92' car safe?

I always thought that highway miles were less stressful than stop and go city miles. This mechanic does not sound like one I would want to listen too.

I drive an '88 Toyota. It is in great shape, but I can tell you, at that age, anything can break at any time. Everything on the car had so far lasted LONG past it’s design life. But, I do drive it all over, even on the highway. I’ve even taken short distance trips, as much as 200 miles away. But, right now, the speedo cable is broken and I’m waiting for a new one to be delivered. The key is to keep an eye on everything. I’m currently gathering parts to rebuild the suspension front and rear. My tire guy has told me that there is getting to be too much play in the ball jints and bushings.

88 Toyota…great…how many miles?
I want to ask anyone, why do new cars feel /drive so different from older cars pre-93? I have tested driven several new cars and they give me a “suspended in air feeling” away from road. I am not used to that, although, they probably do give more relaxing long distance highway driving.

Well, if you’re comparing new cars to your '92, it’s riding on worn suspension, so you’re probably feeling lots more of the road in it.

While that might seem an obvious answer…it is not the case. I drove an Honda Fit and its ride was very bumpy…my 92 was much smoother over the same road. But I still had that “suspended in air” feeling…you cannot understand this unless you have driven a 20 plus year old car , lately.

Fit’s are famously rough-riding. And I drove a 16 year old car before my present one. I think it’s also the improved noise isolation.

Actually I think ( you cannot understand this ) is more Tom777 not understanding .

The salesman riding with me in my last test drive said he knew what I was talking about. What is your problem that you have to resort to personal insults?

You’ve posted a question on a board frequented by some of the most experienced car folks you’ll come across. Your “you cannot understand this…” comment is why you got the comment you did.

I’ve had cars that I preferred to stay around home and certainly didn’t classify them as unsafe. I just didn’t want to get stuck a few hundred or thousand miles away from home needing a transmission or something. When I did drive a high mileage one on vacation, I would take a lot of cash along to cover a major transmission or engine repair plus plane fair for the rest of the family. No guarantees that a new car will not have problems either but the older they get the less predictable they are.

I had a mechanic, now retired, who gave the same advice. Taking a trip in an older car is not so much an issue of reliability; anything can happen to a newer car as well. The problem arises when you cannot get it fixed in a small town because of unavailability of parts. A typical 1992 car would fall in that category.

A friend of my wife a long time ago took a trip in her Sunbeam Alpine, a British sports car, all through the US and back through Canada. The car conked out in Northern Ontario and she just left it there and sold it to a local mechanic since no parts were readily available, and she had to go back to work.

@Docnick Kind of like a trip in a friends Winnebago I did a number of years back, throttle cable broke, wait a couple of days for parts, or get creative and drive 165 miles to the nearest place with one in stock. Got a throttle control assembly for a lawnmower at the local hardware store, I as copilot worked the throttle. But I fear the days of creative fixes is long past for most cars, and my newish lawnmower does not even have a throttle control. Now I always figured if I did not need to run at full throttle, I was saving gas, seems to me like I did, but new emission standards say prime efficiency at what we set, we know what is best.

Had a shop teacher make a rotor with a cork and a paper clip while doing missionary work in africa, on we go.

@Tom777 , I currently have 304,000 miles on my '88.

If you don’t feel comfortable and a mechanic stated use as a city car. Kick it to the curb and move on.

My mechanic says the car is safe…but use it only as
a city car.

These two statements are mutually exclusive.

Personally, I’d dump it like a hot potato.
Or I’d take it to a good body shop for a thorough, in depth look-see up on a rack with photos and a full report. My guess is that this torsional break you had is only a warning of things to come. Rot is car cancer, and it hides in crevices and eats away at the undercarriage until substructures suddenly let go. Usually not at a good time. The fact that your mechanic warned you to keep if off the highway should give you the willies.

Get underneath the car. Take a pencil and start poking hard at the underbody and especially around all the structural components with the eraser. This way you won’t damage anything that is solid or remove the paint/rust proofing. You may find a few spots were that eraser just pokes right through like an ice pick through paper and you find yourself covered in a shower of rust flakes.

The donor engine from one of my cars had been pulled from a car where the front subframe rotted away. The control arm and everything attached to it had come off during a low-speed turn. The engine is GREAT as it is still running like a champ 2 years later. Obviously they changed the oil and took care of that but the body was rotted badly to a point where it was obviously not safe. Sometimes the worst parts of a car are the places you can’t see. Moisture gets up underneath where it doesn’t dry quickly plus this is where all the salt goes. You mention living in the rust belt so this is a concern. Take a serious look for rust. If it looks good above, it may not down below.

Reminds me of a small community I once lived in . Some people from out of state were passing through & had trouble with their Yugo . They left it beside the road & never did come back & get it .

Someone abandoned an old clunker in a shopping mall parking lot when I was in high school. It was left in one of the outer spaces so out of the way. It was a 1980’s Ford LTD of some sort and I seem to recall the transmission was hanging out of the bottom of the car. Either way, it was obviously abandoned. The tags were either expired or had been removed. It sat in the same parking spot for at least a year. I guess the mall knew that the owner would never pay the tow fee and it was far from the businesses so left it be.

Well, a guy in my high school had the same car and was always getting into minor fender benders where the corners would get smashed and such. Since the car was obviously abandoned he decided to rob it for parts. The various lights and lenses as well as other parts slowly began to disappear from the parked car. Since it was clearly visible from the main road, you could always see when something else was removed just driving by.

I think the car sat there for a year or more. I guess the community eventually decided it was abandoned and an eyesore/nuisance so a bright colored police towing sticker appeared on the car. Usually these cars are gone within a day to a week depending on the type of road. It must have sat there at least another 3 months and then one day it was just gone. I don’t think any of the headlights, turn signals/lenses, or any other part like that was left by the time it went away. I think he had even swapped rims/tires with his worn out tires when he needed new ones and seem to recall at least one flat tire by the time it left.

Although it was hard for me to park my '89 Accord (with 585,000 miles!), I DID, after a friend (a real mechanic) inspected it and told me it was unsafe due to rust. Get it checked thoroughly and make a smart and safe decision. My '89 still ran and drove great, paid for years ago, but still . . . “rust never sleeps”… Rocketman

I have seen threads on this forum and elsewhere about how people obsess over using only the best synthetic oil in their car. Most engines far outlast the body, especially in the rust belt, with just basic maintenance being performed. I have heard plenty of stories about a perfectly good drivetrain going to the crusher because the body rotted out.

Using the best oil may not make a lot of sense unless the manual specifies it. I still use synthetics for peace of mind. I guess it is like buying a lottery ticket in that is makes no sense but many still do it anyway.