How to Tune Up a Toyota Tercel

by WadeH

A tune up for your Toyota Tercel is a good investment. You'll save money on gas and extend the life of your car. You'll check the battery and clean the battery posts, check emissions control equipment such as the EGR valve and the PCV valve, and change your spark plugs and wires. After that, you'll need to change the air and fuel filters, adjust the idle speed, fill the fluids and clean your fuel injectors or carburetors. Best of all, you'll miss an afternoon of bad TV.

Tune Up Your Toyota Tercel

Use a small wrench and remove your red and black battery wires and scrub away any corrosion from the battery posts. Re-connect the battery wires. Check that your battery voltage is at 12 volts while idle and 13 to 14 volts while running by using your digital multimeter. Turn the multimeter to "V" and contact the red lead of the multimeter with the red or "+" battery post and the black lead to the negative or "-" battery post. Start the car. Contact the red lead again to the "+" battery post and the black lead to the "-" battery post.

Check your Tercel's Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve if you have a rough idle, if you hear "pinging" or "knocking," or if your fuel economy is bad. Clean your Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve by removing the cap and filter and using compressed air to spray-clean the filter. Re-install the filter and cap. Use a vacuum gauge to check the vacuum going into the EGR and coming out of it. Compare your readings to the vacuum levels specified in your manual. See the link in Resources for a picture.

Check for Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) valve problems by looking for common symptoms. Listen for a rough idle, look for oil on the throttle body and look for blue smoke coming out of your tailpipe. Replace the inexpensive PCV valve if you have these symptoms.

Disconnect the black ground terminal of the battery. Change your four spark plugs and spark plug wires. Remove the boot of the spark plug wire from the spark plug. Use your spark plug wrench and socket to remove the spark plug. Check the plug for signs of engine wear and dispose the plug properly.

Install the new plug gently in order to avoid stripping the motor threads, a serious error. Rotate the plug in by hand three rotations, make sure it isn't cross-threaded, and only then use the socket to tighten completely. Replace all spark plugs and connect the battery.

Change your oil and oil filter. Use the manufacturer-recommended oil weight. Use an oil additive for older cars with low compression in order to restore power and better fuel economy. Place an oil collection container under the oil pan of the car. Loosen the bolt on the oil pan. Drain it. Unscrew and remove the oil filter. Install the new filter. Install the bolt on your oil pan. Unscrew the round oil lid on the top of the engine and pour in the oil and the additive to correct level. Dispose of used oil and filter properly.

Locate the idle adjustment screw in your manual and adjust it to the recommended level with a screwdriver. Check your RPM gauge inside the car to determine if the level is correct. Turn the car off. Remove the clamp and hose from both sides of your fuel filter and dispose of the filter properly. Install the new filter by wiggling the hose onto the outlets of the filter and re-positioning the clamps. Remove the lid on the air intake canister, remove the air filter, install the new filter and replace the canister lid.

Fill all fluids to proper levels, including oil, radiator, brake, power steering and transmission oil. Check your radiator fluid when the car is cool by extracting fluid into a radiator fluid tester. Add radiator fluid as necessary for protection during winter and summer.

Clean fuel injectors with fuel injector cleaner in the gas tank. Clean the carburetor with carburetor cleaner spray. Crank the car, remove the air intake cover, and lightly spray the carburetor until all carbon buildup is removed and the metal shines. Improve your Tercel's performance dramatically by cleaning thoroughly.

Items you will need

About the Author

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