Toyota Tercel - repair or buy another car?

We own a 1986 Toyota Tercel. The exhaust manifold needs to be replaced, but they are no longer being manufactured. Our car shop was unable to acquire the part through the local dealer or through a local salvage company. They said we could try to look online for the part. Also, the gas needle now floats, although the car shop did locate the fuel tank sender (or some similar name?) part and could repair it. The car only has about 126,000 miles

Question: Given the exhaust manifold situation (not to mention the floating needle), is this the kiss of death for the car and a sign of what will be in store with future repairs? Or should we try to locate a used part and pay shipping?

Call the other salvage places and see if they can locate one. They have a search deal that’s national. Bad news is that those things are old and weren’t the choice of hot rodders like the Honda Civic is. Even they used to change the entire engine to the Accord or Acura engines. There may not be a good one anywhere because age cracks them as well as mileage.

I would sell your Tercel for parts and put the money towards a newer, safer vehicle.

I had to replace the ex man on my 1979 Toyota pickup more than once; some I found at junkyards were cracked. A local welder at a Harley-Davidson shop was able to repair one, although he said it was iffy. It did hold up for a couple years. When the frame broke (yipes) I had to get rid of the truck. You might consider that for safety, reliability, and longevity it is time to buy a newer vehicle.

where and how badly is it cracked? I’d consider having it welded.

As for the fuel gauge, use the trip odometer to track the miles remaining, like motorcyclists do. This vehicle has reached the “no heroic measures” stage of life, but doing this ought to get you a few more years out of it.

the big ?? does the car have any rust ,that would help me to make up my mind what to do with the toyota

I’d fix it and keep it. 126k on a Toyota is nothing. Find the manifold at a junkyard online.

Go to . I found lots of '86 Tercel exhaust manifolds for under $100.

All good comments above. On the show Ray said that cracked exhaust manifolds on Corolla’s anyway are pretty common. I expect the same is true on Tercels. If you like the car, and don’t mind that it doesn’t have all the safety features available on newer car, well, there were so many of these Tercels sold in the USA, I’m sure you can get the parts to get it fixed somehow or another.

So what to do? I think your shop feels it can’t make enough money on this job to be worth the time to find the parts. You could try another shop of course. But if this were my car, I’d look in the yellow pages under “salvage yards”. Then I’d drive to one of them, the biggest in the area, and talk to the guy at the desk there. Over coffee. Tell him the situation. Make sure you have all the info, esp the engine number. It should be printed on a sticker under the hood. My early 90’s Corolla has a “4AFE” engine for example. If you can get that guy on your side, I’m sure he can find the parts you need. He may have to have them shipped from somewhere, but he can get them. If the salvage yard idea doesn’t work, look in the yellow pages for “exhaust system repair” or something like that. Maybe somebody at a specialty shop has ideas where to find the parts. And ask at a Toyota dealership too, they may have some ideas for parts sources. Best of luck.

We greatly appreciate all of the input!
To answer your questions, the exhaust manifold has spider-web cracks, as described by the shop (if I remember correctly their wording).
I couldn’t say or evaluate whether the car has any rust (or significant rust?). Especially after reading about Shanonia’s Toyota pick-up’s frame breaking (sounds really bad!), we’re thinking to have our shop look over the general condition of our car. I really like the low-cost factor of having an old Tercel (as long as the low-cost factor stays that way!), but the safety comments do give pause for thought.

With 126,000 miles, I would definitely NOT sell the car for a newer vehicle. Your car has only lived half of its life.

Being an aircraft owner, I can’t remember how many exhaust pipes I’ve had A & Ps weld instead of replacing (a perfectly acceptable from of repair to the FAA).

I too have had an exhaust manifold replaced on my 1979 Toyota Celica which I still drive from time to time, and (GASP!!!) without airbags.

@tom418 - My first wife lived through a traumatic head on car crash with only bruises due to air bags. Don’t be so quick to dismiss them.

@Not a millionaire - I owned several old Tercels made between 84 and 92. They were all reliable, basic transport. I would say an exhaust manifold and bad fuel level sender are NOT the kiss of death. Call your local junkyard for the manifold. If he doesn’t have it he can probably locate one for you through his network. I also recommend the internet. I have located clean parts for my son’s old Honda in Florida and Iowa just using Google and the telephone. The only concern I would have (before starting on this search) is rust on the body. All of my old Tercels died of cancer before the mechanical bits wore out, but I live in the snow belt. If the body is still good then I say you should keep it.

If its a 4wd wagon, it is certainly worth repairing. The manifold is the same on all 3AC and 4AC motors that were used in Tercels and Corollas and Chevy Novas through 92 or so.

You can check here for parts.