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1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? #5136596
06/17/19 01:20 PM
06/17/19 01:20 PM
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 312
Seattle, WA
spavel6 Offline OP
spavel6  Offline OP

Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 312
Seattle, WA
I've recently been itching for a new automotive challenge. The challenge is how quickly I can get a running, driving, and road-tripping car.

[Linked Image]

Just picked up this time-capsule 1985 Camry. It has milkshake in the oil, and runs rough (doesn't idle), the PO believes the head gasket blew.

The engine started right up, but was smoking and smelled of burning oil from the back passenger-side corner. It went into gear and I was able to drive it out onto the road from it's hiding place in the driveway.

Has anyone worked on these before? Any tips/tricks on 1st gen Camry engines?


2003 VW Jetta Wagon TDI 198k M1 5W40 TDT
2001 VW GTI VR6 250k T6 5W40
2001 VW Passat Wagon V6 4motion 110k PP 5W30
Re: 1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? [Re: spavel6] #5136600
06/17/19 01:23 PM
06/17/19 01:23 PM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 3,599
Atlanta,GA
BMWTurboDzl Offline
BMWTurboDzl  Offline

Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 3,599
Atlanta,GA
Looks like a great candidate for the crusher. I would not want to risk my life on 30+ yr old 1980's technology.


“It took untold generations to get you where you are. A little gratitude might be in order. If you’re going to insist on bending the world to your way, you better have your reasons.”

435i
Re: 1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? [Re: spavel6] #5136623
06/17/19 01:39 PM
06/17/19 01:39 PM
Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,946
USA
mk378 Offline
mk378  Offline

Joined: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,946
USA
This was not a good car when it was new. You have the stunted performance of 1980s smog compliance technology, and the styling of a Toyota Camry. That was when it was new.

Re: 1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? [Re: spavel6] #5136625
06/17/19 01:40 PM
06/17/19 01:40 PM
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 144
WA
vw7674 Offline
vw7674  Offline

Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 144
WA
Have no idea as to the 1985 engine materials, but if it's aluminum head/block, pull the head check for warpage (shop or trust yourself)
on head surface & block surface. Check the radiator for leakage that could've caused the blown gasket, put it back together & drive.
As I recall, every mid-eighties econobox was slow, i.e.60-75hp, top end 108-111 mph. Time probably won't make this one any faster.

Last edited by vw7674; 06/17/19 01:43 PM. Reason: extra info.
Re: 1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? [Re: spavel6] #5136626
06/17/19 01:41 PM
06/17/19 01:41 PM
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 2,700
The Northeast
mclasser Offline
mclasser  Offline

Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 2,700
The Northeast
Hope you didn't pay anything for that.


2018 Hyundai Elantra VE
2013 Honda Pilot EX-L 4WD
2002 Honda Accord EX-L

Re: 1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? [Re: spavel6] #5136662
06/17/19 02:16 PM
06/17/19 02:16 PM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,769
Suburban Washington DC
atikovi Offline
atikovi  Offline

Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,769
Suburban Washington DC
[Linked Image]

Got this 86 back in 2006 for $300 at auction. It ran fine through the lane. Go to drive it to my storage and as soon as I step on the gas to get on the highway, I see a smokescreen behind me like a dragster burnout. Smoke goes away when letting up on the gas and it was only a 5 mile drive so I made it. Thought it had a blown head gasket and a compression test showed 60psi in the center 2 cylinders. So I pull the head, replace the gasket and put it back together. Go for a drive and it still smokes like a mother. Take the head back off and investigate some more. Turned out that those two cylinders had broken piston rings and cracked ring grooves. So I replaced the 2 pistons and rings in all 4 cylinders. Think I replaced the rod bearings as well.

[Linked Image]

Turned out real nice, Car ran great and I drove it 800 miles to Chicago for someone I sold it to on Ebay. These Camry's are very pleasant to drive and very comfortable. Few of complicated electronics of newer models to go bad.

Re: 1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? [Re: spavel6] #5136668
06/17/19 02:21 PM
06/17/19 02:21 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 15,269
Silicon Valley
PandaBear Offline
PandaBear  Offline

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 15,269
Silicon Valley
The quickest would be to pull a crashed total engine from junkyard.

The cheapest would be to take the head off, flatten the head, install with new HG, then run some 20w50 praying that it will not burn too fast. This will likely cost more than the car is worth if you don't have a shop to do the job right.


"You keep asking questions PandaBear and you'll end up a vegetarian like my wife" - Camu Mahubah
Re: 1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? [Re: spavel6] #5136669
06/17/19 02:21 PM
06/17/19 02:21 PM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 133
Rochester, NY
dadto2 Offline
dadto2  Offline

Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 133
Rochester, NY
Don't let the nay-sayers deter you. Sounds like a fun project to me! I frequently risk my life in even older automotive technology. Many decades older... It's fun!


'16 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab 4.3
'15 Volvo S60 T5 AWD
'99 Volvo S70 2.4
Re: 1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? [Re: spavel6] #5136692
06/17/19 02:40 PM
06/17/19 02:40 PM
Joined: Aug 2017
Posts: 689
Cincinnati, USA
Dave9 Offline
Dave9  Offline

Joined: Aug 2017
Posts: 689
Cincinnati, USA
Milkshake oil and you decide to drive it.

