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Fuel gauge needle miscalibration?

Discussion in '4th Gen 4Runners (2003-2009)' started by RomaniGypsy, Dec 16, 2017.

  1. Dec 16, 2017 at 8:43 PM
    #1
    RomaniGypsy

    RomaniGypsy [OP] New Member

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    I've put about 800 miles on my 2004 4Runner (V6) since getting it, and I've noticed something odd. The fuel gauge needle seems to be miscalibrated. The best explanation I can give is that it appears that someone popped the needle off of its spindle, and then replaced it in such an orientation that it shows 3/16ths of a tank lower than it should.

    When the tank is filled to capacity, the needle shows 3/16ths below full. It starts going down properly as I drive, and when it's pointing directly at "E", the range indicator still shows 80 miles to empty. I kept on driving, and got the range down to 40 miles to empty. At that point the fuel gauge needle was pointing at 1/8th of a tank BELOW empty. I filled up and it took 18.1 gallons.

    When off, the needle points to a bit more than 1/4th of a tank below "E". When I turn the key on, the needle quickly rises to where it's going to point, though at all times it is showing 3/16ths of a tank lower than what I actually have in there.

    This isn't something that I'd deem worthy of a trip to the shop, but I've never seen it on any other car I've had. Any ideas? Is this common?
     
  2. Dec 19, 2017 at 8:02 AM
    #2
    Texoma

    Texoma IG: @cwehlin

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    Just bought dat bish
    Just calibrate your eyeballs to know where the needle is and actual fuel level. You could probably open up the instrument panel and adjust, but probably really isn't worth the time.
     
    Bob likes this.
  3. Dec 19, 2017 at 10:52 AM
    #3
    Roman

    Roman New Member Vendor

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  4. Sep 6, 2018 at 9:47 PM
    #4
    2004runnerguy

    2004runnerguy New Member

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    I bought my 2004 in Oct 2017 and noticed the same thing on my 4Runner after about a month of having.

    Today, my gauge showed empty and my gas light was on. I drove it 20 miles to work and 20 miles back home with the gas indicator light on.

    If you find an easy fix, please update.
     
  5. Sep 7, 2018 at 8:21 AM
    #5
    xdelmar

    xdelmar New Member

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    I want to travel and camp and will do Mod's necessary to do this with a 4runner.
    I found this:
    Problem was diagnosed as a "fuel sending unit" issue by ----- -------- Toyota. Cost for dealer to repair was $998.00 (P&L). I had 45 days left on my extended warranty plan so they had to cover it...only after providing them this video evidence the problem was real even though they were "unable to reproduce" it after visits. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OZahnFExak

    On another forum, "I was of the same mind that the float or sending unit was the culprit but I read somewhere that it is possibly the gauge itself in the dash. I haven't tried to fix it yet so I'm not sure which is the problem."

    There ar two parts to the gauge TSB
    the first step is replacing the sending unit which last time I looked cost about $100 in parts and required you to drain and drop the tank. But in the end you do gain 1 gallon in usable fuel as a result of the new sending units longer pick up.
    The second part of the TSB is recalibrating the gauge to the new sending unit. You might try this first to see if works.

    Could also be the gauge sending board.

    And there are a couple of other forum sites that are make and model specific with questions and solutions to your question. Try google to locate them.
     
  6. Sep 7, 2018 at 2:33 PM
    #6
    RomaniGypsy

    RomaniGypsy [OP] New Member

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    Update: I've now put almost 15,000 miles on the 4Runner. The gauge is still exactly miscalibrated as it was before. The "low fuel" light does not come on until the fuel really is low... by which time the needle shows almost 1/4 of a tank below empty.

    The range readout on the console seems accurate, so I use that if I have to. I don't intend to fix anything until I absolutely must.
     
  7. Sep 7, 2018 at 3:38 PM
    #7
    2004runnerguy

    2004runnerguy New Member

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    Thanks for the updates. $1K is a whole lot of money to fix this issue. I guess I’ll keep resetting my trip odometer so I don’t end up stranded on the highway.
     
  8. Sep 8, 2018 at 12:17 PM
    #8
    FatrCat

    FatrCat New Member

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    2004runnerguy-
    It is also possible that a previous owner had your gauge cluster opened up to make some type of changes where the needles had to be removed and he didn't get it back in place correctly. (I just finished modifying mine and while the fuel was correct I did have to go back and re-do the coolant temp needle). In researching how to resolve needle issues for mine, the fuel is simple, in that when you re-install the needle you should be placing in the normal position for when the vehicle is off; setting right on top of the bottom peg. But apparently sometimes this didn't work and info suggested that you could simply remove the clear gauge fascia and then lightly use a fingertip or pencil to swing the needle down to it's proper position (without need of removing/re-seating it). Before doing so I'd find out if your fuel gauge operates on the same basis as those for '96-2000, but if so that might be all you'd need to do, and sounds like it could be the cause, since the reading is consistently a specific amount off, with the needle not going to the right place when turned off.

    Hope that can help!
     

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