Posted on October 23, 2021
People have different opinions about the Toyota Tercel. Some absolutely hated this car while others liked it, not because of it’s features but because it is reliable.
Do you own one or are you eyeing to buy one for yourself?
As a used car, Toyota Tercels are great. They won’t cost too much and they can take you from one destination to another. Just don’t expect too much because they may not look as flashy or go as fast as other sports cars even when you modify it.
The Nostalgic Car
Nevertheless, many have grown into loving this car because it is a great first car to own. Just like me, many of you may have fond memories of using this car back in our college days.
Thanks to it, we have unforgettable stories we tell when it gets stalled in the middle of nowhere. But hey, we survived and it takes us back to all those fun memories.
Just like other cars, the reliable Toyota Tercel can be worn out too. One of the things you may need for this vehicle is an engine rebuild.
Why You Should Rebuild The Engine
Engine rebuild is done primarily due to two reasons. First is the wear of the engine bearings and the second one is due to a problem with the piston rings seating.
The bearings on the engine allow the moving parts to move freely. To lessen the friction, the engine oil lubricates the bearings. The bearings are made to last and could perform well even after thousands of miles of travel. However, they may still eventually be worn out. If the car is not properly maintained, the wear and tear of the bearings is exponentially accelerated. One way to notice that the bearings are worn is by hearing a loud knocking sound.
As with piston rings, they could also be worn down. When this happens, they cannot efficiently seal the cylinders. This is also known as a “blow-by”, which happens when the crankcase oil escapes because of the worn out rings. The oil is burned in the cylinder with the fuel mixture and also produces excessive smoke in the exhaust.
What Happens In An Engine Rebuild?
In order to rebuild and restore the engine so that it works well again, there are a few things that happen. The first one is the removal of the lower half of the engine. This part is passed to the shop where it gets disassembled and cleaned. There, it also gets assessed about it’s current condition.
With an engine rebuild, the internal parts of the engine could be replaced depending on their condition. Some of those that may need replacement are the bearings, piston rings, and sometimes the pistons.
Along with the checking of the internal parts, the cylinders are reconditioned as well. This helps make sure that the new piston rings can seal it properly. Afterwards, the engine is reassembled then placed back into the vehicle.
Do You Need An Engine Rebuild?
Oil Consumption And White Exhaust
There are a few signs that tell you that the engine already needs to be rebuilt. One of the most common ones is the unusual oil consumption. Along with this is the white color of the exhaust.
When the piston rings are worn out, oil gets into the cylinders where the fuel mixture is burned. Oil in the cylinders will produce a white exhaust. If oil is being burned, there is a huge chance that there isn’t enough to properly lubricate the engine.
A banging or knocking sound is indicative of engine bearings that are not properly lubricated. When this happens often, they will get worn out, damaged and fail. As they fail, you’d hear more of the knocking noise. Once the bearings completely fail, the engine will stop working.
Presence Metal Flakes In Engine Oil
Whenever you change the oil in your car, you should also take a look at the oil you removed before disposing of it. Metal flaked on the oil indicates that you already need an engine rebuild.
Metal flakes mean that there is friction between the metal parts, which should not happen in a properly lubricated and properly functioning engine.
Sometimes, the cause of the metal on the oil is warped parts. When they are of different shape, they won’t fit well and move cohesively with the other parts. That causes the metal friction between the engine parts and produces the metal flakes.
Posted on April 15, 2021
A Tercel probably won’t be winning any drag races, but ask any mechanic and they’ll tell you about their begrudging respect for the Toyota Tercels of yester-year. Lucky for us, we have a bonafide auto mechanic, tow truck driver, and friend in the form of one Shane Ruiz writing for us on behalf of a towing company in Tampa Bay Florida to give us the lowdown on arguably the most most popular Tercel model – the MKII…
The Toyota Tercel was developed with a pretty specific goal in mind and to fill a somewhat of niche spot in the Toyota lineup. The Tercel MK2 was built in 1982 up until 1988, and it was aimed to fill the spot between the all-known Toyota Corolla and the Toyota Starlet. On one hand, the Toyota Corolla from that period features the forever popular AE86, found in popular culture everywhere from music videos, to movies, anime, and computer, along with other variations of the same chassis which already made the Toyota lineup diverse. On the other hand, the Toyota Starlet is a small hatchback, smaller than the Volkswagen Rabbit. So, what does this mean for the Tercel?
