Farquea's fix and modification list - 95 Corolla DX - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums

7th Generation (1993-1997) Specific discussion of the 7th generation

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post #1 of 20 Old 02-05-2017, 03:09 PM Thread Starter
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Farquea's fix and modification list - 95 Corolla DX

I had a thread with some questions going on at Car Noob Looking For Some Starter Advice but decided to start a new thread to track all my fixes and progress. It's worth noting that when it comes to cars my knowledge extends to checking the oil, tyre pressures and taking it to my mechanic every 6-12 months. I'm also starting with ZERO tools so this may be helpful for other complete novices like myself.

My car, a 95 DX, I bought her back in 2012 with 2 previous owners, a young family and an old lady from what I can gather. Bought for a tidy (I realise now) $1250CDN with 272,000k (now i know how high this I probably wouldn't have bought it) on the clock. However she has been a real rock for me over the 4 years, going from occasional use and doing a number of long journeys and in the last 2 years turned into a daily commuter, going 20 minutes to work and back in the city. Currently with 307,000k on the clock.

I've been through the list of service history that I have from myself and the PO and as much for my help, I've listed below the notable repairs done to date:
  • Distributor cap @ 254k April 2011
  • Spark plugs and wires @ 254k April 2011
  • Exhaust manifold @ 273k Nov 2012
  • 'Gaskets' (not sure what this actually means) @ 273k Nov 2012
  • Power steering hose and fluid @ 286k March 2015
  • New alternator @ 289k April 215
  • New battery @ 295k November 2015
The following is a list of recommended fixes that I chose not to do due to cost:
  • 'Motor mounts are worn our' @ 273k Nov 2015
  • 'All three drive belts are old and stating to fray' at 289k March 2015
  • 'Oil leak from rear main seal, there is also a leak coming from head gasket at this time' at 289k March 2015
  • 'Neutral safety switch is faulty causing reverse lamps not to function' at 289k March 2015
  • 'Flex pipe in the exhaust system is starting to leak' at 289k March 2015
  • 'Rear brakes at 2-3mm' 307k Jan 2017
My immediate concerns go to the 'head gasket' reported a while back. At the time when it was described to me the terms 'one way' was mentioned as if to suggest it may not be a huge problem and so I left it but I want to make sure thats not about to go.

The motor mounts are also something I chose not to do because of the cost but the thing vibrates like a b*tch so I want these done.
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Last edited by Farquea; 02-05-2017 at 03:13 PM.
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post #2 of 20 Old 02-05-2017, 03:13 PM
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Do the rear brakes 1st. Safety is most important.

94 DX slow work in progress

Deeeder's Fix It List
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post #3 of 20 Old 02-05-2017, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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So here is my list of checks, fixes and modifications I intend to attempt and I'll tick off as I do/fail at them.

Checks:
  • Check coolant levels - COMPLETE Feb 5th 2017
  • Test cylinder compression - COMPLETE Feb 5th 2017
  • Check spark plugs - COMPLETE Feb 5th 2017
Fixes:
  • Replace spark plugs
  • Replace engine mounts
  • Replace flex pipe
  • Replace rear brakes
  • Replace drive belts
  • Replace neutral safety switch
  • Fix passenger door handle
Easy Modifications:
  • Clean headlamps - COMPLETE Feb 5th 2017
  • New WeatherTech floor mats - ADDED Feb 9th 2017
  • Clean and re-spray rims - COMPLETE Feb 13th 2017
  • Trunk lip
  • Cargo liner
  • New stereo and speakers
  • Add hitch bar
  • Replace/respray wiper arms
  • LED interior lights
  • Replace steering wheel
  • Replace pedals
Difficult Modifications:
  • New wheels & all weather tires
  • Side skirts
  • New bumpers
  • New grill
  • New headlights, tail lights, fog lights
  • New trunk centre garnish
  • Add central locking
  • Add automatic windows
Here we go.....

Last edited by Farquea; Yesterday at 07:22 PM.
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post #4 of 20 Old 02-05-2017, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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Check Coolant - Feb 5 2017

I had concerns about my coolant levels when I was poking around under the hood. When I open the coolant cap I see coolant but I watched that this should be full (see attachment 1)

I also checked what I think is the coolant overflow and again read that this should be full but when I look at the dip stick, it looks to be pretty low (see attachment 2)

Question 1:
Should I fill both the cap and the overflow tank up to the top? I don't have any coolant so is any coolant ok to buy? Should I use a particular type or brand and is mixing ok with what is currently being used?
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post #5 of 20 Old 02-05-2017, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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Clean Headlamps - Feb 5th 2017

So to my first easy mod on my list, clean the headlamps. I bought some Meguiars headlamp cleaning kit and went at it!

I used some painters tape and went around my lamps and then got scrubbing with the cleaner then applied the coating. For a comparison of dirty and clean see attachment 1 and for the finish on both fronts see attachment 2.

I also did the rears too, for a comparison see attachment 3 and for both finished see attachment 4.

Overall I was pretty happy with the result, particularly on the fronts! So I'll mark this off on my list as being complete!

*EDIT* Once outside, I noticed the right is clearer than the left and upon closer inspection it looks as though they are 2 different lamps as if one has been replaced at some point. For now they will do though until I may get around to replacing them in the future.
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Last edited by Farquea; 02-05-2017 at 06:11 PM.
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post #6 of 20 Old 02-05-2017, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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Compression Test - Feb 5th 2017

So in order to determine whether or not the head gasket is a problem, I performed a compression test on each cylinder among a few other checks as advised in my other thread.

I bought a compression tester, an oil can and rubber hose to attach to drop oil down into the cylinders along with a wrench, extension bar and socket. I'll add that being someone having never bought wrench or sockets before, determining what size socket I needed and how to make everything work with an extension bar was confusing for even after googling and when trying to pick what I needed in the store as I didn't understand why some sockets were in mm, some in fractions, what 'drive' was, what SAE is and still don't but eventually I had what I needed!

On my other thread 94RollaDad asked if I was having high coolant and oil consumption. The coolant I can't speak to as while I reported above how full it currently is, I'm not sure when it was last full. So if someone can let me know if I can and should buy and fill my coolant all the way, I can check this going forward.

The oil consumption part, I know I have a rear main seal leak, but this isn't leaving tracks of oil up the driveway and If I top my oil up every say 12 weeks this seems to be enough to manage it.

However, as far as I can see there is no sign of mixing of oil and coolant, the colour of my oil dipstick seems to look ok and like any other oil dipstick I've seen? (attachment 1)

Koko4 advised dipping the coolant overflow rubber stick into a glass of water. Result - No bubbling.

I also checked the oil-filler cap on DannoXYZ's advice looking for chocolate milkshake like sludge. Seems ok (attachment 2) and nothing like the example he posted.

Lastly, while watching for white smoke, if I turn it on and idle, white smoke does come out of the exhaust, however if I drive off I can't see any evidence of this in my rear view mirror trailing behind me and certainly isn't a thick ploom. It's also cold here, 1 degree and snowing right now which may effect this? I can't say if the smoke I'm seeing has always been there though as I've never looked for it before now.

So onto the compression test. The only step I couldn't follow was to disconnect the distributor connector. I think I know where it is but couldn't get it off and was worried about breaking it. If you see attachment 3, is this it circled in red? Is this a problem I didn't do this step with regard to the results?

I took my spark plugs out. Now according to the service history these were last changed at 254k, over 50k ago. Taking this into account and what they look like (attachment 4) should I be looking to change these? The 2nd one looks particularly rusted/stained I noticed, does this tell me anything?

Anyway, in goes my compression tester, I floored the accelerator and turned the car on letting the engine turn over 5 times. I then added some oil to the same cylinder and tested again and recorded my results. The results are below:

  1. 150 (dry) / 160 (wet)
  2. 150 / 160
  3. 150 / 160
  4. 160 / 170
While these are pretty consistent, is the compression too low? What exactly does this tell me?

So with the above taken into consideration, does this give me enough to suggest that the head gasket is not on the verge of going and to proceed with other fixes? Is there anything else this tells me that I should take note of?

The only other thing I didn't do as advised was to clean the engine block and to put UV dye into my oil. Is it still worth doing this and if so how do I clean the engine block exactly? Power wash? Cloth and soapy water?

Any input onto all of this is greatly appreciated!
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post #7 of 20 Old 02-05-2017, 11:32 PM
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First, add some distilled water to your radiator and fill up the overflow-tank halfway. Whenver radiator-cap is removed, you should have water up to the top.

Compression-test seems to indicate rings are OK with only a slight increase with oil-added (how much?). So it may be worn-out valvetrain.

Plugs appears to support this with lots of burnt-oil coked on them. Could be worn valve-stem seals and worn valve-guides. This deposits oil on the valve-seats and they turn to coal/soot like you see on the plugs. These deposits prevent even valve-seating and sealing, leading to leaks and lower-compression. Not a huge concern, but head should be rebuilt eventually.

For now:
- change the plugs,
- use full-synthetic oil when changing and
- run through a bottle of Redline SI-1 cleaner every other tank for the next 5-tanks
- remove plugs and inspect.
- work on brakes
- work on motor-mounts. I recommend OEM for passenger mount, the others can be aftermarket or repaired with silicone.
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post #8 of 20 Old 02-06-2017, 12:40 AM
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Fix that flex pipe. It's not 100% safe. The cabin is decently sealed but you don't want exhaust gases going around your cabin and potentially into it. Neutral safety switch is a concern too. Failure of safety equipment looks REALLY bad to insurance in case of accident.
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post #9 of 20 Old 02-06-2017, 02:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Farquea View Post
Neutral safety switch is faulty causing reverse lamps not to function' at 289k March 2015
I had the same problem on my 90. It looks like the same type of switch. I disassembled the neutral start switch and was able to sand the contact surfaces down a bit and got it to start working again. I'll have to find the pictures. It's kind of hard to explain in words. Perhaps just grabbing a junkyard switch would be easier.

