via sheetmetal screws and held together with JB Weld. I decided to man up and buy a new unit for $350. I fashioned a bracket with some angle I had laying around. No welder yet so I just bolted the thing together. Good enough for now. 


Before replacing the canister I did a seafoam treatment new plugs and new wires. New hoses with the canister and cleaned the MAF & throttle body. Replaced the PCV and luckily no EGR to worry about. Oil change with mobil 1. I will do the trans + diff oil service soon


I passed smog easily. But then discovered the check engine light wouldn't have mattered. According to the smog guy my truck smogs as a 1986 with large engine. So no OBDII, only OBDI. I don't know if that's true but who cares. I could of cleared the light and had the evap as an incomplete without failing. 


I picked up a bunch of steering gear including a nice $350 Total Chaos idler arm. I plan to install that gear this week. 


Ill post some photos later, off to class. Taking finals.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last final is tomorrow. I'm ready for a break!

I installed the steering gear. More pics and a write up to come (after finals) but here's a little pic to hold you over. :)


I installed more then pictured, including inner & outer tie rod ends but those pics are on my PC. This was my first time messing with IFS. Independent Front Suspension. It wasn't too bad but I definitely made a few mistakes :(

Quick trip to get aligned


And a quick off road shake down. Note, hoods are up only to air-up. Compressor powered from battery.


I have a few more adjustments to make but it's already x1000 better

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I took the 4Runner up a local trail, to the top of some cellphone towers. It did great, although I noticed an oil leak from the t-case rear drive shaft seal. Guess that's the next fix.

It was nice and sunny going up the mountain then on top the fog rolled in.


My blue 4Runner, brother-in-law with the red YJ, father-in-law white jeep trailhawk




Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Took the 4Runner out today. On our way up to the cabin, hit a detour. About 15 miles of mellow trail. Started in the desert, ended in the snow. Only in California.

My brother-in-law & his girlfriend (white Chevy) were camping in the area and headed home. We planned the trip so we would intercept midway. Didn't bring my camp stove, otherwise lunch would of been perfect.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks good man! I have never been much on toyotas but they make a hell of a good truck. We have a mid 90s (I think) T100 for a shop truck at my tech school. It has around 350,000 miles on it and it runs great for a bunch of students driving it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always scratch my head when people dog Toyotas. Not many vehicles can last 400k+ miles. I'm all for American made but my 2010 Dodge Ram had more China parts then American. Besides, Toyota manufactures in the states, providing a ton of jobs... So that combined with reliability makes me question the motives of yota haters. Maybe Chevy guys are just racists?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So recently I noticed a shutter when shifting into 4th w/ a slight loss of power. My 4Runner has the same transmission pulled along with the engine swap from a 1998 3.4l automatic transmission. I read a lot about valve body upgrades with supercharged engines. Most people say the 'soft shift' of the stock transmission translates to increased heat and burnt transmission when supercharged. The valve body upgrade is suppose to 'stiffen' the shift and reduce temps.

IPT located in New Jersey does the upgrade. I think it involves changing a few springs and drilling a few holes. About $550 + shipping.

I listed my Ridgid jointer on CL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sold the jointer today. Sad to see it go but I haven't been using it much. Took my truck to a local driveline shop, they specialize in race trucks so my baby is in good hands. The drive shaft was short and u-joints were bad. Previous owner used a vice when replacing u-joints and marred/dented up the old shaft pretty bad. I pick the truck up tomorrow, very interested to see how it responds. About $360ish for new shaft, u-joints, & balance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Member Statistics

    Total Members
    Most Online
    Newest Member
  • Create New...