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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, I have several issues that have popped up with my '98 Camry LE over the past year that I'm trying to get some insight into. I'll start by saying I bought the car in 2006 used from the local Toyota dealership with 109k miles and NONE of these issues were present at that time, or for a while afterwards. They are all more recent. Despite the mileage the car was in very good shape and drove perfectly for a time. Last year I started a job that has me doing 40 miles round trip every day, compared to just a few miles around town that I was doing before, so I think that these issues are surfacing because of the additional driving. Also, I got all-new tires a few months ago and they have been balanced and aligned recently. All the issues I will mention were present before and after the new tires.

• First off: Wobbly/slippery/rough ride. This has been sort of noticeable for a while and it seems to be getting slowly worse. It's not easy to describe clearly... it just feels wobbly, a little too bouncy and rough when going down the road, like there's a very strong wind blowing the car around or the road is bumpier than it is (it's noticeable even on the smoothest roads), or even like somehow the wheels are wobbling around. I can feel it mostly through the seat but almost slightly noticeable in the steering. From the little research I've done it seems like it likely has to do with a worn suspension. At first I thought it had to do with the steering but the more I think about it the more I think it to be the suspension. It is not quite veering left or right or anything like that, though it feels as if it might. What IS happening is I'm instinctively correcting for the wobbliness that I'm feeling which IS causing me to not drive totally straight. It requires a lot of concentration to just try and hold the wheel straight.

Steering wheel won't turn/hard to turn when making sharp turns in the rain. This specifically only happens when it's raining and very wet out, and only when making fairly sharp turns at low speeds (low speeds because, well, I don't make sharp turns at high speeds of course!). For example, a right turn from a stop sign, or a sharp blind corner on a back road. I did read that in some cases this sort of thing was caused by loss of power steering from the belt slipping because it was wet. Loss of power steering seems to fit the bill - the wheel is not locked into position, but rather it is extremely difficult or next to impossible to turn it very far. I have no idea when the belt was last replaced, or if replacing the belt would fix it since it seems it's still going to be getting wet.

Soft break pedal, requires excessive pressure. There have been a definite change in the pressure of the break pedal compared to when I got the car. It was gradual enough that I didn't notice it for a long time. A few months back I had the fluid changed and the breaks cleaned and this made a tremendous difference - for a time. After not too long it returned to being too soft and requires an excessive amount of pressure now. I think there must be a pressure leak somewhere? I'm not too sure.

Vibration in break pedal. Another issue regarding the breaks that I hadn't given too much thought too until now. There is a slight vibration felt when pressing lightly (NOT the ABS, definitely different). Seems this could be caused by a warped rotor? Could it at all be related to any of the other issues?

Again, I've had the balancing done and alignment checked recently by a very trusted shop. I did have out of balance tires once and know very well what that feels like, it's definitely not my issue here. Of course I'm going to have to talk to the service guy and describe these issues so they can check them out, I'd just like to try to gain as much insight into them as I can before that time.
 

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I would have a shop check your front wheel bearings ASAP, if they are worn badly than the entire hub will be loose causing the car to wander a bit as the wheels will have play in them, it will also cause a vibration in the brakes as to rotor will push out on the caliper as the hub wobbles. The Camry has good quality wheel bearings but it's not unheard of for them to go bad.

It is common for Camry's to warp the front rotors, a good shop will have a micrometer and can check this for you, It is important to go very easy on the brakes after you get new rotors as they will warp easily before they are tempered, or but a set of Wagner edge brake pads (expensive) and they will take care of the going easy part for you.

You can check for a pressure leak by holding down the brake pedal and if it slowly drops down then there is a leak. Check for fluid loss, if there is non then it is most likely a worn brake master cylinder. If the pedal is going down an excessive amount all of the time then I would have the rear brakes checked and adjusted (if they are drums).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I would have a shop check your front wheel bearings ASAP, if they are worn badly than the entire hub will be loose causing the car to wander a bit as the wheels will have play in them, it will also cause a vibration in the brakes as to rotor will push out on the caliper as the hub wobbles.
Front wheel bearings - thanks, I will have them looked at. As for the breaks, the pedal feels consistent from day-to-day and doesn't sink when I hold it (or not that I can feel). It just that over time it has become like it is. As I mentioned, having the fluid replaced and the beaks cleaned made a world of difference but only for a short time.
 

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It is possible that one or more of the slide pins on the caliper has frozen, due to a ripped boot. Having it cleaned they would have freed it, but I doubt they would have replaced it, as you can only get new boots with a new caliper, or maybe from the dealer. I am just speculating now though, I can't really give you a definite answer, only the possibilities. having one caliper stuck would put more stress on the other and most often causes warping as well as greatly decreased pad life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Having it cleaned they would have freed it, but I doubt they would have replaced it, as you can only get new boots with a new caliper, or maybe from the dealer
Any info helps. I usually go to the shop at the dealer, but I know they didn't replace anything. (they fine at fixing, but not great at diagnosing)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The rotors were indeed warped and will be replaced along with new pads. This could also have been causing the soft break pedal.

As for the "wobbly" issue, the steering rack has to be replaced. I had them check the belts for the "hard to turn in the rain" issue but they didn't find anything wrong. I'm wondering if it could have to do with the whatever went wrong with the steering rack (I didn't talk to them in too much detail, gonna hear from them later this week when the part comes in).
 

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It is possible that one or more of the slide pins on the caliper has frozen, due to a ripped boot. Having it cleaned they would have freed it, but I doubt they would have replaced it, as you can only get new boots with a new caliper, or maybe from the dealer. I am just speculating now though, I can't really give you a definite answer, only the possibilities. having one caliper stuck would put more stress on the other and most often causes warping as well as greatly decreased pad life.
You can get new boots at any parts store. A pin froze on our camry and we destroyed the boot tryign to get it out. The set of 4 boots is under 10 bucks.

If a pins frozen one wheel will have plenty of pad left and the other wheel will be completly worn. It wasnt noticeable while driving in my camry though, untill breaks started to squeal on one side.
 
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