bherde

A Toyota 4Runner Diesel Conversion

15 posts in this topic

I am running a 97 4runner in the golden state and after a quarter million miles of abuse it is time to 'refresh' the motive systems.  My desire is to get a diesel clip from a surf model and make the changes, but CA has it in their mind to save the planet one obstruction at a time.  After a lot of ping pong between the DMV and the CARB I still don't have anything to substantiate just what requirements I have to meet to complete the registration.  (beyond move to Arizona.)

 

A couple post from Moses lends to a suspicion that there may be some real documentation somewhere.  So I am putting out a plea to anyone who has been, or knows someone who has been,  or may be in a similar situation, and has the chapter and verse if this can be done in California.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

Bill

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Hi, bherde, welcome to the forums!  Very pleased to see Toyota participation, the 4Runner is a great place to start.  As you hint, I'm a diesel advocate and have also considered a 50-State legal diesel transplant for the magazine's '99 XJ Cherokee. 

 

I'm also a past holder of the original California 'Smog Chek' program licenses for both engine repair and installation of MVPC devices.  I tested for these credentials in the mid-'80s when my role with OFF-ROAD Magazine turned from editorial/pictorial contributor to the tech columnist/tech editor.  We lived at San Diego County, and I was a Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser buff at the time. 

 

Despite our exodus from California by 1990, I've continued to hold a fascination for the Golden State's CARB programs.  CARB and the BAR (Consumer Affairs department) are not that difficult to understand if you know the rules of bureaucracy and the "accountability" operative principle.  (Don't take those flat refusals personally, this is strictly about rules and job security.  Try to find a decision maker in a system like this.)  General policies get made (legislatively), followed by an interpretation, then a firm adherence to rulings.  This trickles down from the top of these agencies to the smog referee station or a licensed shop inspector.

 

The diesel engine swap or no-swap paradigm is somewhat easy to figure out.  Initially, California had a practical ruling based on the understanding that a diesel engine, per se, helps lower emissions.  When tuned to reduce emissions, the diesel firing events can even emulate EGR and other gasoline engine mandates.  Historically, diesel engines were criticized more for visible pollution than tailpipe emissions.  That changed a decade ago with the mandate for catalytic converters on truck diesels, which has now grown into DEF systems and other means to reduce measurable tailpipe emissions.

 

As for California, 2009 was the turning point.  When light truck diesel engines were required to "smog" test, the door swung open for scrutinizing diesel engine transplants.  Prior to '09, you could have done your swap and merely visited the DMV with a request for a change in fuel type on the vehicle's registration.  The engine of origin was not the concern, the diesel's merits meant owners only had to prove that they made a diesel engine swap.  Common sense:  You added a diesel engine, it was regarded as a means to minimize vehicle pollution, and you now had a registration with a diesel designation for fuel type.  You didn't have to jump through nearly as many hoops as the gasoline engine swappers.

 

With the 2009 mandated change to smog test all Class 1 Passenger/Light Truck diesel vehicles, the specific engine in the chassis came under scrutiny—just like with a gasoline powered vehicle.  Diesel engine swaps, logically or illogically, were now seen as similar to gasoline engine swaps (a visible precedent), and this meant some specific requirements must be met.  These break down, as they always have, to basic demands and mandates:

 

1)  The engine must be the same year or newer than the chassis.

2)  The engine must be emissions certified in the same vehicle category as the swap vehicle/chassis.  For your 4Runner, this means a passenger car/light truck/SUV engine, and for the truck/SUV category, the gross weight limit must meet the Class 1 standard.

3)  The engine must have all of its emission controls in place and functioning as if the engine were in the original/donor vehicle.  The 4Runner would also need all of its emissions and evaporative chassis components in place.  There is room for overlap here, too, like when double or triple catalytic converter systems are considered part of the engine/emissions package and therefore part of the engine swap.  (See the Advance Adapters engine swap of a GM LS V-8 into a Jeep TJ Wrangler, the swap had to include the donor GM light truck's catalytic converters: http://www.4wdmechanix.com/HD-Video-Advance-Adapters-Jeep-TJ-Wrangler-LS-V-8-Conversion.html.)

