I was scrolling through the "poor" section of Craigslist autos one day helping a friend look for a cheap car, in the $1000 or less ads. Most of the cars in this range either don't run, don't drive, or have been crashed. This is the perfect place for someone like me to find a ride since I've become proficient at sourcing cheap parts and performing the required repairs. I've bought and fixed many cars by now in this manner, but usually regular sedans and small SUV's. When I saw the ad for this Celica I knew right away I had to save this one too. It had a blown engine and something wrong with 2nd gear, serious issues but nothing I can't handle. I e-mailed the owner and we agreed on a price, so I called my buddy Rubin at JDTE Towing and we made the hour long drive to pick up the car.
We arrived at the owner's gated community around 9am to pick up the car, after getting buzzed in we spotted the car right away. Dan(the owner) met us on the driveway and we introduced ourselves, after a brief talk I asked to look at the car. They brought out the only key and unlocked the door, I popped the hood and looked around inside noticing several trim pieces missing. It was obvious this car had been dead for a while, there were plenty of spiderwebs and a good amount of dirt inside and out. I finally go check out the engine and notice right away that someone had tried to fix this car, several broken plastic parts, oil residue everywhere, and things out of place. We were able to find some of the interior parts in the garage and then decided to settle the purchase.
Dan and Andrew were really honest and pleasant to do business with, that's always refreshing given the atmosphere of Craigslist. Turns out that Dan is an author and actually signed one of his books for us, its always cool meeting creative people. We made the hour long drive back to SD and dropped the car off at the shop, I paid Rubin and we went home. I didn't look the car over again until the following Monday.
The first thing I did was buy a composition book to log every issue I find along the way. I looked over the interior and exterior and wrote down everything missing or broken, later that night I looked up the prices on all of these repairs. Next, I decided to verify the issues with the drivetrain, I put the battery booster on and started the engine for the first time. Right away everyone in the shop knew for sure this engine had rod-knock, and sadly it hadn't just started. This knock was pretty bad and the engine struggled to idle, soon stalling out. So I fired it back up and checked the clutch and gearbox, it has reverse and first and moves fine in those gears. Second gear, however, is completely gone. No matter how hard I hold the shifter in position, once the clutch is released it just grinds and grinds.
Now that I'm fully aware of all issues and know exactly what I need to fix, I removed the drivetrain. I've never owned a Celica before, so all of this is a learning experience for me even though its similar to my Yaris. I will continue to provide updates as we progress on this car, stay tuned for the results of the engine and transmission dissasembly.
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