Rust, rust, rust. Entire front crossmember was rotted out and had to be rebuilt from 1/8 inch plate steel. If this had to be done at a garage, it would have cost much more than the car was worth, so I am lucky my dad is an experienced welder. Entire rocker panel on the right side had to be welded back together. Frame rail on right side had to be welded. A few holes in the floor still need to be welded. Lots of rust, I tell ya...
Motor or tranny mount is bad, makes a bad clunk if I decelerate, then press the gas again.
Cruise doesn't work. I suspect a bad speed sensor on the transmission.
Power mirrors don't work.
Handbrake doesn't work. The front cable is bad. Cheap to fix, but I haven't done it yet.
Rear struts needed to be replaced when I got the car. Hard to find, new or used.
Fuel pump is making a moaning sound. I haven't looked to see what could be causing this yet.
Heater controls on the dash are broke. I n order to adjust where the air blows, I have to reach up behind the dash and pull a lever, but I usually leave it set to blow onto the window. Controlling the heat itself is another story. I have to push a wire under the hood to adjust the heat, which by the way will not turn off totally.
I bought this car from the original owner for 400 bucks 3 months ago. They apparently didn't put much effort into preventing the car from rusting, as the car is extensively rusted. It's a good thing my father is handy with a welder, otherwise the repairs would cost much, much more than the car is worth. It took 4 days to repair the front crossmember alone.
For being an old car, it doesn't have many miles on it. 130000 original miles on the odometer. The engine still runs good, but there's some rattling coming from the head. I assume the valves need to be adjusted.
My oil pressure bothers me. When the car is warmed up and idling, the gauge is only 1/4 up. I find myself occasionally revving the motor a bit to build up pressure. I don't know if the pressure is too low, but I don't feel comfortable about it.
The gear shifter seems to have a fairly long throw, which is odd for a sporty car. This makes it somewhat hard to shift fast. My brother's Civic has a much shorter throw to the shifter.
The clutch was replaced about 4 years ago, but was only driven a few thousand miles since then. The guy who owned this car before me had the clutch replaced then retired shortly after. I guess he didn't feel the need to drive the car much afterward.
The 2 liter engine provides a good amount of power, I have no trouble merging into high speed traffic, and I rarely have to downshift on highway hills. It's pretty easy on fuel as well, on a steady speed highway cruise, it will return 35 mpg or so. There's more than enough power to keep up with city traffic. As with most multivalve four cylinder engines, there's not a lot of torque below 2500 rpm, but cross that point and the engine springs to life. Power drops off above 5000 rpm. With the engine, I find I can pull away in third gear at 1300 rpm and the engine doesn't complain. Redline is set at 6000, but it will go to 6400 before the cutoff kicks in. There is no need at all to go that high normally as there's very little power at those engine speeds. It's not the smoothest engine though. It does get loud in the upper rpm ranges, and does shake a bit at idle. No balance shaft, I assume. My brother's 93 Civic DX will outrun the car to a point, but at about 75 mph, the little Honda starts to run out of breath, and that's where the Celica starts to catch up.
With the standard 13 inch tires, there's not a lot of cornering grip. The tires will howl if you take a turn a bit too fast. It's also rather easy to break the tires loose on pavement. I've barked the tires more than once without trying to do so.
Leg room is sufficient, but shoulder room is a bit lacking if you're built like a football player. Leg room in the rear seat is skimpy, if the front seat is back more than half way, you practically half to sit crossways on the rear seat if you don't want to be squeezed.
The car has a quite large turning radius. This makes it awkward to wiggle in tight parking lots. The power steering works flawlessly, and isn't feather light, like some larger Ford cars. It has a bit of weight to it, but still doesn't offer very much road feel. A true sporty car shouldn't have power steering, but it wouldn't be very easy to live with if it didn't.
The driver's seat has a quite useless adjustable lumbar support feature. You turn a knob, and it adjusts one of the seat cushions to provide extra lumbar support. This isn't very effective. The driver's seat also has a slightly more useful bottom cushion adjustment to make it tilt up or down by a small amount.