The list below outlines things to look out for when you inspect a MKI MR2. You should combine this list with one of the many generic buying guides. Also refer to the Common Problems page, and the excellent Wheeler Dealer video's.
Mk I MR2 Engine Bay, from the owner's manual:
Mk I MR2 Front Trunk (Frunk), from the owner's manual:
See Ron's Parts Locator Gallery at his pbase site for annotated photos of the engine bay and front trunk.
- Electric window mechanisms. New ones can be purchased from TwosRUs.
- Remote trunk releases often bind up on these cars. If you find one that doesn't work it may need only an adjustment. Worst case is cable replacement.
- Windscreen sun visors tend to fade or become worn, particularly on T-top cars where the car has been driven a lot with the roof off.
- Water stains behind seats indicate a leaky sunroof or T-top.
- Check that the electric antenna (on T-top cars only) still goes up and down.
- Windscreen wiper linkage: do the wipers work across the full range.
- Cracks on the dashboard, near the windshield. Replacement dashboards are incredibly hard to find without cracks.
- If possible check the fuel gauge actually reads full when the tank is full. Sometimes the guage gets stuck at 3/4 even though the tank is full.
- Check that the spare tire exists (in the frunk), and that it has a tire cover.
- Rust or damage to the rear wheel wells. This is very difficult to repair as the entire quarter panel needs to be cut out and replaced.
- Painted wing mirrors are prone to flaking paint. Touching up is easy.
- Front hood should have an Eagle badge.
- Take a good look at the area under the front hood for evidence of rust, caused by water leaks or brake/clutch cylinder leaks.
- Sagging doors: open the door; hold the underside of the door and pull upwards. There should not be much play; around 5mm or so. If there is more check that the door doesn't scrape the sill when closing. Can be fixed pretty easily by replacing the Door Hinges for about $75.
- Damaged front valance. It's low, and easy to hit on a curb. The "aero package" two-piece front lip is still available from Toyota for a reasonable price, however the early model air dam is no longer available new.
- If possible use a hose to test for leaks!
- Dents on the metal edge of the t-top. This is caused when the top is stored behind the seat, resting on the slight lump on the floor (T-Tops).
- Check for deteriorated, cracked, or torn rubber on the roof or the t-top.
- Check for t-top bags.
- Check for t-top screens that attach to the underside of the t-top.
- The distributor o-ring often leaks, so oil around this area is not unusual. New distributor seals can be purchased from kbox for a reasonable price.
- Check for the timing belt replacement sticker on the underside of the engine hood (should be changed every 60,000 miles).
- Engine coolant should be a dark red color. Many owners have replaced it with conventional green coolant, which may lead to corrosion over long periods of time. If it is a brown or murky color, it needs to be replaced.
- Check the oil in the supercharger if equipped with one.
- Idle should be around 800rpm, but maybe up to 2000rpm for a few minutes if the engine is cold.
- The oil pressure gauge should read just over half way when idling, somewhere around 2/3 or 3/4 when at higher revs.
- Check that the parking/emergency brake holds the car. The parking brake cable freezes closed in winter, and may now be worn if it was driven in frozen state. New cables are still available from Toyota.
- Check for Fifth Gear Pop Out: Accelerate and decelerate quickly in each gear; push hard on the throttle, and then remove throttle pressure, letting the car slow, and then hard back on the throttle. The gear lever should move very little during this decelaration. Earlier cars are known for popping out of fifth gear, and occasionally other gears as well.
- Check for vibrations when braking. This might be a sign of warped rotors. 1985-87 had problems with the front brake disks warping.