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Toyota Camry: Problems & Solutions



  • Unfortunately my first mistake was to have taken the car to a Toyota dealer. Secondly, I agree that I should have asked to be there for the tear down, but not knowing much about cars I don't think it would have helped me any. By the way, another thing working against me is that I am a SHE and not a he and I think that has a lot to do with things as well. If the cutoff point was 8 years from the purchase date, then I am 4 months over the cut off date, but if Toyota valued me as a customer (since I bought a 2005 Sienna XLE Limited just last year) am I sure that they could have worked around that. I am considering writing the matter to 7 On Your Side and other local News Stations to bring attention to this matter. I don't think it could hurt.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    7 On Your Side and the like can't hurt. I had to use the local newspaper's consumer advocate here to help me with a nightmarish Sprint long distance billing problem a few years back, and they were able to resolve the problem. Needless to say, I won't do any further business with Sprint, except for local service, in which I have no choice (unless I give up my landline altogether).

    I suppose you could have taken the Camry to an independent shop first, but that would have cost extra money. On the other hand, you hopefully would have been able to obtain an unbiased diagnosis. Still, only Toyota can repair the problem for free, if they so choose.
  • haefrhaefr Posts: 600
    Nope, it can't hurt. (You go, girl!) Don't be afraid to try binding arbitration through the BBB, either. Contact their "alternative dispute resolution" section at 1-800-955-5100. You'll be sent a packet of forms to fill out and mail back. The process is handled by an independent arbitrator (NOT a manufacturer flunky) and takes no more than 40 days. The arbitrator's decision is binding on the manufacturer, NOT you. In plain language this means if you win, Toyota HAS to fix your car - the company cannot appeal the arbitrator's decision. If you lose, you're free to pursue legal action if you wish. It's also possible that the arbitrator might "split" his decision by percentage of assumed fault and/or service obtained from your current ride. (The arbitrators are often retired judges with expertise in consumer law and have at their disposal independent automotive engineers for advice as well as access to all the manufacturer technical service bulletins that might be applicable in a particular case.) Alternative Dispute Resolution is FREE to the consumer. You have absolutely nothing to lose by making that toll-free call. (Some stqtes' "lemon laws"* actually require an attempt at alternative dispute resolution before a lemon law action can be pursued.) To be brutally honest, though, if you're contemplating hiring a lawyer to fight a battle in court on your behalf, even if you prevail in court, your legal bills would probably outdistance by a country mile the value of the judgment - which Toyota could appeal. (their staff lawyers get paid whether they're working or not, yours gets paid as long as he or she's working for YOU) After all, you did get eight years service out of your Camry, and juries aren't totally oblivious to a point Toyota's lawyers would hammer away at.

    *By the way, folks, "Lemon Law" cases ain't what they're commonly presumed to be by the public. The terms aren't a simple one-for-one trade to a brand new vehicle like the consumer rights lobbiests like to promote. The amount of time the "lemon" was in service will be factored in determining the value of the "lemon" against the MSRP price of the replacement car. (and by using the MSRP of the new car, that also assures the dealer and manufacturer will gain some further monetary advantage) In other words, if you win a "lemon law" resolution, you're essentially just trading in your lemon for a new car minus the depreciation for service attained. In a car eight years old at the time an engine tanks, the achieved use depreciation would pretty much negate most of the old car's value, anyway. My son-in-law fought Ford over a buggy Focus for over two years and finally "won". When it was all over, he'd have been better off just trading the original Focus as soon as it started acting up - it had enough extra resale value at that point to have been worth more as a straight trade against a new car that he could've negotiated the final price on than his final out-of-pocket expense eventually resulted in. Of course the dufus won an intangible moral victory against $6,000+ out-of-pocket personal expense. Its ultimate value? "priceless"! ;)
  • I recently bought a '95 Camry. I started to replace the plugs this morning, but was only able to get the 1st one out. They'll loosen ok, but I can't get them to 'stick' in the socket. Any suggestions? (Wish the plugs were as easy to access as they were on my Accord!)
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Use a small swiveling magnet on a shaft, the kind used for picking up loose metal fasteners that fall into the engine compartment. Sears should have them. A second alternative is a "spark plug socket" that has a rubber insert to grab the loose plug. A lower tech solution is to put masking tape inside your socket in such a way as to stick onto the loose plug.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,040
    I just saw the magnets at Autozone and they had the 3 foot long grabber with three prongs on it to grip things you can't reach. All the auto parts like Advanced Auto, PepBoys should have both of those.

    Of course you can try bubble gum...
  • Thanks for your support. I am going to do whatever it takes to get an agreeable solution. I don't know of too many people that just happen to have $7,000 to repair a presumably quality car.
  • I have heard that this symptom may be due to oil gelling/sludge. Check out google with keywords Toyota oil sludge. There was a recall issued for this problem and they are willing to fix it even if you are no longer under warranty. Other symptoms are also listed on various sites. Good luck! :lemon:
  • :confuse: My 98 Camry (109,000 miles) is driving me nuts! For a few months now, since about 104,000, it has been occasionally stalling on me when I brake. Before this happens, the accelleration will kind of lurch while steady pressure is applied to the gas pedal. In fact, when that happens, I know it will die when I slow to a stop. Another strange symptom is that when I am driving it and take my foot off the gas, the rpm gauge will lurch upward briefly to about 1500 rpms from around 1000 and then go back down. This is now the norm, and happens when the car does not stall as well as when it does. As I near the point of stopping, the rpm gauge will flutter up and down and then the car will suddenly die. At first, it seemed to kind of shake as it would die. Once I smelled a burning smell right before it happened, and that time there was no erratic lurch. I stopped the car to make sure that a cigarette had not flown back into the car and started the carpet on fire, and when I was stopping, it died. It starts back up after a minute or two. Recently, it has been happening more often--twice this week already. The accelleration/engine performance does not feel smooth at all. My mechanic and another mechanic could spot no obvious problems. Does anyone know what the heck is going on? This car has been very reliable for the past four years that I have owned it, I have performed all routine maintenance--belts, plugs, hoses, water pump, replaced brakes, etc. I had a tune up about a month before the stalling started. I am at a loss. Once the stalling nearly caused an accident, because it died before I completely stopped and I lost the ability to brake. Please, please help me!!!! :cry:
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    did someone check for proper fuel delivery pressure to the engine? how about a clogged EGR valve?

