I have a 2003 Toyota Camry. When the engine is cold and I start the car takes a long time to shift into the highest gear. I have to let it rev to 3500 rpm or higher while driving about 65 mph for 2-3 minutes before it finally shifts. Any ideas?

What you are observing is very normal with some cars, and they are designed this way in order to allow the engine to turn at higher revs so that the engine and–more importantly–the transmission can warm up more fully.

I would suggest that you avoid driving at 65 mph until the engine and transmission are fully warmed-up.
Even if you have to drive on local streets for a few more minutes before getting on the expressway, you would be much more kind to your engine and transmission if you allow everything to get up to full operating temperature before driving at very high speeds.


VDCdriver is right.
I recommend you change out the thermostat. I bet your car is running a little cooler than it should, even if the heat is working. Your temperature gauge (if you have one) should be at last halfway between hot and cold. If the car is running fully warmed up and the gauge reads more cold than hot, probably your thermostat is staying open all the time. The car will not shift into a higher gear until the engine reaches the the correct temperature.
I had the same problem and the thermostat change worked. The car ran hotter and the transmission began shifting into high gear regularly.

What you describe is normal for a car with a cold transmission.

3500 rpm will not hurt your engine.

If you see 6500 rpm, let us know.

Driving directly from your parking spot to the highway is not recommended. A few miles on surface streets would be beneficial.

Let me guess; you bought your house because it was right next to the highway? Is that correct?

Don’t worry, the car will adjust. Just let it do its thing and don’t worry.

Make sure, however, that you follow the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual.