Where is the "inspection page"

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Where is the "inspection page"

Postby mike4wd » Thu Mar 17, 2005 2:10 am

I'm planning on purchasing a 90 or 91 celica all trac, but first I need to know what to look for before purchasing it.

Is there common issues for a specific year?

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Postby Stubble » Sat Mar 19, 2005 1:56 am

Good question. On our old forum, there was a good thread on this. We had to change servers last August, so we lost a lot of good info. So, maybe I'll start from scratch, and hopefully others can chime in.

Oil leaks are common, especially the valve cover gasket and cam seals.
The high heat from the turbo causes some hoses to break down. Search the General Maintenance forum for "hose from hell".
Exhaust flex joint can rust and crack. Good excuse to replace the exhaust midpipe with a 3" pipe from Aussie Exhaust
Likely spark plugs, wires, dizzy cap and rotor will need to be replaced, but this is just good maintenance practice.
AC freon often leaks out. There was some kind of recall or campaign to replace the expansion valve.
Some people have had problems with radiators, but I wouldn't call it a chronic problem.

Normally quite bulletproof, but the 1-2 synchro (ans sometimes 2-3) often grinds after a while. It's annoying, but not the end of the world. Without huge power mods, no one here seems to break transmissions, differentials, driveshafts, or the transfer case. These aren't DSM's (Eclipse/Laser/Talon). Change fluids and you're good to go.

The rear struts probably haven't been replaced, because you can't get drop in replacements without modifying the strut, and OEM are expensive. Search in the Suspension and Handling forum.
The bushings probably need to be replaced, but it is not essential if you just want to keep the car on the road.
Wheel bearings often fail and make noise, especially after a 150,000km life.

The System 10 CD stereo gives up the ghost eventually, playing soft/quiet. There is a fix that I'm experimenting for this right now.
The power antenna likely won't work.

Rust of course, in all the usual places - fender lips, quarter panels, rocker panels. My floorpan is still immaculate because of undercoating I had on it when it was new. Jack the car up, and have a good look around underneath.

If the car is modified, then there will be other common problems that occur.

If you like to work on cars yourself, then you can do tons of stuff with the info available on this forum. Also search for "what to do when the engine is out", because eventually you will want to pull the engine to change the clutch, and take care of lots of nagging maintenance chores. overall, the Celica will soldier on with lots of problems, but you will eventually want to fix it. The trick with this car is to do as much maintenance as possible at one time, because to do almost anything on this car requires lots of disassembly just to get at the offending part.
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Postby TomsGT4 » Sat Mar 19, 2005 7:46 pm

The rear differential cushion is a weak point on this car.
Listen for a 'clunking or thumping' noise in the rear when accelerating or changing gears.
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Postby ChrisD » Sat Mar 19, 2005 9:10 pm

I didn't write this, but it was posted by Adrian Broughton and Ivan Safranek (Saf) on gtfour.com in 2001


Description: A list of things to check when you are looking at buying one of these cars
Keywords: ST185 ST165 ST205 Dealer Yard Cash Purchase Buy Sell
Category: Info/Specs - All GT-Fours
Submitted: By Webmaster on 4/24/2001 10:02:46 PM, Updated on 7/30/2001 2:57:02 PM

How Does This Article Help?

The objective of this article is to alert potential new owners to some of the common problems with these cars, some of the expensive problems to watch out for, and also hopefully just take some of the guesswork out of the big purchase. As I have only ever bought one of these cars myself, I'm relying on other members to add their own comments to the bottom of this article to help make it a comprehensive list of things.

Please note that if you live in the USA, everywhere you see "GT-Four" you can think "Turbo Alltrac". For some odd reason Toyota decided it was going to give the car a different name for the US than the rest of the world.

What Model Should I Buy?

Before we go into the things to look closely at when looking at a car, we need to decide exactly what model GT-Four we are looking at. Look at the Introduction section of this website to find out about the different models of GT-Four.

You should also note that the ST165 and the 'regular' ST205 models were never available in Australia (but we did get the ST205 Group A), and the limited edition 'Carlos Sainz' ST185 and all ST205 models were never available in North America.

Prices vary considerably from country to country, and I can only provide a range of prices for cars in the Australian market. I'm relying on other members to quote rough prices for each model in their respective markets in the comments section below.

