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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

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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

A rough idle and even an emissions inspection failure for high HC and CO can be caused by improperly adjusted valves. Also, exhaust valves may become to tight which can lead to valve failures. Our technicians tell us that regular valve adjustment inspections are a must.

We recommend flushing the brake fluid every 60,000 miles because the fluid can become dirty and may cause problems in the brake system such as premature failure of the master cylinder or wheel cylinders.

Over the time the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system may become plugged with debris, the oxygen sensor may also be getting slow or 'lazy' around this time. When servicing or cleaning  the EGR system, it is a good idea to replace the oxygen sensor because it works in tandem with the EGR system.