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New Driver

Tips for An Inexperienced Enthusiast

Hello Hagerty Community,

I wanted to take the time to introduce myself and express how excited I am to be a part of this forum. My name is Tina, and I am from Southern California here to learn all that I can to maintain/pamper my newly acquired 1977 Toyota Corolla. I stumbled upon this gem on Craigslist last December; I'm sure like many others on here, scouring craigslist is a daily hobby of mine to window shop and opportunity hop.

Now since I was young, I've always had a curiosity for cars and anything automotive. I'm sure the inspiration came from my father, who was a former auto parts dealer. He would work on our family cars at home during his spare time, and I remember frequently watching him even to the point where I got so close that I was burned once by the hot coolant shooting out from the radiator. Regardless, I was able to ignite that curiosity for a short while in high school when I joined an auto shop program for two years. I was so enamored by the environment that I even managed to get on a competitive engine building team during my time there. That was in 2011. 

Fast forward nine years, and I am now a college graduate with a degree in marketing. Needless to say, I didn't pursue further in the automotive field (which will change), but I know I have a passion that I plan on continuing in my spare time with the help of this community. 

As a novice/new college graduate, I had no means to purchase this vehicle based on knowledge and financial situation. However, I couldn't pass on such a great deal. The vehicle itself is in pristine condition, garaged its whole life, and belonged to an elderly woman before me purchasing it from her grandson. I hope to post pictures in the forum soon to share with everyone so you can appreciate her beauty. 

Since having the car, my father and I have already done a basic tune-up (spark plugs, oil change, fuel filter). I've also scoured the internet for information using the resources to build up a database of bookmarked websites for future use, along with viewing countless hours worth of YouTube and Motortrend. I just discovered Hagerty DIY a couple of days ago, and that's how I stumbled onto this forum. Some problems I've run into and I know need to be addressed now includes:

*please excuse me if I am referring to things incorrectly or if I am unclear in any way... 

  1. On cold starts, the car starts up no problem but dies out immediately. The car would only idle after I press the gas for a while, and I don't want to continue to do that on a cold start as I know it's the worst thing for it. I spoke to a technician, and he believes the choke needs to be adjusted. 
  • Now, I am thinking at this point it would be best to rebuild the carburetor as part of the overhauling process to make it a daily driver. Do you recommend this for a novice? Or is adjusting the choke something I could do? I plan on visiting the local junkyard to find a carburetor to mess with meanwhile to get familiar with the process. 
  • I know I need to replace all vacuum lines just in case I have a leak somewhere. 
  • Brakes WILL BE ADDRESSED! Somewhere along the way, I noticed that the brake pedal was depressing further without much stoppage. I went and checked the brake fluid reservoir to find it empty. I'm not too sure what's going on, but I haven't driven her since. Any ideas are welcomed! 


Ultimately, I look forward to getting to know the community and becoming a regular contributor to the site where I can. The corolla is my current daily driver…well, not really considering the circumstances today, but I am determined to do all I can to give it the respect it deserves.