Dust damage experience? - Toyota Tacoma Forum

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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-19-2017, 09:39 PM Thread Starter
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Dust damage experience?

I'm curious to know if anyone who definitely had dirt get past their air filter for an extended amount of time noticed a loss in power and fuel economy, how much, and how it affected their seat of the pants feel of their truck. Also, how they went about diagnosing the issue.

I don't want to get too much into what I've been working with, but I had issues that dropped my mileage down to 18mpg (2wd, 2RZ-FE) and made my truck almost undriveable on the highway. After literally years, I found the problems and my truck is behaving more like it used to, but the power is still a bit flat and my mileage never fully came back. It currently gets between 22.6 and 22.9mpg where it used to regularly get just above 25mpg. Also, it seems to do a little worse on the highway than on surface streets. Doesn't throw codes. Actually, never threw a code when I was having issues, either, but that's another story.

I suspect dust damage to the valve seats because, when I was doing my troubleshooting, I noticed that my intake resonators had dust built up in them as well as the "clean side" of the air box. I don't know how long it had been drawing in dust, but it seems like for a while, so I presume an overhaul is in order.

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 09:52 PM
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Re: Dust damage experience?

Have you pulled out anything deeper than the airbox to see if there are signs of crud, clogs, or damage?

What year is this Taco, and what (if any ... ) mods have been done to it? (Not just engine mods - anything ... )

Was the dust accumulation the only item among the problems you wrote that you fixed? If not - what else had you done?

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Dust damage experience?

I first noticed the dust buildup in the joints between the resonators and the rubber boots. Anywhere there was turbulence, there was a fair amount of dust buildup (like, an eighth of an inch, if I recall. Maybe less.) at the resonator/throttle body boot at the first joint. I then noticed dust all along the intake tract of the resonators. I've not looked down inside the intake plenum, just the clean side of the air box to the throttle body, which I had cleaned before noticing there was a potential dust issue.


Truck is all stock, though I now have an aluminum intake tube that I got off of someone on here when I was suspecting a vacuum leak. It's a 2002, 2wd, 2RZ-FE.

Ultimately, I ended up replacing every sensor and such, and have cleaned injectors. The three things that made the biggest gain in mileage and drive-ability, in order that I did them, were the fuel filter, PCV valve, and the knock sensor. It's never thrown a code, even when I had to drop it to 4th to maintain 65 on the highway. The mechanics have always said "This thing runs great! What's the problem!?"
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 11:09 PM
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Re: Dust damage experience?

The part I find most interesting is that you haven't gotten any codes while all this was going on ...

Have you (or your mechanic(s)) connected an OBD scanner to verify that no codes have been thrown? It's possible for the CEL warning circuit to fail to indicate errors, and this can greatly complicate diagnosis.

Can you describe more clearly what power issues you were having? Your mention of having to drop into 4th @ 65 mph is the only clue I've seen so far ...

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-23-2017, 09:51 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Dust damage experience?

Yeah, the no codes thing has been most frustrating. A mechanic friend, separate from the shop I've brought this to, twice, and who I'm going to see next weekend for a compression check, had me pull the TPS plug and see if I got a CEL and, sure enough, did right off the bat.

The shop plugged a scanner or laptop into it both times I brought it, drove it down the highway, and found no issues both times. This was after I got it to run up hills in fifth gear, but when it would only make more noise when you gave it more throttle at 70mph. Unfortunately, I have a habit of re-setting the ECU after changes, so any codes that might have been hidden I sure are long gone.

Oi'! Ok. This has spanned years so I'm going to forget a bit.

To begin with, this truck spent more time in the garage than on the road for a few years because I preferred my older truck. It got used weekends only until I stopped riding dirt bikes for about a year due to a blown out knee. I think, anyway. It took a getting back to regular weekend riding and racing over a year later to realize I had an issue.

What I first noticed was that it was a complete dog on the highway and sucked gas like a climbing cargo jet: I was getting about 18mpg (2wd 2RZ extra cab, all stock) where I used to get 25+.This was where, at about 70, I'd have to downshift it and floor it to hold a reasonable speed up hills; I'd drop to 65 or so, still. Not even really big ones, just rolling highway hills. Then I got pulled from a light by a clapped out Saturn, and had enough.

