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recommended maintenance at 130,000 miles 2012 camry se 2.5L L4

916 Views 19 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Wigyota
hey all i recently got a 2012 camry se, runs and drives good. has the 2.5l l4 engine. gotta do some maintnenace now so wondering what you recommend for me to do at this mileage with recommendation on parts

1. which plugs? and do i do new wires as well?
2. new power steering fluid? any recommendations on which fluid
3. tranny fluid pan drop etc? any recommendations on which fluid
4. any air filter is good? or need a certain brand
5. coolant drain/flush or nah?
6. fuel filter? or nah?
7. anything im missing at this mileage?


thanks!!
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2012-2014 Camry I-4's may suffer a shudder in the TC lockup clutch if the transmission fluid becomes too old and/or too thin.
This is basically a design defect, but can be prevented (even cured) by using a relatively thick/heavy WS-rated fluid such as (especially) Castrol Transmax ATF/CVT Universal.
I don't know if there's a shortage (or just because theft is messing with Walmart's inventory control), but I've had trouble finding it at Walmart lately even when multiple store locations showed as having it in stock. It's up to about $25/gallon, still cheap for a full-synthetic.
The transmission holds 7 quarts, and it takes well more than that to chase out 90% of the old fluid. Buy at least two gallons, ...then run ~2 quarts out of the cooler line after over-filling it by 1-2 quarts, ...then repeat.
Please know what you are doing when performing the fluid change and final fluid level checking, ...especially the first time doing this.
Recommend skipping all beer until after you've totally completed the task.

Simply drain and refill the radiator with Toyota pink pre-mixed fluid or equivalent Asian Pink coolant.
I used about 1.5 gallons iir.

Your vintage of Camry's power steering might be electric (perhaps no fluid required?).
The recommended steering fluid for earlier Camry's is Dexron (which is covered by the Transmax application list).

The transmission fluid filter is replaceable, but seems designed never to clog. It's like a super-fine strainer. Dropping the pan can get more fluid and sediment out, while allowing the installation of Toyota-recommended additional two special magnets to the inside of the pan.

Use OEM plugs, gap on the narrow side of spec if adjustable.
A narrower plug gap tends to extend the life of the costly OEM coils-on-plugs.
Coil/plug wires are strictly low-voltage so do not ever need replacement.


Do not use the now-common 40k-mile Fram air filters. These are tested to show poor filtering efficiency (larger holes) than just about all other filters, and I guess why they can keep on flowing air for 40k miles(?).
ProjectFarm on Youtube has tested air filters, check it out (and then buy the good ones online I guess).

The 20k-mile Fram Ultra Synthetic oil filters seem to be well thought of, but I use inexpensive OEM Toyota oil filters and change oil every <5k miles but filter every <10k miles.
Note that only super-cold climates tend to challenge an oil filter's flow rate as the filter ages.
Do not heavily tighten the plastic oil filter housing or they become very hard to remove. I use little torque (10 Ft-lbs) and they never loosen or leak. A special tool is needed, and often a 1/2" breaker-bar and socket to loosen the first time.
I don't super-tighten the drain plug or even use a plug gasket. Never a hint of leakage so far.

I've never looked into these car's fuel filter topics, mine's now 7+ years old but only 32k miles on her.
 

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The rotors need to be measured for minimum thickness, which is a specified number.

The surface needs to be cut if it's not flat, but a shallow gouge can usually be ignored without consequence as long as this doesn't cause the rotor to be too thin at that spot.

Minimum thickness numbers are conservative, meant to account for slight asymmetric left/right wear, slight surface ripple AND to account for the entire service life of the new pads.
Wavy rotor surfaces can cause new pads to crack, so inspect carefully and drive gently for a while so as not to have to hit the brakes hard until the pads have worn into the rotor surface shape.

I used Napa pads on the last brake job I performed, nice, quiet pads at a low price.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
2012-2014 Camry I-4's may suffer a shudder in the TC lockup clutch if the transmission fluid becomes too old and/or too thin.
This is basically a design defect, but can be prevented (even cured) by using a relatively thick/heavy WS-rated fluid such as (especially) Castrol Transmax ATF/CVT Universal.
I don't know if there's a shortage (or just because theft is messing with Walmart's inventory control), but I've had trouble finding it at Walmart lately even when multiple store locations showed as having it in stock. It's up to about $25/gallon, still cheap for a full-synthetic.
The transmission holds 7 quarts, and it takes well more than that to chase out 90% of the old fluid. Buy at least two gallons, ...then run ~2 quarts out of the cooler line after over-filling it by 1-2 quarts, ...then repeat.
Please know what you are doing when performing the fluid change and final fluid level checking, ...especially the first time doing this.
Recommend skipping all beer until after you've totally completed the task.

