s the 4 banger good?1997 Camry

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I'm looking at a 97 Camry with 90K miles on her. It has the 4 cyl, is this the "sludger" engine? Is the 4 banger good?Thanks
 
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Jan 10, 2008
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Milwaukee, WI
The "sludger" is the mz series V6, so no it's not. My father has a 96 with about 280,000 miles on it. ~10,000 mile oci on whatever dino. Obviously we have different attitudes about oil! Good cars, not much to worry about, other than the things you would normally worry about. It has a timing belt. If you don't have documentation that it's done it's in the 3~400 dollar range and I would negotiate that off the cost of the car.
 
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Just a piece of advice about the timing belt on this car. My boss' 1994 with slighly over 100K suffered some sort of water pump failure that, at first, didn't affect the belt, but caused the engine to overheat. About the time the car overheated, the pump pully siezed and took out the belt. What was left was not much more than a paperweight. In short: Don't put it off. New belt w/water pump a.s.a.p.
 
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I beleive the 5S-FE did have some sludge issues, but it's unheard of in my neck of the woods so I cannot confirm. Having said that, it is a decent engine with quite a bit of get up and go for a car that size. M1 0W-40 runs beautifully in this engine. \:\! Having said that, make sure the timing belt has been replaced at the 60,000 mile mark if you are seriously considering this car.
 
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Dallas, TX
 Originally Posted By: ViragoBry
Just a piece of advice about the timing belt on this car. My boss' 1994 with slighly over 100K suffered some sort of water pump failure that, at first, didn't affect the belt, but caused the engine to overheat. About the time the car overheated, the pump pully siezed and took out the belt. What was left was not much more than a paperweight. In short: Don't put it off. New belt w/water pump a.s.a.p.
This vehicle has a non-interference engine. Why would a broken timing belt turn it into a paperweight? Only thing I can think of is the owner didn't want to bother with a timing belt and water pump job.
 
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I didn't see the car nor speak directly to her mechanic, but he quoted her a price for new water pump, belt and a re-manufactured head, so I assumed there was valve damage. Perhaps it was just overheating damage, I don't know. It was more money than the car was worth, so she junked it.
 
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"This vehicle has a non-interference engine. " It definitely is [edit: a non interference engine], the belt on my father's never got replaced and broke in a pizza restaurants parking lot at ~160,000 miles. No damage, use a coupon at a dealer to have it done, about 200 bucks at that time. Still, that would need to be replaced IMO before I would use it as a daily driver.
 
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Dec 8, 2006
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 Originally Posted By: Drew99GT
Actually the 2.2L 5S-FE that would be in a 97 Camry 4 banger IS a sludger.
WRONG. I have one with 185K on it and one cutomer that has 379K on hers and sludge is non-existant. They WILL sludge if try to run them7-10K on dino oil and then it will take about 100K before it kills it. I've been a Toyota tech for 20yrs and I laugh when I hear the unsubstantiated junk that gets passed off as fact. The V-6's did have problems with sludge in SOME applications.Toyota shot themselves in the foot with rediculous oci reccommendations for that engine that really was stupid. They fixed a slew of them for free to customers that had documentation of service.I know,I did more than I can remember for about 12hrs labor pay under warranty. All of the ones that we rejected were from customers who could not offer any documentation of service from anyone. That being said,the 5SFE 4cyl will never be as easy on oil as the K series Honda engines or alot of other engines. One of the reasons is because it has two sets of gears inside that many engines do not have.One set runs the cams in time and the other set runs the balance shafts. Thats above and beyond the others bearings gears,shafts,ect. that engines have.Compound that with a 3.8qt oil capacity and it will never be the choice for extended oil change intervals regardless of what oil you put in them. My daughter's 97 gets either 4qts of Havoline full synthetic or 4qts of German Castrol(I got a ton of it to get rid of)every 5-7K. It now has 180 thousand plus and the internals are as clean as my two Honda's K motors are. The UOAs back up the lack of a sludge problem. I have one customer that has well over 350,000 miles on her 94 wagon with the 5SFE engine. It has never had anything but plain old dino oil in it. She has missed alot of services as far as having them done right on time but it still has only a dark varnish color under the cam cover. Uses about a quart or so between oil changes. I'm not a Toyota only technician nor do I own them exclusively. I have two Hondas,one old 240DL Volvo that has one of the toughest engines ever devised that runs on gas,And I have several 3/4 ton and one ton farm trucks of the blue-oval stripe so don't think I worship at the Toyota alter. Anyway,if the car was well-maintained, I would not be afraid to buy one in a second. The trannys were as good as any front-drive,the cars never have tire wear issues as long as the alignment is right, the air conditioning will part your hair with 29 degree air quietly and efficiently,,they re so easy to service you don't need any skill at all to do everything from changing the oil,replacing the battery,replacing the alternator,spark plugs,ect. They are as simple to diagnose as any car out there. Mine gets about 32mpg out on the interstate with the four of us in it,luggage,and running 75mph. So,make sure it has been serviced well and if you like it buy it. Obviously you are a stickler for keeping the oil changed or you would not be on BITOG. You won't have any "sludge" issues if you take care of it.
 
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San Antonio, Texas
I had the 4 cyl in a 1999 Camry. I liked the engine but it had a water pump failure in that it started leaking with the telltale white deposits. Never left me on the road but I did need to get the water pump replaced as a complete unit. I only had about 50 - 60k on mine. Other than that... that 4 cyl just purred away in town and on the highway.
 
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Feb 3, 2006
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My GF has a 97 Camry 4 banger with 111,000 miles. Runs great - no sludge. Oil looks great when I change it. I put a Pint of MMO in the oil, so in 1,000 miles I will change the Havoline 5-30 dino oil & Wix filter. We'll see it then. I did replace the PCV as I do not know when it was changed before, but the metal housing looked old. It still rattled, but not quite as good as new. Keep an eye on the PCV valve too.
 
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