Rough Australian Price Guide:

1987-1989 ST165 model: Not available but can be privately imported.
1990-1993 ST185 model: Widely available, AU$15000-AU$23000
1992-1993 ST185 Group A: Hard to get, AU$20000-AU$28000
1994-1997 ST205 model: Not available as far as I know.
1994-1997 ST205 Group A: Hard to get, AU$45000-AU$55000

Rough New Zealand Price Guide (according to CoronaSpeed):

1987-1989 ST165 model: NZ$3000-NZ$7000 (easy to get)
1990-1993 ST185 model: NZ$7000-NZ$13000 (easy to get)
1992-1993 ST185 RC:, NZ$10000-NZ$18000 (hard to find)
1994-1997 ST205 model: NZ$20000-NZ$30000 (uncommon)
1994-1997 ST205 Group A: Not specified, but rarer than ST205.

How Much Will It Cost to Insure?

This is an interesting car to insure, and you will probably find a wide variety of responses from various insurance companies. The best advice is to shop around. This is especially true for GT-Four insurance, as some companies just won't insure it at all, while others might treat it just the same as a regular non-turbo celica!

Like all insurance, the younger you are the more you will get stung. Being a turbo car, that gives the insurance companies an excuse to jack up the premium and impose a heap of restrictions, so expect the worst.
But having said that, I managed to find what I consider to be an excellent deal with SGIO in Australia for AU$600 a year based on a 29y/o with reasonable driving record and good no claim bonus.

Insurance costs vary dramatically from country to country, so you'll need info for your particular country or area.

How Reliable are These Cars?

How reliable is any second-hand car? The answer to that question has as much to do with the previous owner as it has the vehicle itself. Keep that in mind when buying any car. Also keep in mind the type of people who would buy these cars... A lot of people buy 'regular' Celicas because they look nice and are comfy, but people buy GT-Four Celicas because they like to drive fast. This means that GT-Fours would tend to be driven harder than regular Celicas, but could also mean they have been better maintained because they appeal to the 'driving enthusiast', but don't bank on it!

Toyota make reliable cars. No question there. GT-Fours can be very reliable, certainly compared to many other performance cars. But they require more maintenance than the regular Celicas and because of the reasons described above they tend to be given a hard life, so don't expect them to be as reliable as a non-turbo Celica. Parts can be expensive because mostly you have to buy genuine Toyota parts, and finding a competent mechanic can also be a problem because not many people know how to work on them and they can be a bit tricky. But we aren't talking in the same price range as a Porsche parts or anything.

Ironically though you can buy a complete engine and gearbox (or even a half-cut wreck) imported from Japan second hand quite cheaply, so if you do a lot of work on the car yourself and are happy to use second-hand (low milage) parts then you might get out of a lot of big mechanical problems relatively cheaply, and have loads of spares left over. The engine itself is very strong however.

What Are Some Danger Signs When Shopping For a GT-Four?

So you've found a GT-Four/Alltrac for sale somewhere, driven out to see it and are giving it the first inspection. Apart from all the usual things to look for when buying a used car (like rust, milage, etc) here are some other things that are worth looking for as signs the car might not be such a good deal:

* Ask for a service history for the car. Although a good service history is a bonus for any car, it is vital that a turbo car be given very regular oil changes (preferably every 3 months with synthetic oil). A service history is the best way to verify that this has been done.

* Look for signs that it might have been raced. Look under the carpet for signs of a removed roll-cage. Look around the dash and A-pillar for signs of extra gauges that have since been removed.

* Look for signs of damage and repairing. Again, an obvious tip for any used car buyer, but if you intend to drive the car hard then you want the security of knowing it hasn't been in a serious accident. Look for areas of paint that have been re-sprayed and are a slightly different colour, look down the lines of the car to see if there are any ripples or signs of body work, look under the carpet and behind the plastic trim for signs of overspray. Look under the car for kinks, signs that some parts of the body look newer than others, and so on. Check the panels and doors all fit properly and that the gap between the the doors, hood and hatch and the body is even all the way around. These are all ways to detect repair work being done on the car. Of course a lot of 10 year old cars will have had body work done on them, and minor stuff is no big deal, but major work could make it impossible to do a proper wheel alignment on the car and give big problems later on.

