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Am I safe to take a road trip?

Hey guys,

I am planning a trip in September, where I would drive from Toronto to Washington D.C - which is about 480 miles.

My vehicle is a 2005 Toyota Camry LE. I just bought it used in January and aside from having some issues (some fairly unwelcome issues that were difficult to deal with, but were eventually repaired). I do a fair bit of driving in my opinion, as it had 115km when I got it and it has 131km now.

I also bought it certified and emissiones, so it all around seems like a not bad vehicle.

Already this year, I took a trip to Big Flats, NY from Toronto and had no issues other than the car not starting once or twice at the hotel (was happening before I left home but not a big enough deal at the time. It turned out to be an end of life battery… which has been replaced with a brand new one). All 4 tires were replaced as well, with a 100,000 km guarentee.

I feel like saying that after buying it only 16,000 km ago, after being certified by the government; emission tested by the government; having the rotors, calipers and pads replaced on the front; having both rear brakes serviced despite them supposedly not needing it (the chirping noise from the back has not happened since the service was completed); replacing a front wheel bearing; having the gas tube re-sealed to prevent fume leak, replacing the battery with new, replacing all four tires with new… I feel like saying it should be no problem to take it on this road trip.

Especially since I drive mainly freeway and have not experienced any issues in a while, all the while getting around 700-800 km on a tank of gas.

However, I am not a car specialist - so I figured I would come here and ask those who know more than myself.

So in your opinion, do you think it would be fine to proceed with the trip?

I would do it. I might do a drain and fill with coolant and transmission fluid if I didn’t know how old they are, using genuine Toyota fluids.

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You are fine. You might have an issue but so would even a new car. The risk is low. Take your cell phone and a car phone charger just in case.

You’re probably good to go. Have you got an Owner’s Manual for that car? Look through the maintenance section for a schedule and see if it looks like you’re up to date.

I’m not sure what Toyota had for a timing belt change recommendation. Do you know if it’s been replaced? Some go by mileage (“kilometerage”?), rather distance, and some go by age/distance. Your car could be over by age and under by distance, but age would be the deciding factor in that case.

If the serpentine (accessory drive belt) hasn’t been replaced, I’d consider that, too, at least buy one and carry it.

I’m wondering the same thing about taking my 98 Camry LE even farther–from Birmingham, AL to Denver CO.
Does my year have a serpentine belt too?

Look under the hood at the alternator and if there is a belt on the pulley then Yes you have a serpentine belt. If not then you have lost yours.

If you have the more common 4 cylinder engine, it has a timing chain, and you shouldn’t have any worries, as far as that goes

However, if you have the less common V6, it has a timing belt, and it may be way overdue by time. Unless you have an an invoice stating it was replaced recently, I’d have a complete timing belt job performed . . . belt, water pump, cam- and crank seals, tensioner, thermostat, idler, cap, accessory drive belts

If you happen to have the V6, the 3.0 is a non-interference engine, meaning if the timing belt breaks, theoretically no engine damage will result. The 3.3 is an interference engine, meaning if the timing belt breaks, you will most likely have valve and/or piston damage, and it’s going to get extremely expensive to repair

I agree with the advice the other guys already gave


I don’t know if they still do, but you used to be able to get a map from AAA with all the Toyota dealerships and other approved shops along your trip. It’s a good thing to have in the glovebox.
Perhaps even a map with all the decent hotels along the way as well. Those plus a cell phone and an auto club membership and you should be fine until you get to D.C. NOBODY is safe in D.C.! :scream:

My manual mentions that after “12 months/16,000 km”, I should check a whole list of things.

Within the last 4 months, after I had the issues I mentioned in the original post. I took it to my local Toyota Dealership and paid them $120-something to do a full check of the vehicle. A few things came up, but through past and present experiences (they lied about having a rad leak, I took it to a rad shop and they did a pressure test which found no leak).

While I haven’t had the vehicle for 12 months, I just hit the 16,000 mark since I signed the contract. I learned online that my 4 cylinder model has a timing chain, leaving only one belt that I know of.

I guess I should just check that belt for damages?

Good advice above. Should be no problem to take that trip. Just remember almost every part on the car is 12 years old, so some problems or annoyances along the way shouldn’t be that surprising. Be prepared for them the best you can is all. One thing you can do proactively in your own driveway is to remove the spare tire and jack and make sure you are able to change a tire using the equipment Toyota provides. You might decide after doing that job to do what I do: carry an 18 inch breaker bar with the proper sized socket for the wheel lug nuts in the trunk, b/c I want to be sure I’ll be able to easily loosen & tighten the lug nuts if I get a flat tire along side a busy highway. Good time to verify the spare tire pressure too.

One other idea, better inde shops offer a service called a “general inspection” where they’ll have a tech take an hour or two & go over the car top to bottom, looking for problems that might be about to occur. They’ll give you a list of what, if anything, needs to be done immediately, and what needs to be done at some point, but can be deferred for the present. If you can provide them with all the work that has been done on the car in the past 3 years, that’s helpful to them as a guide where to focus their attention. Best of luck and & enjoy your trip!

As far as I can tell, my Toyota has the timing chain but also has the serpentine belt.

I don’t have any invoices of it being done (I do have a bunch of oil change invoices), I also don’t have many invoices overall, despite being told it’s been taken in for all scheduled maintenance since it was purchased new.

I just checked the paperwork and in the big clump of invoices, there is nothing past 2006. The dealership I got it from claims they put a large amount of money into making it driveable for me. Which makes me think that if they were lying or were making scandalous deals – I’m sure I would experience much worse issues than I already have.

So I suppose a quick check over on the belt would do?

You have me confused. Your first post says the vehicle has 131km (131000 KM) and it is a 2005. You should be basing service on that number not 12 months and 16000KM of your ownership.

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So I guess I should count up in 16,000 intervals from 0 KM right?

That would put an maintenance interval right at 128,000 if my math is correct.

I’m very new to this :smiley:

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Going to use miles because that is what I am familiar with.
In the manual it will list service items at places like 30000 miles - 60000 miles and so on to 100000 miles. From there you just go back to the beginning and put a one in from of every thing ( 130000-160000 ) . Sometimes the time for service will happen before the mileage amount.

That is from my owner’s manual. I couldn’t find a list of needs at each individual KM interval. Only this table that mentions what should be done every 8000 or 16,000.

So that means you have the more common 4 cylinder engine, which has a timing chain, NOT a timing belt

As far as the serpentine belt goes, the serpentine belt is NOT the same thing as the timing belt. It is also known as an accessory drive belt. If it were to break, the engine won’t immediately have piston and/or valve damage. When you have the mechanic inspect your car, ask him to inspect the serpentine belt. If it’s glazed or badly cracked, have him replace it.

Is this something that anybody could just take a look at and tell whether or not it needs to be replaced?

Could it be obvious to anybody?

Yup, it will be obvious to any competent mechanic

he’ll quickly know if it has proper tension, and if it’s glazed, badly cracked, etc.

And he’ll also be able to tell if your belt tensioner and idler pulley is in reasonable shape

So I couldn’t get by just inspecting it myself? Or by my father?

that depends if you or your father fall into the “competent mechanic” category or not.