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Toyota Camry Basic Maintenance Questions



  • joescarjoescar Posts: 30
    I've been using Walmart motor oil in my 2004 Camry 4 cylinder because it meets the required specification. I've had no trouble in the last 10,000 miles and as a matter of fact, it seems that my gas mileage has IMPROVED! I've been getting in the mid 30s with a high of 37 MPG on a recent road trip. Does anyone else have experience with Walmart oil? I almost feel guilty using such an inexpensive oil in this car but I can't logically come up with a reason not to. I contacted the manufacturer (Quaker State) and their engineer said that Walmart oil is the same as their own brand however the additive package is a little different. Comments?
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    If it meets the SAE requirements for your car, then it shouldn't matter what the brand name on the bottle is.
  • denmandenman Posts: 19
    Thanks for the reply, did you receive the filter wrench yet? I called there the other day and they could not tell me for sure if that style number would fit my filter.

    My filter number is 90915-YZZD1. I have a 2005 SE with the 3.3L. I believe the same oil filter is used for the 3.0L. What year is your car? Let me know when you get it if it fits.

    Thanks, Dennis
  • txstudmfntxstudmfn Posts: 6
    It is not the oil, it is the engine seals or something else.

    Can you pin point the leak? It could be the oil gasket on the oil pan. It could be some other part like your oil pump. If doesn't leak much when it is idle, it is leaking when the engine is running hot. Get it looked at ASAP.
  • bwong06bwong06 Posts: 43
    Can i switch to synthetic oil on my 02 camry with 45000 miles or should i stick to regular. I bought the car around 25000 miles and have taken good care of it.
  • txstudmfntxstudmfn Posts: 6
    There is nothing wrong in switching to synthetic at 45k. It is more expensive per quart but i'm sure you have already done that research. If you change your mind you can always switch back to regular. Whatever you do don't buy the blend i feel that is a waste of money.
  • I'm being told by my mechanic that it's finally time to change those long-life platinum spark plugs again, and his quote for the labor is several hundred dollars because apparently they're very hard to get at. Can anyone verify this? Has anyone on this forum change their own Camry V6 spark plugs?
  • msr2kmsr2k Posts: 2
    I've done a 60K maintenance for my '99 Camry LE at teh dealer and they said that I need do:
    - brake fluid flush
    - power steering fluid flush
    - fuel injector cleaning.
    What from the list above is usually done at 60K and what are the chances that they really looked at all the things above and determined that they require cleaning? Dealer wants $100-150 for each item so I don't want to pay just because they tell me it's needed... The car is OK, no complaints.
    I mean, do they regularly tell everyone at 60K to peroform these additional steps?
    The dealer is Michael's Toyota in Bellevue, WA.

    Thanks in advance!
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    "I mean, do they regularly tell everyone at 60K to perform these additional steps?"

    Absolutely. Service is where the dealer makes money. Of the three, only the brake fluid flush makes sense. Brake fluid absorbs water and water can rust internal components (mainly the brake lines) and reduces the ability of the fluid to withstand high temps. If you've had a brake job, the mechanic may have run new fluid through the system but if the fluid looks dark, it's probably time for fresh stuff.

    If you buy quality gas, your injectors are probably ok. You can always dump in a bottle of Techron (about $6) at your next fill up too.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    I agree, of the 3, only the brake fluid flush is a good idea. But that cost is outrageous! If I recall correctly, my local independent shop charged on the order of $30-$40 to do it. And the fluid itself is very cheap, only a few buck per container.
  • jodar96jodar96 Posts: 400
    I did replace the plugs in my 96 XLE V-6. The rear plugs were not that difficult to get to. You need combination of 2 or 3 extension bars, and a a swivel type universal joint between two of the bars to get to the plugs. You do not need to remove any brackets or manifold to get to them.

    I got to two plugs from passenger side, and one plug from driver side.

    Good Luck,
  • roomroom Posts: 1
    I have never changed the oil myself on my Camry '03 and am having (embarrassingly) a difficult time locating the filter. ON my '01 Camry and all other cars in the past 30 years, I have easily found and changed Oil Filters.

  • loucapriloucapri Posts: 214
    I notice the dealer in Bellevue and Kirkland will always "suggest" their customers to do this and that without wondering if is necessary (they only tell you that's base on what Toyota recommand).

