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3rd & 4th Generation (1992–1996 & 1997–2001) Toyota Camry Discussion for years: 1992-1996 & 1997-2001 Topics of discussion range from fuel economy, safety, modifications, performance all involving America's favorite family car, the Toyota Camry.

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Old 09-01-2013, 10:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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97 Camry blown head gasket

Ok guys, I need some help and guidance here, I have a 1997 Camry, 2.2L 5SFE automatic with about 194K mi. I am a decent around cars and have my own tools. I put a timing belt and water pump on the car last year. The story is basically my daughter was driving back to college a couple of weeks ago and hit a tire tread in the road. This in turn took out the radiator and the car lost all its coolant. When all this happened she thought she just ran over a tire tread and did not worry about it and kept on driving for over an hour. Don’t ask me how she did not notice…. average 19yr old driver. She called me on the phone when the car finally died and said it was smoking. I have since checked the car and I found the head gasket to be blown. The engine got so hot it melted the oil cap off. There was still about 3 qts of oil in it. She is now driving my wife’s car at college and my wife is driving my car so we are short a vehicle until I get this fixed or buy another used car for myself.

So my question is: What should I do?
-Scrap it for $400 and put the money towards another used vehicle?
-Buy a used head and new gasket set for about $200 and slap it back together and hope it runs?
-Or buy a rebuilt head and new gasket set for $450?
My concern is the damage that might have been done to the lower end… crank shaft bearings rods and piston rings… if after I do all the work on the head will I likely have a problem with the rest of the motor?
Any and all suggestions are welcome.
Thanks
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Old 09-01-2013, 10:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Bummer...
my current ride, a 93 5sfe Camry wagon, had its radiator pop twice, once about 200k and another at 260k before I figured out it had a #3 cylinder leak and the HG blew completely. I never let it get too hot before I shut it down though. The second time it ran dry the temp gauge pegging was my notice to pull over on I5 pour my water bottle over cylinder head and wait for the tow. With a new radiator it was about another 6mo before the HG blew (w/ 240mi daily commuting!)

Id be pretty nervous about the whole engine if she ran it for an hour past dry... too much heat and the whole engine is suspect. The main issue is that diagnosing the extent of damage gets more expensive than just replacing the engine with a car this old. I'd pull the head and see if the block is square and for obvious cracks in block and head. A cheap resurface on the head cost me $40 and I buttoned it up with a cheap Altrom (NAPA) HG and fastener set (~$50) and its run like a top since, but you may find you have no oil pressure and/or a bad knock, coolant in oil or on ground. Its not minor work, you have to remove cams, head bolts and pull wire harness over to brake booster, then re install TB and see if its dead. Its a TON cheaper than a rebuilt head or block and if its dead with new HG I'd dispose of car unless its super cherry elsewhere! good luck
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Old 09-01-2013, 03:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks tedmich, I guess I'll know more when I pull the valve cover and head. The condition of the car isthe far from cherry but it doesn't have any rust and we did just put suspension and steering components and brakes on it. So if this wouldn't have happened it would probably still be good for another hundred thousand miles or so.
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Old 09-01-2013, 05:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbalon View Post

So my question is: What should I do?
-Scrap it for $400 and put the money towards another used vehicle?
-Buy a used head and new gasket set for about $200 and slap it back together and hope it runs?
-Or buy a rebuilt head and new gasket set for $450?
My concern is the damage that might have been done to the lower end… crank shaft bearings rods and piston rings… if after I do all the work on the head will I likely have a problem with the rest of the motor?
Any and all suggestions are welcome.
Thanks
If it got so hot the oil cap melted do NOT spend money on this engine. Period. Get a used long block. The heads for sure cracked and the cylinder walls are gone. The block deck is probably past milling as well.

The only option that doesn't waste your time and money is installing either a reman or used motor. You cant salvage the block or head, trust me.

Ive seen motors for these go for 500 or so. Might be worth the gamble if the rest of the car is half decent.
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Old 09-01-2013, 06:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have lined up a couple of motors,one is from a 2001 with 77000 miles on it, the owner is asking $750 for it. Also another JDM engine that they want $1200 for. I don't understand why JDM engines command such a high premium price.
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Old 09-01-2013, 08:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by tbalon View Post
I have lined up a couple of motors,one is from a 2001 with 77000 miles on it, the owner is asking $750 for it. Also another JDM engine that they want $1200 for. I don't understand why JDM engines command such a high premium price.
I wouldn't drop 1200 for a JDM, To the best of my knowledge the JDM motors are 2.0 liter, the 2.2 was a north american engine.

You can probably pick up a reman for 1500 local. If you strongly believe the engine has 77k thats a decent price, especially from a private seller. If the intake and exhaust manifolds are included then its a good deal, also valve cover and oil pan. Expect all your stuff to be warped.

Change all the oil seals and t belt, minus the head gasket, before dropping it in.

Last edited by carsrus; 09-01-2013 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 09-06-2013, 07:02 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for all your help everyone! I think my solution in this case will be to just get another used Camry since the need is so great at the moment.... it's tough sharing one car. My 16 yr old son has asked to buy the old car with the bad engine and is willing to help get it back up and running. So we have a little more time to find a good engine to replace the old one.

I do have one more question though and that is: can I use a 2.2 4 cyl out of a 2001 Camry in my 1997? Will all the engine connections be the same so all I have to do is plug in the connectors from my current wiring harness?
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Old 09-06-2013, 10:09 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Yes, you can use the 2001 5SFE (2.2l) engine for the swap, but I would just do a long block swap.
So just the block and head from the 2001, reuse intake manifold, coolant manifold and exhaust manifold from the '97

And new timing belt and water pump of course.

The wiring should be the same to do a full swap but.............they do make small changes year to year
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Old 09-07-2013, 12:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The wiring should be the same to do a full swap but.............they do make small changes year to year
Thanks RonR, Yes that is what I was afraid of "small changes" but I guess I will have to cross that bridge when I come to it. Hopefully it will be just a little cut and splice.
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Old 09-07-2013, 01:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Like RonR said, rockauto.com's catalog lists the same long block for all Gen 4s.

MARSHALL Part # TY21646CT Remanufactured
DOHC, 16 VALVE, 5SFE ENGINE FAMILY, 7/96 - 2001 FEDERAL EMISSIONS. WITH CAM AND CRANK SENSORS. SUPPLIED WITH OIL PAN. DUE TO POOR O.E. DESIGN, WE DO NOT BUILD THIS ENGINE WITH THE BALANCE BOX.

Price $1862.79
Core $350

California emissions about $300 more.
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