Not-So-Technical Info

We are going to be posting some information for you Toyota owners about items that are common to your vehicles that are sometimes confusing.  Hopefully this information will help you and not confuse you further.  If that happens, feel free to fill out the contact form or give us a call.  We’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have.



         Most Toyota and Lexus vehicles have a power steering system that use a power steering pump to pressurize a fluid (similar to motor oil or transmission fluid).  The fluid then travels through hoses and pipes to a steering gear, before being returned to the pump again.  Our uniquely severe climate is very hard on these components–especially the rubber hoses and the seals in the pump and gear.

        Eventually something will begin to leak fluid.  When the leaking part is replaced, the system is refilled with clean fluid.  The detergents in the new fluid then release all of the old residue and debris in the rest of the system.  This can cause other parts to fail or leak.  It is fairly common for Toyota and Lexus vehicles in hot climates to end up having every single part of the power steering system replaced by 150,000 to 200,000 miles.

        As everyone at the Toy Shop owns vehicles that have had these problems, we are well aware of the expense of these repairs.  We also realize that given these expenses, some owners may elect to do these repairs one at a time.  We just want to ensure that our clients have as much information as possible so that they may make informed decisions about their vehicles.  Thank your for your understanding and continued patronage.



            In 1996, the federal government and the state of California enacted sweeping changes to the vehicle emissions laws.  Among the changes was a mandate that all vehicles monitor their entire emissions system, record failures and illuminate a warning light on the dash.  This system has worked very well, but has also caused numerous frustrations and more than a few gray hairs.

            Because the vehicles can record their own failures, many states (including Arizona) have built their emissions test around the vehicle itself.  What does this have to do with you?  Nothing….if you are one of the lucky people whose car never breaks.  Simply stated, if your check engine light is on, the vehicle is a sure emissions failure. 

            The difficulty comes after the vehicle is repaired and the light is turned off.  The vehicle is unable to tell that it has been repaired, so whenever the light is turned off a series of tests begin again.  There are between two and five tests that must be run, which are referred to as “MONITORS”.          In order for these monitors to run, the vehicle must be driven under an exact set of circumstances.  Worse, each monitor has it’s own “DRIVE CYCLE” that must be driven.

            Living in Arizona can make this very difficult because it is often too hot to run these tests.  Also, for those who only drive in the city, it can be extremely difficult to get certain monitors to run.  As an example, Dan once drove a Toyota Corolla at 35 mph on the Ajo highway with the hazard lights on for 30 minutes before the catalytic converter test would run!

            Typically we ask people to drive their car several days with the fuel between 3/4 and 1/4 full.  This is usually sufficient, but as the saying goes: “YOU’VE BEEN WARNED”.   In any case, should the emissions station tell you that your car is not ready to be tested, we have several options:

  •   You can drive several more days and stop by.  We can quickly see if the vehicle is ready on a scan tool. 
  • If it isn’t, we have a  loaner tool that plugs into the car under the dash and will beep when ready.  You can mail the tool back or drop by with it.
  • In extreme cases, you may leave your vehicle overnight and have one of our technicians perform the drive cycle test for you. 

            Because check engine lights frustrate us as much as our clients, we don’t charge for any of these options.  Feel free to contact us with any other questions at 620-1957 and thank you for choosing Dan’s Toy Shop.