Integrity Auto: Independent Toyota, Lexus, & Scion Specialists Blog

Toyota-Lexus-Scion: Axles (front)/CV Joints and Boots

Posted by Duke Bishop on Wed, Aug 05, 2015 @ 03:53 PM

axles-front-cv-joints-and-boots-1
The front axles (and some rear axles with independent rear suspension) have flexible joints on the inner and outer ends of the axles to allow your wheels to get power smoothly even while going around corners or when going up and down relative to the vehicle.
A rubber boot encases each of the joints. This rubber boot is intended to protect the constant-velocity joint from losing its grease and from being damaged by water or road dust.

Eventually, after flexing through millions of rotations, these boots tend to crack and split open. When this happens, if the axle joint is still good, we routinely replace the boots and repack the joints with fresh grease. As long as the boots are intact, the original Toyota joints tend to hold up so well that I prefer replacing the boots to replacing the entire axle. When the boot cracks and splits open, the grease gets flung out and it exposes the joint to the possibility of being contaminated with water and grit which invites wear. Even in this situation, the joint can often be cleaned, relubed, and rebooted if it hasn't been split open for too long. On original axles—even with 150k to 200k miles—I would routinely expect to get more miles out of rebooting the original axle than replacing it with an aftermarke one as long as the original axle hasn't gone without grease.

If the joint has been damaged, then the entire axle needs to be replaced. When it's the outer joint that is damaged, it tends to variously make a cyclic clicking, or knocking, or grinding, or creaking noise when going through sharp turns. When it's the inner joint that is bad, most often the symptom will be a heavy vibration felt on straight line acceleration. When they're available, we have a strong preference for using Toyota remanufactured axles. The only part that is being reused is the axle shaft. The joints are new and last as long as the original, which is far longer than can be anticipated from the aftermarket axles we've encountered—either new aftermarket or remanufactured. By way of example, we recently had a customer come in with both axles fully symptomatic and badly worn that had been replaced with non-Toyota parts at a major tire chain just a year and a half ago. They only had 26 thousand miles.

As the damage to the axle joint progresses, it can eventually impair your ability to corner safely. Although rare, in extreme cases it can even break. When the axle breaks, at minimum the car abruptly loses power to the wheels and won't drive. Sometimes it can damage other surrounding parts. A friend of mine once had an axle break and it ripped loose his brake lines so that he simultaneously lost the ability either to accelerate or brake. He had just come down out of the Pyrenees Mountains—off a steep, winding road that ran along cliff's edge—and out onto a level, relatively safe place to have it happen. Whew! Close call.

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Toyota-Lexus-Scion Air Filters: Stop The Airflow Fail Sensor Blues

Posted by Duke Bishop on Tue, Jul 07, 2015 @ 11:08 AM

Understanding just when you should replace your air filter is hard since it would depend mainly on what sort of driving you do and just how much crud your air filter ingests. A filter that lasts about 30,000 miles on the vehicle that is largely operated on freeways and city streets may last only a few months in a countryside location in which the automobile is driven regularly on gravel or dirt roads.

The engine air filter cleans the air that the engine uses for combustion so that the engine won't get worn out prematurely by having gritty, abrasive air introduced into its internal moving parts.

If it gets too dirty, it restricts the airflow into the engine and can cause a loss of power. On older vehicles it can make the engine run significantly richer and with greatly reduced fuel economy.

The signs of a dirty air filter vary and can quite often have a detectable reduction in gas mileage. Other signs and symptoms are possible ignition troubles cause by fouled spark plugs. An unclean air filter inhibits the required amount of clean air from reaching the engine which impacts the emission control systems of the automobile; decreasing air flow and producing way too rich air-fuel blend which could foul the spark plugs. Fouled spark plugs can make a motor miss, rough idle as well as starting problems. Additionally, a too rich fuel mixture will increase engine build up which can even make the Service Engine Soon light to come on.

toyota_air_filters-1

We prefer the standard disposable filters. When Toyota started using the hot-wire style mass-airflow sensors to measure how much air the engine was using, for the first couple of years, it seemed like every time we saw a mass-airflow sensor fail due to fouling, it was in connection with a K&N air filter-the type that has a light oil dressing.

At the same time, we heard that Mazda had decided that using K&N air filters would void the warranty on mass-airflow sensors. Since that time, we've seen plenty of mass-airflow sensor failures in vehicles with conventional air filters as well; evidentially if you drive enough miles eventually the mass-airflow sensor can be fouled with any filter.

But it seems telling to me that there was such a delay between the first failures that we observed that were always connected to K&N air filters, and the failures that we eventually began to see with the conventional filters.

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What About Automatic Transmission Flush For My Toyota-Lexus-Scion?

Posted by Duke Bishop on Fri, Jun 12, 2015 @ 02:37 PM

Toyota proper is largely silent on when to change the fluid in automatic transmissions under normal driving conditions.


They only say to inspect and advise. We recommend changing your automatic transmission fluid by means of flushing it as preventative maintenance every 30,000 miles, or sooner if the fluid has gone through a significant color change that indicates its condition has begun to deteriorate.

get_your_toyota_lexus_scion_transmission_workingThe old fluid can't be effectively removed by simply draining. Due to the torque converter not draining, most of the fluid remains in the system even if the pan is removed.

The most effective way to accomplish a complete changeover of the transmission fluid is to flush the entire system. This is important for the life and health of your vehicle, and far more economic than having to spend the thousands required replacing or rebuilding your transmission later.

The question is occasionally raised as to whether changing or flushing the transmission can create any problems, particularly in the case of a vehicle that is long overdue for a fluid change. In more than 16 years of performing this service I have never been aware of any negative consequence that could remotely be perceived as a consequence of changing the transmission fluid. I don't recall even any transmission incident that might have been perceived as an unfortunate coincidence after changing the fluid. The way we flush the transmission is really nothing more than a very thorough fluid change. After draining the pan, we use the transmission's own pump to pull in new fluid and push it through the system in its normal direction of flow, pushing out the old fluid ahead of the new. New fluid is pumped through the torque converter and on out through the cooler to where we catch it in a drain pan. What could be a more natural or harmless way to change your transmission fluid?


Some shops use machines in the flushing process that may introduce other variables into the process than what I've described as our process. Some of these variables might include special solvents and higher than normal pressures. Although I hear people talk about back-flushing, I'm not aware of whether any of the standard processes actually involve reversing the fluid flow. I can't say from personal experience whether these alternate processes increase the risk of creating an unintended problem or not.

Signs that your car needs a transmission flush: Transmission Grinding or Strange Noises, Surging of the Vehicle, Slipping Gears, Problems Shifting Gears.

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Protect Your Toyota, Lexus, & Scion Engine from "The Black Death"

Posted by Duke Bishop on Thu, May 14, 2015 @ 01:44 PM

Engine Oil Sludge

Sludgy deposits in the engine oil usually occur as a result of one or more factors--long intervals between oil changes, and/or insufficient ventilation of the engine crankcase fumes. Once a little sludging occurs, it tends to restrict the vapor flow through the ventilation passages and promotes more rapid sludge build-up along with higher crankcase vapor pressure which results in increased oil consumption, increased oil leakage, and increased likelihood of visible smoke in the exhaust. 

If the breathing passages in the valve covers have begun to be restricted, then you can often get a significant benefit from replacing the valve covers. For a number of vehicles, Toyota has come out with redesigned/updated valve covers and PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valves to counter this tendency to sludge. On vehicles that have plugged up venting passages, we've seen dramatic reductions in oil consumption and visible smoke from oil burning when we've installed the needed new parts. Even when Toyota hasn't updated the covers, if the covers have plugged passages, then the same benefits apply. 

While doing the above repair, you should be aware of the possibility that bits of sludge will be dislodged and migrate down to the oil pan where they can plug up the screen at the oil pick-up tube for the oil pump. If this happens, then the engine pan has to be removed and the pick-up tube/screen assembly has to be replaced.

Regarding the sludge that as accumulated in the engine (other that the sludge in the valve cover breathing passages) once the sludge is in place, I'm not aware of a safe and reliable way to remove it short of performing a complete disassembly of the engine. I'm not comfortable trying to flush it out, as the dislodged sludge is far to likely to end up plugging up the screen at the oil pick-up tube for the oil pump and starve the engine for oil. So, unless you plan on doing an engine overhaul, it seems to me that a "let sleeping dogs lie" policy is the safest course of action with regards to addressing sludge that has already accumulated in the engine. The valve cover replacement mentioned above is intended to reduce oil burning and stop further build-up of sludge.

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Is Flushing Your Toyota, Lexus, Scion Brake Fluid Really Necessary ?

Posted by Duke Bishop on Mon, Apr 06, 2015 @ 01:43 PM

You have probably have heard and also been given this recommendation by your auto repair professional. “Your brake fluid is black and needs to be flushed” and you usually decline because you feel that your vehicle is braking and stopping just fine. That may be true, but overtime many factors will begin to affect your braking system.

toyota_brake_fluidThe standard Dot-4 brake hydraulic fluid that Toyota, Lexus, and Scion and most other manufacturers use is hygroscopic-that is to say, it actively absorbs moisture out of the air, which then becomes a corrosive contaminant. Toyota is silent on service intervals for the brake hydraulics, which is odd, because Lexus-their sister company-recommends that it be flushed every 30,000 miles, which seems to be a common (though not universal) industry standard elsewhere as well.

 

The brake fluid starts out clear and almost completely without color. It gets darker and transitions to amber and eventually black with age. In the absence of service records, this serves as a casual indicator of age. Just as a casual aside, the clutch hydraulic fluid, which is identical to the brake fluid, turns black much more quickly than the brake fluid does. I speculate that this is perhaps because of two factors: First, the two systems are each exposed to the air through vent caps with the same sized vents in the reservoir caps. The clutch hydraulic system though has a much smaller amount of fluid in it. As a result, the same total amount of moisture absorbed becomes a much higher percentage of the whole, and so has a greater effect. Secondly, the hydraulic fluid in the brake system is routinely exposed to much higher temperatures, and so has a tendency to cook some of the moisture back out of the fluid. This is just my theory, and I haven't ever seen it discussed anywhere else.

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Toyota Parts versus Aftermarket Parts

Posted by Duke Bishop on Mon, Mar 09, 2015 @ 03:53 PM

toyota_genuine_partsToyota makes good parts, and that's what we want to use. Our biggest supplier of parts is a Toyota dealership. Our next biggest supplier is a company that sells us the same parts that were made by the original Toyota parts suppliers.

The result is that the vast majority of the parts we use either come from Toyota direct (through a dealership) or from the original suppliers of the Toyota parts. To give you an example, Nippon makes Toyota's fuel filters.

The Nippon fuel filters look identical to the Toyota filters, and in fact, if we care to peel off the strip of black tape that Nippon has applied to the filters they sell us, underneath the tape is the original Toyota parts sticker with it's Toyota part number.

It's the exact same part whether we buy it from Toyota or from Nippon. Same way with clutches. A company with the name Aisin/Asco makes clutches and water pumps for Toyota.

They used to sell those same parts to us new, in a Toyota box, at a price competitive with the same thing remanufactured from Toyota. There wasn't any question in my mind-I preferred the new to the remanufactured.

Since then, Toyota has prevented them from selling those parts in Toyota packaging, but the parts still have all of the same casting marks and look identical, except the water pumps have had the word "Toyota" ground off and replaced with other company markings.

Again, I have a strong preference for Toyota parts. I've just seen too many poor quality alternatives. As a side note, it's not an uncommon strategy for some aftermarket suppliers to offer a lifetime warranty on their products. This is strictly a marketing tool and usually seems to have no relationship to the quality of their product. Over and over I've met people who have gotten stuck with poor quality parts that repeatedly fail prematurely, and eventually they would get worn out with doing repeat repairs and decide that the better quality Toyota part was the better deal after all. Other times the life-time warranty was handled in such a slippery fashion and it was so difficult to manage their way through the hurdles set before them that the life-time warranty was effectively a lie.

 

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Keep your Toyota Wheels Rolling True - [Alignment/Wheel Alignment ]

Posted by Duke Bishop on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 @ 04:06 PM


You drive your car day after day and you just adapt to how it steers, stops and accelerates. You may say to yourself "wheel alignment" my car drives and so what's the big deal? Why should I care about wheel alignment? Eventually your tire's wear gets to the point that you need to get them replaced. You spend some hard earned dollars and your vehicle gets some news shoes. But what happens when you drive your car for the first time is nothing short of astonishing. Your cars turning ability is sharp and concise, your car accelerates with ease and your car becomes a pleasure to drive. The improved driving is only a small portion of the benefits of having your wheels aligned.

Wheel Alignment Fundamentals

When properly aligned, all four wheels should be pointing together parallel to the centerline of the car if you're driving down the road straight. And, they should be close to perpendicular to the road.

If the wheels are out of alignment, then it causes the tires to wear out more rapidly, it causes the steering to be to be more unstable, and can result in decreased gas mileage. The wheels can get out of alignment by hitting curbs or potholes too hard. They can also get out of alignment due to incremental wear of steering and suspension parts.

Proper Wheel Alignment

 

Benefits of Having Your Wheels Aligned:
1. Less Wear & Tear On Other Parts, Having your wheels out of alignment can be stressful to different parts of your car. A car that's wheels are out of alignment causes a continually need to put pressure on the steering system in order to keep the car straight, and when you brake you often feel the car pulling sharply to one side or the other, causing the brakes to work harder on one side than the other and wearing them unevenly.
2. Better Gas Mileage, with the price of a gallon of gas getting close to $4 per gallon, getting more miles to gallon has become paramount. Proper wheel alignment cuts down on rolling resistance, which means that your car doesn't have to work as hard or burn as much fuel in order to move forward.
3. More mileage from your tires, even the slightest out of alignment can have destructive effects upon your tires. If your tires have too much or too little toe-in (the degree at which they point in toward each other at the front, a narrow strip on each tire will begin to wear down very quickly, causing you to have to get new tires sooner. By getting regular wheel alignments, you ensure that your tires wear evenly, making them last as long as possible.
4. Protects Your Tires Warranty, having your tires have excessive wearing from poor wheel alignment is that it usually voids your warranty on the tires. Most warranties only apply to the quality of the goods. If your tires wear out too soon because of something other than poor quality, then the manufacturer is not responsible. The tire manufacture will site negligence by the car's owner and void the warranty.


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Tags: Toyota Repair

Toyota Owners: What Your Check Engine Light Is Trying To Tell You

Posted by Duke Bishop on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 @ 06:37 PM

Check Engine Soon Warning

The check engine light only comes on when the computer believes there's an actual problem. It never comes on based on mileage.

The computer will give a trouble code that indicates either the condition that brought about the code (like "Lean condition") or the system that it believes to be functioning incorrectly (like "EGR flow insufficient").

Sometimes the failed system will be electrical in nature that will result in a code like "Open or short circuit in coolant temperature sensor circuit," in which case there's likely a circuit problem either in the temperature sensor itself, or the wiring between it and the computer.

Some failures won't be in any of the above items, but will rather be a result of a poor power or ground supplies to the computer that control it's ability to think properly. In any case, whatever the problem is it needs to be diagnosed. It's not uncommon for people to mistakenly believe that our use of a computer eliminates the need for diagnosis.

The computer is a wonderful tool that aids us in diagnosis. It's useful enough that we've spent thousands of dollars buying computers and keeping them updated, but a computer is still just a tool; it's not magic, and it doesn't know everything. We are still heavily reliant on the technician's knowledge, experience, and judgement. Depending on the complexity of the system, we will normally get permission to spend a range of time and money for our initial diagnostic time.

Within that time we will do whatever we think will best further your purposes. Once we engage with it, it can go three ways. Best case scenario, we diagnose your problem and repair it. Next best, but very common, we diagnose your Toyota and then call you up with a quote for the repair. At that point you can say yes or no, however you want us to proceed. Worst case, we get to the end of our allotted time and we still haven't come to a conclusion as to the cause of the problem. This worst case is unusual, but it's a real possibility that should be acknowledged.

People often ask if we charge for diagnostic time. The answer is yes. They also ask if we still charge for diagnostic time if the agree to do the service or repair. The answer to that is that to the extent that the diagnostic efforts and the repair efforts overlap, the customer gets the full benefit of that overlap. To the extent that diagnostic efforts and the repairs are separate, they will be charged for separately. So, for instance: If we have to disassemble something in order to tell you that it's defective, then we may already be half way through the labor required for replacement, and of course you'll get the benefit of that. But, if we diagnose something that doesn't require disassembly, then the repair is a whole new activity on top of the initial diagnostic time, and you'll be charged for each individually.

 

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Tags: Check Engine warning light

Keep Your Toyota's Engine Running Smooth, Oil Change Every 3K!!

Posted by guest guest on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 @ 04:25 PM


Faithfully changing your Toyota's engine oil is one of the least glamorous, but most effective steps you can take to insure that your car has a long and happy life.

One of the most important reasons oil needs to be changed is that, over time, oil breaks down due to use and exposure to heat. It becomes less effective at lubricating, which causes engine parts to rub against one another.

Maintain your engine with our Toyota Oil service.

 

Motor oil also gets contaminated by substances like dust, metallic shavings and even antifreeze. And did you know that the additive package, which is part of your fully formulated motor oil, will break down in time and become a contaminant, too? As contaminants are whipped into the oil, sludge is formed. This sludge will stick to parts of the engine causing the engine to perform less efficiently.  Eventually, this sludge can cause engine failure.

Bottom line replacing your engine is much more expensive than changing your Toyota's oil.

Our recommendation is to replace your engine oil and filter every 3000 miles. When performing this service, we also inspect it for any other needs that may have developed in the interim.

Contact Duke or Ryan to have your Toyota, Lexus, Scion Oil Serviced today! 503-408-6385

 

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Tags: Toyota Oil Service, Toyota Repair

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