Found this one-owner gem on the internet with 29k miles. My 12th Toyota, 3rd Tercel. Toyota's place in America was won with a simple strategy: make their entry-level cars cheap to buy and keep, and buyers will keep coming back for upscale models. The Tercel exemplified that strategy. Comfortable seats; simple, serviceable drivetrain; straightforward interior (you never need an owner's manual to figure out how everything works). Smooth runner (tho noise levels high when compared with 20 today's cars)-- and with 76 bhp, you won't be winning any races. 3-spd auto revs high and hurts mileage (28-30 avg), but does the job; it gets you there cheaply, and with just a little bit of fun thrown in too!
Starts instantly (though it needs 10- sec warm up to run best); very good seat comfort; corners like a go-cart with 185/70-13 tires; tight turning radius; good visibility; previous exp. w/ Tercels bodes 300k miles with minimal TLC. HEY TOYOTA: why are the seats more comfortable in this than the Yaris?
Road- and engine-noise makes conversation tough above 55mph; oil filter in LOUSY place close to exhaust manifold; sheet metal THIN; OEM tires so small they belong on a stroller; poor headlights and VERY DISMAL brakes mean leaving lots of room to stop-- good luck if you need to slam on the brakes!!
I bought this car seriously neglected for $1K & 50K miles. I doubt they changed the oil ever as it was owned and operated by an elderly woman who actually died and the nephew sold it to me. That's not a good combination for a reliable vehicle, but after investing another $700 in overdue maintenance, it has given me nearly flawless reliability for two years and 15K miles/yr. The car has had an issue with its thermostat, and it can overheat without you knowing it, so be aware that near-red is actually RED. Also, there is a carburetor adjustment screw that we had to dig-into the carb metal to get to at the back (near firewall), but after that, it runs fantastic for simple transportation.
I LOVE the geeky seat belts. Very useful to keep me from forgetting or hating putting a seat belt on, and it serves as a great handle to pull the door closed after you're in too.
That main carburetor adjustment screw is key to having a car with actual (and safe) power to accelerate in traffic. I still have to merge by braking, but it takes a professional mechanic to figure out where to literally dig-into the carb metal to adjust that carb screw at the back of the carb.
These cars are very reliable, good
mileage. Watch the brakes for frequent
repairs and rust on the back wheel
fenders. A little undercoating and they
go forever. Great engineering. Too bad
they don't put the same quality into
It a little tank...made of thin metal.
You can kill this thing. Great car for
student or when the road are bad and
you just got to get there. Park it in
the Mall with confidence, who cares
about door dings, no one will steal
it. Ours get 36-38 MPG...can't beat it.