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 (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. typically receives more complaints per day about vehicles than the NHTSA does, but the news media did not repeatedly say "go to 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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,898 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Toyota Camry engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Toyota Camry Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #32

Dec 052010


  • 66,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Camry le. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds he noticed that the low anti freeze warning light illuminated on the instrumental panel. The vehicle was inspected by an independent mechanic who informed the contact that the head gasket was leaking due to the bolts separating from the engine block. He was also informed that he needed to replace the motor. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 66,000.

- Cranston, RI, USA

problem #31

Sep 302010


  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Camry. While driving approximately 20 mph, the contact noticed the temperature gauge was displaying a reading that indicated that the vehicle was overheating. The contact pulled over and shut the vehicle off. The vehicle was towed to a local repair shop where the contact was informed that there was an external leak within the engine. The vehicle was repaired but the failure continued because of excessive wear on the bolt strips. The current and failure mileages were approximately 75,000.

- Kailua, HI, USA

problem #30

Apr 122010

Camry 4-cyl

  • miles
Consumers 2003 Toyota Camry has brake problems, water leaks in the trunk and gas reservoir, doors do not close properly releasing air into the driver side door. Smoke would emit from the exhaust on cold starts. The engine valve stem seals were replaced due to loss of tension and oil was leaking into the cylinders. The strut supports were replaced due them being worn. The power steering rack was leaking, the engine mount was cracked and the battery was leaking. The consumer also stated there was a vibration coming from the brakes when they were applied. There was a hole in the dashboard. Updated 04/223/10.

- East Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #29

Mar 012010


  • 120,000 miles


2003 Camry with 120,000 mi. Check engine light came on and overnight found lots of antifreeze on garage floor. Brought to mechanic. Headgasket blown. Went to replace headgasket only to find that engine bolts were loose and had stripped thread from the aluminum block. Only choice is to replace engine - $3,800 for a used engine with 50,000 mi. Toyota has not responded. Have heard this has become a common problem. Very disappointed with Toyota.

- West Warwick, RI, USA

problem #28

Oct 222008


  • 140,000 miles
I was not getting heat if my car was stopped at a light. Upon examination by my mechanic he found there was a gap between the head and the engine block. It became apparent that the screws that hold the head to the aluminum engine block had stripped and the head was separating from the block.. first the mechanic tried to drill new holes with new bolts. He didn't feel that it would hold in the obviously defective block so I had to get another engine which costs me $3215.78. I had no car for over a month. I am very upset with this issue. If the head detached, the car would have lost power. What if I was traveling at high speed and got hit from behind. Also with the head separated there is the possibility that the fuel could have exploded or started a fire while driving. Please let me know if there are others with this problem. There are a lot of 2003 Toyota Camry on the road today.

- Manalapan, NJ, USA

problem #27

Jan 102010


  • 147,000 miles
Toyota Camry 2003 4 cylinder. Rattling noise from the intake manifold. My mechanic said that this noise occurs due to plastic material of which the intake manifold was made of. My mechanic has seen this problem with other 2003 Toyota Camry and is very common.

- Richmond, TX, USA

problem #26

Jan 272010


  • 80,000 miles


My Camry has a blow gasket. I found out because my mechanic did the exam he pressurized the cooling system and put the car up on the lift. He immediately noticed coolant leaking from underneath the plastic intake manifold in the rear of the engine. He also noticed a large piece of foam rubber between the intake manifold and the engine block and head. This was blocking our view of the leak. We could only see that the leak was behind the foam piece. The only option to discover the source of this leak was to remove the plastic intake manifold, which I did. After this was removed, it became obvious that coolant had been leaking a minor amount for quite some time due to build up between the cylinder head and block. The only option left is to remove the head, which requires an extensive disassembly (R and R cylinder head). After loosening the bolts in sequence, he noticed the head bolts in the back of the engine were loose. From his experience in the field, he can confidently conclude that this only means one of two things: The bolts were left loose at the factory, or the bolts are stripped. ( he commonly has seen stripped bolts in the aluminum Cadillac North star block discovered through leaking coolant.)next, he removed the head and sure enough, one bolt came out with aluminum in the thread...thus indicating a stripped bolt. The placement of the (insulation) foam rubber piece between the intake manifold and the engine block created an uneven dispersion of heat, creating "metal fatigue" in the aluminum block allowing the headbolt to strip. If Toyota had out an aluminum manifold instead of plastic, there would have been no need to insulate (w/ foam piece), thus eliminating the problem. The only solution to this problem is to unfortunately replace the engine. The cost to repair it otherwise would be substantial. This is an engine defect and we will be seeing more of this.

- Monterey Park, CA, USA

problem #25

Jan 082010


  • miles
I own a 2003 Toyota Camry 4cyn and noticed brownish oil substance leaking from the car. I took it to the Toyota dealership that has been servicing my car for years only for them to tell me that I have a blown head gasket. When I asked them to explain how this happened and inform them the car gave me no warning they indicated that the head bolts were stripped and this caused the coolant to leak which in turn is why the engine has to be replaced. Of course the quote was starting at $3000. After researching this problem and noticing that this is definitely something that has been occurring over some time and Toyota is aware of it based on the service bulletin 01507 NHTSA#10021542 dated April 6,2007, Toyota should be pursued with a class action suit. There are many Camry owners (ranging in years 2002-2006) with this problem that should be helped in some kind of way from the Toyota corporation.

- West Chester, OH, USA

problem #24

Dec 012009

Camry 4-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
I own a 2003 Toyota Camry with a 2.4 4 cyl. 2az-fe motor. And have an issue where the headbolts pull out of the block, causing a coolant leak. This particular problem is known to Toyota, as described in Toyota service bulletin 01507, NHTSA #10021542, dated April 6 2007. Even though Toyota and your office is aware this issue affects hundreds of consumers, causing repairs anywhere from $2000 to $6000, nothing is being done to correct this obvious design flaw. To repair the vehicle, the engine block needs to be drilled and tapped to accommodate inserts to allow the heads to be torqued to the required specs, or in some cases, the engine needs to be replaced.

- Hershey, PA, USA

problem #23

Dec 232009


  • 85,089 miles
Engine oil light came on with no warning. Went to Toyota dealer immediately and said I had sludge build up and needed a new engine block - quote $6200. This happened 2 days before xmas. I was stunned and asked to speak to management. Toyota denied any sludge problems and failed to mention that a class action settlement was made for models up to 2002 for this problem. I have a 2003 with the same engine specs.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #22

Oct 062009


  • 111,125 miles


I had to do a head gasket repair and replace the thermostat on my 2003 Toyota Camry due to malfunctioning threads for the bolts on the head gasket. When the mechanic took the head off he realized the 3 back bolts were loose. When he tried to replace the head, the 3 back bolts would not torque to proper pressure. Realizing that the threads were stripped it was discussed about replacing the engine or having the holes drilled out and fixed with timeserts. I went with the timeserts realizing that if I replaced the engine with the same type I'd be facing this problem again. I believe that the engine would not have overheated in the first place if the 3 back bolts were not already loose. The machine shop operator stated this was his 59th Toyota this year he had to do the time-serts on the engine. I had all 10 of the holes re done at a costly price to make sure this would not happen to the other bolts.

- Agoura Hills, CA, USA

problem #21

Mar 102009


  • 73,000 miles
Vehicle engine oil sludge and associated problems caused vehicle to stop coming off bridge overpass on busy street. Though the engine is covered under extended warranty, claim was denied.

