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The mkiv Supra Owners Club

What to look for when buying a Supra

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(thanks to Paul E for this)



On Buying a soop -


What should I check when looking at a Supra to buy?


-Have someone cold start the car while you stand behind it watching the tailpipe, and look for gray smoke with a blue-ish tint (easiest to see in direct sunlight)


-Let the car warm up and continue to stand behind the car checking for smoke


-Now move to the front of the car, and open the hood. Listen for bad noises (Noticeable Injector Ticking is Normal)


-Now go back and watch the tailpipe for smoke, have someone blip the throttle, while you watch for smoke, let it idle between the blips


-Now do the same but have them mash the gas and rev it up till like 5000rpm or so


-Now have a friend follow behind you in another car while you go for a test drive


-Have him watch for smoke while you drive


-Put it in 2nd gear, let the rpm drop to about 1500, and then stomp on it, and stay on it till redline, then let off the gas. Your friend should be watching for "gray/blue smoke". Just grey/black smoke is ok.


-Smoke at cold start-up, leaving a stop-light, or throttle blipping from idle is valve stem seals. Smoke under boost, or after letting off of boost, or maybe when revving full throttle, is turbo seals. Smoking for no good reason, or if it doesn't stop pretty quickly is piston rings (may get better or worse when hot).


-Your job while at full throttle in 2nd is making sure the turbos boost fine (smoothly), that you can feel full boost by 4000rpm or near it, and that you don't hear bad noises (slight turbo whistle/whine is ok, if it has an intake it will be noticeable)


-Use all the gears in the transmission, and make sure it shifts fine (if it is a 6spd, it is going to feel and sound clunky too you, that’s normal. If the transmission makes "ball bearings in a can" sounds at idle or low speeds, that is 2-piece sprung flywheel and is normal)


-While driving with the windows down, listen for clicking or popping noises coming from outside the car. (A POP when starting or stopping, or making a sharp low speed turn (maybe up a hill), is the drivers side engine mount. A clicking sound under initial mild acceleration or deceleration, that lasts for only a second or two then stops, and sounds exactly the same regardless of speed, is the rear upper control arm bushings. A clicking that changes with speed is wheel bearings)


-Make sure the brakes work smoothly and reasonably quietly. When coming to a stop take your hand slightly off the wheel and make sure it stays straight.


-Make sure the car tracks straight on flat roads.


-A creaking noise from the hatch when turning up hill, means it needs rubber hatch bumpers.


-Rattling from above you means the targa is loose (make sure the targa bolts loosen, and tighten back down smoothly) and make sure the targa wrench is there.


-Make sure the rear hatch opens and closes fine, and that is stays up on it own.


-Make sure all the doors open and close smoothly


-If you can really smell the exhaust when coming to a stop, it has no cats


-If when flooring it, the car pulls smoothly till ~4000rpm, and then rockets forward like getting hit with a semi, then it's BPU and not stock. If you can hardly feel a change over from the 1st turbo to both, then it's stock.


-When checking under the car for leaks, don’t be alarmed by an oily sludge on the transmission and differential. That’s a greasy undercoating that Toyota applied. But check for fresh oil leaks, and check the rear CV joint boots for cracks.


-If possible, look at the spot where the car normally parks. Check for fresh oil puddles or spots. If they say their other car caused the spot, don't believe them if it's a clean 1-2 year old car they are blaming it on.


-Check the wheel rim, inside and out, for curb rash or bent rims.


-Check for excessive or uneven wear on the tires


-Check for cheap, or miss-matched tires


-Look to see if all the little plastic panels and parts under the car all line-up, and are attached, and that paint is not where it shouldn't be (cracked under trays are not uncommon, don't be alarmed). Spend a fair amount of time on the ground, don't be afraid to get a little dirty. Also all the major body panels have the original VIN number visibly stuck on them, make sure they are all still there and are the right number. Look for missing, non-original, or out of place fasteners. All these things are possible signs off a collision.


-Check for signs of rust in the wheel wells and inner fender


-Check the condition of all the exposed rubber on the suspension joints


-Make sure the power steering is smooth and quiet


-Make sure the gaps in the body panels are all even.


-Walk all around the car, and look at each panel at different angles. Looks for small dents and dings, and make sure the paint matches all around.


-Look over the paint condition very closely


-Check around all the glass to see if it has been replaced. Check the manufacturer information on the glass to see if they are all the same.


-Make sure all the exterior lights work


-Check the headlamps for cracks, moisture or fogging/yellowing (expect them too be fogged/yellowed if an earlier model)


-Make sure to test every last switch in the car to make sure it works (power windows, locks, turn signals, light switch, dome lights, power seat, cruise control, everything). Use all the functions on the A/C and make sure they all work. Go from HOT to COLD A/C and make sure it's getting very hot, and very cold. If it has a factory alarm, make sure the key-fobs work.


