99 Camry 5/speed- repairs

In the past year I have spent over $1200 in repairs: crank shaft sensor, water pump, timing belt, air fuel ratio sensor, engine control box, catalytic converter and tune up and problems around the check engine light. After the last repair of the crank shaft sensor several weeks ago, the check engine light is coming on again. I have checked the gas cap several time as I know that can be a cause and the light is still coming on. The car now has 149,000 and I’m looking at whether I continue to take it back for the check engine light problem and incur more expense hoping to keep the car for another 50,000 miles or look at getting rid of it.

First, Toyota’s(and Honda’s) are not infallible to repairs despite conventional wisdom. The water pump/timing belt which is likely the bulk of the $1200 spent is maintenance not repairs.

Personally I think you will shell out some more money occasionally to get another 50k miles given its mileage/age, but it likely will be far cheaper than replacing it.

Thank you for your feedback…I should clarify the water pump/timing belt was the 2nd replacement within a year… however it was still under warranty… I was billed for labor that was not part of the warranty. In reading other comments on toyotas I’ve learned that the sensors that I’ve replaced may be defective… this car has been great up until recently…my hope is to hang on to it for another 50,000 as I’ve been diligent about it’s care…

Timing belts, water pumps, and tune-ups (bad phrase again) are not the sign of a problematic car.

It’s also possible that someone could have been guessing at a lot of this and replacing parts unnecessarily; especially with the engine control box (ECM?) comment. ECMs can fail, but it’s not common and considering the number of other things it does lead me to suspect some replacing and hoping has been going on.

Why not drop by a local AutoZone, Checkers, or Advance Auto and have them pull the codes. Post any results back here for further discussion. They will perform this service for you free.

I will only add that things like spark plugs should be changed on a regular basis and never allowed to remain in place for 100k miles or more since they can affect the converter and the air/fuel ratio sensor, or the O2 sensor which I assume is what you’re referring to.

If the engine and trans are solid I see no reason why you can’t go another 150k or more with it.

One can’t really answer the question w/o knowing what the check engine light is caused by, so by all means get that answered. My guess is it’s an O2 sensor. As your car gets more mileage, expect the hold/sell issue to get more complex and risky.

As an example I have a 95 Camry 4 cylinder (formerly 2.2L 5sFe) 5 speed with 162K on it. I was religious about maintenance and changed oil every 5k miles using Mobil 1. Check engine light came on in Aug 07 indicating rich/lean fuel mixture, had O2 sensor replaced ($300) came back on, had idle adjusted (mechanic did it for free- think he felt bad the O2 sensor wasn’t the problem. Light came back on so I changed the coolant temp sensor ($30). Light came back immediately, took it to Toyota dealer who traced it to low compresion (80) in cylinder 2, also heard rocker arm noise. I also need to replace original clutch. Dealer estimated $5000 to repair. Took it to local guy who does replacements who estimated $2200 for a used engine installed. Got a very low mileage 2.0 3sfe installed (market for used Japanese engines from Japan is amazing), new clutch, new radiator, new hoses and belts, motor mount (old was very loose), ignition wires, dist cap and a few more items- Total $3800. As bad as this is, I believe as long as I can keep it more than two years, I’m ahead of the new car game. I expect (hope) to have the car 5 or 6 more years, but one never knows.

I must confess that I was dissapointed that I didn’t get $200k on the original engine anf I still don’t know the reason. My lesson, even cars with high predicted reliability are a risk after 150K and 10 years.