Ownership Verified: 1989 Toyota Blizzard SX-5: who ever said Toyotas are reliable?

thevictor390

Teen Wankeler
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'17 Mazda MX-5 RF, '89 Toyota Blizzard SX5

"Blizzard in a Blizzard"

This seems to still be the beginning of what is going to be a long journey.... also get ready for a novel.

So I wanted a vehicle I could drive in the snow. The RX-8 is ok with proper tires but less than ideal. Unfortunately, I have very peculiar taste. I started trawling craigslist/eBay etc, mostly looking for small SUVs like Trackers or Samurais, something very small with 4WD and a manual transmission.

Then one day, CrzRsn sent me a link. http://bringatrailer.com/2014/09/15/1989-toyota-blizzard-sx5/

I thought it was cool, never heard of it before, and moved on with my day. But then I started thinking. It's only 2-3 hours away. I have money (I shouldn't be trusted with money). I want a small 4WD SUV. JDM is tight, yo. What is actually stopping me?

As it turns out, nothing! I watched the auction end with no bids, then contacted the seller with a low offer. He wanted more money and was going to relist in a month.

So, I waited. The vehicle popper up on craigslist for far too much money. I waited some more, and the ebay auction came back, same starting bid. But then after a few days, it went down again. I contacted the seller who said he had some offers on the car but so far no one had actually come through. I asked to meet him that weekend, withdrew a lot of money from the bank, and drove up with a friend.

I should have noticed the signs on the test drive. The vehicle started right up but was sluggish. It had trouble with the guy's driveway, which was, to be fair, absurdly steep. I honestly don't understand how he doesn't slide off a cliff every winter. Nevertheless, the interior, body, and underside were mint, and it's fucking right-hand drive. I did that thing that you should never do, I was in love with the car before I even saw it. We came to an agreement on price, I handed the man a lot of cash and I drove it home. Two and a half hours of flat-out 60 mph bliss. Especially at toll booths.

A week of registering, insuring, and bribing later, and I had plates. I thought that would be the hard part, but it turned out to be no different from normal. Road legal! One trip to Autozone for universal plate mounts (turns out Japanese plates have different holes, even though they're about the same size as US plates) and it was back on the road.

This is where FG picks up the narrative, because when I got home, there was a nice puddle of diesel waiting for me. I got it inspected but the fuel leak was getting worse until eventually it barely ran at all.

All of my local mechanics had no diesel experience and didn't really want to touch the thing. So, I found a shop about 20 miles west of the city that specialized in small diesels (in the US, a small diesel is a V10 Powerstroke), and had the vehicle towed there. The guy assured me he had experience with similar vehicles and the only issue might be finding parts.

A week goes by, then two, and finally I get a call that he has identified the leaky gasket but is having trouble sourcing the part. After another couple of weeks back-and-forth, we find it through a third party compatible unit and he gets back to work. And this is where things start going to shit.

Pump no longer leaking, vehicle put back together, and there's no fuel pressure. The internals of the injector pump are bad, which is unusual. Another weak of tear-down reveals the issue, and it's back to the part search. things are starting to get expensive.

Parts are sourced through the original supplier in Japan, and shipping will take about two weeks. At this point, we're in mid-December, so part arrival is right around New Year's.

Parts arrive but I don't hear anything for a week. During the second week I call, and he hasn't "rotated in" the truck yet. I'm starting to get pretty mad.

After another week and a half I'm about done with the guy, he assures me it will be finished in a few days. This was two weeks ago.

Last week, I call him several times and keep getting "tomorrow" as an answer. Finally, on Thursday the truck is running and he just needs one more day to tune the timing. I picked the truck up yesterday, payed the man far too much money and took it home. I notice that the power levels are still absurdly low, I know it's an ancient diesel but it really struggles to get moving from a standstill.

Today, the truck doesn't start. I run the block heater for an hour (hey, look, a block heater!) and it seems to make no difference. it's only 33 degrees Farenheit, this really shouldn't be a problem. Finally I get it started with my dad by spraying silicone into the air intake, but this is absurd. Three months and a shedload of money later, the truck runs like shit and doesn't start in a cool breeze.

I'm at a loss. The cold starting issue could be the glow plugs, which would be simple enough, the dash light seems to turn off way too quickly. But it's clear the engine is severely underpowered, which could be anything from timing (supposedly done by the guy who worked on it), to compression, to turbo issues. There's only so much more money I can put into it. I'll be calling the guy back on Monday to see what he has to say, if it comes down to it I will be disputing the charge on my card. There's no way it should be running like this after the repairs he did and what he charged me.

