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1997 Toyota Camry Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 1997 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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Known Problems

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

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.

At higher mileages, an anti-lock brake system wheel speed sensor may wear out and illuminate the ABS warning light. It is recommended to replace the sensor with a factory part and be sure to clean all rust and debris from the mounting area because the mounting distance is critical. Failure to do so may result in the new sensor setting false trouble codes. Be sure to check the condition and runout of the front wheel bearings on the 2WD and 4WD vehicles and the CV joints on the 4WD vehicles since worn wheel bearings and/or CV joints can cause the ABS trigger rings to rub against the ABS sensors and damage them.

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.

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.

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.

The timing belt tensioners may make a rattling noise at a higher mileages. This is due to the adjustment being at its limit. Our technicians tell us that range of the adjuster may be lengthened by elongating the slot where the spring attaches by 2-3 mm to remedy this problem.

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.