*~* Somebody HELP the girl ! foreign car :(

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I’m a Mom looking at 1995- 98 corolla vs. prizm vs. protégé

a. are these all Toyota engine/motors under different labels or just all made in Japan? Do they all hold up the same?
b. Do they all basically cost the same to fix things like radiators, clutches, alternators, etc?
c. Why does a transmission need replacing or a clutch die at 96,000 and another is still working at 124k miles?
e. What makes AC go out early? When do they need recharging? Does that fix AC that doesn’t work?
f. Besides oil changing, what can you get any of these cars to last to 275k without spending thousands in repairs?

Thank you. Mrs. H.

posted by  Mrs.H

civics are generally very reliable cars, and last a long time, from all the ones ive seen even being hot rodded so to speak, geos arent the greatest car, but i know a lot of people who have them, from the early 90s and theyre still running strong, If i was you though i would go with the civic, cheap and easy to find parts for

posted by  dsmracersv98

Each company has different quality control. Just cause they use the same engine doesn't mean it has the same quality. For example a Scion uses a Toyota engine but it's quality control isn't as good as a real Toyota.

As another example a Buick is a GM car and has the same GM engine as Chevy and Pontiac but it's quality control is much better. High enough that now Buick is now just bellow Lexus as #2 most reliable cars according to JD Power and Associates.

No because they all come from different companies. For example older Honda Civic's are known to need their water pump changed eventually. For some cars the water pump and a belt is all you remove but for the Honda Civic you need to also remove the timing belt.

Also there are some old Nissian's with I4's that require a whole days worth of work just to get a starter out. Usually because there's a lot of other complicated stuff in the way.

Maintenance or poor driving.

A manual transmissions clutch dies because it just does at some point. The clutch is never meant to last the life of the car. Around 96,000 sounds pretty good if that's the first time changing the clutch. Depending on the driving and how bad you are at driving stick depends on the life of the clutch.

Auto transmissions tend to last longer since they technically don't have a clutch. On the other hand a manual transmission needs it's oil changed just like the engine does. Every few thousand miles it should be flushed and have a new filter installed. Most people don't know this and eventually end up needing their transmissions rebuilt.

For example my 90 Chevy Beretta still has it's original trans working just fine because I kept up on the oil and filter change.

Mazda wasn't known to be a reliable car company. It can't get any better now that Ford owns them. :laughing:

Poor design is what causes most AC systems to fail. There's really nothing you can do to prevent the AC system from failing other then using it. The fluid in the AC system is a lubricant and if the AC is rarely used it can fail for not have certain parts lubricated.

Some car companies know how to make a good AC system and some don't. My Beretta actually has never leaked from it's AC system ever. Though for good measure I decided to vacuum the AC system and put fresh R12 in it just in case the 16 year old R12 was going bad. Note that you should try to avoid converting some AC systems to R134a as it can cause the AC to be less effective when you want it really cold.


Lots of Luck and maintenance. The only cars I've seen reach that high in miles is a few Lincoln Town Cars and a Honda Civic. The Honda Civic owner I knew did did change all the fluids on time. The only reason he's not driving it anymore was because his wife got into an accident and it wasn't worth fixing the car.

The Lincoln Town Cars are owned by a limousine service and were generally abused but were kept up with basic maintenance. They are still driven and are likely beyond 300k in miles by now.

Most cars fail because of a lack of maintenance. There are other fluids besides engine oil that needs to be changed every few thousand miles. Transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and coolant all lubricate the system and need to be flushed and changed usually around 30,000 miles. At some point the lubricate breaks down from heat and abuse and begin to loose their Viscosity. Remember no part in a car should have any metal to metal contact and if they ever do then the repair bills start coming in.


Depends on how severe the accident is. Some accidents don't effect the car beyond cosmetics and some even bend the frame. If an actual component is damage in any way then it should be replaced. Things like axles, rods, and control arms should never be left alone if there's any sign of damage. After all it is your life.

Depends on what you consider a tune up? For most people it's spark plugs, air filter, and maybe cap, rotor, and wires.

Technically a real tune up is when you do all that and change every sensor in the car. Usually most people do the above type of tune up and sensors are left alone as they usually don't go bad that often.

Most cars today hardly ever need a tune up but older cars need it about every 10,000 to 20,000 miles. Depending on the quality of the spark plug can also depend on how often you need those changed as well. It's usually best to go with what ever the manufacturer used because a spark plug just a spark plug.


