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Old 08-28-2006, 06:49 AM   #1
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Default Possible Newbie Here (Buying a Supra)

Hello, Tomorrow i'm going to look at an 89 Supra Turbo. I talked to a lady on the phone today about the car. She wasn't to informative about it since it was her uncles. But, she said it has 100,000 miles, New Altinator, New Water Pump, Targa & it's a 5 Speed. I have read through these forums breifly and the only problem i can find about the cars is the head gasket issue.
Other than looking at the basic things on the car like oil and water and belts. What major thing should i look for on this particular car?

They are asking $1700 for it.

I appreciate any help you can supply me....
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Old 08-28-2006, 08:44 AM   #2
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when looking at a used car these are some of the things you should do during your inspection. Its not a complete list, but without pulling out tools and doing a more complete diagnostic, it will give you good idea of the overall condition of the car. Bring a notebook and something to write with. and make notes as you go.

Look for uneaven wear on the tires (inside worn more than the outside?), run your hand over the tread on the inside of the front tires, if you feel dips and rises (cupping) then its got front end issues. Also grab the wheels and try to rock them from the top, and from the front (do it on the back ones as well) This could show problems in the wheel bearings and/or sterring components.
Bonce up and down and all 4 corners and watch how amny times the car bounces before returning to normal height. May have bad shocks if its more than one bounce. Typical suspension problems are bad ball joints, bad steering stabilizer, worn out shocks, and rack problems. Supras are notorius for power steering leaks as well.

Look at the fluids, ALL of them. Look at the levels and the colors. If its an automatic, smell the trans fluid (yes thats right, sniff the fluid on the dipstick). Burned ATF has a distinct smell. Look under the car where its been parked and see if its leaving drips. Make notes about anything out of the ordinary.

Look at the body from all angles. Look for uneven surfaces (not just the typical dings from parking lots, but panels that dont seem to line up.) Look in the door jams and under the hood along the fenders for signs of overspray. A repaint might just be a repaint, but it could also be signs of an accident. Look inside the engine compartment down along where the frame meets fenders and the front support. Look for bends, cracks, or any signs of repairs. Also get on your back and look up under the rear of the car for the same thing. This will help point to impacts greater than the typical parking lot mishaps. Supras are tanks, if it shows signs of an impact...you can pretty much bet it was harder than it looks.

If you have a friend with you, have them start the car while you watch the exhaust. Is there a puff os smoke on startup? might be bad valves or a bad turbo seals (if it has a Turbo) Yes I also want you to smell the exhaust. Let it get up to operating temp and smell the exhaust again. Your looking for lean or rich condition here.

Get ready to take the car for a drive after its warmed up, but first have that friend help you make sure the tail lights, brake lights, turn signals and headlights work.

Now take the car for a drive. Before you hit the road, listen to the steering at low speeds as you turn the wheel, does it grind or whine? Make sure you dont just take it around the block, give it a thorough test. As you start out, pay attention to how the clutch engages and disengages. Any slippage? Get it up to highway speeds. On a flat straight road, let go of the wheel and see if it pulls one way or another. While your at it step on the brakes slowly and see if that causes a pull. Supras are notorius for the calipers binding up. If they are it will lead to warped rotors and uneven braking. In 2nd or 3rd gear, give it about 1/2 to 3/4 throttle and get the RPMS up over 4k and then let off the gas completely, then come to a stop. Notice if you smell any burning oil (Oil suck from bad rings or valve seals will occur on compression and then burn off and you will smell it). While your driving it, pay attention to all the sounds of the car. Leave the radio off and roll the windows down (this is a good time to check the operation of the power windows anyway) While in 3rd gear at around 3k RPMs, slightly lift the throttle and then reapply pressure. Do this a few times and listen for any kind of clunking from the rear end (bad u-joints or diff)

If after you have done all that and still think you're interested, it might be worth it to go one step further. If you really want to know what you are buying, I highly recommend talking the owner into letting you do a compression check. If they are reluctant to let just anybody do this to their car, ask if you can take it to a shop. Find a shop in your area ahead of time that offers "used car inspections" they will put it on a lift and double check all the safety items like brakes and lights and things like that. You should be able to get them to do a compression check.

I would also recommend paying for a carfax report. It will give you some history of the car and may point out a serious issue you, and perhaps even the current owner are not aware of. Finally, make sure all the paperwork is correct. Ask to see the title for the car. Check the VIN on the title with the one under the hood, and in the door jam. You can also check the stickers on the fenders, doors and hatch to see if they match the VIN as well. If the car checks out, the title matches the car, and the price is right...make an offer! Keep in mind your budget, and take into account that you will want to change all the fluids, (even if they say they have done it...this way you know where you stand) get your insurance and pay licencing fees.

