1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | My Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

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señor.tercel4wd
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My tercel:: 1983 Toyota Tercel 4WD SR5
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | My Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by señor.tercel4wd » Tue Oct 22, 2019 6:09 pm

Hello Tercel4WD!

I recently acquired a white 1983 Toyota Tercel 4WD SR5 today. I'm super pumped that I joined this community! I'm here to study, learn, help but mostly to share this cars journey. Before I get to the car, I want to give some context.

Originally, I actually wanted to buy a 1972-1975 620 Datsun. The idea was that I needed a cheap daily driver with enough space to make runs to the car parts store or home depot without having to ask myself "will it fit in my wife's civic?" or worrying about damaging the interior. That idea was soon replaced when I came across a red lifted Tercel Wagon while endlessly scrolling through the endless pit that is Instagram. It was love at first sight. So 80s. So boxy. So functional. I had to find one.

About a week ago, I started by looking on "For Sale" section on Tercel4WD and surprisingly one of the the first threads I went to was the winner. A HUGE shoutout to AugustusFerdinand for posting the car! Petros pointed out that the decal on on the side was part of a rare "Ski Wagon" trim line. I clinked on the link and looked through the information and pictures extensively. I thought to myself "this is it." I quickly I made a profile on Copart and set a calendar reminder for October 22nd. Now, I wait a week for the live auction.

D-day.

I woke up, made my morning shake and I turned on the computer to enter the live auction and waited for the Tercel to be next on the queue. I had never participated in a live online bidding war for cars so this was actually pretty exciting. I was not expecting the music and sounds effects during the auction. 2 minutes to the auction starting I told myself no more than $600.

Lo and behold the wining bid was a whole whopping $350 on Copart (love me a good deal). With the rest of the fees the total price quickly escalated to $588 but only you guys will know that. When I talk about this car to others the price will be the winning bid lol...

This is either going to be one of the worst or best decisions of my life. It holds a salvage title because Oregon likes to make everything salvage regardless of the gravity of the damage. I'm not worried about the resale value though because I'm planning to drive this thing into the ground like Toyota intended. The lot listing said "runs and drives" we'll see how much of that is true. At worst, it will be a parts car but ideally it makes down to SoCal on it's own power.

Without further adieu, here she is!
380e7bcd-86a8-409a-81c2-47372ae558ad.jpg
As you can see, the primary damage was on the front end which cause the fenders and hood to get misaligned
31a10c87-5f63-4d18-bfc8-09a5516ade12.jpg
The grunt of the damage was this bumper
b1816858-e8f4-4b69-8115-4b91d96d9b29.jpg
I hear C Channel beams make for nice bumpers. Anyone have a left side corner lamp they'd like to sell?
cf010115-1541-4ebc-99f4-aeb086bf4439.jpg
Gotta love the 80s 😍
8ad59f81-33ef-4bf5-b853-edccbd7abe7e.jpg
This interior looks like it's in great condition.
821ca2b6-bbae-4a7b-8b11-bb4bc0ef7216.jpg
There seems to be a bit of rust near the glass but I like it.It adds character.
d81096d2-337e-4ad2-8f8e-e886e6f3e6e7.jpg
Might just lock in the rust and Patina the whole car.
f6ce9175-f279-4c97-81d6-3aaea02560bb.jpg
The engine looks like it's in decent condition.
d37513d8-8409-4055-ab17-36d97288b98a.jpg
Despite the mileage.


The plan is to drive up to Oregon later this week (before they start charging for storage fees). Any tips for it's maiden voyage to Los Angeles?
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Last edited by señor.tercel4wd on Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:06 pm, edited 6 times in total.
'83 Tercel 4wd SR5 (future daily driver)
'99 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra (project car, with on-going mods)
'14 Honda Civic (wife's daily driver)

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LowBuckCanuck
Top Notch Member
Posts: 306
Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2017 12:32 am
My tercel:: 1986 DLX 4wd Wagon "Jenny"

Re: My New 1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by LowBuckCanuck » Tue Oct 22, 2019 6:27 pm

Always happy to have more enthusiasts on the road and on the forum!

The front end doesn't look like anything a large hammer can't fix, unless you want it to look like new.

I recommend tube bumpers if the stock one is scrap anyways, but thats just the lifted tercel in me talking ;)

señor.tercel4wd
Newbie
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:12 pm
My tercel:: 1983 Toyota Tercel 4WD SR5
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: My New 1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by señor.tercel4wd » Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:25 pm

LowBuckCanuck wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 6:27 pm
Always happy to have more enthusiasts on the road and on the forum!

The front end doesn't look like anything a large hammer can't fix, unless you want it to look like new.

I recommend tube bumpers if the stock one is scrap anyways, but thats just the lifted tercel in me talking ;)
Thanks for the warm welcome man!

I'm not too worried about the bodywork. The only thing that has me uneasy is the engine, trans, and amount of rust but we'll see once I pick it up and it's on the road. It's all part of the adventure!

I do see a lift, a roof rack, tubular bumpers and all terrain tires in it's near future... :wink:
'83 Tercel 4wd SR5 (future daily driver)
'99 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra (project car, with on-going mods)
'14 Honda Civic (wife's daily driver)

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NWMO
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Joined: Wed May 20, 2015 1:08 pm

Re: 1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | My Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by NWMO » Tue Oct 22, 2019 9:05 pm

Welcome to the site senor tercel,

Before a long drive, make sure you check for rust damage where the trailing arms attach (just below the back of the rear doors) and your front stabilizer bar. If either of these fails going down the road it would be bad. Of course, the transmission gear oil is key as well, good luck.

Chris
Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart"

In remembrance of my friend ARCHINSTL:

T4WD augury?
"Oh, do not ask, 'What is it?' Let us go and make our visit."
T.S. Eliot - "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

"Now and then we had a hope that, if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates."
Mark Twain

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Mattel
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Posts: 1503
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2004 12:11 am
My tercel:: 1988 Corolla 4wd Wagon (AKA Corolla All-trac) 5speed, AC, Power Sunroof, Windows, Mirrors, Steering, Locking, Diff Lock, 14" Corolla SX Alloys with Silica Hankook Tyres, 4afe, King Springs, Upgraded Headlights, Full Synth oils, 210,000kms
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: 1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | My Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by Mattel » Tue Oct 22, 2019 11:44 pm

Petros has a good list of road trip parts but yes as NWMO says. would give a good oil change for engine and transmission first. there are pinned notes how to do this. Have you thought about emissions for California? cars sold new there had a different package. Great looking rig btw!
Previous: 83 Tercel SR5 4wd, 84 Tercel SR5 4wd
88 Corolla 4wd Wagon 5speed, All power options, Fact Sunroof, Diff Lock, 14" SX Alloys, Hankook Tyres, 4afe, King Springs, Upgraded Headlights, Full Synth oils, Tow Bar, 210,000kms

señor.tercel4wd
Newbie
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:12 pm
My tercel:: 1983 Toyota Tercel 4WD SR5
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: 1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | My Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by señor.tercel4wd » Wed Oct 23, 2019 4:47 pm

NWMO wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 9:05 pm
Welcome to the site senor tercel,

Before a long drive, make sure you check for rust damage where the trailing arms attach (just below the back of the rear doors) and your front stabilizer bar. If either of these fails going down the road it would be bad. Of course, the transmission gear oil is key as well, good luck.

Chris
Mattel wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 11:44 pm
Petros has a good list of road trip parts but yes as NWMO says. would give a good oil change for engine and transmission first. there are pinned notes how to do this. Have you thought about emissions for California? cars sold new there had a different package. Great looking rig btw!
Thanks NWMO and Mattel for the insight and tips. I'll make sure check for rust damage at the attachments points for the trailing arms and the stabilizer bar.

I was actually going to see if the owners of the lot would give me an opportunity (and room) to change the oil (engine & transmission) right then and there before hitting the road. Otherwise I'd have to find some off-the-grid road along the way to do then.

I'm packing the wife's civic with the the necessary provisions to work on the car if it happens to break down (car ramps, jumper cables, a 3/8 socket rachet wrench set, 6 gallons of water, a breaker bar, 2 torque wrenches, an impact gun with 1/2 sockets, etc...). Worse comes to worse, I rent a truck and a flatbed and drive home.
'83 Tercel 4wd SR5 (future daily driver)
'99 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra (project car, with on-going mods)
'14 Honda Civic (wife's daily driver)

User avatar
NWMO
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Posts: 695
Joined: Wed May 20, 2015 1:08 pm

Re: 1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | My Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by NWMO » Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:12 pm

It sounds like you’re prepared, have a great trip.

Chris
Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart"

In remembrance of my friend ARCHINSTL:

T4WD augury?
"Oh, do not ask, 'What is it?' Let us go and make our visit."
T.S. Eliot - "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

"Now and then we had a hope that, if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates."
Mark Twain

User avatar
Petros
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Posts: 11104
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:31 pm
My tercel:: '84 Tercel4wd w/extensive mods
Location: Arlington WA USA

Re: 1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | My Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by Petros » Wed Oct 23, 2019 9:52 pm

welcome to the forum!

sounds like you made a great buy! hopefully nothing seriously wrong with the mechanical parts and you can drive it home without any issues. I have bought cars in other states and drove them across the country about 9 or 10 times, two times I had to leave it and return with the parts to fix it before I could get it home. other times I fixed it along the way, as needed. Usually it will make it home with minor fixes along the way.

this is what I would do before a road trip with an unknown car:

try to find a place that will allow you to dink around with it, perhaps the far end of a wal-mart parking lot, or along side a Autozone parts store.

Replace the thermostat with a new, quality one, and install new antifreeze (when a car sits the t-stat tends to go bad and can get stuck shut to cause engine damage). At worst you can just remove the t-stat and fill it with water for the drive home. Replace the radiator cap with a new one while you are at it (cheap and they do wear out). carefully check the upper and lower radiator hoses while you are there, if there is any question about them replace them (a sudden rad hose failure could also cause severe engine damage in the middle of nowhere).

Replace the windshield wiper blads, you will need good ones this time of year and it is worth just replacing them.

top up the gear oil in the trans, if you want you can fully change it, but to get it home topping it up is all you will need. Same with engine oil, unless it looks really thick and black, than just replace motor oil and a filter. You can take it to a quick lube place and have them do both for you if you want, but that adds some costs. It is not worth the risk to the engine or trans to go without this important check.

Check the engine over for vacuum leaks in the many hoses, and verify correct routing (print out the vac diagram to be found elsewhere on this forum). with the air cleaner off (you have to cap off the large vac line from the bottom of the air cleaner housing that goes to the base of the carb), and with it running you can spray some carb cleaner down the carb that may help it run better and clean out the goop. check the throttle adjustment and watch to see the autochoke opens as it warms up. set the idle speed and I would also check the spark timing if you have a timing light (vac lines off and capped from the vac advance on the distributor).

check to make sure the battery terminals are clean and tight, if not clean with steel wool, metal foil or a wire brush and reattach. Usually even with a weak battery you can get it home. one time I drove from LA to Seattle with a battery that would only hold 9 volt charge, so I picked the gas station based on if I can roll the car out of the filling station to bump start it. so I did not have to push start it each time I got gas (it was the only time I needed to use the rest room too).

I like to set the spark timing at about 10 or 12 deg BTDC (not the factory 5 deg). with the timing light you can also check to see if the vac advance is working by plugging them back in and see if the timing advanced. if not, just cap off the lines because a bad vac advance would just act like a vac leak.

if the brakes work okay, I would just check the fluid level and forget about it until after you get home. even if they are mushy you can usually deal with that when you get home.

Jack the front end up, and put it on jack stands if possible. Grab each of the front wheels and try to wiggle them in and out from the bottom of the tire, and the front/back of the tire. if there is play in the lower ball joint it might be worth replacing if bad. a small amount of movement there will get you home okay, but if it moves a lot (like 1/4"+) it would be dangerous to drive it that way (usually these last a long time so it is rarely bad enough to be a hazard, but it is good to check it out).

also check for play in the tie-rod ends, again a little is okay, but if very bad you should know about it. Turn the steering wheel from lock to lock while the front end is in the air, it should go smoothly. if it is sloppy, binding, or jerky, could be a bad steering rack that could be a hazard. again the steering racks are very reliable, but it is good to know it is good before you get on a road trip. check the small u-joints on the steering shaft, a little play will get you home okay, but if very sloppy it could be dangerous to drive it (there is a thread in the repair guides on how to replace these, toyota does not carry the parts anymore so you have to get "creative" to get a replacement). Spray lots of lubricant on the steering shaft u-joint, that should get you home in most cases. Check all of the suspension bolts and nuts are tight, particularly the two 14mm ones that hold in the ball joint under the struts.

with the car still in the air I like to take a large pry bar to the lower control arm, the steering rack mounts, and sway bar mounts as well the lower ball joints. a bad bushing is not necessarily a reason not to drive it, I have driven over 1000 miles with bad bushings, it is just good to know what is wrong with it before you get on the road, and you hear clunks and feel jerks as you drive and wonder if the front suspension is about to fall out. for example, even with the lower arm inner bushing completely gone, the arm can not fall out, it will be be loose and sloppy. you can drive it home and fix it there, just be careful that the sloppy suspension does not take you by surprise when you hit a water puddle or a bump in the road and it jerks to the side a bit.

