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Rebuild or Replace Engine? I Just Purchased a 2007 TRD SE

3387 Views 37 Replies 24 Participants Last post by  norm356
I just purchased a 2007 TRD SE with 165k miles for $9.5k knowing it would need some repairs to the engine, because the owner was not performing regularly maintenance over his 3 years of ownership (3 oil changes over 35k miles). Although, he did make some significant repairs:

Timing Chain replaced ('20)
Rear Diff replaced (2020)

I had a pre-purchase inspection done at the local Toyota dealership, and they said the timing chain looked new but does appear to be slightly loose again and noted there was a noise coming from the top of the engine too. After purchasing, I took my FJ to a local mechanic for a thorough inspection and he said we could either 1) tear apart the existing engine to replace the timing chain and determine what the ticking is at the cylinder heads or 2) replace the engine with a used or rebuilt engine.

The mechanic is currently flushing all the fluids since those likely haven't been changed in awhile, and the oil was dark in the differential. I'm planning to do my own minor repairs: calipers, rotors, brakes, struts, LCA, etc. Other than all that, my first FJ drives great :)

Here's my question, I was surprised that the mechanic then said it wouldn't be worthwhile to rebuild since we don't know everything that's wrong with it, so he recommended replacing with a salvaged engine (same spec) with 121k miles for $12k (includes replacing oil sear, oil pan, water pump, spark plugs, and valve cover gaskets). Oof! I called another shop that installs Jasper Engines, and they quoted me $10k for the Jasper engine & install out the door. Now I'm at a crossroads:

1. Rebuild existing engine (unknown cost and need to find mechanic)
2. Replace with salvaged
3. Replace with rebuilt
4. Call it quits and sell this to someone more handy than me

I'd prefer to do #1, because it seems like this engine should still have some lift in it and the salvaged price is WAY more than I thought. I'm ok with #3, but I was hoping to keep a Toyota engine in this vehicle. I'd prefer to not sell since I purchased this vehicle knowing the rarity of the '07 TRD SEs and how great condition ones have sold for a lot on auction sites. Even with these repairs, I think I'll still be close to breaking even? I've always loved FJs, so my plan was to use this as my daily and enjoy a vehicle that's amazing to drive and doesn't depreciate significantly.

TL;DR: My engine is unhappy. I need advice on if I should try to save her, break up with her for a salvaged or rebuilt engine, or just say goodbye to FJ life for now.

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If it's still running, don't fix it. The top always ticks. If it has a tick or knock from anything oil related, the crankshaft and dohcs are likely done anyways, just try to take care of it while it's putting out power. Wait for the knock to get really bad (but before a rod goes through the block) and to give you a reason to spend an arm and a leg. You'll still come out ahead in cost vs any late model low mileage FJ. Just go with high mileage synthetic and strong maintenance, and understand that these engines sound horrible up top from the factory. If you want peace of mind, take the valve covers off and clean the cams, under that plastic cover is a relatively accessible engine, just make sure you get a gasket/seal kit to avoid oil leaks.

If they didn't replace the guides (the actual main wear part) when they did the timing chain, that's why it's loose, as long as it hasn't skipped a tooth and is enough in spec not to, wait until you can learn to do it and the guides yourself. It's really just a ton of bolts, some basic procedures, and not rocket surgery, and not worth paying a mechanic who has never done it before on an FJ, either.

Don't bother resleeving or rebuilding them unless you want more performance and got a fat wallet, people crash 4.0 Tacomas and 4.0 4Runners everyday with the same engines. Jasper has the correct price for a reman of these engines, but a used junkyard engine from a crash likely will output similar performance. You can probably get something rear ended for way cheaper if you look, because these engines are rarely replaced outside of flood damage. I used to have a junkyard engine just sitting around rebuilt from a leaking intake manifold and waiting to go, and never needed it.

I got a 2007 I've owned since new, and it's always run rich, put out black smoke under heavy load (max towing under acceleration), and ticked like a cummins. It's just how those 1GR-FE first year FJs are. Mine has 180,000 miles, I'm **** at maintenance, and it's just works, better than a Todd Howard product.

TDLR: Find a better local mechanic.
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