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Jan 10, 2019
Southeastern Vermont
This video isn't worth more than entertainment, if even that, but it'll give you an idea of the bummer that just happened on the day I put the 250,000th mile on this '01 LX470.

The good news is that whatever blew didn't blow until after I stopped the car. I had just driven 240 miles towing a small camper, backed the camper into a spot, shut it off and was letting the dog out when something under the hood made a loud high pressure whooshing sound followed by the smoke in the video coming out from under the hood. I got the dog away and tied her up in case anything was about to catch fire and waited a couple of minutes, not knowing what the hell was going on.

Under the car, some watery-feeling fluid appeared, dripping from the skid panel. At first I didn't think it was brake fluid because it felt too watery, but it had a reddish cast. Under the hood, there was more of the reddish fluid—though not much of it—in the engine compartment. When whatever blew, blew, it seems to have blown downwards, with some splashing upwards.

I immediately noticed that the brake fluid reservoir, which I am certain had not been overfilled, was now way above the max fill line. And there was more of the fluid around the reservoir cap and on top of the reservoir. Is it possible that some pressure release blew more brake fluid up into the reservoir?

Also, fluid was present on top of the aluminum cylinder mounted to the firewall just inboard of the reservoir. When I wiped that cylinder down to get a look at the top of it, I noticed what appears to be a crack at one o'clock in the yellow plastic cap.

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Meanwhile, more fluid had dripped out underneath the car onto the gravel. Apart from that crack, I could not see the source of this failure. I can't see anything under the reservoir because of all the plumbing there. It doesn't seem like that fluid could have blown out that crack because though the area around that yellow cap was all wet, there weren't any signs of fluid on the sides of that cylinder to account for the amount that ran down past the skid plate onto the ground. It seems like some failure must have happened underneath the reservoir. I have no idea but think it might be master cylinder or some kind of line under there.

Any thoughts and guidance would be hugely appreciated. I am in Challis, Idaho (far enough in the sticks for the nearest Walmart to be 120 miles away) and totally effed and stuck.

What happened? Anything I can do? Any suggestions for anyone who can repair this somewhere in this part of the world?


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Heater Tees are a good first guess.

Can you share some video of the engine bay with the hood open? The heater tees are at the back of the engine between the plastic cover and the firewall. They often fail (sadly) and would potentially do this sort of thing. Since you have steam in your video and not smoke, I'm guessing coolant.
Cooling system. T, hose, or radiator, but I agree with @suprarx7nut that probably T blew apart, as indicated by most of the steam coming out from under the hood nearest the windshield.

It is indeed a coolant tee. It looked okay—or at least the way it previously did, with a little pink bleed on the hose, so I neglected that. When I put my hand to it, it separated immediately.

Idiotically enough, I had planned on following the advice on here about replacing that and even have one in the car. So, I should be able to replace that tomorrow.

The way it broke is with one piece still in the hose closest to the engine. Any tips on how to make sure I don't botch the replacement? Anything to worry about the hoses, about pieces inside and the best way to get them out if they stick to the hoses? Any surprises to expect or is it as straightforward as it looks?

Do you have anything to pinch off the hose - to keep debris from falling down the hose. A paint can opener, or anything with a little hook on the end, is good for pulling out broken stuck pieces.
Do you have anything to pinch off the hose - to keep debris from falling down the hose. A paint can opener, or anything with a little hook on the end, is good for pulling out broken stuck pieces.

I think I have a hook end awl. I could pinch the hose with a vice grip. It's probably original 20-year-old hose. I hope it's not brittle, too. I'll be damn careful.
I think I have a hook end awl. I could pinch the hose with a vice grip. It's probably original 20-year-old hose. I hope it's not brittle, too. I'll be damn careful.

You don't need to squeeze it all that much, not fluid tight, just tight enough to keep the larger pieces from falling. It's not that big a deal if some smaller pieces end up in the bottom of the radiator.
Crazy I just changed out my heater t yesterday 183k on my truck and they were original
Way smarter than I am....

When I bought the spare I looked for a brass one but could only find the plastic one, but it'll have to do. This happening on the day I clocked 250K was kind of funny.
Ya I went with OEM Toyota was like $23 shipped to me, my stock ones were showing a little bit of dry coolant so I just swapped them out glad the truck was okay.
Hi, All —

I posted about a coolant tee rupturing after I shut down the '01 LX470 yesterday in this thread. I'm out in the middle of nowhere.

Today, I replaced the tee with the only thing available which is roughly the same size, though at 16 mm at all three openings, the bottom one is slightly larger than the hose. A tight fit, but it fit. Getting the disintegrated parts of the old fitting out of the hose was problematic, but it seemed like I got it all out, though it's possible something dropped in, but it didn't seem like it, and I

The coolant level in the reservoir was only about an inch below the max line, so I thought it'd be okay to start. I did not open the radiator cap itself, which in retrospect I wonder about. I started the car and let it idle for ten minutes before shutting it down to have a look. The fitting looked good, temp indication on the dash looked okay, so I went for a test drive.

Total distance was about three miles. Just before I got back to my starting point, I saw that the check engine light was on, with V trac and ABS lights. Engine temp when to the top of the scale.

I can see no other leaks under the hood. A little steam was coming from the reservoir tank cap, but that was it.

What have I done? Was it necessary to refill the radiator after the coolant T failed?

Deeply worried here about having driven it what was probably about half a mile with such a high temp. Any thoughts on how to proceed would be deeply appreciated.

I posted a new thread here about how badly this went here.

After replacing the T, letting it idle for about ten minutes, everything seemed okay (temp and fitting), then took it for a test drive. Drive was about two miles, and just before returning I noticed check engine light, VST and ABS lights on. Temp was at the top of the scale.

What on earth did I do wrong? the coolant level in the reservoir was only about two inches from the max line. I didn't check the radiator itself. Was it a mistake to think that there was enough coolant in there?

Deep water, here....

Thank you for any guidance.
This doesn't sound like a terribly big deal, I wouldn't sweat what you don't know for now. Could be a lot of different things such as air hitting the sender, coolant running hot by the sender because its not pumping to the WP, etc. You didn't drive far, the motor got hot but only briefly. It's not super cold outside so the motor isn't rapidly cooling after overheating, etc. 2UZ is a tough motor.

Let the motor cool to where you can remove the radiator cap and top it up. You needed more fluid after doing the T swap, and probably had some air in the system that hit the WP and stopped it from pushing coolant. If you don't have coolant available to top it up, just use distilled water for now.

Fill it up to the top of the radiator and "burp" the air by squeezing the main radiator hoses. Then turn the motor on (radiator cap off) and keep squeezing the radiator tubes while it pulls coolant in. Keep topping the radiator up. Eventually it will be full, and when you see bubbles stop coming out cap it up for now.

Let it keep running until it hits operating temp. If it holds steady, go for a short drive. If all seems good, let it cool down again and top the radiator up one last time and you're all set.

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