In Summary
  • You could buy a short block, which is the cylinder block between the heads and the sump (it may or may not include camshafts and timing gear; depending on engine design).

  • You could buy a long block, which is a short block plus crankshaft, heads, camshafts and valves but with no accessories (these have to be ported over from the original engine).

Dear Baraza,

I hope you are doing well. I started reading your articles almost two years ago. The best one, in my view, was your review of the Fortuner V6 4L 2009 (GGN60R) Model (my dream ride — well the Fortuner and the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport or Shogun Pinin, but I digress). Anyway, about a year and a half ago, I stumbled on a Toyota Fortuner (1GR FE) 2009 model and was really excited even though it was a salvage car. It took me six months to buy the car but the struggle was worth it.

I rebuilt the car slowly, and in almost a year, I was driving it happily, despite it leaving me broke. And then the lights (ABS) in the dashboard started going on and off, and I kept wondering what it was, so I went on an elimination exercise — I replaced missing front speed sensors and airbags and fixed a loose connector on the ECU port. The fuel pump was also weak, and I had this replaced at Toyota Kenya after sourcing my own part in Dubai. I did step-by-step elimination for each light until I was able to drive with the dashboard lights all being off and super crisp clean. Let me branch off a bit.

In between the repairs, I was using the car for my city and country driving, and once while driving, the car started jerking badly. I called my mechanic to assist, and on inspection, we realised that the car was overheating. Upon dragging it to the garage, we discovered that the radiator had three holes in it, which were repaired. Unfortunately, this blew my head gasket, leading my mechanic to recommend resurfacing my two heads (v6 config, petrol engine). Upon resurfacing, the car returned with a very bad “bounce”, more like a swing when slowing down and heavy vibrations too.

Once again, I returned it, suspecting that he resurfaced the cylinder head for Bank 2 since Bank 1 was working fine. This time round, the vibrations were gone but the “bounce” was still there, so I dumped that mechanic. By this time I was tired of the shoddy work and being overcharged for new spare parts.

I consulted several mechanics before going to Toyota Kenya, who observed that the cylinder for Bank 2 seemed off. They also recommended changing the fuel pump and pre-cat O2 sensor. Eventually, after that going round and round, one of the mechanics advised that we tear down the engine. I agreed to it and we took out the Bank 2 head and returned it to the machine shop for scrutiny.

I was informed that two valves on the exhaust side had bad valve seats, a factor that was rectified. We also replaced the head, and it worked for a while as the car got back twice the power it had (not that it had lost a significant amount of power).

Just as I was getting comfortable, the car started drifting back to the power it had before and the “bounce” and the vibrations returned. Also, I noticed that when driving at highway speed and I let go of the accelerator, the car would jerk heavily before picking up. Also, when starting up, the car would not move immediately, but instead it hesitates as if I am stepping on the brakes and accelerator at the same time and then it just jerks forward as if it’s on steroids. To ease on the jerkings, I normally play with the accelerator pedal slightly until it picks on it own.

While flushing brake fluid, another mechanic found that the intake manifold was not sitting properly on the intake ports for cylinder 6, and therefore the car was running rich with heavy emissions from the exhaust.

Several mechanics later, I was advised to get the injectors tested, only to be told that they didn’t have any leakage and that I was firing perfectly at 84 each on the readings for all six injectors.

I returned to the garage, and while checking the brake drums, I thought it was the brake linings that were not running on smooth surface, but I found all was well. I would later change the brake discs but later found the stabiliser arm for the left rear tyre was broken, which I replaced. Thankfully, the bounce stopped slightly. I also need to add that I spent a whole day with a mechanic trying to check air fuel ratio balance to no avail — he concluded that can’t be resolved.

I have faith that my car’s many problems can be solved, but to be honest, this car is driving me nuts. As it is, I am weighing four options:

a. Buy another engine: It is really hard to get this type of engine at a fair price.

b. Getting a new engine, e.g. the 2GR FE with dual VVTI, but that would mean I upgrade the wiring and computer since both use longitudinal mounting.

c. Getting the 6GR FE, which is designed for the Toyota Coaster in Japan.

d. Tear down this existing engine and have it checked part by part, which is worse than buying another engine.

I seek your third opinion (or even 100th) on this issue as I’m at my wit’s end since all my sensors are okay, that is the EGR, IAC, Throttle among others. Is there something I am missing here?

Sorry for the long email, but I had to share the history for you to understand I have explored all options. The car is past the 200-kilometre mileage range and works just fine after rebuilding and repairs.

Looking forward to your most blunt and honest opinion

PS: The response in your article in DN2 of July 17, 2019 is faulted since I have been trying to resolve the same problem and I changed my ATF, all seals and even flushed the brake fluid yet the vibrations haven’t disappeared. That reader needs to get his engine checked further because I have learnt mechanics wait eagerly to hear “shida kwa engine” because it’s a jackpot for them. They will eat the guy dry! 

Note that the car doesn’t overheat, it just exhibits the problems below:

a. Vibrations at idle with slight misfires — no engine code triggered.

b. When cold, the exhaust smells heavily of fuel but when the engine gets to operating temperature, the smell disappears.

c. Occasional backfires especially when under heavy load, which rarely happens as my driving is mostly in the city.

d. The ‘bounce’ when either stopping or moving from a stop at slow speeds — below 10kph to 20kph

e. The hesitations during acceleration with engine jerks that go through the whole cabin

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