-Check the interior for excessive wear (cracked leather in the seat's side bolsters is pretty damn common).


-Check all of the fluids, make sure the fluid isn't terrible. Open the oil fill cap, and look inside for sludge build-up (you shouldn't see any)


-Find out what oil the use, and how often (don't trust their answer unless they have receipts)


-Ask them if they have had any work done to it. If they have owned it for several years, and say they have done nothing to it, don't take that as being a completely good thing.


-Ask if it has ever had modifications, and what.


-Make sure it still has the spare tire, jack and wrenches, owners manual, and targa wrench.


-Try to get the repair records


-Do a Carfax.com check on the VIN #


-Take it to a mechanic you trust AFTER you have done all this to get it checked out one last time before buying it.


-If the owner refuses any of this, be suspicious.


-Try to take a level-headed friend with you who you can trust.


This may sound like a lot to do, but really it's not, most of these things take no more than a second to do. Make sure to always go look at a car on a bright sunny day, and make sure you and the seller will have plenty of time (don't rush anything)


Any problems you find (and your likely to find a few) should not mean you shouldn't buy the car. But you need to know what you are getting into, and whether the price is reasonable. Always negotiate. People are almost always willing to come down some on their asking price. And be prepared to walk away as hard as it may be.

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Absolutely brilliant post.


This should be saved in the technical section or resource section or something. It would be good to have one of these where bits could be added to and amended etc.


I for one am definitely going to be saving it.

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-Make sure the gaps in the body panels are all even.


This ones a real essential, i see so many supes for sale with either badly replaced body pannels or terribly fitted kits around at the moment. (One in autotrader this weeks a real hooter).


At the least its a badly fitted kit, at most its a badly fixed crash damaged supe!

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  • 1 month later...

Another good place to specifically check for overspray is on the plastic surrounds on the side windows. This is such a difficult area to mask and evenly get paint into that a simple run of the finger just under the plastic will reveal a rough (over-sprayed) finish.


Also, mate of mine just bought an Aerotop and top tip from Faye was to pull both seatbelts all the way out and check for damp patches / stains as apparently this is where any ingress of water would end up.


He also had the car inspected by an ex-Toyota mechanic who insisted on a compression test on all six cylinders.

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  • 2 months later...

I have some more useful things to add. These are from Matt H who gave me some email advice on checking a car:


When you first get there, ask to see the log book and match up the chassis number. - If there's anything questionable here, walk away. - Don't wait for excuses


While the bonnets open carefully put your hand down to the exhaust manifold to see if the cars been run recently. - If it's cold, ask him to start the car up while you're at the back and look at the exhaust. A small puff of blue smoke is OK, but anymore than a puff and walk away. If it's cold, expect some white smoke. It shouldn't be excessive though.... If the car is warm, it should only give a small blue puff at worst.


If cold, the engine should start and idle at about 1200 rpm for about 2 minutes then drop to 1000 for another couple and be stable at 700 after another couple. - The engine should idle smooth and purr happily with no misfires or rattles. (The flywheel can rattle, but this should go if you press the clutch down. - Indicating a new clutch/flywheel is on the cards)


Look into the driverside front air duct and you should see the stock intercooler. For a Jap car it shouldn't be corroded, but may be dented. Look around here and inside the main bumper opening for over spray and/or accident damage.


Look under the rear of the car. You should be able to see most of the exhaust system, check for undercarriage dents/scrapes.

Again look for overspray/accident damage.


All the panel gaps should be pretty much the same and all openings should open and close with ease.

Mkiv bonnets and boots do get a little play when pushed so don't panic too much if the bonnet can move a couple of mm or the boot rubbers are shot.

Take a look down the flanks of the car. This should show up body imperfections and carpark dents in the doors.


Inside the car do the usual checks on pedal rubbers for excessive wear and steeringwheel wear.


When you drive the car, the first turbo should be noticable as a whistle, and the 2nd turbo should come in at 3800-4000rpm. You shouldn't be able to hear either turbo at high rpm... The engine should be louder! - It's normal'ish to get a slight hesitation as the 2nd turbo comes in but it should be very minor.


If you can, get up to 100 mph and apply the brakes consistantly down to about 40 mph. You should feel no judder from the wheels or pedal.... The Jap brakes warp easily


Thanks to Matt H for that.

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  • 1 year later...
Guest SUPAzNmayn

i would like to add (from a mechanic buddy of mine) that you should check the paintjob by feeling the inside of the door (the 'rim' of the door when its opened and the inside of the door) because if its smooth then the person did a good job but if not than you might want to have the seller redo it because a good painjob is around 2500 (usd).

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