How concerned should I be over 2004 Camry throttle body failure defect?


#1

Have been considering buying a 2004 Camry LE (147k miles) but just found out about a known defect in these cars, which is that throttle body fails, and apparently it is about an $1,100 repair (or was in the past few years). Examples here:

http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/104-5th-6th-generation-2002-2006-2007-2011/615361-throttle-body-failure.html

I was edging toward buying this 2004 Camry (for $4k, and it appears to be in good shape) but am now concerned about this defect. Any advice for how to factor that into a decision to buy or to pass on it?


#2

Note that in your second link, the problem ended up being the throttle pedal position sensor, not the throttle body.


#3

Which engine does it have? 2AZ-FE, 1MZ-FE, or 3MZ-FE?


#4

"Any advice for how to factor that into a decision to buy or to pass on it? "

You should put $200/mo into savings for any high-mileage, 10+ year old used car. You can find horror stories on virtually any car.


#5

@GeorgeSanJose‌

I don’t know. I could ask the owner, but she probably doesn’t know. How can we find out? And how would that matter? Thank you very much.


#6

@Chelonian‌

It matters supremely which engine this Camry has

The 2AZ-FE 4 cylinder engine has had several issues. It’s not a guarantee you will experience all of these problems, but Toyota has issued several TSBs, and they know about the potential problems. Statistically, you’ll probably be fine, but there are a few fairly expensive potential problems.

The 1MZ-FE and 3MZ-FE V6 engines are a much older, but more reliable, design. Those engines, in your Camry, are far less problematic.

Tell the owner to pop the hood and look on the emissions sticker. It will have the engine type and size listed.

Better yet, take a picture of the engine. We’ll be able to identify it.

I have a 2005 Camry, and I did all of my homework before buying it. I actually paid money to log onto the Toyota technical website, so that I could have access to all of the bulletins, recalls, etc. related to the cars I was considering. And with that information in hand, I went out to look for a Toyota within a certain model year range, with a specific engine and transmission.


#7

As mentioned above, if it has the 2AZ-FE engine, the list of potential problems is worse than the one problem you found. The head bolts is what would cost you dearly. I am not sure, but might be due to high volume of Camry sales, but the web is full of people with this problem. You might be better off with a 2005+ model, since rumor has it they are less prone (emphasis on LESS). I have an 05 and have a close eye on the engine. Gotta say though, so far at 120K miles it has been the most reliable car we have had-boring, but reliable. Only non-maintenance item has been two brake lights going out.


#8

The engine number is printed on a sticker on the underside of the hood.

I wouldn’t be overly concerned with the throttle body problem myself. Throttle bodies are problematic in many cars. They contain moving parts (the throttle plates, the idle control servo, etc) which can, over time, gum up with backflow from the PCV and EGR. If you search posts here you can see where a common recommendation for a variety of problems is to remove and clean (or replace) the throttle body. I have a problem on the throttle body of my 20+ year old Corolla in fact. I’m using a work-a-round, some aluminum tape over the idle air control inlet. I have to let the engine warm up 15-30 seconds while pressing a bit on the gas pedal while it comes up to idle speed is the only downside.


#9

The thing is, if you go on the internet and read automotive complaints you would feel that every car that has ever been made is the biggest POS ever inflicted upon the motoring public.

Cars are a collection of wear parts subject to fail at anytime. The word “Lemon” is used quite frequently; sometimes justified and oftentimes not.


#10

@GeorgeSanJose‌ @galant‌ @db4690‌

The owner checked and it turns out it has the 2AZ-FE engine.

Basically the choice would be to buy this car (2004, 147k miles, automatic, very well maintained by someone I know/trust) for $4,340 with taxes and fees…vs. waiting and doing a cheaper ($658 total, confirmed now) repair on my '89 Corolla (that has body rust but mechanics said no structural rust) with the hope of finding a better bargain, and a smaller and manual car, in the next 1-2 years. I need to make a decision today, so any comments now might be helpful. Thank you all.


#11

@Chelonian‌

Buy the Camry, but make sure the owner gives you all of the maintenance records

Make sure it has a clean title before buying

One more thing . . . make sure he’s actually the owner. Don’t get into an ugly situation where the guy is selling the car for his cousin, who is overseas, in prison, fled the country, etc.


#12

I have had an '89 Corolla (3spd AT) and now have a 05 Camry. The Camry is day and night compared to the Corolla. If you can have it checked, ask the mech to do a pressure test and make sure the head gasket is fine. It is still an older car with high miles, but even if you have to put $$ in repairs, you know you can keep driving it for a while.


#13

Personally, I wouldn’t purchase a car with an automatic transmission. I see nothing but expensive problems here from posters complaining about their automatic transmissions. On the other hand, there is seldom a complaint here about problems with manual transmissions. So to me this would be a no brainer: Lose the idea of the Camry and find a manually equipped newer car to replace your 89 beater, like a 2005 + manual Corolla or Honda Civic or the like. But that’s me. And what I’m looking for – reasonably reliable, safe, and economic basic transportation – may not be what you are looking for. If I were inclined to purchase an automatic, it seems a reasonable, but not spectacular, deal. I wouldn’t be concerned about the throttle body problem. I do think I would ask my mechanic if he thought a test for the head bolt problem said to be associated with this engine would make sense before sealing the deal. Have you asked the seller if Toyota fixed this already?


#14

George, it might help to realize that most people posting here are doing so because they’re having a problem. Every tranny problem posted here has a problem, but traditional automatic transmissions are overall extremely reliable if properly maintained and not beat upon, and they’ll generally last the life of the vehicle. CV trannys are still too new to know.

I would not have made that statement in 1963. But modern automatics are truly very reliable.


#15

“I would not have made that statement in 1963. But modern automatics are truly very reliable.”

The last thing I worried about on my 1968 Valiant was the rock-solid Torqueflite transmission.


#16

LOL, point made, insightful.
Did you have the pushbuttons? I always liked pushbutton trannys.


#17

Given that automatics make up all but a small percentage of cars sold in the country, there should be far more complaints, even if they were just as reliable. A few specific models have problems that would make me think twice, especially some CVTs that are difficult or impossible to repair. But there are other CVTs that have been in use for some years and don’t seem to have many problems. As with other issues, do some research before you buy.


#18

"Did you have the pushbuttons? "

No, the column-mounted shifter. Had a friend with push buttons in a Plymouth. At a stop light, he would put it in NEUTRAL and when the light turned green, floor it, wait a second, and push DRIVE. He’d smoke the tires a little; I don’t know how that tranny took it, but it did.


#19

I have an '03 LE with the 4 cyl and ~72k miles on it so I was curious what the one cited by the OP was worth.

Of course I had to guess at some things like trim level, color etc (believe it or not the color of mine actually degrades the price!) but Edmunds shows the OP’s car, in good condition, being worth around $3860 in a private party sale in my area. That’s $500 less than the OP stated as the price being asked for this car…Have you checked to make sure the asking price is in line with similar cars in your area?


#20

When you are dealing in this price range all you should consider is: 1. does it drive and stop correctly 2. is the price what you would be willing to pay ( no matter how much you pay someone in you family or at work will say you paid to much ) 3. does everything on it work (lights ect. )