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Stubby79 03-31-2018 02:18 PM

Finally gave in... bought an automatic
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...and bought an automatic. My morning commute now consists of bumper to bumper traffic on the highway flowing at an average of 20-30km/hr. Shifting up and down like a yoyo is not what I want to be doing after a long day of work.

Of course, I still wanted 30mpg or better. Which I might get out of an automatic Geo Metro, but I understand they're completely gutless (and I'm used to driving a Metro...don't think I want even less oomph), and max out at 35 mpg. Kinda ruins it.

So what's left, in an automatic and gets 30+mpg? Couldn't find a Prius cheap enough. But I did find an Echo. Not just an Echo. A blue 3-door! (I've always pined over them since first seeing a blue hatchback, and now I have one.)

Complete with a silly little wing on the back. :thumbup:

It's not all grand...though that's probably why it was cheap. 264k kms on it, the driver's window was off the track, and it needs a lot of the form of cleaning. Only have an under hood shot, but it will give you an idea of what the seats and carpets look like inside...

Note the corrosion on the battery hold-down. :o

5 minutes with a pressure washer and a short drive to dry it out, and it looks much better...

As to the rest...I had the window back on the track in about 5 minutes. It will need fixing properly, but for now she's sealed back up. Despite the 264, she is one tight little machine...not a rattle, handles like a go-cart, goes like snot when you put your foot down. Engine is smooth and happy, for the most part. I'd prefer the cooling fan not to kick in so much at idle, but that's about it.

I'm guessing it survived it previous owner(s) due to being a bullit-proof Toyota. But she will start getting lots of love here on out. The whole interaction with her previous owner was an adventure in it's own right.

Tomorrow she should get shampooed. I'll tinker under the hood after that... :snail:

jcp123 03-31-2018 04:14 PM

Automatic Echos don't suck. I do wish we'd gotten the 3-doors down here though. You'll get a lot of life out of that car, mine had been abused before I started driving it and I still got 5 years of service out of it on a shoestring budget. Truth be told, I got rid of mine more on a pretext than because it was truly toast.

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 03-31-2018 08:28 PM


Originally Posted by jcp123 (Post 565398)
I do wish we'd gotten the 3-doors down here though. You'll get a lot of life out of that car, mine had been abused before I started driving it and I still got 5 years of service out of it on a shoestring budget.

Among all the 1st-generation Yarises/Echos that I have seen, only one was a 2-door (I refuse to count the tailgate as a door). But anyway, most had either Uruguayan (usually manuals and sourced from official import) and Paraguayan plates (an overwhelming majority of them automatic and JDM grey-import), which were somewhat of a sign that they were subjected to some harsh driving.

Stubby79 03-31-2018 11:30 PM


Originally Posted by jcp123 (Post 565398)
Automatic Echos don't suck.

I've noticed! Peppy and responsive, plus supposedly only 2mpg difference between an auto and a stick. Not much else (affordable) like that.

About the only thing I have to complain about is the lock on the hatch...I'd prefer it to always be locked, rather than having to lock it again after each use. I'm likely to forget one day.

fusion210 04-01-2018 12:32 AM

Does it hold the record for having the largest battery for a small car? Whoa! Some kind of winter package?

Stubby79 04-01-2018 03:02 AM

I think it's the stock group 26 battery. All of ~420CCA. Its not very tall, and probably looks bigger because everything else is so dang small and tight under the hood. Same size as many small toyotas, and the same as in my Geo.

Frank Lee 04-01-2018 04:21 AM

Ahh, growth. The Holy Grail of every bidness and gummint "leader" and the breeders quite like it as well. Ain't it great?

Stubby79 04-01-2018 05:02 AM

If by "growth" you mean "getting too old for this crap", then's "great"!

(I can blame it on the growth of this city...traffic wasn't a problem 15 years ago. Except that most of the drivers were over 70 and dangerous on the road)

Stubby79 04-01-2018 05:04 AM

Soo....who's an expert on Toyotas around here? I mainly want to discuss fluids.

iikhod 04-01-2018 11:32 AM


Originally Posted by Stubby79 (Post 565452)
Soo....who's an expert on Toyotas around here? I mainly want to discuss fluids.

