I have a 1993 Camry DX. 170,000 miles or so. This is the bottom-of-the-line
model; 4 cyl, manual transmission.
My question is whether I may be getting to the point where it's no longer
worth repairing this car. It's been very reliable, but the list of work that
needs to be done is starting to get long.
It needs new brakes. Just the usual new pads and stuff. This is no biggie, I
But, it's clutch is starting to slip pretty good, so it'll need a new clutch
CV joints in the rear need replacing.
It has a persistent oil leak, in one or more engine gaskets, and local
mechanics can't seem to fix the problem (too much has been spent already and
it still leaks). But, thankfully, the rings seem to be okay and it's not
Hoses and belts will need replacing soon.
What lifespan might one expect from a 1993 Camry with pretty high annual
Thank you for any thoughts visitors to this NG might have.
I'm no mechanic, but I've owned toyotas continuously since 1969. I gave
away my oldest one to charity last summer ... a 20 year-old Tercel wagon
that still ran fine. I currently own 3 other toyotas, and I drive my '93
Camry LE with 300,000 miles on it every day, including long trips out of
town. The only "serious" work I've ever had to do on it was replacing the
radiator a year ago. I agree with a previous post that maintaining the
vehicle is the key. All my Toyotas have performed much better at a much
lower cost than the 1 Mercedes I've owned. I wouldn't hesitate for a
minute to buy another '93 Camry with over 100,000 miles on it, as long as
I could verify that the appropriate maintenance had been performed.
Had a finance professor in college who determined it is always cheaper
to repair than replace the car. I suppose that depends in some measure
on the mechanics you're using. I like mechanics, as long as they're
not working on my car. If you don't have the skill, tools, ability or
interest, to learn to do your own work, then just keep looking until
you find someone reasonably priced that you can trust.
It's been very reliable, but the list of work that
Brakes wear on new cars, too.
Same story. Clutch is a normal wear item. If you've got 170,000 miles
on the original, that's pretty good.
CV joints should be only in the front. Not unusual at this mileage.
Rebuilt axles are available at reasonable cost.
That's horrible. You probably need all the gaskets and seals replaced,
but is unacceptable that your mechanics can't fix these. There's a
good clue to find a different mechanic. You should probably get a
written estimate for all the work and then compare that to new car
payments. If they haven't already been done you need: valve cover
gasket, PCV grommet, oil cap gasket, oil pan gasket, and in the timing
belt area: crankshaft oil seal, oil pump O-ring and oil seal, camshaft
oil seal. The only other oil seal is the rear main oil seal, which is
accessible when changing the clutch. Normal major service interval for
the Camry is 60,000 miles when the spark plugs are due. By now you
should also be changing distributor cap and rotor and spark plug
wires. Also change the small rubber gasket at the base of the
distributor cap called "distributor packing." If you're on schedule,
this would be done at 180,000 miles with the timing belt. Usually
they're fine, but also check valve clearances when changing the valve
But, thankfully, the rings seem to be okay and it's not
Hoses can last an amazingly long time. Belts should be changed when
the timing belt is done, since they're off anyway.
It all depends on the care and maintenance received. Keep all the
fluids clean and the engine and transmission can basically last
forever, 400,000 miles plus or minus.
Fluids include: brake fluid, coolant, (good idea to periodically
change thermostat and radiator cap - also check radiator carefully,
not uncommon to need replacement around 10 yrs., and if the engine
overheats, is expensive to repair), transmission oil, power steering
No problem. The basic four cylinder Camry with standard transmission
is one of the most reliable and inexpensive cars to maintain. But it's
not free. And if you're paying a mechanic's labor, naturally, the
costs are more. But again, a new Camry is what around $17,000 or more,
and it doesn't cost that much to put one in first rate condition.
It's not because it is more economical to buy a new car, people want
the idea of a new car, and I suppose they're reluctant to do all the
necessary maintenance and repair required of an older car, but with
the Camry, if you perform all the services discussed, (probably good
preventative maintenance to change the radiator and also do the idler
and tensioner rollers and water pump with the timing belt service) -
once you've done all that, and assuming you're religious about regular
engine oil and filter changes - that 1993 Camry will be as reliable as
a new car, and you shouldn't have to do anything else to it for
another 60,000 miles which would be 180 + 60 = 240,000 miles.
I have a 1993 Camry LX, 4-cyl. I bought it in 97 with 57,000 miles on
it and I now have 285,000 miles and I am VERY abusive to cars and
spend as little as possible on maintenance. The Camry is plagued with
electric window problems and my driver's side window is now stuck in
the up position. For $300 to fix, it will stay stuck. It is also
known for broken lower motor mounts and I have that. I have replaced
the front struts. I replaced the timing belt at about 160,000, and
240,000. I replaced the spark plugs the first time at 120,000, then
at 180,000, then plugs, cap and rotor at 240,000. The only other real
maintenance items all involve my direct abuse or crashing, not normal
The car does not burn any oil but, like yours, has started leaking oil
from the rear main seal. This engine will remain sealed, however,
which means it will continue to leak about a quart every 1500 miles,
about the same consumption as an American car. I replace the breaks
and tires often. I have 4 wheel disks with 4-wheel ABS. The rear
pads wear out twice as fast as the front. I also have intermittant
electrical problems after driving through a hurricane back in '99,
including the transmission not releasing when the brake is applied.
This only happens a few times a year.
Bottom line, this car has been amazing, a real tank. I never thought
it would go to almost 300,000 and it still rides really well. People
who ride in it always comment what a nice ride it is. The 4-cyl has
to be the best they ever built. I bought it at a discount because it
had "high mileage" of 57,000. Since then, I have put well over
200,000. I just bought a "high mileage" 1999 4Runner a plan to do the
Good luck with your Camry. At 170,000, it should be broken in. Now
you can drive it a few years.
It's time to replace a car when the cost of maintenance is
close to the cost of purchasing another vehicle like it but
in better condition.
One can get a pretty decent mid 90's Camery in the 150k-170k
range for $2k to $4k. From the list you provided, I'd give
strong consideration to selling it & getting another one.
My 91 has 271k miles, has had the trans and one front wheel
bearing replaced. Bought it in 98 with 98k on it. Still gets
32mpg but started using some oil @ about 200k. It should hit
300k with little problem, but then I'll look at parting with it.
Also, I just spend a bit & had new struts put on the rear.
Rides like new. Almost. But really well.
Got a bargain a few weeks ago. I'm looking for another bargain. (wish me luck)
Local dealer got a trade-in of a 91 with ~68k miles. It was
running rough because it hadn't been driven enough. Did a
basic tuneup & it runs great. They let me have it for a quick
$3k and while I was paying, there were 3 others looking at it,
very eager to buy it.
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