New Engine in Old Car??? (OT but value ST opinions)


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Trad climber
reno, nv
Feb 11, 2013 - 01:38am PT
A simple compression test, as many have advised, might tell you a lot very quickly. Something that's often overlooked in the modern age is hooking a vacuum gauge to the manifold and watching it. That can tell you a bunch too. Just about any old repair manual would cover both in detail.

Both tests would be pretty cheap and easy, and could tell you right away if you're looking at a failing engine or maybe just a simple repair. Heck, for that matter it could be something as simple as an O2 sensor. Anyway, do the compression test at least. You probably have a buddy with a gauge that can help. If it comes up weird, then take it to a pro.

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Feb 11, 2013 - 06:42am PT
Check the cat converteer. Sometimes the ceramic crumbles and cloggs up the exaust.

Truckee, CA
Feb 11, 2013 - 10:54am PT
Or you could just do a preemptive strike, throw a japanese used engine in there with a new clutch, gaskets (i never did head gaskets in any of mine), tuneup parts, timing belt water pump, etc. Its worth it, Ive done many in Hondas, Mazdas, Toyotas, etc. You wont find a 22re used anymore, but a 3.4 you will. So easy to put all new parts on the engine before it goes in, and virtually no break in period. You probably wont want to get rid of your truck ever then. Dunno what year your truck is, but if its a v6, 3.0 or3.4, a 3.4 will swap in there fine.
this just in

north fork
Feb 11, 2013 - 11:06am PT
Sounds like you need a new carburetor, bwahahaha.
Hope you get it fixed at minimum price Tom. Do a compression check or it could be your transmission. Go to a mechanic.

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Feb 11, 2013 - 11:40am PT
My sweet '85 Toyota PU with a 22re has the dreaded timing chain slap problem. Runs great but worried that it will chew through its cover into the water channel. Getting ready to fixit with new metal tensioner, chain, oil pump, and water pump. Some say that pan must be dropped, others say not. Anybody have experience here?

Kennewick wa
Feb 11, 2013 - 12:04pm PT
why not take it in and have a diagnostic done? (BTW find a place where the mechanic takes the car out for a drive and doesn't just hitch it to the computer)

I had an old Ford Ranger that was doing something similar to yours. I could drive around town pretty well but on the freeway no go (I guess it couldn't pull the bigger gears). I took it to 2 shops and the dealer. Everybody kept saying the computer code said it was the smog sensor. Had it replaced twice. Still didn't fix it. So I just used it around town for about 6 months. Finally, out of frustration, I took into the corner gas station and asked them to look at it. They had this crusty old guy for a mechanic. They call me about 2 hours later telling me to pick it up, it's fixed. The guy drove it and thought the timeing was off. A quick turn of the distributor and BINGO! That truck ran great for a couple of more years. Nobody else ever took it out of the shop, just plugged in the machine and looked at the codes.

Think about it, you drop a couple of Ks in for a new motor and it's the transmission. That would hurt.

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
Feb 11, 2013 - 12:07pm PT


Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Feb 11, 2013 - 12:39pm PT
I'm cut from the same cloth as Werner. Much cheaper to fix 'em than junk 'em and get newer. More expensive registration, unknown problems lurking in the replacement, and you can't find equals with smogged-up, plastic-covered invisible engines with more silicon than metal. For example, the alternator on my '02 Passat (never again couldn't clear a softball underneath) went bad. Replacement required removal of the front bumper, radiator and all that entails. A $800 shop job for what used to be a $60 rebuilt and 15 minutes. Older Toyota trucks, in particular, should be cherished.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Feb 11, 2013 - 08:16pm PT
I was on my way to a meeting in a suit, driving my 86 Toyota SR-5. Pitched the belt on the freeway and found an auto parts store. Bought a new belt and borrowed a 14mm wrench. Had the job done in 3 minutes. The guy was amazed when I brought the wrench back and had no grease on my white shirt. Made it to the meeting on time.

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Feb 12, 2013 - 02:01am PT
I just figured if I was gonna spend 2-3k letting some mechanic trouble shoot until it is fixed, I could have bought a new used engine by then.

And you might still be in the same boat.

Get a "leak down" test and verify the cam timing before chucking the motor...

John M

Feb 12, 2013 - 02:13am PT
I just figured if I was gonna spend 2-3k letting some mechanic trouble shoot until it is fixed, I could have bought a new used engine by then.

Missed this statement.

The problem with this thinking is that if you don't know what the problem is, then you could spend 2 to 3k putting that used engine in and still not fix the problem.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Feb 12, 2013 - 11:38am PT
Generally problems internal to the engine come on slowly over a long period of time. An exception is a hanging or burnt valve, those will show on a compression test. Leakdown will give you an idea of how the rings are, more of a hassle to do and requires extra equipment.

Eliminate the external parts before loading the parts cannon. Cat converter mentioned above is a good place to start.
patrick compton

Trad climber
Feb 12, 2013 - 11:53am PT
You said you replaced the plugs... a buddy with the same truck replaced his with Bosch and had similiar issues. That engine doesn't like certain plugs. The friend's plug had broken and he had to have a heli-coil done.

in any case, try googling your issue, 9/10 times you aren't first person it has happened to.

