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Not dead Toyota

Hi all. I have a 1989 Corolla that, IMO, runs well, but age is age. The exterior is an embarrassment–rust on both sides of the car, and hazy look to the rest of the car. two years ago, I replaced the timing belt, and had some other repair work that was needed, including replacing the right axle and all 4 tires. Now, after my last oil change, the mechanic said I need a new right axle (car rides fine imo) a ball joint and two new tires. He’s definitely right about the tires, but that could be an alignment problem. ANyway, he said if I was thinking about getting rid of the car, now is the time. Well, my thought is how safe is it to drive with what is said I need. Should I get a second opinion, as even though I am thinking of getting a new car, I saw pics of the new 2011 Elantra that’s coming out and really like that, but want to make sure that this car is safe enough to drive for a period of time, or do you guys think it’s time to just say goodbye to her. Thanks for your opinions

Rust is often more than skin-deep, your car may behave very badly in a crash. Me, I’d get a new one, sooner rather than later.

Thanks for your feedback. Considering I witnessed a car sideswipe the highway median, I will definitely consider that.

I’ve had 2 cars that had rust not quite as bad as yours, but trying to use the jack when I had a flat was impossible; in one case the jack just disappeared into the car body without lifting it up. In another case the jacking pad just collapsed; keeping trying to raise it would make it impossibe to open the doors.

Try driving over DIAGONAL railroad crossings; if the car changes direction, as mine did, it’s UNSAFE.

Your car will probalbly run for quite some time yet, as most Toyotas do. However, in a collison, it will likely collapse in a heap of rust and possibly kill you.

Since 1965 I have had to scrap 3 cars because they became unsafe due to rust. They all ran well mechanically. The choice is yours!

Sorry, I should explain that the rust is really two or three inches on each side where the gas cap door is (same position on other side of car, other than that, the car just looks hazy. To me, car handles quite capably over NYC streets. That’s probably what ruined the axles and alignment. Of course I don’t know what’s going on underneath, but would hope, since mechanic is suggesting the axle and ball joint, that he’d actually tell me that it’s unsafe even if I replace those parts. If you guys still think after what I’ve said, it’s still likely to evaporate in a heap of rust, of course I’ll get rid of it, as safety is paramount. Thank you for your opinion. Age is age, I guess, regardless of how well the mechanics seem to be.

You can trying to jack it up on each of the 4 jacking points, using the standard car jack supplied. You will soon know how sturdy the underside is. Unit body cars have no frame, so structural rust rapidly weakens it.

Mechanically, Toyotas seem to run forever. A 1980s Celica in my neighborhood has 1.5 million miles on it, mostly accumulated in the Nevada desert.