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.

General Comments:

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

1989 Toyota Tercel Base 1.5 liter from North America


This is a good little car with high repair costs and high insurance rates


Since I have had it I have had to replace the brake pads and rotors, an inner coil blew and prevented the car from starting, the shifter sometimes doesn't pop into gear, the brakes slide and don't stop very great if you need to in an emergency, the shocks have never been replaced and just started going bad. The car also does not come standard with a a passenger side mirror and I cannot find one that will fit the car.

General Comments:

It is a pretty fast little car and has bad gas mileage for its size. It doesn't fit bigger people in it well.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 27th September, 2003

23rd Sep 2004, 07:35

1989 Toyta Tercel 2 dr...137000 miles.. great car, BUT now everyting is going and is very expensive to replace.

23rd Nov 2007, 04:23

My car needs to be fixed, because it's starting to get bad. And, the part alone feel expensive for me. So, I do know what I am going to do.

1989 Toyota Tercel 2 dr Sedan 1.58 from North America


Economical cheap basic transportation


Although I have only had the car for a year, I still would have to say that the car has been reliable and almost free of repairs. I have had to replace a strut mount on the car as well as the seats. The upholstery wears, but I guess anything would after 14 years of service. A ream main seal was replaced, but other than that nothing else has gone wrong with the car.

General Comments:

This car is economical and reliable. The few things I do not like about the car are that with such a small engine, it should get at least 40 miles per gallon of gas, but it only gets about 30 on the road. The car is very small; the car needs a bit more weight to keep it from swaying when a passing tractor trailer speeds by. The car is basic transportation and should not be purchased for luxury.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th September, 2003