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#1 Old 07-27-2010, 01:11 PM
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White smoke out of 2005 Camry

Hello,
My wife and I just got a 2005 Camry XLE used from a Toyota dealership last month. We bought the car "as is." It had no warranty. We got the car for a really good deal....$8,900. The car had 93k miles on it, now has 96k. I guess at the time I didn't think much of it due to the economy I just figured maybe they were desperate to sell cars....but then I started to wonder if maybe we got the car at such a good price for a reason, considering most other Camrys in this model and year were going for at least $10-11k.

Towards the end of the first week I noticed something when we went to fire up the car.....a plume of white colored smoke would come out of the exhaust.....it would go away after about 5-10 seconds.....to me, it smelled rich....richer than what I would usually think car exhause should smell like. The problem only occurs after the car has a cold engine.....it won't smoke after that initial cold firing.....but if the engine sits for 4-5 hours, it will do it again on start up. There are no engine codes flashing, and the engine appears to be running smooth.

We took the car to our local mechanic that we trust, and he came back the next day with a grim look on his face. He said after doing some research, it tends to be a problem with these Toyota engines, and he said it was our Valve seals and/or guides in the cylinder head were bad, and that they would need to remove the heads and check guide clearance. The repair cost.....$2,000!!!!!!!!

Needless to say, I was furious. I completely feel like I got duped by this Toyota dealership. I called the Toyota dealership up and spoke to the manager of the used car department. He says that there is no way a 2005 Camry should be doing this, and they would not have put a car with this condition out on their lot. We were told when we got the car that they do this big 120 point inspection before they put the cars out on the lot.....well, to me, obviously something got missed.......I start to question this inspection also due to the fact we had to have them agree to replace a tire that had a bubble in it, and also we saw shortly after we got the car that the fog light was busted out of it's bracket, and was just hanging there. We got them to replace the tire and fix the fog light free of charge, but I still question how this would have gotten missed on this supposed 120 point inspection.

The Toyota dealership recommended I bring it in to their service department for a second opinion, and they said they would look at it free of charge. When I spoke to the service department and described the problem to them, they said that white smoke would indicate a condensation problem, and not an oil leak into the cylinders. They said if it was a problem with oil leaking into the cylinders, then the color would be blue or dark gray. Now, I'm not a trained mechanic....so what I call "white" a trained mechanic might say it has a blue or dark gray color.

Now the mechanic we took it to said that it's nothing that's going to ruin the engine at this point, and his recommendation was to not worry about it until it starts getting worse....he said it will eventually get worse though to where it smokes for longer, and possibly even starts smoking all the time.

Interestingly enough, I was talking to my father-in-law about the problem who has a 2003 Camry, and he said his does the same thing! He said it's been doing it for over a year now, but just like ours, the engine seems to be running smooth.

So I guess I will take it to Toyota to see what they have to say......but I was wondering what your thoughts were on this problem. Also, even though we bought it "as is" do we have any recourse against this Toyota dealership, especially since they told us these cars go through this 120 point inspection, and we have documented proof we had to have them fix other problems already that obviously slipped through the cracks? Thanks everyone.
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#2 Old 07-27-2010, 01:21 PM
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How many grey smoke, blue smoke, white smoke threads are too many???
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#3 Old 07-27-2010, 01:24 PM
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I have an 04 Camry LE 4CYl and mine does not do that. The early Camry's did have a valve seal issue, usually exhaust that occured about at 100K give or take. White smoke usually indicated water is getting in the exhaust whereas blue is oil. Yes, it it a fing line between white and light blue smoke.

As for your recouse of the Dealer, I don't know what you'll get becuase it was sold as is. Hopefully they will be on the up and up and do something for you. Sometimes a Dealer, to show good and decent CSI, may do a 50/50 for the repair.
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#4 Old 07-27-2010, 05:34 PM
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The valve seal issue is not an uncommon problem for the 02-05 4cyl camrys. On a lot of them, smoke starts becoming visible at ~80k. My XLE does exactly what you described. It will usually blow a plume of white smoke for like 5 seconds on the first startup of the day and then it's fine for the rest of the day. Honestly I wouldn't stress too much about it. My car has done that for the past 2 years and the engine still runs great. Just be sure to monitor the temperature gauge and the coolant level because the 2AZ engine also has the notorious stripped headbolt problem which is when the coolant starts leaking into the engine, and that can also cause white smoke. So if your engine starts running hot, that's when you know you have a serious problem. And your dealer will want about $6k to replace the engine block.



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Last edited by canderton01; 07-28-2010 at 12:08 AM.
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#5 Old 07-27-2010, 07:49 PM
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You say you got 3K miles since purchase - how much has oil gone down? If the oil consumption is < qt/3K miles, don't worry too much, and try experimenting with different varieties of engine oil; some of the 'hi mileage' oil can make the start-up smoke a lot less. If the oil consumption is over 1 qt/1000 miles, then worry - and get the seals done. But do keep a close eye on oil and coolant level to make sure you don't have a serious issue, or create one due to lack of oil or coolant.
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#6 Old 07-27-2010, 07:50 PM
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White smoke at start usually indicates water vapor or steam, and that means that coolant is getting into the compustion chamber. Not good. When cool, check that the radiator is full and note the level of coolant in the overflow tank. Check it daily and if the level is going down then you have a leak and that most likely is a head gasket, and that is related to yet another issue that requires time, labor, and money to fix. If you are getting a plume of smoke, more blue than white and it tends to stop immediately, check the oil level on the dipstick weekly and note anychanges. If minimal then don't worry about it too much. The seals are going and oil is leaking down the valve stems when it sits. Not such a big deal with that kind of mileage. If this is all the problems you are having right now, let it go for awhile. A long while. BTW, what did your trusted mechanic say about the car when you took it to him to look at prior to purchase?

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#7 Old 07-27-2010, 10:45 PM
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sounds like the striped head bolts to me...


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#8 Old 07-27-2010, 11:36 PM
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Thats why you always bring the car to a trusted mechanic to look it over. When you buy a used car it is as is. I've worked at dealers and brought up issues on used cars and was told to change it to OK(if I want my job). Sorry can't do that so I left that dealer. SO never trust anyone!!!
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#9 Old 07-30-2010, 07:55 PM
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Well, we didn't have a mechanic look it over...that was our mistake....this was our first time buying a car, so yes, we made some mistakes. It should have red flagged on my when they were only asking $8900 for the car, when most other Camrys in this range I would see going for 10-12k. I guess I just thought maybe with the economy, they were maybe desperate to push inventory.

I checked the oil last week, and I didn't see any milkiness in it that some people have told me to look for. The oil looked normal to me. To me the smoke looks white....I am not really sure how blue, blue smoke looks like. Maybe I can post a video somehow? or photos?

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White smoke at start usually indicates water vapor or steam, and that means that coolant is getting into the compustion chamber. Not good. When cool, check that the radiator is full and note the level of coolant in the overflow tank. Check it daily and if the level is going down then you have a leak and that most likely is a head gasket, and that is related to yet another issue that requires time, labor, and money to fix. If you are getting a plume of smoke, more blue than white and it tends to stop immediately, check the oil level on the dipstick weekly and note anychanges. If minimal then don't worry about it too much. The seals are going and oil is leaking down the valve stems when it sits. Not such a big deal with that kind of mileage. If this is all the problems you are having right now, let it go for awhile. A long while. BTW, what did your trusted mechanic say about the car when you took it to him to look at prior to purchase?
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#10 Old 07-30-2010, 07:59 PM
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6K???? oh dude, don't tell me that!
Interestingly my father-in law's 2003 Camry I guess does the same thing....he said it's been doing it for over a year. I am taking it to the dealer this weekend to see what their assessment is.....I am still going to try and get them to pay for it even though we bought it as is.....I think they duped us, and I am going to try to go through the BBB, and even try to use Ohio's consumer protection laws on this issue. I firmly believe they misrepresented the car, as there would have been no way for us to tell this car had this smoking issue if they had alread warmed up the engine prior to us test driving it.

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Originally Posted by canderton01 View Post
The valve seal issue is not an uncommon problem for the 02-05 4cyl camrys. On a lot of them, smoke starts becoming visible at ~80k. My XLE does exactly what you described. It will usually blow a plume of white smoke for like 5 seconds on the first startup of the day and then it's fine for the rest of the day. Honestly I wouldn't stress too much about it. My car has done that for the past 2 years and the engine still runs great. Just be sure to monitor the temperature gauge and the coolant level because the 2AZ engine also has the notorious stripped headbolt problem which is when the coolant starts leaking into the engine, and that can also cause white smoke. So if your engine starts running hot, that's when you know you have a serious problem. And your dealer will want about $6k to replace the engine block.
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#11 Old 07-31-2010, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by bgaviator View Post
Well, we didn't have a mechanic look it over...that was our mistake....this was our first time buying a car, so yes, we made some mistakes. It should have red flagged on my when they were only asking $8900 for the car, when most other Camrys in this range I would see going for 10-12k. I guess I just thought maybe with the economy, they were maybe desperate to push inventory.

I checked the oil last week, and I didn't see any milkiness in it that some people have told me to look for. The oil looked normal to me. To me the smoke looks white....I am not really sure how blue, blue smoke looks like. Maybe I can post a video somehow? or photos?
Another way of looking at it: Even if you need valve seals, you still came out ahead, if the rest of the car's in decent condition. Any used car is going to need some repairs; they're likely what the original owner used as justification for selling it.

A small bit of smoke at start-up isn't that big a deal, as long as oil and water level's aren't dropping like the proverbial rocks. Just keep an eye on the levels and how the car's running, and don't over-worry. And if you insist on worrying, start socking away the $$$ for the (hopefully long time away) eventual repairs.
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#12 Old 07-31-2010, 10:16 AM
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If the only time it blows burned oil is when it has sat for several hours, and it does not seem to burn much based on dip stick checking, then it isn't a deal. All high mileage cars will do this eventually. Valve guids wear and the seals get hard. Just check that the engine isn't sucking water in by looking at the radiator and overflow tank, and check the dip stick every couple hundred miles.

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#13 Old 07-31-2010, 01:08 PM
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As the others said, white is usually water. It could just be condensation, but it could also be a blown head gasket.
Check the coolant level. If the level is low, fill it up to the cold line and then keep an eye on it. If the level drops and there arent any visible leaks, Id suspect its a blown head gasket.

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#14 Old 07-31-2010, 05:50 PM
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Thanks everyone! Yes, I did check the oil level about 2-3 weeks after we had the car, and the oil level was still showing full. From what I can see, there is no milky color either than some people have said to look out for.

I still want the Toyota dealer to fix this though free of charge....If they really did this inspection before putting the car on the lot, this should have been seen and fixed.
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#15 Old 07-31-2010, 06:10 PM
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I still want the toyota dealer to fix this though free of charge....if they really did this inspection before putting the car on the lot, this should have been seen and fixed.

Ha!!!!!
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