1988 Toyota Corolla: Correct Diagnosis Makes One A Good Mechanic

1990 Toyota Corolla

I would like to share my experience of brake trouble with those of you who have old cars like my 1988 Toyota Corolla. I am doing so that you do not have to go through needless expenditure.

It started with the front disc pads wearing out after 7,000 kms. The second time I had to replace them after only 5,000 kms. I could hear squeaking sounds from the front of the car, and I felt that the pick of the car was not good. Fuel mileage had come down to 10 kms/litre from 12 kms/litre. I could sense that the front disc brakes were releasing heat after driving a few kilometers. The water temperature gauge would approach the red zone. At the start of summer the engine would run even hotter. And after checking with friends who are more experienced than me, I bought the front disc pad seal kits. I asked the mechanic, to whom I normally go to, to the change the seal kit. He removed one of the brake pistons and found it to be in good condition. He said there was no need to change the seal kit. So I returned the seal kit. Since I also saw the piston to be in good condition, so I felt confident that the problem was not with the front brake pistons.

However, all the problems noted above continued. As the engine continued to run hot. I was scared that the engine would require overhaul if it continued to run hot. The last time I had the engine overhauled was in 1997. I was also concerned that the clutch plate would wear out because of excessive load. During this time, the top radiator hose and the heater hose leaked due to high water temperature.

After going through all these hassles I got fed up and told the mechanic to change the front disc pad seal kit. After driving about 3 kms from the workshop, I noticed that changing the seal kit had no effect. The pick of the car was just the same as before. Out of frustration I referred to the Corolla shop manual to see if I could get any help from it. At one place, it was mentioned that the seals in the brake master cylinder could be worn out. I then went to the parts shop and I asked them for the seals and these I took to another workshop to have them fitted. The mechanic’s advice was that replacing the seals was not advisable as the brakes would not work after 3 hours. So I went back to the shop and purchased the brake master cylinder. The mechanic replaced the brake master cylinder and also adjusted the rod so that brake pedal play was correct. Since then the brakes have worked OK, the engine has not overheated, the pick is better and the fuel mileage has gone back to 12kms/liter.

Sometimes even good mechanics are not able diagnose the actual fault so it would be advisable to get a second opinion and refer to manuals and literature online to get the correct diagnostics which in turn would save your from a lot of hassle and wasting money. I hope that others, after reading about my experience, would not have to go through needless expense and mental tension.

Syed Hussein El-Edroos

Syed Hussein El-Edroos has over 29 years of experience working for the John Deere dealer in Texas, the Komatsu and Caterpillar dealers in Pakistan. His last position was Manager Service & Training in Jaffer Brothers (Pvt) Ltd. Major projects that he has been associated with are the Khanpur Dam Project, the Islamabad-Lahore Motorway Project and the Peshawar-Islamabad Motor Project. He has conducted trainings for personnel of the Pakistan Army, FWO, CTTI, OGCDL, Mari Gas Company, Bestway Cement, Descon Engineering and Bahria Town.

  • Pete Jeferson

    old is gold…. awesome care we used to have

  • Abdul Hannan

    nice info…….just for sake of info…….were there any signs of wear in brake master cylinder???……and have u felt abnormal resistance while spinning the wheels with hand????……

  • Sandtiger

    Workman ship in Pakistan is a biggest dilemma as all electricians, mechanics have taken a tool in hand
    without having read any manual or book. One cannot understand a thing about system if he not read about it. Opening a system, replacing every component randomly in hope that it would fix the issue is a wrong way forward.

  • I brought the old brake master cylinder back with me, but have not checked it for wear. There used to be resistance while spinning the wheels by hand. Also the road in front of my house is on a slope. The car would not move, like it should have. No I have not checked the hub bearings and axles. Presently there is no resistance. Do I still need to check them?

  • You can’t blame the mechanics and electricians. They are considered unimportant. The job is tough and dirty and I don’t believe the rewards are that good. Also not many qualified people want to do this kind of work.

  • Saad Ahmed Khan

    qualified people are there.. but no one willing to pay for their services for proper work.

  • Saad Ahmed Khan

    i believe that a part of your master cylinder got stuck. it has two pistons. for front and rear. separate by springs. piston is made of steel while its seal is made of rubber. normally the rubber seal is changed.

    but due to not changing brake oil, (its hygroscopic and absorbs water) over a period of time increased water content in the oil cause rusting in the steel components.

    also micro debris in the line causes erosion of the aluminum cylinder.

    when brake oil is left to dry, it forms salt crystals which have an eroding effect on aluminum..

    i experimented with all this when fiddling around the brakes of my charade.

    the font wheel cylinders rarely go bad. its either the master cylinder or the rear wheel cylinder.

  • Farrukh M Khan

    Unfortunately locally assembled cars are nw the most peathetic cars i have ever seen. No appropriate car owner manuals avalible with cars nor avaliable for either. Plus no repair manuals out side authorised workshops specially bloody suzuki. Saying pak suzuki would be better. No offence to anyone or suzuki outside pakistan. I personally own a 2008 cultus and fed of it but unfortunate cant sell it due to some personal issues. Jxt w8ing to get rid of it. Jdms are hell a lot better

  • faraz

    i want owner manual of indus corlla 1300 cc i.e EE100, cant find it for petrol 1300 Indus motor version

  • Syed Kamran Ali Hashmi

    I hope an admin is present here. I m planning to buy a used car with in the limits of 6.5 or 7 lakh what do you in suggest is the best choice. Waiting for your reply

  • Abdul Hannan

    Check them just for your satisfaction……….it costs nothing………a car should be on road more of its lifetime than mechanic garage……….maybe u fetch some more kmpl :P…….otherwise it seems your car’s major problem has been solved……and have u checked those rubber lines of brake and put new brake fluid????…….anyhow best model of corolla u have i think 🙂

  • Abdul Hannan

    For easy maintenance…….u can buy cultus……….otherwise if u want a sedan then in 750k u can buy indus corolla…..city is also good but it can have some expensive issues……depends on what u prefer……a car with frequent but cheaper maintenance or a car with expensive but seldom maintenance.

  • I agree

  • I have been changing my brake fluid fairly regularly.

  • Thank you for a detailed explanation.

  • Abdul Hannan

    Then its good practice…….

  • Tenveer

    Hello @syedkamranalihashmi:disqus we deal in all kinds of use and new cars, plz let us know where are you from? your requirement which model you prefer? if possible contact to our email tenveer.hashmi@gmail.com or you visit our shop.

    Best Regards

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