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

3426 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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The hard thing about an engine you know has been badly abused is the damage internally could be worse than normal. For instance, if the rings have built up carbon they could take out a cylinder badly enough it couldn't be honed and re-ringed (scrap). If the recently replaced timing chain has only 35k miles on it and there truly is sign its worn again, that soon, that would be hard to do and could be a sign of really, really bad internal state of affairs.

Is there any sign of oil consumption between oil changes? If not, that would speak well to the state of the cylinders.

Perhaps shop around for a used engine at lower cost (how much of that $12k quote is his labor and parts, and how much was the cost to procure the used engine?).

Another idea, for how to decide whether to rebuild or replace, is to do what Iconic suggested and send an oil sample for analysis, and also have your mechanic take photos of your engine with a valve cover off, and of the timing chain tensioner visible through the inspection cover. Share those here for review.

Note that a good condition FJ, purchased for $9.5k + $12k engine replacement is still a reasonable price, all things considered, so long as you plan to run it for some time.

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Regarding the ticking noise, my wife's Audi Allroad (4 cyl turbo) ticking noise is due to fuel metering of the injection system. I recall our old Honda CRV making the same sound for the same reason.
I don't know if this is also the case with our FJ's.
A very good point!

Regarding a ticking noise coming from the top front of the engine, it is normal. See attached thread for an example:

There is an emission control component called the PWM-vacuum switching valve screwed to the intake manifold on the drivers side. You can access it by removing the plastic shield over the intake manifold. It is held in place by a single screw. This thing activates when the vehicle is at idle and at temperature.

If this is what your mechanic is citing then you might have no trouble at all.

Regarding wear of the chain, it can be measured via the length of the chain tensioner sticking out. New is about 6-8mm. Much more than that will indicate wear.

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The timing chain tensioner photos look very clean, and the plunger looks to be normal extension.
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it looks like your cholesterol is a little high but your blood pressure is good

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