I had only owned the 1996 Tacoma maybe four or five months before determining it wasn’t for me. I began to look around for a more suitable truck once I made up my mind to sell it. Not long after that, this truck popped up in a major city east of here and I liked the looks of it.
Not only did it look to be very clean and rust free, the 2wd configuration wasn’t going to give me any of the fits the Tacoma did and there were only ~110,000 miles on the odometer. The 2.4 liter 22RE four-cylinder and 5 speed combo would return good economy and be a good pairing for me. I liked the idea of the topper for camping and/or keeping bed contents dry as I’d never had a truck with a topper before. I offered my Tacoma as a trade but the seller was looking for a cash sale, so with that info a buddy drove me over to Cedar Rapids early one Saturday morning.
The truck displayed well and drove decently, if not oddly somehow a bit harshly. It had one heck of a loud exhaust leak which I was a bit perturbed to learn about given the seller’s asking price. You’d think he’d have sorted that beforehand. The five-speed shifted well enough but some gears were notchy. There was no power steering or cruise control, indeed it was a very basic truck but I was really OK with that. The only option I could see it had was AC. After checking it over with my buddy (who had an ’89 Toyota Pickup himself at the time) I paid the seller’s ask ($3,200, I think it was) and drove it home.
The honeymoon period ended pretty quickly when I first noticed a puddle under the truck later that evening. It was leaking gear oil out of the rear differential up by the pinion seal. Not sure how we missed that when looking over the truck… Oh well, I guess I’ll have to top off the gear oil frequently I thought – not that big of a deal aside from the smell of the stuff. Later that week I took the truck into the shop to have the muffler replaced. That went smoothly but now a new noise was much more apparent than before. I was familiar with the sound of timing chain slap from my first Hardbody – which would make that sound only for a few seconds upon startup. This truck was making timing chain sounds at certain RPM ranges while driving. We pulled the valve cover off the engine – the plastic top guide was missing (probably was in the oil pan) and the chain had begun wearing a notch through the metal in the timing chain cover. Super. In the meantime, I had ordered tune-up parts, new shifter bushings and GL-4 trans fluid to address the notchy shifter and preventative maintenance, just as I had with the ’96. I contacted a few shops around to see about addressing the timing chain issue as that was certainly above my capabilities, but the independent garage never contacted me back and the Toyota dealer quoted me $2400. Ugh.
So I continued to drive the truck locally but I was pretty discouraged by all this. So much for my plan to have a reliable and efficient funtime/camping rig. Seeing how things were unlikely to get any better without a major investment I threw it up for sale. I was forthcoming about the truck’s issues and being a 2wd truck around here, of course, there was little interest. After a few weeks, a distant acquaintance of mine found my number and inquired on the truck. I was leery to sell to him as he was a college student likely without the means to address the issues but he insisted his local uncle was a Toyota expert and he was not concerned. I explained how to fill the gear oil periodically and he paid me my ask – a good bit less than I paid but I guess that’s life. Last I heard the truck was treating him well and he moved out west with it after graduation. I have no idea if he ever addressed either issue…
That’s just how to goes sometimes, reading through I get the impression that perhaps you had already made your mind up about buying the Toyota before you got there to look at it? Been there, done that, one too many times.
The two times I went used cheap truck shopping I ended up with mid 90s Rangers, the Toyotas were simply too dear. My Rangers were both lower mileage trucks (126 and 109k on the ’97 and ’94 respectively), drove them both for a full summer without touching much of anything. Made the mistake of trying to fix the ’97 up for resale, but way too much into that thing ($3500 including original $1700 purchase price), just to sell it for $2500. The next one, my 94, I bought for $2000, barely touched anything on it, sold for $2200 after a bit of waiting and showing it to different buyers.
That’s exactly what I was thinking. Always remind yourself to not make up your mind before seeing the vehicle. Been there, done that too. When we bought our Mustang it helped to look at some examples in poor condition first, so we knew what we wanted.
Too bad it didn’t work out for you, it would have been a good workhorse in better condition. And if you only pick one option AC is a good one to have.
