Tag Archives: toyota mechanic

Toyota Camry Repair: How to Change Your Radiator

Toyota car grill -- brand logo - Toyota repair - radiator

Note: These repair steps apply specifically to older Toyota Camry model years, 1997 through 2001.

A Toyota Camry can often live to an old age and continue to be reliable. You will help the car make it farther along the rode by performing routine maintenance. One key maintenance element is to repair a radiator that is worn by corrosion or otherwise becomes damaged. When you have a Toyota Camry from 1997-2001, below are the steps to replace the radiator.

Caution: You want to make certain that engine coolant is kept safely away from your children and pets, within a resealable container. Also take care of any spills right away. It can kill a person or animal to eat antifreeze – and to make matters worse, it has a sweet taste. For the same concern related to the toxicity of the substance, you want to protect yourself when you perform this Toyota repair by putting on protective eyewear, gloves, and clothing. Finally, you could get badly burned performing this work on your Camry; stay safe by not opening your radiator cap if the antifreeze temperature is 100 °F or greater.

Step 1 – Gather these items to complete your repair:

  • New radiator
  • Resealable container
  • Engine coolant
  • Distilled water.

Step 2 – Once you have your supplies ready at your side, you want to unhook the negative battery cable. At the bottom of the radiator is a drain plug. Loosen it. Now let the engine coolant flow into the resealable container. You can increase the rate at which the fluid runs by loosening the radiator cap.

Step 3 – Disconnect the outlet hoses and inlet hose on your radiator. Unhook the outlet hoses and inlet hose on the oil cooler as well. You will see clamps on the wire harness that is attached to the fan shroud. Unhook those, as well as the fan motor’s connector.

Step 4 – Take out the bolts on the fan mount, along with the fan itself and the motor. Reach into the engine compartment and remove your radiator assembly. Your fan is currently connected to the old radiator. Disconnect it and attach it to the replacement radiator.

Step 5 – Now gradually, conscientiously push your replacement radiator into the engine compartment. Tighten your radiator and fan bolts and clamps.

Step 6 – Returning to the wire harness on the fan shroud, reattach its clamps. Rehook the fan motor’s connector. Reinstall the inlet and outlet hoses on the oil cooler, and reinstall the inlet and outlet hoses on the radiator. Grab your reverse battery connector and reattach it.

Step 7 – Using a mixture of 1-part distilled water and 1-part engine coolant (half each), fill the radiator. Note: Pour coolant into your radiator gradually so that there are no air pockets created.

Step 8 – Go ahead and start your car. You want to actually warm up the engine so that any excess air can escape from the vehicle. Shut off the car again. Bring your coolant back up to the top.

Sustainability Tip: As long as your engine coolant is not contaminated and is relatively fresh, you can reuse it – which is the environmentally friendly way to go. “If you choose not to reuse it,” suggested It Still Runs, “take it to a garage or hazardous waste facility where it can be disposed of properly.”

To take that advice locally here in Boulder, the Boulder Hazardous Materials Management Facility (West of Boulder County Recycling Center / 1901 63rd St. / Boulder, CO 80301; 720-564-2251) accepts coolant and a litany of other household wastes for disposal, as described on the Boulder County website.

Toyota News & Information

Your radiator fix should now be complete. Having finished that Toyota repair, we can now turn to a lighter subject – interesting stories in the news that might interest you as a Toyota owner. Here are a couple of notable reports:

  • Toyota gets 4 of top 10 for longevity
  • Battery exchange explored to keep EVs going

Toyota gets 4 of top 10 for longevity

We should all be concerned about sustainability, and the choices we make related to transportation heavily impact our carbon footprints. That said, there is a strong argument for the full-sized SUV in a new study of automotive longevity. The research, conducted by used car site iSeeCars.com, found that full-size SUVs are the likeliest model to achieve 200,000 miles or more. The data used for the study is from 13.5 million used cars (1981 to 2017 model-years) that changed hands during 2017.

The Toyota Sequoia is the number-one most likely car to make it to 200,000 miles, although only a fraction make it: 6.6%. Two other full-size SUVs rounded out the top three: the Ford Expedition (at 5.4%) and Chevrolet Suburban (at 5.2%).

The reason that large SUVs last so long in comparison to other types of cars is that they are built for “truck-like durability” with a body-on-frame design, noted iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly, who added that “[t]hese vehicles can also be easier to repair than smaller SUVs, which can contribute to their longevity.”

Ly’s comments directly tie into the issue of gaz-guzzling that is so central to the SUV: body-on-frame construction is bad for fuel efficiency because of its hefty weight –significantly outdone by unibody, in which the body and chassis are basically a single component.

