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Toyota Camry Basic Maintenance Questions

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  • epondepond Posts: 13
    I drive a 4 cyl 2002 Toyota Camry XLE. I have not had one problem the 28 months I have driven it. In addition, I regularly change the oil and filter myself.

    However, just today I was cruising on the freeway and noticed on the bottom right of my instrument panel what looked like a check engine light. The manual says it's a "Engine Malfunction Lamp" and that I am suppose to take it to a Toyota Dealer for them to check it out.

    The light came on around 24,500 miles on the odometer. Is this just a reminder to get some upcoming 30,000 miles service done on the car, or could it actually be something serious?

    Thanks for the help in advance.

    epond
  • bd21bd21 Posts: 437
    No it is not a service light. You have a malfunction that may or may not be serious. You are under warranty, so take it to the dealer as soon as possible. My guest it will have something to do with your emissions system.
  • cam2003cam2003 Posts: 131
    Possible your gas cap not closed tightly.
  • scotttscottt Posts: 4
    You Camry has an OBDCII plug under the steering wheel. Go to Autozone and have them do a free plug-in diagnostic readout and tell you the code. If the resulting code(s) arenot readily defined, search for it (tehm) on the web. Usually, you will find the source that way and save money by begin able to either fix it or bring it to an non-dealer mechanic to fix for you.
  • epondepond Posts: 13
    Thanks for everybody's response to the malfunction indicator lamp.

    I was excited to hear it was possibly only the gas cap. Well, my father had just borrowed my car and out of the kindness of his heart re fueled my car. In doing so, he put the gas cap on, but didn't tighten it so it "clicked." So I eagerly tightened it so it "clicked" and started up the car.

    Unfortunately, the Malfunction Indicator Lamp stayed on. Bummer. Well, this morning, 2 days after tightening the gas cap, I planned on visiting a Toyota Dealership to see what's up. While driving, I noticed the Malfunction Indicator Lamp was no longer lit, it was out.

    That's my story. I hope it doesn't come on again.
    Thanks for all the advice. Happy motoring.

    epond
  • cam2003cam2003 Posts: 131
    It would take several times of driving to clear off malfunction indicator lamp as stated in User's Manual.
  • xbbusterxbbuster Posts: 145
    Maintenance calls for trans service @ 30K on my '02 V6. Dealer wants $130 for a flush and fill. Why not just drain and replace fluid? What's the capacity if I just drain and fill myself. Flushing at 30K just sounds like a money maker for the service dept.
  • With electronic ignition and fuel injection, the cars require very little and very simple maintenance.

    I had a 89 Camry LE (250K) and 93 Camry LE (200K) and had no problem doing all preventive maintenance myself with no mechanic training and mimimum amount of tools. The cars all ran great with no problem.

    1. Changing engine oil and filter and transmission fluid to owners' manual schedule is very easy. Just buy a flat oil container to store the used oil and recyle it at the part stores. Use a steel tube to lengthen the wrench handles for extra torgue to open the tough oil lugs.

    2. Change front disk brake pads when the sensors start sqeaking. Toyota's OEM pads last longer on the rotors and will not make noise. I do much better brake jobs than any brake shops, spending much less time not having to wait around at the shop. Bleeding the brake fluid every 2 years should improve brake performance.

    3. Adjust the rear drum brake. Replacing the shoes is possible but the shoes hardly work and are rarely worn! It's much safer to buy the SE or XLE with 4 disk brakes to take full advantage of the ABS. Save a lot of time replacing pads too!

    4. There is no need to service the fuel injector unit. Every 20K miles, give the car a full tank of premium gas (Shell V power with 5 detergents etc...) with 1 bottle of injector cleaner. That should keep the injectors nice and clean, and the cold start sensor and mechanism to work properly.

    5. Replace the air filter to schedule to keep the fuel injector clean and fuel efficient.

    6. Replace the spark plugs on schedule. Use a small rubber hose to pick up the plugs from the wells. Do not use Platinum plugs for cars specified with resistor plugs, since that will stress and overheat the ingition coil and eventually burn it out.

    7. The rubber timing belt is inside the engine head. Most break at about 100K -120K miles. When they break, nothing bad happens to the engine since it's a non-interferent design (unlike Mitsubishi's design). The distributor rotor is gear to this belt and will stop turning and engine just stop running. Call a tow truck to a reliable shop for $150 replacement. It may make sense to replace the water pump at the same time.

    8. Buy a lifetime all-wheel aligment policy for about $200 at tire stores (firestone or Sears) to keep the wheels aligned. The car will run smoother, eat less gas and will not chew up tires.

    9. I prefer Michelin's all season tires since they are proved to last longer, ride smoother, wear evenly, leak far less air through the rims therefore I dont have to check pressure too often.

    10. US-built struts will probably wear out at about 100K. Replace them with Japanese gas struts and they should last a life time. Worn struts can induce instability and chew up tires which can cause extreme hazards, like spinning, skidding and roll over.
         
    11. The US-built plastic-top radiator will probably leak at about 100K miles. Flushing the radiator every 2 years should prebent premature corrosion. Check for water leaks under the car occasionally as overheating can crack the engine beyond repairs. A new radiator should cost around $200 part and labor. I replaced my own for far less by removing a few screws and hoses!

    12. If the car is misfiring, there is a chance that the spark plugs, spark plug cables or distributor rotor are worn. Replace them 1 at a time and check progress.