Brand name as the Geo wasn't considered name brand. The Civic sadly is more because a lot of young people go after them for their street racing hobby. It's also the same reason why they're stolen a lot as well. There's also the impression that people believe the old Civics were very reliable and cheap on repair because they didn't require maintenance. Though in my shop I've replaced enough water pumps, and CV joints to know how reliable a Civic really is.

Take my advice and if you had to choose then choose the Toyota. A Toyota is a rare site to see in any auto repair shop.


Every car company has different problems for each car. For example some Chevy's don't ever need to worry about CV joints or AC systems but are known for computer and eletrical problems.

Each car company has their own unique problems that you can expect to happen and problems that other car companies don't ever get with their cars.

Things like a clutch, water pump, alternator and timing belts are things that must be changed. Unless the car had a timing chain then that can out last the life of the engine. Beyond that every brand car is different and a used car can make it unpredictable.



Beware of people who sell cars. Sometimes it's because they are aware of a problem that might already exist. After all why are they selling the car?

If you have any doubt then take it to a local shop to have them check it out. You'll be surprised how good of a job dealers are at finding whats wrong with a car so you might wanna try them out. Though I think some dealers do charge but damn are they ever good at finding what's wrong with the car. :laughing:

posted by  DukenukemX

Mrs H. When you become tired of listening to the advice of 13 year olds who have either zero experience and knowledge about what they speak or are interested in convicing you that a Beretta is the car you should chose, let the adults on the forum know. Right now, unfortunately at your expense, I think we're going to sit back and read the "advice" just for laughs.

Hope to be helping you soon. :wink2:

posted by  vwhobo

Don't know why you think that. It's clear the OP thinks that Asian cars are the only reliable cars that they can get for cheap. My Beretta is just an example of the stereo type that goes around that a reliable car isn't going to be a Demostic car. My car is just a shinning example of what happens when you do regular maintenance.

If you disagree with anything I said then please post something constructive. I have worked in a garage and if you want advice about which car is reliable or not then what better person to ask?

Of all the four cars she has to choose I'd recommend the Toyota. Mostly because I hardly ever see them enter my shop for repairs. Though Honda Civics did because of CV joints and water pumps. The Prizm is just a rebranded Toyota Sprinter that GM sold.

Many people forget that a lot of American and Import companies had worked together for many years. For example DSM(Diamond Star Motors) cars was the result of Chrysler and Mitsubishi working together. Though today they don't work together and the current generation eclipse doesn't look anything like the DSM's of the past since they're missing they're AWD and turbo feature.

posted by  DukenukemX

Thank you for enlightening me. It's good to know that you have worked in a garage. I'm impressed, but... I've been in the industry for well over 30 years, have been an ASE CMAT for most of that and own and operate a few shops. You're probably not going to tell me anything that I don't already know. So...

If you really want me to pick apart your post and expose your ignorance, I'll be happy to oblige when I have the time. Or you could just agree to only post about things that you know beyond a reasonable doubt to be true or correct. Which would you like it to be?

posted by  vwhobo

do u have a life? i rarely see you give advise, you just make fun of people, it seems you spend all of you're time on here with nearly 8 thousand comments

posted by  dsmracersv98

While most of what you wrote is fairly subjective, I think you are way off beam in that passage. Freon is an inert gas that doesn't go bad in a closed system, so much so that e.g. Trane used R12 in it's PE centrifugal chillers that comprise a two foot turbine spinning at 20,000 rpm. For you to have regassed using R12 in the last few years would mean you had access to a highly restricted refrigerant and begs the question what you did with the existing gas?

The gas itself would not be contaminated, but the oil being a very high grade synthetic is highly miscible with contaminants like water and oxygen, becoming highly corrosive in the process...unless you flushed and changed the oil, changed the filter/dryer, evacuated, broke with dry nitrogen, evacuated again and then recharged I'm afraid your system will still be as it was before the gas recharge.

I would suggest that if you suspected contamination, you would be admitting a seal failure and therefore the Baretta must have leaked.

posted by  Wally

I have no idea if R12 could go bad. The reason I did it was because I wondered if it could go bad or if there was a way to improve it. Not to forget that R12 is mixed with additives and who knows if those additives could go bad.


The R12 I replaced it with was a R12 replacement. It's legal and doesn't hurt the environment. Plus I don't have to convert to R134a. What I did with the old R12 was release it into the air. Yea I know I'm a bad boy.


Like I said I did it for shits and giggles.


