Looking for Advice

  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • 115,451 MILES
Hi, Second time here! P.S My post are always long as I can't seem to explain things shortly. So please be patient and bare with me if you can. :)

I think my car is finally reaching the end of the road. It would be costly to fix then to get another car, but I would like some ideas of possible problems and cost to repair. I currently don't want to spend thousands more on it or any more then I need to so I need an idea if it is something simple that people can do and if not how much it would cost to completely repair each part.
I spent $2K last month on new front struts/shocks/boots/mounts the whole 9 yards. I was planing to keep the car for another 6 years, but these problems keep coming. I was going to try and revive this car, but everything that I do to get it better something seems to always come up and it gets worst! :(

My current problems are this:
1) When the car has been in the very cold and off for a while the ignition would not turn. The first time I thought it was a steering wheel lock. However I am able to turn the steering wheel in a pretty nice angle both sides and not hearing any clicks. It does not help turn the key. I have to force the key by jiggling back and forth hard before I can get the ignition to turn and start the car up, sometimes it takes a minute other times I have to try it twice because my hands hurt trying to force it.

2) My radiator is only 2 years old and it just started smoking. When I am driving you can see the white smoke coming from the front like it is overheating, but the car temps are fine it is just a lot of white smoke. I check the fluid levels and they all seem fine.. Driving on the roads with some white smoke coming out to the grill is something that sort of bothers me. I open the hood and have the engine running and the entire top radiator is smoking from one side to another.

3) The engine is now making a weird noise,
something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3-5hsCMfhk when it is idle and you open the hood it gives that woomp sound You can not hear it if your in the car. I noticed it when I open the hood to check the smoke from the radiator. ( The engine does seem like it is shaking more then it should be)

4) Steering wheel is semi hard to turn when car/engine is cold: Di spite new fluid the steering wheel sometimes make this scrapping/squeaking sound when turning in the cold without letting the car warm up both inside and out.

Other notes: The body is in terrible condition it gets worst every year. I got rear ended twice last year in late November and plan to replace the bumper cover as well as the absorber.(spent both the persons deductible and some out of pocket for the new struts/shocks up front of the car) the bumper is still on but there is a dent in the places where the 2 different people hit me. Large rust holes on the underside getting bigger every storm, tried to cover them up with some tape, not helping. Paint starting to bleach white all over the place, ( car was grayish silver) There is a small hole underneath the driver side car door that is completely through because my mom closed the garage door power and its on a hill so when I gave it some gas to go uphill and the garage was not opening, I slammed on the brake and turn the car towards the snow embankment to stop the car from crashing the garage door. (this was during the north east snow storm) Instead it just scrape the side and a piece of metal probably from rust that all ready weaken it :(

In the last 2 years, I got new radiator, new water pump, new distributor caps and wires, new spark plugs, all fluids flush and cleaned, new brakes (the whole 9 yards, even the drums in the back), new fuel filter, new catalytic converter, got one of the side doors fixed because the clamps broke so the window did not open and close properly. Also as mention brand new struts/shocks/boots/clamps!

I put so much money into fixing, that I don't know how much more I want to go.. I could have brought a good used car with the money I have spent over 2 years.

Also on a side note I just found out that apparently this engine was not design for Ethanol. All gas stations apparently have a 10% ethanol mix into there gas now, so I don't know what it would do to the engine long term. :(

I really need help and advice on what to do! If anyone out here is a car lover and can help guide me I would really appreciate it! The reason I kept this car for so long is:
1) Its a Toyota
2) A lot of things are Mechanical(no complicated electronic controls/ no airbags!! :D)
3) It gets good gas millage
4) The Engine still runs with no major problems!(well it did)
5) The overall design: 5MPH bumpers which will remain intact and won't show much damage when hit. Especially being hit twice proved the bumpers are strong as heck!.The cover stayed on just the 2 dents the size of the license plates are on it! Good size car, even though it is a bit lower then I would like. Plenty of trunk and can sit 5 people nicely. P155/13 tires

Some of the newer corolla's when I was thinking before the 2 year repair are just to low. My head is on the roof when I sit in one of those. With this car, I get plenty of head room and driving room without feeling cramped and small.

Do you
have the same problem?
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 AT 7:58 AM

1 Reply

I also have a toyota corolla, 1988 tho1 just had a small problem on it and it sounds really similar to yours!

1. Had a weird engine sound, if I stood outside, but can not be heard inside
2. The Steering wheel is hard to turn if going in speeds 0-30 km/hr

i found out the problem was the belt of the alternator and the alternator it self. The same belt turns the fan, it could overheat, and make it seem like the radiator is not working. But if your battery has been working for more than a couple days, and you've been driving for at least an hour a day, its probably aint the alternator.
Was this
Friday, February 18th, 2011 AT 5:05 AM

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