Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.

CarComplaints.com Notes: Beware of the NHTSA complaint data for the 2003 Camry. It is almost certainly misleading.

The problem with NHTSA data for the 2003 Camry is that for months on end, the news media repeatedly told the public that several Toyota models had an unintended acceleration defect, & to go to safercar.gov (the NHTSA's website) to file a complaint.

So, the NHTSA received a disproportionate number of complaints about Toyota unintended acceleration issues because of the national news media attention, to the point where their data is unreliable taken in context with any other vehicle that did not receive national news attention.

CarComplaints.com typically receives more complaints per day about vehicles than the NHTSA does, but the news media did not repeatedly say "go to CarComplaints.com to report your Camry acceleration problems" like they did about the NHTSA -- so although we have less complaint data than the NHTSA for the 2003 Camry, our data for the Camry is a far more statistically accurate representation of the Camry's reliability than what the NHTSA data shows.

9.3

really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,655.00
Average Mileage:
138,942 miles
Total Complaints:
21 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. head bolt repair kit (9 reports)
  2. not sure (4 reports)
  3. replaced the short block (3 reports)
  4. replace short block (2 reports)
  5. replaced engine (2 reports)
  6. rebuild the engine (1 reports)
2003 Toyota Camry engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Toyota Camry Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #21

Sep 112016

Camry LE 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,682 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Apparently a defect that occurs with these cars and vintage

- , Dollard Des Ormeaux, QC, Canada

problem #20

Mar 242015

Camry LE 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,348 miles

click to see larger images

stripped head bolts stripped head bolts stripped head bolts stripped head bolts

I bought the toyota from my father car had 40000 miles of tender loving care.The tender loving care continued when I took ownership of the car.Then at 78,502 miles the engine started missing like a fouled spark plug, checked the spark plugs both spark plugs on number 2 & 3 cylinders were wet with red antifreeze.

That is when I found out about threads stripping out on head bolts,and it is always the same three center head bolts,on the intake side of the head,and 2003 toyota 2.4 liter engine was the worst of them all.I would like to see a class action law suit against Toyota.My car is still broke down i'm looking for another engine:And that other engine will not be a 2003 model year:Thank You tstolz

- , Hermiston, OR, USA

problem #19

Dec 312015

Camry LE 4cly

  • CVT transmission
  • 240,254 miles

Owning Toyota’s for over 23 years, I could have been considered a happy Toyota loyalist. Between the two cars I owned, my purchase of the new 2003 4cyld. Camry seemed weird, I’ve notice a problem with the temperature gage running in the middle. This seen high because the last Toyota always run below the middle point on the gauge. When I took it in for my 15,000 mile service Toyota assured me it was normal. I didn’t think much about it at the time but when the radiator hose started leaking at 105,000 miles I was told the head gasket blew and needed to be replace. Than several thousand miles later the water pump started to leak and again, head gasket was damage. I notice a bubbling noise under the dash but didn’t think much about it, everything ran fine and no lights or problems. After reading these reviews I believe my Toyota has an inherent defect with the block. I always maintain the car to the strictest schedule standard and made repairs when needs.

- , North Hollywood, CA, USA

problem #18

Dec 192015

Camry XLE 2.4L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

my 2003 Camry XLE with 132k miles was running fine, last cooling service was done by dealer at 118k. Today while driving on highway I noticed little vibration and next minute car overheating started. I stopped the car on shoulder, towed to dealer at new location. Dealer told my engine compartment is broken into 2 parts and same reason I noticed vibration in car. He also said this problem is known for these models due to age & miles. I received quote of $2,300 and I end up accepting it since I don't have much options and car is not in driving state. I asked dealer if they can contact Toyota to help me fixing the problem, he immediately said Toyota never helps in these problem and they will not contact Toyota.

Update from Jan 6, 2016: Dealer said my top part of engine was also damaged. Charged me additional $1100 dollars to place used part. Final bill of $3200 to fix this problem.

- , Wethersfield, CT, USA

problem #17

Feb 122013

Camry XLE 2.1L 4 CYL

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,589 miles

The engine in my 2003 Camry started to split open up like a clam shell, it was literally falling apart. I had to get some stripped bolts replaced because the spec and design were not adequate. Great engineering. I had to pay to get other bigger bolts inserted in the block and have the engine tied back together. That then killed my cat converter because radiator fluid leaked into the cay converter. That cost me over $2500.

Toyota knows all about it but they don't give a sh*t. The Toyota 2AZ-FE engine is so poorly designed and manufactured, that I feel the whole engine should have been recalled. F*ckers.

Update from Sep 4, 2015: The engine in my 2003 Camry started to split open up like a clam shell 117,000 miles, it was literally falling apart. I had to get stripped out bolts, which holds the block together, replaced because the spec and design of the engine were not adequate and faulty. Great engineering. I had to pay to get other bigger bolts inserted in the block and have the engine tied back together. That then killed my cat converter because radiator fluid leaked into the it. That cost me over $2500.

Toyota knows all about it but they don't give a sh*t. The Toyota 2AZ-FE engine is so poorly designed and manufactured, that I feel the whole engine should have been recalled. F*ckers.

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #16

Jan 062015

Camry LE 2.4L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 181,200 miles

Our Camry started making the lovely gushing noise sometime in October 2014 when accelerating from a stop. In January my husband drove it to work, and on the way in it started steaming under the hood. It didn't happen again on the way home. The next day I drove it to pick up my stepdaughter from school, but ten minutes into the drive the temperature gauge was in the red and I had to pull over. I turned on the heater and let it cool down and called my father-in-law to follow me back home, and it made it all right. My brother-in-law (who is luckily a mechanic) took a look and said our head gasket had blown and went to work on it. He found out the head bolts had stripped and ordered a repair kit. Because of additional, unexpected problems that are hopefully unrelated I still don't have my car back.

We've had this car for a year and a half, and we were assured that it would be a very reliable car. It's too bad that a company that has such a good reputation, and a car that was very enjoyable to drive, has such a major recurring issue. I'm afraid that even if my bro-in-law manages to fix the car, I may still have to replace it before too long. Lesson learned: never base a decision to buy a car based solely on the reputation of the manufacturer. I am very hesitant to consider buying another Toyota, especially knowing that Toyota has refused to acknowledge the seriousness of this problem and address it.

- , Pleasant Grove, UT, USA

problem #15

Aug 252014

Camry LE 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 190,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I just bought this car from a dealership about 3 months ago. I loved the ride and mileage and was told Toyotas are reliable cars. I guess I didn't research enough to find this problem...stripped out head bolts.

Three head bolts on the rear passenger side had stripped out the threads on the block. My mechanic said the other head bolts had been over torqued and all the components were from the factory. He fixed the threads with helicoils and said it shouldn't be a problem again. This is my first Toyota and most likely my last. I've read too many other reports of this same thing happening to the 2.4. It should be recalled.

- , Geneva, OH, USA

problem #14

Feb 032014

Camry LE 2.4L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

My family and I were out of state on a trip for a funeral in February. It was very cold where we were, so I started our Camry to warm up the car. However, instead of warming up, it actually started to overheat due to low coolant. suspecting a cracked hose or a radiator issue, I searched for the leak, but could not find one. We kept the car filled with fluid, watched the temp gauge like a hawk, and limped the car home to our mechanic. Thankfully, it didn't even come close to overheating again the entire trip home.

When I took it into the shop, they said that it was leaking from the head gasket. Upon further inspection, the mechanic found that three bolts near the heat shield insulation were not only loose, but actually stripped. This sounded odd to me. I have an 89 Toyota pickup that I bought brand new, and it is still running like a champ 25 years and 250,000+ miles later. I expected the same kind of service life from our well maintained Camry with less than 150,000. Stripped head bolts just sounded off to me for a Toyota, so I did an online search.

Imagine my surprise when I found web page and forum after web page and forum dedicated to this issue alone. One site - camryforums.com - has 6 pages of forums dedicated to this issue. Six pages. All of them with the same exact issue - coolant leaks from the stripped head bolts next to the insulation. And there are more sites and more forums than just that one. Considering that only a small percentage of people are going to file these kinds of complaints or post on an online forum, this is a HUGE problem with these cars. They should be recalled and repaired.

- , Crockett, VA, USA

problem #13

Mar 192014

Camry LE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,079 miles

I bought a Camry because I heard they were the best cars to buy. But I would have never bought one if I had known the head bolts could break off in the engine apparently for no reason other than its time for a new car, says the Toyota dealership mechanic I took my car too.

The car seemed fine until I began to smell coolant after driving it. The next morning my check engine light came on so, I took it in to be serviced. I paid $85 for the mechanic to only inform me that it would take another $3800 to replace the engine. Better than that now I'm finding out that replacing it won't solve the problem because it's a factory defect. I think Toyota should recall these engines and repair our vehicles.

