1999 Camry - Water Burst, then Temp to High
1999 Toyota Camry (255,000+ Miles)
Hello Everyone, Yesterday while I was near my home after about a 15 mile
drive I noticed a huge splash of water and trail following my car after I made a
quick u-turn in an apartment complex parking lot.
I wasn't sure it was from my car and it seemed to not follow me after I made
the u-turn so I kept driving home, about a another 2 miles. Soon after I noticed
the temp. gauge starting to rise and then quickly hit the red-zone. This never
happens. I slowed down and shut off my AC right away. I was about 8 block
from home so I decided to go slow and make it home. There was not
smoke/steam coming from the hood. When I got home I opened the hood right
away and still no evidence of smoke/steam. All I could see was an area where
water/liquid had splashed just under the radiator area. I let the car cool down
before I got a closer look but I don't know much about cars so all I could see
was a small drip puddle right under the radiator area.
The car had the timing belt replaced a few years ago if that makes any
difference. I am trying to learn as much as I can before I take it in to a
mechanic/shop. I hope that this is not something major. Any ideas? Thank you
so much for your help.
Ok, are we talking about a 4 cylinder or 6 cylinder? My first suggestion is a future reference item, which is simply to absolutely shut the vehicle OFF at the earliest sign of a problem. The temperatures that your engine potentially reached without coolant, even for a single minute, is ridiculously beyond the design spec. It's quite difficult to say what it was, but I'd probably bet on the radiator or one of the hoses. If you didn't see anything staring back at you, I'd say radiator is a safe bet. If you plan to keep the car for a while, I'd suggest replacing your hoses as well. If it's a 6 cylinder, I'd seriously consider having the timing belt replaced again, since we don't know how hot everything got. If it's a 4- cylinder, I recall those not being an interference application (someone please correct me if I'm wrong), so the worst that'd happen in that case, if the timing belt life were shortened by high temps, is that it'd just stop running (one day). Easiest way to tell is by making sure the car is cool, fill the radiator with water and see where it comes out. You shouldn't even need to start it up. If you decide to have it repaired, you absolutely should not drive it. To make sure that every dollar you spend with the mechanic is money well spent, it must be towed there. If you have AAA, this may cost you nothing for a short tow.
Thank you for your response. The 1999 LE Camry is a 4 cylinder so I hope that works in my favor. I was waiting to hear back, but I was thinking about pouring water into the radiator to see what happens so I will do that tomorrow. Since it is a 4 cylinder, does that mean that the timing belt, when and if it breaks, it will not damage the engine? I had the timing belt break on a Nissan Frontier and it was the end of the engine. I feel foolish for not stopping right away but it was only about 8-12 blocks so I hope it will be okay. I checked the coolant tank and it still reads as full, should that have been emptied?
The coolant tank might not empty during an overheat event. Follow John's suggestions concerning refilling with h2o and checking for leaks WITHOUT running the engine. Carefully refill with out spilling water all over.....put the rad cap back on.....look around with a good flashlight. If you see no leaks .....pull the engine dips tick and look...feel....smell the oil. Does the oil look milky? Does it smell like gas or oil? Does the oil feel gritty between your fingers? Get back to us with results.
According to Gates, the 2.2 4-cyl is not an interference engine, so, besides a non-running vehicle, if the cam went out of time with the crankshaft, no internals would be damaged. However, a broken belt can cause damage to components under the timing cover, just not many that you wouldn't replace anyways. It's not advice to NOT replace the belt, but it's understandable that if it was recently replaced that you wouldn't want to do that again. No, the coolant tank could reasonably still be full. The way an overflow tank works involves the pressure that is reached within the cooling system when up to full operating temperature. The radiator cap acts as a pressure threshold, allowing some fluid to be pushed out and into the overflow when the system is hot. When the system is cooling down, it will slowly draw fluid back into the radiator neck under basic principles of hydraulics. If the system is not properly sealed, the system can leak or draw air in instead, which would leave the overflow tank potentially full, because there's no draw on the line at the radiator neck. The only time when the overflow would potentially drain itself is if you were to remove it from the car when it's full and the end of the drain line is lower than the fluid level, allowing gravity to direct the fluid out. Definitely add water to check for leaks, but prepare for a radiator replacement. If you feel sort of handy, the radiator replacement on that car is REALLY straightforward, aided by the gigantic amount of space provided in the front of that engine bay. A good YouTube video would walk you through it if you have a good tool set. However, if you feel apprehensive about that, by all means, take it to a reputable shop so you have a warranty on the part(s) and labor. Good luck!
