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Toyota Camry Basic Maintenance Questions



  • 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?


  • 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,

  • 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?


  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    When I had my timing belt changed in my '97 Camry 4-cylinder, I also replaced the timing belt tensioner spring, the crankshaft oil seal, and the two drive belts (alternator and power steering). These items are all relatively cheap, and none of them had previously been replaced. I did not have the water pump replaced.


    However, if there are signs of leakage, the water pump should be replaced. Otherwise, it's a gamble: don't replace it now on the assumption it'll last another 90K miles, or replace it now so you won't have to spend a lot of additional labor hours replacing it later.


    I'd recommend changing the oil every 5000 miles or 6 months, whichever comes first.


    On your gas door, I'm unclear if the problem is the latch on the door itself, or the cable connecting the release lever on the floor with the latch. If it's the latter, the cost could be high due to the labor involved.


    If it's the gas door latch, maybe you could find a matching, intact gas door in a salvage yard?
  • Regarding your SPRING on your GAS DOOR:


    I have a suggestion that will probably cost you about 99 cents to implement.


    Go to a local hardware store and purchase these little 3/8" diameter round, black, self-adhesive rubber feet. These are usually used to apply to the bottom of items that you want to sit on top of a desk or table to protect it's surface. Buy the THICKEST or largest (they're usually about 1/4" thick) one's you can find.


    Look inside where the wall of the car is and try to find a place where if you had applied one, it would then require a TAD amount of pressure to close the door. Put it in that location with a piece of scotch tape and close the door. Then, open the door and see if it POPS open. Once you've found a good location, then peel off the adhesive coating on the back of it and mount it (semi) permanently with that. I would also suggest that you thoroughly clean that area before mounting so that the adherence would last.


    If you can't find a place that's flat/opposite the door, look somewhere near/on the hinge.
  • FYI...


    I do oil changes at the DEALERSHIP just about every 3,000 miles. I am actually surprised that they have a "special" so frequently, that it winds up usually costing only $19.99. I also call the mechanic in so that I throw in a $2 tip!


    I'm under lease and am slightly PARANOID about maintenance. I've ALWAYS believe strongly in (over) preventive maintenance.


    I also rotate my tires every other oil change.


    I just bought a Sears TORQUE WRENCH because from now on after I've taken the car back from them doing the rotation, I'm going to RE-TORQUE all the wheel lugs JUST TO MAKE SURE that it is done right.


    I hate to have to say this, but I believe the BEST way to maintain your car is to do it YOURSELF. Of course, the next-best thing would be to have a mechanic do it WHILE you are standing there. Where I lived before, for many years, that was the case. The mechanic would allow me to stand there WITH him while he did the work. So I was pretty much guaranteed that it was done right. He actually made a few mistakes during those years, but FORTUNATELY I was there to point them out to him at the time.
  • tprjimtprjim Posts: 16
    Any advice on what's involved in changing the spark plugs on a V-6 Solara? It appears that taking off the intake manifold would make things a lot easier when accessing the rear bank. Any thoughts?
  • Sorry I can't give you a conclusive answer, but I might be able to shed SOME light.

    I would recommend you use the EXACT plug that the car came with. I have found that there are discrepancies at the different websites as to which is the right plug for my car.

    I went to the dealer to buy the plugs and he gave me a substitue. My picky brother-in-law told me to return them and suggested that I use the EXACT same plug as in the manual and/or pull one out of the car.

    As it turns out, my car (2003 Solara SLEV6) was made with TWO different engines in the same year. And so the plug would differ depending upon the engine. But not ONE of the websites nor the dealer would even ask that question. So I pulled a plug and sure enough it DID match what was in the owner's manual.

    The best price I found was at

    According to my owner's manual, the plugs are good for 60k. I'm at 48k now and intend to replace them as soon as I thaw out (New Joisy is cold).

    At the same time, I'm also going to replace my PCV valve and fuel filter. I'll also remove my air filter container and clean it thoroughly and replace the filter. I'll then change all 4 brake pads. ALL TOYOTA PARTS, I might add.