- , Indianola, MS, USA

problem #12

Mar 172014

Camry LE 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,125 miles

"The head bolts are coming out of my engine block. The rear engine is full of coolant. Seems all rear bolts are coming out of head"

Tech SAID this was a defect. I look it up and find hundreds of complaints about the same issue with the same engine. Toyota NOT owning to it. This was my second Toyota. I am done with them.

Has anyone replaced their engine and if so, how did you ensure you did not purchase the a replacement engine with issue?

- , Somerdale, NJ, USA

problem #11

Jan 162014

Camry 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 205,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

2003 Toyota Camry. I have taken really great care of my car. Just invested new tires, shocks, brakes. Driving home from work, heater stopped working and started to overheat. Total loss of coolant due to head bolt failure. I see that this is a common complaint for this engine NOW. If Toyota took responsibility for this defect earlier, I would not have put any money in the car the last few months. Now I am forced to replace the engine or apply the head bolt fix of re threading new and larger bolts. I'm finished with Toyota!

- , Flemington, NJ, USA

problem #10

Apr 042012

Camry LE 4.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,500 miles

After having a certified Toyota Mechanic look at our car and he diagnosed the problem I contacted Toyota Customer Service to see if they would help in anyway and to see if this was something they may have recalled for. They said no one had had this problem. They have had to have complaints because when you Google Stripped Head bolts on 2003 Toyota Camry it's amazing how many people have had the same problem so I know it's not just us this has happened to. It makes us sick.

We have really enjoyed this car till now and now all HELL has broke loose. I planned on all my medical expenses and had put money back for them but not for this kind of repair bill on our car. I thought Toyota would stand good on their reputation but they could care less. Bad thing is we just purchased a 4Runner 3 years ago. I guess it's time to can it and the Camry.

SCREW TOYOTA. We'll never purchase another one.

Update from Sep 9, 2013: We had to have it fixed. $1,300 later and Toyota stills acts like it's not a problem even though we've seen hundreds of others with the same somplaint. Toyota should have a RECALL now.

- , Morganton, NC, USA

problem #9

Jun 292012

Camry XLE 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I have a 03 toyota camry xle overheating just started happening today, coolant does not seem like its getting to the engine but what i have read about anybody else camry, it sounds like i have the same problem with the bolts.

- , pomona, CA, USA

problem #8

Jun 062013

Camry LS 4 cylinder

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

Compared to others who've encountered this defect, we got off early by catching the problem before it fried the engine. An early symptom is white smoke when starting a cold engine. If you see the smoke get it checked out. We actually had the smoke for at least a year. Didn't do anything about it since there was no other problem with the car. We got lucky.

- , Studio City, CA, USA

problem #7

Dec 222009

Camry LE 2.4L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

Used engine now appears to be leaking coolant at around 70000 miles. It is my opinion that these engines have a serious flaw that Toyota says doesn't exist. We are fed up with toyota and will never buy another vehicle from them. Of all the cars owned in over 40 years have never replaced an engine. If anyone knows of any other fix that will last I would be very interested. Real unsure of replacing again and having the problem appear in engine #3.

- , Lyndon Center, VT, USA

problem #6

Dec 102010

Camry XLE 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

The engine block is aluminum and the bolts are steel. The engine vibration caused the aluminum threads in the block to pull out causing the head gasket to blow. Had to re-drill, thread, tap and insert new steel thread inserts using a kit called a "Time Sert" kit that was purchased off the internet. This was a major crap-load of work but because I am a skilled auto mechanic, I was able to do this after work over a 4 month period. Now the car works fine but I can only imagine what this would cost if you were to take this to a dealership or a standard car repair shop. I personally know of more than 5 other Camry's with this same problem and have read about more than 50 on the internet. Good luck!

