I have a 96 Camry, 4 cylinder, that runs perfectly until I head into the
mountains. Then I cannot stay up with traffic even when the tranny
downshifts and the engine is really revving. I drove from Atlanta to Denver
and it drove great, 80+ on the highway for 20 hours straight, It drives
fine in Denver but as soon as I get to higher elevations it's like pulling a
heavy trailer even with only one person. I'm lucky if I can keep it above
45. Is there any adjustments possible for high altitude driving? I don't
know if it matters, but the engine never pings or gets hot, and this is
happening in the cold weather.
There is definite loss in power (about 10%) when you get up to Denver (5000
ft). When you get into the mountains (8000 - 10000 ft) it is even worse. The
problem is really torque.
When you get into the mountains you need to turn off your overdrive switch
when going uphill. This prevents your transmission from switching into 4th
gear (or overdrive). In some cases, you also may need to downshift your
automatic transmission to "2, but be very careful that you shift back to "D"
when you reach the top of the hill or are going downhill.
If you are not familiar with the overdrive switch on you vehicle, check the
Also, I would use mid-grade gas in Colorado, because the octane rating for
gas is lower in high altitude locations (by design of the oil companies).
This usually works best for most cars with newer sophisticated ECU's, but
since you have a 96 model, it may not adjust as well.
Welcome to the Rockies.
Im just guessing here but could the oxygen sensor be bad. You may also
be just needing a tune up and are actualy lacking normal power. The
timing belt stretches as it gets old. My camry was retarded 4 degrees
once reset it had alot more power and milage. Perhaps you need a tune
up alot of little things will add up to reduced power. A dragging brake,
retarded timing, old oils, dirty air filter. Get it checked out. Last
year I was getting 20 mpg I had a draging brake, retarded timing and bad
O2 sensor, old air filter. I then switched motor to 5-30, trans and
differential all to Mobil synthetic. all done I went to 28-29 mpg .
If the O2 sensor was bad the check engine light comes on. People who drive
in the Rockies the first time (7000 - 10000 ft) don't understand that you
need to downshift out of overdrive when going uphill on long grade. Happens
to all newbie's in the Rockies.
There are TWO things the ECU looks for from the O2 sensor. (1) is the
heating element open? and (2) is there an oscillating signal coming from the
O2 sensor. It takes a complete failure of either for the ECU to set a code
and kick ON the Check Engine light.
In spite of wars, pestilence, Great Floods, volcanoes,
The car just had a tuneup, new timing belt, fuel filter, air filter, spark
plugs, oil and filter, before leaving Atlanta. I got an average of 30 mpg
on the trip out there at speeds mostly around 80mph. It sounds like what
I'm experiencing is normal for a 4 cylinder in the mountains from what other
have said I'm just a rookine driving in the mountains.
"> Im just guessing here but could the oxygen sensor be bad. You may also
You are correct sir. And if your car is full with passengers, you are going
to have work extremely hard driving the 96 Camry with only 125 hp in the
mountains. A new 2005 Camry with 4 cylinders has 160 hp. (Not to mention the
V6 and V8 vehicles you will see in the mountains.)
Yep, that's wot they say. I notice especially with the 5SFE that hp figs
vary from 125hp to 135hp depending which site you look at and to some extent
which country...thw later 2.4L is rated between 257 and 260hp
Just acquired a 95 in NY and got great mileage (35-40) on the drive out
to Denver but the closer I got the worse it got. I'm only getting 28mpg
on my commute to work. Not really that bad for this big a car with
automatic but disappointing after a Saturn (twin cam, 5sp) that got
35-40mpg with a lot more performance. OTOH the Camry is a far more
comfortable and quiet ride. The Camry is a bit heavy and long geared
which works okay on the flats but requires some extra downshifts as soon
as it hits the hills. It could be worse, I used to drive an old VW Bus,
2nd gear and about 35mph up Floyd Hill and still never got much more
Yep, driving in Denver, same commute. I am somewhat light on the gas and
you can do a lot better on mpg when you control the shifting and don't
have to feed the torque converter. Its not like I'm recommending the
Saturn, hated the driving position and working on it wasn't much fun.
OTOH the steering feel on the Cmary is numb and it doesn't seem to do
very well on snow, though its hard to compare with different tires and
snow conditions. Haven't had to do anything, except the electric windows
and an oil change on the Camry and based on its reputation, I don't
expect to have to for awhile.
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