Simply drain and refill the radiator with Toyota pink pre-mixed fluid or equivalent Asian Pink coolant.
I used about 1.5 gallons iir.

Your vintage of Camry's power steering might be electric (perhaps no fluid required?).
The recommended steering fluid for earlier Camry's is Dexron (which is covered by the Transmax application list).

The transmission fluid filter is replaceable, but seems designed never to clog. It's like a super-fine strainer. Dropping the pan can get more fluid and sediment out, while allowing the installation of Toyota-recommended additional two special magnets to the inside of the pan.

Use OEM plugs, gap on the narrow side of spec if adjustable.
A narrower plug gap tends to extend the life of the costly OEM coils-on-plugs.
Coil/plug wires are strictly low-voltage so do not ever need replacement.


Do not use the now-common 40k-mile Fram air filters. These are tested to show poor filtering efficiency (larger holes) than just about all other filters, and I guess why they can keep on flowing air for 40k miles(?).
ProjectFarm on Youtube has tested air filters, check it out (and then buy the good ones online I guess).

The 20k-mile Fram Ultra Synthetic oil filters seem to be well thought of, but I use inexpensive OEM Toyota oil filters and change oil every <5k miles but filter every <10k miles.
Note that only super-cold climates tend to challenge an oil filter's flow rate as the filter ages.
Do not heavily tighten the plastic oil filter housing or they become very hard to remove. I use little torque (10 Ft-lbs) and they never loosen or leak. A special tool is needed, and often a 1/2" breaker-bar and socket to loosen the first time.
I don't super-tighten the drain plug or even use a plug gasket. Never a hint of leakage so far.

I've never looked into these car's fuel filter topics, mine's now 7+ years old but only 32k miles on her.
any idea if i need to do the transmission fluid change at 130k miles? or can i wait etc? thx
 

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These particular transmissions work the TC clutch friction surfaces particularly hard, at times allowing the TC clutch to slip as a way to create virtual intermediate gear ratios between gears.
As such, the fluid gets sheared and contaminated more than in a normal transmission.
And the fluid fill volume of these 2.5l cars is the same volume that's in Toyota's earlier 2-liter Corolla that doesn't even feature the "Flex Lock" pulse-width-modulated TC "slipper" clutch.

So all told, I would say that these (very expensive) transmissions should be given considerable extra priority in terms of their fluid maintenance, particularly the shudder-prone 2012-2014 models.

If you have no (transmission) maintenance record for this car, it's quite possible that the TC clutch may have already been replaced with the improved version under the extended warranty. A Toyota dealer "should" be able to tell you (based on the VIN) if certain updates to the TC clutch or it's controlling software have been done already, unless the TC was replaced by an independent repair shop.
I would not necessarily take any advice from a Toyota dealer dealing with the transmission fluid, since Toyota doesn't even specify a maintenance interval and also because Toyota chose to EPA certify these cars using the thin (at operating temperature) Toyota semi-synthetic WS fluid that they presumably must now specify that it must use. The thin fluid should however work fine with an updated torque converter (I used Toyota WS fluid in mine because it's a 2015 model, and the thinner fluid supposedly offers slightly better fuel economy).

It shouldn't be too hard to loosen the transmission drain plug (6mm Allen key tool) enough to allow a few drops of fluid to seep past the plug threads for inspection. If the fluid appears red, then it's probably been replaced in the past 50k miles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
These particular transmissions work the TC clutch friction surfaces particularly hard, at times allowing the TC clutch to slip as a way to create virtual intermediate gear ratios between gears.
As such, the fluid gets sheared and contaminated more than in a normal transmission.
And the fluid fill volume of these 2.5l cars is the same volume that's in Toyota's earlier 2-liter Corolla that doesn't even feature the "Flex Lock" pulse-width-modulated TC "slipper" clutch.

So all told, I would say that these (very expensive) transmissions should be given considerable extra priority in terms of their fluid maintenance, particularly the shudder-prone 2012-2014 models.

