Maintenance for Increased Performance

I don’t know if this is the right section of the forum, if not, please redirect me to the correct one and I will rewrite the question.

I have had a 2006 Toyota Yaris Hatchback (900cc 69hp) gasoline (petrol) for almost 20 years. In 20 years of use, the car has never given us any problems, the engine has been replaced once and all the checks have been done regularly as required by law (I’m from Italy), but the maintenance by my parents over the years has been poor :(. Now the veicle has 120k kilometers.

A colleague of mine advised me to carry out a lot of maintenance (changing spark plugs, changing mufflers, valves, etc.) in order to try and get the car as close as possible back to its ‘original saleable state’ (as if it were new).
He told me about spark plugs, valves and muffler … are there any others? I know nothing about engines, so be as explicit as a shopping list.

My question is:

  • is it worth trying? is it possible for this type of vehicle?
  • Regardless of the answer … what components should I evaluate and possibly change if I wanted to do this?

I also do this as a matter of personal culture because I am interested in this subject despite the fact that (as you have noted) it is not my field.

Thanks to everyone!

I doubt your friend knows much about vehicles either . A good shop can look at this thing and tell you if you should do something and give you a cost estiment .

I would not put any money in this as it not really worth much even in good condition.

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Welcome to Car Talk forums. I own and have diy’er repaired & maintained a 30 year old Corolla, still running great, and would be my daily driver except for a covid-related safety dispute. The advantage you have going in your favor is that your car is very reliable, robust, and being a big-selling econobox, parts are inexpensive & easy to source. So yes, as long as you have the time available for a diy’er approach, I think this is a practical idea. If you’re going to pay a shop to do most of this work, that might not be as practical. Shop hourly labor rate work tends to be quite expensive.

Not seeing the car, and not knowing it’s configuration, can only provide some guesses what needs to be done. Suggest to start with the basic tune-up. On my Corolla that’s spark plugs, distriibutor cap & rotor, spark plug wires, new engine air filter, engine oil and filter change, checking valve clearances, check for engine sludge at same time.

Beyond that,

  • Replace coolant
  • Visual check of braking system, all four wheels, maybe time to replace brake fluid
  • Transmission fluid check, including clutch check if manual
  • Power steering fluid
  • Fuel filter replacement
  • Check for exhaust system leaks
  • Timing belt
  • Water pump
  • Accessory belts
  • Battery and charging system check
  • Starter motor check
  • CV boots and joint check

Do folks in Italy still wear those shirts with a broad, diagonal line painted on them, to make it appear they are wearing their seat belts? … lol …

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The spark plugs and coolant should have been replaced at that time, how long ago was that?

Is there a problem with the muffler? Which valves are you referring to?

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Do not follow this advice. It is precisely this line of thinking which sent many 10-15 year-old economy cars to the junkyard when a relatively minor repair was needed, and countless more due to the effects of skipping required maintenance. “Why should I put $1000 into this car, when the Blue Book says it’s barely worth that much?” or “Why should I put $2000 into this car, when I can buy a different used car for that much?”

Bad thinking. Do not focus on what the Blue Book says your car is worth on the open market. That is really not important. What is important is if the car is still in good physical condition, if it runs well (or can be repaired to run well), and if it still meets your needs. If yes, then keeping the car properly maintained and in good condition is the cheapest and best option.


Your owner’s manual is a good place to look to see what Maintenace is needed and at what mileage. the most important things you can do to your vehicle is to keep up with your oil changes and make sure your brakes are replaced when needed, and brake fluid and all other fluids are replaced per owner’s manual.

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I would not classify condition as excellent if the engine has been replaced by 120,000 km. Anyway, as long as you keep up with regular maintenance, you should be fine. If the spark plugs are original, replace them with the same plugs. If maintenance hasn’t been good lately, replace the oil and oil filter. You might need a new air filter too. If transmission fluid is original, replace that too. Make sure the tires are at the required pressure on the door placard or a couple psi higher. I usually go two or three psi higher to allow for some air loss over time, and higher pressures tend to give better gas mileage.


You have a 2006 car that is 20 years old? It has never had a problem but the engine has been changed? Is the rest of your post equally accurate?

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There are things you can do to ensure the car remains reliable but trying to keep it like it was brand new is a choice and may cost much more than just keeping it running in good shape. The normal maintenance items are listed in the Owner’s Manual. Refer to that for what is recommended. The next best investment is to find an honest and competent mechanic to service your car. They should be interested in hearing your goals for the car- essentially how much you’d like to spend to keep it running and in what kind of condition. Telling the mechanic you want to keep it in showroom condition is going to be a different proposition from I want this car to be reliable using good quality parts when necessary.

Some things are not cost effective when replaced proactively- e.g. mufflers. However, some people are risk averse and prefer to change parts before they fail and need immediate attention. Only you can decide what is right for you.

Good luck!

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Both of those thoughts also crossed my mind.