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Hello all! Beginning of this month I bought my 1999 Camry LE from the brother of the Original owner, it is very clean for a midwest vehicle and even came with the window sticker! It could use new struts all around and will need tires soon. Currently, I have cardboard in front of the radiator to keep the engine at operating temp, hopefully, due to a faulty t-stat. I have a new t-stat and valve cover gasket that will be replaced soon. I will test both the old and new t-stat. The valve cover gasket is definitely leaking, hopefully it is the only culprit. The car has 162,xxx miles on it, was always serviced regularly and the timing belt was replaced at 152k in May of 2018. I paid $1700 for it, probably could've gotten it cheaper but let's be honest I wanted a clean Camry, who doesn't!? So far all I've done is changed out the PS fluid, washed it, degreased the engine bay, cleaned up the interior, popped out the majority of a dent in the rear bumper, and polished the headlights, next will be an oil change and transmission fluid change. Next year once it starts getting warmer I will take care of any surface rust on the underside, fully detail the exterior and interior, touch up the paint, and maybe even try reconditioning the wheels.
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Discussion Starter #2
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The passenger side headlight got water in it while wet sanding and will be replaced next time I go to the junkyard.
 

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1991 Toyota Corolla DX 1.6L 4A-FE Automatic, 1994 Toyota Camry LE 2.2L 5S-FE Automtic (Japan Built)
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Try using a heat gun to pop out the bumper even more. Keep it moving but warm it up good until it pops out. Not too close w the gun. I just installed KYB-Excel G struts (only, original springs) and Hankook tires all the way around an am very happy with the ride height and handling. Toyota OEM struts are now the KYB’s. I have a 94 LE 2.2L. I’m over here in KCK and am always hitting the local U-Pulls all the time as I maintain 5 Toyotas (2011 newest, 1991 oldest) and a 98 Expedition
 

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I used a heat gun and then pushed it out with what little access there is behind it using a pry bar. Thank you for the recommendations! I was looking at Monroe strut assemblies (only because that's what I've used before) and Kumho tires (I've heard good things). You've got quite the fleet. I have a 1996 Jeep Cherokee I've had for just over three years that is pretty much a restoration at this point, this is my first Toyota other than my sister's 06 Camry that I do all the maintenance on.
 

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I personally would prefer Monroe QuickStruts. KYB is too harsh for me but some like the firmer ride.

That radiator needs attention. The top plastic tank is all discolored, so it might spring a leak sooner than later. Might as well do the hoses and radiator cap while you swap in a new thermostat (Aisin brand from rockauto?).

You can remove the bumper and use the heat gun that way. As mentioned, not too close.

I'd drop the transmission pan to change out the strainer and inspect the magnets. Make sure to drain and refill the separate differential too. Open the fill plug first. You can find a strainer/gasket kit on rockauto and use Valvoline Maxlife ATF, which is about $18/gallon at Walmart.

That brake fluid looks dark. Flush it with Valvoline DOT 3/4 is what I'd do every 2 years. Pay attention to black rubber particles that might come out like fine sand. If so, a new master cylinder should be swapped in.

Kumho is ok, but check TireRack reviews on wet traction. Some members like the General Altimax RT43.

And use the 5% off code, scroll to the newest post:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I have a Gates t-stat to go in. All fluids will be flushed/changed, as I do with any used car. Including coolant, but that will wait till warmer weather, at that point I will go through the entire cooling system. At this time I only got the t-stat to see if that would solve my running cold issue. Transmission filter and diff fluid will be changed in the spring. Bumper will be removed as part of the full detail in the spring. This is a long term vehicle for me, meaning I plan to keep it for a long time and it will be completely gone through and upgraded along the way.
 

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98 1MZ 98 5SE
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As mentioned mentioned above.... the trans and the diff fluids are separate!

In the hot summer sun about 5pm that bumper will be more pliable. Thats when I got my crunched corner to look almost new

I forget what its called but when you change the valve cover if you are looking at the cover on the drivers side of the cover towards the back of cover corner you will see a circle. The size of a silver dollar. The cover has a half circle notch. Along with the cover itself this circle thing is a common leak spot. The part I think looks like a silver dollar with a hard rubber gasket around it. Its where on earlier models there used to be a distributor I think. Some replace the part. I did around 150k and at 269 will need to again or at least re seal it. New PCV valve while your messing with the valve cover. Its cheap. I used Permatex red high temp gasket maker to seal the valve cover. Wallmart $5

Denso or NGK plugs and wires are not expensive.
If you are already messing with the valve cover gasket.

The Haynes repair manual for $15 was well worth the price.

I replaced headlight units with $40-45 a set ones of Amazon on each of my 98’s and they have held up so far and much more light comes thru compared to cleaned up old ones on my cars.
New ones have no miles on them or any other cloudiness.
Yours came very nice though!

lo You can still fine NOS OEM floor mats from dealers clearsometimes on Ebay for cheap.

Rockauto is almost always best price on any Camry parts I have needed and lots of OEM available too.

Monroe quickstruts on both my cars have been fine and periodically rebates at Rock auto several times a year. Some prefer the KYB though and they maybe are better quality but cost a lot more. Your call.

