Toyota Nation Forum banner

1 - 20 of 44 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking for a reliable (#1) back-up car with good mileage (#2).

I'm new to this part of the forum and wanted your advice on selecting a 1995-2001 Camry.

Looking through craigslist, I see a lot more Gen 3/4 Camrys with > 200k miles on the odometer compared to similar vintage Corollas. What do you think of that?

Suggestions about mileage, features, common problems, etc would be great.

I read that 1995-2001 5S-FE get 23-28 mpg, while the 1MZ-FE get 17-25 mpg. The Corollas get a bit better mileage.

I drive about 5,000 miles per year, primarily in the city and have a one-person business of buying and selling furniture and other small-medium size items weighing no more than 70 lbs. Specifically, I've been happy with 4 cylinders (I can't recall the last time I had a V-6). I also don't need rapid acceleration (0-60 in 3 seconds, LOL) or towing capabilities (the largest item I ever hauled was a 200 lb tool chest, but that was a one-time situation). With those mileage ratings and gas at $3 per gallon, I don't see a large difference in my gas bill, but I wanted to hear your real-world experiences with this era's mileage.

A wagon would be great, but I've gotten by with sedans. I notice that there are on occaions Camry wagons that all seem to be V-6s. Does that sound right?

Thanks in advance!
 

·
short-throw dipstick
Joined
·
6,104 Posts
- just about as bulletproof as they come
- do some research on the few problems that aren't age-related, but expect the V6 to have sludging issues if you don't change oil on time, don't use high-quality oil and filter, or don't let the car warm up properly
- IME gen3 5S-FE get somewhat worse fuel economy than gen4
- that being said, I get 23 combined in my '00 5S-FE, and 21 combined in my '99 1MZ-FE
- wagons rare but cool (IMO)
- whatever you are thinking of buying, get a PPI. Doesn't matter if it's "reliable," or "bulletproof," or "Toyota." If you're spending K's on a new part of your life, don't leave anything to chance to save $100
- take care of it and it will take care of you
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
13,514 Posts
Only the Gen3 had a wagon, and it could be equipped with either motor. More common to find one with the V6, but the 4cyl’s are out there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
For example, on craigslist, I see three 1998 Camry 4 cylinder with 225k miles for $2,200 in different cities. Those prices seem high for that much mileage. Is there a particular mileage cutoff that I should screen cars, or does it depend on maintenance and freeway miles?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
130 Posts
If you're looking at a 5 SFE, try to determine when timing belt was last changed. That might be a big, unexpected expense.

There are a lot of gen 3 and 4 still on the road. Once you own one, you see them all over. There are some with under 100K miles still around and you can find quite a few under 200K miles. Be patient, keep your eyes open. Check Facebook ads and Craigslist.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
272 Posts
If you want a wagon with great gas mileage and don't care too much about power, I suggest not getting a Camry but getting an older Corolla wagon instead. They can be found for cheaper, have a lot of room, and get great gas mileage. If you can find an old alltrac you'll also have the added benefit of a great all wheel drive system. If you are set on a Camry wagon, the 3rd gen is what you want.

You can squeeze more gas mileage out of a 5sfe 4cyl if you drive cautiously and slowly.
 

·
Registered
1995 Camry LE Wagon
Joined
·
4,623 Posts
Let me add that my 95 4cyl'd wagon has been great and reliable to a degree. I bought used, but I'm an experienced DIY'r with lots of tools. Old cars take more maintenance, Camry or not. Rust can be your biggest enemy as it makes everything harder. Mine was a Virginia car and I live in NC, but I had to replace the rusted gas tank several years ago and repair rusted evap lines. One year my wife let the engine overheat and I had to do a head replacement - so stuff happens. The four is MUCH easier to get into and repair.

Over the years I have replaced, steering rack (real pain), gas tank (more real pain), TPS (twice), rad, hoses, O2 sensor, exhaust (actually welded it - I have a MIG), valve cover gasket, full timing belt service, power steering pump, plus various needed scheduled maintenance items. But all done by me.

So be careful and get a mechanic to check out whatever you buy.

Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Stillrunning, thanks. I understand that six cylinders are harder to access the rear spark plugs. In what other ways are they harder to get into?
 

·
Registered
1995 Camry LE Wagon
Joined
·
4,623 Posts
Stillrunning, thanks. I understand that six cylinders are harder to access the rear spark plugs. In what other ways are they harder to get into?
The stuff that can go wrong is doubled due to two heads. If this is a backup car then I don't think speed should be your primary. Mine is a slug, sort of, but that's compared to the other V6s I've own(ed) and to the GDI 4 I now have. My compression is about as good as the factory spec and the new head did not increase power.