I have always liked Toyota trucks, but had to cross them off my list when I was looking for a small 4×4 pickup. They just cost to much for what they are, IMO. I ended up with a 1992 Hardbody (idiotic name) due to the cost/condition equation.
Haaaaa, you are telling us toyotas need repair and maintenance? Inconceivable! I have a couple of friends who are card carrying toyota cultists and firmly insist that toyotas NEVER need anything ever and are God’s own conveyances and every ford, Chevrolet, or chrysler regularly collapses in a heap of smoking debris every third time it’s driven.
Sounds like it wasn’t the truck for you, but for someone willing to spend the $$$$ and effort, it worked out.
My son bought one of these cheaply, it was a one owner and had been rear ended, the guy had it half assedly fixed in some Barrio shop after he bought it back from the insurance company .
His two sons thought it beneath them so my son got a 40,000 mile truck for $2,500 IIRC .
he proceeded to thrash tot poor thing for serval years including lifting the body off the frame for Johnson Valley, Ca. Desert racing (2WD !) .
His soon to be wife drove it and short shifted the hell out of it, hammered the connecting rod bearings to the copper underlay, when they began knocking too loudly he dropped the pan and replaced them, I kept the ruined bearings at my work station for several years, the real Mechanics were always astounded that the crank was in prefect shape .
Pretty stout little trucks .
Holy crap that is serious robbery for the timing chain and cover. Of course Toyota probably wanted to use a new cover which I bet is expensive compared to the aftermarket one. But if you catch it before it wears to thin they can be reused.
It is only a 4 hour job, I have done it at least a dozen times. Even at ~$1,000 for the parts that price was serious gouging.
And yeah you want to replace the oil pump as the aluminum from the timing cover didn’t do it any favors.
Maybe the dealership included a headgasket replacement in the quote? I want to say a new hg is one of the overly cautious recommendations in the fsm for the timing chain job. A good independent shop I talked to about it quoted me $800, “more than that if I have to do the headgasket too, but usually it’s just the chain”.
Well a lot of them do come in for a “head gasket” because the oil is full of water but I never did a head gasket with the cover and chain replacement.
From what I remember, it’s because of the little bit of headgasket that sits atop the timing cover. If damaged, external leaks would occur. I was fully prepared to use however much fipg it took to fix it if mine had a problem, but luckily no issues
“I liked the idea of the topper for camping and/or keeping bed contents dry as I’d never had a truck with a topper before.” THAT’S why I got one for my 2011 Ranger. My previous vehicle was a ’96 Aerostar & I really missed having the built-in cargo protection a van–mini or otherwise–provides. As for actually “camping”, a van still serves that role much better (more room); on the other hand a cargo area separate from the cab has its advantages too when handling more “dirty” cargo (tree limbs, compost mulch, trash duty runs) so the passenger area stays clean & free of unpleasant scents.
Toyota shouldn’t have retired the Hilux name on these trucks in North America because “Pickup” and “Truck” sound way too generic. I wonder whose decision it was to do this. The Hilux name was continued in most other markets & still survives today.
Hate that you had to go through this. The 22re gets a lot of praise, but I think the 3rz in your Tacoma is better in every way.
I broke the timing chain on my 22re somewhere north of 240k miles. Went to crank it up in a parking lot, it idled a second, then died. Engine wouldn’t even turn over. Ended up with links embedded in the timing cover.
Got it home, threw on a new chain, verified good compression on all 4, and got it fixed in a few hours (once parts arrived).
My pinion bearing started to let go around that same time. I replaced the pinion seals with increasing regularity for a few years, and finally just put in a 3rd member from a V6 last year – – problem solved, and for less money than a rebuild.
Headgasket let go after 310k miles or so. Fixed that in the driveway too, after the machine shop got the head squared away (no cracks or warping thankfully).
22re is not perfect by any stretch!
The old pinto 4 in the Ranger may be a crude little lump, but if the timing belt gives up the ghost, you can just about replace it with hand tools on the side of the road. Sorry to hear about your troubles, but the lesson learned should do you well going forward.