Setting aside that issue, let’s look at the top 10 models in terms of getting to the 200,000-mile mark:

1.) 6.6% of Toyota Sequoias

2.) 5.4% of Ford Expeditions

3.) 5.2% of Chevrolet Suburbans

4.) 4.2% of Toyota 4Runners

5.) 3.9% of GMC Yukons

6.) 3.8% of Chevrolet Tahoes

7.) 2.8% of GMC Yukons

8.) 2.6% of Toyota Tacomas

9.) 2.4% of Toyota Avalons

10.) 2.4% of Honday Odysseys.

The road lives of these models are much better than average; among all car models, just 1.2% hit 200,000 miles, per this analysis.

Also note that the first two models that are not large SUVs are both Toyota, the Tacoma midsize pickup and the Avalon full-size sedan.

Battery exchange explored to keep EVs going

A sore point related to electric cars is that you must recharge them by hooking them up to electrical power. Even if a fast charging system is used, it will often take about an hour to get an electric vehicle (EV) completely recharged.

To address this pain-point, a battery exchange system is under development at Toyota for smaller electric vehicles, according to the Japanese site NHK. Although this system would be established just in Japan at this stage, it is still interesting in terms of the carmaker’s direction. The project would place stations throughout Japan that would allow car owners to easily exchange their batteries and stay on the road. Stations to allow for battery exchange would also be implemented at Toyota dealerships – where owners would be able to hand over a depleted battery in exchange for one that is 100% charged. This process could take just a few minutes, a similar amount of time to traditional refueling at the pump.

Honest Toyota repair in Boulder

Toyota increasingly has more sustainable car options, but it also has some of the most well-built cars on the road – with its durability proven by how the longevity of its models compare to other brands. Part of getting that great longevity out of a car is by taking car of it, as with replacing the radiator when needed. Do you need help with your radiator or with any other Toyota repair or maintenance? At Independent Motors, we like the Toyota brand so much that many of our employees own and drive them, including our owner Bill, who has driven a Toyota Prius since 2006. See our Toyota repair philosophy.

Toyota Repair: How to Reset Your Oil Change Light

Classic Blue Toyota Tail Light - Toyota Repair - How to Reset Your Oil Change Light

For a few years, just about every new car that has been built contains an oil change reminder light. This light simply notifies the owner of the vehicle when it is time to get oil service. Oil should be changed routinely according to schedules listed within car manuals. The way the light works is by illuminating once the car has gone that specified interval distance beyond the last reset of the oil change light – which is assumed to coincide with the last oil change. It is important once you change the oil in your car to reset the light so that it will be triggered at the appropriate time. You do not need to get under the hood for this reprogramming; it is performed within the cabin. This small piece of maintenance is not technically a Toyota repair but is key to understand so that you use best practices when changing your oil.

Step 1 – Get your key into the right position. Sit in your car’s driver seat. Check the instrument panel and see if a “check oil” indicator is lit. If so, turn your ignition key until it is “Off” but with the odometer number still visible.

Step 2 – Press down reset while starting the car. Locate the trip reset knob and press in on it, holding it down for 5 seconds. Now start the car again. It should turn off your oil light and bring the odometer trip reading to 000000 when you restart the car while holding down the trip reset knob.

Step 3 – Check your work. Assuming that you held down the reset knob while restarting the car, you should see that the oil change indicator is no longer lit. If you still see it, check the manual for your car for further troubleshooting. Another option if you are having difficulty is to “[c]onsult a mechanic who specialized in Toyota vehicles for further instructions,” as suggested by It Still Runs.

That is all for this Toyota repair or maintenance project. With the above steps complete, you should no longer have an issue with your oil change light. It should be reset and ready to let you know the next time an oil change is needed.

Toyota News & Information

Having completed that project, we can look at recent news articles that may be of interest to you as a Toyota owner:

  • Toyota to take on Lyft & Uber
  • #2 still isn’t too shabby
  • Mazda & Toyota join to open Alabama plant

Toyota to take on Lyft & Uber

2017 was not exactly a great publicity year for Uber. There were months of scandals for the first half of the year, one after another, prompting the company’s hiring of former US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate, eventually resulting in the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick on June 13 – the same day on which David Bonderman, who was on the Uber board, also resigned after making a sexist joke in response to Holder’s findings. It was a mess.

Given the tumultuous year for cloud car services, Toyota jumped into the mix in smart taxi, where it could use its position to advance self-driving tech. The specific point of entry for Toyota is in creating a program that has similar characteristics to cloud taxi services, in collaboration with Japan Taxi.

The arrangement is a three-way venture between one of the world’s top carmakers, esteemed telecommunications firm KDDI, and one of Japan’s most prominent taxi services. The Toyota smart taxi project will be an avenue through which the manufacturer is able to gather a huge volume of data to be used for development of autonomous driving. Some in the automotive field are excited about this new effort; CNET’s Kyle Hyatt wrote, “This is great news if you’re in Japan and need to go somewhere.”

