CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Should I keep my 93 Toyota Pickup, or am I the wrong person for it?

My very first car was an '84 Toyota Pickup. I LOVED this car, and have a ton of great memories with it (Until someone crashed into it and totaled the thing about 10 years ago).



I recently found a '93 for $1500. As this was about $1,000 less than the other '93’s, I figured I could pay the difference as time went on, and that way I’d know what exactly was put into it.



The thing is, I’m not a car guy, and I just lost my job, so I need to know if I would be better off selling it, or if it keeping it is the best idea.



So far, I have

-Replaced the catalytic converter ($160)

-Replaced windshield and rear window ($350)



It still needs:

-A new seat

-A new dash

-New upholstery

-Full body paint job

-The hood hangs slightly askew (Driver side corner sits forward about 3 inches. Do I need to adjust something, or replace the whole hood).

-I need to get a check up proper, as I think one of the spark plugs has gone out. In addition, it’s always idled high.

-The sound system has this really weird quirk. When I first turn it on, only the front speakers come one. I have to turn on the headlights or drive over a bump for the rears to come on. They’ll stay on after I turn my lights off, at least until I drive over a bump (sometimes).





In addition, the instrument panel has no tachometer. Would it be possible to purchase a a dash for another Toyota pickup and hook it in, or do I need to purchase a third party attachment?



Also, my gas mileage the first time I drove it was about 30mpg, whereas now, it’s right at 22 if I use 89 or 92 octane & 16 if I use 87. Is there a secret to the higher mileage?

The only thing you’ve listed that really needs to be fixed is the engine problem. Your gas mileage issue is undoubtedly related to this problem. Get a tune up and live with the cosmetic stuff (which includes the tachometer-- you absolutely do not need one). There’s a lot of ugly trucks in the world, and if you’re hurting financially it is not imperative that you have a nice shiny truck with nice upholstery (and an extra useless gauge). Get the tune-up done sooner rather than later, lest you destroy another catalytic converter.

Your truck uses 87 octane gas-- putting anything higher in does not to any good. Any improvement you’re seeing is just the placebo effect.

I agree with Greasyjack.

Tell your kin that for your next birthday you’d like a parts-store cover for your seat.
Live with the dash and upholstery.

Live with the paint job. Just buy a can of speay at the parts store and touch up any areas that might rust.

Someone would need to look at the hood. 3 inches is a lot. Have a friend with tools join you and look at it, just in case it’s falling off. If you get hit, that hood if it’s loose could come up over the cowling and do more damage than you’d wish.

I’ll bet lunch that if you pull the radio you’ll find that someone has butchered the harness and installed aftermarket components. Forget about it. You don’t need the extra speakers. Learn to hum.

Forget the tach. I never had tachs on my '79 or my '89 Toyota pickups. Never needed one. On that vehicle a tach is just eyecandy. You’d have to really try hard to overrev the engine. It won’t happen by cacident.

For you the secret to higher gas mileage is to fix the engine problem.

Thank you both for the advice. My worry about tune ups is that it will wind up costing more than I can afford at the moment. I totally understand the philosophy of an ugly truck is okay (and I’ll live with it for now). My point, and I may have been unclear, was will it cost me less to do all the things I want, or to sell it off and buy something closer to what I’d like?

As for the fuel, I assure you it’s not placebo. I did a six month experiment where two months was spent only getting 87, two was spent getting 89, and two was spent getting 92. 87 saw my fuel mileage plummet (I got as low as 14 mpg, and the highest it ever got was 17). 89 saw an immediate improvement (my mileage on my first fill up was 19, and it saw incremental increases all the way to about 21.79). 92 got me as high as 23 mpg.

The hood being “askew” would make any vehicle scrap iron until proven otherwise.