Maybe not an expert but my wife had manual yaris for many years and her sister a yaris verso, and i myself have a yaris verso. Also had a lot of other toyotas in the past.
Ask away, maybe i can help.

jcp123 04-01-2018 04:12 PM

Well, I'm not an expert, but I did have that Echo for a while, so I'll answer what I can.

Stubby79 04-01-2018 04:46 PM

Pink or red coolant, and why? Are there any good brands other than Toyota for said coolant?

ATF? I haven't even started looking in to what type it takes and how much...

Engine oil...5 or 10w 30? (fairly cool climate here). There any reason not to use high mileage semi-synthetic oil? Like killing the cat or anything. (though I only see that happening if it burns oil)

Anything else unique to Echos or Toyotas for maintenance/fluids/etc?

gone-ot 04-01-2018 05:17 PM

IF it's out-of-warranty, don't worry about using Toyota "juices," simply drain & thoroughly FLUSH the coolant system, then use ANY good aftermarket all-season coolant. There ARE compatible aftermarket transmission fluids too (our two Pontiac Vibes BOTH came with Toyota fluids, but have been switched over).

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 04-01-2018 06:43 PM


Originally Posted by Stubby79 (Post 565440)
I think it's the stock group 26 battery. All of ~420CCA. Its not very tall, and probably looks bigger because everything else is so dang small and tight under the hood. Same size as many small toyotas, and the same as in my Geo.

Its engine bay looks smaller than in my mom's Toyota Etios, which might make the battery look somewhat oversized.

jcp123 04-01-2018 08:56 PM

Man, I don't remember the trans fluid...I think it's ATF IV. The coolant I have no idea, but I used the green "universal" coolant. I won't say zero problems since a busted radiator was the problem which was my pretext for moving on. I doubt it was the coolant, but I won't tell you it wasn't. I'd have thought the water pump would have problems before anything else with the improper coolant.

With spring coming up, run the 5w-30 for sure. I'd be reluctant to move to the 10w regardless of conditions - in the dead of winter the thinner oil will flow more quickly where it needs to go. I wouldn't worry about moving to synthetic or synthetic blend if you want - I ran Pennzoil Platinum in my Echo with no additional leaks or consumption. When I let it go it had just over 270,000 miles on it, and oil was certainly not a concern.

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 04-01-2018 08:59 PM

I'd only blend oils if their specifications are similar, otherwise I'd rather flush it all before changing for another specification.

iikhod 04-02-2018 12:37 AM

I've been using fully synthetic 5w-50 oil all year. Runs great, doesn't burn or leak any oil. 240k kms on the odo.

When i bought the yaris, soon CE-light came on and indicated a fault in the vvt-system. Changed oils right away and no problems since. Don't know what kind of oil the previous owner was using or how long since last oil change. :D

Stubby79 04-02-2018 02:33 AM

I'll check out the cost of "pink". If it's considerably longer life than normal stuff, and not more than twice the price of yellow, it's probably worth it long term. It's something I'd rather do and forget about.

I'll see if the user manual states anything about fluids. It actually has one. And the original dealership paperwork is stapled inside it. Looks to be a semi-local car all it's life. (explains why its not rusty)

Any idea about OE spark plugs? Some say iridium, some say copper...

Stubby79 04-02-2018 09:43 AM

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Been puttering on things that needed doing on her.
  • Replaced burnt out bulbs (3rds brake light, front markers) and the interior cabin lights with LEDs.
  • Re-torqued the wheels.
  • Cleaned all the ground and positive connections under the hood and battery terminals.
  • Checked and decided what fluids will need replacing.
  • Checked the air filter.
  • Checked the cabin filter.
  • Check the spark plugs.

Check out the spark plug I pulled:

That's pretty dang worn out!