- Phila, PA, USA

problem #20

May 152009


  • 96,000 miles
Vehicle is 2003 Toyota Camry xle - 1st incident occurred 10-27-06 - oil light came on, stopped at full service station, less than 1/2 qt low, cranked car & light was off, went approx 25 miles, pulled up to stop sign, car died, wouldn't crank, had car towed to dealership, they ran quick test & got code P0340, found intake cam broken, engine dirty, pickup stopped up, intake& exhaust cam stuck in cylinder head, gave estimate for used engine, car had 56,738 miles & was under power train warranty, they said due to oil sludge, blamed on not changing oil, had all maintenance records, accused my mechanic of falsifying docs but finally agreed to repair. They did not replace engine, they replaced cylinder heads, cams, valves, timing chain & guides, oil pickup, cleaned engine & reassembled. 2nd incident - mid May 2009 - driving, no lights came on, car started losing power & smoking bad, pulled over, oil was splattered causing smoking, was not running hot, still had some oil even after splattering, towed to mechanic, he said due to sludge, damage included 3 holes in block, 1 hole in oil pan, #4 connecting rod damaged bad, #4 piston shattered, #4 cylinder head damaged, engine a total loss, still have old engine, car has not been repaired. Toyota gave me a case #, then on 06-24-09 Toyota denied any kind of repair stating the 2003's were not covered under the class action lawsuit & car was too far outside warranty. Car has approx 96,000 miles. Toyota claims they corrected the problem with the new engines after 2001, but apparently the new engines have the same problem as the ones in the lawsuit. They should be held accountable, too many Toyota owners are having this same problem. I have all my maintenance records showing timely oil changes. I could have had an accident causing injury and/or death to myself or persons in incoming traffic when this occurred. Thank god no one was injured.

- Star City, AR, USA

problem #19

Apr 172009


  • miles
2002 Altima 2.5S catalytic converter backfired into the engine causing high oil consumption and other problems requiring the engine to need replacement in my car at 107,000 miles there was not an accident but a failure on the car and Nissan refusal to do anything about it financially warranty gone.

- Millbury, MA, USA

problem #18

May 202009


  • 160,000 miles
Heard gurgling in the dashboard and soon after the engine overheated. Took it in to the automotive repair shop where they discovered a blown head gasket and when they started removing the head bolts, they discovered the bolts had pulled through the aluminum block which caused the head gasket to blow.

- North Augusta, SC, USA

problem #17

May 122009


  • 130,000 miles
It began with the rushing sound of fluid (coolant) somewhere in the dash. When I took it in because I was smelling coolant and noticed some smoke, it was determined that the head gasket blew. This is the second time in 12 months that this has occurred, I fully repaired the vehicle for the identical problem in May 2008...clearly a defect somewhere in the design.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #16

May 012008


  • 115,000 miles
It began with the rushing sound of fluid (coolant) somewhere in the dash. Shortly thereafter the engine overheated and it was determined that the head gasket blew. The dealer said the bolts in the engine were stripped out and they replaced the short block. It was replaced and within a year this is occurring again.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #15

Apr 192006


  • 68,430 miles
Engine intake manifold failure. There is a tsb already for this failure, tsb-0034-08. They is very high failure rate that was caused by inadequate baffles in the intake that will break apart and possibly cause engine failure. The problem starts with a light tapping noise and gradually gets louder. This problem seems to be very widespread with Toyota owners with the 2.4L 4 cylinder engine.

- Washington Twp., MI, USA

problem #14

Mar 152009


  • 38,712 miles
My Toyota Camry 2003 became noisy a few weeks ago. Yesterday, I sent the car to Toyota dealer. The dealer told me that intake manifold should to be replaced. I spend ~$600 to replaced the manifold. Now the noise is gone. After I search internet, same problems have happened in lots of Toyota Camry 2003. Thus, I have to believe that this intake manifold problem is a deficiency from manufacture. Toyota should recall this problem.

- Fairport, NY, USA

problem #13

Apr 072009


  • 70,000 miles
A serpentine belt pulley detached from the engine disabling the power steering making turns difficult. This happened at low speed, so there was no accident, but at high speed would have been a real problem.

- Ann Arbor, MI, USA

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