Toyota 4Runner Build Begins with $350 Score

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Cheap trucks are usually cheap for a reason. But this 1995 Toyota 4Runner is certainly worth saving!

The saying is nearly as old as the used car market itself. Cheap cars and trucks are usually cheap for a reason. And while that reason is usually their dire condition, dropping a few hundred bucks on a project is much easier to swallow than a few thousand. What’s the worst that can happen? If things don’t work out, you at least have a nice parts truck. Or a driveway ornament.

So, when YotaTech member Munch517 came across this forlorn Toyota 4Runner with a $600 price tag, he couldn’t resist, especially when he essentially received a rebate on that already low price.

Toyota 4Runner

“I bought a 1995 Toyota 4Runner for $350. I initially bought it for $600, but the seller gave me back $250 when the brakes totally gave out shortly after leaving. Apparently keeping the brake fluid topped off had worked up until then. I had tried to sell it back to him for $400 just to be done with it. But he gave me $250 back, bringing me to $350 for the truck plus $80 for the unexpected tow.

According to the owner, it had been sitting for 7 years due to an engine problem (a misfire). He had driven it periodically in that time when his other truck was broke down. When I bought it I knew it had the misfire and that it needed new rear brake lines, a good amount of suspension work, some exhaust work, and all the regular maintenance due from 7 years of sitting (fluids, pads & rotors, etc). On a positive note, the tires are basically brand new.”

Toyota 4Runner

So of course, the first order of business was to fix the failing brakes. And check out the engine issue.

“The first thing I did was drop it off to a mechanic relative to replace the rear brake lines. I didn’t have time, and would have gotten the lines bent by someone else anyways. I had him bypass the leaking proportioning valve for simplicity and cost’s sake.

After that, I took it to a mechanic to diagnose the engine problem. They found no compression in cylinder 6, then ran a camera down and found a burnt valve. I hesitated to fix it as I’ve never done anything deeper in an engine than a valve cover gasket. So I put it on Craigslist for all of a day, then changed my mind and decided to go ahead and pull the heads off.”

Toyota 4Runner

If nothing else, this beaten down Toyota 4Runner project was giving the OP some wrenching experience. But when he ran into some issues with the teardown, he sought advice in the forums.

“Everything came apart surprisingly easy. I probably have a little less than 10 hours in the teardown. I’d like advice on getting the crankshaft bolt off, though. I tried an impact wrench, a breaker bar propped against the ground using the starter motor, and finally a piece of angle iron bolted to the pulley (the angle iron and bolts bent). Anything else I can try short of a stronger impact or a stronger steel pulley holder?

I took the heads to a local machine shop for the valve job. Got them back and put them on earlier this week. I also bought a set of eBay stainless steel headers/cat bypass that I put on today. They seem to fit well, except that I’m going to have to move what I assume is the transfer case cooler. I also have a problem in that one of the bolts that holds the heater core line to the top of the block is stripped.”

Toyota 4Runner

Next on the list was replacing the rusty lower control arms and checking out the rest of the suspension. And then, some advice started pouring in.

“I have read that some people use a Dremel to cut relief cuts in the flange of the crank bolt,” suggests coryc85.“I’ve never done it, but seems like it should work. The starter method has always worked for me, but maybe in the rust belt the bolt seizes to the crank.”

“I cut reliefs in my bolt,” adds 92ehatch.“The flange acts like a lock washer. It’s concave and cutting reliefs in it allows it to flex away from the pulley. After I cut reliefs in mine it only took a minute to pop off. Of course, doing this requires replacing the bolt. “

Toyota 4Runner

And so, the adventure continues. The OP is soldiering on with his Toyota 4Runner project, but he needs your help! So head on over here and provide some friendly advice on how he can get his cheap build up and running once again!

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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