Toyota Pick-ups/Land Cruiser/4Runner 1989-1996

Valves and Springs



See Figures 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

A valve spring compressor is needed to remove the valves and springs; these are available at most auto parts and auto tool shops. A small magnet is very helpful for removing the keepers and spring seats.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1: Use a valve spring compressor tool to relieve spring tension from the valve caps

Set the head on its side on the bench. Install the spring compressor so that the fixed side of the tool is flat against the valve head in the combustion chamber, and the screw side is against the retainer. Slowly turn the screw in towards the head, compressing the spring. As the spring compresses, the keepers will be revealed; pick them off of the valve stem with the magnet as they are easily fumbled and lost. When the keepers are removed, back the screw out and remove the retainers and springs. Remove the compressor and pull the valves out of the head from the other side. Remove the valve seals by hand and remove the spring seats with the magnet.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 2: Be careful not to lose the valve keepers

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 3: Use a pair of needle nose pliers to remove the oil seal

Since it is very important that each valve and its spring, retainer, spring seat and keepers is reassembled in its original location, you must keep these parts in order. The best way to do this to cut either eight (for four cylinder) or twelve (for six cylinder) holes in a piece of heavy cardboard or wood. Label each hole with the cylinder number and either IN or EX , corresponding to the location of each valve, intake or exhaust, in the head. As you remove each valve, insert it into the holder, and assemble the seats, springs, keepers and retainers to the stem on the labeled side of the holder. This way each valve and its attendant parts are kept together, and can be put back into the head in their proper locations.

After lapping each valve into its seat (see Valve Lapping), oil each valve stem, and install each valve into the head in the reverse order of removal, so that all parts except the keepers are assembled on the stem. Always use new valve stem seals.

Some engines use valve rotators in place of the spring retainer. These disassemble and reassemble in the same fashion but use different valve keepers. The keepers are not interchangeable.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 4: Exploded view of the valve and components

Install the spring compressor, and compress the retainer (or rotator) and spring until the keeper groove on the valve stem is fully revealed. Coat the groove with a wipe of grease (to hold the keepers until the retainer is released) and install both keepers, wide end up. Slowly back the screw of the compressor out until the spring retainer covers the keepers. Remove the tool. Lightly tap the end of each valve stem with a rubber hammer to ensure proper fit of the retainers and keepers.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 5: Lightly tap the end of each valve stem with a rubber hammer to ensure proper fit of the retainers and keepers


See Figures 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10

Before the valves can be properly inspected, the stem, lower end of the stem and the entire valve face and head must be cleaned. An old valve works well for chipping carbon from the valve head, and a wire brush, gasket scraper or putty knife can be used for cleaning the valve face and the area between the face and lower stem. Do not scratch the valve face during cleaning. Clean the entire stem with a rag soaked in thinner to remove all varnish and gum.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 6: Chip off any carbon from the head, then using a wire brush, clean the valve

Thorough inspection of the valves requires the use of a micrometer, and a dial indicator is needed to measure the inside diameter of the valve guides. If there instruments are not available to you, the valves and head can be taken to a reputable machine ship for inspection. Refer to the Valve Specifications chart for valve stem and stem-to-guide specifications.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 7: Use a micrometer to check the valve stem diameter

If the above instruments are at your disposal, measure the diameter of each valve stem at the top, middle, and bottom of the stem. Measure in two dimensions (when viewed from the top of the stem). This is six measurements per valve; jot these measurements down in order for each valve.

Using the dial indicator, measure the inside diameter of the valve guides at their bottom, top and midpoint, again in two dimensions. Six measurements for each guide; jot these measurements down also.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 8: A dial gauge may be used to check valve stem-to-guide clearance

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 9: Valve stems may be rolled on a flat surface to check for bends

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 10: Use a caliper gauge to check the valve spring free-length

Subtract the valve stem measurement from the valve guide inside measurement; if the clearances exceed that listed in the specifications chart under Stem-to-Guide Clearance, replace the valve(s). Stem-to-guide clearance can also be checked at a machine shop, where a dial indicator would be used.

Check the top of each valve stem for pitting, mushrooming and unusual wear due to improper rocker adjustment, etc. The stem tip can be ground flat if it is worn, but no more than 0.02 in. (0.50mm) can be removed; If this limit must be exceeded to make the tip flat and square, then the valve must be replaced. If the valve stem tips are ground, make sure you fix the valve securely into a jig designed for this purpose, so the tip contacts the grinding wheel squarely at exactly 90°. Most machine shops that handle automotive work are equipped for this job.


Valve refacing should only be handled by a reputable machine shop, as the experience and equipment needed to do the job are beyond that of the average owner/mechanic. During the course of a normal valve job, refacing is necessary when simply lapping the valves into their seats will not correct the seat and face wear. When the valves are reground (resurfaced), the valve seats must also be recut, again requiring special equipment and experience.


After machine work has been performed on the valves, it may be necessary to lap the valve to assure proper contact. For this, you should first contact your machine shop to determine if lapping is necessary. Some machine shops will perform this for you as part of the service, but the precision machining which is available today often makes lapping unnecessary. Additionally, the hardened valves/seats used in modern automobiles may make lapping difficult or impossible. If your machine shop recommends that you lap the valves, proceed as follows:

  1. Set the cylinder head on the workbench, combustion chamber side up. Rest the head on wooden blocks on either end, so there are two or three inches between the tops of the valve guides and the bench.
  3. Lightly lube the valve stem with clean engine oil. Coat the valve seat completely with valve grinding compound. Use just enough compound that the full width and circumference of the seat are covered.
  5. Install the valve in its proper location in the head. Attach the suction cup end of the valve lapping tool to the valve head. It usually helps to put a small amount of saliva into the suction cup to aid it sticking to the valve.
  7. Rotate the tool between the palms, changing position and lifting the tool often to prevent grooving. Lap the valve in until a smooth, evenly polished seat and valve face are evident.
  9. Remove the valve from the head. Wipe away all traces of grinding compound from the valve face and seat. Wipe out the port with a solvent soaked rag, and swab out the valve guide with a piece of solvent soaked rag to make sure there are no traces of compound grit inside the guide. This cleaning is important.
  11. Proceed through the remaining valves, one at a time. Make sure the valve faces, seats, cylinder ports and valve guides are clean before reassembling the valve train.