I also like to check the CV joints on the front hub, you simply grab it with one hand on each side and twist it in opposite directions. ideally there should be no play, with the boots good. but again, a small amount of rotational play will get you home. if bad, it will clunk, clunk, clunk when you drive it, but usually will make it home okay. Unless the boot is torn and it is dry of grease. if possible replace it if that is the case, if not, flush the boot out with spray cleaner, and hand pack it with grease, than put about 15 wraps of duck tape around it and several tie-wraps (cable ties). it will not hold up for long, but may get you home okay. I drove a T4wd from New Mexico to Seattle with a torn boot, usually that would make it home without issue. But half way home it dried out and was squeaking badly, when I took a look at it it had no grease left, the metal in the joint was getting hot and was turning blue. it would be dangerous to continue (a CV joint that blows apart under load can cause a lot of damage, if not be very dangerous at fwy speeds). fortunately there was a T4wd forum member in Northern California at the time who I contacted, he had some spar parts (including a used but good axle) and I was able to swap it out there before I continued. if in doubt it might be worth bring a new set of axles with you (you will need them sooner or later anyway, good as spares if you do not need them now). Rockauto.com usually has them for about $60 a side.

Tires: check the age by looking at the code on the side of the tires, or if they are very worn and or have a cracked/brittle surface, or if older than about 12 years, consider replacing them. Usually even old tires will get you home, but several times on recovery trips I have had what looked like good tires (but were old) disintegrate on the fwy half way across the country. if there is any doubt I would go to Wal mart car care center, Costco or Les Swab tire center and buy a new set of tires (that way if you have a warranty issue you can go to the local one at home). These stores have large inventories and usually will replace them for you right away. if you plan on replacing the wheels and tires, you might just buy and replace with the used tires they sometimes sell, or just get the cheapest ones until you get home. check that the spare is good and holds air as well. having a blow out can be dangerous and not worth the hassle, so if there is any question about the tires drive to a national chain of tire stores and replace them. After several blow outs on the hwy, that is what I do now unless the tires look fairly new.

it is very rare you will have trouble with the rear diff, rear brakes or wheel bearings. but it is not too much trouble to top up the gear oil in the diff, and to jack up each rear wheel and spin the tire to listen to the wheel bearing. Even if bad, the wheel bearings usually hold up long enough to get home. However, I once had a rear wheel bearing get noisy, so I figured I needed to replace it when I get home, but I still had about 60-80 miles to go before I can get home because of work related driving (again, usually that would not be an issue to go that far). but before I made it home the rear left wheel bearing disintegrated and that caused the half axle shaft (with the wheel, tire and brake drum) to slide out of the axle while on the 405 freeway in afternoon traffic. The rear bearing holds the whole axle, tire and wheel in the axle housing. fortunately I made it to the shoulder in a shower of sparks from the axle end dragging on the hwy (with no brakes!) without hitting anything. The tire with the axle came bouncing to a stop on the shoulder right in front of me without hitting anyone either. So, it can go bad in a hurry, usually not. A wheel bearing can make a grinding noise for perhaps 300-400 miles before it will be a hazard, I just would not count on it after that happened to me.

Clean the windows good, and perhaps vacuum the car out and spray it with Fabreez or similar disinfectant spray will make the drive home a lot nicer. Also you should spray silicone lubricant down the window tracks so they roll up and down easier.

I will carry tools and parts that if they fail, could leave me stranded, that is actually not very much: a timing belt, a fan belt, spare rad hoses (the upper one fails more often because that one is under pressure and hotter than the lower one), spare fuel line, and spare fuel pump if you have one handy (though the fuel pump is reliable and seldom fails). A head gasket, and the tools I need to replace it (see my repair guide on head gasket replacement). Get a new fuel filter to replace as well, cheap and easy to do.

3 or 4 times I had to replace the head gasket on a cross country trip in a parking lot somewhere on cars I bought site unseen and i had no history on the engine. Even if the seller says the car was never overheated, it may have been and the head gaskets are always suspect on an unknown car. so by having the head gasket and correct tools, I just need to find a suitable place to work on it. Fortunately the head gasket is cheap, but it is best to have one with you since few stores will have them in stock. You can put on the new timing belt and radiator hose in when you replace the head gasket too.

