How to Improve the Mileage on a Toyota Tercel

by Arthur Barnhouse
gas pump sales image by Tammy Mobley from

From its introduction in 1978 until it was discontinued in 1999, the Toyota Tercel was an admirable performer when it came to accomplishing exemplary fuel economy. In fact, according to fuel mileage ratings recorded by ToyoLand, the Tercel regularly cracked the 30 mpg barrier in city driving and reached the high 30s, and even 40s, on the highway. Although it may seem that the Tercel's impressive fuel mileage leaves little room for improvement, there are some things you can do to boost the figures even further.

Step 1

Regulate the amount of weight hauled in your Tercel. Because of the smaller engine and compact body, any weight added to the automobile will get in the way of greater fuel economy. The Tercel's 1.5-liter engine must work harder with the increased load, which results in poor fuel mileage. Clean out the trunk and remove anything that isn't absolutely necessary.

Step 2

Drive the Tercel at a reasonable speed. Even an economical vehicle will show bad gas mileage if the driver isn't careful. The slower you can safely travel, the more gas you'll save. When driving the Tercel on the highway, try to restrict your speed to below 60 mph. When operating the Tercel in the city, anticipate stoplights and come to a stop slowly. When you're ready to move, speed up steadily as well.

Step 3

Turn the Tercel's engine off instead of letting it idle. You do need to start the car and allow it to idle to warm the engine on cold mornings. Also, for better gas mileage, you should shut down the engine if you find yourself stuck in traffic or in a long line at the fast food drive-through.

Step 4

Avoid hauling anything on the exterior of the car. Even if the Tercel has a bike or luggage rack on the roof, do not utilize it. When you haul cargo on the outside of the car, you ruin its aerodynamics and add a massive amount of drag, which effectively slashes fuel economy.

Step 5

Check the Tercel's oil level frequently and schedule an oil change about every 3,000 miles. Because your Tercel is getting older, you need to make certain the engine is in the best shape possible to get the best gas mileage. Also, make the switch to a high-quality synthetic oil. It will boost the efficiency of the engine and lessen the friction.

Check the air pressure in the Tercel's tires. Low-pressure tires hinder fuel economy because they result in more surface friction and resistance. Look in the Tercel's owner's manual or on the inside of the driver's side door frame for the correct air pressure. If you keep the tires properly inflated, you may see an increase in fuel economy of up to 3 percent, according to the Federal Trade Commission.