    since the stalling started after the "tune-up", maybe there is a hose or something else which was left unattached (sensor wires?) or got crimped. seems like something might not have been put back together properly.
  • bildowbildow Posts: 100
    sludge problems I have found that sludge problems are normally from not changing the oil and not driving the car enough. When I say not driving enough every time in the morning when you start your car there is water condensation in your block you might have seen some cars spitting water out the tale pipe or steam in the cold winter. It takes about 5-7 miles of driving to clear out the condensation but a lot of folks drive only a couple of miles and stop and the next and days after never getting out all the condensation(water in the engine block). (Remedy) it's a good idea some saturday morning to take your car on the open highway and run it a 65-70mph for about 15-20 miles round trip to clean out the condensation. It also helps to run all the oil thru the filter helping cleaning the engine oil and possible keeping the sludge down. I have been using synthetic oil for over 20 years and never had any engine problems pushing some engines up to 350,000 plus. Transmission tip make sure to change your transmission oil every 20-25,000 miles on the 2002-2005 toyota transmissions I see that toyota is using a special trans oil called type iv that I have been told it is semi synthetic and has some kind of friction modifier for the new transmissions to make them shift smoothly. If you want to use synthetic transmission fluid Amsoil says theirs will work in the new transmissions????. If you live in cold weather and don't have an engine heater use synthetic oil 5-w 30 it will flow fast and lubricate the engine down below zero. you can go to google and put in synthetic oil it will explain how much better it is for cold weather . I have found that wallmart has the lowest prices for changing synthetic oil.
  • haefrhaefr Posts: 600
    The first thing you should elliminate before anything else is to have a load test on the battery and charging system done. You do NOT have to have this done by a dealer either. Most national auto parts chain stores are equipped to check both out while you wait. By the way you do not lose the ability to brake in the event the engine stalls out. You just have to push the brake pedal a LOT harder once any retained vacuum reserve in the vacuum operated power brake booster is bled off and not replaced by normally continuous intake mainifold vacuum. Nevertheless, actual four-wheel braking is always available.
  • Don't I feel stupid! That actually was a plug socket, but the little rubber piece came out! D'OH!
  • cingcing Posts: 2
    Let me start by saying I've changing a many of spark plugs back in the 80 and early 90s, but in my 02 camry (4 cyclinder) where are the spark plugs located. I've searched a the engine, and dont even see the distributor or distributor cap, nor spark plug wires. Would it be under the plastic cover where the oil is poured in? Or is it under or behind the engine itself?

  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    The sludge problem in some 97-02 Toyota's was different from the norm. You can read up on it in some old forums here on Edmunds. Toyota acknowledged the problem with an 8 year unlimited mileage sludge warranty. Owners must still prove proper maintenance to get the warranty repair.
  • Hey, i have the same car jsut bought it myself about 2 weeks ago. I actually found out yesterday how to turn the alarm on and off. First you must have the key in the ignition clicked to the 3rd turn I think. ONce the key is in, simply push the blac little button thats to the right of and above the hood release lever. I usually click my alarm button to hear if its on or off (it usually beeps).
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    They are under the plastic cover. The Camry 4-cylinder has no distributor or spark plug wires. The ignition coils are on top of the spark plugs.
  • haefrhaefr Posts: 600
    "Would it be under the plastic cover where the oil is poured in?"

    Bingo! It mystifies me why automanufacturers feel it's necessary to hide the engine under a piece of plastic with cutesy metalized bright logos. I always felt the intricate castings of the art and craft of well-wrought mechanical engineering were works of art unto themselves and worthy of being displayed and admired when the hood is raised. So far I have not seen these abominations to good taste mounted on Ferrari engines. The plastic cover for my Sonata V-6 resides in a place of dishonor along a wall of the garage - in case the car's next owner disagrees. (or in case I can unload the stupid thing for profit on eBay... As Tim Allen might've quipped on Home Improvement, "Real men don't need sissy plastic engine covers! Aurgh, aurgh, aurgh!")
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,040
    >were works of art unto themselves

    I always figure I'm helping the air flow for extra cooling by removing those silly covers they spent $1.50 on instead of some other feature they could have kept and left off to save a few pennies here/there.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Blue smoke doesn't necessarily mean sludge. It does indicate oil burning. I had blue smoke on cold startup (first thing in the morning), and it was caused by worn/hardened valve stem seals, which were replaced under warranty on my '97 Camry LE 4-cylinder. The engine did not have sludge, and it ran fine till the day I sold it on eBay at 111K miles.

    Wow -- 4000th post!
This discussion has been closed.