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Foreign Service

Evaporative emissions system repairs are something your


shop cant afford to avoid. Dan begins a series on Toyotas
major evap systems to remove the intimidation factor.

Dan
Marinucci

any technicians have told


me that Toyotas evaporative emissions systems
are too confusing. Consequently, they avoid
working on them. Its a
shame because there are so many Toyota
products on the road and someone has to fix
these vehicles.
At the same time, I sympathize with these
techs. Toyota evap systems can look very intimidating to anyone whos accustomed to
working on domestic vehicles. Therefore, this
month begins a multipart series on operation
and diagnosis of the three most popular Toyota evap systems. For many MOTOR readers,
the easiest way to learn the topic is to compare and contrast Toyota setups with, for instance, common Ford and General Motors
evap systems. Ill do just that whenever its
appropriate.
Whereas this Toyota evap series is not a
complete substitute for a pile of shop manuals
and/or in-depth factory training, I trust it will
dispel those initial fears of working on some-

thing different. Make sure you keep all your


MOTOR issues handy because space limitations
require me to break up the topic into bite-size
chunks. That also means that sometimes Ill
have to refer you from a current column back
to a topic in a previous one.
The first of these evap setups Ill cover is one
thats commonly called the early or nonintrusive
system. It first appeared in 1997. A typical domestic enhanced evap system has a green service port. One of the confusing things weve
learned firsthand about this early Toyota evap
system is that some vehicles have the familiar
green service port but many do not. So dont
get concerned if you notice the service port is
missing from many popular Toyotas.
A common domestic enhanced evap system has a purge solenoid valve under the
hood. As I explained in a MOTOR article in
July 2003, the purge solenoid functions as the
front door to the entire evap system. Electrically, this solenoid valve is normally off
(deenergized) and mechanically the valve is
normally closed. The ECM or PCM pulses
this solenoid on and offas opposed to turncontinued on page 18

Photos & illustration: Dan Marinucci

16

January 2006

Foreign Service
ing it full onwhenever it decides to
purge the system. One side of the
purge solenoid valve is plumbed to
manifold vacuum; the other side
goes to the charcoal canister.
All of this applies to Toyotas nonintrusive system. However, Toyota likes
to call these components vacuum
switching valves (VSVs). So the front
door of this entire evap system is labeled vapor purge VSV, or purge VSV.
(The original equipment scan tool
identifies it as an EVAP VSV.) The
purge VSV is in the foreground of
photo 1 on page 16.
The canister may be mounted inside the engine compartment, below
the master cylinder. But on other
nonintrusive evap systems, the canister is under the rear of the vehicle,
usually right above the main crossmember. Photo 2 shows the valves
and related plumbing on the end of a
typical undercar canister on a nonintrusive system.
The typical Ford or General Motors enhanced evap system you service has a fuel tank pressure (FTP)
sensor monitoring the positive or negative pressure inside the tank. Toyotas version of the FTP sensor is
called a vapor pressure sensor and it
operates like a 1980s GM vacuum
sensor. That is, its always vented to
the atmosphere because its constantly comparing atmospheric pressure to
evap system pressure.
On some nonintrusive systems, the
vapor pressure sensor is up on the
firewall, a few inches from the power
brake booster. Look closely at the top
of a firewall-mounted Toyota vapor
pressure sensor and youll see a little
dimple or indentation. Theres a tiny
vent hole in that dimple; make sure
its clean.
But very often youll find this pressure sensor hanging on a canister
bracket back under the vehicle. The
vapor pressure sensor, which has two
hoses connected to it, can be seen in
the upper left of photo 2. Its pressure-sensing hose connects to one of
the ports on the VSV in the upper
right; its other hose is teed into a hose
leading to the atmosphere.
Heres a major, major difference
between Toyotas nonintrusive evap
18

January 2006

Vapor
Pressure
Sensor

Vapor
Pressure
VSV
(3-Way)
To
Purge
VSV

Gas Cap

Fresh Air
From
Air Cleaner

Pressure
Relief
Valve
Fuel Tank

Charcoal Canister
Air
Drain
Hose

and a common Ford or GM setup:


The FTP sensor on a common domestic system always senses the pressure of the entire evap system. But
the Toyota vapor pressure sensor
senses either the canister side or tank
side of the system; it cant sense both
at once! Thats because a VSV is
spliced into the pressure-sensing hose
between the sensor and the rest of
the system (see the illustration
above). Normally, the vapor pressure
VSV is electrically off, or deenergized. When this VSV is off, it connects the vapor pressure sensor to the
canister. When the ECM decides to
leak-check the fuel tank side of the
system, it turns on the vapor pressure
VSV. Now the sensor senses fuel tank
pressure.
So the computer is monitoring canister pressure when the vapor pressure VSV is deenergized and fuel tank
pressure when its energized. The vapor pressure VSV, which has a
blue/green electrical connector on it,
is visible near the firewall in photo 1
and in the upper right of photo 2.
Another major difference between
common domestic systems and Toyotas nonintrusive design is the socalled back-door approach. The typical Ford or GM evap system has a
canister vent solenoid valve mounted
on or very near the canister. This vent

solenoid, which acts as the back door


of the entire evap system, is normally
off electrically. But its normally wide
open mechanically. When the engine
purges these systems, its pulling fresh
air in through the vent solenoid in the
process.
Arguably, the back door on the
nonintrusive Toyota evap system is a
pair of mechanical valves called the
tank valve assembly and the air valve
assembly. These assemblies are visible on the end of the canister in photo 2 and on top of the canister in photo 1. Whats more, the gas cap on
these Toyota systems is a sealed component. Instead, a vacuum check
valve as well as a pressure valve inside
the tank valve assembly protect the
fuel tank from excessive negative or
positive pressure.
Meanwhile, the air valve assembly
prevents excessive pressure buildup
inside the canister and allows fresh
air into the canister when the evap
system is being purged. But unlike
most domestic evap setups, this one
doesnt draw fresh air from any old
place. Instead, a hose routes filtered
fresh air from the air cleaner box directly to a port on the air valve assembly on the canister.
Try to digest this much of the system now. Ill dig into diagnosis next
month.