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Strange Overheating Behavior on 1995 Camry

bper bper
New User | Posts: 17 | Joined: 01/09
Posted: 01/03/09
09:39 AM


This is a long one...

This is a 1995, 4-Cyl. Toyota Camry with over 225K miles on it. Prior to about this time last year, the car ran great for so many miles, with so many years. Never had a major problem. Then came inspection. It was put on the Dyno and it failed. The emissions were too high. I forgot the part that needed to be replaced, but after it was replaced it passed inspection, but it went on the Dyno again.

Apparently the strain of the Dyno was more than it could bear and the transmission went. I had the transmission replaced, within a short time changed the timing belt, water pump, etc., and had an oil leak fixed inside the engine.

Within the past couple of months, I've been having overheating problems. Coolant level is OK, but it was determined that the fan was not coming on. The plug at the top of the radiator which controls the fan was unplugged, then the fan came on - but it stayed on continually. That helped for a while until I was able to get it back to the shop to further diagnose. At first, I was told that there was a failed relay somewhere in the electrical system. The relay was replaced, but the problem remained. Then I was told that the water pump that was changed may have been defective. The water pump was determined to be OK, but the problem remained. Now I am told that the radiator is clogged and I need a new radiator. This radiator was replaced a couple of years ago. While it is possible that with all that has happened in the past year the radiator could have been clogged, I don't want to replace the radiator and the problem still remain.

The weird thing is that it starts to overheat after driving about 25 miles or so, highway and stop & go traffic. The temp. gauge is normal all of that time, then shoots up to hot, then after a short time shoots back to normal. There's never a gradual change. The system has been flushed a few times, but it doesn't seem to change anything. There are no coolant leaks, all of the hoses are supposed to be OK. The thermostat was changed and the sensors were checked.

I fear that the next thing I'm going to hear is that the engine is cooked. It's not smoking or knocking, but I don't know what to do next. Everything was great until the inspections about a year ago.

Sorry for the long post, but I felt that the more information I provide, the better for your analysis.


waynep712 waynep712
Enthusiast | Posts: 651 | Joined: 10/08
Posted: 01/03/09
11:08 PM

at 225K miles... its sounds like it is time for a head gasket and probably a valve job...  

seems you have replaced the other high dollar  failure part... the trans...... time to invest a bit more money and do the head...    and replace any freeze plugs on the back of the motor while the head is off...  

Wenis Wenis
User | Posts: 132 | Joined: 10/08
Posted: 01/04/09
07:16 PM

bper, how bad did you overheat this car when the fan wasn't working? If you overheat an engine bad enough it will or could hurt the cylinder head or cause gasket problems, which in turn will cause an overheating problem like you have.

Don't rule out the radiator yet, if it's restricted inside or plugged up on the outer core you'll have an overheat problem after the engine reaches normal operating temperature.

You have to think back which parts were replaced in what order, if the stat was earlier in the diagnoses you may have a bad stat, if not someone that knows their stuff will have to check the car further, like watching the cooling system pressure for a rapid rise when the engine is first started, or check for exhaust gases in the cooling system when running, things like that.  

bper bper
New User | Posts: 17 | Joined: 01/09
Posted: 01/06/09
05:45 PM

wow. sounds like a lot of money and repairs ahead?

replaced the radiator. thermostat is new. now, at least, I have heat. The problem now is that the fan is still not turning on. As a result, the car overheats. I have to ride around with the plug unplugged in order to keep the car cool.

Any ideas of why the fan is not being triggered to come on at the right temp?

Relays were changed, to no avail.

I didn't run it hot long. When it went hot, I pulled over and let it cool. But when I stop, I can hear the boiling.

How can I tell if the engine received any heat damage like you mentioned? No smoke out of the exhaust. Right now, I believe if the fan would work like it is supposed to, I'd be alright.

Thanks for your previous replies, and thanks in advance for the future ones.  

waynep712 waynep712
Enthusiast | Posts: 651 | Joined: 10/08
Posted: 01/06/09
07:16 PM

on toyotas...

the fan switch is normally closed...  

the fan relay has the fan on the normally open contacts...

this allows you to pull the wire off the fan switch ... cutting ground from the fan relay... the relay falls back to the non powered position and turns the fan on...  since the main relay is sending power to the contacts circuit in the fan relay... the fan comes on...

change the fan switch... they do go bad... take the stat back out.. remove the little rattle valve from it. (ball in a cage or a wiggly pin through the outer disc) . so there will be a small amount of coolant passing through it .. along with any trapped steam or air..(steam will not tranfer enough heat to open the thermostat...) put it back in with the small mod to it...

i just took my 4AC toyota corolla head off... at 236Kmiles.. it really needed a head gasket.. i put a new one on .. and used a product i get from in their sealers page.. called hylomar..  i have put it on both sides of almost every head gasket i have done in 15 years...   i don't like having to do things twice.. out of 200+ head gaskets ... i have only had to do one.. and that one needed the block surfaced...  the previously blown head gasket had eaten the deck between cylinders..  

