Just found this forum today.
I have a 1988 Toyota Tercel Wagon with auto trans and 4WD. I believe the color is called "champagne" which is funny since it's a lofty color choice for such a simple car. I think beige would have been more appropo.
People are astounded when they find out I bought the car new in 1988 and am still driving it today.
Unless you've owned one of these cars, hard to explain how awesome they are. Besides having the best mileage of almost any other car around at the time (1988), the car feels solid.
I've owned a VW bug (first car). I briefly had a Chevette that was new when I got it and it deconstructed itself in less than a few years - what a craptacular mess that thing was. After that, had two Volvo station wagons (a 63 with dual carbs and a 76 which I bought in early 80's) until I bought this car in 1988. I think my Tercel was one of the very last ones around for sale at the Toyota dealerships.
I bought my Tercel because a friend of mine was dating a guy who was over 6 feet tall and he said it was the only small car he could fit in. I was looking to buy a new car at the time and he took me for a test drive and I fell in love with the car.
I also loved that it's very simple looking -- kind of like a box on wheels -- and figured it would go relatively unnoticed in the car theft capital of the world (Los Angeles) but someone did try to steal it once. Luckily they were amateurs and just messed up the ignition and smashed a a couple of windows.
My Tercel has been the most practical and reliable car I've ever owned. I did have an issue with the transmission which borked itself while still under warranty so that was replaced but since then, nothing major until I blew the engine.
Blew the engine at around 140K and found another one -- AUC version from Japan with guaranteed 40K or less -- was installed in 2007 and have only put about 11K on it since.
Unfortunately, I reside in an "enhanced" emissions testing area in CA. I passed the smog test two years ago but since then, CA raised emission standards again and am struggling to pass smog test. My mechanic, who put the engine in for me and has done all my work since, is working with me on trying to tune it up so it will pass.
First smog pretest, Hydrocarbons, Carbon Monoxide and NO were too high and the oygen level was 4.0% -- we tackled the oxygen issue and on next test (below) the oxygen dropped to 0.1% (some hoses to the carb were cracked and needed to be replaced which fixed this problem) but a second pretest still shows a potential fail.
The second pretests values were:
@ 15.5 MPH & 17.7 HP
Hydrocarbons 144 (max is 100) fail
Carbon Monoixide 2.6% (max is .86%) fail
NO (HCF and DCF) 683 (max is 812) so okay here
@ 24.9 MPH & 15.5 HP
Hydrocarbons 88 (max is 82) fail
Carbon Monoxide at .75 (max is 1.1%) fail
NO (HCF and DCF) 388 (max is 873) so okay here
I've been tracking down at various auto parts stores a carb cap & rotor, wire set, spark plugs and fuel filter, all of which I've found. After we do the tune up, my mechanic suggested putting in good quality gas (I've always used cheapest) and maybe a cleaning additive and then driving it on the freeway for 30-40 mins to blow out the crud.
Hoping this will drop the Hydrocarbons and CM below the max limits.
I love this car. I call it the world's biggest small car -- it looks small from the outside but inside, it's massively roomy. I love that the engine parts are visible and that it doesn't have a lot of unnecessary junk. And with this relatively new used engine, I should be able to keep it going another 100,000 + miles (as long as other parts hold out or I can replace them and keep it within the CA emmission standards).
Was wondering if there's anything else I should know about to get the car to run cleaner and more fuel efficient. I don't want to have to pop for a new catalytic converter and I don't want to buy another car - can't afford one anyway. Can barely afford the tune-up.
Was wondering if there are any other CA Tercel Wagon owners who have hit the "smog test" wall and if so, if you have any advice.
And I certainly welcome advice from anyone else.
Thanks and glad to have found this forum.