At least I know it has had copper spark plugs in it for a long time.

Air filter looked almost new. (Guess the previous owner did some things other than just drive it)

Cabin filter was missing.

Both red fluids need changing, in my opinion. Coolant is red but opaque. ATF looks nice and clean on the dip stick, but when you wipe it on clean paper towel it looks dark and dirty.

Shopping list:
  • More LED bulbs
  • Wiper blades
  • Cabin filter
  • Spark plugs
  • Coolant
  • ATF
  • Oil and filter
  • Injector cleaner

To-Do List: (on top of replacing above parts)
  • Brake check/lube.
  • Fix or replace drivers window regulator.
  • Polish/restore headlights.

Oh and yesterday I spent 4 hours shampooing the interior, but I'll get back to that. :snail:

jcp123 04-02-2018 09:44 AM

Iridium were what was spec'd in mine. I don't know and don't think yours should be any different. NGK's were the OE plugs, pricey suckers.

MetroMPG 04-02-2018 10:01 AM

woo hoo!
Looks super familiar!

One of my shortest-duration ownership experiences:

And not because it wasn't a good car. Probably the best screwed together subcompact I've owned.

Hopefully you don't have the fatal flaw/Achilles Heel rust at the rear of the rocker panel/axle mount like mine did. (I suspect not, given your enviable locale/climate.)


Originally Posted by Stubby79 (Post 565391)
So what's left, in an automatic and gets 30+mpg? Couldn't find a Prius cheap enough.

I really liked the Echo, but I LOVED the Prius. Have you driven one? Ideally suited for the commute you described.

I would suggest you keep looking for one and pounce when the right (ie. cheap enough) one comes up. Then sell the Echo -- on which you will probably be able to make a wee profit, given the tidy-up and maintenance you've done.

MetroMPG 04-02-2018 10:03 AM


Originally Posted by Stubby79 (Post 565575)
Check out the spark plug I pulled:

Ha! Looks like the condition of the plugs in my Miata when I got it. Super-gapped!

Stubby79 04-02-2018 10:09 AM


Originally Posted by jcp123 (Post 565577)
Iridium were what was spec'd in mine. I don't know and don't think yours should be any different. NGK's were the OE plugs, pricey suckers.

You'd think so. Maybe they specifically put them in US cars?

Both and the service manual state "Regular" spark plugs, to be replaced every 48,000kms.

Stubby79 04-02-2018 04:11 PM

Well...I'm please with myself. And not with the previous owner. (Fairly typical, that)

Went out and got denso spark plugs and a cabin air filter for almost nothing. Then popped over to the Toyota dealership to check on the price of ATF and coolant. Guess what? The genuine Toyota fluids are cheaper than the knock offs everywhere else! I came home with their antifreeze and ATF.

It was not yet 9 am by this point, so nothing for it but to buckle down and give it all the attention it deserves. Flushed the radiator with actual stuff meant to do the job and deionized water (Two or three times), then reloaded with coolant. Dump and fill on the ATF, the old of which was distinctly black once it was in my drain pan. New spark plugs went in, as did the cabin air filter.

Spent all of $75 to do it. Mostly on the fluids.

So, of course, gotta take it for a test drive. She idles much smoother once in gear at slow idle. Please with that. Cooling fan stayed on most of the time once warmed up...not please with that, after having just flushed the system to help prevent it.

Popped the hood when I got back. Fan running. Something isn't right. Top hoses are hot. Top of radiator is hot. Middle all the way down to and including the bottom radiator hose are cold. And fan is running. That ain't right.

Plugged radiator? You'd assume so, right? Hmm...I had the thermostat out to do the flush, and could see the coolant flowing like mad. Maybe the thermostat is stuck closed? Entirely possible...

Wait a minute...I remember looking up the belt routing on this thing:

Another, presumably with power steering:


They all point to the same thing...the back of the belt is supposed to drive the water pump.

Guess what? Wait for it... wait for it...