- , Seattle, WA, USA

problem #5

May 032011

Camry LE 2.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles

Here's the kit to fix these head bolts. There are two kits. One oversize kit is if its been repaired before with heli-coils and one it its not. Hope This saves some money. In case link dont work google : Timesert toyota

Warning: This is still alot of work. Make sure you know how to tap a bolt. Its easy to break a tap...then your tapped from behind!

http://www.timesert.com/html/toyota.html

- , Eville, IN, USA

problem #4

Feb 152011

Camry LE 2.4L, 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles

Well, like many others on this forum (and dozens of others I've read), my Toyota Camry LE 4cyl, 2.4L started losing coolant rapidly out of the back of the engine recently. I took it to a very reputable repair shop here in town and they told me that the head bolts had likely stripped the thread out of the back of the engine block. They also told me that the only repair would be to replace the engine! My vehicle is no longer under warranty, so this isn't something that I can have fixed without paying a fortune to do so. The repair shop quoted me $4800 to put a new engine in it, and because I'm still making payments on it (I bought it used a few years back) I am out of luck. I think Toyota needs to step up and handle this problem by issuing a recall. Like a previous post mentioned, this could potentially be a safety issue due to poisonous vapor coming into the cabin and also the fact that smoke rolls out of from under my hood now any time I drive it - a major visibility hazard! I used to think I would own Toyotas for the rest of my life, but I now think this will be my last. I refuse to buy from a company that won't own up to it's mistakes and make things right for it's loyal customers!

- , Springfield, MO, USA

problem #3

Feb 012011

Camry XLE 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Purchased my car new. Regular oil changes. Oil changed 12/13/11. A few weeks later, my 2003 Camry was no longer heating the inside of the car even with the heat on ‘high.’ Then I realized the thermostat was in the 'red.' I had antifreeze added and it worked fine for 24 hours. Then, it happened again. Since I was driving, I turned the air conditioner on and the thermostat went down to 'normal' range. I took it back to the mechanic, who added more antifreeze. It worked fine until the next morning. Then, it happened again: no heat in cabin and thermostat on ‘red.’

I cooled it down and took it to another mechanic who said the head bolts are stripped, causing coolant to leak and the engine to overheat. He said the bolts were not put in properly during manufacturing.

I see many customer complaints on the internet. I called Toyota (1800 331-4331). The Rep says Toyota has not issued a recall about this, leaving me SOL (simply out of luck).

Right now, I’m looking at having to spend at least $1600 to repair a car that is supposed to be reliable. Remember, ‘Toyota tough?’ I’ve been a loyal Toyota owner for years – but I believe this will be my last.

– Signed, Disappointed in MD

- , Capitol Heights, MD, USA

problem #2

Dec 152010

Camry LE 4.6L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles

click to see larger images

stripped head bolts stripped head bolts stripped head bolts

My wife purchased the 03 Camry from her father at about 60,000 miles in 2006. The car ran great and was the best thing we have ever driven, until! last week while waiting outside a hospital I heard this loud water gushing sound running across the front of the car, and I went to check under the hood, smoke was coming out the back end of the engine! I took it to a local auto shop to check it out ($120.00) and he had some bad news! The engine block blot was backing taking the thread along with it!!!! The only best fix was to get a used engine for $2300 from a junk yard and the cost of installation is $1300.00 (but it will soon happen again with a used Toyota engine). I called a Toyota dealer in South Attleboro, MA (where her dad had purchased many cars including this one) and they wanted between $3000-$6000 to replace the engine! Called Toyota customer service (1-800-331-4331) and the rep said he can't do anything about it because it is unusual for a car with that many miles and not many people has complained about it (BS! Want proof: NHTSA #10021542). So I did some extra research and Toyota had issued a new part number for the short block assembly back in April 6, 2007 ( TSB Ref #EG015-07). I questioned the rep. at Toyota Customer Service about the new part number and why Toyota had issued a new part number for an item that already exist and "so call" doesn't have an issue and his reply was that they issued a new part number for the different years of cars(but what I don't understand is why a new part number when they were all the same part number at one point, so there must have been a change) so I asked "why?" Same answer.... This is clearly a Toyota quality issue and I believe it will be a health issue too with the coolant leaking on to the engine and turning it into vapor, and then the vapor entering the cabin thru the heat/ac vent.

Please contact the NHTSA (www.nhtsa.org or 1-888-327-4236) and let them know if you are having the same problem, if you don't have it yet it will soon, so print this web-page and let your local state representative know as well about the hundreds of complaints you have read, print it out and mail those along with your concerns and the health issue with having to breath in the anti-freeze vapor from the vent. Toyota will not issue a recall if it is not a safety issue! but I strongly believe that it is! This is an uphill battle to have Toyota fix but united we can! please email me @ toyotaengineproblem@hotmail.com if you want to start a patitshion to have toyota repair the engine, we'll need some good numbers so don't be shy! Remember replacing the engine will not fix the problem it will only be a short term fix at a very high price.

- , Lowell, MA, USA

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