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 1 of 3)

problem #52

Apr 132016

Camry 4-cyl

  • 35,000 miles


To whom it may concern: My 2003 Toyota Camry makes a rattle noise from the engine area and it's most noticeable during idle or light acceleration. My car has only 35,000 miles inspite of it being 13 years old. Clearly, Toyota acknowledge that it had a problem with the manifold but since my car is more than 6 years old, Toyota would not cover it but my car has only 35,000 miles and this problem did not show up until now. Hopefully, your office can help me with this matter. Thank you so much

- Portsmouth, VA, USA

problem #51

Nov 182013


  • miles
2003 Toyota Camry. Consumer writes in regards to engine problems. The consumer stated the engine seemed hard to start. It felt as though it was misfiring. The air condition stopped working, the vehicle overheated and started smoking profusely. When the consumer arrived home, she discovered there was no coolant in the radiator. She filled the radiator with coolant and managed to get the vehicle to her local mechanic. The mechanic found a bad air condition fan, no freon in the system, and the radiator was leaking. The consumer paid $1200 to fix the issues. However, after driving 10 miles, the ac stopped working, the engine overheated and smoke was emitting from the engine, again. Also, the check engine light illuminated two years prior, but despite having 3 different mechanics inspect the vehicle, the computer diagnostic system, indicated no problem. It was re-set 3 times, but eventually came back on every time.

- Port Saint Lucie, FL, USA

problem #50

Jun 012012


  • 85,500 miles
The vehicle engine was running very ruff after start then shortly after the engine light came on. The fault codes on the engine light was a number two and three cylinder misfire. The vehicle was taken to the dealership for analysis. The dealership stated the head gasket was leaking between the number two and three cylinders (no coolant was leaking outside the engine). The dealership attempted to remove the head, but the first bolt started to strip and the technicians stopped at that point. I was informed that the engine was not repairable and the replacement cost was $4,600 for a used 80,000 mile engine. I took the vehicle to a local shop and had the engine replaced with a 30,000 mile engine for $3,000. Complaints like this one (the head bolts striping out the aluminum engine block) are all over the internet. Toyota should be responsible for these design flaws. 1) the head gaskets should not be failing on vehicles with low millage. 2) the head bolts should be removable without damaging the engine.

- Layton , UT, USA

problem #49

Feb 182012


  • 102,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Camry. The contact stated that the vehicle was leaking fluid from the engine. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who diagnosed that the bolts were stripped and as a result, the engine needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who did not offer any assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 102,000.

- Vancouver , WA, USA

problem #48

Dec 212010

Camry 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Camry. The contact stated the vehicle made a loud noise. The dealer was contacted and diagnosed that there was sludge in the engine and that it needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the failure, but denied any assistance with repairs. The engine was replaced. The failure mileage was unavailable and the current mileage was 75,000. Updated 03/27/12 updated 06/13/2012

- Bloomfield, NJ, USA

problem #47

Feb 072012

Camry 4-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
The engine head bolts are stripped out in the block causing the head gasket to blow and causing a coolant leak. In talking with my repair person and searching the internet this is a common problem for the 4 cyl 2.4 L engine. Toyota issued a new part number for the block (tsb ref #EG015-07) so they know there is a problem but will not do a recall. The only fix is a new engine which is about $8000.

- Auburn, WA, USA

problem #46

Jan 252012


  • 64,767 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Camry. The contact stated that the vehicle rattled and vibrated as it accelerated. The contact'ss mechanic inspected the vehicle and stated that the intake manifold was failing. The contact also stated that the vehicle stalled and the check engine light illuminated. The failure mileage was 64,767 and the current mileage was 65,025.

- Woodstock, GA, USA

problem #45

Jan 222012


  • miles
Early head gasket failure.

- Lake Forest, CA, USA

problem #44

Aug 012007


  • 89,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Camry. The contact heard water moving from one end of the vehicle to the other when she attempted to make turns or when she started the vehicle. When the failure occurred, the contact noticed the vehicle was leaking coolant. The dealer was unable to duplicate the failure. In August 2007 with 98,000 miles, the engine was replaced by a private mechanic yet the failure persisted. The manufacturer was aware of the failure but did not offer any assistance since there were no recalls for the vehicle. The current mileage was 167,000 and the failure mileage was 89,000.

- Belen, NM, USA

problem #43

Dec 222011


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Camry. The contact stated that while driving approximately 50 mph, the engine over heat warning light illuminated. The vehicle was unable to be driven and was towed to the dealer. After diagnosis, the dealer advised the contact that the engine head bolts failed and the engine would need replacing. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered no assistance. The failure and the current mileages were approximately 120,000.

