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#1729055 - 01/03/10 04:42 AM Questions re 1992 Toyota Tercel
heypete Offline


Registered: 10/14/09
Posts: 402
Loc: Tucson, AZ
Hi folks,

My friend just bought a 1992 Toyota Tercel for his late-teenage niece. She was previously driving a 1970s-era Volvo that was recently involved in a collision and now has post-collision mechanical problems that make it unsuitable for any sort of driving other than in town -- overheating, etc.

He got the Tercel for a decent price from at least the second owner. The seller had only owned it a week or two and had purchased it for his own daughter assuming she would have gotten good grades this last semester. As she didn't, he put it up on Craigslist. no-no The original owner is not known to my friend, and no service records accompany the vehicle. The previous owner did indicate that it's recently had a new radiator and water pump installed, and it does have new, non-major-brand-name Chinese-made tires.

When he purchased it, he gave it a once-over, and it appears to be in reasonably good working order consistent with the 190,500 miles on the odometer. Minor body scratches and nicks consistent with use (paint looks to be factory original), a few minor mechanical problems (trunk latch can occasionally stick, making it difficult to open, driver's side seat belt doesn't have a lot of tension but still locks when jerked, etc.), and generally looks to be in good shape.

His niece doesn't really do much car maintenance, and mostly just counts on my friend to remind her when to take it into the shop. As she's moving out (hence the gift of the car), she'll have only the sticker on the windshield and her own memory. They ordered an owner's manual on eBay, so she'll at least have that.

My friend and I want to have her car well-prepared for its time with his niece, and so I come to seek the advice of BITOG as to what maintenance might be useful.

Here's my thoughts, organized by category. Any additions, subtractions, or changes would be most welcome.

Oil
Car currently has unknown miles on unknown oil and an orange Fram filter. My friend is going to send a sample off to Blackstone to see what they think, and to see if they can detect any hidden problems. Unknown if the car burns any oil and, if so, how much it burns.

AutoZone is running a promotion now for Quaker State conventional oil (the green bottle) and an STP filter for $13.99. Same price for Mobil Clean 5000 and an STP filter They also are promoting Quaker State High Mileage and a Fram Tough Guard filter for $17.99. Castrol GTX and an STP filter are $16.99. Mobil 1 (both standard and high mileage) and a Mobil 1 filter are $29.99, while Mobil 1 Extended Performance and a Mobil 1 filter are $34.99.

I've always been a bit skeptical of "high mileage" oils, and so was going to recommend either the Mobil Clean 5000 or Quaker State standard oils. I've used Mobil oils for years with good results in my Camry, but have never used Quaker State. Thoughts?

The Mobil 1 Extended Performance oil and filter are a pretty decent deal, but I'm concerned with possible oil burning (as mentioned above, no idea if the car burns oil, so why bother with burning the good stuff?). If it doesn't burn any oil, the 15,000 mile protection seems like a good idea for a person who may neglect maintenance. Any truth to the rumor that switching to synthetic oil may inadvertently over-clean the engine, removing deposits that would otherwise keep seals intact? Current seal status is unknown, but there does not appear to be any visible oil leaks.

According to the Mobil website, this year and model of car calls for 10W-30 oil. It will be driven in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Sacramento. No towing or other heavy duty. Any concerns with using the originally-specified oil weight with 190,500 miles or should we use a somewhat heavier 40-weight oil?

Air Filter
Mostly clean, but there's a pencil-sized hole in one of the pleats. Unknown how long it's been in this state. Will replace with an STP filter in the appropriate size.

Fuel Filter
Unknown status. Costs $22 or so to replace. Hopefully would be easy to replace if needed.

PCV Valve
Unknown status. About $4 to replace. Thinking of doing this just to be on the safe side. Is there any way to test the PCV valve for proper function?

Spark Plugs
Unknown status. Copper plugs are cheap, so we're thinking of changing them. Is it worthwhile to do so if the car continues to run fine?

Distributor/Wires
Wires look to be in decent shape. Replacement cap and wires are $44, with a replacement rotor for $4. Any sense in replacing it if the engine runs fine?

