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Toyota Camry: Problems & Solutions



  • I too had front strut noises from my '97 Camry, mostly when the weather reached 45 degrees or less. I felt that the boot around the upper part of the strut was causing the noise, so with a little WD40 I sprayed the drivers side strut. On the passengers side I also sprayed the boot, inside and out, and also greased around the upper middle strut-bolt, under the hood, and all around the rubber. Driving the next day the drivers side still crunched over bumps, but the passengers side didn't. After raising the car I greased around the middle strut bolt, again under the hood, and the rubber surrounding it on the passengers side. Raising the car allowed for much easier lubrication of the rubber since it wasn't pushing up against the car. Now the suspension is quiet with no complaints.
  • I have a 97 camry LE and found the same Technical Service Bulletins. about a year ago I found this noise from the front suspension. it was minor and didn't much of it. about 2 months ago it got annoying so I contacted my local toyota dealership to look at it. they said I had a broken strut and it would cost over $350 to fix it. they said it wasn't a safety issue so I let it go. today I found your problem in edmunds and looked at for my 97 camry and i found the SU001 and SU003 for my car also. i called toyota customer service (1-800-331-4331 #3) and they said their customer rep from my local dealership will contact me. what is the status of toyota fixing your strut problem?

    what bugs me is that this strut issue was around since AUG 98 and the dealer did nothing about it while my car was still in the 3 years/36k mile warenty. my dealer claimes that when a recall comes in to them, they will fix it without me asking for it. does anyone else have experiance with this situation?

    thank you
  • To:;

    The quality (or lack there of) issue in the Toyota is significant. Toyota's hallmark has been long-term reliability. I believe this is NOT the case now. It may well be a myth perpetuated by Toyota. Owners are likely to have false hope based on this myth.

    Did you know that some owners are experiencing sludge in the engine and being denied warranty claims? Did you know that these same owners are paying $5,000-8,000 for new engines? Did you know that some 2000 Sienna owners are having torque converter replacements within the first few hundred miles of driving? Did you know that others have had total transmission failures after after a few thousand miles? Did you know that there are other problems common to this vehicle? Have you had:

    1) Persistent drifting/pulling to the left or the right
    2) Uneven wear of tires with need for early replacement
    3) Premature brake component wear, including rear brake drums
    4) Power steering problems, including inner tie rod or total rack and pinion replacement
    5) Vibrations, esp. at speeds above 50 MPH
    6) Premature transmission problems or failure
    7) Torque converter replacement, sometimes just after delivery
    8) Sliding door latch problems with sticking and difficulty opening
    9) Oil sludge in the engine related to a contaminated system

    IF you have experienced these problems, please write to the following agencies and file a report detailing your case. THEN, network with others by visiting sites where owners post experiences.

    U.S. Department of Transportation
    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    Office of Defects Investigations
    400 7th Street, NW
    Washington, D.C. 20590


    Center for Auto Safety
    1825 Connecticut Ave., NW
    Suite 330
    Washington, D.C. 20009-5708

    The Complaint Station--click "T", then "Toyota"

    Car Trackers Discussion Forum

    Phil Edmonston's Lemon-Aid Car Guides

    Also, use the USENET groups:

    Charlene Blake
  • there are 2 Technical Service Bulletins:
    SU001 and SU003 for 97 and 98 camries.
    these 2 issues deal with a defect in the front strut. i found 2 postings here that show other customers found these same problems and luckely they were found while their camry was under warenty.
    my car is a 97 with 50k miles (out of warenty). i contacted toyota customer service and they said that if the car was under warenty they would have fixed it, but in my sutuation they can't help (i will need to pay).
    can anyone recommend what i should so for my local toyota dealer will repair the defective strut thats been know defective since aug 98.

