2000 Toyota Camry Exhaust

I have a 2000 Toyota Camry with about 115,000 miles on it. We recently took it to the local Toyota dealer because of a louder than usual engine noise and the check engine light being on.
The dealer told us that the exhaust system had to be replaced and would cost us $2811.62.
Also the car has some significant body work to be done.
I have two questions:
i) Is it safe to drive the car because it runs fine apart from the noise.
ii) Is it cost effective to do the repairs or is it better to donate/dump/trade in the car.
Thank you


The information is a little vague

“Exhaust system had to be replaced”

Please explain.

BTW . . . any competent muffler shop can weld in a new muffler, cat, etc. if that’s what you need

Please post your exact fault code (P0420, for example), not the interpretation

“significant body work to be done”

Please explain

Significant rust, bent frame?

Does your state have an annual safety inspection?

Perhaps you can post a picture of the car and the damaged body panels . . .

An exhaust problem can frequently include intrusion/leakage of deadly carbon monoxide into the car’s cabin. Because this gas is odorless & colorless, its presence is frequently not known until it has led to physical problems for the car’s occupants or has led to an accident, due to its effect (drowsiness/inattentiveness) on the driver. So, if your exhaust system is in bad condition, it would be VERY foolish to ignore it, based on the assumption that noise is the only issue.

However, there is no need whatsoever to take a 13 year old car to a dealership for repair, particularly for exhaust work. While I normally do not recommend chain operations like Midas, Meineke, Monro, etc, these places specialize in exhaust work (unlike the dealership), and can likely undercut his price by…probably several hundred $$…and still provide you with decent-quality parts.

As to whether you should dump a car over just dents and the need for exhaust repairs, only you know how well the car has been maintained. If you have maintained it at least as well as Toyota’s maintenance schedule specifies, it would seem very premature to dump it because of the need for exhaust repair and some cosmetic issues.

On the other hand, if you have ignored or delayed much of its maintenance, then–yes–it would probably be a good idea to dump it before the repair bills mount up.

One more thing: your Camry does not need a lifetime (stainless steel) exhaust unless you plan to keep it another 10 years. You can probably get at least 5 years out of a carbon steel exhaust system, and that will reduce your cost significantly.

Thank you all for your very helpful advice. The dealer being a dealer did not give us any code number but just wrote a cryptic assessment that the exhaust system needed to be replaced. We are going to call him and ask for details. We will take it to Coles muffler to get it looked at. As far as the body work we can get it taken care of by two insurance claims if we have to. Thank you for your very helpful advice regarding carbon steel exhaust system.

Factory exhausts always cost more, but are better quality. I’d just go to a good muffler shop and have them replace/weld in the parts that are bad. But, they rust out quicker, have thinner stock, etc. In the end, for the cost of a factory exhaust, you could have several exhausts replaced. I really wouldn’t question the dealer about the repair estimate. I’m a dealer tech, and the factory part prices can just ridiculous in price. And a dealer I’d held to a higher standard of repair quality.

Oh yeah , you never did say the code. P0420? That’s a catalytic converter code 99.8% of the time. The 2001 Camrys have 2 converters. One in the manifold and the downstream cat. THAT could be why it so expensive. Easily. Aftermarket cats don’t last as long. It’s your call if you think the car is worth the quality of s dealer repair, at a higher cost??