Camry Breakdown!

Everything happens at once. I got the MR2 moved to “classic” insurance so I’m paying $12.80 a month to insure it (or about $200 a year) so the camry decides to buy the farm. I’m driving into work today going “hm, seems like it doesn’t have as much power as it should”. Pulling into the parking lot it goes WHEEEEEZE and dies right as I pull into the parking spot.

It’s a weird feeling with your hand about to touch the keys when the car does exactly what you’re about to do.

Needless to say, it might be the plugs but I’m much more inclined to think it’s the igniter or battery. It’s enough to make you want a Jeep, which my wife owns a 1996 cherokee and it doesn’t give her nearly the raft of crap it should. I don’t really want to spend the money on the camry, but I also know once I get the house I’ll really not be interested in working on cars for quite a bit. Obviously I need to fix this now and cheaply.

For those not in the know, the shop manuals for a 1992 to 1996 (“Mark 3”) camry are getting hard to find, but Turbo Ninjas hosts them for us. You may want to mirror their site while you can…


First, I am going to review this page about fuel saving technology:

Multistage Oil Pump: Talk about craptacular, oil pressure does little or nothing for an engine. Oil viscosity does a lot more for the engine. But, underflowing oil will destroy an engine. A multistage oil pump is only good for pumping failure. Better alternative – electrical oil pump.

Shortened Head: I sort of like the idea. But making the valve guides shorter means that the head is more prone to valve deflection. Toyota figured this out with the 3SGTE engines back in 1991: A bucket is used to shim the valves. Better alternative: Lighter metals = less mass, but this is a neat idea if they can pull it off.

Variable Compression Ratio: Good idea, terribly poor execution. This is traditionally accomplished with a dual-lobe cam similar to VANOS. Introduced in 1992, BMW’s system allows for 12 degrees of timing change. What could possibly go wrong with individual pistons? When the actuator dies, you’ve got a dead piston, and you need a new shortblock. I’m absolutely sure if the pistons get even a hair out of sync, the main bearing on your engine is toast.

Guided Spray Turbo: Anything that improves fuel economy through turbos is good. Buy stock. Best idea of the set. It’s tried and true.

Electromagnet Valves: Another really good idea. This engine is so tunable it’s stupid, and could probably run on CNG, LPG, E85, whatever. With a high pressure fuel pump and the right injectors, you could tune the dwell and timing to run on absolutely anything. Hell, you could even switch it from diesel to gasoline.

Hydraulic Power Electrification: Electric pumps are a good idea, but not a 100+ MPG idea. Still, every little bit helps. Or you could just be a man and learn to drive without power steering (LOOK AT YOU RED MR2).