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2002 Toyota Camry Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 2002 Toyota Camry based on complaints from actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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19
Known Problems

The proper repair for a leaking Steering Rack & Pinion is replacement with a new unit.

At higher mileages, (125,000-150,000) the automatic transmission may not shift correctly. This can be caused by the throttle position sensor being out of adjustment or a shift solenoid needing to be replaced. Typically the transmission does not need to be completely overhauled.

The rear light wiring harness can break where it attaches to the trunk hinge. As a result, the reverse lights or the shift indicator may not work and the rear bulb fault indicator may stay on constantly. The harness can be repaired and does not have to be replaced.

The pickup coil inside the distributor can fail and cause a no-start condition. There have also been some failures of the radio noise suppressors inside the distributor which can short out. It is recommended to replace the whole distributor with a complete genuine Toyota distributor if any of its components fail.

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

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.

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.

Debris can get into the idle air control valve. This will restrict the air flow into the engine, causing idle speed and/or stalling when cold. The valve can be cleaned or replaced to correct this concern.

On higher mileage vehicles, an engine misfire may develop and/or the Check Engine Light may illuminate due to a failed ignition coil. It is not uncommon to replace all the coils when the first one fails in order to prevent return trips to the repair shop.

The power steering pump and power steering hoses tend to develop leaks, particularly in the V6 models.

The Check Engine Light may illuminate because a component of the oxygen sensor stops working. As a result the engine computer is unable to determine the proper ratio of air to fuel for the engine. Replacing the failed oxygen sensor should correct this concern.

Intermittent failure of a purge control valve in the evaporative emission system can cause the Check Engine Light to illuminate. A failed valve should be replaced to correct this problem.

 

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.