Toyota Camry Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the Toyota Camry as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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Known Problems

The valve cover gaskets have a tendency to leak oil, especially the one near the firewall.

The head gasket may fail due to a defect in manufacturing of the cylinder block.

On this vehicle, the head bolts are known to pull the threads out of the engine block, allowing the head to slightly lift, and causing head gasket failure. Symptoms may include:

  • Overheating
  • White smoke from exhaust
  • Rough running conditions and/or inability to start or idle
  • White or cream colored oil on dipstick
  • Check engine light 
  • OBD Trouble Codes P2181, P0300

When the head gasket fails, the bolt holes for the head bolts must be repaired before the cylinder head can be remounted. 

This issue is not always preventable, but to help avoid it, never run the engine if the engine temperature is ever above the normal range. 

One or more motor mounts may wear out on cars with high mileage. This will put extra stress on the other mounts, and the faulty mount(s) should be replaced.

The Check Engine Light may illuminate with code P0770 and/or P0773 stored. This would indicate a fault with the 3-way lock-up solenoid which could be defective and may need replacement.

On vehicles with a manual transmission, worn shift bushings can cause the transmission to pop out of gear, especially when coasting down in 1st or 2nd gear. Replacing all the shift linkage bushings is pretty straight forward and not expensive and will commonly correct this concern.

Sludge can build up in the engine because Toyota did not recommend frequent enough oil changes. Lexus will sometimes offer a discount on cleaning the engine if necessary. Owners who changed their oil every 3,000 miles did not experience these problems. This sludge build up can lead to excessive oil consumption.

The VVT-i oil line is known to burst. This is a very large leak which covers the ground, engine, and undercarriage.

If the oil line ruptures while driving, the low engine oil message and engine oil pressure warnings will illuminate. Continued use after these warnings will result in complete engine failure due to oil starvation.

The line is known to be defective, and a revised part has been issued by Toyota, however, this revised part is known for the same issue.

To repair the issue, the line must be replaced, and the engine bay and undercarriage must be cleaned thoroughly.

If the vehicle will not crank over, the most common problem is the starter, which tend to fail at about 100,00-125,000 miles. Sometimes it is only the starter solenoid contacts, but often the complete starter (including solenoid) needs to be replaced.

The Toyota Camry with the 3.0L V6 engine has a known issue with the valves that if left unchecked, will cause burned valves and engine performance issues. 

The engine ‘breathes’ through valves that are pushed open by the camshaft, and closed by springs. When valves are closed, they seal against a valve seat. In this vehicle, the valve seat is too soft, so after the valve contacts it thousands of times, it becomes crushed. Once it is crushed, the valve can no longer make a proper seal, and the valves erode due to extreme temperature (burnt valve).

Symptoms related to this issue:

To repair the burnt valves, the cylinder head must be removed and rebuilt, which is a costly internal engine repair, however, this issue can be prevented through inspection and adjustment of valve clearances every 40,000 miles.

At 125,000-150,000 miles, the Brake Master Cylinder may need replacing. When replacing the master cylinder, it is critical to adjust the brake pedal to master cylinder pushrod clearance or the brakes can drag and overheat.

The rear Oxygen sensors are a critical element in fuel control (unlike other vehicles) and can cause an emissions test failure for high CO and HCs. The sensing element cracks and and reports an erroneous steady state lean condition which confuses the computer, which in turn makes the fuel mixture overly rich.

As the size of the Camry vehicle gets ever larger, there is a tendency to warp the front rotors. This will be felt as a shudder in the steering wheel when braking. The front rotors can be remachined, if there is sufficient material left, otherwise the front rotors will need to be replaced. It is recommended to use factory quality rotors because cheap quality rotors warp very easily and tend to squeak and squeal.

The EGR System tends to get restricted or blocked with carbon after 100,000- 125,000 miles which will cause an emissions test failure for NOX. If the EGR system is equipped with an EGR temperature sensor it will trigger a Check Engine Light for improper EGR flow. The repair is to clean out the EGR passages and the EGR Temperature sensor. Our technicians tell this repair is pretty straight forward and takes about 1-1.5 hours. It is also wise to verify the EGR system components i.e. the Transducer, EGR Valve and VSV Solenoid at this time.

The ignition coil inside the distributor may fail. Our technicians tell us this may result in a hesitation on acceleration, especially when the vehicle is warming up on cold, rainy days. The pickup coils inside the distributor can also fail and cause a no-start condition. There have also been some failures of the radio noise suppressors inside the distributors, which can short out. Our technicians recommend replacing the whole distributor with a complete, genuine Toyota distributor if any of its components fail.

A loss of power on the freeway may due to an internally leaking fuel pulsation dampener. This commonly occurs on higher mileage vehicles.