The Tercel filled the spot for innovation, mainly, along with concept and prospect to develop a slightly larger and somewhat more comfortable car. The Tercel was the first front-wheel drive car developed by Toyota, as such they pushed interior room, fuel economy, maneuverability, and overall comfort to the limits of that time and budget.
Why would you want a Toyota Tercel MK2?
Not many people know about the Tercel. Everyone knows about the Corolla, that’s for sure, but the Tercel is a pretty unknown name in the current day and age. As such, rolling at a stop light in a Tercel will attract a bunch of eyes to you due to people not knowing what that car even is. It doesn’t look out of place and unfamiliar, in the end it’s still an old Toyota, but something is definitely weird about it and not in a bad way.
Another very interesting quirk is that the engine, codenamed the 3A, is vastly used in the Japanese market of the time, on a variety of cars such as the Toyota MR2, but outside Japan it’s used only on the Tercel. This allows you to see some actual Japanese engineering without too many changes to the overall purpose of the engine due to selling it in a different market, compared to other engines. This also brings a very reliable engine to the table, many current owners and previous owners showcasing 200,000 miles.
Interior and exterior
The Tercel comes in many forms, probably staple of the cars of that time. You can find it in either a 3/5-door hatchback, a 4-door sedan, or a 5-door station wagon. Not as many as the Corolla’s but still plenty. As far as colors go, it has a large variety of paint jobs which span across a variety of years and body styles. As an example, gold Tercels MK2 are built in 83’ only, while two-toned paint-jobs are only available for the four-wheel drive station wagon. As far as design goes, it certainly looks vintage but not old, showcasing plenty of design choices that are having a resurgence today, all while avoiding choices which could date the car heavily such as round headlights. On the interior however, the design choices seem retro with a touch of futuristic.
The seats are mostly two toned, which is staple of the 4WD model, which showcase a different pattern on the seat itself and solid colors on the seat’s bolsters. The dashboard is somewhat futuristic, or more precisely the clusters. That was the intention at the time anyway. This is even more apparent on the 4WD model, which has some analog indicators where the current infotainment system is which show you various pitch and roll angles and if the 4WD is engaged or not, which during the night glow green and makes the whole dashboard look like it came from a jet fighter.
Engine and mechanical particularities
The Tercel MK2 in the US comes with a singular engine choice, mentioned above. It’s codenamed the 3A and features 4 in-line cylinders with a total displacement of 1.5L mounted longitudinally. It comes mostly in a front-wheel drive format linked to a 3-speed automatic, 4/5-speed manual, or a 6-speed manual in a four-wheel format.
This interesting engine has an output of 63 hp, not a lot by any stretch of the imagination, but such a low output usually indicates an engine which isn’t particularly stressed. The 4WD 6-speed isn’t really a 6-speed, but mostly a 5-speed with a crawler gear, which makes the Tercel a pretty capable off-roader right from the get-go. The regular suspension format is available, a MacPherson strut in the front and a torsion beam axle in the rear.
The driving experience is as expected from a car such as this. A very composed and relaxed drive which along with the low-ish torque available offers a very capable car, for something which is by now almost 40 years old. The car was developed as a comfortable cruiser, and it achieves it without too much fuss, with a forgiving suspension and soft seats.
On the road, Toyota managed to develop a very specific characteristic, because up until the Tercel almost every front-wheel drive car was very understeer prone, but that changed with the Tercel which is very similar to a rear-wheel drive, being able to oversteer if you really want it to.
The Toyota Tercel is peculiar and very niche. It isn’t a Corolla, nor is it a Starlet. It isn’t luxurious but it isn’t low quality by any stretch of the imagination. It set a bunch of trends which by today’s standards seem pretty common and irrelevant.
The Tercel was a pioneer, a pioneer which is, for some bizarre reason, forgotten. All of these conclude to an interesting car, a piece of history you might say, all while being surprisingly available and affordable.
Posted on February 21, 2021
While COVID-19 has put a bit of a damper on things, in normal times, there seem to be as many car shows and exhibitions in any given years as there are types of vehicles – including, would you believe, Toyota Tercels!
Most of these shows are just for fun, the perfect excuse to meet and hang out with like-minded people. However, many exhibitions involve trophies and judging participants’ cars. Preparing for your first car show can be as much of a challenge as getting ready for a race.
With that said, knowing what to expect is half the battle. To put you at an advantage over other classic cars, we have compiled a list of display tips to help you prepare for the exhibition.
