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Got scammed, but trying to maybe make the best of it. '94 Head gasket issue.

Discussion in '2nd Gen 4Runners (1990-1995)' started by summon, Jun 17, 2018.

  1. Jun 17, 2018 at 10:37 AM
    #1
    summon

    summon [OP] New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2018
    Member:
    #6277
    Messages:
    1
    Vehicle:
    1994 Black 4Runner
    Hey guys, I am looking for a little advice and/or info about a situation my wife and I found ourselves in. Admittedly we should have done more to protect ourselves in this situation, but we both were a little too excited to buy the vehicle (given that I was literally hit-and-run on my motorcycle the day before and we both needed 4-wheeled vehicles). It might be a bit long, but if you're interested in hearing the sob story, here goes:

    We went to check out a 1994 4Runner we spotted on Craigslist yesterday that looked pretty damn immaculate and the ad specified repeatedly that everything was in absolute working order. It was exactly what we were looking for and I saw that the seller had just reposted the ad, dropping the price from $5,800 to $4,500. I contacted the seller and arranged to check it out the next morning. I said I would meet at this specific address at this specific time and he kept calling me to check when I was going to be there on our 20-minute drive to the location. Craigslist people are 90% of the time really weird so I shrugged it off.

    He showed up and everything about the 4Runner looked absolutely great. The engine bay was surprisingly clean, he explained that it's been properly maintained regularly and the tires were new, etc. He was a pretty young kid who said he had just got a new car so he needed to sell this one (everything about him screamed privileged brat). We took it for a short drive around the area and everything seemed absolutely great and smooth. There were zero apparent issues (and I've been a mechanic in the past so I'm not totally oblivious).

    We decided to buy it and talked him down to $4,200. He insisted on cash as most people do, and our bank was a few blocks away, so we agreed to go get it. He said he was attending a funeral nearby for his uncle (the area we were in is absolutely riddled with cemeteries/memorial parks) and that he would give me the address to meet him there after we got the money.

    He called me on our way to the bank to literally say the same thing we just agreed on, which was odd. After I got the money, I texted him that I needed the location and he responded that he would just meet me back at the same place. So we went back and after a few minutes he asked if we were there, I said yes, and then he pulled up with some other sketchy friend in the passenger seat.

    He left the car running and pulled some of his personal crap out, he counted the money, handed over the signed title and we parted ways. I had to do a little key shuffling with my wife because we would be leaving in different cars and after about a minute of that, we decided to grab some nearby food. I went and turned our new 4Runner off only to realize it was still making a lot of noise, hissing and gurgling. My heart dropped and I checked underneath to find it had just started dumping coolant everywhere. Out of the rear of the engine too, not something easy like a hose or radiator.

    I called the kid back immediately, only a few minutes after he walked away, said he needed to come back now and that there was coolant leaking everywhere, he said "oh uh, I'll be right there to deal with it, give me 10 minutes" and of course he didn't show. After I texted him a few times demanding he come back, I decided to drive to the address on the title, which was a few minutes away. It was a gated community where the guard would not let me in, then the kid responds claiming he's in the middle of burying his uncle and that I needed to give him a few hours. I obviously refused and he kept reiterating that he was at a funeral.

    Eventually he completely stopped replying to texts and would not answer his phone anymore. We were at a loss of what to do, so we found a mechanic very nearby that happened to have some time and space to check it out for us. The short drive a few blocks down the road resulted in me watching the temp climb from 20% to almost red and when I pulled in, it was steaming and pissing coolant. The mechanic checked it out to find that it was spraying out of the head gasket and that there had been obvious attempts to fix it with Stop Leak (or similar). He gave us a rough quote on a head job for the car being $3,200-$4,000+ which made this whole thing very obviously a scam, though I'm not sure how he managed to time this thing to not leak at all when I had even driven it myself. There were a lot of weird factors.