Good luck! and have fun. it is always an adventure driving an unknown car long distances, plan a few extra days just in case you have to make repairs along the way. Roll with it, expect it to happen, and plan for it, so you have nothing to get upset about. Accordingly, I usually bring an air mattress and cheap sleeping bag I can use to sleep in the back of it if I have to. Or you can find a cheap hotel or airbnb, but again that adds cost.

BTW, most of the routine things you may need, like motor oil, spray lube and cleaner, wiper blades, carb cleaner spray, fuel line, even air, oil and fuel filters they will have in stock at any Auto parts store or at WalMart auto department. so you do not have to bring everything with you, just the parts they will not have in stock.
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
'01 Honda Civic (other daughter's daily driver)

señor.tercel4wd
Newbie
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:12 pm
My tercel:: 1983 Toyota Tercel 4WD SR5
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: 1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | My Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by señor.tercel4wd » Mon Oct 28, 2019 1:18 pm

Petros wrote:
Wed Oct 23, 2019 9:52 pm
welcome to the forum!

sounds like you made a great buy! hopefully nothing seriously wrong with the mechanical parts and you can drive it home without any issues. I have bought cars in other states and drove them across the country about 9 or 10 times, two times I had to leave it and return with the parts to fix it before I could get it home. other times I fixed it along the way, as needed. Usually it will make it home with minor fixes along the way.

this is what I would do before a road trip with an unknown car:

try to find a place that will allow you to dink around with it, perhaps the far end of a wal-mart parking lot, or along side a Autozone parts store.

Replace the thermostat with a new, quality one, and install new antifreeze (when a car sits the t-stat tends to go bad and can get stuck shut to cause engine damage). At worst you can just remove the t-stat and fill it with water for the drive home. Replace the radiator cap with a new one while you are at it (cheap and they do wear out). carefully check the upper and lower radiator hoses while you are there, if there is any question about them replace them (a sudden rad hose failure could also cause severe engine damage in the middle of nowhere).

Replace the windshield wiper blads, you will need good ones this time of year and it is worth just replacing them.

top up the gear oil in the trans, if you want you can fully change it, but to get it home topping it up is all you will need. Same with engine oil, unless it looks really thick and black, than just replace motor oil and a filter. You can take it to a quick lube place and have them do both for you if you want, but that adds some costs. It is not worth the risk to the engine or trans to go without this important check.

Check the engine over for vacuum leaks in the many hoses, and verify correct routing (print out the vac diagram to be found elsewhere on this forum). with the air cleaner off (you have to cap off the large vac line from the bottom of the air cleaner housing that goes to the base of the carb), and with it running you can spray some carb cleaner down the carb that may help it run better and clean out the goop. check the throttle adjustment and watch to see the autochoke opens as it warms up. set the idle speed and I would also check the spark timing if you have a timing light (vac lines off and capped from the vac advance on the distributor).

check to make sure the battery terminals are clean and tight, if not clean with steel wool, metal foil or a wire brush and reattach. Usually even with a weak battery you can get it home. one time I drove from LA to Seattle with a battery that would only hold 9 volt charge, so I picked the gas station based on if I can roll the car out of the filling station to bump start it. so I did not have to push start it each time I got gas (it was the only time I needed to use the rest room too).

I like to set the spark timing at about 10 or 12 deg BTDC (not the factory 5 deg). with the timing light you can also check to see if the vac advance is working by plugging them back in and see if the timing advanced. if not, just cap off the lines because a bad vac advance would just act like a vac leak.

if the brakes work okay, I would just check the fluid level and forget about it until after you get home. even if they are mushy you can usually deal with that when you get home.

Jack the front end up, and put it on jack stands if possible. Grab each of the front wheels and try to wiggle them in and out from the bottom of the tire, and the front/back of the tire. if there is play in the lower ball joint it might be worth replacing if bad. a small amount of movement there will get you home okay, but if it moves a lot (like 1/4"+) it would be dangerous to drive it that way (usually these last a long time so it is rarely bad enough to be a hazard, but it is good to check it out).