The key of the project is the TransLog component. Toyota outfitted each car in Japan Taxi’s fleet with this device; it is hooked up to a cloud artificial intelligence (AI) dispatch platform. By interconnecting all cars and data in this manner, a car service is better able to distribute its fleet in parts of town in a way that optimizes efficiency. Car driving data, video, and GPS information is all fed through TransLog for big data analysis as well, yielding additional value for the automaker.

Beyond information coming in from the cars within a taxi service, the algorithms it uses are enhanced with weather forecasts and smartphone data. With the model in place, the accuracy of placement within the city, per standards set by Japan Taxi and Toyota, was 94%.

China has a taxi service called Didi that is about to launch. Along with Didi, Grab, Lyft, and Uber, Toyota will face strong competition. The main advantages that the carmaker has over smaller taxi companies is that it has a huge research and development background, very deep pockets, and the actual automobiles themselves.

#2 still isn’t too shabby

Toyota lost a bit of its luster this year in terms of brand value. Before we get into that somewhat negative report, it is worth noting that this year is not at all a down-year for the carmaker, winning the 2018 Best Car of the Year from Consumer Reports for the Corolla (compact), Camry (midsized), Sienna (minivan), and Highlander (midsized SUV).

Those awards aside, Toyota’s overall brand value did drop lower than one of the other carmakers in 2018, according to analysis from Brand Finance Group.

The market analyst, reporting on its new Auto 100 list, noted that Toyota was 2nd on its list with Mercedes-Benz at the top. Mercedes rose to the top after its brand was estimated at $43.9 billion – a 24% year-over-year improvement. Prompting the rise in brand value was a rise in sales, which ascended at 9.9% to 2.3 million cars. Meanwhile, Toyota’s brand valuation was placed just below Mercedes-Benz at $43.7 billion, followed by BMW at $41.8 billion. Toyota’s primary challenge, according to the researcher, is to strategize China. Brand Finance noted that Chinese consumers “have shied away from the Japanese manufacturer in favour of more aspirational brands such as Mercedes-Benz.”

Mazda & Toyota join to open Alabama plant

As more carmakers open plants in the United States and elsewhere in North America, Mazda and Toyota decided to go in together on one plant in the US – forming a partnership to open an Alabama facility.

The new entity created by this alliance is Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, USA, Inc. (MTMUS). This recently announced body, which has been in development behind the scenes, is going to start its integrated work in Huntsville, Alabama, with the building of a car factory.

The carmakers are members of the partnership to the same degree, 50/50. 150,000 units of two cars, the Toyota Corolla compact and a new Mazda SUV, will be produced at the plant annually. Each of the automakers is contributing $800 million to the project, for a total $1.6 billion budget.

The new president of MTMUS, Masashi Aihara – also an executive officer at Mazda – said that the blended firm hoped to be beloved within the local area. The notion behind the collaboration, said Aihara, is that the union of the cultures and innovations of the two firms will not just yield great vehicles but also “create a plant employees will be proud to work at and contribute to the further development of the local economy and the automotive industry.”

Moving forward with Toyota repair

Toyota continues to innovate and have one of the highest values of any automaker. However, sometimes you need repair and maintenance that goes beyond simply resetting an indicator light. At Independent Motors, we like the Toyota brand so much that many of our employees own and drive them, including Bill, Independent Motors’ owner. See our Toyota repair philosophy.

Toyota Repair: How to Change the Door Lock Mode

Toyota Repair - How to Change the Door Lock Mode

If you own any recent Toyota model that has power locks and an automatic transmission, you have the ability to change the sequence for the locking and unlocking of the doors – as determined by the current mode.


This adjustment is not really a repair but will help you to “fix” the issue if the car is set in a mode that you do not like.


Your choice is between four modes that are preprogrammed into the vehicle:


  • Mode 1 – This mode connects the shift position with automatic door locking – but notably not unlocking. When the key is in the ignition and in the “On” position, and when all doors are shut, they will automatically lock when you move the shift lever out of “Park.”
  • Mode 2 – This mode simply turns off the feature. Automatic locking and unlocking will be nonoperational.
  • Mode 3 – Similarly to Mode 1, this mode ties both locking and unlocking of doors with the shift position. With the key in the “On” position and with all doors shut, you will auto-lock them whenever you move the shift lever from “Park.” In turn, the doors will auto-unlock whenever you bring the shift lever back to “Park.”
  • Mode 4 – This mode connects not just the shift position but also the key position to the automatic locking and unlocking system. With the key set to “On” and all of the doors shut, you will auto-lock the doors when you move out of “Park” with the shift lever. In turn, all the doors will auto-unlock when you turn the key to “Off” while the shift lever is in “Park.”


