really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
99,350 miles
Total Complaints:
3 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. re-design head and use better quality casting (3 reports)
1988 Toyota Pickup engine problems

engine problem

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1988 Toyota Pickup Owner Comments

problem #3

Jan 012002

Pickup SR5

  • Manual transmission
  • 140,000 miles


As instructed I am reporting this problem twice because it happened TWICE. Two separate times. This is as major a problem as they get. Plus it's a DEFECT. It's NOT normal for ANY vehicle to go through this, as far as I know. However, to be fair, I have "heard" that the combination of aluminum cylinder heads and cast iron blocks is not good (uneven expansion and contraction during cooling/heating). So there could be other manufacturers that Toyota copied that may have the same problem.

Let's start with the symptoms. Engine runs "rough". There seems to be a leak in the cooling system but no drips are apparent - you see you need to add coolant because level is low. Heavy vapor comes out of the exhaust system tail pipe, even "water" dripping, when the problem progresses. Then there's a sinking feeling when you realize you just fixed this same stupid problem less than 50K miles ago, and it involves major major work and $$$ time money, yeah.... Solution you ask? Bring the head to a good cylinder head repair specialist (after about 6 - 8 hours of work removing head yourself - if you are not an expert, do not attempt) where it can be weld repaired. Better results may occur if he welds up all the "blind" "coolant passages". Anti-Freeze and oil do not mix. Engines run on gasoline, not anti freeze!

This problem will typically only happen to one cylinder at a time. But it will ruin the engine in short order. With mine, it only severely reduced the engine life of my so-called "bullet proof" 22RE because I stopped driving it imediately. I've seen people junk cars for this (Nissan Z). but it can be fixed.

- wjl, Lincoln, NE, US

problem #2

Jan 011997

Pickup SR5

  • Manual transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Defective aluminum, defective design, defective casting, defective head. Head gasket okay. The second time this problem occurred, the machinist and I decided to weld shut several (about 3 or 4) blind coolant passages in the aluminum head. Even though I have had the engine overheat several times since then (Toyota has the worst cooling systems in the industry) this problem has not happened again. The vehicle now has 185,000 miles on it, but it's been a real struggle getting it to go that far. I've owned it since new. It's easily been the worst vehicle I've ever owned. EASILY! Defect after defect. Problem after problem. I will NEVER own another Toyota. Not just things breaking but very poor design. Nothing was ever recalled. Apparently Toyota would rather cover things up than cover them. I will NEVER have the time or energy to list every problem this truck has had because it numbers well into the hundreds. The 22RE is just not a very good engine in my opinion, due to a defective cylinder head, defective starting system, defective/poorly designed cooling system, as well as many other problems such as timing chain guides, seals, exhaust header, sticking throttle body, etc. I'd be willing to overlook some of this stuff if it had 400,000+ on it, but this vehicle was babied it's whole life and most of the miles were in CALIFORNIA!!! The easiest climate and driving conditions anywhere - except for maybe the brakes. Many problems occurred with this vehicle when it was newer, and it only continued to get worse to the point where it has not been a dependable vehicle for about ten years now.

- wjl, Lincoln, NE, US

problem #1

Jan 272006

(reported on)

Pickup SR5 4x4

  • 80,000 miles

The cylinder head on the Toyota 22RE engine is defective and will not last. This is due to several reasons. Toyota replaced or repaired defective cylinder heads on the V6 engine but would not do it on the 4 cylinder. As with other Toyota defects they do not service their customers very well and usually only respond with the typical "well, sorry but they all do that". Aluminum and ductile iron should not be mixed together. This is one reason but having coolant passages which are too close to the fuel intake ports is poor cylinder head design. This will result in coolant leaking into a cylinder and will ruin the engine shortly by robbing it of lubrication while making it run terrible in the mean time. It will also corrode the exhaust system prematurely. I had to repair my cylinder head twice for this reason. The second time was after only 40,000 more miles and the defect was in a different spot on the cylinder head. At this time I noticed visual porosity on the freshly machined surface of the cylinder head which indicates a very poor quality aluminum sand casting. As anyone can tell you, tearing off a cylinder head is major engine work and can be very expensive.

- toyotasucks, Garland, NE, US

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