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Feb 12, 2013 - 04:14pm PT
Jon says...

Generally problems internal to the engine come on slowly over a long period of time

Ever had one just "GO BANG"?????

Slater... Think about it this way.... It runs now, if it was something internal to your motor it wouldn't run - at all.

Low power/performance is usuly associated with the external bits, like the fuel injection, Cat, O2 sensor etc.

You could disconnect the Cat at the manifold and see what happens... it will sound like a B17.

O2 sensor... check with a volt meter.

But think about this.... If the truck is in as good condition as you say it is..... I will bring you $1,000 cash for it.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Feb 12, 2013 - 05:00pm PT
Sometimes just lubing the centrifugal weights at the bottom of the distributor cap assembly can make a hella difference in acceleration and top end performance. Leaky vacuum hoses after 200,000 miles are also often implicated in performance issues.

Hook that baby up to a diagnostic meter run by a mechanic who knows what he's doing and run out a report on the mill. Before you go yanking the engine, test don't guess. With an old engine, sometimes the tiniest electrical problem can really adversely effect engine performance.

Sport climber
Vacaville, CA
Feb 12, 2013 - 05:06pm PT
Hey Slater,

I JUST went through the same thing in my 03 Nissan Super Crew 4x4 Frontier. Up until D-Day (aka the day the engine completely blew up) it was a fantastic ride. I was quoted ~$4-5K for a low mileage / refurbish engine, not factoring in the 1-2K for labor, and was getting ready to do it, until I thought about it. I never replaced ANYTHING on that Truck. Of the 10 years I had it, it was in the shop I think 1 time for something other than a smog / oil change. Eventually, something would've broke, then something else, then something else... I figured if I did it, I would be having this same issue happen periodically from then till whenever I decided to buy a new truck after sinking unknown amounts of $$ into it.

I broke down and bought a new truck. Totally worth it as it is back to new, much better electronics, more comfortable ride, better gas mileage, and I got a long bed instead of short, which is something I always regretted in my initial 03 purchase. Basically, I am under warranty and brand new. All good, no worries about the next blow up, cause if it does, it is on Nissan!

Truckee, CA
Feb 12, 2013 - 05:43pm PT
Which engine in the Tacoma? V6 or 4? Check to make sure its breathing properly, intake and exhaust, change all the tuneup parts (plugs, wires, filters, pcv valve, cap and rotor if it has them). Run some techron through it. If it hasnt improved after that, Id pay someone to spend an hour checking it out. If its core engine related, id japan engine that thing, if not fix the problem and start researching engines for when it goes.

Ive done lots of them on my own cars and when I was mechanicing in the bay. Its a good way to get basically a new car, you change all the seals and gaskets if you want, new clutch, tbelt and water pump all while its out. No breakin period either, just a couple oil changes and youre good.

That said, everything intake, computer and exhaust and smog wise has to be in good working order. Perhaps you need a new maf sensor or an egr valve.

Definitely get a bottle of techron and pour it into a tank of chevron super, run it all the way empty, get ready for potential sumbles as it cleans, then run another tank of super chevron. That will hopefully clean out your fuel system. Stuff works.


Trad climber
San Luis Obispo, CA
Feb 12, 2013 - 06:02pm PT
This really doesn't sound like an engine problem. If it has a shitfit going into 4th gear, but does well in gears 1-3, sounds like an electrical or tranny problem. I was dealing with OD shifting and overheating issues on my '88 cherokee because my Throttle Positioning Unit (TPU) was out of adjustment. Toyotas are different, but they have an avid following online. I'd search the Toyota forums and if unlucky, post. You'll have much better luck there than here. Also, a better description of the symptoms. Will it go from 3rd to 5th gear (assuming it has 5th gear)? Goodluck

Social climber
Portland, Oregon
Feb 12, 2013 - 06:05pm PT
Do you have a multimeter?


Social climber
The internet
Feb 12, 2013 - 09:02pm PT
Was there an issue before you replaced the cap, plugs and wires? Did you replace the rotor? If not - go replace that right now, with the same manf as the cap.

Maybe you f*#ked up this tune-up. Did the symptoms change in any way before/after you did this work? Something as simple as an unseated wire will cause the symptoms you are talking about. So will cheap, sh#t wires. In fact, after reading this thread, this is where my money is - the ignition system. I'd also check your timing belt/chain - 2nd most likely.

Electronic or vacuum advance? In either case, check the advance with a timing light. If it's off, go right to the belt/chain because it's probably off too.

Lots of generally sound advice in this thread otherwise... If you think diagnostic time is expensive - try buying a new engine and *still not fixing the problem* - I've seen it. You should know exa-fuking-xactly what the problem is before swaping out a motor.

EDIT - so, you recently also had a bunch of work done elsewhere? What's the before and after on this as well? Really, I have to agree with most posters that the core of your engine is probably fine. A blown engine basically smokes or has loud internal noises - one of the two - at all RPM's and loads.

EDIT2. What motivated the Cap/Plugs/Wires ? If these parts are bad, they will kill your coil, too.

Basically, everything you say sounds like misfiring - for whatever reason. A computer will change the advance for a variety of conditions. This combined with a weak or mistimed spark.
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