1997 Toyota Camry overheating problem

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  #1  
Old 06-19-12, 08:27 PM
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Unhappy 1997 Toyota Camry overheating problem

I have a 1997 Toyota Camry 4 cylinder that has an overheating problem. About a month ago the problem started while driving on the highway. The temp gage was reading in the red I pulled over but the car wasn't over heating. I let it cool and continued to drive with the heat on to keep the temp gage lower. I thought it was the thermostat so replaced it but still had the same problem. I them replaced the water pump and all the belts, had the fans tested then replaced all the relays for the fans, I then dis a coolant flush, replaced the coolant temp sensor. All these things allowed the car to run normal for about 3 days and now I'm back to the same high temp gage. I checked the oil it shows no signs of a blown head and the car isn't leaking anything. Does anyone have any ideas what the problem maybe, solutions to fix it, or has anyone else also has these same problems with a Camry?
Thanks for the help!
 
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Old 06-20-12, 04:40 AM
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You didn't say how many miles on it, pushing 200k maybe? Could still be a head gasket issue even though no water in the oil. A compression test is probably in order, although the Camry 4 cylinder is pretty bullet-proof. When you pull the spark plugs for the compression test you might get your answer; if one of the plug ceramics is clean and white - as if it had been steam cleaned - you've probably found the culprit. Other possibility would be a failing accessory putting an addition strain on the engine or even a transmission issue or a dragging brake. The tranny in those is about as bullet-proof as the engine, so that might be a long shot.
 
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Old 06-20-12, 10:44 AM
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My '97 Camry with over 157,000 miles is still going strong with no overheating problem. My '87 Camry did need a new radiator shortly after hitting 100,000 miles. The radiator didn't appear to be clogged and flushing seemed like a normal flow but the new radiator did the trick.
 
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Old 06-20-12, 12:52 PM
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We had to replace rad on both our previous Camry and the current one, but both times was for cracks in the plastic after many many miles.
 
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Old 06-21-12, 01:44 PM
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Thanks for you suggestions. I replaced the thermostat again, this is the third one. The car was at a normal temp for about 20 minutes. I next replaced the coolant temp sensor and that allowed the car to run with a normal temp for 3 days and then it went right back to being in the red. I've called a few different places and no one can tell me anything else that I could do that would help fix my problem.
Maybe it is the radiator. When I did the coolant flush the coolant was a brown thick color in the over flow and a mess in the radiator. I am really hoping this will do the trick. If not I will know more on Tuesday when I take it in for a diagnostic test.
 
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Old 06-21-12, 07:12 PM
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brown thick mess, hah? I have 2 thoughts on this:

1. you had 2 incompatible coolants mixed together, which happens
2. you have oil blown into the coolant from somewhere. Does not necessarily has to be engine head gasket.

You also didn't mention, if she's losing coolant?

What exactly do you mean - gauge was in red, but car was not overheating? Maybe your wiring simply has short somewhere?
 
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Old 06-22-12, 04:41 AM
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The brownish crud could also be left over leak-stop maybe from somebody's leak fix sometime in the past.

Wouldn't hurt to get a scanner on it and see what the computer is reading as temp from the CTS which should be (I've owned Camry's for years and don't know this for sure) on a separate sensor from the one to the temp gauge.
 
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Old 06-23-12, 05:25 PM
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tow-guy You are right on on the two units for the temp the gauge is a temp sending unit and the computer uses the temp sensor. If the coolant hasn't been serviced properly then I have seen sending units and sensors both get a coating of corrosion on the probes that can cause erroneous readings on the temp gauge or to the computer are both. Another possibility is that they did not properly bleed the system of air and therefore have an air pocket in the upper chambers of the head which will cause an overheating indication on the gauge when actually there is an isolated area that is overheating due to an air block in the cooling system which stops the coolant from properly circulating. You were also right about two incompatible coolants causing some problems with cooling the engine and can also cause smaller passages such as in the Radiator to become clogged are restricted and therefore cause cooling issues.
Jim
 
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Old 08-05-12, 04:58 PM
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Hey, brand new to the site. Actually signed up because of this exact issue.
My 97 Camry 4cyl is also over heating. It has 150K miles on it.
I already:
1) replaced the thermostat which I'm sure most of you know is actually before the radiator which makes it hard to tell if that is going to be the problem or not. On most cars it's after the radiator and if it's stuck closed that top radiator hose will swell up. Anyway, that didn't do it.
2) flushed the radiator
3) rigged one fan to work every time the key is on

the top radiator hose did get warm/hot which leads me to believe that the water pump is good, the thermostat is good and the radiator is not clogged. Am I assuming too much here?

I'm fairly sure that it is actually overheating and it is not just the temp sensor because my girlfriend (it's her car) says that she can smell it when she stops if it has been heating up. By the way this has been doing this since the head gasket was changed on it 3 weeks ago. Maybe something was clogged in head or block? Anytime it starts to get hot I have her turn the heater on which will keep it cool.

Does anyone have any idea what this could be? Thanks
 
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Old 08-05-12, 05:29 PM
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Was the head surfaced when the gasket was replaced? New head bolts? And did it get hot when the head gasket failed? I've got a hunch it's going to need to be redone.
 
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Old 08-05-12, 05:33 PM
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the head gasket was changed on it 3 weeks ago
I think I'd take yours back to the shop that changed the head gasket and have it checked out.
 
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Old 08-06-12, 07:36 AM
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It didn't over heat before the head gasket was done. It was only done because it was leaking oil out of the back of it.
No, I don't think the head was surfaced at all.
It's not loosing any coolant though... Could it still be the head gasket?
 
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Old 08-06-12, 02:30 PM
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Still possible. A good garage would be able to confirm or discount; they can also make sure it's actually overheating. A bit suspicious that it started overheating after the gasket job.

FWIW, if I was doing head gasket on that engine I would have replaced water pump (timing belt-driven) and timing belt (unless already done recently).

How does it run otherwise? Any sluggishness? Pinging/knocking? Not out of the possibilities that the valve timing is off (timing belt misaligned) or the ignition timing.
 
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Old 08-06-12, 02:48 PM
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Bear with me guys...........Is this a 2.4 4 cyl?????..............Aluminum block AND head??????.........There's a bulletin on the headbolts pulling the threads out of the block on those...........Bulletin says install inserts ......Dealer says replace short block..........Trust me, take the dealers advice
 
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Old 08-06-12, 03:50 PM
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I'll double check the timing on it tonight and bring it in to a garage to have the check the head gasket. Thanks, I'll post any updates.
 
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Old 08-06-12, 03:57 PM
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btw what causes the head gasket to cause over heating? Not lined up right? Not tight enough?
 
  #17  
Old 08-08-12, 05:17 AM
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The timing is right on...
And thanks for any and all help, I really appreciate it.
 
  #18  
Old 08-08-12, 05:24 AM
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Combustion gases being introduced into the coolant for one.

Late thought, an air bubble in the coolant system could conceivably be an issue.

Wrench: a '97 Camry would be a 2.2 L vice 2.4; I did a quick Google and couldn't see that mentioned on the 2.2.

Probably a good idea to start looking for other causes as well; dragging brake, engine-driven accessory locking up, transmission issue, etc.

Here's a good article on overheating:

Engine Overheating Causes & Cures
 
  #19  
Old 08-08-12, 07:38 AM
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My Two Cents.

An all to often overlooked possible cause to an over heating condition......is the "Fan Clutch."

Explained in the article here: Troubleshoot Cooling Fan Clutch

Might be worth checking...

 
  #20  
Old 08-12-12, 12:44 PM
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Well I know the fans work because they kick on when the AC turns on. Just to be sure, I hard wired one so it is always on when the car is on. It still over heats.
You know a tranny code did pop on it, P0755. However, it will overheat when just sitting in the driveway now. So that rules out the brakes for sure. And most likely the tranny, correct???
Also I tested the compression today and they all look good to me. 3 at 209-211 and one at 200. That's not low enough to cause any concern is it?
Does anyone know where the sensor is that controls the temp gauge? I'll try replacing that and see if it's just that.
 
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Old 08-12-12, 01:51 PM
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Check Autozone for temp sensor...just make sure its the one for the gauge...not the fans or something else. They may even have a job description for it...I mean it's only been the best selling car for...what...forever?

Why not take the cap off for a while and see what a thermometer in the neck says?

Yeah...I know...that's just so old school isn't it...lol.
 
  #22  
Old 08-12-12, 02:19 PM
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Yeah I think I will try that out. Maybe right now...
I did some googling and the temp sensor for the gauge is on the right side of the head going into the neck where the top radiator hose goes. There are 2 sensors there, it's the one closest to the head and has a yellow wire with green stripe.
I know I'm the one with the problem here but I'm sure someone with a similar problem will end up searching this thread so thought I'd throw that out there.
 
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Old 08-12-12, 02:30 PM
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No fan clutch on a Camry, Tom, electric fans.
 
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Old 08-12-12, 02:52 PM
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Thanks Camry Guy for the info...that's what helps everyone.
 
  #25  
Old 08-22-12, 02:54 PM
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Hey guys, I'm finally getting back to this Camry now. I went and got the sniff tester seen here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QA7KVQq9vKA
and the results were negative for a blown HG. That together with the decent compression would say that the HG is good right? I'm not trying to convince myself of anything here, I was actually all ready to tear the head down today after that test. So hers where I'm at:
-Still overheats

-Stops overheating when the heater is on (so the water pump is good right?)