Transmission/Differential
Friend took the car into the local Chevron Oilstop to have them change the fluid in the automatic transmission and front differential. No idea what the status of these fluids before was.

Power Steering/Brake Fluid
Color looks normal on both, as does the levels. Not going to do anything here.

Coolant
Level appears good, though there's some gunk on what appears to be the original radiator cap and overflow tank. New radiator seems to be in good shape and doesn't have any noticeable leaks. Not going to do anything here.

Brakes
Going to take the wheels off tomorrow and check the front disk brakes for pad and rotor wear. Never taken apart drum brakes such as those found on the rear, but it shouldn't be terribly hard. AutoZone's website has a takedown guide for the brakes, which is handy. Will replace parts as needed.

Timing Belt/Water Pump
Previous owner claims that they were recently repaired. Haven't checked in detail yet. Serpentine belt appears to be in good condition.

Interior
Driver's seat belt is a bit floppy, as the tensioner spring is weak. Also appears to be fraying a bit along the edge, but does not appear to pose any safety risk. Still locks when jerked. Any idea where to get a replacement seat belt on the cheap?

.....

Any other suggestions? We're hoping to start work on the vehicle this afternoon (it's presently around 3am; I'm a night owl), and can work on it for up to a week or so (the niece can use the Volvo for the time being), but we'd really prefer to get stuff done as soon as possible (e.g. in one or two days). We haven't put the car up on stands to check the underside, steering, etc. but will do that today when we're doing other work.

We'd like to do this as cheaply as possible, as the car was only $1,200 and there's a lot of minor quirks one can live with, so long as the vehicle is in good mechanical shape and safe to operate.

We can do pretty much all of the work ourselves (my friend used to restore old Volvos, but it's been a few years -- I'm pretty handy, but still learning the details. Neither of us are afraid of turning wrenches or getting our hands dirty.) so labor won't be a problem and we've got the tools for the job. We'd like to keep the whole job under $200, with $100 being a far more preferable maximum limit.

Any suggestions or input would be most welcome.
_________________________
2006 Toyota Camry LE (4-cyl, auto, 2AZ-FE) | Mobil Clean 5000 5W-30

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#1729075 - 01/03/10 06:30 AM Re: Questions re 1992 Toyota Tercel [Re: heypete]
Andrew MKZ Offline


Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 2811
Loc: USA
Yay! I'll begin

1. Since you don't know if she burns oil, how about some 10w-30 to be on the safe side. QS is a fine oil btw. Also, an STP filter will be a good choice. the part number is S4967.

2. changing the air filter is a good idea. Sometimes an increase in silicone in a UOA is the result of a bad one.

3. I would highly recomend changing the fuel filter. At the number of miles it has, god knows what it looks like. You can get a autozone brand for $22.20. Part no.FF636.

4.Be safe, change the PVC.

5. [censored], you can get motorcraft sparkplugs at AZ for $1.99 a piece. Thats $8 to help that girl with gas milage, and other things. They are part no.sp-436.

6. Change the wires if you change the plugs. I thought the wires looked great oon my 1992 Towncar, but turnes out they were the cause of an occaniosnal miss on that car.

7. Be sure the timing belt is ok.

What about the battery and battery cables. The last thing you want is the poor girl stranded.

Also, how do the main drive belt(s) look?

Anyway, I'll chime in again if I can think of anything else. Good luck to her on that car!
_________________________
2010 Lincoln MKZ
23,500 miles

Formerly DT466E_bus

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#1729102 - 01/03/10 07:15 AM Re: Questions re 1992 Toyota Tercel [Re: Andrew MKZ]
eljefino Offline


Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 23780
Loc: ME
If she's registering the thing in Cali she'll probably have to pass smog, or maybe even pay an import/impact fee. FYI.

I would mostly look for a good mechanic where she'll wind up. Prophylactic repairs are only good for a couple months before mysteries start arising on a car that age. Then you'll hear about a non-specific noise that's kind of a clunk and sort of a squeak.

Oh and let the bugger run until the electric rad fan comes on to make sure that's all dandy.

