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Old 03-06-2010, 02:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Terceleporter - '96 Toyota Tercel STD
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1996 Toyota Tercel Ecomodification

Greetings ecomodders. I'm starting this thread to enhance my motivation to continue ecomodding my 1996 Toyota Tercel.

I have a >95% highway, 84 mile round trip commute five days per week. The savings the operation of the Tercel has provided over my 1995 Nissan 4x4 pickup are monumental already. Reducing emissions and fun are really my main motivations for further efforts to improve the Tercel's FE performance.

I give you, the Terceleporter:


So far, I've deleted the spoiler, passenger side mirror, and trunk sound proofing. And I've made pizza pan wheel cover covers. The tires are 155's at >50 psi, which has probably been the biggest non-driver improvement so far.

I've also made a grille block:


I'm anxious to get a Scangauge. I also would very much like to execute an alternator field cutoff. I've got my eye out for cheap deep cycle batteries. But I think both of these will be waiting as I'm flirting with purchasing a house.

My car has a 4 speed manual transmission. I hope to swap in a 5 speed, possibly with modded gearing at some point. But for the near future, the main mechanical mod I would like to attempt is switching over to manual steering. If anyone has any information regarding this topic specific to my model, I'd love to hear it.

I actually hate working on cars. I commuted solely by bicycle for years, and would still do so except for major life changes recently. I love to watch creative problem solvers at work, so this forum is a lot of fun for me.


Last edited by Toby; 03-06-2010 at 03:05 PM..
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Old 03-06-2010, 02:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to the site Toby.

The steering rack mod is a bit more involved than I'm sure you'd like. If you get the parts, you need the rack plus the steering column since they are different. Other than that, its a pretty straight forward swap I think. You might just look into looping the power steering lines and pulling the compressor off the engine.
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Old 03-06-2010, 03:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Terceleporter - '96 Toyota Tercel STD
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I'm considering that idea already regarding the steering. I don't have any problem steering it when the power is cut. But it would be nice to lose the extra weight. I suppose the best thing to do would be cut the power for now, and see if I can gather the requisite parts cheaply over time.

What kind of situation do you get into with the airbag when you change the steering column?
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You tell us afer a crash,. Your light on the dash will not go out.
I think I read on another thread that toyota 4spd manuals are geared better for mpg than 5spds. I could be wrong though. Make sure the engine is healthy, I've seen a few tercels w/ injector problems(leaky spray patterns), & that it gets to normal operating temp(middle of gauge).
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Old 03-06-2010, 11:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Airbags are not black magic. Just make sure you never apply voltage to the inflator circuit (not even with an ohmmeter), never work on them without disconnecting the 12V battery, and treat them with the same respect you would treat a few pounds of explosives, because that's what's inside.

As long as you put the same steering wheel back on in the same position, the airbag light should remain off, and you should have no problems with it.

Btw, I like the Terceleporter. What did you replace your passenger side mirror with?
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Old 03-09-2010, 02:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Terceleporter - '96 Toyota Tercel STD
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I fabbed up a little aluminum triangle to match the mating surface with the rubber seal that went under the mirror mount. I even got lucky and found some Dem-Kote primer at work that looked okay next to the car's paint. It's probably the only thing I've done to the car that looks respectable.
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Old 03-16-2010, 08:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Terceleporter - '96 Toyota Tercel STD
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How heavy is a glove department?

Driving home today, I reached into the glove compartment. I was surprised at how heavy the door was. I took it off and weighed it.

1.579 kg! 3.481 lbs!

I decided not to put it back on. I'll probably be digging into the wiring harness behind it sooner or later. And it is one less place to accumulate kleenex and cracker crumbs in this world.

While carrying it inside, my wife commented, "Oh, you brought your glove department."
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Old 03-16-2010, 08:32 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You know, the Insight, which tries very hard to be lightweight, has a 4lb glove box door. It's a vibration thing. Nobody would buy a car whose glove box rattles when brand new, so they make them very heavy, and satisfying to open and close.

You could replace the glove box with a canvas sack that hangs from the glove box mounts. If you can come up with something that opens and closes, I'd be happy to read about it.
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Old 03-30-2010, 09:12 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Terceleporter - '96 Toyota Tercel STD
90 day: 52.6 mpg (US)
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deleted passenger side mirror and interior replacement



Speaks for itself I guess. I can't say the visibility is great in the interior mirror. I always turn my head anyway.
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Old 03-30-2010, 09:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Terceleporter - '96 Toyota Tercel STD
90 day: 52.6 mpg (US)
Thanks: 2
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Pro bono sparkplug diagnosis?

Did my first bit of basic maintenance on the Tercel a few days ago. Anybody got a read on this:



or this:



I wouldn't be surprised if they were original. They were "Denso" brand.

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