2001 Toyota Camry - Falling Apart?

I have a 2001 Toyota Camry (6 cyl) w. ~120K miles on it. In early october, it sounded like the engine was about to die while idling. So, i was told it needed a new battery. Got it. About a month later, same thing happened while idling. This time i was told i needed a new alternator. wasn’t happy about it, but spent $640 to get it done. NOW, the SAME symptoms while idling. I’m being told it might be the EGR Valve(?) and that they’ll clean it to re-check the issue. Also, being told to get all the spark plugs changed. i’m waiting for the estimate right now. any chance they’re on the up and up w. me? Really feel like i’m the new patsy they have coming in every few weeks for the same problem and being convinced to spend a fortune every time. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. It is even worth keeping this car at this point or should i just sell it and lease a car instead?? in the last year, i’ve installed a new battery, new alternator, new brakes, new tires. was really hoping to drive it another couple years, but not if i’m going to have to put so much $ into it every few weeks…

Have you done any maintenance on the Camry since you owned it??

Brakes, Batteries Battery…these are all maintenance items.

yes, i’ve done all suggested maintenance on this car during the last 10 years.

just heard back from NTB. they suggested about $1K worth of additional maintenance - cleaning of the EGR Valve, replace all spark plugs, replace intake plenum gasket (SP?), induction cleaning…

any suggestions / advice / thoughts would be Greatly appreciated.

My thought and suggestion is find some good independent shops to do your work. The car is 10 years old, and things will break sometimes. You probably could have found a generator shop that would have rebuilt the alternator for <$200. Changing spark plugs isn’t usually a real big deal, but some people manage to get charged a lot for that, too.

The whole thing is to consider your options and not jump at the first thing that you are told.

They’re just unloading a shotgun in the dark in regards to your problem.
If the car runs well other than stumbling and/or dying at an idle the most obvious suspects would be a vacuum leak (verified in seconds with a vacuum gauge) or a problem with the Idle Air Control valve.

An intake plenum gasket is referred to and this could be the cause of any vacuum leak but it also something that is easily verified with a vacuum gauge. If these guys don’t know what a vacuum gauge is then odds are they’re guessing on that too.

“This time i was told i needed a new alternator. wasn’t happy about it, but spent $640 to get it done.”

$640 to rebuild/replace an alternator ?
$640 to rebuild/replace an alternator ?

That’s impossible. There must have been several other repairs/maintenance included with it, right ?


No, CSA, I’m sure they figured out how to charge $640…not saying it was woth it…

i WISH there was something else. i was told $390 for the alternator and the rest in labor / tax. i was stuck though cause it was a sunday and needed the car for work the next day. was told if i continued to drive the way it was, the battery would die again…

ok, so it sounds like i was totally the patsy at the local NTB store!

Avoid the chains like NTB.
Find a good independent mechanic.
Try looking here:

You’re being milked. I agree with the previous poster. You need to find a good, independent mechanic.

Whoever you are taking the car to for service is clueless. A new battery and new alternator were bogus. Likely neither were bad. A V6 Camry (I have an '00 V6 Camry) calls for new plugs every 30K miles. A new air filter could be the solution. It seems this shop is looking for expensive stuff to fix when this could be as simple as some new plugs and an air filter. I’d vote for starting over with another shop. Give them all the info on symptoms and what’s been done so far and see what they propose.

You may or may not be getting milked. Vague and intermittent problems like a rough idle can be hard to sort out - because they’re vague and intermittent.

My own guess, however, is that if you’re someone who thinks that the need for things like new brakes, tires, and battery mean your car is “falling apart,” then you’re also someone who doesn’t worry a lot about maintenance. Nothing about this suggests a car that is “falling apart.”

Do you know what was done to diagnose a bad battery & alternator? Power problems will disrupt the idle.