Toyota Tercel: Common Engine Repairs Needed

The Toyota Tercel is somewhat well known as one of Toyota’s subcompact models. If you have a Tercel, you are certainly driving an older car. Because they are part of Toyota’s quality reputation, many Tercels are still on the road today. Owning a Tercel means you are going to need to make some repairs eventually, but it will keep running if it is taken care of. The questions and answers below are meant to help owners and prospective buyers understand a Tercel’s engine and some of the common emergency repairs that they may end up facing.

What Kind of Engine do Tercels Have?

Toyota Tercels were originally designed as a smaller, more economic, and more ecologically sound version of the Corolla. At the same time, however, Toyota strove to preserve a strong performance value in the Tercel, and the first generation of the car was sold as a two-door, with either a four- or five-cylinder engine. The bottom line for the first generation of Tercels meant 60 horses under the hood. Most generations after that offered only a 1.5-liter engine, while some had an option for a smaller, 1.3-liter engine.

Where Should a Tercel be Taken for Repairs?

The Tercel is basically a lighter, smaller Corolla. Just about any repair needs that a Corolla from the same time period would need you can expect for a Tercel. Any Toyota dealership will either have a repair garage or direct you to a qualified repair location. You shouldn’t need to make many emergency repairs if you change the oil regularly. The most common emergency repair would be changing out a flat tire.

How do You Repair an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) System?

This is one of the more common problems Tercels have. You will be notified of this problem by the car’s "check engine" light on the dashboard. If this light does turn on, be sure to make this repair right away. You will need to spend about an hour to an hour and a half doing some cleaning. As straightforward as that may sound, you will need to clean inside and out. Remove the carbon buildup from the passages of the EGR system, and also from the temperature gauge.

What do You do if the Engine Won’t Start?

This is another common yet urgent problem, but one that’s a bit harder to repair than the EGR system. As a car ages, this is one of the more likely problems to happen, and if you are lucky, you just need to clean or replace the starter contacts. If this does not work, you should replace the entire starter system. This will involve disconnecting and reconnecting everything from wires to bolts and screws, which you should do with eye protection. You should only do a repair this extensive if you have a lot of experience and confidence working with car engines.

The Tercel may be an expired model for Toyota, but it will last if you keep the engine in proper repair. Because they are still on the road, you can tell what small, slightly sporty cars were like from the late 1980s down into the new millennium. Since Toyota put its signature quality into the Tercel, there are not many emergency repairs to be concerned with. If you want a small car with a bit of a push, go for a Tercel.