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you & your car

2007 Toyota Camry LE

I own a 2007 Toyota Camry, four-cylinder, 235,000 km. It has developed an oil-burning problem, which my research has indicated is not an uncommon problem with a Camry of this vintage. Toyota advises with this mileage there is nothing it will do. The fix, according to both my regular garage and Saint John Toyota, is to replace the engine. All in, for a used engine, about $3,500-$4,000.

The response of Saint John Toyota was that I could burn a lot of oil for $4,000. That's right, but it will only get worse (it is) and it may leave me on the side of the highway some day. Consumption is about four litres/5,000 km, almost an oil change between oil changes. Are you aware of any "hidden warranties" that Toyota has offered to consumers in my situation, or do you know of anywhere else I could check?

You may wonder why I am considering the engine replacement. Here is my logic: the car has been rust-checked every year, so the body is in great shape; secondly, in its present condition I would get little for it, so by investing $4,000 and running it for another year (another 40,000-50,000 km) I would recover some of that money upon selling. – Terre in Saint John, N.B.

Unfortunately, I have nothing to offer. I know of no "hidden" or other warranty related to this case. Toyota had some problems with oil sludge in the 1997-2001 period where it offered an extended warranty in some instances, but that was quickly cleared up and traced to people not following the recommended oil change intervals – i.e., changing according to the definition of "normal" driving when they should have been following the change intervals for "severe" use.

The problem was lots of short runs that did not allow the engine and oil to get up to operating temperatures when harmful emission and moisture is burned off or evaporates. That does not sound like your problem.

Even though you have followed proper maintenance procedures, it sounds like you are faced with the issue of whether to change engines. Have you had a compression check performed? Do you know whether the problem lies with the valves or cylinder head or is it piston rings or cylinder walls? If it is the latter, it would indeed require a major change. But perhaps it is something in the head, which can be repaired or replaced without having to change the whole engine.

If you decide to keep the engine, monitor oil consumption. As the dealer says, you can buy a lot of oil for $4,000. You might also start looking for a low-mileage replacement engine from a wrecked Toyota – that same engine appears in several models.

High beams

On my 2005 Ford Ranger, the column-mounted lever activates the low- and high-beam function – the mid position is "low," the forward position is "high." If you pull the lever temporarily towards yourself, the "high" beam is even brighter if that makes any sense. Is that normal? – Dave

Yes. Pulling the lever towards you activates both high- and low-beams simultaneously – temporarily.

It is meant to be used as a warning signal, such as when pulling out to pass another vehicle. It is not a different "position" per se, and spring-loaded to ensure it is used only briefly.

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