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1997 Toyota Camry - Oil Consumption, Rebuild or Not

 
 
Ragman
 
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2010 11:06 pm
My friend's car, a 97 Toyota Camry 4 cyl automatic has only 122 K mi. Blue Book is somewhere around $4000. She would like to keep it and restore it for her daughter-- ONLY if it's worth it.

Oil Consumption
Currently it's using oil heavily, but emits no blue smoke. She is replacing a quart about every 200 miles. Examined it but has no obvious leaks while stationary, though it might blow oil out (unburned but not sure) while being driven.

Only recently started using oil. Car has decent pickup so it's not bogging down due to loss of power. As far as I know the head gaskets are not leaking.
Plugs are not getting fouled, either. Previous mechanic replaced "a bunch of seals and gaskets & PCV valve. I said, "Hmmm!"

She's willing to have the engine rebuilt. I've already helped her restore the interior. The question is -- should she rebuild the engine? Assuming the alternative is that she would buy a used car for under $5k, I say spending $1200-$1800 could be wiser. The beast you got is better than the beast someone else is trying to unload.

I suggested running a compression test to see if the rings are good...hoping that the rebuild would be a lesser expense. Is there any fallacy to my thinking?
 
View best answer, chosen by Ragman
Rockhead
 
  2  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2010 11:28 pm
@Ragman,
a compression test is the place to start.

I doubt you can get the engine rebuilt for the figures you are quoting.

they should go 200,000+ before needing rebuilt as well.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2010 11:39 pm
@Rockhead,
Agree, but where do you suppose all that oil is going? If it were through the valve guides or around the rings, that little 4 cylinder would be smoking like a fire in a tire plant. No plug fouling, either. No visible leakage. That is puzzling
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 07:05 am
@Rockhead,
Thanks Roger and Rocky for your replies so far.

My original thought was that it has bad valve seat guides (or is that called valve guides)?

I think I got more of the story last night. She said it might be smoking 'a bit' as she drives it. Someone followed her and saw some smoke..but it's not blue.

I wonder if it is wise to do the rebuild as a partial - not including the rings too? Let's just say that providing the compression is good (and consistent),would it be unwise 'cause you already have the engine apart and to save $600-$800 is that not a productive way to save some money?

My thought is to have the mechanic to give the whole drive-chain and transmission a good health check and see if the car is "sponge-worthy". She wants this car to last 3 yrs without any majors.

0 Replies
 
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 09:31 am
@roger,
my chevy truck needs valve guide seals. it uses about the same amount as the toyota is.

it's been that way since I bought it almost two years ago, and the amount of work required to fix it says it will prolly stay that way a bit longer. it only smokes noticably at start up and during very high rpm moments, unless I overfill it, then it smokes like a freight train.

doing a partial rebuild is usually folly in my book. if you tighten up the top end, the bottom end blows out quicker.

I would start by parking at night on a chunk of cardboard and isolating any leaks...
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 10:54 am
@Rockhead,
Quote:
doing a partial rebuild is usually folly in my book.

agreed. It's like 90 year old grandpa taking steroids and building up his biceps...eventually he's gonna get a hernia.
0 Replies
 
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 01:00 pm
@Rockhead,
I stated earlier the car does not leak at rest:
Quote:
Examined it but has no obvious leaks while stationary, though it might blow oil out (unburned but not sure) while being driven.
.

I have viewed with my own eyes the spot the car sits on in the driveway. There are no leaks.

OK, so then it's either a total rebuild or do nothing. She seems to think that putting a (revised) chunk in of $1800- 2k might be a better investment then buying a $4-$ 5k used car, which will eventually cost her added money in the usual brakes, tires and muffler that most used cars hit you with (besides whatever others inherent problems that made it not worth it for the previous seller?
roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 01:26 pm
@Ragman,
If she can get there for 2,000 and intends to keep the car, that sounds like the way to go. If she's going to sell or trade the car, probably not a good choice. Just my opinion.
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 02:22 pm
@roger,
OK more info: the thing I just learned is that a complete engine rebuild is $4000 ballpark plus or minus $500.

