How do you know if your imported Toyota is a California model?

July 17, 2008

See UPDATE(s) below.

Why would you care? It makes a difference to the parts guys at Toyota, so check the label on the door post where the VIN number is listed. If it mentions Toyota California there, you have a California model.

What difference does it make? This week my engine light went off, so I asked the neighbouring service station to read the code. P1135 in the generic codes means a floor mat sensor with an intermittent short. That didn’t sound right, so I checked further on the list, and surely enough, Toyota has its own codes. The error message has to do with the fuel flow sensor on the exhaust manifold before the catalytic converter. It’s no longer just an oxygen sensor, as it provides tiny adjustments to the injectors as they work, and it has a pre-heater. It connects with four wires instead of the one or two of the earlier models.

When my mechanic friend called to order the part, the Toyota guy was confused. They only list one sensor for non-California trucks, and it goes on after the cat. So the parts guy sent my friend one of them. It doesn’t fit, of course. The correct one costs, with discounts, $260 before taxes rather than the $230 for the wrong one. This is still better than the NKG model which is $435 plus taxes for the wrong one. On some items OEM parts are cheaper than aftermarket for Toyotas.

I hope this doesn’t turn into a multi-part saga.


The correct part went on tonight, and as the book predicted, after the third start/stop cycle the light went out by itself. I hooked up my new code reader and erased the P1135 code, after which the reader showed a big “0” in the errors area. The part came to about $285 CDN with taxes and mechanic’s discounts.

My friend is a GM mechanic, and he remains impressed by the quality of Toyota parts. This time one of the nuts on the sender was stripped enough that the wrench fell off it. A pair of vice grips freed it up and he twisted it off with his fingers, though. He said Toyota and Honda seem to use better-quality studs and nuts than do the North American builders, so instead of replacing the whole exhaust pipe, he only had to change the sender.


This one was P0441: Evaporative Emission Control System Incorrect Purge Flow. I tightened the gas cap and erased the code to see what would happen. It stayed off, though my Innova 1003 code reader still flashed amber on the entire evaporative emission control system. Several contributors on the Tundra forum had suggested checking for cracked or loose hoses, but I dismissed this as unlikely in this case.

I decided to drive the truck a bit to see what happened. It sounded a bit rough at start-up, so I popped the hood. A hose from the air cleaner had come loose, right where it joins to the fixed line behind the radiator. Everything seemed fine once I had put the hose back on. After an hour’s read about the foibles of Toyota evaporative cannisters and the evil of topping up the fuel tank, I had reason to feel grateful to the various deities of machinery for giving me a miss this time.


This time it was PO441 and PO446.  That’s a little more serious.  I crawled under and found the evaporative system and started wiggling hoses and tugging wires.  One wire connector seemed a little crusy and two clamps disintegrated at my touch.  Firm tugs couldn’t dislodge the hoses, however, so I zeroed the codes and hoped for the best.


On the morning we headed off on a trip, PO441 came on.  When we stopped to drop off the dog I zeroed the code and checked the gas cap.  Surely enough, the attendant hadn’t tightened it.  Sixteen hours of interstate driving over three days and everything is fine (so far).

UPDATE, 21 February, 2013

With the change in emissions testing protocols in Ontario I approached last month’s test with some trepidation. For earlier sessions I had simply kept the P0441 code zeroed with my reader and driven through clean. But the new system doesn’t sniff the exhaust at all: it examines the computer’s records.

So I took it to a high-volume oil-change and emissions test station in Kingston, Ontario. In it went. The tech hooked up, checked it, rechecked it, took a picture of the dash, checked it again, and drove it out of the garage. He brought in the work order, told me it had passed, and disappeared into the cab of the next vehicle.

So P0441 still occurs regularly, especially in warm weather. I have the truck up on our hoist frequently but I can’t find any hoses disconnected or leaking, so I guess carrying a code reader is part of the cost of owning this truck. The only way the fault affects its performance is that it is often hard to start the thing after I fill the tank. I have to be very careful with the throttle when cranking and then take care to get underway without idling for the first minute of operation.

A couple of months ago my son borrowed the Tacoma to make a 14 hour round trip run to New Jersey to pick up a 19′ aluminum car hauler. No problem at all. His only complaint is that at 3500 pounds towing capacity, the Tacoma can’t tow his Porsche 968 on the trailer. He had to buy a Suburban to do that.


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