1984 Toyota Tercel 3A-C 1.5L from North America


It's a fun project!


I deliver pizzas for a local company, and a co-worker gave me the car after it stopped working for him. I installed a new $300 distributor and got it running, only to find it had NO brakes. So I replaced everything but the rotors and drums. The brakes are great now.

I drove it for a few nights, when it developed a bad oil leak. My brother and I replaced the oil pan gasket, and we thought that fixed it, but it continued to leak from the bell housing area... rear main seal.

So right now, the engine is pulled, going to hot tank it. The rotating assembly was in great condition, so we are going to cross-hatch the block, re-ring and install new bearings, gaskets and o-rings. My brother did some mild porting and polishing of the head; more removing casting marks, smoothing the bowls and removing built up carbon. We are going to gasket match the intake and exhaust when we get the new gasket.

While the motor is out, I am going to detail the engine bay and fix any broken connectors, vacuum hose, steering rack boots, and clean up the k-member, steering, and transmission.

Other than that, it's getting all new belts, radiator hoses; basically going to replace anything that's rubber, fuel filter and pump.




It's got a top of the line sound and security system. When I find a car, doesn't matter what it is, I go all out. Plus this car is will be my work car; that means at least 60/hours a week driving it.

The rocker panels are buggered. The driver's side has serious cancer. The shocks are completely blown out, so the ride is a bit bouncy. That will be taken care of after the rebuild.

General Comments:

I was driving a 1978 Pontiac Grand Prix 301ci V8 automatic when I got the Toyota. Since I have to pay for my own gas, I figured the Tercel would be an improvement in MPG. I was unfortunate to find out that the Yota got 9 MPG... my GP... 15.

From what I gathered of the history of the car, it was initially well taken care of. But the previous 2 years before I had it, it was just a delivery car beater (don't fix it until it's completely broke).

When we cracked the intake/exhaust manifolds and the head off, we found thick carbon encrusted deposits everywhere. The exhaust valves couldn't seat... or seal. The backsides of the valves were covered in 7-8mm of carbon. The inside of the #1 exhaust runner had a 2-3mm carbon build up along its entire inner diameter. Things like the EGR banjo bolt were completely blocked. The flapper valve in the exhaust manifold was stuck blocking off the #1 & #2 cylinders. We guessed the engine in its current state was putting out... 25-30 HP.


Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th March, 2008

1984 Toyota Tercel sr5 3a from North America


Ya can't kill a 'Yota!


Radiator blew at 170000 miles

Rear bearing went bad at 172000 miles

Exhaust and muffler rusted through at 165000 miles

Front brake pads replaced at 170000 miles

Radiator sensor went bad at 173000 miles

Alternator went bad at 173000 miles

Lots of rust and rust holes.

General Comments:

This car is the best car I've ever owned. Even though it doesn't look pretty now with all the rust and dents, she just keeps going. I bought this car for 300 and have put about 350 worth of work into it. I drove this car from Michigan to NJ to SC back to Michigan and back down to SC within a one month period and not a thing went wrong on the trip. I even have a saying at this point I use jokingly among friends. It goes "no matter what I try, the thing won't die!!" Which is so true about this car. Planning to put a new body on it hopefully soon so the outside will be as great as this car's spirit.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 31st March, 2007

31st Mar 2007, 18:47

I've seen Toyota's get killed many times. Glad you are having good luck with yours though.

3rd Apr 2007, 13:54

<<Rather you then me, I would feel very low rent driving such a bare bones scruffy old beater.>.

Why would you feel low rent driving one the best cars ever made? My family's 1980 Tercel had one problem in the seven years we owned it and the car went through hell. Tercels are amazing cars and those who drive them are truly fortunate since they won't be visiting the mechanic every month as one would with the American crap.