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The Haunted '94 Toyota Camry

Just got back from the transmission guys, who are stumped, but with suspicions.

We got our Camry from my in-laws, who took excellent care of it. At the time it had 60K. Now it has 135K. Since we’ve had it, it’s had some weird little problems going on that don’t seem to affect the real safety of the car, but are making us all nervous.

First the front passenger window would not open.

Then,the doors would not lock using the inside switches, but at the same time we noticed that, after a year or more of not opening, suddenly the passenger window would open if the switch was pushed.

Then, about four times per year, we could expect the battery to die. ABout half the time it was due to human error, such as a door not being tightly closed, but we couldn’t explain it other times. We decided to replace the battery, only to have it happen again. (My poor daughter got most of the blame for this.)

Then I noticed that when I took it out on the interstate, it would not automatically shift into overdrive. The RPMs would be at 3.5K at 65. Once or twice, I found that taking it off the interstate at an exit, coming to a full stop (with the engine on) and then re-entering the interstate would solve the problem. But then it didn’t always solve it. The weather didn’t seem to make a difference. Sowe decided that if it were a transmission problem we’d better take it in.

It took the transmission people four days to try to get to the bottom of the problem. The guy told me, after a conversation about the electrical problems, that he would check out the battery and voltage. Everything checked out. He was ‘clearing the codes’ (I don’t really know what that means), and noticed that “suddenly” the overdrive was OK when he drove it. That’s when he became very suspicious that the problem was not the transmission, but the electricals. But he couldn’t figure out what he had done to solve the problem, and doesn’t guarantee that it won’t happen again.

In the meantime, he said the transmission looks fine, but for some reason the ‘lock-up’ into overdrive wasn’t working-- until the inadvertent fix.

I’m just a dumpy middle-aged lady who doesn’t know all this stuff from Adam. We’d REALLY like to hold on to this car for a while. Tell me what to do!

Your car is not haunted but does seem to be experiencing some intermittent electrical problems.
The door locks not working and dead battery are probably related.
A little more investigation needed on the window switch, do you have a driver control, when it is working do both controls work?
Resetting the codes fixed the transmission, so my thought is the transmission is good.
I think if you could find a good local guy well versed in electronics and ask him to clean the associated electrical connections and switches for the problems you have described all may be good without major overhauls or repairs.
It will probably involve some expense as he will need to remove door panels but it sounds like the big ticket items are ok.