When you are driving 1000’s of miles… Even in a newer car… You have to be ready to deal with a sudden failure. We drive Toyota’s for a reason… More reliability on or off the road no matter where we go. But even with the best of odds, you can have a one small problem turn into something that will ruin the best laid plans.
Somewhere outside of Kingman Arizona… Libbie started smelling burning oil while driving her 4Runner. We stopped our three car caravan to check and see what it was. At first glance… It would have appeared to have been the oil filter housing. The leak was all over the skid plate and the engine was soaked behind the filter. Immediately, we were ready to blame the guy who changed the oil last. (I can tell you as the service manager that I was seeing red!)
With the TRD Skid on, the filter is nearly impossible to reach. I was able to touch it from the passenger side, and did not feel anything out of order. The oil was still topped off, so the decision was made to try and get to a town with a quick lube or any service station that could get us in to check the filter. We hit the road again.
After a few miles of being in the chase vehicle to keep an eye on the situation… Oil spatter was covering my windshield. I used the three wipers and it just smeared oil all over my FJ. We pulled over again and this time found an area where we would remove the skid plate ourselves and check the filter tightness.
After getting everything pulled apart… It did not appear to be the filter. But honestly, I am not a tech. I was pretty sure it was something else but felt better with a second opinion. I called our Master Tech, James, and asked for remote assistance!
With the help of pictures and videos… James and I deduced that the leak was coming from the oil pressure sender on the side of the engine… Right above some coolant lines that run near the filter housing.
This was a fresh leak, and it was doubtful it had been doing it for very long.
We called the local truck repair shop at our exit, they said they did not work on smaller trucks like this, but referred us to a shop called ADAN in Kingman Arizona. We called them and explained what was going on. They said to “come on over.” This was already going better than expected.
As we pulled out… I saw what I can only describe as a “gypsy” sitting on the curb with a gas can. She looked to be 100 pounds. I thought she might be hiding from the law with the giant sunglasses and wig she was wearing. Her kids were decked out in footy pajamas and looked like they had been sleeping on the desert floor all night. And their van… Oh my… It was something. An older Chevy conversion van with handwritten messages of “love everyone” and “peace” told a story of spending lots of days and nights at gas stations!
I asked her if she needed money for gas. (She was holding a gas can) She said “yes”. I said “I need all the Karma I can get” as I handed her a ten dollar bill, she said something unintelligible and took the money. I like to think it was a Gypsy blessing. Because luck was starting to fall into place.
As we pulled into Kingman… I was getting bigger puffs of hot oil smoke and I knew that we could not keep up a drive with this truck spitting out more and more. While on the road, I called the local O’Rielly Auto Parts store and told them what I needed. An oil pressure sender for a 4.0L Toyota is not a common repair item in our shop… I was praying that the store would have one, or be able to refer me to where to get it. Even so, if I had to drive to another town… We may have been looking at three plus hours for a return trip with the part. Nothing is close in Arizona.
O’Rielly had one! I told the others to head to repair shop with the truck while I headed for the part. Once in the store, I inspected the “sender” and verified it was correct. (Believe it or not… Sometimes parts stores say they have something… And its not correct! Shocking right? )
My Gypsy luck was holding.
ADAN had checked in the truck and was getting ready to lift if when I pulled in. They were very firm about a $100.00 rack fee and said they would not be responsible if my diagnosis was wrong. We were just fine with those terms. The techs at ADAN went to work on the repair.
An oil pressure sender is something that could be done with the small amount of tools we had in convoy, but it was much easier to do on the lift in a shop. The $100 fee was a small price to pay versus doing it ourselves on hot Arizona pavement.
We started the truck after the repair. No leaks.
We ended up being 2 hours late to our meeting point with another truck outside Ft Mojave later that day. But, the alternative was far worse. 2 hours is small potatoes when weighed against getting a hotel room and being stranded.
Some say you make your luck. Traveling with tools, experienced staff and having a master tech one phone call away dampen the chances of failure on the road. I still say a little old fashioned luck never hurts and I’ll thank the Gypsy for her help as well.