I bet if you move the shifter slightly forward or backward, the reverse lights will come on. This is a sign that the contact surface in the switch had a small worn area. If not, and your reverse lights never work, then maybe it's not the switch.
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1990 Corolla DX sedan, 4A-FE, 3-speed auto A131L
225,000 miles and counting...

1997 Corolla DX sedan, 7A-FE, 4-speed auto A245E
180,000 miles
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post #10 of 20 Old 02-06-2017, 12:55 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
First, add some distilled water to your radiator and fill up the overflow-tank halfway. Whenver radiator-cap is removed, you should have water up to the top.

Compression-test seems to indicate rings are OK with only a slight increase with oil-added (how much?). So it may be worn-out valvetrain.

Plugs appears to support this with lots of burnt-oil coked on them. Could be worn valve-stem seals and worn valve-guides. This deposits oil on the valve-seats and they turn to coal/soot like you see on the plugs. These deposits prevent even valve-seating and sealing, leading to leaks and lower-compression. Not a huge concern, but head should be rebuilt eventually.

For now:
- change the plugs,
- use full-synthetic oil when changing and
- run through a bottle of Redline SI-1 cleaner every other tank for the next 5-tanks
- remove plugs and inspect.
- work on brakes
- work on motor-mounts. I recommend OEM for passenger mount, the others can be aftermarket or repaired with silicone.
With regard to the plugs, how do I choose what to buy, I can find a whole list of plugs here Here that will work with my car but how do I choose, go for the most expensive, simple as that?

Redline SI-1 it seems is hard to find in Canada, I can get it on Amazon.ca for $20 a bottle and $40 delivery so not cheap but maybe i'll take the plunge on that and give it a try.
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post #11 of 20 Old 02-06-2017, 02:28 PM
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Is there Walmart in CA? I've found they have best pricing on SI-1 and no shipping since there's plenty in U.S. You can also use a 50/50 mix of mineral-spirits and denatured-alcohol up to 5% of tank (~2L).

Basic NGK or Denso copper-plugs @ $1/ea are best value. Really no performance benefits with the platinum or iridium plugs on these cars. Ignition-coil and leads needs to be upgraded if you want better ignition performance on this car anyway.
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post #12 of 20 Old 02-06-2017, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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We do have Walmart but like all great Canadian alternatives to their US siblings, it's not stocked according to their website. I see it on the US Walmart site but only for a pack of 12. So it's either $20CDN a bottle with $35 delivery from Amazon.ca or if I can find a US retailer that even with delivery is vastly cheaper, I can ship it to my Washingston state PO box (I live in Vancouver so its only a 45 min drive)

Spark plugs are bought and once again just to give you an idea of how bad Canada is, from Rock Auto with delivery for 4 it came to $18CDN. Canadian Tire (probably the biggest auto retailer up here) don't even stock Denso plugs and the NGK ones are all named 'Winter plugs' 'Spring plugs' etc on their website and start at $5 a plug so RockAuto came through there, thanks!

Now to research fixing the flex pipe and to find some oem motor mounts! is it the same part # for the 1.6 and 1.8 engines or do I need to stick strictly to this? I've also heard that the rear mount is particularly difficult to replace so I think i'll start with the other 3 and see if I can get those done first and see how much of a difference that makes.
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post #13 of 20 Old 02-06-2017, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrZ View Post
I had the same problem on my 90. It looks like the same type of switch. I disassembled the neutral start switch and was able to sand the contact surfaces down a bit and got it to start working again. I'll have to find the pictures. It's kind of hard to explain in words. Perhaps just grabbing a junkyard switch would be easier.

I bet if you move the shifter slightly forward or backward, the reverse lights will come on. This is a sign that the contact surface in the switch had a small worn area. If not, and your reverse lights never work, then maybe it's not the switch.
I'll give this a try when I get home as they weren't working about 2 years ago and then at some point started working and now I think are back to not working. I took it into the garage for this and they confirmed it must be the switch as all bulbs and fuses were fine but the cost of investigating and potentially replacing that switch was too high to justify at the time so I left it hoping they'd start working again on their own.
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post #14 of 20 Old 02-06-2017, 04:29 PM
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Well, it's not as simple as just trying it because the switch isn't designed to be disassembled. I like to take things apart to see how they work. It requires bending some metal crimps holding the two sides together. I'll have to find thoses pictures I have.
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post #15 of 20 Old 02-15-2017, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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So I ordered my engine mounts from Rock Auto and while they are being delivered I had 3 days on a long weekend here with the wife away that I figured i'd do some car work. I decided that both our rims could do with a good scrub and re-spray, particularly hers and so I looked up a guide and bought my supplies and had at it!

While the plan went slightly wrong about the time I reversed my wife's car into a concrete post and meant i spent most of Monday trying to get the fender off and somewhat repairing it, the results on the wheels I was pretty happy with in the end. The only thing was I did overspray a bit of primer onto my tire but a bit of black shoe polish did the trick.

I did find some rust on the underside of the car though so may try and sandpaper that out and spray myself this weekend for a somewhat temporary fix.

For now though it's a waiting game for my engine mounts and then to decide whether to fit the 3 myself then get the rear one done at a garage, or get that done first then do the other 3.
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