* Make sure it can achieve full boost. When taking it for a drive (after warming the car up), give it full-throttle in 3rd gear and watch the boost gauge. Although the gauge rises slowly (the stock gauge is very slow to react, the turbo actually spools up much quicker) it should be able to reach maximum boost on the gauge (the last notch). This probably won't be attainable in 1st or 2nd gear (the computer limits boost in these gears), but should be in the other gears.

* Look for smoke. It is normal for the toyota ECU (computer) to run the engine quite rich which will result in puffs of black smoke under when full throttle. Don't worry if that happens (the black smoke is unburnt fuel), but watch out for grey or blue smoke which are indications that oil is being burnt. This could mean costly repairs to either the engine or the turbo.

* Ask the owner about any modifications. If there are any, then get a list of the details. Things like a modified intake and exhaust are fine, but if the car is using a Boost Controller then you need to be a little more cautious. Boost Controllers are great for turbo cars and are the key to getting more power out of the engine by controlling how much boost the turbo produces, but in the wrong hands they can destroy a motor... quickly. If the car has a boost controller then look for evidence that the owner really does know what he/she is doing.. if the other mods to the car suggest that it has been well thought out and set up and the owner knows what they are talking about, then hopefully they are sensible enough not to be running too much boost for these cars. As a rough guide, a "standard" ST165 or ST185 shouldn't really be running more than about 14psi and the ST205 or ST185 Carlos Sainz/Group A/CS (the water-to-air intercooled ST185) shouldn't be running more than 17psi. If the car has a Blow Off Valve (or bypass valve or pop-off valve) then this is a good thing because it will prolong turbo life, particularly if they are using a boost controller which can put more stress on the turbo without a blow off valve. Note that the ST205 comes with a Blow Off valve standard, but not an amazingly good one. A lot of people will put an aftermarket one on, quite often just for the cool "pshhhh" sound it makes during gearchanges.

More Things to Look For When Buying a Car (by Saffo)

Milage doesn't matter really, that not what i look at when buyin a car . I take note , but try not to let it shadow the sale , for eg , speedos can be wound down , so you would buy a car with 45,000km rather than one with 80,000 , but the one at 45,000 may have done 180,000.

My point is , my GRP A has done 170,000km , and its faultless . Everything is tight and car is faultless , one part is because it did country miles. Country miles are very different to city miles of stop and go , cold and hot. I have seen cars at 35,000 that are screwed, i mean pigs that have been driven on redline from word go . And then i have seen fine examples that have high mileage that i would buy in a snap .

The first thing i look for is interior . Your driving the car from there..... if THATS shabby , imagine the rest of the car . Some people may say its stupid , but im VERY fussy , and my cars are kept clean , inside , out dont leak oil [except #?!#@ cam cover drips and have to fix on the gt-four], hence i doubt someone who is real messy by nature will look after the car ..... if you disrespect it like that , i doubt they will buy Helix Synthetic and SARD oil filters on a oil change .

Drive a car smooth , and hard , listen for whining , thuds when turning the wheel tap the brakes on and see if they make any clunks , get on em see if they shudder . Look for signs of Turbo-timers , thats good , look for signs of
boost controlers , look for holes in the bay from screws holding boost controler solenoids on , feel the gearbox is it tight , is it notchy ? . Look for coolant stains from past coolant explosions , look for greasy finger marks if some mechanic put those stuffed turbos back on last week whgen the owner found out they are stuffed .

Look down the side , parallel to the car , do the doors have a mirror gloss? ..... or do they have a rough look ?. Does the door look mirror smooth and the guard looks rougher , that means it was in a hit and sprayed . Look at
paint in the sun , look for scratch marks in the putty under the paint , you will see faint lines where the apprentice rushed the panel work by usin too rough grit on the filler and primer . Does one lens look newer than the
other , does the under hood have the emmisions stickers on , if not they didnt / couldnt get em after a front smash . Are the inner guards really new lookin ? . Are the bolts for the inner guards really new ? Are the bolts all
different ? . thats all signs of damage previous . Has it got stock wheels ? Are they nice cond ? Are they aftermarket ? Where are the stockers ? When a car is in a massive hit , aftermarket wheels are sometimes cheaper to put on, and they dont have the stockers .

Thats a few signs that should keep you busy ;)
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