Toyota 4Runner – A Brief History

Today we’re learning about the Toyota 4Runner. It all started in 1980 when a Toyota dealership owner in Wisconsin named Jack Safro wanted the 4wd capabilities of a Toyota pickup but with an enclosed cab for the cold climate. Safro contacted @winnebagorvs to make a Fiberglass rear cab for the Toyota Hilux. Toyota agreed to the partnership and they unveiled the Trekker in 1981. They built 1500 and they all sold fast. Toyota realized there was a market for this style of vehicle so they released the Toyota 4Runner in 1984. In Japan they were sold as the Hilux Surf.

Pictured here is a 1989 N60. The last year of the first generation. The 4Runner was the first to coin the term SUV and has been a staple in the class ever since. named it #5 in their most reliable cars in the US list. With its versatility and longevity it’s easy to see why the 4Runner is one of the best cars on the market to this day.

Smog, check before you buy

To quote one of my instructors in smog school, “There’s no such thing as an as-is sale on a car that wont pass smog”.

When a car is sold, who is responsible for the inspection?

The seller is required to provide the buyer with a valid smog inspection certification at the time of the sale or transfer. Smog certifications are good for 90 days from the date of issuance.

Unless a car is being sold to:

  • A licensed dismantler (Junk yard)
  • A spouse, domestic partner, sibling, child, parent, grandparent, or grandchild.
  • A biennial smog certification was submitted to DMV within 90 days prior to the vehicle transfer date (a vehicle inspection report may be required for proof of certification).

porsche star smog checkThe California Department of Motor Vehicles will not complete the transfer of ownership until the vehicle passes a smog inspection.


The short answer is that the State of California is looking out for your interests.  The idea is to prevent someone from dumping their problem car on you.

But I got such a great deal!

We recently had a BMW in the shop.  The customer bought the car without a smog.  He thought he got a great deal until he learned that the vehicle would require several thousand dollars worth of repairs before it would pass a smog inspection. Needless to say, our customer no longer believes that he got such a great deal.

Smog check sign

Just Smogs Star Certified Test and Repair

Protect yourself

The state will allow a transfer to occur if a vehicle has received an emissions certification within the last 90 days, but a lot can happen in 90 days.

Maybe the car squeaked  through its last inspection.  Maybe something that was getting ready to go went. Perhaps fraud was involved.

California Vehicle Emissions Statement

The Vehicle Emissions System Statement is a DMV form that even most smog inspectors don’t know about.

The seller is required to furnish the purchaser this statement if a transfer application is submitted to the department within 90 days of the submission of a valid smog certification that was not obtained specifically for the transfer…

… You may have this vehicle tested at a licensed smog check station prior to completion of this transaction to verify compliance. If the vehicle passes the test, you shall be responsible for the costs of the test.  If the vehicle fails the test, the seller is obligated to reimburse you the cost of having the vehicle tested and, without expense to you, must have the vehicle repaired to comply with specified emissions standards prior to completion of this transaction.

Excerpt from :
DMV REG 139 (REV.5/2007)
Vehicle Emissions System Statement

While having a current smog certificate can be a selling point, it can be in the interest of the buyer to have the results of the last smog inspection independently verified.

In today’s vehicles emissions problems are often related to issues that affect fuel economy and driveability. You might be out the price of a smog inspection, or you could save yourself a lot of headaches down the road.

Check the History

I always recommend checking a vehicles smog check history.


The smog check history of every vehicle that has been inspected under the modern smog check program in the State of California is available at:

You can search for a vehicle’s smog check history by license plate or vehicle identification number (VIN).  I always recommend searching by VIN, especially if that old car you’re thinking about just happens to have a brand spanking new license plate.

If you spot a repeating pattern of several failed smog inspection followed by a single pass, the car in question might not be the car you’re looking for.

We can’t all afford to buy or lease new cars

Just Smogs® 7722 Talbert Ave, Huntington Beach, CA

I hear you.  Some of us can’t afford a new car, while others don’t want a new car.  Either way, it’s important to protect yourself.

When buying a used car, always remember to:

And most important of all, to ensure peace of mind, have the vehicle inspected by the dedicated STAR certified professionals at Just Smogs® in Huntington Beach. Click here to make an appointment.

California Vehicle and Engine Emission Warranty 15 Year/150,000 Miles

Emission Warranty

Most Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles (PZEV) have a 15 year/150,000 mile warranty for emission-related components. Contact your dealer and/or Owner’s Manual to determine if your vehicle’s emission failure is repairable under the manufacturer’s warranty. General warranty information may also be found on ARB’s Website.

PDF: california-smog-emission-warranty

1996 to 2002 Toyota OBD II Catalyst Monitor Readiness Drive Patterns

The catalyst monitor on many Toyota vehicles can be difficult to complete.  That’s why it’s important to follow the Toyota recommended drive cycle after performing actions that are known to clear your Toyota’s computer memory.

Remember, all on-board diagnostic monitors are cleared when the battery is disconnected, or when the power train control module (PCM) is cleared with a scan tool.


  1. Do not turn off the ignition switch during the test procedure.
  2. Allow the vehicle to run at idle until warmed up.
  3. Drive at a steady speed between 40 and 70 MPH for 10 minutes.  It’s a good idea to stay in the middle of this range, so 55 MPH is optimal.
  4. It may take several attempts and warm up cycles to complete the drive cycle.





1996 to 2002 Toyota OBD II Monitor Readiness Drive Patterns

Smog Check: Toyota Prius Hybrid (STAR Certified)


This 2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid passed its change-of-ownership smog check inspection today at JUST SMOGS® in Huntington Beach. Hybrid emission inspections are essentially the same as most 2000 and newer gasoline powered vehicles.

The inspections consists of a comprehensive visual inspection of the emission systems as well as an OBD computer scan.

STAR Smog Check: Airstream Sprinter Diesel

smog-check-diesel-sprinter.JPGAt JUST SMOGS® (STAR Certified), we are licensed to inspect and certified ALL makes and models for the California DMV. This fantastic Airstream motorhome passed with flying colors. These diesel Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans are an excellent fuel efficient RV option.