Car hasn't been driven in a year... Wanna fix it up

Our family has had this car sitting out front of our house for a year. I want to use it to drive around town and to possibly take to college later on.

What needs to be done to get this car back in working condition, and how much approximately will it cost to do so? Is it even worth it?

All I know right now for sure is that it needs a new battery, four new tires, and the speedometer cable is broken. What else should be done to make this car safe enough to drive a 4+ hour trip? (That is how long a trip one way to my college campus from home is.)

A year isn’t too terribly long for a car to sit idle. The best way to find out what it needs would be to put a battery in it and drive it to a trusted mechanic for an inspection. If the car is not presently driveable, have it towed there. Alternatively, you could have a mechanically inclined friend or family member look at the car for you and tell you more. I just brought an old Chevy truck back to life after it sat for four years, and it wasn’t really that bad, or expensive, and I’m certain it was worse than a Toyota Camry that sat parked for a year. Outside of rebuilding the carburetor, everything I fixed on that Chevy truck had already been broken when it was parked.

What year is this Camry? Unless it is from the '80s, you would have a speed sensor, not a speedometer cable. Speed sensor failures are fairly common in early to mid '90s Toyotas.

The big question is the condition of the fuel. Gasoline, as it comes from the pump, has a limited life. A year is not short enough to assure it is OK nor long enough to be sure it is bad. Get that battery replaced (or if lucky just recharged, your local auto parts store can test it.) and see if it will start. If it starts drive it carefully to a local independent mechanic (no quick lube places, please) and have them check it out.

It is a 1990 Camry. I only mentioned the speedometer cable because that was what my dad said was wrong.

Since it’s a 20 year old car of unknown condition, before driving it I’d put air in the tires and have it towed to a reputable shop for a good going-over and a detailed estimate. Its condition could range anywhere from being in great shape and only needing a speedo cable (or Vehicle Speed Sensor…'90 was about the year they changed that over) to needing serious suspension and/or brake work.

The main concern on a car that age should not be the engine. Unless it has a serious internal problem, that can be reinvigorated. The fuel system can be cleaned, the timing belt and water pump replaced (it should be), the ignition system brought back up to snuff. The main concern should be the chassis and brake system. A car that doesn’t start in the morning can ruin your morning, but a car that doesn’t stop or loses a suspension connection while driving can kill you.