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Should I repair 86 Toyota Corolla?

I inherited a 1986 Toyota Corolla 4 door Standard from my cousin. She babied it with regular maintenance and oil changes. She lived close to the ocean, and never drove it out of her area. It has 152,000 KM / 94000 miles on it.

The body has some rust and is in need of repairs. I took it to a Toyota dealer who did a safety inspection and found:

- Brakes: Front at 10%, Rear at 70%

- Right CV boot torn open

- Muffler, rusty and noisy

- Engine oil pan has some leaking

Their prices were $300 for brakes, $300 for CV, $500 for oil pan. I can live with the oil pan issue since I haven’t seen any oil leaking onto the driveway. I’d go to cheaper, local mechanics for the repairs.

Should I repair and keep it? It would be a car for my daughter to learn how to drive, and I won’t care if she dents and scratches it up.

Thanks in advance for your advice.

If the car is otherwise drivable-city streets as well as at highway speeds, then yes, I would do the brakes and CV joint repairs. Shop around for better prices too.

I agree with BadaBing, but I’d add the exhaust repair too. You don’t want to chance exhaust fumes drifting onto the cabin area.

Skip the oil pan. But check the PCV valve. A stuck PCV valve can allow excess pressure to build in the crankcase and cause weepage around old long-compressed gaskets and around seals like the crank seals. These are not life-shortening as long as you monitor the oil level and replenish as necessary, although if the front seal is seeping I’d change it when I did the timing belt…which, by the way, is probably past due.

The only concern about giving to your daughter is that it is not a particularly safe car in a crash, even by the standards of its time.

If you want to keep it, go ahead and do the repairs-- it won’t end up being anywhere close to the dealer estimate (especially if just the boot can be changed on the CV) and that’s not a bad price to pay for a decent enough car in running condition. But if you’re just going to sell it, you’re not going to recover the cost of the repairs.

I wouldn’t give it to my daughter, it’ll behave very poorly in a crash, something teenagers do with unfortunate regularity! A 2000 Corolla would be better, especially one with side airbags (I don’t know when they came out).

1st have repair guy check shock mounts to make sure they are not rusty-safe.
If they are ok you can check cv joints by turning wheel all the way to the right and give it a little gas and let off,do this 2 times and listen for a clunking,clicking noise.turn wheel to the left and do same thing. Do it in reverse too.
If no noise just have boot replaced,fix exhaust and let her go if.
You need to make sure the timing belt,water pump was replaced,I think 90,000mi or 7yrs is when it is due.
These are good reliable cars that go and go.

How much rust is on the car? What’s it look like underneath?
Too much rust = scrap metal = take it to a junk yard and get scrap metal price for it.

Thanks so much for your input. I’ll check the under body level of rust, & PCV valve. I’ve checked the CV joints and they are fine. But considering the safety factor, and how it won’t do in a crash, I may get rid of it or just keep it for myself. Still, if she practices driving with me in it, learning standard shift from the beginning would be good for her.

Using it to teach her driving a standard is a great idea. And teens very rarely have accidents with mom or dad in the car.

Yes, repair it. Everything is maintenance except the oil pan. You will have maintenance expenses on any car. Your point about scratches and dents resonates. I have 3 kids that started driving in the last 6 years.

A 1986 Toyota should not go to a dealer. To the young techs it akin to working on another car brand. Also parts will be very expensive.

Aftermarket parts should be used and at this stage in the game likely better than OEM used back in 1986.

I’d repair it. Front brakes, obviously, if you are going to drive it more than a few hundred miles.

Oil pan? Is this a rust problem or a leaky gasket problem? If the latter and it isn’t serious, ignore it. If the former, you are going to need to find a sound oil pan for a 25 year old car. (Or maybe find someone to weld a patch on the old one.) May not be all that easy. Maybe address this first.

CV joint? How far is it going to be driven? If it’s only going to be used for learning to drive and a few trips to the movies, you might be able to ignore it. If not see if you can find someone who can repack the joint and fit a new cover without removing the half shaft. It’s not a safety issue. It’s a car won’t move when it eventually breaks issue.

Muffler – only if it is annoying or if the car is going to be around for many years.

There will be other repairs needed over time if the car finds its way into daily use. Finding parts for a car that old may not be easy.

If your daughter is reasonably self sufficient, I’d seriously consider a deal – you’ll pay for parts, tools and insurance for as long as she can keep the thing on the road repairing it herself. Three caveats – one-she must promise never to work under the car unless it is supported by ramps or multiple jack stands. Two-she must promise to read the instructions carefully before undertaking a repair. Three-you’ll pay to get the brakes fixed initially. It’s probably a simple job, but it’s a dubious choice for a first car repair.

I would feel very comfortable in saying that it should be repaired if the Corolla was made in Japan; some less comfortable if it was made in North America.

I own and drive a (made in Japan) 1984 Toyota Corolla liftback with 547,000+ miles which I bought new and which was about as reliable in the 2000s as in the 1990s and 1980s and far more reliable than the new GM cars that I owned earlier and disposed of within 4 years.

I would fix the cv boot and brakes first, then the exhaust. Most exhaust shops can weld the exhaust. For the exhaust repair be sure to go to an exhaust shop though because most regular shops can’t weld good. Check for parts and see if you can buy the parts and have a shop put them on.

If you are worried about scratches etc this is a decent car.

If safety this is like buying the worse of the worse of cars built in the 2000’s. Even the supposedly safe Volvo from the 1980’s was compared against a modern car and it fell apart quite a bit in an accident.