Motafrenz Car Club

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Member Article: Camry Breakdown

Words and Photos by Daniel Borton.

Waiting for Telstra

With an extra hot day forecast for the Boxing Day Public Holiday, I decided it would be the perfect day to drag Paul along to put together the questions for the first ever Motafrenz Magical Mystery Tour Goes Country, starting in Daylesford.

Before leaving we had a discussion about which car to take. We decided against Ollie as it didn’t have air conditioning, the Alto as it didn’t have air conditioning, and went with the Camry Vienta not only did it have ice cold air conditioning, it was the height of 1993 Toyota luxury. It had V6 power and was super smooth and quiet on the highway.

We took a detour to Ballarat to visit my rental flat which had just had a bit of work done. It was a nice easy run up the freeway although the car did sound a bit whiney at times. Paul said that would be OK as long as it was only the car being whiney and not me as well.

Daniel and Paul mutually horrified and amused at the breakdown

After visiting the Ballarat flat which had an excellent quality paint job, just in the wrong colour, we headed to Daylesford for lunch. There was more whining, from both the car and me, but the air conditioning kept us super cold with little understanding of the 30 something temperatures outside. We discussed past Motafrenz events, Castlemaine food places and meat pies. Which resulted in us deciding to have meat pies for lunch. 

While they weren’t bad, sadly these meat pies were well below the high bar normally expected at a country bakery. From there we walked back up the hill in the heat to the car and set out to find the start line. 

Along the way we had discussions about what would be our favourite club cars. Paul really liked Ollie, he could work on it. I prefer more modern cars, so would like a 94-99 Mazda 323 Astina, ideally a V6, but a 4 cylinder would be fine. A modern car with air conditioning, an airbag and perhaps ABS.

Safely parked before deciding to fail to proceed

Finding a starting place for an unknown number of cars on the town’s busiest weekend of the year wasn’t that easy in my head. Especially seeing as we had no idea what other events would be on. Many possible sites were picked out, then discounted. Visiting the sites actually enabled us to see things on the ground, and decide what would work out best. 

We chose the site and set out on the route (already decided) to pick the questions. There was more whining from the car and me along with some sniggering from both Paul and I as we wrote the questions. We got out of Daylesford, got onto the highway and headed for the first town.

That’s where it started. When we stopped, there was a strange hissing sound coming from the engine bay. On popping the bonnet the coolant overflow bottle was boiling. We decided to let it cool down while we went for a wander and savoured the main street of town. Paul suggested we leave the air con off and just have the windows down to let the car cool down, so we did that. From there Paul joined in the whining as well, about the lack of air con. 

Calm before the storm

The next bit was so picturesque with such beautiful landscapes and scenery we forgot to write down any questions. But we both decided that everyone on the Magical Mystery Tour Goes Country would appreciate the scenery. We ended up at a most picturesque spot and parked, again only for the coolant overflow water to be boiling. Again we went for a walk in the heat, and took photos. 

After a break and the water stopped boiling, tried to take the radiator cap off, but it had a plastic cover with clips that prevented it from turning and a factory sticker saying never open. So we didn’t.

We experienced this a few more times, and eventually had to stop at the side of the road. We had a few lovely people pull over and ask if we were OK, or if we had water, something I’ve decided I’m going to do too when people are stranded. Particularly when the weather’s like that.

The car was also running out of petrol and I was keen to fill up so we didn’t run out. We decided to abandon the questions and make a run for the nearest petrol station and call the RACV. With more constant overheating I decided to turn the engine off, and let it roll on momentum until we next pulled over. We rolled quite a few kilometres assisted by the slight decline on the road.

Rusty water everywhere with no anti rust coolant in sight

We called the RACV and began our wait, the service van took about 90 minutes to come. He decided the head was likely cracked and couldn’t be driven and spent about an hour arranging tow trucks and a taxi which took another 90 minutes to come. All up we spent about 4 hours waiting.

If this next bit sounds like a plug for RACV, it is. I upgraded to Total Care when I bought the Citroen and kept it since partly out of laziness, but mainly ‘just in case’. RACV collected the car later that night (there was a 4 hour wait for towing), and put us in a taxi home. The taxi was $248 and the car was delivered to my house the next morning. Their motto used to be you’ll need us one day, and that day they came through well and truly.

One expired Toyota engine

From there the car sat on the street for about 3 weeks until Trent came to help with the Alto engine mount. He had a look and like me thinks the lack of water in the oil, and the low oil level means it’s unlikely a head gasket and after further investigation, it’s most likely a failed water pump. Which also explains a lot of other issues.

The question now being, is it worth spending around $1000+ to replace the water pump, timing belt (while there) there and a few other things when the body and paint work are so poor.

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