Make transportation arrangements
When you’re planning for your first car show, driving your classic car is out of the question. Not only does every mile add up, but it also brings the risk of an accident, maintenance issues, and further depreciation, all factors that make driving a risky proposition.
A better alternative is for you to make transportation arrangements to protect your investment but also to ensure that your vintage car is intact and arrives at the exhibition in pristine condition. Choose a reliable transportation service, opt for a flatbed tow truck with and a enclosure (if possible) to protect your vehicle from the elements, and be sure to verify whether the carrier has the proper insurance that is active and current before shipping your car (get this in writing or an email!)
We’ve got to give a shout out here to our friends at Timber Towing And Recovery in Minneapolis for their help in the past lugging our Hatchback and 4-Door ultra clean Tercels to the Classic Car Show in nearby Anoka, MN the last few years.
Prep the bodywork
Your car’s bodywork is the first thing judges are going to see so you want to make a good impression on them by polishing your vintage car’s appearance. Start by checking for dent, scratches, rust, or any blemishes. Just to be safe, you can take your car to a body shop so you can get a professional’s perspective.
Through their evaluation of the vehicle, they will be able to tell you if they notice anything you might have missed. In addition to that, you also want to look for any missing components and make any small repairs or adjustments if needed.
Prep the exterior
Preparing the exterior of your car is a crucial step as well. Even if you’ve given your vehicle a fresh wax, if you don’t take the time to wash and prepare the exterior, you risk being written off early on in the competition.
Your classic car will require the utmost care, so don’t think about taking it to a car wash because that might damage its value and dull the color of the paint job. So use the best cleaning materials, preferably ones that the manufacturer recommends, and pack those cleaning supplies with you when you go to the show.
While there’s plenty of good waxes out there, our go-to wax is Nu-Finish. I’m sure they’re all great, I just happen to like the fact that there is a very slight grit to the wax and it does a good job in hiding the micro-scratches our cars have endured over their 35+ years.
Prepare the interior
Now that your exterior is spotless, you want the interior of your car to match it. Not only will the judges be looking at the car’s exterior, but they will also be examining the interior and how well-maintained it is.
The cleaning supplies you need vary based on the materials you need to clean, so do your research beforehand. Clean from top to bottom then from front to back, wash the carpet, floor mats, and don’t forget about the trunk.
Posted on January 20, 2021
There was a time when you could add plus points to your cool factor by simply owning a car with a four-on-the-floor. For decades every cool guy had to have a 4-speed manual transmission car. Every known car manufacturer had them, from the Volkswagen Beetle to our favorite, the Toyota Tercel.
But alas, those times have passed. However, it is still cool to look back in time in the ’90s.
The Last Of The 4-Speed Cars
The era of the 4-speed cars was ending back in 1996. The once cool 4-speed vehicles were now being replaced by 5-speed once. One of the last 4-speed cars you can get back in 1993 was the Hyundai Excel and the 6th Gen Pontiac LeMans.
By 1996, the Toyota Tercel was your only choice if you’d like to get a 4-speed manual vehicle.
Why Would You Get A 4-Speed Tercel?
The Toyota Tercel is a reliable, no-frills car. It is a basic car and is absolutely the cheapest new car Toyota sells. Although the 4-speed manual transmission came as the base-grade for the Tercel in the 1996 models, buyers could still upgrade it. An additional $700 could get them an automatic version. Alternatively, they could also pay for an additional $1070 to get the DX version that has a five-speed manual transmission.
For two more years until 1998, the Tercel was still made available in the market. However, the versions for sale were only those with a five-speed manual or a 3- or 4-speed automatic transmission. The Tercel was fitted also with a 1.5 L engine with 93 hp and the fuel economy of this car was great.
If you’d prefer a bit more comfort, you can get the one with air conditioning but it’ll cost you an additional $900 more. As for music, the base Tercel didn’t have any radio or cassette system included. You’d just have to sing to yourself for entertainment.
Posted on December 1, 2020
The hallmarks of Toyota as a leader in the auto car industry consist of quality, reliability, and longevity. While Toyota isn’t known for its rash or impulsive decisions, it has produced a fair number of gems over the course of its existence. Some of which have ended up gaining a lot of popularity and acclaim from car enthusiasts.
Below, in chronological order, we list 5 of the most brilliantly unusual Toyotas ever made, so read on!
