97 Toyota Camry overheating

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Old 01-07-10, 11:50 AM
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97 Toyota Camry overheating

I noticed my camry starting to over heat about this time last year.
When I would idle, or drive a long distance, even if im in park at a ATM it runs the risk of the line to rise.
The reason, I think, is because 1 of 2 fans under the hood isnt working. BUT, when I got the car a couple years ago I would regularly check and fill the coolant. Lately though it kind of looks like its not using enough or a lot of coolant.

I went to a few radiator places and they couldnt figure it out. One guy told me to get a circuit test at one of those auto chains so I did. I went to Autozone and had them do a test and they guy told me that the radiator fuse was blown, and that the fan wasnt kicking on when you would start the car. As I remember when I would start the car I would hear at least 2 fans so it makes sense.

What im wondering now is if I should replace the Camrys circuit board? That will run about ~$200-250, installing @ Toyota ~$185.
Or can it be something else? I mean the car is pretty old, passed down to my by parents. They kept the car in pretty good condition and im trying to do the same. Im just trying to do the least expensive way, as so far I think ive put more money into it than its probably worth.

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Old 01-07-10, 04:42 PM
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Trying to recall from memory how the fans cycle on my wife's Camry. I think neither fan comes on initially until operating temp is reached and then one kicks on; the second one, I think, only comes on when you turn the ac on. Don't quote me. Before I spent that kind of money I would install a simple relay to turn the fans on when the ignition switch is turned on, especially in a warm weather state.
 
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Old 01-07-10, 06:35 PM
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What happened when you replaced the blown fuse the Autozone guy told you about?
 
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Old 01-07-10, 08:38 PM
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Thats what the guy told me also, that both fans shouldnt turn on when you start the car.
But for as long as I can remember, when i start the car i usualy always hear both fans start. Then one stops. Then like you said it will start again when it needs to blow some air.
Right now though, only 1 fan is always going, and its the fan to the left (when you open the hood). The fan on the right is the one that keeps blowing the fuse when a new fuse is installed, then if the fan gets plugged in once the car starts a couple times it will blow that new fuse.
Another thing I noticed was that when i start the car the RPM's wont drop from 2 until the car is semi heated up or has been running for a bit... Or is in reverse: It will drop under 2 RPM's. Before it never used to do this. You would start the car, the RPM's would go up for a couple seconds then it *should* go down under 2 RPM's.... But with mine, when you start the car it totoaly sounds like im driving in 2nd gear, or if i had my foot slightly on the pedal giving it gas, thats how it sounds (until it warms up, then it will sound like it should sound when you are idle)

@bob22:
When i replaced the blown fuse the AutoZone guy told me about he told me not to connect the fan, and that if I do it will blow the new fuse he put in.
So I drove back home, found some radiator place really close to me and I took it there. Told the guy there that I was at AutoZone and that they told me not to connect the fan and if I do it will blow the new fuse.
Whats the first thing this guy does, he plugs in the fan and starts the car.. Fuse blows.. 2nd time he starts the car the fan doesnt start. I was just standing there shaking my head dumbfounded that he did something I told him not to do. You know he bought me a new fuse after that
 
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Old 01-08-10, 06:15 AM
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To put a new fuse in and not plug in the fan is meaningless.
The rad guy had to plug in the fan to diagnois the problem.

In your initial post you said: " not using enough or a lot of coolant."
What does that mean?
Do you have to top it up sometimes?

Also, how much higher is the needle going when parked?
 
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Old 01-08-10, 06:40 AM
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Thanks for catching that, frankiee; I noticed the mention of using coolant, too, but forgot to ask for clarification.

Sounds like the one fan is toast. I would have to look to see how they are wired, but one obvious troubleshooting technique would be to plug the "bad" fan into the "good" fan's connector and see if it runs or blows the fuse. Possible the connectors are different so this may not be an option. Unfortunately my wife is already gone for the day so I can't peek under her hood. And I agree also that the first thing I would have done is plug the fan in.

I think you may be in for some time on a scanner to see what's up with the racing motor on startup; it should only do that for a short period and 2k rpm is pretty high for a fast idle. Wouldn't hurt to stop back by AutoZone and have them do a code read to see if anything comes up. Check all vacuum hoses while you're under the hood poking around.

Unless I missed it I don't think yopu mentioned how many miles on it and whether it's a 4 or 6 cyl.
 