    It got to the point where we have begun documenting everything we had to drag this kid into small claims court. We had the 4Runner towed back to our home and now we have this potentially useless thing in our parking spot and a whole lot of feeling incredibly stupid and angry.

    On that note, now we have this 4Runner that I am not eager to dump any more money into immediately, but I'm also seeing a lot of talk about head gaskets being a common recall for this generation... but I'm also wondering what other damage could have been done if it was potentially overheated and had Stop-Leak run through it. The thing is damn immaculate and otherwise works incredibly well, I would hate for this to be a complete waste, so I'm wondering what this kind of repair looks like. It's been a long time since I've done a head job and I primarily worked on vintage british cars which were about 1000 times more simple.

    Any help/info/sentiments would be appreciated!
     
  2. Jun 17, 2018 at 12:36 PM
    #2
    Kyle11863

    Kyle11863 King of the BS

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2015
    Member:
    #807
    Messages:
    202
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Kyle
    Big Bear California
    Vehicle:
    1990 Toyota 4Runner SR5 V6 5 Speed Manual
    Doug Thorley long tube headers and lots of mud
    Shit you got screwed man. Oh well, no sense in focusing on the negatives. First thing I would do (besides take the bastard to court) is give Toyota a call and see if that particular 4runner has had the recall done to it yet. If not, Toyota will do it for free no questions asked. If there is a problem I have also heard of people calling corporate and making as much noise as possible and getting Toyota to cover it anyways.

    If they won't do it I have no doubts you can do it yourself, as it looks anlot more complicated than it is. The main bit of advice I can give is pay very close attention to where the vacuum hoses go, buy multi layer steel head gaskets (Victor Reinz/Mahle has a great head gasket kit with mls gaskets) and DO NOT mess with the knock sensor. I did and its been a problem ever since. Other wise its very straight forward and lots of resources online including factory service manuals.

    The overheating may have caused the heads to warp or crack but a good machine shop can fix that. I also know of a company that has reman heads with new valves, springs, and cams for about $500 when I bought mine.
     
    Backslider and Bob like this.
  3. Jun 17, 2018 at 12:50 PM
    #3
    Dark Knight

    Dark Knight Get off my lawn

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2016
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    #2681
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    1,083
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    Jeff
  4. Jun 17, 2018 at 12:53 PM
    #4
    ckon

    ckon New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2018
    Member:
    #5887
    Messages:
    87
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Chuck
    SE Michigan
    Vehicle:
    2018 Silver TRD ORP w/KDSS
    Tinted front windows | Hard-wired radar detecter | Heritage grille | Bumper, wheelwell and mudflap mod | 285/70 Nitto Grapplers | Plasti-Dipped valances, rack rails and logos | Replace all interior lamps w/LEDs | XenonDepot HIDs | Salex console and glove box organizers | RCI aluminum skid plate | Sprint Booster | Bilstein 5100 Shocks - Leveled @ .85 |
    When I had my 92 4Runner, it developed a head gasket leak - the one that was under recall. They tore the engine down and discovered that water went into the cylinders and judged the engine beyond repair. Engine replaced, all good. I hope Toyota will step up. It sounds like you got a good truck in nice condition so even if you have to put money into it out of your own pocket it'll be worth it in the end. Good luck and keep us posted.
     
  5. Jun 17, 2018 at 1:00 PM
    #5
    Dark Knight

    Dark Knight Get off my lawn

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2016
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    #2681
    Messages:
    1,083
    Gender:
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    First Name:
    Jeff
    It is not a “recall” so if you just ask about that they can say no. The head gasket issues in the 3VZE were fixed under a technical service bulletin. Also, I’m not sure toyota is doing anything about them any longer. There are posts out there from 2008 time period saying it was getting difficult to find a dealer that would still honor the TSB.

    The good news is that a 5vze will pretty much bolt right up! If you have to spend big $$ on head work etc. just upgrade to the better engine.
     
    SlvrSlug likes this.

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