Nope no failure. It was done for no reason. Well not entirely no reason. A friend on mine was bragging about how cold he got his AC system when he did it. So I thought I could do the same to my Beretta's AC system. What I did was waste my time just as you said.


I have no doubt that you could pick apart my post. The fact that my post is entirely opinionated means that what I say is just that, an opinion. Not to forget that she didn't specify which year those four cars are. So what I said could be completely meaningless unless I knew the exact year. Also some of her questions were kinda hard for me to understand. So I tried to answer them as best as I could. To be honest I never really thought anyone was going to help this lady out considering how rare I see people here post replies. Let alone if anyone was going to post a reply to this thread at all.

Go ahead and pick apart my post. If there's something I don't know that you're 30 years of ASE CMAT does then please reply. Personally you seem to like to piss on people as best as you can. Not to mention I still haven't heard anyone help this lady out but I've had enough people help themselves to critizie my post.

posted by  DukenukemX

Only two members have responded to your post and only one of them is a dickhead that deserves a telling off... well maybe both of them are dickheads, but modesty forbids me from bragging. :mrgreen:

Mrs.H,

I don't know if the cars in the US are the same build quality, mechanicals, etc as we get (i.e. same as the Japs), but it seems you have already done some homework. The Mazda, Honda and Rolla seem like good options to me and all suitable for a 19 yearold woman.

From my indepth knowledge through the science of data gathering and observation, I have postulated a theory that late teen and early twenty woman don't mind those miniture van looking vehicles, you know the ones that look like the young offspring of a goddamned AWD and SUV union?

posted by  Wally

you mean like Mazda2, yaris etc...

posted by  windsonian

I did mean to refer to one person but this thread is still young so I thought ahead.



Don't you mean the retardation of when you mix an SUV and a station wagon together?

From my indepth knowledge through the act of asking my sisters what they want in a car they told me they only want two thing. It's gotta have four doors and it's gotta be cheap on gas. You can really see that it's got a lot of depth to it.

posted by  DukenukemX

This is what Honbo is referring to. The very recent idea of young people that merely having an opinion is more important than having knowledge or researching facts. And that expressing the opinion, even if it's way off base, is somehow better than simply shutting up if you don't have the facts. He is telling you that giving unhelpful, unfactual opinions is often WORSE than simply not replying.

posted by  ChrisV

The first two are Toyotas: the Geo is simply a Toyota built for GM. the third is a Mazda, which is partially owned by Ford. And of course, the Honda is it's own company. All are technically Japanese cars, but the ones listed have a good chance of being made in the US, as all the manufacturers have plants here in the US. I know, more confusing. ;)

As for how they hold up, as was mentioned, maintenance is the key with how cars hold up, not country of origin, or even manufacturer. Most people treat their cars like appliances, and unfortunately, most cars don't survive well when treated that way.

All four of the cars you listed could last for hundreds of thousands of miles, and any one of the four could require major service next week. At the price point you're looking at, either is a very real possibility regardless of manufacturer reputation. it's something you have to accept when buying a cheap used car. Your basic defense is to look at maintenance records if available, and have somneone you trust check out a potential candidate (but please, don't blame them if a good candidate ends up to need major service sometime after you purchase it.) Sometimes people will change all the fluids honestly thinking they are doing the new owner a favor, but it's harder to check condition of the engine and trans when looking at new fluids.



Basically, at that year, yes.



Because the real fact is, no two people use a car the same, nor can they drive the same. One person will need to shift a LOT due to a lot of city driving, while another spends a lot of time on teh highway and not shifting. One person "rides" the clutch pedal more than another. One person lets the clutch out smoother than another, one person uses more throttle when starting than another and "slips" the clutch more when starting. Lots of variables that have nothing to do with manufacturing defects or design issues.

I've seen cases when, at a 75,000mile service, a dealer or service shop puts the wrong transmission fluid in an automatic, and within a thousand miles, the transmission is going bad. again, a variable that has nothing to do with manufacturer or country of origin.



I personally haven't seen them be any more problematic than any other car in tehir class of that era. But again, in your price range, ANY car can turn out to be problematic. Only a thorough check up can really help tedtermine if a particular candidate is going to be a good choice.



1) Leaks, bearing failures in the compressor, etc. 2) when they dont' cool anymore. ;) 3) not if it's a mechanical problem, like a cracked hose, failed compressor, etc.

