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Toyota Camry: Problems & Solutions



  • Recently purchased a 98 Camry. I purchased this car with 22,000 miles. Installed new Michelin tires. At 65mph and above I get this annoying shimmy in the steering wheel. At 75 and above speeds it's seems to settle down some. I took the car back to Sears to re balance the tires.
    Car returned with the same problem. The car is pulling sightly to the left and I intend on getting the needed alignment. This should not have any bearing on this shimmy thing, should it? Anyone out there having the same?
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    From your descriptions, shimmy or wobble in the steering wheel at certain speeds suggests imbalance in one or both of the front wheels. At my place of employment, we have a wheel balancing machine, and I know if you're not careful, you can do it improperly.

    Pulling to the left -- how bad is it? That's not so easy to diagnose over the internet.

    If the "klank" noise occurs during low-speed braking, it's nothing to worry about. My '97 does it fairly often, but to me it's more of a grinding or "graunching" sound. I understand there's a technical service bulletin on the problem, but there's really nothing wrong with the brakes. I know because I've checked mine.
  • juzefjuzef Posts: 37
    I own a V6 2000 Camry XLE (16" alloy wheels).
    I believe on the very first oil change, I commented to the Dealer, that the car pulls to the left such that I have to compensate by constantly pullin the wheel about 10-15 derees to the right. The Dealer test drove the car and saw the problem. He said the only way he could fix the problem is to do an alignment which was not covered since any bump on the road could cause the alignment to go out of (I guess) alignment.

    Well, I desided to live with the problem, rotate my tires regulary and just last week, I reached 55,000 miles. The pullin got gradually worse during this time such that the compensation angle reached about 20-25 was very noticable and cumbersome to live with. My front tires were seriously worn on the inner sides. The back tires were not as bad. I had rotated every 5K except for the last 10K.

    Last week I had my tires replaced at a local shop and they did the alignment. After I took it home, I noticed that the car pulled to the left about 10 degrees..I took it back to local shop(not the dealer) and they "re-did" the aligment..Now the compensating angle is only about 6 degrees. It's livable..but I bet it will gradually get worse.

    I am considering taking the car now to the dealer to finally get this issue solved. I shouldn't have to live with this, should I? Is this normal
    for cars.. (my last car was an old clunker that had a similar problem..but it wasn't worth comlaining about.)

    YOU"RE NOT THE ONLY ONE if you've experienced this..Actually I've found that this is a common complaint on this car...(Camry) I wish Toyota would DO something about it.

    Other than that and the bad front leather seats which they've agreed to replace for free..the car runs very well.

    Good Luck,

  • kaleemkaleem Posts: 3
    Thanks for your feed back i think camary in general have wheel alignment problems i have 93 it does the same.The "Klank" noise come usually while doing parallel parking and some time while applying brakes during parking.I had 15000 miles service done at east coast toyota dealer rutherford new jersey..they lubricate the column but i still have the noise i spend $322 and i am not happy with the service i got .noise problem pulling to left feel wobbling on 60mph + i am going to take the car agian to the dealer let se waht happens i keep you guys posted
  • tason67tason67 Posts: 36
    I just discovered these message boards during a search for good used cars as my 1996 Dodge Stratus is driving me into the poor house with repairs. In 1994, after becoming disgusted with a Dodge Spirit, I traded it in for a 1992 Camry LE (v-4)with 40,000 miles on it. It now has 105,000 miles and has been a dream. I had a leaking cam seal at 65,000 miles and needed new CV boots at around 90,000 miles, but that's it, except for routine maintenance. This has been the best car I had ever had. I have had a minor defoggin problem in the winter as previous posts have mentioned, but I love this car.
  • minpin1minpin1 Posts: 19
    YES! I posted about this on the Sienna Van Problems II board. Your symptoms sound just like my own. Changing tires and rotating them does not resolve the problem as it returns again.

    I read a post by "" that said the problem is common. This poster has a large T.S.B. on the problem in the Sienna, but I don't know if the Camry applies. I do know that owners of the Camry and Avalon have posted about the matter. Check the archived Sienna posts.

    Please post your details, if possible.
  • jodar96jodar96 Posts: 400
    I just changed the plugs on my '96 V-6 XLE with 46K miles. I know the owner manual says 60K to change them. I just did it, because I bought the car two months ago, and I would like to change all maintenance items on the car, and start fresh.

