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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This car was bought new by a 99 year old guy who had to quit driving because he was banging it into things too much. I bought it from his grandson the other day. It has 75,000 original miles after I drove it 120 to get it to it's new home. Aside from a few dents, the interior is very dirty, and I doubt it's maintenance was meticulous.

I am thinking of some OEM alloy wheels to replace the 14" steelies, v-6 front brakes and sway bars and maybe some other easy sensible mods if anyone has good suggestions.

Car ran like a top on the trip home, rode nice, shifts perfect and the engine and exhaust system were very quiet. Has lots of power.

Thank you for your interest and comments.







 

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I bought a 1997 Camry with the 4cyl. last year in April and here is what I focused on and what you may be able to expect:

-The suspension (front and rear struts, sway bar links, rear bushings)
-Common Leaks (valve cover gasket, cam seals, oil pump seal, radiator hoses)
-Maintenance (replace oil and add new filter and start tracking oil consumption on a 3,000-mile change interval with 5W30 conventional, check the throttle bottle and clean it up since it probably has never been done, do a transmission fluid change, not a flush, check all the braking components and ensure that brake fluid is at a good level, pop out the spark plugs and take a look at the condition).

It looks like a great find but due to the age and low miles, this car has been sitting for quite some time and therefore I would be looking for any leaks since I would assume that the seals are more than likely pretty dry. Enjoy!
 

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Nice find. The interior should clean up nice. I agree you may need struts and then address sway bar bushings and sway bar links. I got a 1998 a few years ago with 54K miles. Little old lady drove it to the store a few times a week.

My valve cover gasket leaked at about 90K miles. Sway bar links and bushings rattled between 80 and 90K. Timing belt kit at 90K. Struts will get changed soon as they are original and I now have 99K miles on the car. New plugs went in at about 85K. Fix the rest when it breaks.
 

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Nothing like a nice steam clean/shampoo will clean the interior up nicely. Paint looks like it held up nice.

Wouldn't mind finding a Gen4 with a MT one day. These older Camry are a blast to drive in stick form.

Plus everyone is surprised when they see a stick in a Camry lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I changed the oil today and I have not seen such disgusting oil in a car since I was a kid looking inside flathead Fords fifty years ago. It looked like black mud. I found a receipt for an oil change in the glovebox done in 2016 at 42k miles and I could believe it was not changed since.

It is amazing that the engine shows zero signs of abuse, it does not smoke or have any mechanical noise at all and is very powerful. Amazing.

Clutch has a quirk. After I use the clutch to shift gears it takes a few seconds before I can use a lot of throttle or the clutch slips. After ten seconds or so I can put the gas to the floor and it does not slip. So something is not letting the clutch engage quickly, like a sticky slave cylinder, or maybe the clutch fork pivots are dry. I had my wife push on the clutch while I looked under the hood and a good squeak was coming from the clutch fork when it was moving, so maybe I will try to get some lube on it's pivot points and see what that does.
There is no flex joint in the exhaust system, someone replaced it with a solid piece of pipe, so something is going to give there sooner or later.

Took it for a drive after the oil/mud change and it drove like a champ though, the ride, handling and brakes work great.

Thanks all for your input!
 

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Noice. Consider changing out the PCV valve, grommet, and hoses with OE parts (ONLY). And use full synthetic oil with short change intervals (let's say 1000-1500 miles) for a couple changes, jsut to help clear out the sludge. When I bought my Insight oil hadn't been changed in 20-30K, and I thought a fresh oil change would fix everything. Welp, sludge clogged the VTEC screen filter, starved the camshaft of oil and it snapped...not that there's any VVT on your 5S-FE to worry about.

Bulletproof as long as you don't let the oil get low...they really don't like to be run low on oil (OHC engines don't in general). Note that at some point - by 100K or so - the valve stem seals will go and it'll start puffing blue smoke on cold-start, blue-white smoke on heavy acceleration, and burning through some oil.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Noice. And use full synthetic oil with short change intervals (let's say 1000-1500 miles) for a couple changes,
. Note that at some point - by 100K or so - the valve stem seals will go and it'll start puffing blue smoke on cold-start, blue-white smoke on heavy acceleration, and burning through some oil.
I have a 2000 5fse automatic that has 200K on it and it still runs great and has no noticeable smoking or oil consumption, but I have always changed it's oil every 2500-3000. I might change the oil in this 5-speed in fifty or a hundred miles. My wife drives a 2000 5fse that we bought two years ago with only 50k on it, but as soon as I got it I changed the oil, tranny filter, and I changed the tranny fluid out five times to get it to look good. The 5fse auto trannsmission holds very little fluid and needs changed at least once a year, every six months if you want a gold star on your forehead.

