1998 Toyota Camry Falling apart! maybe not

where do i start. i hear lifters catching, i hear the ac compressor going out. i hear a weird noise when i am going really slow and apply the brakes, it has 107,000 miles. the mechanic says i need spark plugs wires, timing belt replacement, and last but not least , sometimes when i start it up it sounds real labored like it wants to die! runs still, but i bought it used and i don’t know if they ever changed anything on it like all the parts i mentioned… i need your guys expertise

Find a good mechanic, get an estimate, compare it to the car’s ‘blue book’ value.

If the repair estimate is equal or less than the book value AND the interior is in good shape,
no serious rust etc., then go for it.

If you’re on the original timing belt and spark plugs, it’s time for a replacement.

Probably time for new brake pads too. Get a few estimates.

Nothing you’ve listed suggests that the vehicle is shot. With the exception of the AC compressor, nothing even sounds abnormal (I wouldn’t get too concerned about some valvetrain noise on this car at this age, although it would be interesting to see what a vacuum gauge would do).

When you say “the mechanic said” am I to understand that you brought it in for a going-over? Did the do a compression test? Did they check your brakes?

no, the sameoldmountainbike, the mechanic just listened to it and made an educated guess i think. he has been right in the past when he was working on my truck. he’s pretty sharp, he is usually right on the nose. sounds like i can do some of the simpler stuff like the spark plugs, and i should check the vacuum and the compression. i just need him to do the belt and i am mainly concerned about the labored start.

The vacuum gauge and the compression test are to assess the engine’s insides. The vacuum gauge would indicate whether the valves were opening and closing properly, and the compression test would give you an idea if the cylinders and rings are evenly worn and, along with the vacuum gauge, you have a valve not sealing properly due to carbon buildup or whatever.

If you don’t plan to tear the engine open, if you just want to get it running reasonably reliably, try changing the ignition components and filters first and see what happens. That may just make an improvement.

The timing belt and water pump should definitely be changed, and the brakes should absolutely definitely be checked. A car that can’t start can ruin your day, but a car that can’t stop can ruin the rest of your life.

thanks sameoldmountainbike, i will do that.

It sort of sounds to me like you might just be ignoring the car’s maintenance & not keeping on top of its issues.

If that’s the case things can go downhill rather quickly.

107K on a car is nothing - if you keep up with the basics.