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Old 01-08-10, 12:00 PM
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@frankiee: Correct. my parents passed the car down to me about 3 years ago. when they did i took it in to see if there were any problems or anything in time that i may need to fix. everything came out ok.
in that time i checked my levels monthly refilling coolant when it gets low. this last year though, from Jan 09 to Jan 10, it really didnt go down a lot through out the year. I would check it monthly and refill when needed - but it only needed to top off maybe once or twice.
The needle, when parked stays center level, if i havent drove it.
After driving for about 15 minutes and if im at a stop light the needle starts to slowly creep up. Once the light turns green and im going the needle slowly creeps back down to center level.
Say you turn my car on, the RPM's stay a *tad* bit over 2 with the needle still on the bottom. As it starts to warm up, maybe 5 minutes, then the RPM's will go under 2 and rest at 1RPM or just a tad over 1RPM and the needle will start to go to its center spot... Still in park and if it hasnt been drove around the needle will stay centered -- but if you drive around for 10-15 minutes and then idle with your foot on the break, or in park, the needle will start to creep up. Ive never let the needle get up to red and when its about to cross the red line i turn the car off.

@the_tow_guy: im sorry, i totaly forgot to add my car's stats!
its a 97 camry CE, 4cly, 150000+ miles. 4 door sedan.
I know, i know. The miles are huge, but this car hasnt been on any big trips when my parents had it from 97 to about 2006-2007. They kept good maintance and honestly im trying to do the same to it, treat it right and do all the checks.
The only thing i upgraded on it was i chanced the radio/tape deck and put in a CD player. Also, I upgraded the cars standard speakers and put in new ones.
Then the fan to the right hand side (or drivers side) died. I ordered a brand new one that worked for a couple hours and then it stopped. the mechanics said that it wasnt the new fan causing the problem though. thats when they sent me to Autozone to do a system check. After a few hours at autozone the guy told me that they blew 3 fuses when they would connect the fan.
thats when he told me he put in a brand new fuse (charged me $50 for the new fuse), but left the fan unplugged so that I can take it elsewhere. thats when i went to that radiator place really close to my house.
The guy asked why it was unplugged and i told him the autozone story. he plugged it in. started the car, it worked. after he shut the car off and said it should be fine i started the car again, lifted the hood and the fan wasnt running. the guy turned the car off and looked at the fuse and it was blown.
He then called some parts salvage yard and told the guy i was coming down to buy the whole fuse box (god i wish i knew what it was called, but its a Black fuse box on the drivers side in the camry) for $150. When i get there they started to wheel and deal me saying that they had to sauder and pry the part out and they would sell it to me for $300. I wasnt too happy that after i heard that price I walked out and called the radiator guy asking him why he sent me this far distance when he knew my car was messed up for them to over price me. The radiator guy didnt charge me his $145 fee.... Months later to today im still in dire straights and cant figure out whats going on
 
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Old 01-08-10, 03:05 PM
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A '97 with 150,000 miles is not high mileage on that car. My wife's last Camry ('95) was still going strong at 175,000.

Couple of ideas. Might not hurt to replace the radiator cap and thermostat just for giggles and to see if it makes any difference. Both are cheap and easy to replace.

AutoZone wouldn't be my choice for troubleshooting. I think you need a good independent garage that has a sharp electrical guy. These can sometimes be hard to find; electrical work isn't everyone's cup of tea.

To go the economy route, for about 20 bucks the fans can be wired to a simple relay that will make them come on when the key is turned on. This will be a bit of overkill having the fans running at times when they aren't really needed, but will solve the problem, albeit not very elegantly.
 
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Old 01-08-10, 04:58 PM
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If you have an air bubble on the engine side of the thermsotat housing, trapped behind a closed stat, a symptom is the temp gauge will climb until the heat builds beyond normal heat range, to open the thermsotat. Often, what you describe about the temp gauge climb, and then the following temp drop, when you take off from a light, can occur, because the water pump is circulating faster, along with more heat being generated from larger and more often explosions.

The thermostat really needs to have coolant fully against it, and not just air, to be able to open at the specified (say 195 degree) temp.

To solve my own problem of an ongoing air problem, entering the closed coolant system from either a leaky heater core and/or slightly leaky head gasket, was to drill 1 small hole in the thermostat, to force out any air trapped behind the stat. This indeed has ended my problem that way. No more spikes in temperature anymore!

Also, yes, an inoperable radiator fan, as already mentioned, can cause this. The reason the temp drops with speed is because the faster you go, the more air is rushing past the radiator fins - so the fan(s) does not need to come on, or as much. But at idle or slow driving, less air thru the radiator, so the temp climbs and relies on the fan(s) coming on.
 
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Old 01-11-10, 08:18 AM
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I would agree with the tow guy that a faulty rad cap... leaked out then with a thermostat sticking... and with leaking coolant and air bubble will form.. As depending on the cooling system air might be able to trap in spots without a special tool or tecnique on how to remove all the air..

Also an engine should never use up coolant if its going away its leaking somewhere...
 
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