    Any way, you need to diconnect the small wire connection, by pushing the tabs in, and pull back GENTLY on the wire that comes out of the beauty cover, then use small flat blade screw driver, and GENTLY pry out the spark plug wires for back row plugs, then use an 8mm socket and unscrew the coil on top.

    Attach the spark plug socket to the 4.5" long extension, and wrap the joint with duct tape, so the joint does not come apart, after each plug installation. As with any plug installation, hand start each plug using only the extention and the universal joint. Use the rachet for the last 1-2 turns to avoid cross threading.

    Rotate the coil back and forth and pull it out. Do one coil at a time, so you don't confuse the wires, coils, and back row plug wires.

    When doing the back row plugs, you need a rotating universal 3/8" joint, a 4.5" extention and a 6.0" extention bars. The back plug closer to passenger side needs the 4.5 extention, and the universal joint.

    The center back plug needs 4.5 attached to socket, the universal joint, and then the 6.0 extention.

    The back plug closer to driver side, should be reached leaning against the driver side fender. The set up of extentions are the same as for the center back plug.

    My next maintenance item is the fuel filter.
  • rooba10rooba10 Posts: 38
    I am interested in knowing more about who gets what MPG with V-6 and auotmatic on highway.
  • Am encountering my first real problem with my '94 Camry 4cycl.(Japan built) 94,000 mi. Turning into my driveway the steering suddenly felt sticky. Hard to turn then it released, hard to turn, release, etc. This seemed to be the case turning left or right. No unusual sound was noticed. I'm afraid of course that the powersteering pump my be failing. The fluid level looks to be ok, although it's nearer the fill line than full.
    Question being, what should I expect to pay for a repair. I'm moderately handy(replaced the lifters in a '74 Javelin) but I doubt this would be an easy/fast repair. Any thoughts? Thanks.
  • juno33juno33 Posts: 3
    I feel a slight but annoying roughness(vibration)on the steering wheel of my 97 Camry LE v6 when idle. It disappears when I push (hard/upwards) top part of steering wheel. Runs swell except for steering wheel roughness(also) at highway speed. Had all wheels (4 month old Dunlops on steel) balanced and aligned at least twice but i still feel the road on my hands. Can this be worn steering bushing or loose steering support? Thanks
  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    My 92 SE V6 auto gets a high of 26-27 on the highway, 20-23 around town using 92 octane
  • phuangphuang Posts: 7
    I had the same problem for years with my 1994 V6 Camry. After I had the tires changed and a break job done at a local tire store at 25000 miles, the vibrating steering started to appear at any speed over 50 mph. I have done at least 20 wheel alignments and 20 tire balances at many different shops and changed the tires 4 more times. I was even told that the tires were out of round and the steel wheels were out out round and had them replaced but the problem never went away. The more money I spent on the problem, the more other problems started to appear like vibrating break, Klank noise when go over bump and turning, burning smell from tires. I never had a smooth ride since the 25000 mile time till recently at 125000 miles. So last 5 years I had to live with the bad steering vibration and other related problems. However, the steering vibrating problem is much less when I have my winter snow tires on (I have a set of wheels and tires for winter use).

    Toyota dealer did not offer any help when I asked them to examed the car in many occasions , all they did was re aligned the car and re balance the tires and I still had the same problem.

    About 4 month ago, the 1994 Camry developed another thumping noise on top of all the problems I had. A small wheel alignment specaility shop first suggest that I may have wheel bearing problem. When I went in for the replacement of the wheel bearing, they say it is not the wheel bearing. They then reexamine the car and found one of the strut had a leak, so they changed the struts and did the alignment and balanced the old tires. All the problems I had is now gone. Now the steering vibration is gone except when I drive over 90 mph, then there is a slight vibration which the mechanics say is because the tires have a wrong wear pattern due to the old bad alignment.