    In my experience, the Toyota parts are not really that much more expensive than aftermarket, and I am convinced that the parts are of better quality. And if you're doing it yourself, you're saving money anyway.
  • savvy13savvy13 Posts: 2
    i have to do a 60k maintenance on my 99 camry. The mechanic told me to get the fuel injection service done and to replace the ignition plugs and ignition cables. I talked with another mechanic at MIDAS and he told me that ignition cables need not be changed as a part of 60k maintenance. I am confused whether to get them replaced or not? how critical is it for the performance. The first mechanic told me that there are some little white marks on the ignition cables which happens when they touch each other or something of that sort...the cables cost $100...i am in two minds such i don't see any problem with the performance of the engine...can someone help me with this?
  • New member, first post. Walmart oil changes trashed my pan. They seem to prefer to get to the oil filter from below. Anyway, two bolts near the center were missing, the pan dropped down and was dragging when I hit low spots. On the 03 Camry it is a 5/16" bolt 18 threads/inch. Also on the 03 it seems to be holding the front "bumper" together. The bumper was loose until I pulled it together by replacing these screws. I check them after every oil change.(not walmart anymore) I was amazed that the bolts on the 03 were not metric. I had to clean up the threads on the car with a thread chaser.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Welcome to Edmunds!

    As you know, the only way to get to the filter is from below, but it's not necessary to remove the plate. There is enough clearance to get the filter off.

    And 5/16 inch = 8 mm, so the bolts are really metric.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Your mechanic must have a large boat payment due!

    Follow your owner's manual. You only need to get the spark plugs changed (as well as the oil and filter, coolant, and air filter). The tires should also be rotated and the brakes checked. The underbody should be visually inspected. (But I wouldn't use this mechanic; he'll undoubtedly find something "wrong" with the tires, brakes, exhaust, you name it.)

    Forget the fuel injection cleaning, the spark plug (ignition) wires, and the rear struts. Maybe someone else can advise, but I think only the front strut bushings (at the top of the struts) have to be replaced if they make the noise.

    I had my '97 Camry 4-cylinder till 111,000 miles and never did any of the above (other than the required maintenance and the replacement of the right front strut due to a crash).
  • The few times I have changed my oil, I removed the filter from above with no problem. Had my radiator flushed and oil changed yesterday and the filter was removed from above by the "pro's"
    O3's must be easier to get to than yours.
    No sense arguing about bolts. I went through all the metrics and none would fit (too large or two small). The SAE cured the problem!
  • It finally occured to me that you must have a 4 cylinder. Not sure where their filter is located. I have a V-6 and easily accessable.
    Sorry if I screwed my first post up! Not a mechanic, but do a lot of my maintenance on my vehicles.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    That explains the difference. On the previous generation 4-cylinder (1992-2001), the filter was easily accessible from the top.
  • peterpanpeterpan Posts: 120
    You should read the owners' manual for what needs to be done in scheduled maintenance.

    You dont need to replace the plug cables for 200K miles unless the engine runs rough and misfires, then look at the cables, ignition coil, ditributor cap etc...

    You dont need fuel injection service at 60K miles. Just use a full tank of premium fuel with a bottle of injector cleaner added ot it. I should clean the injectors up. This cleaning methos is actually safer and prbably better than opening the fuel injection system up when dust can get into the jet.
  • peterpanpeterpan Posts: 120

    For long term reliability ad durability, use Toyota parts as much as you can, including coolant, oil and transmission fluid.

    Most after-market brake pads would squeak and squeal and are hard on the rotors. Toyota pads are engineered specifically for the car therefore would brake better, last longer and are quieter. The prices are very close.
  • loucapriloucapri Posts: 214
    tried after-market brake pads from a local break shop, big mistake. Won't even last for 12 months. End up costing more since I had to take it to a dealer and have the break re done.
  • denmandenman Posts: 19
    I have always changed the oil in a new car at around 1000 miles, but is this really necessary to change early. I have a 2005 Camry SE with the 3.3 V6 with 1200 miles on it. Any opinions?

    Thanks Dennis
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Absolutely not necessary, unless 6 months have elapsed.
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    I just got my SE-V6 3 weeks ago. Curious about your gas mileage. I got 20 on the first tank of mostly city driving. Have you made a trip or gone thru a tank on highway driving?
  • ajnyajny Posts: 6
    I think I heard somewhere that the manufacturer puts in special engine oil for the break in period and this oil should be changed after 1000 miles. Now, I must add that I heard this about 8 ro 10 years back and it was a generic comment, not specific to Toyota, and I could be wrong about all this.
    However, I also just bought a new Camry and would be also like to hear any comments about this.
    BTW- I got 30 mpg on my first tank of gas, but over 95% of my driving is highway driving.
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    "I think I heard somewhere that the manufacturer puts in special engine oil for the break in period and this oil should be changed after 1000 miles."

    If that was the case, it would say so in the owner's manual. I have read just the opposite, i.e., the "special oil" should not be changed until the first recommended oil change interval. I think it's urban legend.
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