 

Put this all together, and the Surf engine must be from a year/model the same as yours or newer.  The Surf must have complied with U.S. EPA (not necessarily California/CARB but that point could come up) certification.  All emission controls considered pertinent to the Surf's "package" must be in place.  Your chassis could be a possible blend of all OEM Toyota 4Runner "stuff" plus any demands that come up for the Surf engine package, overlaps included. 

 

The kicker for your plan is that the Hilux Surf with 3.0L diesel engine was neither marketed nor EPA certified for U.S. use.  Since Toyota never certified this engine in a U.S. market chassis (a passenger car application would even suffice like the VW turbo diesel swaps), California will not recognize the engine.  They will also not "certify" an engine after market.  The certification process can only be implemented and tested at the time of the vehicle's manufacture.

 

There is a 600 page California compilation of rules, regulations and marching orders that you can peruse.  I fanned through it when considering an Isuzu/Iveco diesel engine swap for the XJ Cherokee.  I hit the wall on the technicality that the engine is used only in a medium duty truck and emissions package.  The Sprinter engines fall under that guise, too.  The only diesel swap engines currently viable for the XJ Cherokee would be the 3.0L diesel used in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the latest Ram 1500 pickups, each "light duty" Class 1 emissions vehicles.  Cost would be prohibitive for an engine this new in the market.

 

That's the starting point. Immediate red flags for a referee station would begin with medium duty emissions bread truck engines, Cummins 4-cylinder industrial engines, medium duty truck application engines like the Isuzu diesels and so forth.  The engine must be Class 1 certified for motor vehicle pollution controlled, EPA/California use.  The engine cannot be too old for the chassis.  Any of these criteria will fail an emissions swap test.

 

I would be thrilled to kick this around further, since I'm still on the fence with my own swap ideas.  The Hilux 3.0L diesel would be a fantastic, bolt-in swap for a comparable 4Runner.  Unfortunately, it might be easier to get an emissions waver to import an entire Hilux Surf vehicle than to swap a Surf engine into your U.S. market 4Runner.

 

Moses

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I am beginning to wonder if I need to register in Indiana where I have a farm, then re-register back to CA. Does CA to your knowledge have issues with a vehicle legally modified in another state then registered here? It appears that CA would rather have old worn out gassers on the road than to let me get an oil burner and start running my biodiesel through it.  I have a Jetta TDI that makes the daily drive, and get 45mpg on biodiesel, and in the summer about 43 on WVO. (yes I pay the road tax each year.)  It may just be the case that I have to rebuild the gasser and keep it rolling along.  

 

I have another conversion project in work that actually will be much more fun and CA may have to leave me alone on it.  I have a 69 J3000 that the engine broke in half, (Oops) and is growing up to sport a 6BT and all the rest out to the wheels from a rolled 92 Dodge 3500. So from your feedback, (which is a much clearer version of what CARB told me) I should be OK with everything there.  Newer engine, and CA approved.  

 

Kind of a shame, the 4runner is superb in the back trails, just needs better low end torque for the slow crawl.

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bherde...California would require either a "Smog Chek" (or the current name for the program) or a referee station inspection of any vehicle brought into the state and registered.  If you go to a regular biennial smog station, they would refer the diesel transplant vehicle to a referee station because the engine was not available in the 4Runner (U.S. version) chassis.  Your Toyota would fail the test due to no EPA/CARB certification with that 3.0L Surf engine in place.  Still the issue of the engine not being U.S. certified. 

 

California cares less what other states do.  They have VIN criteria for what engine should be in a given vehicle's chassis.  Your Toyota only pops up as equipped (gasoline engines) by Toyota for U.S. market in 1997.  Period.  That's the nature of "50-State Legal".  The VW TDI engine is a clear example of why diesel power should be endorsed everywhere.  You can swap a VW TDI into your 4Runner or my Jeep XJ, however, neither of us would be very happy with the results of this complex transplant.

 

The '69 J3000 GVWR should qualify as a 3/4-ton or better, which makes it eligible for the '92 Dodge 3500 engine transplant.  You'll be scrutinized for all emission controls that came with the '92 Cummins engine (not much there) and the chassis emissions/evaporative system requirements (those that will work with a diesel) for a 1969 J3000 Jeep 4x4 pickup.  The vehicle will need a referee station inspection for equipment, since this is still an engine change from OEM and not simply a rebuilt/similar gasoline engine. 

