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1996 Camry under 1000RPM Idle

I recently bought a 96 toyota camry after owning a 99 for 10 years and having it totaled :frowning:

I’ve changed the oil, flushed the engine and fixed some minor cosmetic issues. the cr has 130k miles but runs fine. I’m new to fixing cars, but with current economic times can’t afford a new car purchase. I’ve picked up Hanby’s manual and so far, so good.


The thing that has me worried is the when stopped, in park or general idle state, the car runs at 700/750RPM and I can really feel the vibrations when it’s this low. What are some major things to check/clean/etc. to attempt to fix this issue.

I know it may not seem to be a big issue, but I don’t want to ignore something little and have it come back to haunt me or kill the bank in the end.

Thanks in advance for any and all input.

I don’t know if there is an idle adjustment on the '96 Camry, but most cars have the idle controlled by the computer and are not easily adjusted.

Was your '99 Camry a 4 or 6 cyc motor? What about your '96, 4 or 6? If you are used to a 6 and now have a 4 cyc motor you can expect more vibration from a 4. Camry 4’s are really pretty smooth, but this is a motor that is 12 - 13 years old and has some miles on it.

700 to 750 RPM seems a bit low, but not that far off. You really can’t trust the tach on the dashboard to be very accurate at showing you RPM at idle. It could be anywhere from 500 to 1000. The real issue is you are feeling a vibration.

A good tune up never hurts so start there. Replace the spark plugs, get the fuel injectors cleaned, put some fuel system cleaners in your gas, and replace the air filter. If these help fine, if they don’t you are going to start getting into more money, perhaps serious money. If it runs fine otherwise, I’d learn to live with it.

If you have a manual (Hanby’s?) it should tell you how to address this issue. Personally, I think 700-750 RPM is the correct idle speed. Both of my cars idle at that speed.

I’m assuming you meant Haynes.

Don’t know what your Camry is supposed to idle at, what’s the manual say? My Mercedes is supposed to idle at 750, and it does. Smoothing out the idle is most often an ignition issue, but may also be a fuel delivery issue. Along with checking plugs, check plug wires, distributor cap and rotor. If these haven’t been replaced in 60,000 miles or so, they’re due. Likewise, dirty fuel and air filters contribute to rough running, as do a weak fuel pump (test fuel pressure) and dirty/sticking injectors. Other things that can contribute are bad engine temp, crank position and mass airflow sensors. Is the Check Engine light on?

Most cars idle around 600-1000 RPM. An idle of 750 RPM sounds perferctly reasonable. Generally speaking I4 or V6 engines won’t be as smooth as an I6 or V8. They’ve come a long way with balance shafts and such though. I’ve found that many four cylinder cars exhibit some minor vibrations at idle. You may want to check the motor mounts or a harmonic balancer if the car has one. But I don’t think there is anything wrong.

I have to agree with FoDaddy and the others who stated that the idle speed appears to be normal. While a cold engine will idle above 1k, once an engine is warmed up, the idle speed should be somewhere in the 600-750 range.

Since you are familiar with Camrys, if you feel that this one has a particularly rough idle, I would suggest that you look elsewhere for the cause, rather than focusing on the idle speed. Something to consider is the condition of the motor mounts.

Also, is the car’s maintenance up to date? I am willing to bet a small sum that you either need to bring the car’s maintenance up to date–particularly the spark plugs–or you need to replace the motor mounts, or perhaps both.

Both the 99 and now the 96 were/are 4 cylinder, but since the 99 idled at 1000RPM I assumed the 96 should too. I grabbed a fuel system cleaner and should be able to add it by mid next week when it’s time to fill up again. Already replaced the air filter, so if the fuel cleaning doesn’t help, i’ll do fuel filter next and then spark plugs. Thanks!

The Check Engine Light is not on.

I can’t say if it’s completely up to date, though the change oil sticker was still in the car and I’ve got about 800 miles till it needs a change. Also CarFax guarenteed 1-owner car as well as had maintence records from 60k and 120k. It’s obvious that all the belts and rotors have been recently been replaced though.

I also concur with FoDaddy…7500 rpms sounds reasonable to me. My 4runner idles at 700rpms.

The vibration or rough idle may be as simple as a bad EGR valve or vacuum leak.

Check the maintenance records and see if the timing belt has been replaced.
If so when? they need to be replaced about every 70k

Also check the ignition base timing as the distributor is driven via the camshaft
if the belt is streched or jumped a tooth this wiil affect the ignition timing and
could be the cause of the rough idle.

Get this checked asap if it is a timing belt you need to get it replaced now.

I had 2 Chevy S-10s with automatic and they both idled at about 750, I think it is about normal.

I remember that some Camry four cylinder models will vibrate. I don’t remember any repair for it. I can hear “they all do that” echoing from the nineties.

That idle speed is correct for that engine.

That engine was also considered to be a rough idling engine, as pleasedodgevan stated, even when running properly. I’ve never really read why, but the isolators (dampers) in the engine mounts may not have been well designed. If your '99 was idleing at 1000 rpm (which was above spec) then the '96 will seem to you in particular to be idling too low.

Do all the things listed, the tuneup, the filters, the injector cleaning etc., but unless the plugs are exhibiting something unusual don’t get too optimistic.

You could also hook up a vacuum gage. That would tell you if you have any valve issues or perhaps a vacuum leak. You could even buy new vacuum line by the foot (dirt cheap) and replace it all…one line at a time so you don’t cross the lines up. But, again, don’t get too optimistic.

The engine mounts could even be tired. They’re old, like me.

You could even do a compression check, but remember that you’ve bought a 12 year old car here. Don’t become obsessed with eliminating some normal vibration.