Wenis Wenis
User | Posts: 132 | Joined: 10/08
Posted: 01/07/09
12:16 AM

If you could hear the boiling, that's not a good sign. That don't mean it has mechanical problems you just don't want to push your luck too far. Shocked

Lets get the fan fixed before me and old Wayne are explaining to you how the head comes off.

Now remember that there's more then one fan. Oh, Just kidding on the Shock thing, it can't happen. Grin  

rollsafe rollsafe
User | Posts: 213 | Joined: 11/08
Posted: 01/13/09
09:30 PM

check your head gasket and valve


bper bper
New User | Posts: 17 | Joined: 01/09
Posted: 01/15/09
05:09 PM

Hi I'm back.

It just occurred to me that I haven't updated you folk on the latest details.

OK, after the radiator and thermostat were replaced, the fans were supposedly fixed. The next day, the check engine light came on momentarily then went off. The following night, it started to overheat again. Again, not gradually, but shoot way up, then shoot back to normal. When I pulled over to let it cool, I noticed that the fans weren't working. I unplugged the fan to keep it running again. The next morning, it overheated right away. I pulled over, noticed that there was no coolant in the radiator. I added coolant and water, drove to a shop and the mechanic opened the radiator cap and it was low on coolant. There are no visible leaks though. He raced the engine from under the hood, and then it began to smoke.

Never smoked before. Head time. Head and gasket. $250. What do you think? Should all my overheating troubles be over after this???  

Wenis Wenis
User | Posts: 132 | Joined: 10/08
Posted: 01/15/09
09:13 PM

It doesn't sound like you have the problem pin pointed yet Confused  people are still guessing as to what the problem may be, get it diagnosed so you know what's causing the leak and over heat problem, then fix it before you need a motor. The fans could be in the trunk if the cars moving, it won't make a difference unless you go slow or stop (forward movement + air in front of the car = wind and sufficient cooling) Grin

"Problems over after this" you say? It all depends if the mechanic does his job right the first time, if he just replaces the head gasket then I'd say you have a 50/50 chance and that's a long shot.

$250 sounds cheap, the book time to replace just the head gasket is 7.3 hours, that would mean (and I'm taking a guess here) that your mechanic charges maybe $30 an hour, then include the cheapest parts available and that may get you a $250 bill when it's done, but I wouldn't plan on that being the total or plan on it lasting or being fixed when he's done.

When the cylinder head comes off it should be pressure tested for cracks, cracks that the naked eye can't see, also, once the head is off the timing belt is laying on the floor, do you replace it? and maybe the water pump? as long as it's right there in plane site. I think you can see where this job could end up being an expensive repair.

I have a saying I use at my shop once and a while, it has merit if you really think about it.

"If you think hiring a professional is expensive, try hiring one that's not"

Get it? I've seen it many many times, people try to save a buck by letting the neighbor do it and then it ends up coming to us anyway, Why? because the amateur did it wrong the first time.

Enough said, get a real diagnoses and go from there.  

bper bper
New User | Posts: 17 | Joined: 01/09
Posted: 01/27/09
05:59 PM

Well, here's the update.

The head was resurfaced, gasket replaced. Overheats no more, temperature normal, fan fine, coolant level fine. I know that some real extensive work was done because I saw just about everything in pieces. The car runs really well now. I even have a bit more power than before. The only thing was that the oil looked quite dark even though I changed it about a month ago. Maybe all of the overheating got to it. Anyway, I changed it again. He also replaced the motor mount at the top (the easy one). The final bill was $350. Seems cheap, but I'm quite satisfied after a week. Hopefully it will last for a good while now. Thanks for your insight and advice.  

