Arts and crafts: deferred maintenance

I have been putting off some required maintenance on my 2003 4runner. It is well past time to do the timing belt. In fact, it should have been done back when I bought the parts at 290k miles. It now has 334k. Well… better late than never. The timing belt recommendation is 60k. Mine has nearly 3x that.

So. I preparred by watching lots of youtube videos. In youtube-land, that job takes 6 hours. In my area it took 3.5 days. My car had rusty bolts that fought me every step of the way.

First: I started slow by replacing valve cover gaskets and cleaning oily sludge off the heads.

Then I started uncsrewing the coil packs on top of each spark plug. You can see the picture above shows the typical rusty bolt. Half of these stripped off. Most I could remove with an extractor socket. The one above I used a dremel to cut a slot in it to remove it. In any case, I replaced all 8 of those with new screws from Toyota. $1 each.

Then I get to removing the valve covers. 9 bolts each. Half of them are only finger tight. No wonder the gasket was leaking. One was OMG tight and the head snapped off during removal. To get the stub out I tried all the normal things. Vice grips, heating, PB blaster, heating, and welding a nut on top of the remnant. All failed. In the end, I decided 8 bolts would hold it just fine.

I changed out the spark plugs too. Recommended life is 30k. I doubt these have been changed for 200k. It’s been a while. You can see the picture above the old and new plugs. The old ones look like they could go another 50k. These are iridium plugs.

Then to the main task: remove radiator. Remove power steering pump, remove alternator (snapping off a bolt), loosening up the AC compressor, and then removing everything down to the water pump. This went mostly well, despite bolts being rusty and bonded with the base material like they had all been glued in.

As I take things apart, I put the screws into labeled zip-lock bags so they go back where they belong.

The main crank shaft bolt came off easily becaise I bought the special tool on Amazon, $34.

Everything went back together faster than it came apart. It took a few tries to get the teeth on the new belt lined up with teeth on timing gears. But it eventually worked. Alternator only has 3 connectors instead of 4 becasue the snapped off bolt is irredeamable like a Catholic committing suicide. It’ll be fine. Three bolts are plenty.

Bottom line: the original timing belt showed no signs of age, wear, or decay. It could have safely been used another 100k. Similarly. Water pump is fine. Fan belt is fine. No oil leaks from crankshaft seal. All the pullies and idlers are in new condition. Makes me wonder why I bothered. I suppose, if I lived in a high salt area (rust belt) or high heat areas (southwest), it would have been more needed.


About No One

I am totally non-threatening
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