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As to the coolant loss issue , before you assume the worst check all your hoses, recovery tank, heater hose lines and the engine carefully for coolant smells or spots. Also make sure to sniff around inside the car for a possible heater core seepage. its also a good idea to park over a large piece of cardboard to find the general area by where the spots are on the cardboard. If you cant find any leaks you could be losing coolant internally through the cylinders through the exhaust system. Keep a close check on your oil for milky look, this can be life threatening for your engine. We have stopped driving it until the tax return comes back . It never over heated it just moved up on notch on the temp guage and was losing about 2 quarts in around 60 miles, I made this observation by making a 12 mile loop x number of times and checking the coolant once it cooled off .I made the mistake of purchasing a download manual ,drawings instead of pictures ,{ waste of money } talked to some folks on this site went and got got a good service manual and studied it, dosen,t look like rocket science, just time consuming.
Anyway ,
Lord willing, :thumbsup:you wont have this defect,
Lindsayd
 

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I think you all are thinking too hard about this problem. When Toyota (or any other Mfg'r) uses steel head bolts in Alum. block you "may" have a failure. The coating on the bolts and the alloy of the block have evolved to a point that it "works". If during assy. the bolts dont start right or are over tightened or not lubed just right that could lead to a failure. In my case the failure was after 144K. during the repair, I felt that the hardness of the headbolts was lacking. 3 of them rounded the splines out and had to be drilled out. In over 50 years of working on engines the only other head bolts to round out was on a Briggs $ Stratton. I will not sell my Camry untill it has 250K+ on it.
 

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i agree that i wouldnt sell either,ive got 260,000 on the highlander and will hope to get many,many more after the repair ,its just trust crushing to believe toyota has been so basically blind eyed to the long term fiscal damage theyve done to faithful believersand themselves in their brand. admit your mistakes fix it , move on.we gave a 93 camry to my mother in law in 2003 that had 235,00 miles on it , shes still driving it now with no engine problems.
hmmmmm, wonder if she"ll give it back,doubt it:argh:
 

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Lots of good information in this thread. My parents Highlander just developed the leak described in this thread. It seems to be coming from somewhere behind the intake manifold. A drip is noticeable on startup, but once it warms up, the heat of the engine is enough to turn it to steam (which is visible when you pop the hood). I dropped the coolant last weekend to see what it would look like. It looked milky and smelled like petroleum product. Oil on the dipstick doesn't seem foamy or milky.
Any pointers for novice mechanic to diagnose if it's the head bolt issue? Are the head bolts accessible just from removing the cylinder head cover (so pull the plastic engine cover, spark plugs, and then the cylinder head cover)? How much torque should I need to apply to loosen the bolts if they're stripped, should they come right out? Assuming they are stripped, would I be able to put the bolts back in and have the car still drivable (no worse than it is now), at least to a mechanic?
 

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Absolutely, positively, do not fool around with it at all unless youre going to tear it down . The head bolt holes will have to be tapped, inserts installed . Theres nothing you can do to prolong the inevitable. as for the milkiness of the antifreeze it sounds like maybe someone has put some stop leak in the cooling system, it could only work very.... temporarily if at all and the grainy stuff can do more harm than good .theres no magic bullet only to get it fixed.:)
 

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It just seems like with age this is inevitable for all of us with that engine. OR are we really all just freaking out over nothing? Part of me reminds myself that there's probably a million 2AZFE's on the road (maybe more) and if even 1,000 of them had the problem I think it'd be a national story right? But it isn't - just gets mentioned on forums like these. So I guess I'm trying to figure out if I should be freaking out OR if I should see a mechanic and do the repair in preventative maintenance format OR if there's a way to prevent this? Anyone?
I say you have a 1-2% chance of having or developing this problem.
 

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I just want to know what I'm dealing with :/. Is there anyway to verify this head bolt issue without doing a tear down? Also, is there any chance the leak is coming from intake manifold?
 

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. if youve ckd all the obvious things mentioned before youve basically diagnosed it. the intake is a seperate passage, the bolt holes are not intersecting through any chambers,they go through the head and simply hold force against the head gasket to seal the head to the engine block . once the seal is compromised it allows the different fluids,oils to mix together or leak outside the engine ,either way its not good. it is important to get it repaired, in the meantime keep a daily close eye on the temp guage do not over heat it ,it can severly warp and ruin the engine ,also if you have to drive it [bad idea}keep a daily check on fluid levels and purity ,you dont want to ruin an expensive engine.
Lindsayd
 

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tonyp
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The best place to start is pull the intake off, pull the foam out, and if it's wet, you've just joined the club. You can't re tighten the head bolts because the threads already pulled loose from the block and will just pull out more. Also, you can't even get to the bolts without pulling the cams off, so when you tear it down to diagnose the problem just be prepared to do the repair.

I just want to know what I'm dealing with :/. Is there anyway to verify this head bolt issue without doing a tear down? Also, is there any chance the leak is coming from intake manifold?
 

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I just want to know what I'm dealing with :/. Is there anyway to verify this head bolt issue without doing a tear down? Also, is there any chance the leak is coming from intake manifold?
You should be able to see them on the back of the engine (top). You can use a flash light (if too dark) to see if the small bolts holding the top part of the engine (head) to the main engine (block) are lose or not. My 2003 Camry just did (76K miles with slow coolant loss) :headbang:.

It is outrageous car engine can literally come apart like this!