The ribbed side of the belt is driving the water pump!!! It's running backwards!! :mad:

It's been on there like that so long that slight grooves have been worn in to the pulley. :rolleyes:

Zomygawd!!! :rolleyes:

I don't know how this thing survived without overheating. A testament to Toyota quality, perhaps?

Uhh....I'm done working on it for today, but guess what I'm doing first thing in the morning?

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 04-02-2018 04:18 PM


Originally Posted by Stubby79 (Post 565581)
Maybe they specifically put them in US cars?

Considering that Americans use lower-grade fuels more frequently than Europeans and Japanese, to the point that other automakers have also used a few different parts in engines meant to the American market which might be seen as a downgrade, it wouldn't surprise me to see Toyota using copper plugs.

MetroMPG 04-02-2018 04:19 PM

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That's hilarious! Good find.


Also, YKYAEM when you spot this parked at the end of someone's driveway, and immediately think of this thread. Also... when you can't resist stopping to have a peek. Manual, yay! Extensive rocker rust at the axle mount points, boo.

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 04-02-2018 04:24 PM

I haven't seen much Uruguayans and Paraguayans mentioning that rust issue.

Stubby79 04-02-2018 04:31 PM

I think I have figured out why it hasn't over heated...there are 2 upper radiator hoses going to the top of the radiator. They're both hot/up to temp. The coolant is presumably flowing in through one and out through the other, mixing with the coolant in the top of the radiator along the way. So it's been getting some cooling.

Plus a bit more from the heater core. Which is probably why I have had no problems driving to work at night...with the heat cranked up because it's still cold.

So #$%^ing glad I found this before the weather got warm.

Stubby79 04-02-2018 04:42 PM

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Stubby79 04-03-2018 05:51 AM

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Put the belt on the right way:

And pulled up the driver's side of the carpet to let dry, as who knows how often rain got in with the previous owner:

Nap time. :snail:

Stubby79 04-03-2018 09:50 AM

Who's using a bluetooth OBD2 dongle to read their MPGs? Any recommendations, or is any cheap fleabay one going to do the job?

MetroMPG 04-03-2018 11:36 AM

That's funny.

No more overheating?

Stubby79 04-03-2018 01:13 PM

Never did overheat...just ran the rad fan a lot.

I haven't tested it. I'll find out when the carpet is dry and I can drive it again. (had enough of wasting gas idling)

MetroMPG 04-03-2018 03:53 PM

I owned a 1984 Tercel (manual trans) which didn't even have a radiator fan.

That can't be right, can it?

Maybe Toyota knows something secret.

Stubby79 04-04-2018 03:10 AM

Drove it to work (After putting the carpet and seat back down). Stopped before hitting the highway to check the cooling system. Everything was cold except one upper hose. Checked again when I got to work...the whole radiator was warm; warmer at the top, but not cold at the bottom like before. Rad fan never turned on. All good. :thumbup:

Carpet underlay was finally dry, after 16 hours of having a heater blowing on different parts of it. I treated and painted the little bit of surface rust that was starting to form under there.

Other than an oil change, she's good to go. Nothing left to be concerned about. :)

teoman 04-04-2018 04:48 AM

I use an obd 2 dongle, its a cheap bluetooth one from aliexpress (was 20 usd at the time, its 10 years old now). Its paired to an android phone running torque pro.

Stubby79 04-04-2018 05:02 AM

Good stuff. The dongle can be left in there without draining the battery?

teoman 04-04-2018 05:05 AM

Yes and no.

It has a small drain, i leave it in place. But if left for too long it will contribute to battery drain. (My car did not start after 3 months of sitting with dongle attached). It does have a led that is always on i think.

Stubby79 04-04-2018 10:44 AM

Ahh...easiest bumper-to-bumper commute home ever. So nice to have my efforts pay off.

MetroMPG 04-04-2018 01:51 PM


I notice you call this car a "Prius" in your fuel log. Freudian slip? Wishful thinking?

Also: how much did the wee beastie set you back, if you don't mind me asking?

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