After you make your purchase, take it easy at first. Build trust in your car. Dont take it out the first night and get into some race. You dont know the car well enough yet and you may put your life at risk. Listen to your car! Pay attention to squeaks, rattles, grinds, etc...its your cars way of trying to tell you something. Take care of your Supra, and she will take care of you!
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Old 08-28-2006, 09:09 AM   #3
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Best used car guide ive ever read lol. I dont think anyone else will even need to post on it...Except for, Dont be too excited by the acceleration to not notice anything else. I went to test drive a camaro SS, And was so excited that it went from 10-70 in about 3 seconds(the guy was crazy, who gives keys to a 350(plus mods) hp car to a 19 year old driving a supra??) i didnt realize the CEL was on untill i parked it, And then in the trunk all the stock parts sat. Cam, ecu, maf, some unknown sensors(neveer worked on an ls1), stock intake manifold, And it def had an aftermaket exhaust. Def good reasons it had a CEL on lol. My real point, Dont buy a modded car. lol. Make sure all the parts are stock, Or that you at least get all the stock parts and ask the guy exactly what he did. The best part of the test drive was the look on my GFs face when i gunned it. From talking to WHOAAA and big eyes. Best moment of my life.
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Old 08-28-2006, 02:58 PM   #4
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Wow, that was an extensive reply. I thank You. But, as for the Supra. Are there any problems i need to look for as in a leaky Targa top? Or certain rattles that only these Supras do?
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Old 08-28-2006, 05:24 PM   #5
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Nope. Luxury sports car (grand touring)= well soundproofed cabin, And very stiff body, So they dont squeak or rattle much. Very very well made cars. Youll notice the difference between a cheap car and a supra in the rain too. You can hardly hear the rain hitting the roof. No leaks i know of are common, So you should be ok. And if it does leak its only 2 pretty flat seams unlike a convertible or t-tops.
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Old 08-28-2006, 06:57 PM   #6
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Well model specific, yes the Supra Targa does tend to leak. However the leak is fixable and usually doesnt require any new parts, just some silicone caulking. Supra's are also prone to leaks at the bottom of the rear hatch glass. The seal gets worn out, and water starts to leak in to the rear hatch where it collects. From there it usually rusts out the clips holding the the rear hatch panel on, and then ends up down in the spare tire well rusting that out as well. Pull out the spare tire and look for serious rust on the floor there.

Aside from the already mentioned head gasket, the motors are pretty strong, but also already mentioned the power steering leak issues. Also the valve cover gaskets tend to leak and leave oil in the spark plug galley. Alot of time you can just tighten the screws down and get rid of the leaks.

The suspensions are pretty solid in the Supra, and I rarely see problems with them beyond needing new shocks. If the car is seriously abused it is possible it could need ball joints or even a steering rack.

Lastly, the 2 piece drive shafts are always abused and forgotten about. The carrier bearing usually needs replacing, and runs about $60 IIRC.

I think that about covers model specific issues, good luck!
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Old 08-28-2006, 07:31 PM   #7
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front end bushings is also something to look at. You'll see a few posts about people hearing a thunk when turning fully to the left or right. Usually a bushing is shot, or a ball joint.
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Old 08-29-2006, 02:41 AM   #8
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Well i looked and drove it today. It had 133,000 miles on it. The CEL was on. I smelled something comming from the engine when i was at the stop light right after i got off the freeway. It kinda smelled like the engine was going to start over-heating. But the temp guage never moved. That scared me though. The car hasn't been registered for over a year and it still needed to be smogged.

I know 133k miles isn't much for this year of car. But it is much for a stock turbo. I don't beleive the turbo was working at all. Because this car was really and i mean really slow. I read that this car should do 0-60 in 6.6 seconds. But i figured it was old and that # should be in the mid 7's. Lets just say my Scion XB (auto) seemed faster than this Supra.

I'm not going to judge all supras like this one. If i do find a Supra than you guys will be the second to now. (Wife is first LOL)

I thank you all for your help.
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Old 08-29-2006, 06:17 AM   #9
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Thread stickied for one hell of a write up about what to look for when buying a Supra.
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Old 09-06-2006, 03:45 AM   #10
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i always check head gasket at 1st on supras i check the oil good color not milky and start it and hold your hand at the end of the exhasut to see ifu can feel steam thats what happen to me when my headgasket went out the water went throught the cylinders and out the exhasut
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