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Buying a Used XV50 Camry: 2.5 Four-Cylinder Engine and Transmission Issues

The Camry is one of the most popular Toyota models out there. If you’re looking to buy a used midsize sedan, the XV50 generation equipped with the reliable and efficient 178-hp four-cylinder deserves serious consideration. However, even a used Toyota is not bulletproof, so here are a few things you should check before sealing the deal.
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Introduced in 2011, the XV50 (seventh-gen in the U.S.) Camry received many upgrades over the previous generation. The exterior is not fundamentally changed, although there are some clearly noticeable differences. Most major changes are related to the interior, which was completely redesigned.

This Camry received a facelift in 2014 for the 2015 model year, updating most of the exterior panels and making the car look much more modern.

So, why should you buy one? Well, it’s almost twice as cheap as a new, current-generation model, it has a spacious interior, it handles great, and it’s fitted with a reliable and fuel-efficient 2.5-liter 2AR-FE four-cylinder.

However, depending on how the previous owner (or owners) used and maintained the car, several issues can occur with this engine.

Engine Noises
Early models built in 2011 and 2012 had some issues with timing gears, resulting in some annoying rattle noises for about five seconds on cold startups. These noises are an indication that those components are about to fail, and you should keep in mind that this is a medium-cost repair.

Checking this might prove difficult, but you can ask the owner to meet in the morning while the engine is cold to see if these noises occur.

If he or she refuses, it should raise some questions, but if no other issues occur and you like the car, you should ask the mechanic to thoroughly check the timing gears when you take it for a pre-purchase inspection.

Another component that might be responsible for an annoyingly loud squealing noise is the drive belt tensioner pulley. It can be heard at all times when the engine is running, and it tends to increase in intensity at higher RPMs. It is not a serious issue and won’t be that expensive to fix but it’s one you should pay attention to.

Oil Leaks
Although not very common, owners and Toyota-certified mechanics have reported encountering oil leaks that can be a serious problem leading to expensive repairs.

On models powered by the inline-four, the main culprit is the rear seal located between the engine and the transmission. Right on the spot, you can lean under the car and look for any leaks, but the best way to check is to have it lifted in a certified garage.

The area where the engine meets the transmission should be dry. If you see any signs of oil, then avoid buying the car because replacing this seal can be extremely expensive.

Coolant Leaks
The next thing you should look for is coolant leaks. For the XV50 model, Toyota made many improvements regarding the cooling system, but there are cases where the water pump or the coolant pipe located on the back of the cylinder head starts to leak. Make sure to check for any coolant crust formations.

On a high-mileage car, we recommend replacing the water pump even if no leaks are detected. If the cooling pipe is damaged, avoid buying the car because replacing it can be a very tough and equally expensive job. Transmission Issues
Except for the hybrid version, which we'll cover in another article, all XV50 Camrys were equipped with a six-speed automatic.

Early models, especially those built from 2011 to 2013, have had issues with the torque converter. The most common symptom of a failing converter is a pronounced vibration felt throughout the car.

The best way to test this issue is to drive the car when fully warmed up at around 40 mph (64 kph) with light acceleration. If you feel the car shaking abruptly after a few minutes of driving, it means that the torque converter needs to be replaced. That can be pretty expensive.

This issue was fixed by Toyota starting with the 2014 model year, so if the car you want to buy is not built between 2011 and 2013, you shouldn’t worry about this problem.

To conclude, an XV50 Camry equipped with the 2.5-liter inline-four is a great choice if you’re looking for a reliable midsize sedan. If you pay attention to the potential issues in this article, you will end up buying a great car that you can depend on for years to come.


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