[quote]f. Can you get any of these cars to last to 275k without spending thousands in repairs? HOW?[quote]

Start out with a good inspection of the systems. Maintain the car properly (regular oil and fluid changes, check brake condition, etc). Listen for changes in the car early and take car of problems before they become major. Drive sensibly. And, conversely, fight the right battles: understand that some "problems" won't make the car undriveable. Cars that last 250k+ often have a lot of little things wrong with them, that are merely minor annoyances. But the major systems have been maintained and treated properly.

Used cars are just that, used cars. Expecting them to be new cars, or like new cars, for their entire service life, is unrealistic.



That depends entirely on the repair. I've seen cars that were in major accidents get repaired by a good shop with a frame rack, etc, and be perfectly serviceable for years. I've seen cars that were wrecked hard, repaired, and then wrecked again and still be just as safe to their occupants. An improperly repaired car can be a nightmare, but that can be said for cars that haven't ever been in an accident. Cars are made up of a lot of separate metal panels welded and bolted together. A decent shop can remove the damaged metal and weld in new metal and be as straight and as strong as new (sometimes even stronger).

I did a repair on this car:

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/cvetters3/p1b.jpg

With damage to the unit body, the structural rocker panels, and even a bend in the roof.

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/cvetters3/p3b.jpg

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/cvetters3/p6b.jpg

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/cvetters3/p7b.jpg

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/cvetters3/p12b.jpg

this repair was done in '94, and the car is still on the road. it's spent time on the racetrack under stress, and it has no issues. If new parts were used, then it's often no different than if the car wasn't wrecked. Seriously.




Depends on the car. Advice given before is fairly accurate.



Demand, popularity, fads, etc. They aren't appliances that if built identical, will cost the same. Emotions are involved with cars much more than with washers and dryers. Hondas have a lot of enthusiast fans, so the cars command a higher price. Toytas have a lot of loyal followers, so they also command a higher price for any models. Geos, even though they are buiult for GM by "import" companies, don't have a big following, and so don't command high prices, even when they are the same car as made by a more popular manufacturer.



On average...

A. with proper checking, the life of the car. B. 30-50k. c. depending on climate (western cars will last longer than eastern cars), 50k to the life of the car. D. depending on driving habits, 90-150k. e. I would expect a properly cared for manual transmission to last as long as the engine, automatics 100-200k. But that also depends on quality of service, as I said, I've seen people use the wrong trans fluid and kill an automatic trans early. F. depending on car, 60k-150k. it'll die earlier if you let it run low on water. G. A/C should last 100k+, if not more. H. depending on loading and roads you travel over, 80k-150k. I. no definite time limit. I've seen them go in 20k miles, and seen them last 300k+ miles and the brand, model, driving style, etc has had no bearing on that length of time. J. depends on car. They each have known service intervals, ranging from 25k to 60k miles.



Generally not, but at your price point, anything COULD happen. Cars that spent those miles on the highway will be more likely in good shape than cars that spent those miles primarily in town. A lot depends on individual maintenance and treatment. That's why a qualified mechanic checking an individual candidate is your best bet.

Let me put it to you this way. the early '80s Chevy Citations were known to be piles of junk, in general. If you look at reviews of them by owners, a large number will have bad things to say about the cars. I had a cheap one that went from 60k to 323k miles with very little repairs: brakes, water pump, and oil changes. The car was beat up, some of the trim had fallen off, the speedo worked intermittantly after about 280k, but it ALWAYS started, and always got to where it needed to be. Care of the major components was the primary key to make even a known POS last a long time.

posted by  ChrisV

That maybe but your next post sounds a lot like mine. :laughing:

Except that you went into more detail in areas that I haven't covered. BTW nice work on that Porshe.

posted by  DukenukemX

I have 30 years of experience in rebuilding, customizing, and restoring cars, including owning over a hundred cars, from most major manufacturers worldwide. When I state opinion, it's clearly opinion, but, like Hobo's, it's based on years of direct experience over a wide range (and he has even more experience, considering he still does it for a living).

His issue with you is you arguing that your opinion is more important than facts, and even saying things like you don't know how something works, but you still want to give an opinion on it (the AC in your Beretta is an example), and worse, you want to argue with someone who HAS more experience and corrects your opinion. It's the arguing with the correction that's the issue.

All of what anyone says is technically opinion. It's the facts those opinions are based on that are important. If you don't have the facts, then don't argue the opinion. Simple. In most cases, it's easy to research the facts before giving the opinion, so you stand on solid ground. even when I KNOW the facts, I try to do a bit of research before giving the opinion, especially when I'm going to attempt to help someone with a problem.

posted by  ChrisV

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