EFI Relay Problem on 3F Equipped 80's

3F equipped 80's have a known problem with the EFI relay. The symptoms are engine stuttering and worst case, no engine ignition. The EFI relay powers the ECU.

After much research, I have found the solution to the 3F EFI relay problem. Replace 12 gauge wire with 10 gauge from EFI fuse to EFI relay, and install 10 gauge wire from EFI relay to connector EB1 terminal #2.


Joe Chott shares his experiences of being caught out in Moab.

I am not sure how to go about getting this fixed by Toyota like I did but here is my story. In Moab in 1992, I had a dead vehicle out in the middle of nowhere on the Pritchett Canyon trail just after the really nasty (read FUN!) stuff. Symptoms were excellent cranking but no indication of starting (as it turned out, it was not getting fuel). According to our troubleshooting, it was also not getting spark. I had to leave my stock FJ-80 out there and ride back in an ARB equipped Suburban (front and rear) who needed to be strapped up at least one of the obstacles. I had the shop manual with me and VOM/tools but could not resolve the EFI relay problem in the 30 minutes we had. When I got back to Moab, I called Larry Miller Toyota in Phoenix (early evening) where I bought the vehicle and told them my predicament. They air freighted me (next day) to Grand Junction, CO (at least an hours drive from Moab-no direct plane service to Moab then) a "goody box" of parts from a new Cruiser on their lot (complete distributor, ECU, voltage reg, fuses, relays, coil, fusible links, etc.). The deal was for me to use these parts in troubleshooting the problem, get the vehicle fixed and return everything back to them on my return to Phoenix.

A friend of mine and I went out to get the Cruiser the next day while my wife rented a car and drove to Grand Junction to get the parts. We were able to tow the dead Cruiser back to Moab (a 6 hour job) with us luckily getting in touch with a Jeeper near my Cruiser who volunteered to be my brake (strapped me from the rear) while my friend strapped me from the front (without power steering or power brakes, I needed this because of the terrain). We got back to town and my wife had the new parts. After swapping out some of the easier things, we swapped out the EFI relay (on the '91 in a plastic covered box near tire well). Larry Miller Toyota footed the bill for the car rental, gas, tow bar to get the vehicle out, air freight, etc. I really couldn't have asked for any better service than they gave me in sending all the parts they could possibly think of to get the vehicle running. They also trusted me with a installing a lot parts in the field.

After I got back, I took the Cruiser in to Larry Miller Toyota, along with the parts, and they "fixed" it (actually botched it a little more but they didn't know exactly what the problem was then). I then kept a spare relay with me all the time. I was on my way back from a canoe trip here away from Phoenix out in the boonies and the vehicle started dying when I would stop and chugging sometimes on the open road. I suspected the relay but was able to limp back home. The next morning it was dead, I replaced the relay again and it was fixed (at least drivable). I called Larry Miller again and took it in. They looked it over and did something but it turned out not to fix it either.

I was then taking my vehicle to Big Two Toyota in Mesa, AZ. I again noticed the stuttering when on the open road, replaced the relay and no stuttering. I took it into Big Two and they mentioned that this was a known problem for some time, that there was a special "fixit" bulletin from Toyota on how to fix it (you have to completely remove the whole thing and rebuild it from scratch which Larry Miller Toyota didn't do). They basically put a heavier wire directly from the EFI relay "box" in the high current path to ?? (battery maybe). For some reason, Toyota spliced in about 12" of lighter wire in their original build.

Before I purchased my '93, I asked the dealer (different one from any of the above-they had the right vehicle and would deal on price) if this was fixed. After he made a few phone calls, they said that the fix was incorporated on the '93 and that it had been recognized as a problem by Toyota for some time. I also contacted Toyota technical in CO and queried them abut this. They also acknowledged the situation but did NOT mention it as a DEFECT or RECALL issue. I think this gets into warranty and legal issues but they fixed my problem completely at no cost to me. I think if the vehicle is not under extended warranty, you need to push the lack of good design issue and standing behind their product. It might take a visit from the area Toyota rep but they should fix it for free in my opinion. Here in Phoenix, it is hotter than most other places (at least in US) and this failure shows up faster and more often.

