31st Jul 2009, 13:20

I got a 1989 all tr-ac wagon in 2002 for $500, from a friend of a friend, and it already had 170,000 miles on it. It was rusted on the bottom, the exhaust pipe was missing, the exhaust system was rusting out, but otherwise it worked fine. I wanted something reliable as I had just moved to Alaska from southern California, and had never driven in the snow and ice. It has probably saved my life more times than I know.

I had the muffler system repaired for under $300. The alternator went out in the first months of driving it, and I got a friend's mechanic to fix it for $100. He got a used alternator for it. It is a manual transmission. It has worked great at below zero temperatures, driving in white outs, and driving on the sheets of ice here in Alaska. It has never skidded off the road, slipped, or landed me in a ditch. It only broke down twice after I first bought it, but has been fine since I replaced the alternator. After having the car for 7 years, I only needed to get a new battery two weeks ago.

It now (2009) has over 250,000 miles on it. Because I will soon need to drive out of town regularly, I am considering either another car, or in getting a new or rebuilt engine. However, I am told other people drive these cars until they have 400,000 miles, so I am not sure whether to rebuild the engine or not. Does anyone have a suggestion?

As for the gas tank switch problem that someone mentioned, mine jams shut in the winter. My mechanic told me he couldn't fix it. So, I remove all the ice possible around the gas tank door. Then I flick the switch to open the door, and I use the narrow end of a screw driver to open it manually. I have been doing this for the last few years with no further problems.

The only thing I have replaced is the alternator, and the exhaust pipe, in the 7 years I have had it, and it keeps chugging along. Oh, yes, and we have a problem with flying rocks here in rural Alaska, so I have also replaced the windshield twice for $200 each time. I had the exhaust system welded together for $25, and I drive it without the muffler. I get oil changes regularly, and everything has held.

I have driven other cars, and this car is super dependable. I love it to death. Although it has rusted considerably, I am extremely reluctant to part with this car. It is reliable, dependable, and it gets me where I need to go safely. My gas mileage is good enough, the car works great, and it is a champ overall.

6th Aug 2009, 18:37

Keep it!

Another driver rammed into my 91 a couple of months ago... It's hard to replace.

30th Aug 2009, 14:30

I've had an '89 SR5 Alltrac Standard since 94 when it only had 35K miles. It now has 182,000 and only smokes when I first start the car in the morning. Probably needs the valves done, but it doesn't go through much Mobile one synthetic so will probably leave it alone.

Round about 75,000 exhaust manifold cracked and have replaced exhaust parts a lot due to rust. Till 2003 it was mainly a Colorado car, so didn't have any body rust until it spent the last 5 years in Missouri. Put a new timing belt in at 80,000 just to be safe, but didn't think to replace the water pump, which went out a short while later. I've also had the clutch replaced (just as preventive maintenance), struts of course and alternator, and brake pads and shoes, but nothing else except the air conditioner doesn't get very cool.

The fuel access door wouldn't open (maybe WD-40 would have worked) so I broke the latch. It is a full time all wheel drive, and according to the service manual (if I remember correctly) the center differential switch alters the rotation speed of the wheels and is useful on dirt roads and snow, or wherever there is any problem with traction. I seem to remember that you can engage the switch at any speed, which I've done without problems.

It is a wonderful car that is very surefooted in even severe winter weather, and it is a pleasant looking wagon to boot. Like that person commented earlier; the Matrix is a good replacement and looks cool also. I can be contacted at dougtmax@gmail.com... not an expert, but have a service manual.

6th Sep 2009, 23:46

I recently bought my second '89 All Trac, I blew the engine in the first one by accidentally leaving it in first gear while towing it behind my crane at 65 MPH. That's hard on them I found out... It was a great ride, so when I had the chance 4 years later to buy another, I jumped on it. $550.00 and only 128 K miles. EVERYTHING works, no rust, and all the glass is good except a crack in the windshield. This one will also be towed, I welded a tow bar setup onto the boat hooks today.

I'm selling a '96 Subaru Legacy and a '89 Honda Civic, the Toyota handles better then either, and is more fun to drive also.

One tank so far: mixed city and freeway @70 to 75 MPH= 33 mpg.

10th Feb 2010, 23:34

I purchased my 89 All Trac Wag with a Man.T. It had 175k on the odometer. Searched the junk yards with caliper (tool) and ruler in hand. Found 4- 14" wheels and tires like new for 20 bucks a copy that fit perfectly.

Went for a spin with my GPS and proved that the speedo was spot on. Savors 30 mpg in town and 25/26 on the big road. Installed new windshield. (which broke 3 weeks later). Changed oils and filters. And just love this car!!

When I am setting at a T-light, I have studied a lot of cars the Toyota Matrix 4wd included. And NONE have the nice low profile the All Trac has. It's down out of the wind. You know all the American car company's have brought back older models like Ford and the Stang and Chevy and the Camaro, etc. How cool (and business smart) would it be for Toyota to bring back the Corolla All Trac?!.

9th Jun 2010, 04:37

I am trying to sell my 89 Toyota Corolla Al Trac and I'm not sure how much to sell it for... a guy at the Toyota dealership said ask for 4,000 and negotiate from there, but that seems really high. Kelly blue book doesn't have the 89 listed, but the 90 is listed for 1,300. My car has been great; tiny 1 inch square of rust by the back window, but otherwise in good condition, 170,000 miles. Any advice would be really useful!!! Thanks.

25th Aug 2010, 22:00

I'm the guy who tows his (second) All Trac behind his crane, 143K now and zero problems other than the fuel door. The trick with that is to activate the thingie by the seat that SHOULD open the fuel door (but doesn't) with your left foot, and then lean out and reach back and manually open the door. If you have winter boots on, you may need to take them off to refuel! Who cares? I'm still getting 32 to 34 tank mileage combined (25%city 75% highway at 65 or so).

I like it so much, I am strongly considering buying a Yaris or Honda Fit for summer use, and save the Trac for winter use in order to extend its life span. Then again, for my less than 1000 buck investment, what do I have to lose? No rust at all, handles like a sports car, pulls great with low revs (you can easily coast through stop signs in second) comfy, and still looks good.

I want one just like it (the Matrix doesn't do it for me, though I guess I could get used to it) but new, and with air and cruise. Best thing is it's red, like my crane, and they make a spiffy pair blasting through town!