ᑭᖇᗩᗪO ᑌᑭᗪᗩTE – It’s home!

Wow, what a journey that was! Like one of our mates said ‘there’s never been a more followed engine rebuild’

For those that are new to following us, here’s a quick run down of what happened …… we were holidaying in South Australia over Christmas and unfortunately we didn’t quite make it home! Our Prado broke down on 28th December 2020 (cracked a piston) and we were picked up and towed (including our camper trailer) to RH Automotive in Whyalla. These guys were great and went above and beyond to help us in so many ways. Unfortunately due to COVID and being Christmas/New Year, many places were closed and it was hard to work out what to do. Did we have it all towed back to Sydney (quotes were well in excess of $10K), did we get a new engine, a reconditioned engine (or recon ours) or did we sell and restart all over again? We did the sums and went with the most cost effective option for us. Luckily we have our NRMA Premium Roadside service which assisted us in this whole process and also contributed $3,000 towards towing, accommodation etc.

When we first put the post out there on Facebook about what had happened, so many of you (many we don’t even know) contacted us with information, offers of help etc. One in particular was our mate The Duck who rang George first thing the next morning and gave us a number of his good mate who owns a workshop in Adelaide, he couldn’t recommend him highly enough and said he’d already spoken to him and he was awaiting our call. Obviously it was something we hadn’t considered, having the car repaired in a different state and with people we knew nothing about. But after numerous phone calls and discussions we decided that it was our best option (and most cost effective). So on 4th January 2021 the Prado was towed to and dropped off at Auto Masters Salisbury. These guys also securely stored our camper trailer for us (at no cost) for the duration so that was a huge help.

Throughout this whole process, Tony kept us up to date and was always available whenever George called and texted with a query. It was a comfort to have that contact, considering we couldn’t just ‘pop in’ to check up on anything! It was also great when one of our followers spotted the Prado in the workshop (and later driving on the road) and sent us photos both times! It appears we have little spies everywhere!

Anyway, finally after a long 3 month wait, on Friday 9th April 2021 we flew to Adelaide to pick up the Prado (and it’s brand new engine!) and our camper trailer. Huge thanks to Tony and Dave and all the team at Auto Masters who were involved in the whole process, we couldn’t be happier to have our Prado safely home!! 1,400km in 2 days and we are home and the Prado did great. As we didn’t want to do Adelaide to Sydney straight up on a brand new engine, the mechanics had driven it around prior to us picking it up and put about 600km on the clock and checked it over.

So far, the engine sounds a lot quieter than the old one, feels smoother and has more power and we are still wearing it in, so all looking great so far.

So what does just over $21,000 give you? ….. apart from a very sad looking bank balance!!

  • Brand new genuine Toyota long motor
  • Brand new genuine Injectors
  • Brand new genuine Turbo
  • Brand new genuine Map sensor and filter
  • Brand new pump
  • Plus other things which were required to be replaced such as oils, filters, belts etc

Yes it’s expensive, but believe me, it was our best option and it gives us back our freedom and ability to get out there and travel and do what we love to do so that is priceless.

This was quite the experience and one we certainly don’t want to go through again! But throughout this whole process we were constantly surprised by how kind and genuine people can be … from being lent a car to drive around in for free in Whyalla, to being offered free accommodation (which we turned down), the hotel discounting our nightly rate, family and friends offering to drive to SA to pick us up, strangers contacting us with advice and their experiences with cracked pistons. We even went to look at buying a second hand car to drive home in and the car salesman called a friend who owned a trucking company to see if they could ship the Prado back home! It was all very surreal, but was nice to feel like we weren’t alone in such a stressful time.

Thanks again to The Duck, mate if it wasn’t for you pointing us in the right direction, giving us the confidence we’d made the right choice and constantly checking up with us, who knows what may have happened.

And of course to Auto Masters Salisbury, thank you for everything …. Guys, if you’re in SA and you need a mechanic, go check these guys out (they have stores in numerous locations). We can’t fault their work and service and would happily recommend them to others.

Lastly, the only downside in this whole situation is the lack of help from Toyota Australia – numerous phone calls and emails and not a single reply. We are on our second Prado and we also have a Hilux so we obviously love our Toyota’s, but it’s very disappointing to have no contact or backing at all from Toyota. We have a copy of a 4 page Toyota bulletin outlining this problem so we know they are aware and admitted that cracked pistons are a common issue with these engines so it’s very disappointing they won’t even reply. But like we said, that is the only downside to our whole situation and hopefully one we will never, ever have to go through again!

On the way home from Adelaide, free camping, campfires and sky full of stars …… back doing what we love doing best!

Saying goodbye to ‘The Old Girl’

Many of you may know that we recently purchased a new 4WD for Shelly …. and unfortunately that meant that the old Prado needed to find a new home. We’d had this for sale for a while and we always knew that a vehicle like this would have to attract the right buyer. For a start, not everyone wants to buy a 23 year old car with nearly 300,000 km on the clock! We’d spent a lot of money on this 4WD over the years and it was in great condition for a vehicle of that age. Of course it had the odd scratch and dent, but it’s lived a fairly active off-road life, so what do you really expect!

Anyway, that right buyer did come along, a young guy and his family from the central west region of NSW. He’d done his homework, he’d seen our website and knew exactly the life this car had lived, there was now no hiding anything! They took the drive down to our house on a Thursday night to check out the Prado, George went over every single thing on the car, explained how everything worked, why we’d done what we’d done or used the parts we had, what had been replaced, what maybe needs to be looked at ….. we even gave instructions on how to pull apart the console and fix the 4WD shifter when it sometimes jumps out of place!

So after about 1 1/2 hours or so, we loaded the Prado with all it’s spare parts, the old back seats, the old stock wheels and we said goodbye and watched as she drove away with her new family.

Last photo, just before she drove away.

It was sad to see her go, she’d brought us so many years of memories. She was what started our whole 4WDing and travel adventures together. George owned the Prado when we met, it was this Prado that got George into 4WDing in the beginning. He’d researched for ages to find the perfect vehicle and this is where it all started.

When we first started travelling we slept in the back of the Prado, free camping or staying in caravan parks as we traveled around.

All of the dogs have gone 4WDing with us and love nothing more than a day in the bush, they all started off in the old girl.

Kayla, Shelly’s old dog, loved being introduced to 4WDing
Gelly & Charli have been 4WDing with us since they were pups and they absolutely love it.

The kids grew up knowing this car, Shelly learned to drive off-road in the Prado, she took us on so many amazing holidays and to places across Australia that we would never have gone to without a 4WD. We spent our 2 month honeymoon travelling in the Prado! Our first Cape York trip, we tackled the Old Tele Track by ourselves and without winching – even the new Prado needed to be winched out of Palm Creek!

Old Tele Track, Cape York
The Lions Den Hotel, FNQ
Our two Prado’s together on our New Years Eve trip to Cameron Corner

Lots of fun weekend trips with friends, getting stuck for hours in the Watagans at night! repairing the 4WD shifter in the middle of Stockton Beach!, pulling the Patrol out every time it goes near water (sorry Liam!)

At the end of the day, it was time for the Prado to go, but it was sad, a lot of memories drove away with that car. But hopefully the old girl still has a lot of life left in her and this new young family can start making memories of their own.

Interesting little fact is that this Prado was originally owned by a Doctor in Dubbo, she then came to Sydney to live 19 years of her life with us, so i guess it’s only fitting that she’s returning back to the country to live out her days.