I talked to all the dealerships about getting stranded in no man's land and was told that they would come and get me if there was a problem (again this was for warranty work). I also asked them what they would be driving and they replied another FJ-80. I said that it would take a very good driver to get where I was some of the time. They replied no problem. The TLC mechanic at Big Two in Mesa owned some FJ-40's and was looking forward to the time when the 80 got down to a reasonable used car price-he knew what a great 4WDR vehicle was hidden under the disguised mall cruiser. This was almost three years ago-he might have one by now. I haven't had problems with my '93 so I haven't been in lately to talk to them.

Good luck in getting Toyota to address it-I did not see personally the "fixit" sheet so I cannot give any more info on what Toyota calls this kind of problem. In my opinion, they have a special sheet documenting what it takes to fix this problem and it is a major issue if it stops you dead and you don't have a spare relay. All the relay is doing is opening the circuit to allow spark to get to the plugs, so it can be shorted out. It is a 4 wire relay though with spay lugs.

Joe Chott

formerly '91 FJ-80
'93 FZJ-80

PS. In my opinion, this is an area where this list is invaluable. We can all assist one another in diagnosing problems/fixes, as well as how to deal with Toyota on these matters. I have a vote to include Larry Miller Toyota in Glendale, AZ on your Honour list for customer service, and Big Two Toyota in Mesa for technical excellence. They have both performed impressive jobs for me and my vehicles, at a reasonable cost when I had to pay for it which is seldom. I don't feel like they are always trying to take advantage of me.

>Is the EFI relay failure related in some way to undamped movement
>of parts in the system somewhere from the bumpy road? I'm going to
>check the wiring underneath the plugs to be certain there isn't
intermittent contact and shorting of the unit from road shock.

My best recollection of my EFI relay problem is that the failures were separated by months, during which I drove extensively in >=100F temperatures. There was one instance (now that your incident jogged my memory) where the first dealership supposedly fixed the problem and their fix somehow raised the relay box a little, causing the actual relay to not seat properly (hence not making contact continuously). During bumpy rides, much like you describe, I had the same thing happen. I was able to reseat the relay (pushing it down firmly would have accomplished the same thing) and the problem went away.

You may want to have the vehicle running, in Park, open the hood and push on therelay a little (or even pull on it a little but not enough to disconnect it) to see how sensitive it is to simulated "bumps". If the engine falters during this situation, I would suspect that your dealer/mechanic may not have really fixed the problem or there is still something loose. Look for uniform height of the spay lugs sticking out of the relay box and check if the relay box seems raised up (potentially obstructing the relay from correctly seating-the spay lugs poke through the bottom of the relay box so if the box is raised, you cannot push therelay down to its correct mate position).

If that doesn't do it, I would suspect that there is another mechanism for failure that I am not familiar with. You could also have the dealer/mechanic (or someone who has some electrical system smarts) check the "bad" relay by applying 12 volts and monitoring for relay closure. I am not sure of the exact pin out- there may be a crude circuit diagram on the bottom of the relay (for sure, there is one in the shop manual, giving a complete pin out diagram). You can also deduce this from measurements with an ohmmeter (relay coil resistance should be in the range of thousands of ohms, relay contact resistance should be open circuit with no +12 Volt applied). With +12 Volts applied to the relay coil, therelay contacts should close, completing the circuit to allow fuel to your vehicle. If the "bad" relay does not check out as bad, the problem is some type of intermittent connection outside the relay or the relay itself is defective since it shouldn't be that susceptible to bouncing.

I'm not sure if the above description is clear enough-hard to describe, easy to do if you understand what is going on. Sorry for the delay in answering-have been busy working and also repairing my car, not TLC. Let us know how things turn out, you are over-due for a little GOOD luck now!

Joe Chott

'93 FZJ-80