1989 Toyota Tercel DX 1.6 inline from North America
A grand and faithful car, sadly missed
Engine carboned-up severely. That's what killed her eventually. Engine was replaced once (under one of those 'secret warranty' arrangements) and rebuilt twice.
Headlights blew frequently until I started buying GE bulbs. They just kept on burning.
Car drank oil like a fish. One liter every second fill-up, without fail. I learned to carry four liters in the trunk as my 'get me home' stock.
Engine head seals leaked, and were expensive to fix ($500 a go). Mind you, I always took the opportunity to have the timing chain redone at the same time.
Rust was a pervasive problem. Back wheel wells rusted through and trunk got moldy. Back floor pan was always damp in rainy weather.
Left side window was stiff to crank. Both door locks and trunk lock were persnickety as well. Ignition lock was reliable, though.
Seat belts wore badly.
Windshield was very resistant to rock hits, but eventually cracked from the offside bottom corner inward.
Rear view mirror fell off whenever someone bumped it. It was, thankfully, easy to fix with my little under-seat tool-kit.
V-belts tended to delaminate; one of the pulleys must have been rough. I kept an eye on belt wear and would have the lads change the belts out before they got too bad.
The car, for all its woes, was a good car and I would happily have kept it, were it not for its increasing unreliability in its last 5,000 km of life.
My mechanic said it was good for 350,000 km. Actually we almost got to 400,000, thanks to frequent oil changes (every 3000 km, without fail).
Handling was excellent; I never spun out or slid off the road in the snow (and where I live in Canada, it snows with a vengeance). Good snow tires helped, no doubt.
The Tercel was an ideal geologist's car: it could be fixed with common hand tools, the parts were easy to come by (and I always kept basic spares) and it got gloriously good mileage. The high ground clearance let me get through places other cars would not go.
The accessible towing/tie-down hooks in the rear end were useful for self-rescue from mud-holes with a 'coffee-grinder' type of hand-winch.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 6th January, 2004