If you have no (transmission) maintenance record for this car, it's quite possible that the TC clutch may have already been replaced with the improved version under the extended warranty. A Toyota dealer "should" be able to tell you (based on the VIN) if certain updates to the TC clutch or it's controlling software have been done already, unless the TC was replaced by an independent repair shop.
I would not necessarily take any advice from a Toyota dealer dealing with the transmission fluid, since Toyota doesn't even specify a maintenance interval and also because Toyota chose to EPA certify these cars using the thin (at operating temperature) Toyota semi-synthetic WS fluid that they presumably must now specify that it must use. The thin fluid should however work fine with an updated torque converter (I used Toyota WS fluid in mine because it's a 2015 model, and the thinner fluid supposedly offers slightly better fuel economy).

It shouldn't be too hard to loosen the transmission drain plug (6mm Allen key tool) enough to allow a few drops of fluid to seep past the plug threads for inspection. If the fluid appears red, then it's probably been replaced in the past 50k miles.
thanks soo much for all the in depth help, last question do i need to pan drop / change the filter/gasket or the plug gasket? or i can leave everything like stock and just do fluid swap

thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I am back again! sorry to bother since the car was used, i had a brain fart and thought it wasn't maintained well, I called Toyota and got service records seems like the following was done. Currently got 133k miles

Spark plugs replaced at 106k miles
Coolant flush at 87k miles
Throttle body was cleaned regularly
Serpentine Belt replaced at 77k miles
Transmission fluid exchange at 82k miles

Knowing this for me now, I guess no need to do plugs, coolant, belt, or tranny fluid? Or is it still good to do one of these?

Im thinking of getting brakes done cuz I know mine feel weak, Pcv valve, air filter and cabin filter

Anything else I should do or is the car maintained enough for the near future?

Thanks!
 

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thanks soo much for all the in depth help, last question do i need to pan drop / change the filter/gasket or the plug gasket? or i can leave everything like stock and just do fluid swap

thanks

I've never pulled the pan on one of these cars, but it does require a very short-profile, 10mm swivel socket on one of the bolts, due to clearance issues.
Mainly I would emphasize using a heavier and full-synthetic fluid because of your car's model year, but it's a personal decision as to whether or not to pull the pan, clean out the sediment, add two more magnets and replace the filter, since I don't have any real data relating to how those things affect the average service life.
Rust-free cars would seem to justify a longer-termed, more-intense approach to maintenance, ...also the driver's habits, i.e. do they get in many collisions, lol.

PCV valve may last forever if the oil is kept fresh.


EDIT:
Just seeing your latest post, that's good news to find it's been maintained.

Be mindful of any tendency for the car to shudder around 35-45mph, would justify immediate full transmission fluid exchange.

Time to create a schedule of when each of the service items would be most economically advised, looks good for now!
I don't know how much WS fluid that the shop exchanged(???), was it a spill-n-fill of just two quarts, or was it a 10-quart "machine" exchange(?), I have no idea.:unsure:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I've never pulled the pan on one of these cars, but it does require a very short-profile, 10mm swivel socket on one of the bolts, due to clearance issues.
Mainly I would emphasize using a heavier and full-synthetic fluid because of your car's model year, but it's a personal decision as to whether or not to pull the pan, clean out the sediment, add two more magnets and replace the filter, since I don't have any real data relating to how those things affect the average service life.
Rust-free cars would seem to justify a longer-termed, more-intense approach to maintenance, ...also the driver's habits, i.e. do they get in many collisions, lol.

PCV valve may last forever if the oil is kept fresh.


EDIT:
Just seeing your latest post, that's good news to find it's been maintained.

Be mindful of any tendency for the car to shudder around 35-45mph, would justify immediate full transmission fluid exchange.

Time to create a schedule of when each of the service items would be most economically advised, looks good for now!
I don't know how much WS fluid that the shop exchanged(???), was it a spill-n-fill of just two quarts, or was it a 10-quart "machine" exchange(?), I have no idea.:unsure:
thanks again and wow when I read your edit post something clicked, I just saw that the old owner stated "NOISE WHILE DRIVING ~|~WHILE ACCELERATING BETWEEN 35-45 MPH VEHICLE WILL SHAKE. ENTIRE VEHICLE WILL SHAKE CHECK AND ADVISE ~|~COULD NOT DUPLICATE CONCERN TEST DROVE SEVERAL TIME YET ISSUE WILL NOT OCCUR " on the toyota service website,

This was at 125k ish Miles which was right before I bought it. I guess gives me good reason to get the fluid changed to the transmax!
 

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Yeah, it almost seemed strange to me that your car hadn't yet begun to shudder at it's current mileage.

Did you buy the car from the owner, or from the shop (dealer?) that "couldn't duplicate...", or from another seller of used vehicles?
It sounds like the previous owner almost certainly sold/traded the car upon learning that a "proper" repair would cost several thousand dollars (for installing a new TC).

