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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I found what may or may not be a good deal on an inline 4 cyl Camry LE, auto transmission. The guy is asking $2000.

The chassis is in great shape! The undercarriage has very little surface rust. The body panels are completely intact. Just a couple little parking lot dings, and no rust whatsoever. In the midwest/great plains region a car like this looks like a 60-70k mi car about six to eight years old. It's a 194k car, but the engine had blown head gaskets and was swapped with a west coast engine with 100k, so now the current eingine has about 120k on it. However;

- The engine runs fine, but there are clearly some leaks. It looks like on the back end of the valve cover gasket, but there could be more.

- Low on the passenger side I think there is also the beginning of a power steering fluid leak. I know there is a seal down there that looks fairly straightforward to deal with.

- The front driver side wheel has a really nasty scraping noise sound. It could just be worn brakes and metal on rotor like sound. Or perhaps dirt shield tapping the back side of the rotor? It increases in pitch the faster the car goes. When I floored it a bit and then slammed on the brakes I couldn't detect any pulling to either side, but it was definitely squishy. I'm assuming at the very least it's shot rotors and pads. But, differential or CV axle issues? Is that a possibility? I was able to poke my flashlight down on both axles, but the boots look intact and not wet.

- It sounds like the timing belt has never been replaced.

- A/C blows nice and cold.

I guess my main concern is this noise on the front driver side wheel. Any alarm bells going off for anyone familiar with this generation Camry where it might be something more serious than a brake issue?

Also, does the price sound reasonable? Just doing a quick tally if I bought it I'm guessing I'll need to replace the brakes, maybe valve cover gasket, who knows what else. I'm thinking of offering him $1500-1600...

My end goal is a cheap, secondary "run about town" vehicle, that can haul 4-5 people that is still decent on gas. Right now our main car is a 2014 Sienna AWD Limited, and I have five kids. We get about 17-18mpg around town, but I would like to minimize wear and tear for the 1-2 people going to make grocery runs, or swim practice, etc.

Initially I was looking for about a 2004 Camry I-4, w/ manual transmission, or a 2007'ish V6 Camry. Both are either hard to find, and/or more expensive than I want to pay right now. So this has me considering the previous gen Camry now.
 

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'00 4 Cyl. Auto Camry LE
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Rock caught in the dust shield -> scraping rotor would be my first check. If the body is in as good shape as stated: 1,400 to 1,600 doesn't sound unreasonable to pay. I wouldn't "lowball" the initial offer: but make it clear you are looking at 400 - 600 just in parts to fully rehab the issues noted w/o factoring in your time - I wouldn't overpay. Best of luck w/ the purchase.
 

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Squishy brakes are probably seized calipers. These seize so often, I keep a spare set of rebuilt calipers on hand so to swap them out every brake job. Too, I then rebuild the calipers I took off, and am ready for the next time. I also paint them, but that's just icing the cake.
 

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It's not worth 2K even if it had a new timing belt. I agree that the scraping sound is probably something easy to fix.
 

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1993 Camry SE,V6-5MT
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Sounds like the car I purchased two years ago: got it cheap because it needed some basic work.
In my case, broken front spring (rust), leaking power steering pipes (rust), failed AC (rust) and exhaust (rust). Got all of the parts from Rock Auto and fixed them all for a few day's work and about $1500. That, plus the $1400 purchase price and been a solid 'winter beater' ever since.

Oh, yeah, it also was missing the hood, due to a failed hood lock (rust). I happened to have a spare one at home (hood, hinges and lock) and was able to rectify that for no cost at all.

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I still haven’t decided what to do. Yesterday the fellow offered $250 off, and he already knocked it down from $2200 on the original ad.
Part of my brain is telling me to hold out for the next Gen with the 2AZ-FE and M/T, or V6 2GR-FE 2007 or newer…honestly, I don’t mind the looks of this 2000 though.

I had a crazy thought. I wonder how hard it would be down the road to replace this 5S-FE engine with the 2AZ-FE and mate it up with a manual transmission? The benefit is about 20 more HP, and a weight reduction of about 150lbs just from the block alone. I think it would put it just under 3000lb curb weight, and should give it a little better balance. Throw some lightweight wheels on there and coilovers. It would probably make a pretty nimble little around town runabout and get some decent fuel efficiency. Crazy though, right?

:unsure:

Seems like a lot or work though. I’m probably better off looking for a Gen 5 like I originally was thinking
 

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'00 4 Cyl. Auto Camry LE
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Agree, you will miss the extra horses of the v6 in the Sienna, vs. the 4 cyl. in this Camry. re: Engine swap, big bucks: lot's o' work. Might be best to keep looking for something that meets your needs like the Gen5.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Only if it's had the oil burning issues fixed...
Yep, I'm aware of that problem with the "less than" high tension piston rings, three back bolts (and maybe PCV valve). It seems like most of them with that oil consumption problem really started to occur in the 2007-2009 years when they redesigned the piston head and the oil return holes. Especially the 2007 models.

One of my brothers-in-law had a 2004 LE automatic that he put 240k mi on it and then sold it to another brother-in-law. He's been having to commute to work about an hour each way for the last eight months. He said other than having to go through the whole car and replace brakes and do some suspension work, that it's been pretty solid. Hasn't noticed any oil consumption issues yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Like I said, I'm aware. I've watched a ton of Kilmer videos and I've concluded he's a hack. Here he is just a year ago stating that the 2002 Camry (with this same engine) might be the best car evah;


Just one month previous to your video. That's the problem. If you watch enough of his videos you start to see a pattern where he contradicts himself.

I trust the Car Care Nut fellow much more than Kilmer...

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EDIT TO ADD: It seems like the oil consumption issues were mostly seen in 2007 - 2009, and one can tell which of those have been fixed by looking at the seals.
 
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