Switching between modes


Now that you know what your options are, how do you change from one to another? Here are the six steps:


  1. Look at the control knob for the dome light. Change the position to “Door.”


  1. Make sure all the doors are shut and that your shift lever is set to “Park.”


  1. Put the key in the ignition, and turn it so it is set to “On.”


  1. Once you are in the “On” position, and before 5 seconds has passed, push down the door lock switch on the driver’s side, keeping it down for 5 seconds.


  1. The number of flashes that come from the dome light will tell you the mode to which the automatic locking system is currently set. One flash tells you that you are in mode 1, while two, three, and four flashes signal that you are in modes 2-4, respectively.


  1. Push the switch to change to a different mode. It will flash to let you know the new mode. Keep pushing the switch until you get to the one you want.


You now know how to switch your Toyota car into any of the four different modes for automatic locking and unlocking – one of which (Mode 2) shuts it off completely, if that is your preference. Again, although not a Toyota repair, this project will allow you to have better control of the car and to fix the situation if you are frustrated by the way that this automatic feature is currently configured.


Note that your choice of auto-locking and auto-unlocking mode will be forgotten by the car computer if the car battery dies or becomes disconnected. If that occurs, the vehicle will be reset to Mode 1.


Toyota News & Information


Now you know how to switch your mode so that you are in control of how your automatic system is set to lock and unlock your doors. With that tutorial complete, we can turn to recent news stories that may be of interest to you as the owner of a Toyota:


  • Toyota wins 4 crowns in 2018 Consumer Reports list
  • Toyota develops more sustainable EV magnet


Toyota wins 4 crowns in 2018 Consumer Reports list


Each year Consumer Reports ranks the best cars, and the 2018 list amounts to an impressive display for Japanese carmaker Toyota.


Not all news has been positive for Toyota lately. It no longer has the planet’s leading volume of sales, eclipsed by Volkswagen and Nissan/Renault/Mitsubishi. Nonetheless, this Consumer Reports ranking shows that the carmaker is a strong choice for buyers, with critical assessments (drawing on many thousands of perspectives) that do not consider where a car stands in the popularity contest.


Consumer Reports is taken very seriously because it does not allow any potential bias to be introduced either by advertisements or by getting cars from automakers – instead purchasing cars directly from dealerships. Related to performance, that information is gathered from its subscribers, so that all its information is as scientific as possible (both objective and derived from a large sample).


Within the magazine’s 2018 Top Picks, 4 of the 10 categories saw Toyota at the helm. The categories and victors were:


  • compact car – Corolla
  • midsize car – Camry
  • midsize SUV – Highlander
  • minivan – Sienna.


The basic reasons that the carmaker was successful with this 2018 list, according to Consumer Reports, were threefold: reliability of the car; the focus on safety features; and the accessible, mainstream design.


The magazine’s director of automotive testing, Jake Fisher, stressed that “really impressive reliability across the board” was essential in setting the brand apart from its competition.


Fisher also mentioned that the automaker was excelling in applying safety technologies – particularly forward-collision warning systems and automatic emergency braking – standardly throughout its lineup.


Toyota develops more sustainable EV magnet


Electric vehicles (EVs) are embraced as a way to cut down our reliance on fossil fuels, at least creating a new format of automobile for which fueling at the pump is unnecessary. One key issue with zero-emission electric cars, though, is that they require a rare-earth element (REE), neodymium. Toyota has become concerned that we are mining this mineral too quickly to supply the growing demand. It is currently developing magnets for its motors that cut in half the amount of neodymium needed to build one of its hybrid or electric models.


This decision is exciting news for environmentalism, both because of Toyota’s scope and because it has announced it will offer an electric version of all its cars within seven years. To reduce the amount of neodymium, the carmaker has turned to lanthanum and cerium, both more affordable and currently in more abundant supply.


The reason magnet engineers have typically used neodymium is that it can maintain magnetization to an incredible degree and also has extraordinary heat-tolerance. The simple act of including more cerium and lanthanum instead of the neodymium would have been insufficient, since the important magnetic capabilities would be reduced. Because the project was not a simple task, Toyota invested substantially to innovate breakthrough technology that would allow the motor to perform just as well with only 50% of the neodymium.


Perhaps the most compelling aspect of this new magnet technology is that it can be applied to electronics beyond automobiles. Appliances, robots, and any other objects that might have use for an affordable, sustainable high-temperature motor could utilize this new technology. These more environmentally friendly motors will be used in production cars starting in approximately 2020.


Honest Toyota repair in Boulder


Toyota cars are owner-friendly, as suggested by the ease of switching between locking modes and the great ratings from Consumer Reports. Plus, the brand is easy to like, with its sustainability strides. Nonetheless, Toyota repair and routine maintenance is sometimes needed. For those tasks, you want a mechanic who is credible and straightforward. At Independent Motors, Boulder’s neighborhood auto repair shop for 35 years, 90% of the work we do is repeat business. See our Toyota repair philosophy.