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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

This is my first post on this forum. Long time lurker, luckily my 2007 Fj, bought new, now with 290k miles, had almost no problems up until now. Looking for some help and experience from you.

Two months ago I started to experience a P0333 code high bank knock sensor. Happened randomly, three times over several months. Car ran fine, however I knew I was way over due for spark plugs. Replaced spark plugs. Noticed a bit off oil on plug #2 cylinder, drives side closest to front. Cleaned oil in spark plug tube, changed oil, and everything was working brilliantly. No water in oil, seemed like business as usual.

Yesterday, merging on to freeway going up grade, wide open throttle the car stumbled, lights and blinking check engine light appeared. Pulled off and shutoff. Luckily I had my carsoft reader, P0300 random/multiple misfire is the code. I reset the code and headed back home gently, no issues, luckily I was close about 3 miles back.

Today I was diagnosing and noticed a new light tick sound from drivers side. I wouldn’t describe it as metal to metal, but I’m unsure. I’ve never replaced the ignition coils. I don’t have any smoke from tail. Car was just smogged and passed in California, 75 miles ago.

I popped the radiator and noticed coolant was low, about a gallon but appeared clean. Started with radiator cap off and noticed air bubbles and some foam. Idled it for a bit 10mins while I used stethoscope for try and pin point cause of sound. Almost Certain it’s from passengers side.

Do you think coils could cause the issues? CanI drive it like this?

Can anyone give some advice. Thank you!
 

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I had a P0333 code flare up on me recently. I disconnected the battery, changed the spark plugs, and haven’t had the issue since. Not sure if it’s exactly your fix, but it worked for me.
 

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P0300 and P0333 may be totally unrelated, but more info is required. You provided only a small amount of info on several completely different issues.
1. "Spark plugs were way overdue". How overdue? 5K miles, or 50K miles?
2. What did the spark plugs look like as far as uniform deposits and insulator color? Anything unusual with the appearance of the plug from cylinder #6?
3. You stated that the engine coolant level was a GALLON low. How frequently do you check the coolant level, and what was the length of the time period when this much coolant was lost? (e.g. could have been over many months, or rather suddenly, over only a few days?)
4. During the 14 years you owned the vehicle, how many times has the engine coolant been replaced? (Anti-corrosion agents in the coolant get depleted and allow internal engine corrosion, especially at the interface of dissimilar metals like at head gaskets).

Ignition coils are unlikely to have a role in any of this ... the 1GR-FE coils are extremely reliable and rarely fail. The small amount of oil on plug from cyl #2 is typical as the spark plug tube seals age and harden - all three of them get replaced when you replace the valve cover seals.

My initial suspicion is a failing head gasket at cylinder #6, based on loss of coolant, random misfire, severe problem manifested itself at sudden high engine load, and 2007 engine at 290K miles. I'm going to guess that engine coolant has not been replaced every 100K miles?

Earlier 1GR-FE engines encounter head gasket problems (most frequently at cyl #6) at a higher rate than later engines, after design changes were made to the gasket. Gasket failure can be accelerated by not changing engine coolant at recommended intervals, leading to corrosion and leakage that sometimes shows up only under high engine load.


Does the engine ever stumble or run rough for a few seconds immediately after a cold start?
Do you ever see a slight puff of white smoke from the exhaust immediately after a cold start?
Is there a slow but continuous loss of coolant that's not visible as leakage from the water pump's weep port?
Was there an unusual amount of deposits or unusual insulator color on the spark plug removed from cyl #6?
All these are indications of a failing head gasket on cylinder bank #2.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you both for the detailed response. I really appreciate you both.

No smoke from tail during over night cold start or during recent code episode. It doesn’t run rough hot or cold. Runs smoothly.

The ignition coil boot with oil in it was a bit cracked on the bottom. Guessing it could be from oil. One plug, I think, middle drives side was real difficult to get unscrewed.

I know this is bad, thinking back, I never touched to radiator in 290k mi. Never even opened it. Pretty amazing actually. All plugs appeared to be old but not in awful condition.

Could this be caused by an old battery? Coils? Random misfire, phantom misfire, extra stuck spark plug gasket, erg? Fuel pump?

Should I try to replicate the error by driving?

After plug change, it went 1000 mi with no issues.

Any other ideas or questions? Thank you so much for your help.
 

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You didn't answer ... how many miles were on the old spark plugs?

And what did they look like as far as gap erosion and deposit buildup?

290K miles and never serviced the engine coolant?

How about periodic service of transmission fluid, transfer case and differential lubricants, and brake fluid and power steering fluid flushes?

Looks like you might want to download a copy of Toyota's Maintenance Guide for the FJC - it covers the maintenance items and inspection tasks that are to be performed every 10K miles.

It's free ... go to toyota.com, Owner's tab, Select a Vehicle, Manuals and Warranties, then finally scroll down to Warranty and Maintenance Guide.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Old plugs had +125k.

I didn’t check gaps on old plugs, or new ones for that matter. Like a dummy, I just installed them, confirmed it was working and discarded the old ones. Honestly I was surprised at how good the old plugs looked. I forget what type they were. Besides one plug that was hard to get out, pb blaster and warmed up the engine. Then it begrudgingly came out.

