Toyota Avensis 2.0 petrol 2003 - Quick advice, please! - joegrundy

Brother's just called me, asked me to go with him to look at an Avensis 2.0 petrol 2003. The car apparently belongs to his dad (80+) and he's selling it for him.

I spotted this a few weeks ago on a supermarket ads board, was up for £1700, crossed out, then £1295. Brother left a message, no answer, today had a call saying seller (son on behalf of father) had been away, will bring car for examination/sale.

Car was described as a 'Spirit', leather seats etc. but I think these didn't come in until later. Feeling I have that this is a genuine seller on behalf of his dad but a bit hazy on detail.

I have (rightly or wrongly) suggested an Avensis to my brother as a car to go for, and my gut feeling is that if this is a genuine sale (we'll do a MOT history, etc.) this could be a good buy. I'll suggest he offers £1000 cash.

Wish someone like SLO76 was closer. I'm going with brother this afternoon to look at it. Can anyone suggest things to look at?


Toyota Avensis 2.0 petrol 2003 - Quick advice, please! - SLO76
I'd be happy to help.

The T Spirit was available from launch on the second gen Avensis and was a good model with nice spec. Mechanically these are very tough old motors though the petrol VVT engines can use a bit of oil so you'll need to keep an eye on the dipstick and top up accordingly. The 1800 is worse in this regard than 2.0 but neither is much of a worry if it's been regularly serviced.

Buy only if it has evidence of regular oil changes as chain driven engines like this don't take kindly to neglect but if it genuinely is an older driver selling it then it's likely to have been well cared for. However it isn't uncommon for unscrupulous traders to use this story to flog a car from their door that they've picked up at auction. Insist on viewing at the owners address to verify the V5 and address match plus ask to see the V5 and if the yellow sold to trade section is missing then walk away, it's a dishonest fly guy. Do not let them bring the car to you!

When arranging viewing ask them not to start the car as you want to hear it start from cold. When you turn up first thing you do is lift the bonnet and put your hand on the engine, if it's warm at all then you know they've started it because there's an issue be it a rattling timing chain or something as simple as a duff battery from lack of use. When starting listen for a rattling chain, it should go quiet pretty much instantly and look for the usual blue smoke from the exhaust - unlikely on one of these.

Pop the oil filler cap and look for a mayonnaise like build up, this can come from repeated short runs where the moisture in the oil doesn't burn off fully (very common with elderly drivers) but it can also be a sign of head gasket failure which although realitively rare on these it does happen. Look for white smoke from the tail once warmed up and check for signs of oil in the header tank.

It's common on cars owned by elderly people to find overage tyres that are cracking and often falling to pieces. There may be plenty of tread left but they need replacing as they're unsafe and could blowout at any time. Rubber has a realistic lifespan of 7-10 years maximum so it's another cost to factor in.

Other than the usual watching out for poorly repaired crash damage these are generally good news as cheap family motors and certainly something I'd trade or personally own. But you must make sure the registered address matches the one you view at. If it's the sons address then insist you go to the fathers to verify. Be wary also if they've only owned it a short while.

Often the best used purchases come from older drivers who are selling due to giving up driving or a relative selling due to bereavement. The car is being sold not because it's nackered or worn out but because of the drivers health.

Edited by SLO76 on 07/03/2017 at 11:38

Toyota Avensis 2.0 petrol 2003 - Quick advice, please! - joegrundy

Thanks so much for this, SLO76.

Very useful pointers there, and I'll take them into account. This being a small area (Pembs) I wouldn't mind betting that my SIL (a local girl) knows, or is related to, or was in school with, the seller or his dad!

My brother is a bit of a skinflint, TBH, and would rather spend hours fixing a bit with araldite than buying a new bit for £5. His annual mileage is only about 4k and so if he can buy a car for 1200, run it with minimal maintenance (he's good with oil changes) for three years or so, it's cheap motoring.

My view is that if this avensis seems good and he can get it for 1000 or so it'll be worth taking it to my local trusted indy, spending a few hundred quid, possibly get it valeted for 70 quid, and it could be a keeper.

I bought my car (Jag 2.0d SE, 2004) 4 years ago from a classified ad on pistonheads. It had done 130k and the 'dealer' was a bit unimpressive. Paid £2 700. Mileage 130k. When I went to examine it there was a blizzard and my check was limited to the fact that there were 4 doors and 4 wheels. Fingers were firmly crossed. Now has 167k, just passed its MOT no problems, and has done annual trips to Andorra (2.5k at 130 kmh/h) without issues and at 55+ mpg. Stone chips are treated with nail varnish gel (lot cheaper than the proper stuff).

Thanks again for your help.

Toyota Avensis 2.0 petrol 2003 - Quick advice, please! - SLO76
I'm a big fan of bangernomics motoring so I see where he's coming from but boy were you lucky with that Jag. Diesel X Types are usually more bother than they're worth never mind one that was bought blind from a backstreet dodgy Joe. Pure blind luck that time but I'm delighted you won from it.

Let us know how you get on with the big Toyota.
Toyota Avensis 2.0 petrol 2003 - Quick advice, please! - joegrundy

Thanks for help with this.

Been to see and bought the car. Genuine car, largely unmarked, FSH at local garage which also supplied it. 80k miles, runs nicely although a little hesitant - which I put down to 84 year old owner not having given it much welly.

Genuine seller (also retired old bill) and we met his dad over tea and cake.

Collecting it tomorrow - looking good so far.

Thanks again.

Toyota Avensis 2.0 petrol 2003 - Quick advice, please! - SLO76
Sounds just the ticket.

Half a tank of premium fuel and a blast down the bypass should hopefully free it up. Combination of low speed stop start driving and no doubt a life of supermarket fuel too.
Toyota Avensis 2.0 petrol 2003 - Quick advice, please! - joegrundy

Just an update on this.

Brother took car to his indy (an older guy, a 'motor engineer' - remember those?) and had it checked over. New pads/discs fitted, everything else ok.

So, fingers crossed, it seems like a good buy.

All I need to do now is convince him that going over 3k rpm - yea, maybe even up to the red line once or twice - might be good for it. I'll work on it.

It really is a lovely car, and the finish, trim, etc. is superb. Had mine failed its MOT I would have bought it for myself.

Thanks again for the help, it really was valuable.


Edited by joegrundy on 23/03/2017 at 18:03

Toyota Avensis 2.0 petrol 2003 - Quick advice, please! - SLO76
Hope it gives him many years of trouble free cheapo motoring.

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