I bought this car at a damaged car auction. At the time it wasn't apparent, but there were quite a lot of things wrong with the car. Over the time I've had it I've rectified each problem one by one. Here is a simple list of problems I have found with the car over the time I've had it. (Please note the causes I have labeled in brackets, to the best of my knowledge the reasons are accurate).
- Very loose ball joint (crash)
- Bent rear control arm (crash)
- Engine head cracked (possible neglect by previous owner)
- Throttle Body Auxilary Air Valve jammed (wear and tear)
- 2 Broken Exhaust Valves (see above)
- Handbrake was loose (wear and tear)
- Worn Bushes (crash and wear n tear)
- Spark plug leads were still factory original! (very bad neglect, be mindful of this)
- Various electrical issues (crash, impact causes terminals to come loose etc.) Light bulbs blown, all minor.
- Fuel injectors needed cleaning and spray pattern calibration (neglect of previous owner, ran incorrect fuel (95+RON is a must) ).
- Slight smoking above 5500 rpm (common, wear and tear)
- Leaking oil through distributor seal (very common, annoying to fix, but not expensive or a major issue)
- Dealer fitted alarm had no remote, new alarm had to be fitted, central locking works well, but can jam open at times.
- Loud fuel pump, I haven't been able to deduce if this is normal or not. No fuel pressure issues.
- Front engine mount totally broken inside, fixed with windscreen adhesive, worked very well.
- A lot of rattles inside (common, crash made it worse) Took a little while to fix, but all good now. Hatch "fake taillight" section still rattles. Will fix using epoxy.
- Loose trim panels, just a good once over the interior with a screwdriver fixes this.
This car is a lot of fun. I would dare say it's not a good first car simply becuase if you wish to learn about cars having a more simple car (i.e not EFI) is a good start. This was my 4th car and I must say it has been a great learning experience. Though it was much harder for me having bought the car as a wreck, buying a pre-loved SX Seca woud be a dream. Unfortunately for me this car was also poorly neglected in it's past life.
The car is great to drive and for a younger driver like myself has everything you want in a car. It is practical, roomy, comfy, lush, classy, sporty, economical and powerful. Stick with the car for a longer period and it will teach you a lot about car behaviour. I say this without bias.
Pros and Cons:
- Very popular 100kW 4A-GE engine, lots of good aftermarket parts.
- Very good value for money.
- Cheap to run (as long as you don't keep breaking it, in which case you shouldn't driving at all!)
- Engine has a good power curve, will be tame at low revs, feed it wide-open-throttle and 6000+ rpm and it will be sheer fun!
- 2" inch factory exhaust, good deep note on WOT.
- With some aftermarket suspension the car can be extremely nimble in corners.
- The velour interior is great.
- Gearbox is very nice to use, as long as it isn't abused.
- Did I mention the engine is sensational?
- A lot of these were neglected because stupid people thought they were "just another Corolla"
- Diagnosing engine problems can be woeful.
- Room in the engine bay is shocking, even checking the oil is tight! (don't even ask about where the oil filter is!)
- Changing a clutch takes a few times to get used to it, it's a messy task.
- The 4A-GE has only one flaw, it has sweet F-all torque. At only 119 Nm it's not going to tow anything very well, don't bother buying this car for towing.
- You must use 95+ Octane fuel (Premium Unleaded) which can be expensive, but it runs very efficiently on this fuel.
- Factory bushes are a bit soft for my liking, they ride well, but aren't very stiff for nigh speed cornering.
- Rear springs are quite soft, add years of sag to the equation, and old soft bushes (above) and you get an airborne rear wheel in high-speed turns.
All in all a great car and even better if you're an enthusiast. A car that really need to be appreciated. Having said all that, it's not the fastest car in the world, it may be quicker than your common V6 cars, but it won't eat a Turbo Skyline without several thousand dollars. A good stepping stone if you wanna get into sportier cars.