Best tip is don't be fooled into thinking you can make a worn out old vehicle road-trip worthy without pouring far more into it than its worth, which right now is about $200 scrap value.

If you really want to put the time into an old vehicle, start out with something classic, iconic, beautiful, built before '80 at least.

Last edited by Dave9; 06/17/19 02:42 PM.
Re: 1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? [Re: spavel6] #5136696
06/17/19 02:43 PM
06/17/19 02:43 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 14,017
NH
supton Offline
supton  Offline

Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 14,017
NH
I'd pull the head and go from there. If it's warped it might be best to send it along. The engine that is. Maybe look to see what later model engine would drop in. Maybe an entire driveline swap is in order.

But maybe it's just a blown HG and it'll be a quick job.


2011 Toyota Camry, base, 2.5L/6MT, 187k, hers
2010 Toyota Tundra DC, 4.6L/6AT, 152k, ours
1999 Toyota Camry LE, 2.2L/4AT, 208k, his
Re: 1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? [Re: atikovi] #5136707
06/17/19 02:53 PM
06/17/19 02:53 PM
Joined: May 2019
Posts: 247
USA
AC1DD Offline
AC1DD  Offline

Joined: May 2019
Posts: 247
USA
Originally Posted by atikovi
These Camry's are very pleasant to drive and very comfortable. Few of complicated electronics of newer models to go bad.


I remember these when they were being sold as brand new! While not sporty or stylish they are comfortable, VERY durable, and decently safe even today.
Very straight forward, cheap to keep cars. I'd gladly own one of these today if it wasn't beaten up.
Folks forget this was when Toyota was the most well built and durable cars you could get at any price. They STILL measure up in that department today.
This is a miracle feat.

If you wanted a fun daily driver that was inexpensive and fairly reliable with some room for passengers you'd go for the Honda Accord with stick which was also
a almost Toyota like bulletproof design, but with great driving dynamics too.

Re: 1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? [Re: Dave9] #5136710
06/17/19 02:57 PM
06/17/19 02:57 PM
Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 59
NW Iowa
alchargo Offline
alchargo  Offline

Joined: Mar 2016
Posts: 59
NW Iowa
Originally Posted by Dave9
Milkshake oil and you decide to drive it.

Best tip is don't be fooled into thinking you can make a worn out old vehicle road-trip worthy without pouring far more into it than its worth, which right now is about $200 scrap value.

If you really want to put the time into an old vehicle, start out with something classic, iconic, beautiful, built before '80 at least.


For some reason, post 1980 cars like this are becoming popular with younger generations that never experienced them the first time around. Events like Radwood are becoming popular and are for cars from the 1980s and 1990s only. The Camry in question appears to be mostly rust-free and, sadly, some millennial would probably pay crazy money for it.

Re: 1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? [Re: alchargo] #5136717
06/17/19 03:06 PM
06/17/19 03:06 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 14,017
NH
supton Offline
supton  Offline

Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 14,017
NH
Originally Posted by alchargo
For some reason, post 1980 cars like this are becoming popular with younger generations that never experienced them the first time around. Events like Radwood are becoming popular and are for cars from the 1980s and 1990s only. The Camry in question appears to be mostly rust-free and, sadly, some millennial would probably pay crazy money for it.

As compared to a muscle car, or anything pre-war... shrug Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.


2011 Toyota Camry, base, 2.5L/6MT, 187k, hers
2010 Toyota Tundra DC, 4.6L/6AT, 152k, ours
1999 Toyota Camry LE, 2.2L/4AT, 208k, his
Re: 1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? [Re: spavel6] #5136723
06/17/19 03:16 PM
06/17/19 03:16 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 891
Western Ma.
rollinpete Offline
rollinpete  Offline

Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 891
Western Ma.
If you get it cheap,
Would be a fun car to work on, and get it going.
Body looks to be in good shape.


Pete.

97 Ford Expl.Sport 4.0 ohv 4wd 5spd 188k miles
03 Saturn Ion 2.2 L4 5spd 239k miles
PP, PPHM 50/50 5w30

Currently under the influence of oil shocked2

Re: 1985 Toyota Camry.. Any tips? [Re: spavel6] #5136741
06/17/19 03:41 PM
06/17/19 03:41 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,963
Southeast
meep Offline
meep  Offline

Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,963
Southeast
i remember lots of room in that hood, good angles to wrench in, much easier to fiddle with than newer tech. weak spot was the the torque converters - it took toyota (aisin?) a while to figure out TC durability back then, as manuals had previously been more prevalent in 4-cyl life.

replace the oil and do a compression check, both wet and dry, to see what you're getting in to. I might pull the pan and a rod cap and look for scoring on the bearings. If there's damage, I'd look at wrecked or even autozone motor/block prices. If the bearings don't show issues, I'd proceed with head work if the wet/dry tests give similar numbers. If you aren't sure what that means, read up on it so you can get good information to help you make informed decisions.

My best friend in high school had a test drive in one of those. It was a better car IMO than what he ended up with. Unfortunately, it had some TC noises that we figured would become a costly repair in a few months and went with a lesser car in better shape.


2018 F150
2015 crv (wifey!)
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