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#1729188 - 01/03/10 08:54 AM Re: Questions re 1992 Toyota Tercel [Re: heypete]
citationxeleven Offline


Registered: 10/28/09
Posts: 110
Loc: Michigan
I'm always a little suspect of new tires just before selling it. Some do that to mask front end needs (tie rods, control arms, alignment) Just have it checked seeing the tires are nearly new.
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2000 Mazda 626 ES V-6 127K PartsMaster 5W30,P1 Filter
1995 Civic EX 239K Ace Hardware 5-30 P1 Filter
2000 Cherokee 171K PP 5W30, Mopar Filter

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#1729238 - 01/03/10 09:31 AM Re: Questions re 1992 Toyota Tercel [Re: citationxeleven]
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 33529
Loc: New Jersey
yeah, take it to a tire place that does alignments but not front-end work. We have a chain called "Just Tires" that does that. They will give an independent assessment, as they arent selling repairs.

IUd verify that the coolant is the right mix. Also those small engines often burn oil, try to verify.

If not burning appreciably, Id try to get something like rotella 10w-30. I personally would recommend M1 10w-30 in regular or HM variety, but without surity on the leaks of the engine, would be concerned.

Be careful with the AT... Was the filter replaced? If not, the fluid exchange was a great first start, but Id do a pan drop.

How is the AC? Might want to check static and operating presures, as a top up now is better than a top up at some unknown place.

Verify that timing belt however you need to.

With the wheels off, flush the brake fluid.

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#1729450 - 01/03/10 01:26 PM Re: Questions re 1992 Toyota Tercel [Re: JHZR2]
heypete Offline


Registered: 10/14/09
Posts: 402
Loc: Tucson, AZ
Hi folks,

Thanks for the prompt response.

It's passed smog in California (evidently that was required for the vehicle to be sold), so that's one less thing to worry about.

The Chevron Oil stop did their "transmission service", but no idea if they changed the filter. Does this transmission even have a filter? I thought they just had magnetic plugs.

We'll take the timing belt cover off today and check the belt.

I checked the battery with my multimeter in both quiescent and loaded conditions and it reads well within the normal range. The climate in California is pretty mild, and the battery should last quite some time.

We don't have an AC pressure gauge (does it even take R134a? I don't think it it does, but could be mistaken.), but the local Toyota dealer has a special complimentary inspection where they'll check various things (including the AC, heating and cooling system, transmission, etc.) for free.

The plan is to do as much of the stuff we can do and check today, then take it to the dealer tomorrow to have them check things that we don't have the ability to check, then make repairs as necessary.
_________________________
2006 Toyota Camry LE (4-cyl, auto, 2AZ-FE) | Mobil Clean 5000 5W-30

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#1729574 - 01/03/10 03:32 PM Re: Questions re 1992 Toyota Tercel [Re: heypete]
mechtech2 Offline


Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 19479
Loc: Chicago Area
There is much useless side information to read that long post!

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#1729927 - 01/03/10 08:33 PM Re: Questions re 1992 Toyota Tercel [Re: mechtech2]
heypete Offline


Registered: 10/14/09
Posts: 402
Loc: Tucson, AZ
Originally Posted By: mechtech2
There is much useless side information to read that long post!


Such as? I thought I'd provide as much information as I could about the vehicle so that people here could provide informed advice. I tried to avoid any obviously irrelevant information. I also broke things down by specific category for quick reading, if you didn't want to read the introductory text.

Anyway, my friend and I changed the PCV valve, air filter, oil (used Quaker State High Mileage 10W-30), oil filter (Fram Tough Guard, came as part of a deal with the Quaker State oil) today.

Brakes and brake lines look good, with plenty of pad material left on the front brakes. We couldn't get the rear drums off and were lazy, so didn't bother to try too much.

We pulled the spark plugs and they look pretty good. Gap is good, with no erosion, and the wires and distributor look good. No need to replace them. The previous owner said there was a "tune up" recently, so they may have changed the plugs.

Didn't get a chance to pull the timing belt cover (my friend had dinner plans so we stopped early).

Air conditioning and heater seem to work well.