The wagon's versatility makes up for other deficiencies. Other V6 owner's here can fill you in on FWD access. My other V6s were (are) RWD.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
251 Posts
IMHO, 4th Gen 5S-FE Camry is going to be your best bet. Also, the 2000-2001 years have the best 5S ever produced (136HP). And the headlight system is much brighter at night (2 bulbs instead of one).
200K miles or so is still quite derivable (as long as the engine was properly maintained. Another common problem on the 3-4th gen Camrys is the EGR system. If one of the solenoids gets stuck, you'll probably fail emissions tests (if your state has them!), but your car will still run (albeit with slightly worse gas mileage). Check the suspension, the shocks tend to start rattling in 20 year old Camrys (meaning they've gone bad), and the sway-bar linkages tend to be cracked and will need to be replaced.
Another plus for the 4th gen is that is has a FULL SIZE SPARE in the trunk, not one of those tiny donuts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
272 Posts
Thanks, foxtherouge, what years did Toyota make those Corolla wagons?
Alltrac is from 1988 to 1992 and if you were to get a regular wagon I would suggest the next generation after that as it has a better automatic and a little more power but still great fuel efficiency. So 1993 to 1997.
 

·
Registered
Look in sig
Joined
·
8,871 Posts
As a note, I believe the Camry had a full-size spare up until 2005+ when they had a donut? Both my SE and XLE 2004's had full size spare steelies.

I've found that many Gen3/4 are neglected or just not taken care of. Even cars that were taken care of at shops (w/ records) are sometimes not done right. When I got my 2004 SE M/T, the owners took pretty good care of it minus normal wear tear on outside and struts were done, but the shop they had taken to (main chain) didn't use the right coolant (they put green and it had the factory pink, so brown), used shitty COP (all crapped out in 1yr), rebuilt alternator died in 6months, and forgot to put the rubber bushings on the slider pin for brakes. On the plus side, they used Denso O2 sensors LOL....

A good sign is to see if there is any corrosion or nasty crap going on in the coolant reservoir and also to notice if there is any excessive burned on oil on the dipstick. I've noticed (correct me...) that cars run long between OCI sometimes have that nasty brown burned on oil on the upper part of the oil dipstick versus oil changes done fairly often (if not maybe too early). Interior wear is another thing...earlier 97-99 Camry has issues with the manual seat adjustment to 'fly back' on the front seats. Electric is OK, but the electric seats have a tendency of the rail bushings on failing and getting stuck so....

We really should comprise a thread on what to look for on the Gen3/4 so it can be an extremely detailed one. Could have sworn we had one though.
 

·
Camry Freak
Camry & Accord
Joined
·
1,501 Posts
Just being real here... you are talking about a twenty to twenty-five year-old car. At this point, it's going to be more important to have any potential car inspected by a good mechanic than whether you should get a 1995 XLE or a 1998 LE.

As others have said, the engines and transmissions on those Camrys are excellent and usually last a really long time without problems- but that's assuming that they've been maintained and not abused. Although the engines/transmissions might be pretty great on those cars, there are a lot of other things that could go wrong with age. Things that just wear out or break down. Most of those things are pretty cheap to repair/replace on Camrys of that age. A lot of it can be done DYI pretty easily too- especially on the 2.2L engine. As an added bonus, any decent mechanic that's been in business for a while could probably repair most of the common issues on these cars in their sleep- as Toyota sold a lot of them and they are still on the road today.

I'd try to find one that has one or two owners with maintenance records. If cheap ownership is your goal, I'd go with the 2.2L engine, as it's extremely easy to work on compared to the V6. Find one that you think is a good buy and then have a good mechanic spend an hour or so going over the entire car from bumper to bumper. You can do this yourself if you are knowledgable enough. Although you're likely to get one with a solid engine and transmission, that doesn't mean that there won't be a lot of general wear-and-tear issues that have been avoided. If a lot of things need to be done (exhaust, CV joints, suspension, brakes, and so on), it kind of defeats the purpose of buying a cheap car.
 

·
Premium Member
1993 Camry SE,V6-5MT
Joined
·
834 Posts
When checking on service record, two resources: CarFax (depends on those doing the service registering the results, but if they took it to a mainstream garage that will have been the case).

And a dealer: give them the VIN number and see what comes up (if it was serviced at dealers the record will be in the national system, going back at least a few years, 5 or more, depending).

Norm
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
272 Posts
When checking on service record, two resources: CarFax (depends on those doing the service registering the results, but if they took it to a mainstream garage that will have been the case).

And a dealer: give them the VIN number and see what comes up (if it was serviced at dealers the record will be in the national system, going back at least a few years, 5 or more, depending).

Norm

Free with less information than CarFax but still a good amount of info.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
65 Posts
I'd just like to add that if you get your hands on a gen 3 V6 and you're feeling bored...the 3VZ-FE engine it has is good for at least 400 horsepower and people have pushed it to 600 before ;)
 
1 - 20 of 44 Posts
Top