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'94 XLE Questions

1313 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Eye8Pussies
I'd like some maintenance advice.

My '89 Corolla AllTrac wagon was recently totaled by a youngster driving his 4wd Tacoma too fast in the snow. The day after, my 65 year-old neighbor's '94 Camry (which she bought new) was rear-ended by a 4wd Pathfinder. The insurance company totaled both cars. I'll part out the rust-free, near mint Corolla, but the Camry just needs a trunk lid and the back end pulled out about an inch; the fenders are untouched and the bumper is fine. The insurance company paid her a nice sum for the Camry so she's buying a new Forester, and I bought the Camry from her for $1400 which is what the salvage yard - picked by her insurance company - would have given her. The specifics of the Camry:

  • XLE sedan/1MZ
  • 68K
  • perfect body other than the bashed-in trunk lid
  • perfect cloth interior
  • all service records since new + window sticker (even all dealer catalogs & brochures)
The car is driveable and it runs perfectly. I did a spreadsheet on the maintence records and found:
  • Oil/filter changes every 5800 miles on average
  • Transmission fluid drained/refilled at 15K, 30K, and flushed/refilled at 45K
  • 2 air filter changes
  • Fuel filter at 15K; fuel filter and spark plugs at 55K addition to two sets of tires replaced (one set new just 1000 miles ago.) Almost all of the maintenance was done at a reputable local shop, not a Toyota dealership.

This car has been driven very gently since new with a combination of city and highway miles. My questions:
  1. Can the 60K valve adjustment wait until 90K? Has anyone checked 1MZ valve clearance @60K and found any more than a couple of thousands tight? I'm not real concerned if any are bit loose.
  2. Has anyone ever broken a T-belt before 90K?
  3. I'd like to drop the transmission pan to change the filter, and change the differential oil which doesn't appear to have ever been changed. Safe to wait 'till 90K to do so? I'll use Mobil 1 ATF in the trans and differential unless someone has had a bad experience changing to synthetic.
  4. The stock struts and springs seem to be fine, but it understeers a little too much for me; will a Whiteline BTR36 18mm rear sway bar reduce understeer by a noticeable amount? I'm not interested in lowering the car, and I'll replace the struts with something a bit stiffer when they wear out.
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I would get your timing belt analyzed by a mechanic who you trust. If you can check it yourself, look for cracks in the rubber. If it has those, it might as well be replaced before breakage occurs.

I have a 5sfe, but my dad (when he owned the car), changed the timing belt at 89K. So, maybe you'd want to look into it.
I have a 94 XLE 4 cylinder 5SFE engine. The timing belt change interval was 60,000 miles. You should be able to find dealer timing belt change coupons. I have had my 4 cylinders done at the dealer for $199 with coupon specials. It's just not worth it to me to do that myself. My back just isn't what it used to be. I do most other things myself. I would guess you can find coupon specials for the V6 for around $249 or $299. For that type of money I would get it done, especially if you are going to keep the car for some time. You should probably have the drive belts changed at the same time, since an honest dealer will only charge you for the belts themselves. The belts are 12-13 years old now.

I would just change the trans fluid myself by draining and refilling it. Your records indicate she did a complete flush and refill at 45,000.

You can try the attached site for coupons. Most Chicago area dealers will honor other dealers coupons. I would try calling around after you find a coupon:

Also, don't forget there is a generation 3 manual available for free downloading here at the top of the General Camry Forum.

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Thank for the advice!

Thanks, Mike and Sniperdude for your replies. From what I’ve read on this and other forums, the valve adjustment and timing belt can wait until 90K, especially considering that the car was driven by a little old lady since new. Mike, I did download the factory manual, wiring diagrams, and part list PDFs from this site. Thanks BLUEMEANIE for posting them!

Searching this forum, the earliest I can find that someone broke a timing belt on a 1MZ was 110K, so I think I can wait ‘till 90K to replace it. I’ve done some 4 cylinder OHCs belts, and the 1MZ according to the shop manual doesn’t seem to be too much more work; just more crap to take off and put back on. I have another vehicle – a 22R motorhome – that I can use if I find a bad idler, leaky seals, etc. and have to let the Camry sit for a week while I chase down parts. I’ve used Champion Toyota in Texas to buy discount OEM parts before and they want $42.46 for a timing belt, which seems a bit high. If anyone has a cheaper source for OEM parts, please let me know.

I’ll drop the transmission pan, change the filter, and put Mobile 1 ATF in it and the differential at 90K. I’ll adjust the valves at 90K; my guess is that I’ll find one or two valves tight by a couple of thousands. I hope I don’t find any out of adjustment so I won’t have to run to a dealership and swap shims. I found the lifter bucket tools for $20 at They also sell a camshaft gear holding tool for $78 but I hope I won’t need it. If I need to take a gear off, I think I can hold the camshaft itself with an adjustable wrench. I’ll have to figure out how to keep the crank from moving. I can’t just put it in gear with the parking brake on since it’s an automatic, and I don’t have an air wrench. While everything’s apart I think I’ll relocate the knock sensor per Eye8Pussies’ post, and clean up the intake plenum and intake manifold.

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it sounds like you know exactly what you're doing as it is :thumbup:

I wouldn't worry too much about valve clearance, etc, but I would quite definately change the belt simply due to its age and the fact that it's rubber. but in the end, the engine is non-interference, so a snapped t-belt won't kill you- it'll just inconveniently strand you.

one problem that a lot of us have though, is taking the differential plug off of our transmissions. if you can't get it off, don't worry about it, and do a couple of drain and fills, since the v6 trannys are actually one connected unit (unlike the 4banger tarnnys with actual separate units).

and relocating the knock sensor is also a great idea- toytota designed the engine overly safe when they first came out with the 1mz. changing the bypass coolant hose under the intake manifold is also a good idea.

as for belts for a better price- try delco belts. oem quality at a much cheaper price (generally speaking)

let us know how it goes :thumbup:
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