    This alignment shop does not have the fancy alignment equipments and computer print outs but they solved my problem. So maybe you need to find a good alignment shop. The mechanic told me the steering vibration is caused by bad tire balance.
  • juno33juno33 Posts: 3
    Thanks for the reply. If it has nothing to do with the steering wheel assembly and more on wheels/tire balancing, would changing to alloy/new tires help solve the prob? I just hope it's not a major axle problem. Would anybody know a good reliable alignment shop in the Central Jersey area? I had it aligned at a neighborhood machine/tire shop and at Pepboys.
  • mack20mack20 Posts: 40
    After looking at all these posts, it seems like the Camry made before 1997 is better than the newer ones!

    Any reasons why? I heard something about Toyota scaling back costs etc.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Well, maybe...or maybe not.

    My '97 LE 4-cylinder has been quite reliable, and now has 66K miles. I did have leaking valve stem seals, but these were replaced under the powertrain warranty. I have not had ANY problems with wheels, tires, alignment, or vibration.

    But I'm lucky in that I have access to a tire balancing machine at work, so I do all tire rotation and balancing myself.

    It's only been aligned once, and that was after it was hit in the side by another car in a parking lot. The right strut was bent and had to replaced, requiring the alignment.
  • Seems like I am not the only one to have steering wheel vibrations and alignment problems despite numerous alignments and a tire change.

    However, I am having a more urgent problem on my 98 Camry at this time. I have the factory tape/CD stereo system and last month it stopped working. Unfortunately I couldn't figure out how to get it out and check it myself, so I took it to the dealer. I am picking it up tomorow. If the stereo is broken, I am considering not getting the Toyota model, however, the shape of the factory model seems to be larger than car stereos sold in electronics shops. Can I fit a regular Sony car radio/CD in the Toayota Camry? This would be much better (cheaper) and I could service it myself with any future problems.

    Thanks for any input.
  • As of last massage with a shimmy at 65, I took the car to two different Sears stores to rebalance the new Michelins purchased there. I failed to mention that in recently purchasing the car, (22k miles) it came with Inke aftermarket wheels. The last store rotated and rebalance and it seemed to help. The vibration in the steering wheel is not really visible but is felt @ 68mph to 73 now. If there are tapes laying in the compartment they will begin to rattle. Am I being hard to get along with, by requesting Sears to get all of this shemmy out. The car pulls slightly left, is it possible that this would have anything to do with this problem? So this is the question, Do I pursue or do I live with?
  • brucer2brucer2 Posts: 157
    The problem may not be balance. When the tire/wheel is on the balancer, it should be checked for running true: no movement up/down side-to-side. If it's not true it can have perfect balance, but still shake the car. Causes can be that the tire may not be seated properly on the rim, tire is defective or the wheel has too much runout.
  • Yes, there are many factors in tire-steering vibrations. But in may case (post #313), I had been given all kinds of excuses. I think the real problem is that some tire shops don't know what they are doing.

    The more money I spent on it, the more other problem started (vibrating break, burning tire smells, klanking noises etc). I think they screwed up my car so much that even when I bring in the tire manufacture to deal with the tire shop, nothing can be figured out. The manufacture just told me not use that tire shop any more because that tire shop does not know how to mount tires, do alignments and balancing tires correctly. I even brought all new tires and all new wheels and had them balanced from TIRERACK. All I need is to bolt them on. Even that did not help because the car is screwed up so much.

    Actually, when mounting the tires, the wheel and the tire has to be mount correctly, I remembered that the manufacture re told me that the new wheels have marks and all new tires have marks that they have to line up when mounting. Most of the tire shops don't even know that.

    Maybe you can call the tire manufacture rep and have them speak to the tire shop before they screw up your car like they did to my.
  • I came across this recall bulettin from Toyota.. could this be the culprit?? Recall date is 1999 but parts manufactured from 94 are included. Would this include '97-'99 models?...