Amazingly this 5-speed has no check engine light on, usually it is is lit up on ever 5fse because of carbon build up in the emissions system, so I expect it to light up on this one at any time.

I am glad I got the car no matter how it was neglected, just because it is a good base from which to start as opposed to a car with 150K or 250K on it, which is the mileage on most of these Camrys today. If nothing else the gear teeth in the transmission are not worn quite so thinly as a higher mileage car.
 

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Nice find, but you should probably gradually de-sludge it to assure its longevity.
I favor adding 1 can of Seafoam at oil change time to hot engine and running at idle for 15min then shutting down and draining, ideally overnight.
Then button it up in morning with a new filter and Mobil 1.

On my previously neglected 1999 V6 (1st timing belt at 215k!) the oil stopped being black after 5 cycles but YMMV, good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I cleaned the interior out yesterday and it went well. I took the rear seat lower right out and the nasty stain where someone had spilled a thick brown drink washed right out with no sign left of it, must have been all sugar. Interior looks a thousand-percent better. I bought some lithium-moly grease and am going to try and lube the clutch arm pivots next to get rid of a squeak there. I will change the oil again after a hundred miles, already have the filter and oil.

A local wrecking yard has a factory spoiler for the car they want $75 for, is that a good deal? And do the spoilers do anything at speed or are they just a cosmetic thing that makes wind noise?

Thanks to all for the input.
 

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My 98 American Edition Camry has a spoiler. It sits low do its not obtrusive, houses the 3rd brake light and makes no noise. Purely cosmetic but I like the looks of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I was excited to find these V6 front brake brackets today at a local salvage yard for $50.

 

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I have a 01 with factory spoiler and I had a 98 without a spoiler. It doesn't do much but it looks nice and completes the rear end of the car. And no, it doesn't make wind noise.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Did the cars that came from the factory with the spoiler still have the brake light in the rear window?
 

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No they do not. They are easy to remove though. If you get the OEM spoiler from the junk yard also take the rear shelf so that you don't have the hole cut out for it. I actually just did this on my Corolla ironically enough. Wiring the spoiler light is easy, just extend the wires from the third brake light to the trunk lid and plug it in. Easy peasy.
 

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On clutch - the pivot bolt is unlikely to help much, as it's just a pivot. Most likely the slave cylinder, a known weak spot, followed by a master cylinder. Get Aisin slave cylinder (under $20). If you need the master, hit me up - I have a brand new Aisin unit I never got to use.

On spoiler, make sure to get the 3rd brake light blanking plate (can be hard to find, as it has to match your interior color), that is just a flat cover where 3rd brake light used to go. Also, you need a harness that runs from the interior brake light to the spoiler - plugs into where 3rd brake light used to plug in. Finally, you need the idiot light sensor, blue box that lives behind the cover on the driver's side of the trunk, basically right behind the gas cap. Because spoiler light is LED, you need a different box or else you'll get a light out warning on the dash every time you hit the brakes. If the wrecker give you all these parts for $75, it's a great deal IMO.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
My $10 scrounged/hardware store engine support so I can do the clutch. The material is called "uni-strut" and I have used it in the electrical construction trade for decades to build racks and brackets for industrial installations. I weight 220+lbs and when I put this on the floor and stood in the middle of it there was almost zero flex. There are special nuts to use with this strut that lets you mount items to it with 1/4"-1/2" bolts, which is what I used to put the end pieces on, the other hardware was from a nearby mom&pop store. I wanted to take my time with the project so did not want to rent one or pay $100 for one either. Problem solved.


 

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Discussion Starter #18
Finally got a new Aisin clutch kit in the mail after having one vendor not send it to me. Now it is time to get to work huh?
 
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