    thank you
  • I too had called the Toyota dealer and they said to bring it up and they would look at it. Being 75 miles away and 42K on the Camry I try to fix the easier stuff myself. Since the greasing, the suspension runs smooth and quiet so currently I feel no need to do anything else.
  • canadianclcanadiancl Posts: 1,078
    How you a consumer advocate, or a modern-day Ralph Nader?
  • To recap: my recently bought 1998 Toyota Camry XLE Sedan 4D V6 3.0L with 35,678 miles, exhibited the front strut defect. I was very close to the 3yr/36,000mi warranty expiration. I brought the car into the local Toyota dealer 2 days after my original post here #225. I told the service manager my car was making a loose light thumping sound and he said diagnosis would require examination. I thought this understandable but too open ended. A friendly explanation that I had investigated the symptom and discovered on the internet that the sound often indicates a strut problem. I revealed further that I found on that Toyota had issued two technical service bulletins (TSB s) on the front struts with a thumping sound. The service manager no longer needed to hear the sound. He said he had heard it many times and the repair would take a few hours. I had no appointment so he scheduled me for the following week. I asked the service manager, what if I go over the 36,000 mi limit. He said don t worry about it, you came in early enough. I must mention that this non nitpicking service endeared Toyota to me.
    The next week I was promptly at the dealership. A different service manager was there. He was a pleasant man. I explained the sound to him. He said it was the strut tower and that it needed to be tightened or replaced. Depending on where the car was manufactured determined which of two strut towers were used and thusly a replacement or tightening. Tightening seemed to me at best a temporary fix. In my view, if the defective strut tower got loose once, it would get loose again sooner or later. So, I quickly said I wanted the parts replaced not just tightened. I mentioned the TSBs. I made clear the severity of the noise in that the parts sounded loose and would soon snap off. That got his attention. (by the way, the sound seemed worse on colder wintery days) The service manager then said we ll put it on the lift and see what s wrong first, then we ll talk about it. I came back in an hour and the first service manager was now in charge of the problem and he said they would definitely replace the two front strut towers. I came back in three hours and my car was ready. The service invoice said that the two front strut towers were replaced. The parts and labor for the job were completely covered by the warranty. I test drove the car over bumpy roads for about one hour and was please with the results of the repair. While driving the car for a few days and closely listening for a sound remnant of the problem only good solid tha-dumps sounded out from bumps. Of course, now begins the test of time.
    Please forgive the length of my post. I wanted to give true help to anyone else with the problem I had. The details of the solution were essential to it success.
  • pilot13pilot13 Posts: 283
    I think the answer to your question is that she's an Erin Brockovich wannabe.
    Be that as it may, it seems that the problem is not Toyota (Sludge or whatever), but with the one who delivers the message.
    What do you think?
  • I have a 94 XLE with 75,000 miles. Over the past few months, the ABS light has been illuminating from time to time, and more often than not. It seems the ABS isn't functioning when the light comes on. I just had the car into my local goodyear dealer to get the 'regular' brakes done, and they didn't find any problem with the ABS. Of course when I drove it home, the light came back on. The manual says to take it to my Toyota dealer. Does anyone know what might be wrong here?
  • If the ABS light has come on, the braking system will continue to function normally, but the ABS function will not function. Additionally, the illumination of the ABS light will probably have stored a trouble code in the computer. A Toyota dealer, or independent mechanic, will be able to retrieve the stored code(s)and diagnose the repair.
  • I've had the same problem in my 94 XLE. After two months, it dawned on me that my brake fluid might be low, and lo and behold, it was. Topped off the fluid and the light went out. The manual even said to do that. (when in doubt, read the manual).

    ...and this is separate from my previous ABS question.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    My brake warning light (not the ABS light) also started illuminating from time to time on my '97 Camry, mainly right after startup in the morning. I just realized late last week to closely check the brake fluid level, and it turned out to be right at the "minimum" level. Once I topped up with fluid, no more problems, at least so far.

    With the Camry's brake fluid reservoir, there's not much of a difference between "minimum" and "maximum" so you have to look carefully.
  • fcngfcng Posts: 16
    I changed the blower motor and the loud noise is gone when I turn the heater on. I also lost the first 3 speeds of the heater which was also part why I changed the blower motor. I changed the blower motor but I still don't have the first 3 speeds. The heater only operates at the higher speeds, the same as before. Any suggestions to my problem? Appreciate suggestions from fellow Carry owners and visiting guests to Edmunds.
  • fcngfcng Posts: 16
    I personally think that since the production of Camrys have moved to U.S.., the reliability factor has diminished considerably. Problems I see here on Edmunds and from friends owning late model Camrys, the quality has declined. The major parts such as transmission, engine, brake problems appear too early for a Toyota. I might as well buy a domestic. My next purchase of a Toyota will have to be made in Japan. Hard to come by but that might mean I have to move up to Lexus. Only Toyota(not Lexus) that is built other then US or Canada is the RAV4.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    The blower motor is fed through a current limiting resistor block for the lower speeds, but receives battery voltage through a relay for high speed only. Suggest you check the blower resistor for damage.
  • fcngfcng Posts: 16
    Thanks for the advice. :) I'll look into it. How much does the part usually cost? The blower motor cost me $168 CAN straight from the dealership. Hope the blower resistor doesn't cost that much.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    You might find the resistor at an auto parts store, but chances are it'll have to come from a dealer. Shouldn't cost more than $15 - $20, and that's probably highballing it. The resistor is usually located on the heater/AC housing under the hood, close to the blower motor. Usually bakerlite (sp?), rectangular, 1x2 inches or so, with 4-5 terminals, and held in with a couple of small hex screws. They tend to get a broken resistor wire coil or corroded terminals. Good luck.
  • enetheneth Posts: 285

    The Toyota Celica, Echo, 4Runner, MR-2, Prius and Land Cruiser are all built in Japan, not the U.S.
  • canadianclcanadiancl Posts: 1,078
    Pilot: Do you think she looks like Julia Roberts? That wouldn't be too bad. :) On a more serious note, I think there is something to the theory that fcng suggested - that Camry reliability has slipped now that they are made in North America. I've certainly noticed a decrease in quality of North American built Honda/Acura. But I think Erin, oops I mean Charlene, may have unjustifiably amplified the "problem".
  • pilot13pilot13 Posts: 283
    Who knows--it's such a subjective thing from an owner's perspective. If you believe in entities like JD Powers, the answer would be that Camry quality is still tops. All of the other so-called Consumer Surveys tend to support that too.
    If you subscribe to the "Live to Sue and Sue to Live" philosophy touted by crusaders like cblake, things ain't so good with Toyota.(But you have to put her claims in perspective--she has had trouble with literally every car she's owned, and she only publishes info which supports her side of the story.)
    Whatever, I wouldn't be to hasty in judging Camry quality--especially since so many of them are built in our "Great White North"!
    Gotta go now; I think I'm starting to sludge up.....or maybe my tranny is failing!
This discussion has been closed.