Yes I have changed transmission fluid at about 170k and rear diff. Definitely due up again. Coolant is pink in color doesn’t appear to have any oil or rust. Oil didn’t have any coolant. Frequent oil changes has been the key. New Oil and filter every 5000-7500 miles. I have the old oil filter, thinking maybe I should dissect it.

Yes definitely need to flush brakes and steering. I changed the cabin filter at 250k and omg let me tell you something, it was gross… lol

Thank you for any additional help. I am appreciative.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Got to thinking, Could an extremely dirty air filter cause a misfire like this? Air filter is at 30k and needs to be replaced. I am in close proximity to the Caldor fire and when taking a look at the air filter, it’s dirty. I just banged it out on the ground and there was a fair amount of dust.

Could air restriction cause problems like this? Thank you for your time spent helping me.
 

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Yikes ... 125,000 miles on standard-electrode plugs?

Toyota's recommended change interval is every 30K miles.

An amazing testament to Toyota engine robustness even after exposure to prolonged 'hardship".
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
What would be your advice for next steps in chasing this problem. Thank you!
 

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What would be your advice for next steps in chasing this problem. Thank you!
Honestly, @FJtest will get you through the process of diagnosing and maintaining your FJC if you've got the time and are willing to listen to him and follow his instructions.

However, given the severe lack of regular maintenance you've given the FJC, I doubt that you'll want to personally troubleshoot and correct the issues that have arisen after all these miles.

I suggest that you find a good local shop to catch up on all the recommended maintenance and get the vehicle in reliable running order.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Honestly, @FJtest will get you through the process of diagnosing and maintaining your FJC if you've got the time and are willing to listen to him and follow his instructions.
I’ve been polite and honest, offering as much detail as possible.

When someone is asking me for instructional help, I provide it.

Seems like p0300 by itself is a generic code. At this time I don’t think it’s a head gasket.

If anyone can give some other possible solutions that would be really great. Thank you!
 

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I’ve been polite and honest, offering as much detail as possible.

When someone is asking me for instructional help, I provide it.

Seems like p0300 by itself is a generic code. At this time I don’t think it’s a head gasket.

If anyone can give some other possible solutions that would be really great. Thank you!
Yes, you've been quite polite. I was simply offering a suggestion since it appeared to me that you are not very technically inclined.

I also am not overly technically inclined. I tend to take my FJ to the shop for diagnostic work I cannot handle.

Good luck with your repairs.
 

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I was only suggesting that a head gasket leak at cyl #6 was a possibility because of the history of early 1GR-FE engines encountering this problem, the fact that your engine started misfiring (and the flashing CEL appeared) immediately after a full-throttle engine load, the apparent loss of a gallon of coolant, and that the coolant hadn't been changed in 14 years (so the corrosion inhibitors were likely totally depleted) were all factors pointing to a possible head gasket leak.

If you never have a slight stumble immediately after a cold start, never see any white smoke in the exhaust immediately after a cold start, and never encounter any engine overheating after a prolonged period at high engine load, the potential for your problem being a head gasket leak is lessened.

The flashing CEL is a warning of a severe engine problem that may result in permanent engine damage if the engine is allowed to continue to run.

The loss of a gallon of coolant remains unexplained, and because the spark plugs (especially #6) were not closely examined for deposits and insulator color, we don't know if there is other evidence supporting the failed head gasket hypothesis.

With new plugs and apparent smooth running, I'd just verify engine oil condition (no coolant present) and coolant levels every few days, watch the coolant temperature gauge, check for pending OBD codes at the end of each day's driving to get the earliest indication of an ongoing problem, and continue to drive the vehicle, including a repeat of the full-throttle engine load that (apparently) triggered the initial 'incident'.

It's not impossible that it was just the grossly eroded plugs misfiring severely enough under load to trigger the flashing CEL.

Only additional time and miles will tell.

But get the coolant changed out ASAP, as the corrosion inhibitors are critical to protecting the thin steel head gaskets that are sandwiched between the aluminum block and heads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you for this response. I will flush and change out coolant this evening. Might even make a little video, see what comes out.

Is there a recommendation for best coolant?

I’m looking for some coolant that will get me another 300k miles. j/k j/k j/k

I also was thinking about my repair process with the plugs. I never did disconnect the negative battery cable to reset the idle. So maybe that had an effect on the ecu fuel trim, or something along those lines. Wife had been driving it, and can say it probably never saw over 25% throttle, until I merged on freeway at WOT.

I am very appreciative and will update when I find out more.
 

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For the coolant, lubricants, spark plugs, etc. why not just follow the recommendations Toyota provides in the Owner's Manual? Copies of the Owner's Manual can be downloaded free from the same page given for the Maintenance Guide (see post #5).

The Owner's manual will recommend Toyota Extra Long Life Coolant, which Toyota recommends replacing every 100K miles. An alternative is Valvoline Zerex Asian Formula Red antifreeze, which is claimed to remain effective for 5 years or 150K miles.

Disconnecting the battery is not required when replacing the spark plugs.

Two other critical maintenance items:
1. Replace the fuel-air sensors at least every 100K miles. This is an especially critical item, as these sensors provide the feedback to the engine's ECM to properly control fuel mixture. Overall driveability, fuel consumption, throttle response, etc. are all directly affected by the fuel-air sensors.
2. Clean the Mass Airflow Sensor every 50-80K miles (assuming that you are using the stock Toyota air filter element). This sensor also provides critical data for the fuel injection system.
 
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