When to do the "major" tune up for Toyota Camry with low miles?

My mom (84 yrs old) has a '02 Toyota Camry which she bought brand new and she’s driven it only 17,000 miles in 5 1/2 years. She gets regular oil changes. She only drives on suburban SoCal streets, no highway driving. The car is immaculate! The Toyota dealer tells her she needs to have a major tune up due to its age. Those can be pretty expensive. What do you think she should do? Thanks!!

Find out exactly what the Toyota dealer defines as major (there is no common agreement as to what this term means today); compare the list to the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual. Then find an independent mechanic to do the work, if it is needed. Look at the owner’s manual and see what it says about when needs to be done in the maintenance schedule, for age, not miles. I would consider changing plugs, hoses, belts and filters, but not much else.

Hi consider adding a can of SEA FOAM to the gas tank as it cleans real well. I use to add a can to my moms car every year. My mom 90 now use to drive her subie about 1,000 miles a year, i maintained it just changing the oil etc. That old car still runs perfect. The only item i would suggest due to age is to change the antifreeze at this point.

Agree with jhr. Forget the miles. Perform the scheduled maintenance according to the Owner’s Manual, or repair manual. The schedule will show MONTHS. Divide by 12.

Also keep in mind her driving (according to your post) is classfied as being in the ‘severe conditions’ column due to all stop and go driving.

This means shorter intervals between oil/filter changes. This is usually under normal ‘severe’ conditional driving, but you also have time on your side.

Forget that they spoke and maybe consider changing the fuel filter.

Why on Earth would you change the fuel filter? It’s not required maintenance at any mileage or time.

Personally, I’d never darken the door of a dealership service department again. They all push unneeded services like this, and it’s simply despicable.

Change the oil every 6 months, flush/fill the coolant every 5 years, and tell that dealership exactly where to cram it.

If you can find the original factory maintenance booklet that came with the car (not the dealer’s work of fiction), it will contain clear instructions as to required maintenance.

Also, there’s no such thing as a “tune-up”, “winterizing”, or several other leftover car maintenance phrases these days. Without a specific list of services to be performed, the words “tune-up” don’t mean anything at all.

However, I would steal Granny’s keys once in a while and take the car out for a brisk highway run of 25 miles or more. This will get the car hot enough to boil off the water and gunk accumulated in the oil and exhaust. (AKA “Italian Tuneup”)

I’d also make sure to check the tire pressure every month or so – if she’s going 6 months between oil changes (where they usually check tire pressure), the tire pressures are probably getting way too low, and in my experience older folks generally don’t like to get down there and check for themselves.

Alas. If you give the dealership authorization for a “major tuneup” you have given him license to do every conceivable inspection, repair, and replacement that he can dream up. Most are entirely unnecessary. You will not believe your final bill! Gulp!

Follow the advice given above and refer to the owner’s manual. Draw up a list of the services you believe you need (we can advise you further if you wish). Then go to an independent mechanic, not the dealership with your list.

Is this a 4 or 6cyl engine? If it’s a 4, then it’s probably about due for a timing belt replacement, which can be expensive.

Agree, although the timing belt is not likely “worn out” it is old enough to have the rubber deteriorated, and a fast trip to Fresno in July might finish it off. Regardless of cost, I would replace the timing belt, and inspect the other under hood belts for cracks, etc. Other posters have given you good advice; the fuel filter does not need replacing since very little gas has gone through it.

Agree that periodic fast runs on the Interstate are good for the car. My mother-in-law is 90, and her son takes the 1994 Chevy Cavalier (35,000 miles) out periodically and blows out the cobwebs.