1998 Toyota Tercel CE 1.5 from North America


Uber reliable, dirt cheap transportation


The front door handle broke off within 2 weeks of taking possession of the car. I fixed it myself for 60 CDN.

General Comments:

Well, where do I start?

I bought this car as a daily commuter, as I was doing 150 km round trip a day at the time, and needed something cheap on gas. Everyone thought I was crazy paying $5500 for an eight year old econobox at the time, but I had done my research and was confident in my purchase. Besides, my Tercel was an automatic with A/C... sheer LUXURY!

I have now owned the car for a little over 6 years, and have put on nearly 200 000 kms on it, and it has been the most reliable and cheapest to operate vehicle I have ever owned, hands down.

We have to do a drive clean emissions test here in Ontario every 2 years, and each time I get it done, I believe it will be the last for this car... but it just keeps on going.

Sure, it consumes oil like a drunken sailor that's been out to sea for 6 months... but it has been doing that for 75 000 km, and it still passes the sniffer test to boot! I have actually run the oil down past the dipstick on more than one occasion, having to top the car up with over a litre of oil (it only holds 2.8L), yet it still runs with no problems.

I have done little to the car for maintenance; changed the timing belt once, tranny flush and fill, and of course brakes and tires. My wife smashed it up and the insurance wrote it off because it was too expensive to fix in their minds.

I bought it back, had a friend who was a body man put it back together for me, and have been driving it ever since. That happened 5 years ago when the car was at 210 000km.

I got cut off on the DVP one day, and hit the cement barrier separating lanes, messed up my rim, and the car made a funny noise when turning right. I always meant to get it looked at.. but the noise never got any worse so.. meh. I had the car in to my local mechanics to have an exhaust leak fixed. When he phoned to give me a quote he said "you know your car makes a funny noise when turning, I'll check it out for you." Well, that little mishap on the DVP had actually busted my front driver's side axle shaft. The mechanic didn't believe me when I told him I had been driving it that way for 3 years and 60 000kms. It's noisy, doesn't take bumps very well.. and forget high speed maneuvering (can be scary).

If you are looking for a cheap reliable car (even though the newest one you can find is 13 years old), and you can find a relatively rust free low mileage example, BUY IT.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th April, 2012

24th Nov 2013, 13:41

I have a '98 Tercel. I bought it brand new. It's a very reliable and trouble free car.

1998 Toyota Tercel CE L4 1.5L from North America


Little reliable car, low running costs... What more do I need?


I bought a used car of 12 years, with 227 000 km on it.. so of course, the suspension was dead, and there is some little rust spots.. but I think that, for 1300$ CAD, it is simply awesome.

So, I changed:

2 rear shocks.

Rear left coil spring (mine was literally broken).

Battery (I was in a trip across Canada, and it wasn't so nice.. thanks to Canadian Tire!).

Drums + pads on rear brakes.

Front brakes.

So, this is only normal maintenance on a old used car...

General Comments:

The car is simply awesome! I crossed Canada with my friend in this little car this summer (Quebec city to Victoria, BC), a trip of approximately 12 000 km, and the only problem I got in this trip was the battery, which died in Vancouver. So, it's a super reliable little car, I totally love it!

Performance mark is only 5 because... look, it's a Tercel with a little L4 1.5L engine, so yes, when I'm with 4 friends in my car, performance isn't that awesome, but this was something I expected before having that car, and I prefer that than consuming a lot of gasoline. Also, winter just started here in Quebec, and I'm experiencing it with this car for the first time... I'm a little bit disappointed, because this car isn't a winter car, I guess... But still, I have crappy winter tires, so I guess that could be much better with good tires!

For the comfort: I have nothing to say! I passed more than 50 hours in 17 days driving this car, and that was totally okay! I also slept a couple of time in it.. OK, I admit it, that wasn't so great.. But I don't think that Toyota engineers designed that car for that! And yes, I'm an 18 years old kid that doesn't need that much of comfort, so maybe, for some people, it's not so comfortable... that's why I only put 9!

For the running costs: the big default of this car engine, which is not a secret, is that it burns oil... But I feed mine with synthetic (some might say it's useless, but I do it anyway) and it's really not that bad. Gas consumption, I make approx. 6.5 L/100km (36,2MPG), and that is in town. In little Ontario roads, at 100 km/h, I did only 5 L/100km (47MPG)! So, I'm a student with not that much money, and this car is perfect with my budget.

Thanks for reading and, please, be kind with my English, I'm from Quebec, English is only my second language!

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

Review Date: 7th December, 2010

9th Dec 2010, 02:26

Good to hear your trip was safe with the car. These are pretty reliable cars.

If you buy a cheap brand of battery (Walmart, Costco, etc), it is normal they do not last long, 1 yr or 2 years and you have to buy a new one.

Enjoy your car, it seems to meet your needs for now.

When I was a student, I had a beater Hyundai wagon; it did the job and was all I could afford; better than having no car at all. Good on gas, but a horrible bumpy ride.

Now I have a Buick LeSabre that is amazing to drive, so comfortable. Much better for long drives or road trips.

A bit more expensive on gas, but can sit 6 people and large trunk. I must say I do prefer the Buick, but I have fond memories of my old Hyundai.

13th Apr 2012, 13:13

Costoco batteries are actually reasonably priced, and as a plus, they have a 10 year prorated warranty.

15th May 2012, 20:53

A warranty won't do you any favours if it fails on a road trip.

3rd Feb 2018, 01:59

Nice review man. I don't know if you will ever get this comment or if I would ever know. I am hopefully going to be driving me home one of these cars tomorrow 1/3/18. Great reviews on this site.