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1997 Tercel

I have a 1997 Tercel with 125000 that has been a trooper. Two weekends ago while taking my son to college one cylinder failed from lack of oil and one of the camshafts was severely damaged. The mechanic (not my local one) pointed out the damage, which was clear, and he told me that the car should be repaired - just under a thousand dollars with a rebuilt head. Sounds right, but what are the pitfalls of pursuing this? Is the Tercel worth repairing?

Yes, they are sturdy little cars. IF, and that’s a big IF, that’s the only damage is is worth spending $1000 or so to get this vehicle running again so it can do another 125,000 miles of service for you. Provided the rest of the car is in good shape and has been well looked after.

As an engineer, I wonder why the “lack of oil” situation came about. Regular oil level checks, even if the vehicle uses some oil, would normally prevent that.

Oil was getting to the other cylinders, but the mechanic “suggested” that the feed may have been blocked by something in the oil. We have maintained the car reasonably well, oil changes between 4 and 6 thousand miles, but perhaps some debris may have gotten in as some point. We bought the car used with 69,000 miles on it in 2006.

If you can get it fixed for under a grand than do it. But have them clean out the block oil ports. Switch to synthetic oil. It does not goop up the oil ports.

The Reason for keeping a utilitarian vehicle such as the Tercel is for its dependable power train. Since the engine is no longer dependable. And its probably not up to the modern safety standards of a newer car, it may be time.