    On the other hand, when I took my 2 toyota to Everett, the manager will ask if I am having problem with my car or he will explain what is needed or what is 'suggested'.

    Again, the cost of doing the same job is different too between dealers. I would not do any of the works unless I am having trouble and base on this forums, even when you have trouble, do all recommanded work, and still might not fix the problem.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    I still think, however, that it's a good idea to get the brake fluid changed periodically, even if Toyota doesn't specifically mention it. The European manufacturers do recommend it, as well as Honda. Brake fluid absorbs moisture over time, which can lead to corrosion and poorer braking performance, especially in an emergency stop.

    It's not an expensive job - certainly not $150!
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    It's on the front passenger side of the engine, near the front, accessible only from below. It sits well above the base of the oil pan, and is pretty much hidden from view between the oil pan and the splash panel underneath the bumper.
  • nem0nem0 Posts: 1
    Did you ever get this resolved? I just bought a 2004 LE with 26K miles on it and I tried to change the oil today......
    Everything worked out fine until I tried to get the filter off....for an hour. Absolutely wouldn't budge. I was going to be late for work so I had to put the new, clean oil into the engine with the old filter. Very frustrating.
    I checked out that toyota parts site ( ) but there's 8 different filter wrenches available. How do I find the one for my car?
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    I just went through the same experience last week on my '04 LE 4-cylinder. The previous time I changed the oil (in March of this year), I made the mistake of using the cap style wrench to tighten the oil filter 3/4 turn, as directed. The recessed location of the filter makes it hard to get a good grip on the filter and tighten it by hand.

    (In 30 years of changing my own oil, I have almost always hand tightened the filter and didn't use a wrench.)

    Well, last week, the filter wouldn't budge with the cap style wrench (kept slipping over the flutes on the Purolator filter) and the filter basically had to be destroyed with a chain-type wrench and vise grips before it finally came off. No more wrench tightening for me!

    So, I recommend that you take your car to a professional the next time to remove the filter, and make sure they only hand tighten the new one. But be sure to check for leaks before putting the car back on the ground.

    Also, in the future, use Toyota OEM filters because they have better-defined flutes at the bottom, which will mate more solidly with the proper cap style wrench. I'd say to take a filter with you to your favorite local auto parts store to find the wrench that fits just right.
  • tpaveytpavey Posts: 1
    I have 70,000 miles on my camry and it seems to be losing power. Tough going uphill, (constantly downshifting) and very slow start up. I've read so many horror stories about tune ups ruining your car that I am leery about trying one.
    Is there a way to tell if there is anything wrong with the car or should I just bite the bullet and tune up?
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Did you change your spark plugs at 60,000 miles? This is the only item needed for a tune up. Also, your air filter should have been replaced as well at the same time.
  • srigoldsrigold Posts: 1
    I wanted to get my Toyota Camry 60K miles servicing from dealer, can any body suggest be good place in Sacramento Area.
    Is there a way to get any coupons for such kind of servicing?
    Thank You,
  • grant2grant2 Posts: 30
    I have a 2000 Camry LE with 85,000 miles which had oil changes every 3k-4k miles. The car's been problem-free, but I feel guilty not keeping up with any preventitive maintenance. The owner's manual and mechanic make it seem more should be done than what I feel may be necessary. I believe I should change the engine coolant, automatic transmission fluid, and change spark plugs. What else do you recommend? In your opinion what things can you handle, what should be left to a mechanic?
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    All those things are appropriate at your mileage. Definitely leave the trans flush to a pro. You can do the coolant change but only if you have some place to dispose of the old coolant. Don't just let it run out into the sewer. Spark plugs on a 4 cyl should be readily accessible, just don't overtorque the new ones.
  • loucapriloucapri Posts: 214
    Let your mechanic handles the work.
    The coolant and transmission fluid are messy and you can't just dump the old coolant anywhere since it's dangerous for the environment.
    I remembered I did a 60K services which included all the works you mentioned and it cost about $300 +tax (back in 2003) in TOYOTA dealer.
    Now I still get flyer from the dealer and I think it's about $350.

    What you might want to do is to check and replace your air filter (easy job), the battery and look for leak under the engine.
  • guevinjguevinj Posts: 15
    The maintenance schedule book that came with my 1998 Toyota Camry 4 cyl. is a bit vague about some of the services that should be performed at 60,000 miles, i.e., those for "Special Operating Conditions". I do mostly city driving to work on weekdays (4 miles each way), with some highway driving on the weekends. I don't consider this to be "special operating conditions".

