Toyota Tercel Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the Toyota Tercel as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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27
Known Problems

The Throttle Position Sensor can get out of adjustment due to wear in the throttle body or due to carbon build up. This will cause the idle timing to advance more than 30 degrees which will cause very high HC and NOx emissions. Conversely, the Throttle Position Sensors can wear out and not properly advance the timing which causes a lack of power and poor fuel economy.

The Toyota Tercel has a known issue with the valves that if left unchecked, will cause burned valves and engine performance issues. 

The engine ‘breathes’ through valves that are pushed open by the camshaft, and closed by springs. When valves are closed, they seal against a valve seat. In this vehicle, the valve seat is too soft, so after the valve contacts it thousands of times, it becomes crushed. Once it is crushed, the valve can no longer make a proper seal, and the valves erode due to extreme temperature (burnt valve).

Symptoms related to this issue:

To repair the burnt valves, the cylinder head must be removed and rebuilt, which is a costly internal engine repair, however, this issue can be prevented through inspection and adjustment of valve clearances every 40,000 miles.

The timing belt tensioners may make a rattling noise at a higher mileages. This is due to the adjustment being at its limit. Our technicians tell us that range of the adjuster may be lengthened by elongating the slot where the spring attaches by 2-3 mm to remedy this problem.

At higher mileages, (125,000-150,000) the automatic transmission may not shift correctly. This can be caused by the throttle position sensor being out of adjustment or a shift solenoid needing to be replaced. Typically the transmission does not need to be completely overhauled.

The EGR System tends to get restricted or blocked with carbon after 100,000- 125,000 miles which will cause an emissions test failure for NOX. If the EGR system is equipped with an EGR temperature sensor it will trigger a Check Engine Light for improper EGR flow. The repair is to clean out the EGR passages and the EGR Temperature sensor. Our technicians tell this repair is pretty straight forward and takes about 1-1.5 hours. It is also wise to verify the EGR system components i.e. the Transducer, EGR Valve and VSV Solenoid at this time.

At higher mileages, an anti-lock brake system wheel speed sensor may wear out and illuminate the ABS warning light. It is recommended to replace the sensor with a factory part and be sure to clean all rust and debris from the mounting area because the mounting distance is critical. Failure to do so may result in the new sensor setting false trouble codes. Be sure to check the condition and runout of the front wheel bearings on the 2WD and 4WD vehicles and the CV joints on the 4WD vehicles since worn wheel bearings and/or CV joints can cause the ABS trigger rings to rub against the ABS sensors and damage them.

The Evaporative system may have problems with the vapor canister releasing charcoal pellets that plug the vent valve. Typically a Code P0441, P0442 and P0446 will be set. The key code is the P0446 which is a vent valve electrical failure. The proper repair is to replace the entire canister with all the valves as a unit. This is located on top of the fuel tank and is expensive. Our Technicians tell us that for awhile Toyota was covering these problems, but this may have changed. It would not hurt to call the dealer if this problem occurs to see if Toyota is still helping with these repairs.

At 125,000-150,000 miles, the Brake Master Cylinder may need replacing. It is critical to adjust the brake pedal to Master Cylinder pushrod clearance or the brakes will drag and over heat.

The AC Expansion Valve may develop a very slow leak or allow too much refrigerant flow which reduces cooling. Our technicians tell us that Toyota makes an updated expansion valve to resolve these problems if and when they occur.

Typically the AC compressor is worn out by about 150,000 miles in warm and/or humid climates. It is recommended to replace the complete compressor including a new clutch and rpm sensor, and to replace the receiver/dryer as well.

A rough idle and even an emissions inspection failure for high HC and CO can be caused by improperly adjusted valves. Also, exhaust valves may become to tight which can lead to valve failures. Our technicians tell us that regular valve adjustment inspections are a must.

Our technicians report that by 100,000 miles, the ignition key tends to wear out and should be replaced or it may not work as well in the door locks or ignition lock cylinder.

Front brake rotors can wear causing a pulsation felt in the brake pedal. Our technicians tell us this condition is best corrected by replacement of the front rotors and brake pads.

The ignition coil inside the distributor may fail. Our technicians tell us this may result in a hesitation on acceleration, especially when the vehicle is warming up on cold, rainy days. The pickup coils inside the distributor can also fail and cause a no-start condition. There have also been some failures of the radio noise suppressors inside the distributors, which can short out. Our technicians recommend replacing the whole distributor with a complete, genuine Toyota distributor if any of its components fail.

If the vehicle will not crank over, the most common problem is the starter, which tend to fail at about 100,00-125,000 miles. Sometimes it is only the starter solenoid contacts, but often the complete starter (including solenoid) needs to be replaced.