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Some Observations Sdv10/20 series


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I purchased an SDV10 series Camry and happily drove it around for a couple of thousand k's then it developed a miss at idle which could have been lots of things until a couple of things gave it away.

First when you turned the car off it blew bubbles in the radiator overflow bottle which became quite dirty.

When I washed it out it smelled of exhaust which confirmed the head gasket was leaking.

Easy quick fix I will put some Chemiweld in it to see what happens.

When I flushed the coolant out I noticed residue from Chemiweld or something similar flush out of the cooling system which explained why the car did not have coolant in it when I bought it and why it had like a calcium growth anywhere the cooling system may have been leaking.

Now this is where the story gets interesting.

I went looking for a donor car or one to replace the one I had that I could steal some items off and move over to another car.

There were lots around that were sitting in workshop yards and when I approached the people I was told the same thing all the time.

That car is sitting there because the engine has been overheated and it won't run now.

And the funny thing is the driver's said the temp gauge never went over normal, which leads me to believe there is a fault with the original temp gauge in the Camry's.

I even had a radiator fitter tell me they never trust Toyota Camry temp gauge's and always put a temp probe in the top tank to check if the car is hot.

To which I asked him what had caused them to overheat, and he told me it was a combination of the radiators and thermostat failing at the same time.

So if you own one of the 10/20 series Camry I would urge you to fit an accessory temp gauge for your own safety and if you are looking at buying one of these and it has a miss in the engine at idle or no green or red coolant in the radiator walk away.

I went looking at the wreckers for a coolant overflow bottle and they all had the same problem they were cracked and brittle so I purchased a replacement bottle.

I believe if you went looking you will also find thousands of these Camry's that have been overheated and blown the head gaskets simply because the temp gauge does not work properly. And the cars had not been looked after.

Edited by RockyBigkev
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Below is advise from a person who owns a 200k 1999 SXV20 runaround (which has no engine issues, by the way) and learnt to drive in a 1996 SXV10 (which belongs to my parents, and they still own it after 280k, also with no engine issues)

Dash temperature gauges are little more than idiot lights with needles.

The reason why you saw a lot at the wreckers with the same problem is a combination of 2 things - Camrys were sold by the bucketload (The SXV10 was the most popular car in Australia back in 1995), and they have very few problems that take them off the road. Thus, it doesn't take a genius to work out that almost all the ones you see intact at wreckers and workshops(ie no accident damage) will either be because of flood damage, or engine failure (you could use the same reasoning and say "Warning about SXV10 Camrys - they have a tendency to get caught in floods based on how many I saw at the wreckers with flood damage"). Being as how a lot of them are bought by either people wanting a cheap family car (and thus often can't afford even basic servicing), or by elderly people who aren't great on maintenance and only drive short distances, even the relatively bullet-proof 5S can be brought undone to a point where it is not financially viable to repair (try convincing a granny on a pension that her Camry needs a $5000 new engine).

Seriously though, you bought a car which had been sitting with no coolant and obvious signs of water leakage, and then act surprised when it cooks itself a couple of thousand ks down the road? You then continued to drive a car with a blown headgasket, relying on Chemweld (dodgy at the best of times), and then act surprised again when the rest of the cooling system carks it? That could happen to ANY car (seals perish, coolant goes off, metal rusts etc), and in fact is almost a certainty if you didn't completely overhaul the cooling system as soon as you bought it. Also, headgaskets can blow by other means than just overheating, and if anything the overheating is a symptom of the blown headgasket (combustion gases getting into the coolant) as much as it is a cause.

The coolant bottles are cracked and brittle because they are made from 90s plastic and are now 20+ years old - once again a problem with any car of that vintage, not just Camrys.

Next time, just create a thread called "Warning about buying cars which are missing vital fluids" as that is what you've done. Who knows, maybe you didn't bleed the system properly when you filled it up after buying a car WITH NO COOLANT AND A LEAKY COOLING SYSTEM. You haven't uncovered some secret Toyota cover-up, or some fundamental flaw that only exists in 1993-2002 Camrys, you've just highlighted the need for proper maintenance under the subtext of this great scare-campaign about a perfectly normal, reliable, albeit used car.

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I agree with everything Hiro has said above. I have had an 1993 SDV10 sedan for the last 10 years and I also had and 1993 SDV10 wagon for 2 years(upgraded to a new Hilux) without issue. As a matter of fact I am still using the original dash temp gauge in my project car as well as an aftermarket gauge for the aftermarket ECU. Lo and behold the gauge sensor shows exactly the same as aftermarket one is telling me.

So from my experiences and your logic, I should create a topic called "SDV10 Dash Temperature Gauges Work Perfectly Everytime"?

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