-T-Stat is new

-I was able to see fluid flowing over the top of the radiator and feel a bit of pressure in the top hose so I think the water pump is good

-I did see a few bubbles in the overflow tank BUT I also drained out a little fluid to do the sniff test so I think that was from that but I will keep an eye on that since I've filled it back up.

-Both fans work, one is hard wired. However I noticed that while it was starting to go hot the other fan did NOT kick in. But if I turn on the heater or AC it turns on. Anyone think the temp sensor in the radiator is to blame for that? Maybe that's the problem?
I was about to hard wire the other fan too but I'm worried that might work lol. And then I wouldn't be fixing the actual problem.

Any suggestions?
 
  #26  
Old 08-22-12, 03:12 PM
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Have you stuck a thermometer into the radiator neck to get an actual water temperature past the thermostat? You might try an infra-red thermometer focused on the thermostat housing or on the part of the head with the temperature sensing bulb.
 
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Old 08-22-12, 03:18 PM
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I have not done that yet. I was going to but I don't have a termometer, I guess I might have to go buy one.

I can rule out the fans. I just unplugged the bottom temp sensor in the radiator and that kicked on the second fan. I went for a ride and it still overheated, not as bad though. ie I never had to turn on the heat but it was close. That bottom switch may still be bad but the fans are not the problem.

Pending the manual temp test I'm starting to think that something is blocking a coolant port...
 
  #28  
Old 08-22-12, 03:35 PM
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Harbor Freight Tools has a nice digital thermometer (can also be used in the kitchen) for about $6. They also have an IR thermometer for around $15. If you have a local HF store this might be the best bet.
 
  #29  
Old 08-22-12, 05:52 PM
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It sounds more and more to me like you have a rad problem. I know you have flushed the coolant, but there still maybe blockage in the rad. It may require a power flush, or a replacement especially if for any reasons the coolant had not been changed regularly in the past. That rad is 15 years old and they don't last forever either. A simple coolant flush will not always open up all the passages in a rad, especially as one as old as yours. Also what is the condition of the rad hoses? Are they soft and possibly collapsing under pressure?
 
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Old 08-22-12, 06:08 PM
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The hoses seem to be in pretty good condition.
I did flush the radiator with a hose and didn't seem to have any issues there. It was flowing just as much as I could put in there with no back pressure.
I suppose stuff could have been knocked loose and then got stuck in there but it just seems odd that it happened after the HG was changed and not before.
 
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Old 08-23-12, 11:39 AM
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1. when you turn heater on, you use additional radiator to cool coolant
2. thermometers? touch both upper and lower radiator hoses by hand, at operating temperature; if they both same on temp, you have fluid flow and t-stat is open.
3. does not take much exhaust into coolant to overheat it. Bubbles - some are normal simply due to pump action, but some. not a champagne foam.
4. you have 2 fans. 1 is radiator/coolant fan, one is a/c fan. you should not be running on both, unless a/c is on full blast.

hey, I have a simple one for you. toss t-stat. will make engine run cooler, but not much damage, I drove like this for long periods with no harm. winter time it's different story, but there are workarounds for that either.

what do you mean I just unplugged the bottom temp sensor in the radiator and that kicked on the second fan. ??

I say - water pump or radiator. But do touch test for hoses first.
 
  #32  
Old 08-23-12, 12:47 PM
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I went to FH and got their digital thermometer and stuck it in where the radiator cap goes. I did have to bleed off some coolant from the bleeder at the bottom of the radiator as it got hotter. But everything seemed normal, it stayed below 200 even when the temp gauge was reading almost to the red line.
So it's not actually overheating right?

I had already tested the wire and gauge by unplugging the single wire that goes to the temp sending unit (for the gauge) and grounding it out. This caused the gauge to read all the way hot.
So I replaced the sending unit itself and it still reads hot?

There were only a few bubbles, nothing like champagne.

I did touch both of the hoses and they are both the same temp. Hot but not so hot I cant hold them. and I'm pretty sure the water pump is good because I think I can feel it working as I squeeze the top hose. Plus after the digital thermometer test I don't even think it's really overheating anymore.
 
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Old 08-23-12, 12:50 PM
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oh and what I meant by unplugging the temp sensor was just that. There are 3 sensors, 1 for the gauge, 1 for the computer ( I think) and 1 for the fans (I think) The one I think is for the fans is at the bottom of the radiator. I did some research online and they said that unplugging that will cause the fans to run and so it did. After unplugging that sensor at the bottom of the radiator it kicked on the AC fan. So at this point both fans were running full time. I did this just to make sure the fans not running at the correct time was not the problem. And it is not. Both fans were running and it still overheated.
 
