Should I save 93 Toyota with 222,000 miles



My son’s first car needs major work, radiator, head gasket, timing belt,brakes to tune of $1400. He loves this car. We would probably buy used veh for $3000 if we replace this one. Is it worth fixing? Repair man is on your site, so we trust him.


What shape is the body in? If the physical structure is intact and still strong, then $1,400 might not be too much to spend to keep the car on the road a bit longer.

At 222K miles, however, you certainly can’t expect the car to last forever. There are Toyotas running around with more than 300,000 miles on them. Maybe your son’s can be one of them.


It’s always a tough call in this situation. (I’m almost there myself) If your son likes the car and it is reasonably safe and reliable, go ahead and fix it.


If $3000 is all that you will spend on a replacement car then you might as well take a chance repairing what you have as a $3000 car might need similar work now or soon. At the car’s age and mileage, it’s possible that there will be more work needed at any time. What about radiator hoses, accessory belts, battery, tires, clutch if manual transmission, automatic tranmission fluid change, struts, shocks, CV joints, heater core? I’m sorry to sound negative but an old car can be a money pit that can make an inexpensive new car with the latest safety features more inviting. Repair the 93 and cross your fingers.


I would say fix it with one caveat. That is the fact that I do not know the circumstances behind the head gasket failure.

If a head gasket pops and the car is towed home, that is one thing.

It is another thing altogether if this head gasket failure was preceded by chronic overheating, coolant diluted engine oil, constant refilling of the radiator, etc. In that case, the entire engine is suspect.

However, could you let us know what the symptoms are that led to the head gasket diagnosis?
A bad head gasket is something that is often misdiagnosed and just because someone is listed on this site does not mean they’re 100% reliable or trustworthy.


$1400 to get a car he loves put back in shape by a trustworthy shop vs $3000 to replace it with something that he may not love and could have any number of unknown problems? Fix the car!!!

Years ago when my '89 TOyota pickup needed a new timing chain at 200,000 miles everyone said “you’re crazy to bother putting a new chain in a vehicle with that many miles. Get rid of it.”. I put the chain in anyway. The truck made it to 338,000 miles as a reliable daily driver without any more major work before being totaled by an errant Hyundae. It never even burned oil. I loved that truck. It was well worth doing the repair.


IMHO move on, this car has served well for 14 years and 222k miles.

If tranny is auto expect that soon too if not replaced recently.


In terms of opportunity cost the $1400 you spend on fixing your son’s Toyota would be considered a “sunk cost”. What you should really base your decision on is how much life, beyond a reasonable doubt the car has left in it. Also keep in mind the implicit value of the car as well (i.e. Sentimental value). If it is an otherwise well-running, non-wrecked and regularly serviced vehicle I would definetely go ahead and repair it. Usually a quality and trustworthy machine is worth the extra $$$ you put in to it if it takes care of you. I would reccomend having the a/c system evaluated though, those can get expensive when they start to wear out. Hope this helps.


The radiator had been leaking for about 2 months. We had driven short trips and it had not heated up. Son drove other nite and that’s when the gasket blew. We were about to fix it this week when that happened. The mechanic’s estimate included radiator, gasket, timing kit, plugs and wires, new water pump, thermostat, left front axle and replace and resurface front brakes. When were considering keeping the car, we took it to him before the gasket incident and he estimated this would be what it would take to get in good condition. Body is in good shape and needs tires. Total estimate is $1600.


Move up to a newer one with less miles. At this point, a remanufactured engine is needed and will cost a lot more. There are many more costs with a car that old. Not a guaranteed money pit but very likely.


A leaking radiator is not necessarily bad. It’s only bad if the coolant runs out and the engine overheats.
What I’m considering here is that the radiator leak could have been a symptom of a gradually failing head gasket. This allows cylinder pressures to bleed into the cooling system, which is not designed to withstand that much strain. Eventually excessive pressure breaks through the weakest spot, usually the radiator or a bad spot in a coolant hose.
Over time, the failing head gasket finally just gives up all at once.

If the body is good, the trans is fine, there is no coolant in the engine oil or engine knocking, I’m inclined to say fix it.
After repair you know what you have whereas you could spend 1600, or 3000, on another vehicle and buy a pig in a poke. Used cars are always a roll of the dice anyway.

Your mechanic sounds competent since he’s recommending timing kit, water pump, and that all important and too frequently forgotten until it fails, thermostat.
JMHO anyway and hope it helps in your decision.


I think you and your mechanic should look into a reman engine. A little extra cost at this point could save a lot down the road. You may be better off putting the $3k into this car, but you might look around also. You might find a car that he may like better and would be better in the long run. You mechanic could check out any potential replacements to make sure you are not buying trouble.

BTW, what model Toyota? Wouldn’t be an MR2 would it?


What do you think of the MR2, keith? It looks like a fun car…have considered buying one.


I don’t have one, but I think it would be a kick in the … to own one. Not practical, but high fun quotient and unlike the sports cars of old, these are reliable. Lotus takes these, put on a new body and sell them for around $60k.


Ahh are you refering to the Lotus Exige? I would give my middle nut for one of those.

I guess it’s a matter of finding an MR2 that hasn’t been used and abused eh?