    At 30,000 miles, the spark plugs were replaced with platinum plugs, and the transmission and radiator fluid were changed. I believe the spark plugs are good for 60,000 miles, so I don't feel I need to have them replaced again. Given the kind of driving I do, would I need to have the transmission and radiator fluid replaced again at this service? The dealer told me it would be more expensive if I started doing the services "a la carte", as opposed to using their 60,000 mile "package", which includes new spark plugs and radiator flush/fill. Am I on the right track?

    Also, one of the items mentioned in the book is a valve inspection. In cold weather, I notice a tappet noise until my car is fully warmed up. I'd like to have this adjusted. Is it a labor-intensive process to adjust valves in a Camry?

    Thanks for any advise!
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Toyota defines "special operating conditions" to include driving 5 miles or less in freezing temperatures. Other automakers say up to 10 miles regardless of weather.

    Depending on your climate, I'd say you may qualify for the "special operating conditions" even under Toyota's tighter definition.

    The spark plugs are good for 60K miles, so don't change them now. The radiator fluid (coolant) should be changed/flushed at 2 years or 30K miles, whichever comes first, if you are using the Toyota conventional red coolant (not the new Super Long Life coolant used on later models), so you are apparently overdue on a time basis.

    It wouldn't hurt to change the transmission fluid now either, but just drain and refill. Don't let them talk you into a flush.

    Also, the air filter should be replaced, the brakes and underbody checked, and the tires rotated, if you haven't had these already done recently.

    Regarding valve clearance inspection, it shouldn't be labor intensive, but I'm not sure what is involved in actually adjusting the valve clearance if it's needed.
  • I just bought a used Camry with 34k on it. I've replaced the air filter but was wondering what else I needed to do. Do I replace the tranny fluid or flush it? Do I need to change the coolant fluid? How about the plugs/wires? Thanks!
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    At only 34K miles, no need to do plugs, wires or transmission fluid. Coolant change is in order due to the time element (assuming it hasn't ever been changed.) See what your owner's manual recommends at 30K miles.
  • I posted this on the camry problems and solutions board too:

    I do my own oil changes. I see that advanced auto and the others lists the fram 4967 as the filter. That filter was on the 92-96 and 97 - 01 models but the one on my 2005 is about an inch longer. Purolator #L14477 seems to be the exact replacement. Also, advance auto brand (made by fram), is AA4386 (the match to purolator's L14477) but not AA4967 which is the match to frams PH4967. I'm sure both fit the threads and work but why would there be two different sizes listed for the same car??? doesn't anyone cross reference or check this??? I measured the one on my car and it's identical to the purolator (which I bought 6 on sale). I don't want to buy it at the toyota place cause they are more bucks and someone makes it for them (not sure who but it's a name brand for sure). I already have to buy trans fluid at the dealer cause they scare you like honda if you use dexron III. Thanks in advance if anyone has changed theres and replies back with what oil filter they bought.
  • no need to reply to this question. someone answered it on the other camry board. Use the purolator L14477 and not the 4967 by fram or the L14476 by purolator (smaller filter). thanks
  • haefrhaefr Posts: 600
    "I already have to buy trans fluid at the dealer cause they scare you like honda if you use dexron III."

    Believe it. Almost every OEM* specifies a proprietary ATF these days - I believe Toyota's is "T-IV". Many of these are synthetic blends. Good ol' fashioned Dexron III is not. The OEM proprietary blends also contain friction modifiers specific to the clutch facing material the manufacturer uses. So called "All Makes" universal ATFs, even those blended by name brand oil companies, are only their blender's best guess at compatibility. Use of these may disallow a transmission warranty claim depending on the car manufacturer. (For anyone running a non-OEM fluid, if your tranny does develop trouble, don't volunteer information that you're running a non-specified fluid. Silence is, indeed, golden.)

    *I think Nissan still allows substitution of Dexron III. Honda's owner's manuals do too for top-up and full-fill in an emergency, but cautions in the case of full-fill to flush as soon as possible with their "Z-1" ATF by draining and refilling three or four times with several miles of driving in between draining and refilling each time. That gets the amount of remaining Dexron III down to a comfortably low single digit percentage.
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