What should I do with my Camry?


#1

Hi, I have a 2008 Toyota Camry w/125k miles that has served me decently for the last 8 years. I’ve been looking to drive it for another couple years and then buy a nicer, more fun, smaller car as I enter my fourth decade (no kids) without spending a lot of money if possible. However, recently I’ve encountered an engine oil issue where it’s burning oil a lot without technically leaking. Although the dealer has tested it before and said it’s no problem, no they’re saying I should get the engine rebuilt (costing $2-3 thousand dollars) and that MAY fix the problem, though no guarantee. This repair is no longer under warranty unfortunately. So do you suggest I pay the repair to keep it going for a while, or trade it in towards a slightly used car (talking with dealers, I may be able to get $5k for it and have been eyeing a 2015 VW Golf, 2015 Audi A3 with Quattro, and a 2014 -2015 Cadillac ATS AWD. Other potentials are a 2015 BMW i3, 2015 Volvo S60, and a 2015 Acura ILX). Thanks for your advice and thoughts!


#2

Exactly how much oil is the engine using?


#3

About 2.5 quarts (I believe) over the last 2.5k - 3k miles. They technically did an engine oil consumption test saying it didn’t meet the warranty requirements to get it replaced (I’ve brought it back a few times over the last 2 years due to this issue), though just brought it back in again and the only service advisor I trust at the dealership told me it was “bone dry”, having just changed the oil about 2-3k miles ago…


#4

The dipstick may have been bone dry, meaning the oil level in the oil pan was too low for the stick to reach. It doesn’t mean there was no oil in the engine, but it does mean the oil level was dangerously low, exposing the engine to severe damage.

A quart consumed in 1,000 miles doesn’t mean the engine needs major work or that it’s near the end of its life. It does mean you need to check the oil more often and make sure it doesn’t go down more than a quart or so from full. The oil level should be maintained so it’s between the lower and the upper marks on the dipstick. It’s easy to check and add oil once you’ve done it a couple times. Do that and keep up with other normal maintenance and your Camry has a much better than average chance of working well for several more years. As a used car, it’s a much better bet than those others you mention. Good luck!


#5

Buy several quarts, put them in the trunk, and see how many miles you get between quarts. Check it every time you fill up.


#6

No way would I open an engine up at 125K for an overhaul. Replace the engine, live with a little oil consumption, or trade, but I sure wouldn’t replace the engine on this car. I do wonder though if oil changes have been extended too much and the engine is sludged up with frozen oil rings. How often has the oil been changed?


#7

Why are you letting the oil level get this low on a car that you know burns oil? You’re just risking damage to your engine unnecessarily here.


#8

If you’re using a quart of oil every 1000 miles and the car is otherwise in good condition I would keep driving it and check the oil regularly. You may have several more years of reliable service from the car.


#9

There is not one vehicle listed here that if you let the oil level get so low that it does not show on the stick that will survive that neglect .

It looks like you may not drive much more than 12000 miles a year so you might be a candidate for a lease luxury or performance vehicle. Then at the end of lease you can buy it or do something else.


#10

Agree! I would prefer a good Camry that uses a quart of oil very 1000 miles over any of the alternative choices.


#11

You know your car is burning oil and won’t check level on your own? Not my job to tell you what to do.


#12

I’ve owned cars that burned a quart every 500 or 600 miles

I got in the habit of checking and topping off the engine oil level very often, about once a week, if I recall

The cars were reliable enough, the oil consumption wasn’t that big of a deal in the end


#13

If you can get $5K for it, better take it now, and apply the loot to one of the cars on your list. Of that list I’d say the VW Golf, the BMW, or the Acura are the best choices. A used Porsche Boxster or a newer or even brand-new Mazda MX5 might be a good choice for you too.


#14

I believe most of the cars on that list have an oil level monitor that will alert the driver when it is time to add a quart of oil.


#15

My diesel was down to a quart every 300 miles when I drove over 100 a day, so I know about checking oil often.


#16

I know this gen Camry is known for burning oil and they extended the warranty but not sure to how many miles.
It is somewhat hypocritical for the dealer to say you need a rebuilt based on your oil consumption but that your consumption is not enough for warranty qualification.
As other have said, I will check the PCV if not already done and keep adding oil. Save up for your next car.


#17

You may need a tune-up, I doubt you need an engine rebuild. My '01 Forester got one at 160k miles, but that group of model years is prone to gasket leaks.

One thing to double check: is it burning oil, or is it leaking oil? Jack it up and look at the underside of the engine for obvious drips or oil stains, and try putting a drip pan under the engine and leaving it overnight.

You may also want to switch to a high-mileage synthetic blend oil. It’ll be a couple more dollars an oil change and lots of auto parts stores have regular specials that throw in a filter with a 5-gallon jug. You can change the oil and then put the rest of the jug in your trunk for topping-off (I do that with my Subaru). Check the dipstick every time you get gas, and put some oil in if it’s more than halfway down the “okay” area.


#18

I’d keep driving it, checking the oil every time you buy fuel and topping it off every time it gets 1/2 quart low.

A tuneup couldn’t hurt, but I certainly wouldn’t spend the money to rebuild the engine if you can afford another car.

This car still has value, so if you’re ready for your next car, this might be a good time to sell it or trade it in.


#19

Thanks to all for your advice and opinions! @galant, I totally agree that a large part of my frustration is with the dealership giving me some shoddy advice, especially knowing that this is an issue with Camry’s as the warranty covers this type of repair for older vehicles. Also, not being good with cars (hence a reason I bought a Toyota), I do follow the advice of a good mechanic and will keep up with any recommended maintenance. It’s soured me a bit on the overall “reliability” of Toyota’s, which is the main reason I went with one since it’s certainly not fun to drive, though maybe I’m being a bit naive. The engine is not leaking oil though it is burning it quickly, and not realizing I should check my oil every time I fill up or so as a fact of life of owning this type of vehicle after being sent away by the dealer earlier is a new experience for me. It sounds like not the biggest kind of car problem that could happen based on all your comments, it is an inconvenience I’d prefer not to deal with having kept up with all the prior service recommendations. Anyway, if the dealership does refuse to fix it under the warranty, I may look at trading in and up…thanks again!


#20

Actually . . . it’s the 2AZ-FE engine itself, and it was used in a lot of different Toyotas, not just the Camry

Do you have a garage, or at least a carport?

If so, you could easily store a couple of quarts there, and check the engine oil level every weekend