Wondering what the seller (to you) did to it to calm the shudder(?), perhaps a fluid exchange and/or an anti-shudder additive (LubeGard, ShudderFix, etc.) was used to get it working well enough for a smooth sale(?).

Many forum regulars having these cars have stated that fluid replacement (using various WS-rated fluids) solved the shudder issue at least for some tens of thousands of miles. Remember that any fluid is thickest when new and not so thick after tens of thousands of miles. Know also that synthetic fluids typically offer better resistance to viscosity breakdown and so have longer service life.

What temperature range is this car exposed to? This can somewhat determine the upper permissible limit of transmission fluid viscosity if one were to combat a severe/persistent case of shudder by using a fluid that is even heavier/thicker than the thickest WS-rated fluids. In other words, there are fluids (such as one particular grade of full-synthetic offered by Amsoil) that are one increment (perhaps just .5Cst) thicker than even the still-WS-rated Transmax, so might be useful to save a worst-case shudder offender if the vehicle would never see super-low temperatures.
In any case, synthetic fluids typically offer the widest useful temperature range between too thick at the lowest temperature and too thin at operating temperature, so be sure to start with with the thickest full-synthetic WS-rated fluid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yeah, it almost seemed strange to me that your car hadn't yet begun to shudder at it's current mileage.

Did you buy the car from the owner, or from the shop (dealer?) that "couldn't duplicate...", or from another seller of used vehicles?
It sounds like the previous owner almost certainly sold/traded the car upon learning that a "proper" repair would cost several thousand dollars (for installing a new TC).

Wondering what the seller (to you) did to it to calm the shudder(?), perhaps a fluid exchange and/or an anti-shudder additive (LubeGard, ShudderFix, etc.) was used to get it working well enough for a smooth sale(?).

Many forum regulars having these cars have stated that fluid replacement (using various WS-rated fluids) solved the shudder issue at least for some tens of thousands of miles. Remember that any fluid is thickest when new and not so thick after tens of thousands of miles. Know also that synthetic fluids typically offer better resistance to viscosity breakdown and so have longer service life.

What temperature range is this car exposed to? This can somewhat determine the upper permissible limit of transmission fluid viscosity if one were to combat a severe/persistent case of shudder by using a fluid that is even heavier/thicker than the thickest WS-rated fluids. In other words, there are fluids (such as one particular grade of full-synthetic offered by Amsoil) that are one increment (perhaps just .5Cst) thicker than even the still-WS-rated Transmax, so might be useful to save a worst-case shudder offender if the vehicle would never see super-low temperatures.
In any case, synthetic fluids typically offer the widest useful temperature range between too thick at the lowest temperature and too thin at operating temperature, so be sure to start with with the thickest full-synthetic WS-rated fluid.
i bought it from a used car dealer. but makes sense! i wonder too cuz car has been fine, i will for sure get the fluid changed to transmax
im in chicago so rn we a little cold but we dont get that cold (rn we around 30s to 40s) and then our summers are 80-90f all the time

ill call the dealer to see if maybe they did the update on the tranny recently etc
 

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The Transmax ATF/CVT Universal fluid, "thick" as it is, is still equivalent to about a 0W16 motor oil and is WS-rated, so will flow just fine well below zero F.
It would only be with any yet-thicker fluids, where the lowest overnight temperatures might be a problem if one were to experiment with non-WS fluids.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
The Transmax ATF/CVT Universal fluid, "thick" as it is, is still equivalent to about a 0W16 motor oil and is WS-rated, so will flow just fine well below zero F.
It would only be with any yet-thicker fluids, where the lowest overnight temperatures might be a problem if one were to experiment with non-WS fluids.
sorry to beat a deadhorse gonna do the fluid change tomorrow! do i need to buy a new filter or gasket or anything / drop pan? or is it completely fine to just chase the old fluid out etc as outlined above. and or if i do have to drop pan can the gasket and filter be reused?

thanks again for all the help
 

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sorry to beat a deadhorse gonna do the fluid change tomorrow! do i need to buy a new filter or gasket or anything / drop pan? or is it completely fine to just chase the old fluid out etc as outlined above. and or if i do have to drop pan can the gasket and filter be reused?

thanks again for all the help
If you're planning to chase all the old fluid or via the cooler line then I'd recommend dropping the pan and cleaning the magnets. The pan gasket can be reused as I did that with mine. It's a nice steel gasket. As for the filter, you don't really need to replace it but if you're already in there doing all that you might as well. Up to you though. Good luck!
 
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