For $50 at Harbor Freight tools an electric impact wrench and $20 for impact sockets $5 for the big socket for the wheel/axle. A long strong socket wrench $15 for the tough sockets. All that for pretty cheap will make the strut spring replacement go much easier and you can use the tools again and again. PB blaster for the rusty bolts and get new Moof sway bar bushings for cheap. They get hardened and contract and cause rattling noises especially in the rear every 5-10 years. Cheap to replace and your under there. Put new sway link bars on along with the strut assemblies too

Check gas filler tube for rust thru while your in the area. Mine just rusted thru at 23 years and 269k in Chicago area.

If possible....Use Toyota red coolant only. Not Toyota pink. Red. Or Asian vehicle equivalent red. Especially if its already in it if you can tell.

You can find OEM Toyota oil filters for cheap in multiples on Ebay from dealerships.

If any of your rear lights stop working then search here or ask about common issue of the wires breaking in the trunk around the trunk hinge thing

Pretty decent shape OEM rims can be found on Ebay for $60-80 shipped and nice to swap it out with the spare and have five good rims to choose from

There is info on here for changing the center console gear indicator light when it fails eventually.

Blue Coral auto carpet cleaner $4 at walmart works wonders on Camry carpet and matts. Lol

Your car looks very nice and clean. Enjoy it!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you for the tip on the oil leak, I will do some research on that. I do have a new PCV and grommet as well as a can of paint for when I do the valve cover gasket. Plugs were replaced at 120k, I may pull them and clean them just for the fun of it. Thanks for looking out but I'm no noob to wrenching you don't have to tell me about Harbor Freight and PB lol. I buy PB by the gallon and I have bought 99% of my parts from RockAuto for about 3 years. I'm gonna call the dealership to see how much they'll charge for coolant otherwise I'll use Peak red. Funny you mention the rear wires, when I got it the trunk release cable was getting crushed in the trunk, I put it back in place and wrapped it in electrical tape. I haven't tried blue coral, I use tuff stuff but it is more than $4, I'll try it!
 

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98 1MZ 98 5SE
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Sounds good! Lol both my trunk release cables are sorta mangled till I realized it and the lights on one are acting up for the second time. I have used peak red and pentofrost brand off amazon too and dealer red all fine. I keep a premixed peak red in my trunk now as I just discovered I am leaking a little on and off. Think it might be time for a new radiator on mine. There are endless threads debating coolant but most seem to direct to red keep it red. I may have the bag in my parts box for that round part for the valve cover thing. I will look for it after the holiday and snap a picture of the toyota part number. There is a wealth of knowledge and help on this forum. I literally would not still have both my 98’s had it not have been for this place and all the info and help. Ask away if questions ever. Sounds like the car found a great home! Enjoy it!
 

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Note on the thermostats: I have two cars here which I drive alternatively (one has snow tires, the other does not. One goes out in bad weather, the other does not)
One has a Toyota thermostat, the other an aftermarket.
The car with the Toyota thermostat has better heat, by a very noticeable amount.
The other car has heated seats, which I installed a few years back. Thankfully, as it's heat is mediocre.
I have never had a problem with aftermarket thermostats on any other car. With Toyotas, I only buy factory, due to this, and other experiences (I have had six XV20s, still have four, all identical mechanical spec, 5SFE/auto).
 

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Posted pics of the valve cover cam plug thing before I forget to. Again.... is it essential for a new one? Not sure, maybe some just use again and seal it up good. It is a common place for the valve cover leaks though. Later
 

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Posted pics of the valve cover cam plug thing before I forget to. Again.... is it essential for a new one? Not sure, maybe some just use again and seal it up good. It is a common place for the valve cover leaks though.
I’d say it depends on its condition. If the plastic is stiff (brittle), or the rubberized circumference is boogered up, replace it. I reused it on the front head of my 3VZ V6 (same head, front/rear?) with a thin film of sealant. It didn’t leak.
 
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Discussion Starter #15
Do you guys stick with stock tire size? These are the Kumhos I'm looking at $63 each with free shipping and a 75,000 mile warranty.

Here's a question, did these Camrys come with auto headlights? Mine seem to be, but I can't tell if it is factory. The headlight switch doesn't have an auto option like you'd expect to find and if they are on at night I can't turn them off (with the switch).
 

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Do you guys stick with stock tire size? These are the Kumhos I'm looking at $63 each with free shipping and a 75,000 mile warranty.

Here's a question, did these Camrys come with auto headlights? Mine seem to be, but I can't tell if it is factory. The headlight switch doesn't have an auto option like you'd expect to find and if they are on at night I can't turn them off (with the switch).
For my recently purchased 2000 Camry LE V6, it does have automatic headlights. There is no "switch" to turn the automatic headlight on. At night or when dark, it just turns it on. But it takes a second or two for it to turn on though.
 

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It should be explained in your owner's manual. You have daytime running lamps (DRL). Standard on '99s, optional before. My sole '98 does not have them.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
For my recently purchased 2000 Camry LE V6, it does have automatic headlights. There is no "switch" to turn the automatic headlight on. At night or when dark, it just turns it on. But it takes a second or two for it to turn on though.
Thank you! Sounds just like mine. Kinda strange that you can't turn them off though.
 
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