Geiger's Corner Q&A
Question: I have a new Toyota Tacoma 2003 4x4 truck. I love it! Unfortunately, last week - b/c of hurricane Isabel - my truck sat in salt water for about 10 hrs. The water level was up to the bottom of the truck the entire time - fortunately the water never went into the cab of the truck. What if any problems should I expect from this? Is my truck ruined? What should I do?
John Leo Walter
Answer: Water damage can ruin a new truck. Most insurance companies will total a vehicle than has been completely flooded. This is primarily due to damage to electrical components and the responsibility for long-term failures and problems. When a truck becomes completely submerged, all the connectors and electronics under the dash and in the engine become wet and usually corrosion starts immediately. Water and especially salt water can have a devastating impact on sensitive electronics like the EFI system, air bag, cruise control and other computer controlled systems.
It sounds like in your case, the water did not get quite that deep and it seems reasonable to expect your electrical system has not been affected. The most sensitive components are up under the dash. One item that may give you trouble is the starter. If the water was deep enough that the starter was submerged you can expect to replace the starter in the first 6 months after the flood.
There is also a small chance that water was able to get into the axles, transfer case, transmission, and engine. Each should be checked prior to driving. To check for water you will need to remove the drain plug and let a small amount of fluid out. Water is heavier than oil, so the oil will float on top of the water. The water will be at the bottom and will be the first thing to come out. Look at the fluid in a drain pan and you will be able to see the water and oil swirling around each other. It's important to check for water contamination before driving because when you drive the water and oil will mix and foam into something that looks like a chocolate milk shake. Once this happens the oil no longer has it's full lubricating properties and allows for rust to build up on the unprotected parts. If you have driven the truck after possible water contamination, check the dip-stick, and oil fill plugs on the axles, transmission, transfer case and engine. If there is any abnormal foam, change the oil immediately. There is also a small chance that water was able to get into the wheel bearings. On a newer truck like yours this is unlikely.
On the axles, Toyota installs these one-way check valves. These close to help prevent water from getting into the axles while still allowing vapors to escape when the axle gets warm.
Toyota Questions and Answers
Question: I have a 1997 4runner with 15" tires and need to know if the 15"rims from a 1999 Tacoma will fit my 4runner.
Answer: The wheels on virtually all Toyota 4wd trucks, 4runners and Land Cruisers have the same 6 on 5.5" wheel pattern. With only slight width and offset differences you should have no problem mounting the wheels on your 4Runner.
While we are on the subject of bolt patterns, I get a lot of questions about what the numbers tell you about a wheel. The first number of a wheel bolt pattern is the number of wheel studs. In this photo we have an 8 lug wheel. The second number is the bolt circle distance. Draw an imaginary circle through the center of all the wheel studs. Now take a tape measure and measure across the imaginary circle. In this example it's 6.5" across. So this wheel has a bolt pattern of 8 on 6.5".
Toyota Questions and Answers
IFS Front End Noise
Question: My 1991 truck makes a strange noise turning sharp and going over a bump. Could this be the steering max travel blocks (bumpers)?
Answer: The groan you hear when turning is the steering stop rubbing up and down on the stop pads. This is a common condition on IFS trucks. At the factory Toyota installs plastic covers on the steering stops. These plastic covers quickly wear out. Contact between the stop, and it's pad causes a quick loud groan and is especially noticeable when making a U-turn with one tire going up over something like a curb. Despite the annoying noise it's not causing any damage. There are two solutions to this noise. One is replace the factory plastic cap with new ones. The other is to toss out the plastic caps and put a little dab of grease on the steering stop pads at each oil change. With will keep the noise under control.