1989 Toyota AllTrac - Repair or?

I have a 1989 Toyota Corolla SR5 AllTrac wagon, manual trans with 160k+ miles. It had been running ok - until I got an oil change. I am wondering if I should do the repairs to get it inspected - new tires, battery, driver-side mirror, and rust repair (small hole near rear wheel well, driver’s door; sunroof has rust - that’s not an inspection item but needs to be done). The rear-wheel differential has been making grinding/whining noise for about a year; it’s probably time to rebuild. Back to the oil change - my car ran great, got the oil changed at Monro; then the car started dripping oil, then was very difficult to start and stalled at stops, even brief ones, also when any gas was applied. I noticed a light grey smoke from the car on start-up, which went away. I first thought it just needed a tune-up, but when I saw the smoke, I thought there might be oil leaking into the valves. I love this car, but the body is really in need of work. The underneath is pretty solid. Big question - it’s probably going to cost $1500+ or more to fix. In the meantime, I still need a car. I thought of getting a small used gas-saving sedan, and putting some money into the All-Trac to use it for gardening, hauling stuff, etc. , and actually, even though a wagon, it’s fun to drive. Can you tell I love my Rosie? My other option is to buy a car … ick… I don’t want car payments. I’m looking at a 2006 Subaru Forester with 42k today, am a bit wary of Subaru repairs, and the steep sticker price. Any suggestions? Anyone out there just hankering to work on an AllTrac to restore it for me, or even to buy?

What’s causing the leak and smoke? Suspicious it started with the oil change.

Well, yeah. Esp since it was running fine before; I just get the oil changed every 3-5k. My mechanic was booked, I was going out of town, and Monro had a “special.” Right! I have no idea what’s causing the smoke … it goes away in a few seconds. If I watch when I start the car, I can see it.

The car needs body work, oh yeah, it also needs brakes all around, too. Forgot that.

Monro is your typical chain auto repair place. The mechanics work on commission…they hire high-school students or drop-outs to do the oil changes and tire rotations.

Next time…wait for your mechanic…it’ll be worth it.

Thanks. I discovered that the hard way. I still need to decide what to do - fix this car for $1000-$1500, or get another car.

Before I’d fix it, I’d have my mechanic go over it, see if there’s more rust that might be a problem - it could be pretty bad in an accident.

Have you checked the oil level on the dipstick?

If all the oil leaked out of the motor then it has overheated and you’ve “cooked” and essentially killed the motor. If you don’t have any oil in the motor, time to look for another car.

It still has oil. After I had trouble with it stalling and not starting agin, I took it on the highway and revved it. That seemed to take care of the problem for a while; it started and ran fine. I haven’t driven it for a couple weeks because it is not inspected, and zI’m trying to decide whether to get the needed work done or not. And I was wondering what would cause the stalling, smoke on start, etc.