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99 Camry Slow to Change Gears

Hi all,
I have a '99 Toyota Camry automatic transmission with about 184k on it. I bought it used last summer.
I noticed that when I speed up, it is sometimes slow to switch gears. I have to ease off the gas before it changes gears. This also happens when I go from reverse to drive. I experience it more noticeably when I haven’t been driving the car for long or on a cold morning.
I haven’t brought it in yet- any ideas?

Hopefully, you have already checked the level, color, and odor of the transmission fluid.
If the level is low, top it off with the correct spec fluid. The Owner’s Manual will list the correct type of fluid.

If the fluid is any color other than red, and/or if it has a burnt odor, it needs to be changed immediately.

Even if the fluid is red and not bad-smelling, unless you know (through documentation) that the fluid was changed within the last 3 years/30k miles, the fluid and filter need to be changed. Do NOT believe the old wives’ tales about a fluid change resulting in a blown trans. A trans that self-destructs after a fluid change would have blown anyway, and this just means that the fluid change was a belated Hail Mary maneuver that was too late to be effective.

When trans fluid is not changed every 3 years or 30k miles (whichever comes first), trans failure can take place any time after ~100k miles, and is pretty much of a sure thing by 120k miles. Get that trans serviced right away, unless you know for sure that it has been done on a proper schedule.

Have the transmission fluid changed, with a new filter. See how it goes with fresh fluid. Don’t go to a quickie oil change place for this service, and I wouldn’t do a “flush” of any kind. Just drop the pan, clean it, have the shop drain the torque converter as much as possible, and refill with Toyota brand fluid.

If this is the 1st time in the life of the car the trans fluid is changed, then it might be too late. If there is no positive affect on performance with fresh fluid you either live with it, or start saving for a new (or rebuilt) transmission.

thank you! i didn’t think about the fluid and filter. i do not know when the fluid was last changed, but based on those mileage figures, it has to be time.

emackay wrote:
i didn’t think about the fluid and filter.

Didn’t you look at your owner’s manual to see what maintenance might need to be done on your car? If not, I suggest doing that now.

Speaking of maintenance that may be overdue, I hope that the OP has documentation of a timing belt replacement within the past 90k miles or 7 years. Assuming that the engine is of the “interference” design, he/she would be looking at very expensive engine repairs when an overaged timing belt snaps.

Many people dump their older cars when a timing belt replacement is due, so–based on the odometer mileage–it is very possible that the previous owner realized that the time had come for the second timing belt replacement on this engine, and opted instead to get rid of the car.

Don’t take anyone’s word for it, and don’t expect a visual inspection of the belt to tell you whether it is due for changing. Unless you have hard copies of maintenance records showing replacement within the last 90k miles/7 years, it is due NOW for a timing belt replacement, and additionally the water pump, serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners should be replaced at the same time.

lion9car 10:23AM Report
emackay wrote:
i didn’t think about the fluid and filter.

Didn’t you look at your owner’s manual to see what maintenance might need to be done on your car? If not, I suggest doing that now.

the previous owner did not have the manual and did not maintain any sort of maintenance log.
i will ask the mechanic about all of the replacements mentioned. i’d like to keep this car running for as long as possible. thanks, all.