 

This does bring up the question of what is required in general for a 1969 vehicle.  Does California require first registration and biennial smog inspection on 46 year old vehicles?  There once was the 1955 or later year requirement.  Is that still in effect?  Enlighten us here.

 

Moses

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You have your information to the book Moses. To do the Toy to diesel I would have to keep it registered at the farm address in Indiana. Which would be tricky should someone ask to validate that I maintain a RESIDENCE there. Well there is only barn, a springhouse and an outhouse on the property, so I suppose someone COULD reside there, but...... Right now CA law says that if you reside in California, any vehicles you drive here have to be registered here.  Currently they want to see your drivers license or your state tax return to prove residence. (So buying a PO box does not work any more)

 

For the J3000 should be OK, since part of the diesel conversion would involve the refferee who will certify that it is a diesel and has all the appropriate stuff as you say. Then it has to pass an opacity test.  I do not have confirmation that it will be elligible to be removed from the smog test program, but a conversation with the local refferee last week indicated that he believed it would.  We are scheduled to talk again for confirmation. If it is not removed, the bi-annual test will remain a tailpipe opacity test.

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You're on it, bherde!  As for questions of residency, no point in playing games.  California has employer, income and property tax records, residency clues through renter rebates and other vehicle registrations plus many other means for knowing where you live and work.  Easier not to make your life a living hell.  If you're a California resident, consider the perks:  quality of life (if you live at an area you like), somewhat better income than other places (almost enough to offset the cost of living and hefty state income tax), nice climate at most areas, access to a variety of cultural outlets plus good infrastructure reinvestment in things like roads, freeways and roadside rests.  Not a place that's friendly to businesses, especially small to medium ones, but there are trade-offs around lifestyle. 

 

Glad you have a dialogue with the referee station on the classic J3000 Jeep 4x4 pickup.  This is a great idea.  I thought of a Grand Wagoneer with late Cummins 24-valve CRD engine swap, but that's another case of wrong emissions Class chassis for the engine if the goal were CA/50-State legal.  

 

Totally stoked on Cummins ISB inline sixes!  The 1969 J3000 chassis/body is a coup, and its original engine bay accommodated the AMC inline six.  Should not be a major change, other than I'd recommend a Dana 60 open knuckle front axle with disc (front only would be okay) brakes.  (You have a closed-knuckle 44 now, right?)  You need support for the Cummins' weight and more stamina for the added torque.  Continue working with the local CA referee station, you're on it!

 

Moses

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For the J I have an entire Dodge frame with axles from a 96 cab plus model. Front coils will be nicer. So that makes a D70 in the rear, and a D60 in front.  These have 4:10 gears in them.  I have another set of axles with 3:54s in them and that rear is just rebuilt.  I think the later set will give me the cruising mileage I want, and if it strains too much I can change them out.  With all this stuff going on, it looks like I will have no choice but to raise everything up at least 10 inches, and at that height, well it will just look stupid with anything less than 35s or so on the rubber.  I will shorten the frame and then put the J on top of it.  I am seriously considering stretching the cab about 6 inches to make room for some nice seats and my 6 foot larg-ess. Should give it a different custom look.

 

The story behind this truck is that this is the second time I am building it up.  The first time was when I blew the Buick 350 up and replaced it with a small block 400 married to an NV4500.  I kinda went overboard on the chevy engine and it was putting over 400HP to the wheels. (at 8MPG!!!) We all know that just because you have all that power does not mean you have to use it, but....   I twisted the axles right out of those 44s.  It was fun, but towing it out of the middle of Glamis was a bit expensive.

 

Nowdays I don't need to go as fast, but I still like to get out to places where there arn't a lot of tracks to follow, ... and then make it back!

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Late Ram Cummins/4x4 chassis/drivetrain with vintage J-truck body works!  Should be a fun project...Keep us posted.

 

Moses

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Will do.  I guess I will have to divert some attention to refreshing the Toy first, then I can pull the J parts back in the barn.

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Have a Midwest friend and industry colleague doing a late '60s J-truck like yours onto a modern Ram 1500 chassis.  There's some insight available if you need it...

 

Moses

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Would love to see what he ends up doing to fab the body mounts. Knowledge is power, and I would love to see some details of what surprises he comes up to and how to get around them.   Most interested in what parts he chooses to be Jeep and what becomes Dodge.

 

My tape measure tells me I will need to lift the body up about 2 inches from where it would have been sitting on the original frame to get the 6BT under the hood without making a bump, and I will need to move radiator forward about 4 - 6 inches. (depending on how tight I can get on the firewall.) Fan becomes an electric pusher and I picked up a chevy hydraulic brake master as there will be no room for a big vacuum assist.  Steering column... well that may end up being a lot of fun.

 

We may have to open a new thread on this.  What will we call these?  "Deeps"?

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bherde...Please post your question/topic at our Jeep J-truck forum, I'll ask my friend and Jeep J-truck builder to respond!

Moses

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I may be resurrecting an old thread, I was just wondering how things are going with diesel conversions for 4runners.     I've recently found out about the cummins repower crate motors and it's perked my interest since my 3rd gen has over 400k on it and the economy and torque is suffering...I'd rather remotor this faithful oldie than trade-up and feel like I've betrayed an old friend.

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22 hours ago, kkjensen said:

I may be resurrecting an old thread, I was just wondering how things are going with diesel conversions for 4runners.     I've recently found out about the cummins repower crate motors and it's perked my interest since my 3rd gen has over 400k on it and the economy and torque is suffering...I'd rather remotor this faithful oldie than trade-up and feel like I've betrayed an old friend.

In CA, you must install a diesel that was certified for sale somewhere in the US, and must be model year or newer, then meet the smog requirements for that year.  I ended up going with a JDM replacement motor for my 97 4runner.  Saving the diesels for the real jeeps. Agree with you on not trading past the 3rd gen.  I bought an 04, and while the engine was much stronger, the suspension was awful on road and off. I got rid of it and re-motored the 97.

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kkjensen...bherde is accurate about the traditional engine swap model for California emissions.  Basically, the swap engine must be the same class as your vehicle, a Light-Duty Vehicle in the case of a Toyota 4Runner; engine must be same year or newer; engine must be from a given vehicle model that was U.S. certified for Light-Duty Vehicle emissions with all emission controls in place as certified; the conversion engine's tailpipe emissions cannot be higher than your vehicle's OEM engine's emissions (OEM engine in good condition with legal equipment in place).  

Cummins is taking a different tack:  They are attempting to certify the engine as a "crate motor" for specifically Tier 1/California Light-Duty Vehicle emissions at this point.  If successful, the engine would then be legal for installation in a Light-Duty Vehicle within this Tier level.  Tier 1 is essentially model year 1999/2000 era and earlier.

Note:  There's rumor that the successful Cummins/Nissan Frontier concept vehicle might lead to an OEM application for this R2.8L four-cylinder diesel engine.  An EPA/California emissions certified Nissan model does not exist yet, so the traditional California swap engine strategy won't work.  50-State legal must be an engine and emissions package that California finds acceptable in "crate motor" form, granting an exemption or E.O. (Executive Order) number for an emission legal crate engine.

You're in luck if the Cummins R2.8L diesel gets California certified.  The goal is 50-State legal as a crate motor with the first certification for Tier 1 in California.  This would allow a conversion into any Light-Duty Vehicle (i.e., your Toyota 4Runner if model year 1999/2000 or earlier).  Eventually, Cummins intends to up the emissions tier level to meet requirements for later vehicles...Realistically, the JK Wrangler is a target.

Advance Adapters is the collaborative force for the conversion parts.  The pilot/mule conversions have been Jeep, vintage Scout and a Land Rover.  For Toyota owners, the conversion parts available for Jeep Wrangler/XJ Cherokee match up with some Toyota manual transmissions: Jeep AX15 is similar to the Toyota A150 manual five-speed, and both makes have used the AW4 automatic.  Keep in contact with the forums and Advance Adapters. 

Here is my interview with Cummins' Steve Sanders at 2016 SEMA Show.  Advance Adapters' Steve Roberts discusses the rest of the kit.  We're all waiting for the certification/approval for California.  Our '99 XJ Cherokee may be a candidate...The topic has been hot at the magazine:

http://www.4wdmechanix.com/advance-adapters-and-cummins-2-8l-diesel-engine-conversion-for-jeep/

Moses

 

 

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