3rd gen 4Runner potential buyer. Advice needed

Luckychase5

Adventurer
Hi all, I’m looking at my buddies 1997 4Runner. It’s a SR5 with the E-locker 170K miles and the 3.4L. I’ve heard great things, but would love any advice on common problems to look for.
He said there is a lifter noise coming from a cracked gasket. He said it’s a common problem, and is easy to fix. I’m handy and can do work, and the price is definitely right with this. Thanks for any help!


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bkg

Explorer
Hi all, I’m looking at my buddies 1997 4Runner. It’s a SR5 with the E-locker 170K miles and the 3.4L. I’ve heard great things, but would love any advice on common problems to look for.
He said there is a lifter noise coming from a cracked gasket. He said it’s a common problem, and is easy to fix. I’m handy and can do work, and the price is definitely right with this. Thanks for any help!


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HUH???? That makes no sense to me.
 

Luckychase5

Adventurer
Ya, me either. This the question. I see lots of people have to adjust the lashing in the lifters. He may also just be referring to the valve lifter itself. I’ll get more info today when I see him.

Does anyone know of any other problem areas to look for?


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Dopesick

Does a bear..........
You won't get lifter noise from a cracked gasket. That's not how that works.

Also, the 3.4L Toyota engine, doesn't have Lifters. It has "buckets" over the valve/spring assembly, and shims on top of those buckets. Now some "tick" in the upper is common, just from the valve train noise.. But if it's really loud, get it checked out.
 
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tennesseewj

Observer
I'd pay a mechanic to do a third part inspection. No sense is letting misinformation come between you and your buddy if the deal doesn't turn out as you planned.

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Loubaru

Adventurer
My 3rd gen had low miles so had no ticks but from what I remember the valves weren't easily adjustable like a Honda. Seems like more than an "easy fix". People tend to not treat them well (not change the oil) because "it's a toyota" which i thinks causes a lot of the valve train noise on the 3.4. I'd definitely take it to a mechanic that knows Toyotas.

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Luckychase5

Adventurer
Having a mechanic look at it after the holiday. My buddy is splitting it with me, which is nice


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sandracer33

New member
I agree with everyone else on having a mechanic check it out. Valve train on the 3.4 is shim & bucket. Not easy to adjust for average user. Mine has 275,000 miles on it, I check clearance every 30K and have never had to adjust them. Noise from gasket could be exhaust, not that common. More common noises are cracked flex plates, but usually occur at higher mileage.

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The biggest thing to look for is rust. Go over the frame good and make sure it doesn't have cancer. Also check the radiator and transmission fluid to make sure ther's not (or ever has been) a pink milkshake (transcooler is integral to the radiator, if it fails, fluids will mix and fry the tranny). Unless you are 100% sure it's been done recently (i.e. within 50k miles), assume you should do the timing belt and also the lower ball joints. It's not an interference motor so if timing belt does go, it's not the end of the world, just a tow and probably at a bad time. Lower ball joints are a weak point and if one goes, it can be bad. Don't bother with anything other than OEM radiator or ball joints. Spend the money and don't worry about it again.

With a little care and upkeep, you can easily get well over 300k out of these vehicles, mine's at 351k and going strong. Check out T4R. org https://www.toyota-4runner.org/3rd-gen-t4rs/

Lots of great DIY videos on Youtube from Timmy the Toolman https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9EMiD9KPy61kJ6hdXcbjxA
 

Pangle

Wanderer
To add to what @Hopeless Diamond said... Make sure to check the INSIDE of the frame as best you can. Reach your fingers inside the factory holes on the frame, and see if you can feel any scale laying on the bottom inside. These tend to rust inside out.
 

pluton

Adventurer
The biggest thing to look for is rust. Go over the frame good and make sure it doesn't have cancer. Also check the radiator and transmission fluid to make sure ther's not (or ever has been) a pink milkshake (transcooler is integral to the radiator, if it fails, fluids will mix and fry the tranny). Unless you are 100% sure it's been done recently (i.e. within 50k miles), assume you should do the timing belt and also the lower ball joints. It's not an interference motor so if timing belt does go, it's not the end of the world, just a tow and probably at a bad time. Lower ball joints are a weak point and if one goes, it can be bad. Don't bother with anything other than OEM radiator or ball joints. Spend the money and don't worry about it again.
All this, plus check the rear axle seals. If leaking, subtract $1200 or more from the price.
Budget for new springs, new shocks, new tires, new radiator, complete all-fluid change. Be prepared for the steering rack to need to be replaced.
Toyota-4runner.org is a good source for buyers guide-type info.
 

Luckychase5

Adventurer
Thank you for all of the help and inspiration. I’ll definitely check for rust, the radiator, and the rear axle seals. Good thing is this a 100% Oregon car it’s entire life. But I’ll make sure and check.


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bkg

Explorer
Very solid advice.

I wasn’t aware axle seals were that much $$. I think I paid $800 for rear bearings and seals back in 04-05 timeframe while trying to chase a weird him from the axle.
 

Utah KJ

Explorer
When you hit the power mode button in the center console, all the windows should go down to prevent them from getting blown out from the surge. This feature often fails, and is often overlooked during a pre-purchase inspection.
 
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