So I started doing all the maintenance stuff: air filter, plugs, valve lash. Did the valve lash on the loose side, on the tight side, then in the middle. No help.

On another forum, someone suggested a fuel issue, so I finally replaced the OEM filter. This GREATLY improved the highway power. I could hold 70 in fifth gear, but still had to floor it up hills and would struggle to get above that, and I noticed the power would go flat at 2250 RPM. Mileage went up to about 20-21mpg. With fuel system stuck in my mind, I added a set of LC Engineering flow matched injectors and a fuel pressure gauge. Thought I could notice some gain from the injectors if I revved it out, but no gains in drive-ability or mileage. Fuel pressure gauge seemed to indicate a solid 43psi, though I did video it down the highway and it's hard to tell if the pressure is jumping or if it's an undamped gauge flailing around.

Somewhere in there was the first shop visit, where i was told to bring it back if it got worse.

One maintenance Item I realized I hadn't done was the PCV valve. After I did that, the power going flat at 2250rpm went away. Mileage was unchanged.

Here I started to look at other things. I found the throttle body was dirty and not closing all the way. So, I did that and checked the throttle cable play per the FSM, which was wrong. I had also blasted some carb cleaner in the IAC valve, so when I put it all back together, reset the ECU, and the idle was way up, I assumed that was messed up. Replaced it, and turned out that wasn't it. I forget what it ended up being, but I think it was something dumb like the O-ring not sealing right. It idles down fine, now.

So I started mindlessly changing sensors. I changed all except the knock sensor and every once in a while I'd change one and get a tank of gas with it doing 23 mpg and running relatively well, then going back to running like garbage and sucking gas. At one point I changed the coolant temp sensor, and then it started running noticeably worse; power down and lost an mpg around town, and back to 18 on the highway if I tried to go over 75 (and really struggling to get there). So, brought it to the shop, again. Again, they tell me it runs great.

I ended up getting a blue driver OBDII sensor and started really confusing myself. It really didn't point to anything glaring, and showed the coolant sensor to be working. I changed it back, anyway, and the reduced power/mileage persisted. Maybe it was here I started messing with the intake resonators to try and eliminate a vacuum leak. Thought I noticed a difference, but didn't register in the mileage.

On a whim I changed the knock sensor, since I had it and it was the last thing I hadn't changed. Immediately I noticed it liked to rev to red line much easier. Still restrained, but willing. After the ECU reset, it started running in the upper 22mpg range. It seems to like under 55mpg driving better than highway driving, and the power is a little flat, like I have a load in the bed. So, this is where I'm at, today. With the blue driver, I noticed the timing seemed to pick up a bit while driving. I didn't make a note of it before because I was more focused on the O2 and fuel trim readings, but it seemed to want to stay in the teens and low twenties under steady throttle before the knock sensor, and then mid to upper twenties after.

One experiment I did was to reset the ECU, and then drive it around but keep the engine from coming down to idle. If you've reset the ECU, you know the idle jumps up for a bit, then as you drive it, it settles down at stop lights. So, I kept the throttle up at stops to keep this from happening. A bit of a hassle, but in doing this, I got over 23mpg and the engine seemed to run a bit smoother. As soon as you let the idle settle, though; back to coarse running and 22mpg.

I'm sure I'm leaving out a bunch, but no codes throughout this whole thing.

Last edited by YZ250_XC; 03-23-2017 at 10:11 PM.
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Re: Dust damage experience?

Are there signs of running rich (e.g., carbon build-up at the exhaust pipe)?

Is this Taco a manual or an automatic? If it's an automatic - have there been any weird shifting behaviors?

Does this truck have air conditioning, and have you used it since all this started?

"If i saw a old dude with what appeared to be a cat over his mouth driving faster than me I'd stop driving fast." - Firdaddy
Line-X, ARE, Recaro, Team Voodoo, Husky, Lund, Optima, OMP, Aesthetic Finishers Inc.,Michelin
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