Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

2007 Camry ...trying to understand noise at idle?


I have a 2007 Camry LE, with about 104,000 miles on it. Lately I’ve noticed a noise ONLY when the car is idling, ratherr in park or drive. I don’t hear it all when I’m driving. It’s somewhat hard for me to tell if it’s coming from the engine or under the car, but its definitely near the front and sounds lower in the body. My first instinct told me that it was related to the exhaust system, but it doesn’t quite sound like a rattle. It sounds closer to a belt struggling to turn…it actually sounds a little bit like when my water pump and alternator went, but I had those replaced 15 months ago so I really don’t think it’s that at all. I also had the radiator replaced 2 months back, so I don’t think it’s that. I don’t know drive far to work, so I haven’t put a lot of miles on the car in the last year.

Otherwise the car drives normally, just hear this sound at idle. The only other thing I’ve noticed over time is that when the car gets to about 2500-3000 miles after an oil change, I notice the light flashes when making hard turns…but that’s it, and it goes away when I get the oil changed. Obviously I know that the engine is burning oil probably faster than it should, but I’m not sure if that might somehow be related to what I’m hearing above.

Appreciate any help or advice before going to the shop…let me know if you need any other detail.

“light flashes” ? which light?

“goes away when I get the oil changed” ? do you mean the oil pressure light? You should NOT drive with that light on. If you do, you are risking damage to the engine.

How often do you check the oil level? From what you say, you should be checking it every time you get gas.

Yes the oil light…I don’t drive with it on…However shortly before it’s oil change time I see it flash once only when making hard turns. Then it goes away, and I typically take my car in for oil change right after that and I don’t see it again. I don’t drive with the light on.

Could this be causing the other idle noise? I mean I haven’t seen that light flash in a while…

How often do you check the oil level?
When the light flashes, what is the oil level at?

Are you saying the sound appears when the car is in gear and idling, when you have you foot on the brake?

The noise is not present when the car is idling in Park or in Neutral?

In the first case, your transmission is engaged, so more things are turning, so the sound may be in the transmission. Also the RPMs may be a bit lower than when in Park or Neutral. This difference in RPM could on its own set up different resonances, which account for the sound differences.

What happens when it is in Park and you slowly rev the engine up and back down to idle? Is there an RPM where you hear the sound?


It happens when i’m idling with my foot on the brake AND when the car is in park. The sound is about the same in both cases. It’s much louder outside. On the inside of the car I couldn’t hear it at all if I turned the radio on to even a low volume. I tried what you said about reving in park and the sound disipates but returns when i take my foot off the gas.

Something in the exhaust may be vibrating. Heat shield around the catalytic convertor is the first place to look. Innards of the convertor or more likely the muffler could do it, too.

What you might be hearing is a worn timing chain and guides.

If the timing chain is wearing away the plastic surfaces of the guides, this plastic debris falls into the oil pan. Then when enough of the plastic debris accumulates in the oil pan over time it can block the screen for the oil pump pick-up. This then causes the oil light to come on. Then when the oil is changed the debris is removed and the oil light doesn’t come on for a while until enough debris accumulates back in the oil pan.

To find out if this is what’s happening, have your mechanic drain the oil. Only this time have them pass the drained oil thru a screen to determine if there’s any kind of debris in the drained oil.


I’ll go off-topic

You’re clearly NOT checking the engine oil level frequently enough. Why do I say that? Because you wait until you see the low oil pressure warning, before you actually check the level

You need to start checking the oil level far more often

I’m assuming you have the 2AZ-FE 4-cylinder engine, as that was the most common engine for your camry. Some of those were known for some oil consumption. I’m not saying it happens to all of the engines, but it sounds like it definitely happened to yours.

I’d say the oil pressure light is coming on during hard cornering because your engine oil level is EXTREMELY low at that exact moment in time

I’m assuming the oil level is easily 2 quarts low 3000 miles after the oil change.

If you regularly check and correct the oil level . . . every week would be appropriate in your situation . . . your engine should live a long life

If not, all bets are off

Since you don’t drive far to work, you should change the oil and filter every 6 months. Don’t go by mileage. Your type of usage can easily lead to sludge, if you aren’t careful