    13. Once a year, take the car to the self-service washing station, wrap the distributor cap in plastic to prevent it getting wet, spray the engine with degreasing fluid and hose it down. That should keep the engine nice, clean and shiny, which would point to any oil leaks or any worn belts ect...

    14. Spray some of the degreasing liquid in #13 on the rubber boots around the 2 axles and the rack and pinion assembly underneath the engine. That should keep the acids in the engine oil from cracking the rubber and letting dirt into the greased ball bearings etc... so you won't have to replace them.

    15. Check engine belts every year. Replace them when there are cracks on the underside.
  • I do my own oil changes on 1996 camry v6 LE. I'd only recommend toyota filtersas they're much better quality. don't chance it with any thing else.
  • 51505150 Posts: 9
    I like your 15 pointers. Good job.

     

    How long did your CV boots and engine belts last? Also how do I determine if I have resistor sparkplugs?

     

    (My camry: '99 LE V6 w/ 67k miles.)
  • peterpanpeterpan Posts: 120
    My 93 Camry LE 4 Cyl had about 200K miles when it was totaled in Oct 04.

     

    I don't remember ever replacing the axles and their CV boots in this car. The engine belts were replaced once at about 150K miles.

     

    Remove a plug and bring it to part stores or your Toyota dealer and buy the exact plugs. Also ask them whether they are resistor or Platinum.

     

    Stick with the exact OEM plug brand and model number for best engine performance and fuel economy. Use anything else and you may be taking a chance.
  • I have a 2001 4 cyl.How do I change the air filter? Thanks
  • hallagehallage Posts: 24
    I have 36,000mi. Should I have the PCV valve and fuel canister replaced? Also, can I just drain trans fluid thru drain plug? I know this only drains 4 quarts. Or should I have someone with a machine drain the entire system?

     

    Thanks.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    You don't need to have any of those services done at just 36,000 miles. Check your maintenance manual.

     

    By fuel canister, do you mean the charcoal canister or the fuel filter?

     

    I used to change my '97 Camry's transmission oil by just draining it through the drain plug. You can only get about half of the fluid out that way. I didn't want to spend the money on a flush nor risk someone messing up the transmission.
  • hallagehallage Posts: 24
    I just looked at my owner's manual. I am amazed that is says I may NEVER need to replace my ATF if I don't do any special driving conditions. The fuel thingy is something a read about in another post. The service schedule doesn't say anything about either the charcoal canister or the fuel filter or the PCV valve that I could see. When should these be replaced?
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    I believe you are correct on never replacing the ATF in normal driving conditions on the newer Camrys (I don't have my maintenance book in front of me).

     

    On my '97 Camry 4-cylinder that accumulated 111K miles before I sold it, I never replaced the fuel filter, charcoal canister, or PCV valve. I don't believe any of these need changing either unless there's a problem.

     

    Some say the fuel filter should be regularly replaced, but I understand it's tricky to do on the Camry. You have to know what you are getting into.

     

    My '90 Mercury Sable also didn't say anything about changing the fuel filter either, but I did change it (with assistance) shortly before I sold the car at 135K miles.
  • jmoothjmooth Posts: 12
    The scrape plate (assuming that is what it's called; it's the plastic covering the front axle components underneath the car) on my '02 Camry LE is coming off. It appears that all the screws on the rear side of the plastic pieces are missing. The result is that the plate is hanging. Typically not an issue; the most serious consequence is that the thing scrapes against most speed bumps.

     

    I am unable to get under the car to determine if this is something I can fix myself. So, I have these options:

     

    1. Do nothing. Should I even consider this to be a problem that needs a solution? Driving isn't affected.

    2. Bring it to the dealer. I'm concerned that I'll be charged a small fortune for performing a very minor service (putting in a few screws) and perhaps get jerked around into replacing the pieces entirely.

    3. Bring it to a mechanic. Similar concern about gouging. Plus, will they have the right parts?

    4. Remove the plates. I should be able to do this. However, would my car be harmed?

     

    Thanks for any advice,

    Jerry
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    I'd get it looked at. The scrape plate ("splash pan") minimizes water and road gunk from getting into the engine compartment. It's not ABSOLUTELY necessary, but I wouldn't take mine off.

     

    I don't trust dealers and avoid them like the plague, unless I need warranty or recall work.

     

    Do you know a good independent shop? Where do you normally get your car serviced?

     

    If you can get under the car, maybe you can tell if the bolts are in fact missing, or if the pan has broken away from the bolts. If it's the former, the cost to fix will be minimal. If it's the latter, you'll need a new pan, but the labor cost should still be minimal. I don't know how much the pan itself costs.

     

    An independent shop can order the part from the Toyota dealer.
  • zzzzzz Posts: 17
    hi all,

      

    my 99 camry LE has reached 90k and i called a local shop for its 90k maintainance. They said that along with changing timing belt, they recommend to change the water tank and a few other things as preventative measures, since the mechanics will be touching that part of the car, i'll be saving some labor cost. Is this necessary at this time?

      

    The other problem that I have with my car is that the little spring-like plastic of the cap/doorx to the gas tank is broken. So now filling gas has become a pain -- either i have to have another person to help me, or i had to use a key or some thing to keep the levelling the lever so that i can open the cap/door. I asked the mechanics, they said it's at least $300 to repair it, because they have to take the whole thing out and replace it. Is there a cheaper alternative?

     

    c) I have been changing oil on this car between 5k-7.5k (mostly high way mileage), now that it has reached 90k, should i switch to 3k schedule?

     

    thanks.
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