As the inspiration to our website’s namesake, and to put a spotlight on just how revolutionary this car was to the Japanese auto industry, I wanted to highlight first Toyota’s Gen1 Tercel. First introduced in Japan in 1978, then in Europe in 1979, then in the U.S. in 1980. This is a subcompact car that helped catapult the Toyota brand into the upper echelon of Japanese car manufacturers thanks to a superior quality and handling capabilities.
The first generation of the Tercel was characterized by its 1.3L and 1.5L engines, 3-speed automatic transmission, and ⅘ speed manual transmission. It came in a 2/4 door sedan and a 3-door hatchback.
But what set the Toyota apart was it’s drive-ability.
Prior to the Tercel, the Corrolla was Toyota’s most popular vehicle, but the rear wheel drive and lack of rack-and-pinion steering as used on some of their more sportier models, gave the Corrolla the reputation as a particularly difficult vehicle to drive. Hoping to correct this perception Toyota added a modified rack-and-pinion design, a more centrally-located center of gravity, and a tighter transmission. This gave the Tercel a decidedly “sportier” feel with much more stability on turns.
So sure-footed was the Tercel that many drivers used the car as their primary ski vehicle thanks to it’s propensity to handle the tight turns and snowy conditions in the mountains.
2000 GT (1967)
Released in 1967, the Toyota 2000 GT was one of the few models that first gave Japan the competitive edge in terms of designing cool, fast, and advances vehicles. With 150 hp and a 2.0L straight-six engine, this car is capable of speeds superior to 135mph and is, to this day, considered to be the greatest Japanese car of all time.
It’s easy to see why – just look at how freakin’ cool it looks!
Only 351 cars of this model were made and the selling price was $7,000. The 2000 GT didn’t sell instantly because of its higher cost (compared to Porsche and Jaguar that sold for over $6,000), but also due to its unproven reputation. This car put Japan on the map as an esteemed leader in the Autocar industry.
The Toyota Supra is a sports car that was introduced in 1978 with the initial four generations being produced from 1978 until 2002 and the fifth-generation resuming in 2019.
The style and design were mainly inspired by the Toyota Celica, though the Supra is much longer and wider. With 110 horsepower and a 2.6 inline-six engine layout, this car was meant to compete with the very popular Datsun (now Nissan) Z-car. The Supra received a drastic makeover in 1982 and more upgrades subsequently in 1986 and on.
Mega Cruiser (1995)
The Mega Cruiser is a heavy-duty SUV introduced by Toyota in 1995. This large and robust vehicle features four-wheel drive and is the biggest 4WD ever produced by Toyota.
The resemblance with the Hummer H1 is very striking, particularly in terms of design. Most of the vehicles manufactured ended up being used by the Japanese military, prefectural police, and fire/rescue departments. Though there were a few sold to civilians (133 units to be exact).
Scion xB (2003)
Scion xB is a compact car that was mainly targeted towards youngsters. The initial van was a subcompact, came with a 5-door hatchback, and weighed less than 2,400 pounds.
It featured a straight-four engine with 108 hp (81 kW) and 105 lb-ft (142 N⋅m) and was mainly designed for the United States market to be sold under the youth-oriented brand of Scion.
Posted on June 15, 2020
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was no secret that General Motors were in need of a big success, it was not that they weren’t selling a lot of cars, they certainly did but without a significant triumph say on the order of Ford’s Taurus, it is hard for even the world’s top automaker to keep its corporate head high, maybe that is why General Motors were trying to expand their appeal of its most successful products in the recent years with the Chevrolet Corsica and Beretta. After a slow launch in the spring of 1987, Chevy sold more than 350 Corsicas and Berettas. In 1989, GM came up with a Corsica which had a hatchback and raised a good question which was, ‘why were Chevrolet introducing a new five-door sedan when the other competitors are shutting off productions of theirs, on answer might be how the Chevy and the Corsica fit into GM’s marketing strategy as the Corsica represents an entry-level sedan for a small family. Many of Chevy’s competitors moved to more affluent markets, and they realised that as the income goes up, the demand for the five-door sedan goes down.
Chevy must be congratulated for making the hatchback rear end so attractive, and the complex shape of the glass makes it more like a notchback than a fastback, despite the large glass area, the hatch opens easily, there is an inside cargo shade attached to the hatch which can be quickly released. The floor itself is broad and deep with the seat being able to be folded, making the back-sitting area into a large luggage rack, resembling that of a small station. The rest of Corsica’s interior was the same as the earlier models which were boldly modern for its time.
Posted on June 4, 2020