It's time for a TL;DR, here's a summary of where I am right now:

The Bad
------------------------------------------------------------------
- way down on power
- can't cold start
- unknown status of glow plugs
- trouble shifting down into 2nd
- oil leak (valve cover gasket, it was cheap so I ordered one for a US model with this engine to see if it fits)
- wheels a bit rusty
- missing one wheel stud
- hood cable broken
- unknown age of tires (they seem fine, one maybe has slow leak)
- shitty aftermarket Canadian foglights which served as DRLs broken
- trim around rear windows and roof extremely sunbleached

The Good
------------------------------------------------------------------
- zero rust
- 64,000 km (~40,000 miles)
- immaculate body
- 4WD with proper transfer case and low gear
- electronically adjustable suspension (stock!)
- inclinometer
- seats 5
- turbo turbo turbo turbo turbo turbo turbo
- everything else

But enough with being pissed off with the world for now. Time to talk about the truck itself! The driving experience is hilarious. I can't tell where I am on the road. It's impossible to aim for turns. My turn signals have become windshield wipers. My left hand doesn't know how to find gears. Best car ever :D:D:D:D:D

Click for larger!




Last, but not least:
 

Posmo

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"TURBO WAGON"
 

BerserkerCatSplat

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1) Make sure the fuel system is properly bled and sealed. Air in the system = hard or no start.
2) Test glow plugs
3) Test compression
 

thevictor390

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In case you don't have a copy..

I thought I had that but seem to have misplaced it, thanks!

1) Make sure the fuel system is properly bled and sealed. Air in the system = hard or no start.
2) Test glow plugs
3) Test compression

1) should be covered by the complete disassembly of the fuel injection pump that was just done.... honestly all signs point to low compression but I don't trust the glow plugs either.
 

BerserkerCatSplat

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Yeah in theory they would have done it correctly after the rebuild, but it's worth double-checking the bleed.
 

Matt2000

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If you shipped it over here I know there would be a good number of people experienced with it, the Blizzard (or Fourtrak as it's know here) is pretty common, it was popular with farmers. Someone could put a reliable Land Rover diesel in it for you. :p

My first thought would be why does it have that cone air filter? Surely that isn't stock and can't be right for the engine. I don't know what would be causing it to run like crap though, diesels really don't need that much to run.
 

thevictor390

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That's the stupid K&N filter that everyone puts on everything around here, a case of FPO. Shouldn't be causing this type of issue, if anything it would be less restrictive than stock.
 

Spectre

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That could actually cause it to be running too lean - or possibly (depending on which air flow metering system it uses) screwed the MAF or MAP sensor.

An independent motorcycle shop can cheaply replace your broken hood cable.
 
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Perc

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That could actually cause it to be running too lean - or possibly (depending on which air flow metering system it uses) screwed the MAF or MAP sensor.

An independent motorcycle shop can cheaply replace your broken hood cable.

I'm not too sure the 2L has air flow metering. :lol: Unless the USDM version has more emissions stuff bolted to it.
 

Spectre

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I'm not too sure the 2L has air flow metering. :lol: Unless the USDM version has more emissions stuff bolted to it.

Eh, if it does, the K&N oil can ruin it. If not, there's still going to be a big sticky mess all over the inside of the air intake.

On the old mechanical-only diesels can be thrown for a loop by the K&N sometimes, happens on some Ford IDIs.
 

Matt2000

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Eh, if it does, the K&N oil can ruin it. If not, there's still going to be a big sticky mess all over the inside of the air intake.

On the old mechanical-only diesels can be thrown for a loop by the K&N sometimes, happens on some Ford IDIs.

I know the EGR that was fitted to the LR diesels like mine used to chuck oil in to the intake and cause headaches if it failed. My local LR specialist take any K&N that comes to them out and put a factory paper filter in because they've had problems too.
 

thevictor390

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Good to know about the K&N. But what's this about USDM emissions? Take a look at the steering wheel :p

It's going back to the shop as soon as this storm blows over, I'm not letting him do anything further without talking to me first....
 

JTuhka

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In the 80's US and J-spec emission standards were so similar that many manufacturers had engine types that were sold only on those two markets.

But yeah, if it isn't made in the US in can't be US Domestic Market. :p
 

Cavi Mike

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Just swap in a gasoline motor, like a 22RE or something. Why pay $3/gal for diesel?
 

CrzRsn

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Why not throw a small block in that beemer?

I can cut a deal on a crate 5.0 Coyote. Too bad its probably bigger than the whole trucklet.

Just swap in a gasoline motor, like a 22RE or something. Why pay $3/gal for diesel?

You thing a 2JZ will fit? If not he can just switch Diesels.



I'll show myself out now.
 
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