Truck Trend Garage: Water In Oil of a 1997 4x4 Toyota Tacoma

Alex Steele
Jan 21, 2010
Photographers: Steve Austin
Q: My 1997 4x4 Toyota Tacoma's V-6 has water in the oil. I guess it has a blown head gasket. I would like to fix this myself by using a Haynes manual, but I'm a little confused about taking apart the front pulleys and timing. Is there something I should watch for?
A: I haven't seen a recent version of a Haynes manual, but I've never been a big fan. A lot of generic and multiple model year info gets mixed together. Alldata seems to be a better format, but the most detailed information--including specific removal and replacement procedures--comes from the genuine Toyota service manual. Coolant in the oil is never a good thing, and you also need to be sure this isn't just moisture accumulating at the fill cap or dipstick. That can be considered normal. It may be a coolant leak past a head gasket into an oil pressure passage or directly into the crankcase through an oil-return galley. There could even be coolant seeping by the intake gasket. The only problem is that it can also come from a crack in a cylinder head or the engine block. Normal pressure testing for a bad head gasket leaking coolant into the compression chamber does not apply in this situation. So it requires disassembly and a detailed inspection. If you pulled the heads and saw no visual sign of a gasket failure, and there were no cracks or excessive warpage found by a machine shop, I'd be worried about reassembly at that point. The fear of a cracked block would be in the back of my mind. The next step would be to remove and deliver the engine block to a machinist for testing.
Photo 2/2   |   03z Water In Oil 1997 4x4 Toyota Tacoma
How To Reach Alex
If you have a technical question regarding your pickup, SUV, or van, feel free to contact Alex, a master technician with the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Send a letter to him in care of Truck Trend Garage, 831 S. Douglas Street, El Segundo, CA 90245, or e-mail us at Please include the VIN with your question. Due to the volume of questions received every month, we cannot guarantee that everyone's question will be personally answered or will appear in the magazine.

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Toyota Tacoma

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