- Spotsylvania, VA, USA

problem #42

Apr 102010

Camry 4-cyl

  • 75,000 miles


Defective throttle body after starting the car and putting the car in gear, the check engine light appears and the gas pedal has no effect on the engine. The car will idle along while in drive; however, pressing the gas pedal does nothing. The check engine error code points to the throttle body. My mechanic says that the throttle body is stuck in the "closed" position when this error happens. I've read about the numerous Toyota Camry owners who have all experienced problems with the throttle body on their vehicles at -- -- it seems that Toyota dealerships all state that they have never heard of this problem occurring and continue to charge upwards of $1200 to replace an obviously defective throttle body with a new throttle body that still has the same defective design. Essentially, the dealership wants to swap out one defective throttle body for another defective throttle body. Similarly, Toyota corporate in torrance, ca denies that the throttle body problem is caused by a product defect. Most likely this is due to the high cost of the part and expense to institute a recall of the throttle body. A cursory review of the online message boards concerning the throttle body failures for Toyota Camry owners shows that this component in particular is failing too often to be chalked up to bad luck or normal wear and tear. A consumer class action is appropriate for this sort of defect. I would assume that an expert witness could testify as to the defect and opine as to the statistical significance of the throttle body failing more than any other component in the Toyota Camry.

- Los Alamitos, CA, USA

problem #41

Nov 092011


  • 134,000 miles
Engine emits white smoke during cold start up. Was told the engine head bolts are stripped due to manufacturing design which may lead to engine overheating and failure. Engine will need to be replaced.

- Sparks, NV, USA

problem #40

Jun 212011


  • miles
I purchased a 2003 Toyota Camry xle brand new. Recently I had the car in for service only to learn that coolant was leaking into the #2 cylinder. After further examination the mechanic informed me that the bolts going into the aluminum engine block were stripped. Researching this problem on the internet I found that there are numerous Camry of the same year that are having the exact same problem. The cost to repair this issue is prohibitive and the car is worthless after only 8 years of use. This is an apparent manufacture defect that Toyota refuses to remedy. Driving the car as is would be a safety hazard and we are stuck with a car of no value to us.

- Bloomington, MN, USA

problem #39

Mar 092010


  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Camry. The contact stated that the vehicle would exhibit loud, abnormal noises when first started. The contact took the vehicle to be inspected and was told that there was a crack in the upper intake manifold and it would need to be replaced. The VIN was unavailable. The failure mileage was 40,000 and the current mileage was 50,000.

- Brandford, NJ, USA

problem #38

Jun 112010

Camry 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,914 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Camry. The contact stated that the engine began to exhibit an abnormal gurgling from behind the dashboard.the vehicle was taken to an ase certified mechanic where the contact was informed that the head gasket bolts failed. The failure damaged the engine and manifold and the contact had to eventually replace the engine. The failure mileage was 107,914 updated 5/24/11 updated 06/06/11.

- Boise , ID, USA

problem #37

Mar 072011


  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Camry. While driving approximately 40 mph, the contact noticed smoke emitting from the rear of the vehicle. She then applied the brakes but the vehicle did not respond. She was able to drive the vehicle into an open field and within seconds, the front end of the vehicle was also on fire. The fire was extinguished by the local fire department. A fire and police report were filed (fire report: 11-003597 and police report number: 11-004293). The vehicle was towed to a local junkyard. The failure and current mileage was 130,000.

- Capecoral , FL, USA

problem #36

Feb 012011


  • miles
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 call 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 customer

- Capitol Heights, MD, USA

problem #35

Jan 172011


  • 114,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Camry. The contact stated that there was a smell of fuel when the contact checked the oil. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer who stated that there was fuel mixed in with the oil but could not figure out where it was coming from. The contact stated that the smell moved through the vents and burned her eyes. A mechanic replaced the valve gaskets. The current and failure mileages were 114,000.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #34

Jan 202009


  • 160,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Camry. The contact stated that the temperature gauge indicated that the vehicle was running hot. The vehicle then stalled and was towed to the dealer. The vehicle was inspected yet the dealer was unable to determine the exact cause of failure. The dealer stated that the failure could have been caused by a faulty thermostat or the headers. The contact was advised that the engine was destroyed and would need replacing. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was unavailable. The failure mileage was 160,000 and the current mileage was 169,668.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #33

Jan 112011

Camry 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,600 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Toyota Camry. The contact stated that the check engine light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated that there was a leak on the head gasket and they are unable to repair the problem unless the motor was replaced. The manufacturer was contacted who stated that they were not aware of this failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The current and failure mileages were 99,600. Updated 03/02/11 updated 04/29/11

- Montgomery , TX, USA

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