Beside the inserts remedy, which is almost like engine rebuilt, is it possible to use metal crams to fasten (without removing the bolts)?

List of cars using this model engine:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_AZ_engine#2AZ-FE
 

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As for your question on crams , ive never heard of crams , to be clear , the only things that have been proven to work is timeserts or ns300l s any other method has not been proven to be a long lasting repair . these head bolts have a torque value in the 50 pound range in addition to that the repair has to be able to expand and contract thousands of times , this is not a repair you want to fool around with , you dont want to get the head back on and go for that final torque pass and have the bolt or bolts pull out . I know its frustrating to be dealing with , Ill be dealing with it soon. Lindsayd
 

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Nope, not even a drop. Like I said, I'm just paranoid now having seen all these posts on here and Scionlife etc. Bought the Highlander and planned to keep it for at least 200k miles and assumed it'd be trouble free like my Toyota's in the past! Still hoping for the best!
I was a Toyota fan (owned 1996 Camry, which is a great car) until I got my 2003 Camry problem. I never thought about an engine problem with a Toyota.

Early sign to look for is drop of coolant level in the plastic coolant tank. In my case, the tank would be empty in two weeks.

The leak is small, no visible dripping of coolant ; besides, hot engine vaporize them all. When engine is cold, there is no pressure in the system to push coolant out. That is why lots of people do not see this coming until they see engine overheating (due to lack of coolant).

In other words, if you have to regularly (weekly/monthly) add coolant to your Toyota, that is a clear sign!

Some owners reporting no overheating, but engine just all the sudden died. I believe, the root cause is the same, head bolts stripped out. It is just the different speed of engine crack.

How can a reputable company turn a blind eye on engine defect of this magnitude? I feel bad because I highly recommended Toyota to friends over the years. Some of them are now facing the risk of this problem. I recommended them to sell before warranty is over because this defect is not limited to a few isolated cases in my opinion.
 

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How can a reputable company turn a blind eye on engine defect like this magnitude? I feel bad because I highly recommended Toyota to friends over the years. Some of them are now facing the same problem.
You do personally know some people that have had this problem as well?

For obvious reasons, I was skeptical about this at first glance due to the "everyone has a voice" era we're in these days thanks to Google's webcrawling of PHP-BB's. It could seem like some sort of highly prevalent flaw with a hundred web postings, but even at that it might mean <1,000 failures in >1,000,000 motors. There is no real method to quantify the incidence or prevalence of this flaw, that I can determine, but you would be one of the only people I've seen posting on the web that has personally witnessed this in multiple vehicles.
 

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tonyp
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You can't re-torque the bolts because there are no solid threads left in the block. Once this occurs the threads are stripped. The problem is Toyota didn't put enough threads in the hole. The boltholes are four and a half inches deep in the block, and the bolts go four inches in. Only the bottom one and a half inches of the holes are threaded, and the bolts only contact one inch of the threads. That may work in a motor with a steel block, but it isn't enough for an aluminum block. If the holes would have had more threads the bolts would have had more contact with the block which would distribute the pressure more evenly, and we wouldn't be having this problem. There is no easy fix. You must put inserts in or a new block. The bolts don't work loose then strip, nor do they warp. As a matter of fact, the bolts are good. The problem is the threads in the block. It is an instantaneous failure when the threads pull out. There is no way to prevent it from happening.

Well, I don't lose any coolant at all so I'm in the clear right now. What I can't figure out is this: why can't the head bolts be re-torqued as a means of preventative maintenance? I'm not a super expert on car engines - I can do basic maintenance stuff (fluids, belts, some electrical etc.) so maybe I'm not fully understanding this problem but wouldn't it be engine vibration that starts to loosen some of these bolts? AND when the bolts start to loosen they can now move a little up and down and of course they're going to strip with the pressure/vibration of an engine, especially a 4 banger? Just seems like making sure the bolts stay down in the first place would do the trick.

Now, some people are saying that the problem is steel bolts in an aluminum block and the uneven distribution of heat (i.e. from the foam insulation) is causing the steel bolts to warp. Is it just me who doesn't buy that - it just doesn't make total sense! Is it possible the bolts got a little loose, some coolant leaked in and started corroding the threads?

Anybody who can really explain this, please do; it'd really be appreciated. And again, if tightening the head bolts is not a PM option, what is? Anything?
 

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tonyp
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There aren't "millions" of these engines produced every year. Over the affected years, (02-06), Toyota sold about 1.7 million Camrys total. Most were 6 cylinders. So there are probably 350,000 - 400,000 2.4 4cyl out there. The 02 and 03's are starting to approach the point of failure, and there are alot of failures. Read the posts and blogs. And how many others who don't surf the internet have had this failure and we don't hear about it? They just assume it only happened to them, suck it up, and get it fixed. Just keep reading the posts as the 04, 05 and 06's start to fail. There are companies marketing repair kits specifically to repair this problem in this motor. They wouldn't be doing that for a problem that doesn't exist. Toyota even issued a Service Bulletin on how to fix it. It's a problem. My car failed at 117k and I am very meticulous about my maintenance. I know now that I have a quality fix and will keep it now till the wheels fall off. It's better and stronger than new. But if someone has a Camry with a 2.4, you should prepare yourself for the fact that at some point it's probably gonna happen to you. If you don't want to deal with it, I suggest you unload it before the problem starts.
50%:yikes:

With millions of these engines produced every year from 2002-2006 you'd think the problem would be more widespread to say 50% or even anything close to that percentage.
 
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