also check for play in the tie-rod ends, again a little is okay, but if very bad you should know about it. Turn the steering wheel from lock to lock while the front end is in the air, it should go smoothly. if it is sloppy, binding, or jerky, could be a bad steering rack that could be a hazard. again the steering racks are very reliable, but it is good to know it is good before you get on a road trip. check the small u-joints on the steering shaft, a little play will get you home okay, but if very sloppy it could be dangerous to drive it (there is a thread in the repair guides on how to replace these, toyota does not carry the parts anymore so you have to get "creative" to get a replacement). Spray lots of lubricant on the steering shaft u-joint, that should get you home in most cases. Check all of the suspension bolts and nuts are tight, particularly the two 14mm ones that hold in the ball joint under the struts.

with the car still in the air I like to take a large pry bar to the lower control arm, the steering rack mounts, and sway bar mounts as well the lower ball joints. a bad bushing is not necessarily a reason not to drive it, I have driven over 1000 miles with bad bushings, it is just good to know what is wrong with it before you get on the road, and you hear clunks and feel jerks as you drive and wonder if the front suspension is about to fall out. for example, even with the lower arm inner bushing completely gone, the arm can not fall out, it will be be loose and sloppy. you can drive it home and fix it there, just be careful that the sloppy suspension does not take you by surprise when you hit a water puddle or a bump in the road and it jerks to the side a bit.

I also like to check the CV joints on the front hub, you simply grab it with one hand on each side and twist it in opposite directions. ideally there should be no play, with the boots good. but again, a small amount of rotational play will get you home. if bad, it will clunk, clunk, clunk when you drive it, but usually will make it home okay. Unless the boot is torn and it is dry of grease. if possible replace it if that is the case, if not, flush the boot out with spray cleaner, and hand pack it with grease, than put about 15 wraps of duck tape around it and several tie-wraps (cable ties). it will not hold up for long, but may get you home okay. I drove a T4wd from New Mexico to Seattle with a torn boot, usually that would make it home without issue. But half way home it dried out and was squeaking badly, when I took a look at it it had no grease left, the metal in the joint was getting hot and was turning blue. it would be dangerous to continue (a CV joint that blows apart under load can cause a lot of damage, if not be very dangerous at fwy speeds). fortunately there was a T4wd forum member in Northern California at the time who I contacted, he had some spar parts (including a used but good axle) and I was able to swap it out there before I continued. if in doubt it might be worth bring a new set of axles with you (you will need them sooner or later anyway, good as spares if you do not need them now). Rockauto.com usually has them for about $60 a side.

Tires: check the age by looking at the code on the side of the tires, or if they are very worn and or have a cracked/brittle surface, or if older than about 12 years, consider replacing them. Usually even old tires will get you home, but several times on recovery trips I have had what looked like good tires (but were old) disintegrate on the fwy half way across the country. if there is any doubt I would go to Wal mart car care center, Costco or Les Swab tire center and buy a new set of tires (that way if you have a warranty issue you can go to the local one at home). These stores have large inventories and usually will replace them for you right away. if you plan on replacing the wheels and tires, you might just buy and replace with the used tires they sometimes sell, or just get the cheapest ones until you get home. check that the spare is good and holds air as well. having a blow out can be dangerous and not worth the hassle, so if there is any question about the tires drive to a national chain of tire stores and replace them. After several blow outs on the hwy, that is what I do now unless the tires look fairly new.

it is very rare you will have trouble with the rear diff, rear brakes or wheel bearings. but it is not too much trouble to top up the gear oil in the diff, and to jack up each rear wheel and spin the tire to listen to the wheel bearing. Even if bad, the wheel bearings usually hold up long enough to get home. However, I once had a rear wheel bearing get noisy, so I figured I needed to replace it when I get home, but I still had about 60-80 miles to go before I can get home because of work related driving (again, usually that would not be an issue to go that far). but before I made it home the rear left wheel bearing disintegrated and that caused the half axle shaft (with the wheel, tire and brake drum) to slide out of the axle while on the 405 freeway in afternoon traffic. The rear bearing holds the whole axle, tire and wheel in the axle housing. fortunately I made it to the shoulder in a shower of sparks from the axle end dragging on the hwy (with no brakes!) without hitting anything. The tire with the axle came bouncing to a stop on the shoulder right in front of me without hitting anyone either. So, it can go bad in a hurry, usually not. A wheel bearing can make a grinding noise for perhaps 300-400 miles before it will be a hazard, I just would not count on it after that happened to me.

Clean the windows good, and perhaps vacuum the car out and spray it with Fabreez or similar disinfectant spray will make the drive home a lot nicer. Also you should spray silicone lubricant down the window tracks so they roll up and down easier.