Wenis Wenis
User | Posts: 132 | Joined: 10/08
Posted: 01/27/09
07:35 PM

You got a pretty good deal, cheap for sure. Now all you have to do is drive it and watch the temp gauge for a while. Man, I'm gonna miss talking about your 2.2 Blush

Bye bper...  

bper bper
New User | Posts: 17 | Joined: 01/09
Posted: 01/28/09
05:54 AM

Hey Wenis (and everyone else). Thanks for all of your insight. It was really good to hear what you had to say. I learned a lot. I'll miss talking too, for sure, but I won't miss the problem with the car. This surely was a frustrating one. It was hard dealing with so many problems the past year especially after never having a major one for the 13 years that I owned the car. I was close to getting rid of it. But I suppose after 230K miles and 13 years, I can't complain even though I spent a couple thousand in repairs.

If I see a recurrence, I guess you'll be hearing from me again. Otherwise, maybe you'll hear about another issue or car.

Thanks much.  

RandyJ. RandyJ.
New User | Posts: 10 | Joined: 07/09
Posted: 07/16/09
08:04 PM

Can anyone help me with this same problem.  1994 Camry 4 cyl.  
If the connector that is located top right of radiator and goes to the overheat sensor, (the sensor is located on bottom of the radiator), is disconnected, the fans turn on. They also turn on when the ac is turned on.  Other than that, when the car gets hot, they do not turn on.
I went through 3 radiators in 200 miles.  After the 3rd I took it to a shop where he said compressed gas was going into the cooling system so the head was tore down.  Head was warped .011.  Head was resurfaced, pressure tested and new gasket. (I just did the same thing 15 months ago.) Now a new thermastat. New radiator cap.  The fans were tested and work but will not turn on when car gets hot.  The relays were replaced and they still will not turn on.  A simple ground wire will trip them on but they just won't do it by themselves.  Car has been in the shop for a week and they cannot find the problem.  

waynep712 waynep712
Enthusiast | Posts: 651 | Joined: 10/08
Posted: 07/16/09
10:49 PM

i copied and pasted my answer to the other post you made here..

i would think that the radiator fan switches are bad...

i have not had this exact switch in my hand...    but i would bet that the terminals have continuity when cold and open when up to fan turn on temp... i have had these switches go bad on other toyotas...  since they work backwards... sometimes they get tested wrong..  looks like they are about 30 bucks over at AZ... be sure to price OEM toyota units also..

here are the wiring diagrams... for the cooling fans

i think your 95 ... if you have a 95 is on the lower left side...

there are 3 fan relays...

you have to understand.. that fan relays #1 and 2 works backwards...

when the key is turned on.. there is power to the contacts and to the coils...  the fan switches are grounded.. when the system is cold...   when it comes up to temp.. the fan switches open... this breaks the power to the relay coils and the relays close powering the fans... so if you unplug the fan switch  ... the fans should turn on with the key...  

now.. you will also see the ac high pressure switch...   this switch is on the a/c system..  when the ac high side pressure comes up ... this pressure switch opens... breaking the circuit.. and  breaking the circuit to the fan relays. turning on the fans...

the fan relay number 3 is controlled by the ac system...  this relay can turn on the radiator fan motor when the ac system calls for it.. probably when max cooling is called for...

so you have 3 relays...  any of which could be bad...   i would probably replace all 3...  aftermarket relays can be had...  

i normally open the cases of relays and examine the contacts...       remember...   the normally closed contacts are what powers the fans..  except for relay number 2...

all this is confusing...     open the relays.. examine the contacts... i bet that you will find them burned... or the circuit boards they are soldered to inside will have tiny breaks in the solder joints...  

print the diagram.....   print my text...

replace... or check...   you have to use a strong lens to see the tiny damaged solder joints..

in the future.. if you ever have to have a head gasket replaced...  harbor freight tools sells a product called hylomar...  search for sealer...  4 bucks... worth 10 times that much...   i have been using it since 1992... and won't do a head gasket without it..  i don't like having to do them twice...

if you have more problems.. do post.. i do surf here a lot...  

zabens2284 zabens2284
New User | Posts: 2 | Joined: 03/10
Posted: 03/25/10
09:14 AM

I have a problem with my 2.2 1996 Camry (bulbing or girgling noise)after car has been running for 10 to 20 minutes and is turned off. Busted the spring in a new radiator cap, had to replace again. Seems like excess pressure build up or boiling after engine is turned off.
Have replaced head gasket, thermostat (with hole at top) and water pump. Fans work fine and the temperature gauge never goes too high however I have not driven it much since I replaced the head gasket in fear of bubling noise and cap break.

What's wrong with this thing? What should the water temperature deferential be across radiator?


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