    Year of Recall: 1999

    Manufacture: 1999

    Manufactured: FROM 1994JUL TO 1998JUL


    Vehicle Description: Passenger vehicles. The steering wheel set nut may not have been sufficiently tightened causing steering vibration and looseness. This can result in a loss of vehicle control.
    Dealers will tighten the steering wheel set nut. Owner notification began Nov. 30 1999.
  • I did received this recall and went to the dealer right the way. The dealer told me they tighten the nut but it did not help (I also complained about the steering vibration at the time and they again did the alignment and balance).
  • Yes, I think you're correct - the pre 97 Camrys were in some ways better than the newer ones. My recollection is that Toyota was concerned about holding the price down on the Camry. There were specific things (cheaper door seals, no gas struts on hood, etc), but if you compare a pre-97 Camry to a 97 and later Camry, the trim parts and finishing is noticeably cheaper on the later Camrys. I was looking at a new Camry today and could easily notice the difference between it and my 95 Camry. Of course, the later Camrys may work just as well - they just look cheaper.
  • I'm trying to find some information for my cousin. She has a 1994 Camry that she bought used with 18,000 miles on it. She loves the car and has never had any problems with it, until now. She is having a slight oil leak problem, and everytime she starts the car if it has not run for a while, some blue/gray smoke comes out the exhaust pipe. I had read somewhere about this happening if the oil is not changed. I asked her about it and she said that she always gets her oil changed at 3,000 miles or 3 months. Could it be that the damage could have occured from the previous owner not getting his/her oil changed? Also, she has been quoted a price of 1,100 to get it repaired. Is that a little high? Thanks, I'd really appreciate your help. I was kindof surprised because I've got a friend that has 190,000 miles on her Corolla and she's never run into a problem like this. Thanks for your help.
  • Try If they don't have it on their website, they have an 800 number where you can talk to a live person.
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    If you want the whole story on this problem, go to Engine Sludge? in the Maintenance & Repair conference.

    But your cousin's symptoms sound like mine did -- blue smoke on startup. I needed new valve stem seals; this would have cost $800-$1,000, but fortunately it was covered by the 60K powertrain warranty (my '97 Camry 4-cylinder had 57K miles at the time).

    Have you been told the head gasket's the problem, however?
  • She told me that the mechanic said that the head gasket was bad. He also said that it needed to be fixed "this month." She's going to have another mechanic look at it though. I'll have her ask him about the valve stem seals. Thanks for your help!
  • edwardh5edwardh5 Posts: 130
    you can drive it a long time with the bad valve stems - its only a little smoke at startup.
  • brucer2brucer2 Posts: 157
    Usually when a head gasket goes it allows coolant to enter the combustion chamber, and great clouds of white smoke comes out of the exhaust. Blue/grey smoke is burning oil. Bad valve guide seals will allow some oil to travel down the valve stem, past the valve guides and into the combustion chamber. There will be some smoking at start up, and then it will clear. If it isnot repaired (replacing the seals) there will be an increase in deposits on the valves and in the combustion chamber.
    I think a price of $1,100 is too high; even if it's to also replace the head gasket. Just replacing the seals should be considerably cheaper, since the head does not have to be removed to do this.
  • wilcoxwilcox Posts: 583
    Thankyou for sharing your spark plug change out experience with us on your Jan 29th posting. Looks like you are good for awhile in that department.

    Our '96 V6 is approaching 60,000 miles. Still original battery. We burn regular 87 probs.

    At one time I was concerned with drifting to the right while going down the road. Had several alignments performed. Finally decided radial pull was culprit in the first two sets. Ever since we got our P4000 Pirelli's, I've been satisfied with the tracking. These tires are the best we've ever had on the car.

    I guess my only problem with this car is the ventilation leaves something to be desired. Windows fog up quicker than in our other two vehicles.

    Also, the muffler loses it's black paint in places. I've touched it up once. Will paint it with hi-temp grill paint in another month. Pretty

    And, the old lady didn't wait for the garage door to go all the way up before backing out... Thumped the antenna pretty hard. Came within a hairof bending it real good. I keep the antenna oiled real well to decrease friction...
  • I had my 98' camry balanced by the shop where I got my last set of tires (lifetime balancing incl. with tire purchase) to see if it would cure the vibrations I get from the front left side. It didn't. However, I tried putting the full size spare on today and drove it on a newly paved road. The vibration was gone about 90%. I'm going back to the tire shop to have them replace the tire.

    Concerning that recall on select Carmy's, I received it too. My Camry was suffering from very excessive steering wheel vibration two years ago. I had an alignment done first, which cured it almost entirely. later I took it in for the recall and after that there was no problem at all anymore.

    I hope this is the last time I have to deal with vibrations, or I'll consider replacing it with a VW. (I wish I could get one of those awesome Peugeot's or Alpha Romeo's they have over in Europe!)
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