Near-perfect Toyota 4Runner Subjected to Trial by Fire — Literally!

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Toyota 4Runner

Determined YotaTech member shares story of how his experience with his new 4Runner went from from tragedy to triumph.

There’s bad luck, and then there’s really bad luck. We’ve all experienced both at least once in our lives, and more likely, many times over. But when we came across YotaTech member fierohink‘s ordeal here in the forums, we quickly realized that we must be luckier than we think. Here’s a guy who went from tragedy to triumph and right back to tragedy, all within a pretty short period of time. And it all started when he scored an amazingly clean Toyota 4Runner to replace his older, worn out 4Runner.

“After the head gasket blew in my ’97 4Runner, I subsequently decommissioned it due to frame rust. I moved on and found a diamond in the rough 1999 4Runner Limited with 82k miles, 3.4L, auto, e-locker, the works.”

Toyota 4Runner

Unfortunately, the good vibes from this excellent score wouldn’t last long. Tragedy struck one day when the OP’s pressure washer, of all things, caught on fire while sitting in close proximity to his shiny new ride. And that meant some pretty nasty carnage occurred.

Toyota 4Runner

Fortunately, the OP’s decommissioned ’97 just so happened to be the same color as his new, fire-damaged ride. Thus, he had a built-in parts donor to replace all of the burnt bits. With the 4Runner looking like its former self, the OP moved on to fixing all the things needed to pass a state inspection.

“The previous owner swapped in a crappy HID kit and LEDs in all the lights. A nice idea, but using blue did not make the Maryland State Inspector happy. So everything has been restored to conventional lights. I also swapped the driver’s side seat from the ’97 because the ’99 had a sticking motor. The front windows were also tinted darker than what’s legal in Maryland, so I changed those as well.”

Toyota 4Runner

But just when it seemed like everything was going in the right direction, the OP got some more bad news.

“The saga continues. The insurance company called and they want to total the truck. I will be taking the salvage option and re-titling it as a reconstructed vehicle. Thankfully, after some research I see PA has streamlined the process and can now it can be done through offsite inspectors. Needless to say, fulfilling bureaucratic red-tape requirements is not how I planned to spend my summer with a new-to-me truck.”

Toyota 4Runner

It would be easy to just give up on the 4Runner at this point, but the OP forged ahead. He continued to fix everything wrong with it while also scoring his reconstructed title. And for his troubles, he wound up basically getting the Toyota for free when it was all said and done.

Since then, the OP has continued to fix and maintain his 4Runner while racking up a significant 53k miles. And he’s done a fantastic job documenting all of it in this excellent thread. So, be sure and head over here to see this never-ending build in its entirety!

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Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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