I will carry tools and parts that if they fail, could leave me stranded, that is actually not very much: a timing belt, a fan belt, spare rad hoses (the upper one fails more often because that one is under pressure and hotter than the lower one), spare fuel line, and spare fuel pump if you have one handy (though the fuel pump is reliable and seldom fails). A head gasket, and the tools I need to replace it (see my repair guide on head gasket replacement). Get a new fuel filter to replace as well, cheap and easy to do.

3 or 4 times I had to replace the head gasket on a cross country trip in a parking lot somewhere on cars I bought site unseen and i had no history on the engine. Even if the seller says the car was never overheated, it may have been and the head gaskets are always suspect on an unknown car. so by having the head gasket and correct tools, I just need to find a suitable place to work on it. Fortunately the head gasket is cheap, but it is best to have one with you since few stores will have them in stock. You can put on the new timing belt and radiator hose in when you replace the head gasket too.

Good luck! and have fun. it is always an adventure driving an unknown car long distances, plan a few extra days just in case you have to make repairs along the way. Roll with it, expect it to happen, and plan for it, so you have nothing to get upset about. Accordingly, I usually bring an air mattress and cheap sleeping bag I can use to sleep in the back of it if I have to. Or you can find a cheap hotel or airbnb, but again that adds cost.

BTW, most of the routine things you may need, like motor oil, spray lube and cleaner, wiper blades, carb cleaner spray, fuel line, even air, oil and fuel filters they will have in stock at any Auto parts store or at WalMart auto department. so you do not have to bring everything with you, just the parts they will not have in stock.
WOAH.

I know that for some of you this information is like, "Duh..." but honestly information is super appreciated for newcomers like myself. This post should be a sticky for anyone who picking up a car out of state.

Thank you Petros for putting in all the time and effort to make sure I checked all of the necessary components for a safe trip back home and peace of mind. I followed everything to the T and luckily everything was in working order.

I made it home this Saturday, which my sleep deprived self slept for most of the day and I spent all of yesterday detailing the car to get a real idea of the car's actual condition.

Surprisingly, the Tercel drove on it's own power the entire 17hrs (Eugene, OR > Arcata,CA and then Arcata, CA > Los Angeles, CA). I managed to get the Tercel up to 86 mph according to my GPS on some of the downhill and flat parts.

The next steps will getting the T4WD CA legal for registration (Brakes & Light Check, CHP inspection, the dreaded SMOG) and maintenance (brakes, suspension, etc....).

Stay tuned...

*Katrina & The Waves - "Walking on Sunshine" starts to play as soon as I rolled in my driveway...*
Last edited by señor.tercel4wd on Fri Nov 08, 2019 11:43 am, edited 3 times in total.
'83 Tercel 4wd SR5 (future daily driver)
'99 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra (project car, with on-going mods)
'14 Honda Civic (wife's daily driver)

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Petros
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My tercel:: '84 Tercel4wd w/extensive mods
Location: Arlington WA USA

Re: 1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | My Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by Petros » Mon Oct 28, 2019 10:57 pm

Good to hear!

sorry about the long post, it just came spilling out. I have done car recovery trips many times, most went well, but I have memories of the worst...ah, most challenging, of them. I am sharing so others can benefit from my misadventures.
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
'01 Honda Civic (other daughter's daily driver)

señor.tercel4wd
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Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:12 pm
My tercel:: 1983 Toyota Tercel 4WD SR5
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: 1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | My Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by señor.tercel4wd » Wed Nov 06, 2019 1:09 pm

After it's 984 mile maiden voyage to LA. I thought it would be a good idea to replace the brake components (since ya know LA traffic...). I don’t want to pay someone to do it #becauseteachersalary and I know I have enough mechanical experience to knock out the job and YouTube lol...

I decided to start with the front since calipers looked less intimidating than drums. I ordered everything from Amazon because I needed to pass a brake & light inspection ASAP to get a moving permit so I could finish with the rest of the registration process.

Parts:
1x Front Disc Brake Pad Set - ACDelco 14D242CH .... $22.07
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00 ... UTF8&psc=1
2x Brake Rotor - Centric 12144024 ..................... $20.40
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00 ... UTF8&psc=1

After watching ChrisFix I felt more confident in the process.