When she had the timing belt done about 4 months ago, it seems that since that time the oil problem happened. They (old repair place) replaced head gasket timing belt, water pump, pcv valve and 'some seals'. I wonder whether or not in THAT repair they could have crimped something causing back pressure or caused a leak. Of course, it can be coincidental, too.

OK..I'm going to advise her to have them give the car a full 'once over' and run a compression check. If they have to go further the should go ahead and to diagnose without going nuts. Perhaps taking the heads off is enough to diagnose?
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 02:57 pm
@Ragman,
the head should not be removed. that is headed to major work in a hurry.

test compression, and look hard for leaks...
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 04:22 pm
@Rockhead,
OK...further talks with my friend, the owner of the car. When the car smoked, there was blue smoke. There is no hint of any leak anywhere, not even a trace of leaks from when it is being driven.

She uses a quart every 300-450 miles (not 200) as was thought earlier.

Revised History: the car HAD been leaking oil 4 months ago. So the dealer replaced all gaskets (head) and probably the front seal(s?) .

So back at the time of the repair, it was scheduled maintenance time, she went to an independent mechanic for a lower price for replacing of the timing belt. They did the typical water pump etc and changed the PCV as well.
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 06:21 pm
@Ragman,
valve guide seals...

not a great big job.
0 Replies
 
roger
  Selected Answer
 
  3  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 06:36 pm
Okay, we've got the overhaul at a realistic $4,000 and an approximate blue book at $4,000, and the car is around 13 years old. If it needs more than valve guide seals, my inclination is to trade up to a more recent vehicle in very good mechanical condition.

Sometimes, age can have as much effect as miles. I parted with a car of the approximate same age, and it also had a recent timing belt replacement. It suffered an electrical failure. Repairable, but the entire wiring harness crumbled in my hand when I touched it. Dealer only part, and you wouldn't believe the price, plus an accumulation of little things that 'weren't quite worth fixing.'

What I say I would do is not advice, of course. Before sinking four grand into it, I would very carefully consider the condition of the rest of the vehicle.
0 Replies
 
shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 06:49 pm
hmm.. m more inclined to look at the mileage on that car and not the actual age.
at 121, 000 miles, a toyota is just fine. In fact I am surprised to hear so much going on with it.
Mine is over 6 years old, way more mileage than that and other then normal time things ( clutch plate 75,00 miles) i have had no issues. My car no too long ago, maybe even close to the 120,000 mile range.. I thought had problems as well. Took it in, not a thing Smile

The last thing that happened was the oxygen sensor went out.
Replaced it myself .. very easy.
I too am not so sure that is necessary..

but, that is just my opinion ...
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 06:58 pm
@shewolfnm,
your climate does not deteriorate the shell...

are you still in New York, RM?
roger
 
  2  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 07:04 pm
@Ragman,
Just another off the wall idea, but you did say the plugs wern't fouled. How does the coolant look. I ask because I had a car with a head gasket problem, and oil was being blown into the cooling system. If this is the case, the coolant will be thick and grey - kind of like mayonaise.

Of course, that was a Renault Dauphine. A great little vehicle for the wannabe mechanic to learn the tricks on.
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 07:06 pm
@roger,
renaults were built by satan's elves.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 07:10 pm
@Rockhead,
Yeah. The ones that were not up to the Yugo standard.
0 Replies
 
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 08:34 pm
@Rockhead,
RM? Ragman is that me...you're asking? I'm in So. FL..and so is she.

The car hasn't anything else wrong. Timing belt is normal replacement item/repair..at her mileage.

I will check her coolant. good suggestion.

Generally, a Toyota Camry of that vintage gets a few more points of consideration as far as the reliability of a used car.

The 'only thing wrong is the latest problem..the oil consumption. But that could be the death knell.
Rockhead
 
  2  
Reply Tue 17 Aug, 2010 08:52 pm
@Ragman,
ida swore you were near buffalo...

anyways.

I work on lotsa cars near that vintage (i'm rebuilding a head on a Nissan tonight)

I would monitor the consumption and wait. (my truck goes through a lot more than that, but it is always about the same)

I doubt it gets much worse...

toyota builds a nice car.
 

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