  #34  
Old 08-23-12, 12:55 PM
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If the top and bottom radiator hoses are the same temperature with the fans running then you have insufficient flow through the radiator. There needs to be a temperature difference with the bottom hose cooler than the top, probably about 20 degrees F. cooler.

Only the bottom hose will collapse from the water pump suction. Many bottom hoses have an internal spring to prevent it from collapsing.

Running without a thermostat is a VERY poor idea for several reasons.


...it stayed below 200 even when the temp gauge was reading almost to the red line.
The thermostat probably opens at about 194 to 196 degrees so your discharge temperature seems fairly close.

I had already tested the wire and gauge by unplugging the single wire that goes to the temp sending unit (for the gauge) and grounding it out. This caused the gauge to read all the way hot.
So I replaced the sending unit itself and it still reads hot?
You may have destroyed the gauge with this stunt. I am assuming that in this year Toyota was still using a stand-alone gauge rather than integrating it with the engine computer.
 
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Old 08-23-12, 01:29 PM
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I'm fairly certain that grounding out that single wire doesn't cause any problems. I've done it with other single wire gauges with no issues. And multiple sites online say to test your gauge this way.

I think I've been misunderstaning the way the water flows. What you're saying is the water goes from the engine out the top hose to the radiator and out the bottom hose to the pump and back into the engine? That makes a lot more sense. I thought it was the other way around. The bottom hose was a little cooler (I don't know about 20 degrees but maybe) but I thought my hands were playing tricks on me as in my head I assumed that one would be a little hotter.

So maybe it is still overheating at that sensor, going into the radiator and cooling down by the time it reached my thermometer? Wouldn't this mean that something is clogged between the pump and the sensor? Which would actually make a lot of sense since that head gasket was changed.
 
  #36  
Old 08-23-12, 02:36 PM
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Since learning the direction of the coolant I tried to put my thermometer in the top hose. Suspecting that it would indeed be over 200 degrees. However the engine gauge got up into the red so I had to shut it down. I don't want to cause any addition damage. But afterward I felt the two hoses and I couldn't even hold the top one I could hold the bottom one. This is the hottest I've let it get.
Oh and my thermometer was climbing but I shut it down before I think it could get a good reading. I may have to go with the thermo gun to see what the temp is at the gauge sending unit. But I now suspect that it is actually overheating in the engine.

Any thoughts?

I do not think the heater core is plugged up because when I turn the heat on it both cools the engine and plenty of heat is coming out. Maybe I'll try a flush kit?
 
  #37  
Old 08-23-12, 03:12 PM
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yes, it does flow from bottom up and then through thermostat housing and into radiator.

where I come from, entire country was running without t-stats and survived. And half cars on water with vodka inside. As of right now, he needs to drive around and not boil his car. Btw, if he overheats with t-stat removed - then he does have exhaust going into coolant. Look at it as diagnostic tool.
 
  #38  
Old 08-23-12, 06:01 PM
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Never run a modern car without a thermostat. Different in days gone bye prior to alloys. Todays engines and heads with lighter weight materials require a thermostat to maintain a balance temperature to avoid warpage or cracking damage for one thing. They are manditory. While there are always several possible causes for your condition, based on the condition of the coolant prior to your basic flush and fill, and the fact that the heater rad supliments the cooling process I still think a new rad is something you should seriously consider. Remember that temperature variation from normal to hot reads on a dash guage requires only a few degrees over the typical 195F. I would replace the rad, and refresh the old hoses not only because they are likely soft but because the deteriorated rubber will contiminate your coolant. A poorly maintained cooling system like you found brings the liklihood of your rad failing sooner rather than later anyway, especially if it was the original coolant that had been mixed with something not compatible. If that old rad does fail at the wrong time you could easily risk serious damage. My opinion remains the same. Remove and have the rad power flushed, or replace it which is the better choice. Nobody knows at this point whether your HG is some of the issue, but for sure the rad history tells it's own story.
 
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Old 08-30-12, 09:01 AM
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This may sound retarded but for some reason I can not see the latest posts. I thought I wrote something else on here and I got an email saying that someone else did but my page only goes does to post #38 and I don't see a "next page" anywhere. Also while I'm replying right now it only shows that #38 post below.
Sorry for what must undoubtedly be a super amateur question. If someone could email me at
[No emails in posts please] that would be great. Thanks
 

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  #40  
Old 08-30-12, 09:26 AM
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Had to remove your email, not allowed.

Try clearing internet cache. You using IE or FF?

This is post #40; you're missing some?
 
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