Ok, thank you both for helping me out here. I poured some water into the radiator and it came straight out the bottom exitway and then I was very easily able to see that that the large rubber house had been dislodged due to the metal tie/band being broken. I reached in and removed the tie and then put the hose back onto the radiator exit. I then poured water back in and no leaking! I could hear the water filling up and then stopped to come report back here. So my best guess is that I can reset a metal tie/band and refill with water and things should be ok. ? I am gonna take it in for a tune-up to make sure things are regular. I drive this car 5 days a week for less than 2 miles a day. About once a month I drive into the central office 15 miles, otherwise this is a low commuter after 255k miles. Am I correct?
A follow up to my last post, before I move forward with resetting the hose and refilling the radiator; is there anything I shouldn't do? Here is my plan: 1.Reset the hose and new clamp. 2. Refill with new radiator fluid (this is where I am wanting to be careful) --- what do I put in? 50/50 AntiFreeze/Distilled H20? --- where should I put it< directly in the radiator cap or into the overflow bay which is currently full? --- Once I put new mixture in, am I set? do I need to do anything else? I have read about burping a radiator, is this something I need to do? Thank you again.
That particular engine is very easy to deal with in terms of the cooling system. I'd highly suggest that you replace your radiator hoses and clamps. Those clamps don't typically just come off the way you describe yours doing unless the hoses are getting tugged on, swollen or just old. However, for a vehicle with relatively high mileage such as yours, as well as a relatively short commute, assuming an eventual plan to simply replace the car one day without sinking more than the necessary items into it, yes, replace the hose clamp and inspect the other clamps as well. It is important that you use the correct coolant for your vehicle and coolant is probably one of the more confusing fluids to find the correct specifications for, due to the different compositions for different makes, models and years. Your vehicle specifically uses the RED Toyota antifreeze/coolant. It is specifically phosphated OAT chemistry, and is actually different from other Asian coolants. You CAN use the newer pink "All Asian Cars" type, but I'd really suggest sticking to what it was designed for. My suggestions on what to get would be either stopping by your local Toyota dealership and grabbing 1 gallon of the red coolant, or anywhere that sells Pentosin Pentofrost A1. O'Reilly's is one place that usually carries it. Using this type of coolant will also be cheaper, as it's typically sold only in concentrated form. IF your cooling system emptied itself completely, then you'll only need 1 gallon of coolant. Your system's total capacity is 7.4 quarts. It is OK to slightly exceed the 50/50 mix of coolant to water, and would allow you to refill your cooling system with ease, without having to mix anything manually. If there is no coolant remaining in your system, and you've only added water, you can simply pour in the gallon of coolant (into the radiator neck) and then top it off with water. It is highly recommended that you only use distilled water for use in your car's cooling system. Adding the whole gallon of concentrated coolant and adding water on top of it will result in a 54/46 mix of coolant and water, which is not a problem, and is well within the range of acceptability for margin of error anyways. It is only 4.8 oz more coolant concentrate than would otherwise be added. Filling the radiator can be a slow process if you're doing it without a burp funnel. Once you've filled the radiator and no more bubbles are emerging, start the car and wait for the level to drop. Keep adding water (slowly) until the engine is up to full operating temperature. Once this is complete, you can replace the radiator cap and check for leaks. Because of the simple design of that engine and the way it is situated, air doesn't tend to get trapped too badly, and can actually be released pretty easily just by parking nose-up on a slightly inclined surface, like a driveway, while the car is running with the radiator cap removed. WARNING, absolutely do not remove the radiator cap when the engine has had a chance to build pressure in the system at full operating temperature. The sudden lack of pressure can cause the hot coolant to erupt out of the radiator fill neck and cause severe burns. I kid you not, I've had this happen to me and I'm extremely lucky to have not suffered more seriously from my poor choice of actions. I hope that was all clear, feel free to ask for any clarification necessary. It sounds like you've got a good basic theoretical understanding of what you're dealing with and you'll be increasing your mechanical skills in no time!
Hi Everyone I wanted to thank you both for taking the time to detail and help me problem solve. I replaced the hose clamp and refilled with the suggested antifreeze/coolant, ran the car with heat on high and then replaced the radiator cap. It's been two days and I have been using it to commute as usual with no issues. A few notes in retrospect: 1. I wish I would have taken your suggestion to replace the hose while I was at it. It seems in good condition, but it was a low cost and all the fluid was already out of the radiator. 2. I ended up topping off the radiator too much and needed to extract some of it before I could put the cap back on. I used what I could find in a pinch since it was rising quickly so I grabbed a straw and an empty container and used the trick where you put your finger on straw and it picks up liquid and I transferred it very carefully. Had I had a shop bulb syringe or even an old turkey baster i could have done it in one pump. 3. " you'll be increasing your mechanical skills in no time" Absolutely the case here. I will admit that I have driven this car for almost 20 years and this was the first time that I have really understood how it keeps things running, hot or cold. Thank you again!!!
Good job! It really feels great to get those small things accomplished, doesn't it? There's nothing like knowing your car inside and out! I hope you get many more miles out of that rock- solid Camry!
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