1996 Toyota Camry Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 1996 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 power steering pump and power steering hoses tend to develop leaks, particularly in the V6 models.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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 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.

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