Toyota 4Runner 1996-2002: General Information and Recommended Maintenance Schedule

The Toyota 4Runner requires regular maintenance that will keep you behind the wheel for longer.

By Charlie Gaston - January 27, 2016

This article applies to the Toyota 4Runner (1996-2002).

The Toyota 4Runner is a tough truck that delivers well-balanced, optimum performance, especially when maintained with a high level of diligence and consistency throughout the years. You won't need to go above and beyond your regular maintenance schedule to keep this highly rated truck on the road for hundreds of thousands of miles, but you will need to follow up on any mechanical or electrical issues that crop up and, if you ever skip a fluid change or fall behind on a repair, get your schedule back on track as soon as possible.

Regular Maintenance

Every 30,000 Miles

Replace your engine oil and filter, engine air filter, engine coolant and spark plugs every 30,000 miles. Also, have your driveshafts lubricated and replace your automatic transmission fluid, differential fluid, and transfer case oil. Finally, clean your throttle body and mass air flow sensor.

Gummed up valvetrain. Regular oil changes could have prevented this
Figure 1. Gummed up valvetrain. Regular oil changes could have prevented this.

Fluids, Filters and Lubrication

Fluids and filters should always be changed regularly. Here's a list of the fluids you'll need to carefully maintain:

  • Motor oil and filter
  • Air filter
  • Fuel filter
  • Transmission fluid and filter
  • Coolant
  • Chassis lubricant
  • Differential oil
  • Transfer case oil
  • Axle lubricant
Engine oil
Figure 2. Keep your engine oil topped up.

Components to Look Out For

While it's important to follow your general maintenance schedule to the letter, here is a list of a few components you might want to keep an eye out for:

  • Spark plugs and wires
  • Transfer case
  • Mass air flow (MAF) sensor
  • Timing belt
  • Transmission and fluid
MAF sensor
Figure 3. Replace a bad MAF sensor.

Common Questions

Are Toyota Tundras built to last 300,000 miles or more?

Yes; however, you will need to take good care of your truck to achieve the hundreds of thousands of miles mark. Changing your engine oil and transmission fluids is essential.

How often should I have my engine serviced?

It's highly recommended that you have your engine serviced every 30,000 miles.

How often should I change my engine oil?

Every 5,000-7,500 miles depending on the type of oil used, and condition of your engine. If your motor is higher mileage, and more prone to consumption, then a shorter interval will be needed.

Common Issues

Faulty Brakes

The best way to keep your brakes in top shape is to change your brake fluid annually and inspect your brake pads and rotors at every oil change. If your radiators start to leak at any point, have them replaced so your engine doesn't overheat.

Bad Head Gasket

As you start to accumulate hundreds of thousands of miles on your odometer (and in some cases before), you could start to experience problems with your head gasket, making it more and more likely to blow at any point. Signs of trouble include overheating, with high coolant and/or oil consumption, as well as the two becoming mixed together.

Fluid Leaks

Have any and all leaks carefully inspected, as there could be a larger issue at hand. Always check rubber seals on the engine and belts for looseness or wear, as well as the holding reservoir for cracks.

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