The owner's manual arrived from eBay today. I noticed something odd: the manual says that both the transmission and differential take ATF (Dexron-II). The Chevron Oilstop put ATF into the transmission, but 80W/90 gear oil into the differential. There doesn't seem to be any horrific problems with the few miles he's driven it since then, but he's going to take it back on Monday to show them the manual and have them make it right. Hopefully no harm would come from running gear oil for a few days.

He'll take it into the shop tomorrow for the free inspection, so we'll see if there's any other hidden issues.

Thanks for everyone's responses, and happy new year.
_________________________
2006 Toyota Camry LE (4-cyl, auto, 2AZ-FE) | Mobil Clean 5000 5W-30

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#1729945 - 01/03/10 08:54 PM Re: Questions re 1992 Toyota Tercel [Re: heypete]
exranger06 Offline


Registered: 01/25/08
Posts: 2550
Loc: Guilford, CT
The trans does have a filter.
_________________________
2006 Ford Ranger Sport -54k mi
1992 Honda Accord EX -173k mi
1994 Ford Explorer Sport -190k mi
1994 Ford Bronco XLT (project)

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#1729948 - 01/03/10 08:56 PM Re: Questions re 1992 Toyota Tercel [Re: heypete]
FL-400S Offline


Registered: 03/03/04
Posts: 824
Loc: Southeast
I used to drive a 94 base model 4 speed. great car. often burn a little oil on startup. only takes about 3 qts oil with the tiny 4967? filter. I was using a motorcraft FL-400S. Mine didnt have a/c so I could take the filter off the front of the engine without tools and hardly have to lean over! 5 minute oil changes. I remember the manual trans gear oil being easy to change too. Coolant was also pretty simple to change. Timing belt should be done every 60k, but for $1200 id probably just drive it till it pops. My 94 had a drivers side airbag. May have been the first year for that.


Edited by FL-400S (01/03/10 08:56 PM)

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#1730014 - 01/03/10 10:03 PM Re: Questions re 1992 Toyota Tercel [Re: FL-400S]
heypete Offline


Registered: 10/14/09
Posts: 402
Loc: Tucson, AZ
Originally Posted By: FL-400S
I used to drive a 94 base model 4 speed. great car. often burn a little oil on startup. only takes about 3 qts oil with the tiny 4967? filter. I was using a motorcraft FL-400S. Mine didnt have a/c so I could take the filter off the front of the engine without tools and hardly have to lean over! 5 minute oil changes. I remember the manual trans gear oil being easy to change too. Coolant was also pretty simple to change. Timing belt should be done every 60k, but for $1200 id probably just drive it till it pops. My 94 had a drivers side airbag. May have been the first year for that.


You're right about the filter: it's a 4967. Surprisingly small, actually, but I guess it gets the job done.

Whoever put the old oil filter on this car really torqued it down and it was extremely difficult to remove.

No airbags in this car, which is somewhat disconcerting, but likely not to be a big deal for around-town driving with occasional highway trips.

I liked the fact that it had a solid rear axle (well, maybe not an axle per se as it didn't rotate, but there was a solid bar that ran between the rear wheels), which made for easy jacking of the rear end.

The car seemed pretty simple, well-made, and reliable.
_________________________
2006 Toyota Camry LE (4-cyl, auto, 2AZ-FE) | Mobil Clean 5000 5W-30

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#1730324 - 01/04/10 09:56 AM Re: Questions re 1992 Toyota Tercel [Re: heypete]
artificialist Offline


Registered: 09/23/07
Posts: 6714
Loc: Florida
Originally Posted By: heypete

We don't have an AC pressure gauge (does it even take R134a? I don't think it it does, but could be mistaken.), but the local Toyota dealer has a special complimentary inspection where they'll check various things (including the AC, heating and cooling system, transmission, etc.) for free.

In 1992, the A/C was built with R-12.

However, at one time, the car might have been retrofitted to use R-134a. Look at the service ports. If the 2 are equal in size, you have R-12. If not, you have R-134a.

However, some people put stuff in the A/C that is neither R-12 nor R-134a, and this can be a huge problem to figure out.
_________________________
2010 Lancer Ralliart Sportback

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