1988 Toyota Celica 1.5 from North America
A mediocre first car
Transmission synchronizers failed twice.
Rack and pinion steering seals started leaking power steering fluid.
Valves had a few faulty seals which resulted in oil smoke on startups.
Leaky trunk seals allowed water to get in.
Popup lights would routinely have issues and fail.
Stereo constantly ate tapes.
This was my first car bought at the used car lot at a local Toyota dealer. Before I start, I will say that I think the previous owner probably abused and neglected the car. When I got it there were 125,000 miles on the clock, but the car overall had an awful lot of wear and tear for not really having that many miles, and this might have contributed to the issues I had with it for the 3 years I owned it.
First... let me just say that for a "sports" car with manual transmission and sporty appearance, the car was SLOW. The engine felt anemic and non-responsive. It felt like the engine was screaming in 1st and 2nd gear just to get up to freeway speeds. In comparison I bought a 1996 4 banger Tacoma to replace it (still own that one) and it felt like a rocket ship in comparison, which given it's a econo-truck speaks volumes about how slow the Celica was.
This car had power everything. And a LOT of those features wound up having problems. The power antenna, popup lights, stereo system, power windows and other stuff I forgot about would break or malfunction with great regularity. Eventually I disconnected the antennae cable and just left it up. The lights would eventually short out wiring due to the constant movement of the wiring as they opened and closed. I gave them the same "treatment" leaving them permanently up. And the stereo ATE tapes all the time and often times the tape would get stuck in the player. The stereo was like a lot of Japanese electronics and had exactly 12,000 little buttons, sliders and lights, most of which I never used or knew what they did anyway. But anyway the sliders and controls would collect dust, meaning using any of them would cause static and nasty sounds to come over the speakers. The foam surrounds for the speakers rotted and had to be replaced.
I kind of suspect the previous owner was negligent with the car's maintenance. When I first got it, I decided to change the oil and what came out was barely oil, but sludge. I changed it several times in a row to clean it all out, but from day one the engine used oil. Not a ton. Probably a quart every 1,000 miles. So I kept a bottle in the trunk. The transmission started popping out of gear and required me to hold it in 2nd and 3rd gear until getting to 4th and 5th. Due to the way the engine was stuck in the car, that meant a major job to fix and cost me $700 (a lot of money in the early 90's for a high school kid) to fix. Towards the end of me owning it, the steering rack began leaking power steering fluid. That would've been another $1,000 to fix. Given the car was worth $2500 at that point, I kept a big bottle of power steering fluid in the trunk also. It gradually became so bad that it had to be filled every other day. And then I sold it.
I'm a sort of smaller man, and as a kid I was even smaller, and even so the interior felt pretty small. The back seats were also sort of a joke and none of my friends were ever thrilled about riding back there. The trunk leaked water and no matter what I tried, I could never get it to fully become waterproof. Eventually that resulted in a musty smell. So I removed all of the carpet in the trunk and pulled the drain plug under the spare tire. Oh - and the tail lights would also fill with water, meaning pulling up to a stop light meant people behind me would see water sloshing around inside the lenses.
The ONLY good thing I do remember was it looked pretty cool. Like some sort of futuristic car. I'd get lots of comments from people at school.
All in all, I'm not sure I can blame all the issues on the car. I think the abuse it suffered from the first owner probably contributed to some of those things. But the car was simply not that reliable. It never left me stranded, but I also didn't trust to take it on long trips either. When I replaced it with the Tacoma, I made sure and got something with power nothing: crank windows, manual transmission, and so on. Comparatively speaking the truck has been much better. But that's another review.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 24th February, 2020
26th Feb 2020, 06:17
All of the faults listed in your review (besides the transmission synchronizers, maybe because they didn't know how to drive stick) have nothing to do with the previous owner neglecting the car.
26th Feb 2020, 19:17
I had a 77 Celica GT new. Not a lot of power even with the manual. Nice looking car styling for the day. They are collectible today.