'96 Toyota Camry - oil smell (Not living up to the Toyota rep at all!!!)


Old 02-22-03, 06:52 PM
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Angry '96 Toyota Camry - oil smell (Not living up to the Toyota rep at all!!!)

My '96 Toyota Camry (4cyl, 2.2l) is not living up to it's reputation!!!

Where do I begin...

My first mistake - I leased a used car (49,000 miles) for 3 years got into excessive mileage situation and to buy out the lease.

Brief history:
Leased July 99 for 3yrs.
Around Oct 99 began have this strange vibration when braking...the first thing I thought of was the brakes. Reasonable assumption - I replaced the pads and rotors and some minors adjustments to the rear. Seem to lessen the vibration but then a couple months later the problem resurfaced. I was told the rotors were warped so I upgarded the type of rotors still had problems. Changed caliphers... still had same vibration. Several months passed and other things were checked - the vibration remained a mystery. This vibration was so bad I thought the car would fall apart. I kid you not. The following summer I replaced pads/rotors again. No success! Began have a clicking noise coming from the front end. Eventually discover it was the timimg belt. Replaced that! The vibration that I had continued on with no diagnoses so I had my tires rotated and balanced & had an alignment - no help. A few months later I bought new tries - no change in the vibration. Shorthy there after about 89,000 miles I had an oil leak, smell burnt oil under the car... I had a rear main seal leak dripping down on the exhaust... due to lack of financial resources I continued to drive but monitored it very, very closely. I took it to another repair place to see if they could give my car a check and list the things wrong then prioritize the things to repair... one mechanic told me the L lower control arm was bad another told me it wasn't... they both told me the motor mounts were bad and needed replaced... the trans was sluggish - could use a tune up, & the rear main seal of course. Last summer I have the engine pulled and the rear main fixed, new rod & main bearings, reconditioned the crank, new oil pan gasket, new water pump, new timing belt and motor mounts since the engine was all torn down - I thought I was being proactive... at the same time I replaced the caliphers again/rear drums/front rotors/ and pad/shoes. All this hopeing for a new lease on life for my Camry. The engine was great the only thing left was that vibration and a strange noise the car makes when idling - it is a noise the gradually gets louder and louder in reverse and drive and will lessen or stop in park or nuetral (I was told a possible problem with the air conditioning compressor - it's on the verge of going out they say but no dead yet) The vibration is still a problem. I took my car to Firestone because the "Brake" light came on - I was told..... GUESS WHAT - I need new caliphers/rotors/pads, etc. and by the way that should solve my vibration problem too. (Hhahahahaha - I declined the repairs for a second opinion). While it was there I told them to change my oil. They did. Shortly there after I smelled oil on a trip to KY. I checked for any visiable leaks and checked the dipstick - my oil was about a cm over the "F"ull mark. Before I started back from my trip I thought I would have some let some of the oil out and look things over briefly. At that time I was told that my oil pan gasket, head gasket both had leaks as well as the O-Ring distributor. You talk about someone wanting commit automobile murder - I was there! Could that overfill of the oil cause such problems? What else can I look for? It has been about 1800 miles since the oil change - should this be an issue to take it back to Firestone? Any suggestions on any other issues in my lengthy car history and how to handle the oil issue if it could have been caused by Firestone. I am so at my wits end with this car and am stuck paying for it another 2 years. PLEASE HELP!!! SORRY FOR THE LENGTH OF THIS MESSAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Old 02-23-03, 01:50 AM
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Sounds like a lot of parts thrown at problems. Has this car seen a Toyota dealer or a reputable import repair shop?
Old 02-23-03, 06:28 AM
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In my humble opinion,you've thrown a lot of money at some non-existent problems. First step: Find better mechanic.

If you still have vibration problem, I would strongly suspect cv joints, since you did not mention them in any of your parts swapping.

My wife's '95 Camry has over 140,000 miles on it and still has nearly all of its original parts, including water pump and brake rotors. Items that we HAVE had to replace: CV axle assemblies, ac compressor, timing belt (preventive), brake pads, transmission shift solenoids, and that's about all. I don't think I've spent $1000 in repairs in the 6 years we've owned it even if you include oil changes and tune-ups.