How to Replace Brake Pads and Rotors (COMPLETE Guide)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RQ9UabOIPg

The job was relatively easy.
Last edited by señor.tercel4wd on Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:08 pm, edited 5 times in total.
'83 Tercel 4wd SR5 (future daily driver)
'99 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra (project car, with on-going mods)
'14 Honda Civic (wife's daily driver)

User avatar
Petros
Highest Ranking Member
Posts: 11104
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:31 pm
My tercel:: '84 Tercel4wd w/extensive mods
Location: Arlington WA USA

Re: 1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | My Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by Petros » Wed Nov 06, 2019 4:30 pm

if you have not done the brake job yet, you might consider moving up to the larger, vented front disk brakes. the factory brakes are flimsy and over heat easy, intalling the larger vented front rotors and calipers to match makes a big difference, and the parts are only slightly more expensive. you can install the rotors and calipers for improved braking without changing the master cylinder.

here is the link to instructions and parts list:

viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4998
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
'01 Honda Civic (other daughter's daily driver)

señor.tercel4wd
Newbie
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:12 pm
My tercel:: 1983 Toyota Tercel 4WD SR5
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: 1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | My Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by señor.tercel4wd » Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:10 pm

Thanks Petros!

I had already installed the rotors and pads this past Thursday. I was just updating the thread. Luckily I saw your brake upgrade thread before I pulled the trigger on new T4WD calipers. I have it bookmarked now for the next time I service the front brakes. I'll make the switch then.

Luckily the T4WD won't be making any big trips anytime soon, so these brakes will suffice till they're replaced. It will most likely just be my parts runner or commuter to work when I need to stay after school to grade (which is only a 16 mile round trip).
'83 Tercel 4wd SR5 (future daily driver)
'99 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra (project car, with on-going mods)
'14 Honda Civic (wife's daily driver)

señor.tercel4wd
Newbie
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:12 pm
My tercel:: 1983 Toyota Tercel 4WD SR5
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: 1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | My Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by señor.tercel4wd » Thu Nov 07, 2019 10:57 pm

I’m going to get started with the rear drum brakes as soon as I receive all parts. Hopefully I didn’t miss anything… I've never worked on a car with drums so I watched ChrisFix's Guide to familiarize myself with drum systems.

The ULTIMATE Guide on How to Replace Drum Brakes
https://youtu.be/Q5j3sKgNoEs


I thought it would be helpful to type something up with a list of the items that would need replacing with the part numbers, quantities and costs from RockAuto to reduce shipping costs or avoid multiple shipments (when you forget that ONE part... :oops:).

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/toy ... 4,1279155

Parts:
1x Brake Drum Hardware Kit - CENTRIC 11844007............. $7.69
1x Brake Shoe - CENTRIC 11105300 .............................. $11.06
2x Brake Drum - CENTRIC 12344015 ............................. $15.85
2x Wheel Cylinder - CENTRIC 13444500 ......................... $12.72

Am I missing anything? I couldn't find a Drum Brake Adjusting Screw or a Drum Brake Self Adjuster Repair Kit that would work with the wagons.

Oh and case you need to replace your hoses…

Parts:
2x Front Hydraulic Hose - CENTRIC 15044009
1x Rear Right Hydraulic Hose - CENTRIC 15044307
1x Rear Left Hydraulic Hose - CENTRIC 15044001
'83 Tercel 4wd SR5 (future daily driver)
'99 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra (project car, with on-going mods)
'14 Honda Civic (wife's daily driver)

User avatar
Petros
Highest Ranking Member
Posts: 11104
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:31 pm
My tercel:: '84 Tercel4wd w/extensive mods
Location: Arlington WA USA

Re: 1983 Tercel Wagon 4WD SR5 | My Worst/Best Decision of my Life?

Post by Petros » Fri Nov 08, 2019 1:24 am

and lots of brake fluid. it takes quite a lot of careful bleeding to get all of the air out of the system.

the adjuster can usually be reused once you clean it up, wire brush off any corrosion, and than put some dry lube on the threads. actually most of the mounting hardware can also be reused, but they can get bent up when you remove the old parts. sometimes they are all rusted up too. the hardware kit is inexpensive, I often will replace all of the hardware during rear brake job.

remember to washout the drums with brake parts cleaner to remove any oil or preservative off of them. I like to paint the drums with bright red heat paint, just for fun and to prevent future rust.
'87 Tercel 4wd SR5 (current engine swap project)
'84 Tercel 4wd (daily driver, with on going mods)
'92 Mazda MPV 4wd (wife's daily driver)
'85 Tercel 4wd DLX auto(daughter's daily driver)
'01 Honda Civic (other daughter's daily driver)

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