Repair it sell it or live with it

Was just informed that 2003 Camry needs valve seals replaced - $2,000 at the dealer. Very tiny amount of blue smoke noticable at start up after sitting overnight. Otherwise car in good condition. Would like help re how to decide best course of action.

1. Repair it - hope it lasts long enough - still cheaper than a car payment if it lasts

2. Sell and buy another car

3. Keep it and don’t fix it, drive it 'till it dies and save toward new car

4. Other

This is no big deal. I would live with it. Just make sure you monitor the oil level.


I had the spark plugs changed on my 2000 Blazer at 77k miles. My mechanic mentioned the valve seals were passing a little oil based on the condition of the plugs. At 100k the Blazer started using a little oil between changes. At 114k I add about 1/2 to 1 quart of oil between changes (4-5k interval). The truck has no trouble passing the emission test in NJ.

Ed B.

Keep it, keep it maintained per your owner’s manual, and if the problem becomes more serious in another 10 years you can decide.

The problem you allude to is extremely minor and by itself will not affect the longevity of the engine. Some years from now you may have to replace an oxygen sensor or perhaps even a cat converter, but worry about that if it happens.

I have a friend with a Corolla with almost 300,000 miles now that’s been burning oil for the last 50,000. Not just via the valve stem seals, via the actual cylinders as well. It’ll probably still be running 50,000 miles from now, still burning oil. The perception that burning some oil means the end of the engine’s usable life is a misunderstanding. It only means the engine will never be young again. Sort of like me. My back hurts constantly, but that doesn’t mean I’m nearing the end of my life. It just means my back hurts.

$2,000 seems rather high. An independent mechanic could probably replace the seals for less.

Or you could just ignore it and continue driving.

Just keep on driving and monitor your oil level. I would not consider this to be a problem worth dealing with. You can live with it. As long as you continue to maintain the car properly and don’t let it run out of oil, it will be like you never knew the valve seals were leaking a tiny amount of oil.

Thank you all for the prompt replies. It seems unanimous, then, that this not serious - helpful to know to car dummies like me. I’ll just keep on drivin’

Just monitor the oil level for a while and live with it. If oil consumption becomes too much then fix it; and get some more estimates.

There is something else that can cause this problem; oil sludging under the valve cover(s) in the valve train area. If severe enough this can clog the oil drain holes and allow oil to pool around the valve guide/valve seal bosses. The main cause of oil sludging is irregular oil changes and this can be determined with the valve cover(s) removed.

If it ever comes down to valve seals price this around. You should be able to have this done for far less than 2 grand.

Don’t spend $2,000. Try a $5 bottle of additive, who knows, you could get lucky.

Also try some high mileage oil when you change your oil. This could help swell the seals a little bit.

Put a sign on it,arrange for buyers to look after a earlier drive by you,“I know nothing” will be your response if confronted.

My '96 ES300’s been doing that for 6 years. Just keep track of your oil use. You could try one of those ‘high milage’ oils, but not required.