What I think you have is a car that was driven HARD for the first 49,000 miles and/or it saw very little preventive maintenance.

My $.02 worth.
Old 02-23-03, 08:10 AM
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response to '96 Camry questions

I have only taken it to Toyota dealership once they charge a $79.00/hr labor rate which I could not afford and if I don't do the work there they charge me $49.95 just to look at it. I have taken it to other dealerships and some reputable mechanics. Believe or not after all I've went through a couple of them have significantly lowered their labor rate and worked mwith me on the bill (payments and such) just so I could seek resolution and still have yet to receive resolution. I finally took the car to my father out of state because he owns a repair shop - he's incredible but in bad health and so far away. He did all the engine work (which he is known for in his area - very reputable). We invested extra parts at that time, even things that weren't really bad but wanted to basically rebuild as much while it was tore apart and he was physically able to do. He thought of two more things for the vibration which I have yet to try, one the tie something or another and struts/shocks. He hasn't looked at them but thought I should have them checked. The rear main seal repair would have cost me around 2,000 - 3,000 dollars per the dealerships quote. All I had to do with my dad was pay for parts and about $150.00 in labor and leave my car with him for 2 weeks. Small price to pay in comparision. He is blown away by the smell of oil now. He just had open heart (4 bypasses) less than a month ago and can't do anything for me right now. I am so hesitant to take it anywhere because everyplace has a different story or assessment of the problem. Then we play these games of repair and not resolving the problem then repair something else. Through process of elimination I'll have a new car, hahaha. If I could get 2-3 people saying the same assessment I would invest the money in the expensive labor. But nobody is consistent!!!!!

Thank you for your quick replies - I look forward to more.

P.S. Do I have a leg to stand on with Firestone, could them overfilling the oil caused a leak somewhere? If so, how should I approach them with the problem?

Old 02-23-03, 08:14 AM
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Oh by the way, we replaced the CV boots? not the joints I believe - I can't remember at this moment but I'm pretty sure that's all in that area.
Old 02-23-03, 10:21 AM
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As you can see, leasing a car is not the greatest thing . It leaves you with nothing to show for any repairs you do along the way .

As for the vibration, the first thing I would do is rotate the tires again. See if the vibration now goes from front to rear. If it does, the problem is tire/wheel related. Bent rim, poor balance job, missing wheel weight, etc. If not, it could be a bad wheel bearing or worn suspension parts. They can be easily checked by someone competent.

I suggest the Toyota dealer only because you have recourse through Toyota's customer service line in California if the dealership cannot fix the problem. Sure, they will charge you to look at it, you're asking them to put someone on it that knows how to solve the problem.

In lieu of the dealer, there are numerous independent shops that are very competent. Go to the ASE's (Automotive Service Excellence) website and look around there, see what you can find. They also publish nice brochures on how to deal effectively with mechanics. Their URL is www.ase.com

Also, there have been a few technical service bulletins put out by Toyota (check www.alldata.com and click on bulletins and recalls in the middle and enter your information through the screens), one of which talks about a revised CV axle nut. I would print out the bulletin titles and see if Toyota can print them out for you. In lieu of that, any shop with an Alldata machine can print them out.

Work with a competent shop and those bulletins to see which might match your symptoms and in turn the shop can recommend a fix based on that.

You have to proceed logically with this as you have alluded to. You have probably easily exceeded this vehicle's worth in repairs.

Why on God's green earth would you basically rebuild the engine if there was no reason to do so?
Old 02-23-03, 11:41 AM
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Location: Long Island, NY
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His vib is only on braking therefore related to the rotors and or hubs. You saying it is better after rotor replacement and gets worse with use. I would check the runout of both front hubs with a dial indicator. If the rotors were cut "on the car" it would correct your condition. It will correct runout problems related to the rotor and hub assy. Also the wheels need to be torqued properly.

You also need to check the rear hubs and drums/rotors


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