96 Camry - Repair it or move on?


I’ve got a 1996 Camry with ~140k miles on it.

At the very least, I’m looking at replacing all the struts, fixing an oil leak of mysterious origin, and replacing a cracked hose.

Is it worth dropping $2000-$3000 on maintenance, or should I bite the bullet and see what I can get for trading it in?


Thsi kind of mileage on a Camry is less than half its life expectancy. If all other items are OK, engine, transmission, rust-free body, I would spend the money. In Asian countries hand me down Japanese Toyotas are used as taxis and go at least 500,000 miles before they are laid to rest. The items you mention are normal wear and tear; I drove a Caprice to 250,000 miles, and it went through 3 sets of shock absorbers, a set of ball joints, and 4 brake jobs. The car was totally reliable when I gave it to my son, who drove it to over 300,000 miles before selling it. It is still running somewhere at this time with some 400,000 miles on it. The important question is; did you do all the regular mainteance on this car? If so, do the needed repairs, and you will enjoy another 5 years of happy driving.


2000 to 3000 sounds high to me. got other estimates?

it sounds like your car just needs normal maintainence to me.


Those kinds of repairs are to be expected on a 12 year old car. It’s normal wear and tear.

You really should price this around because I sure don’t see those repairs adding up to 2-3k dollars.

About the worst scenario for an oil leak would be a rear main seal, but if the car were mine I would examine the oil pressure sending unit if this leak is anywhere near the oil filter/pump.
The senders are cheap, easy to replace, and are often diagnosed as a more severe problem.

If the car is solid otherwise, I say fix it and enjoy it.


First I would do the repairs. Even at those prices it would be well worth it for that car.

I suspect those prices are from the dealer. Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car. They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies. They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent.

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee. 

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic.


$2-3k…Are you going to the dealer??? Those prices are EXTREMELY high. Find another mechanic.


Do you like the car otherwise? Your estimate seems high however is plausible.

I would get a 2nd opinion first. Personally if the oil leak is not serious (only 1 quart every 500 miles or better) I would ignore it and top it off at fill ups. The cracked hose is a likely needed repair and get a cost for that. Drive it for a while and then dump it.

Pricey & serious repairs/maintenance are much more likely past 9years or 150k. Toyota name or not your going to fork over some cash to keep this car rolling. It really just depends on your stomach for it and love/hate for it.


Thanks all for the suggestions. No, I’m not going through a dealer, and I over-stated the estimated cost of repairs: after talking to the mechanic, it’s going to be about $1600 to replace the struts, and $200-$250 to steam clean the engine and dye the oil to determine the cause of the leak.

I realize the price may be a bit steep, but the garage I’m going to is a small family shop with a stellar reputation for quality and putting their customers’ interests before their own bottom line.

To wit: I wasn’t charged for the hour or so of labor for diagnosing my car’s problems and the owner of the shop took 20 minutes with me to discuss all of my options and how quickly I needed to move on each. His final recommendation (and what I plan to do) was to identify the cause of the oil leak first; then, if it’s something (relatively) cheap and easy to fix, move on to replacing the struts, otherwise I’d be in a position where I just spent a ton of $$ on struts when I could end up having a bigger, more expensive problem under the hood. (If there’s something bigger afoot, I’ll probably cut my losses and get a new car.)

My experiences with other garages in my area (with another car) haven’t been nearly as good. I’m willing to pay a little extra for straight talk and a job done right :slight_smile: