1995 Toyota Estima Lucida 2.2 turbo diesel


Get mechanical breakdown insurance, or avoid


Biggest issue was the head gasket failing (due to corrosion, I think) at approx 140,000kms. This caused water to leak into one of the engine cylinders, initially just being an undiagnosed loss of water from the radiator getting worse over time, eventually being enough to make a "clunk" sound when trying to start the vehicle. After diagnosis from an engine reconditioner (costing approx NZ$900 by itself), it was recommended to replace the head ($1300, cracked despite no known overheat) and other engine components that may wear out while doing work in the engine. Total cost of repair was $4500 - ouch! Very disappointing especially since $900 was spent replacing idle chain, pump etc as preventative measure when purchased, and was regularly serviced. Resale value of vehicle is expected to be no more than $6000, possibly only $4500.

I was told by someone who worked in the vehicle insurance industry that there was a design fault with the head that causes cracking due to "hot spots", but the head gasket probably failed due to corrosion. A new replacement head apparently doesn't have the fault.

Replacement windscreen (cracked from stone impact) cost $800, which is very expensive for a windscreen (covered by insurance fortunately).

Engine is susceptible to overfilling with oil because of inaccurate dip stick readings. Twice after servicing the oil-too-full light came on. Don't know whether this might have caused damage (took it back to remove oil one of the times).

Fluorescent light bulb inside sliding door failed soon after purchase. Replacement bulb from Toyota was going to cost $88! Didn't replace.

General Comments:

Parts and servicing for this vehicle seems very expensive, especially if engine work is required as access is difficult - front seats and dashboard may need to be taken out before work can start.

When I purchased this vehicle, I was hoping it was going to hold value better than competitors like Nissan Serena due to better reliability, but I was obviously sorely disappointed.

However, despite all the financial woes, I have very much enjoyed driving the vehicle. It is extremely comfortable and has plenty of power, even with a reasonable load in the back.

U-turns aren't easy due to large turning circle, but you get used to it.

I do intend to sell this vehicle shortly, and purchase a vehicle that is cheaper to maintain.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 8th November, 2006

19th Nov 2006, 13:53

Your estima is the same car as a previa, pretty much, and they are indestructible. You obviously have had a poor mechanic who doesn't understand what he is dealing with. You MUST use genuine Toyota coolant, you can't mix brands or they lead to the problems you have experienced. He also obviously can't do an oil change, the dip stick on these is accurate. If you mix coolant brands, they will coagulate in the engine and cause blockages, hot spots and corrosion. You also should change the radiator at 100,000Ks as a matter of routine. I'm sorry you have had these woes, but I think you are judging the wrong thing to be a lemon. Previas are tough as old boots.