1989 Toyota Corolla 1.6 4-AF from North America


It's a tank


The car was clearly treated poorly. The odometer has clearly been rolled back, not that it seems to matter.

Driver's side door has been replaced, I think it was in an accident in the '90s. Also there's a fist hole (I think) on the passenger side dash.

I don't love that it's carburated.

A little bit of wheel arch rust.

The automatic, a 3 speed slushbox no less, makes it loud on the highway, and reluctant to shift down.

General Comments:

This is my first car, and it's been very good to me. The previous owners clearly treated it poorly, and despite this, it still runs exceptionally well.

Starts no issue in cold winter weather. Handles reasonably well, comfortable and soft suspension. Decent acceleration, a little slow up hills (3 speed slushy is a big part of that). I get an average of 25 MPG, which is affordable.

The seats are comfortable for me. Far roomier than I expected for a subcompact. I test drove various other cars before choosing this one, and most others felt like a small car, but not this one. Even my 6'5" friend can sit reasonably comfortably, even in the back seat.

Awesome visibility. I could drive backwards if I wanted.

Overall I am completely enamored with my car, aside from the transmission. I hate it. It works fine, but being a low tech 3 speed hurts fuel economy and performance. I wish it was manual. But for $250 I really can't complain.

Also no tachometer. Not loving that.

I'd recommend this car to anyone.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th January, 2015

10th Jan 2015, 14:59

What's the point of a tachometer on a vehicle with an automatic transmission?

11th Jan 2015, 04:39

Great review!!!

In particular, your observations about the 3-speed automatic are quite accurate. This is a carbureted 1.6 liter late-eighties car. One with a (new, revolutionary concept for the time) 16-valve engine. This meant keeping the revs up at all times, what with a power peak of 6,000 RPM. Low-end torque was sacrificed for high-RPM power.

RPM @ 60 MPH - (Per Consumer Reports) -

- 5-speed manual - 2765 RPM

- 3-speed automatic - 3225 RPM

While the 5-speed gives a noticeable reduction in revs, if your world has been Multiport-Fuel-Injected (MFI) cars, cruising at 60 MPH at more than 2,000 RPM is an alien concept. The old engines could not simply pull the load at lower RPM.

Having said that, the bigger consequence of life in 2015 with a carburetor, is the inability to find a tech who knows what to do when they run amok. If you dig around, you can find an appropriate "Wizard".

Bottom line: Live with the quirks and enjoy the quality - which is exemplary :)

1989 Toyota Corolla Base from North America


Great vehicle


The coil went bad, which is common for the age of this vehicle, which is why the car will crank, yet not turn the engine over and fully start. After the replacement of the coil, the motor was steamed and it caused the alternator to fail in my best guess, which in turn overcharged the battery and ruined it as well.

Now the BRAKE and CHARGING WARNING LIGHTS stay on at all times while car is running. The car runs fine like this until the warning lights both begin to dim and then fade completely, and the car dies shortly thereafter.

I've replaced the back end of the alternator, and still both brake and charge lights remain on the dash panel. I'm going to replace the battery and see what happens next. If anyone has any suggestions for me, I would greatly appreciate the input.

General Comments:

The car has been extremely reliable til this point, and I hope to resolve this issue.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th December, 2010

16th Dec 2010, 05:37

Replace your whole alternator. That's the problem, it's not charging your battery or keeping the car running.

25th Jan 2011, 18:23


I have the same problem.

The brake and charge lights do not turn off.

I checked the alternator output, and it is 12v, but when I turn on the headlights and the heaters, it goes to about 11.3v and does not go back up.

Do you know what the problem is, and how I could fix it?

Could you email me back at exzackery@shaw.ca

Thanks a million!


31st Dec 2012, 16:57

Your output at the battery while running should be over 13.5V-14V with the lights off, and just over 13V with everything (lights etc.) turned on... 11.3V is a dead alternator and will kill the battery, since its output isn't enough to both run the cars electrical accessories and charge the battery... The alternator runs the entire electrical system, and the excess voltage charges the battery and keeps it charged.