Advice on buying an 88 Camry, plse

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Old 09 Apr 2006, 08:21 am   #1 (permalink)
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Default Advice on buying an 88 Camry, plse

I am thinking about buying a 4-cyl 1988 Camry DLX wagon with 197K
miles. THe elderly widow lady has tried to sell it once before for
$1000, but it didn't sell. Its up for bids again, I can probably buy
it for $500 to $600. I think she just wants to get rid of it. I
test-drove it---but not far, as the alternator is dead, and the
battery was already down to 12 volts and dropping. It needs a new
alternator. That will cost about $100 to replace myself. The AC does
not work, you get blower only. I do not hear any click like the clutch
is momentarily trying to engage. Seems like I could have heard the
clutch if it had just lost its charge. If it is just a problem with
the control ciricuit not getting power to the clutch, then I could fix
it myself easily. ANything other than that would have to be done by a
mechanic. It doesn't have any conversion sticker on it, so I assume it
still had the old refrigerant---so will need to have conversion to new
refrig. done.
The body looks very good, no rust, and the interior is very
clean, almost perfect-- except for torn spot on the drivers'
seat-back. The oil looks like honey. trannny fine. The radiator is
new. It has one bad tire on rear, I had to fill up and install the
full-size spare (matching the other tires) to drive it. There is no
smoke from the tail pipe.

Does this sound like a car to grab up? Assuming it has had regular oil
changes, how many more miles might I get out of the engine?

If the compressor is shot, how much should I figure on spending to get
the AC fixed up/converted? If it is OK, how much?
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Old 09 Apr 2006, 08:47 am   #2 (permalink)
m Ransley
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Default Re: Advice on buying an 88 Camry, plse

How do you know its the alternator, did you test the alternator. for 500
its ok, but a car that old probably has thousands in maintenance due.
Who knows how long it will last, it could last a day or years. A
compression test is a good idea, The ignition coil on that model fail
from getting oil on them, its under the distributor, clean it with
alcohol first. If the radiator is new was it overheated ruining the head
gasket? are hoses new. You say oil is clean, was old oil contaminated
with coolant from a blown or leaking head gasket? Does coolant level
drop. Does the cooling system hold pressure? Test it. You wont know much
till you test and drive it 500 miles You could have major repairs ahead
or just alot of overdue maintennce. I would test a few things, coolant
system holding pressure, engine compression, electrical system, and try
to drive it a day and see if engine oil turns milky from water and if
cooling system drops. When was the timing belt replaced? You may only
have alot of overdue maintenance but talking to her mechanic would help
alot since sellers wont tell you all the bad.

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Old 09 Apr 2006, 09:28 am   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice on buying an 88 Camry, plse

You can generally resuscitate the alternator (if original Denso) by
simply replacing the brushes.
Not even necessary to remove the alternator from the car.
Try asking the dealer for part number 27370-35060, but double check
that fits your year - less than $20.
Once the alternator is working, that may solve the AC clutch problem as
it is electrically actuated.
Key thing on a used car is the care bestowed upon it by the prior
If she's cared for it well, then sounds like a good buy to me.
Personally wouldn't care for the station wagon, but seems that people
love them.
You still have general maintenance items on any FWD Toyota, like axle
boots, and fluids, brakes, plugs and wires, etc.
How many more miles depends on existing condition.
I have a 1977 4 cylinder Toyota long bed truck where the odometer flips
over at 100,000 miles and I prefer not to count how many times that has
happened - but has to be at least three. Engine is still strong.
Best gauge to engine wear would be if you could determine the oil
usage, ie., how much needs to be added between oil changes, or having a
compression test done to gauge condition of rings and cylinders.
How quickly the oil light goes out when starting gives perhaps some
kind of indication of bearing condition.
Also carefully examine the color, level and odor of the exiting oil.
If the power steering, brake, transmission fluid are dark, plan on
changing all of them along with the differential, but basically you're
looking at the overall soundness of the car and it doesn't seem like
it's been neglected or abused.
Can't go too far wrong for $500.
That's what I paid for that truck many years ago, and I'm still driving

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Old 09 Apr 2006, 05:04 pm   #4 (permalink)
Merritt Mullen
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Default Re: Advice on buying an 88 Camry, plse

In article <>, geronimo wrote:

> Does this sound like a car to grab up? Assuming it has had regular oil
> changes, how many more miles might I get out of the engine?

Several months ago I sold an '87 Camry with 135K miles for $1800, and had
people knocking down my door to buy it.

My theory is: mechanicals are easily fixed (although not always cheaply).
In a car this age, the most important thing is the body and interior

For $600, it sounds like a good deal to me, especially if you are
mechanically inclined enough to do your own repairs.

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