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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.

Common Honda Repairs and Toyota Repairs to Extend Their Usage

Common Honda and Toyota Repairs

When shopping around for a vehicle, you have certain criteria you’re looking to meet. Unless you have a specialized need that needs to be met with your vehicle, like a lot of storage room or horsepower, you’re probably looking for a vehicle that has serviceable enough performance for a commute, decent mileage, and durability so you don’t have to worry about replacing it for years. That last point is important because cars aren’t cheap. Unless you always want the latest and greatest, and you can afford it, you’re going to want a vehicle that could easily last you up to a decade or so.


When looking for an economically sensible option that is well-rounded and won’t require an excessive amount of visits to the mechanic, the general public tends to look towards Japanese cars. Honda and Toyota especially have carved out a nice reputation for themselves as being the makers of vehicles that get the job done and are reliable for a long time.


But, just like with any machine no matter how well crafted, things eventually do break down. It’s not uncommon to eventually need to talk to your mechanic about Honda repairs or Toyota repairs. While it may not be as frequent as with other brand names, issues will arise and need to be addressed eventually.


While it’s hard to make blanket statements about brands because each one releases a full line of makes and models each with their own issues, enough Honda vehicles and Toyota vehicles have come in for repairs that it’s possible to get a sense of what the most common repairs are for these vehicles. Here is some information on what makes Honda and Toyota so popular with so many people along with the common issues you should keep an eye out for. While issues may not happen early in the vehicle’s lifecycle, major repairs could be required eventually. Remember, you can lower the chances of needing major repairs if you stay on top of your regular, routine maintenance.


Why Honda and Toyota are So Popular


Let’s start with Honda first. Honda has been a popular automaker since the late 1970s. The Honda Civic has been a mainstay when it comes highly rated vehicles that retain their value over time. In fact, the Civic consistently gets high marks. Just last year, Kelly Blue Book’s Best Buy of the Year was awarded to the Honda Civic. The Accord was at number three for Best Resale Value the same year. The Accord has consistently been a high seller and a family friendly car for the 40 years it has been in production. Additionally, Honda as a manufacturer goes above and beyond when it comes to safety regulations. They far surpass what is required of them. Honda has also been a leader in environmental concerns and technology since the beginning of the company.


Toyota isn’t far behind when it comes to popularity and sales. The Camry was the number one car in America in 2014. Toyotas are also known for being reliable and lasting a long time. Toyota has long been an environmentally conscious brand. This was only reinforced with the release of the Toyota Prius, which was the first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle. It remains the top-selling hybrid in America.


These workhorse vehicles are certainly reliable and offer a lot of bang for the buck. But, they will eventually need repairs. Here is what you need to keep an eye out for.


Common Honda Repairs


Clearly, not all Honda vehicles are the same. They all have their own individual quirks or things that can go wrong given enough years and mileage. While Honda overall as a brand puts out vehicles that tend to last longer than a lot of the competition, there are some common issues that can be found across many of the makes and models put out by the company. While it may be awhile before you encounter any of these issues, here are the ones you have a good chance of seeing at some point during your ownership.


Keep an eye out for worn ball joints, axles, head gaskets, transmission issues, and the need for valve adjustments.


If your eyes immediately went to the transmission, no one can blame you. No one wants to hear the transmission needs to be replaced. There is good news and bad news here. The good news is if your Honda was released in the past 12 years or so, you’re probably okay. Actually, if you’ve made it 12 years with a car of any kind without a major issue, you’re pretty lucky. However, Honda vehicles got a bad wrap for their transmission issues in the early 2000s. The 1999-2004 Accords, Odysseys, and Civics had notoriously unreliable transmissions that started to fail around the 70,000-mile mark.


Since we’re so far removed from those years at this point, you probably don’t have to worry too much about early transmission failure on your vehicle.


Typical Toyota Repairs


Toyota consistently gets high marks for reliability. However, just like with Hondas, there are noted weak points that eventually tend to fail just like any mechanical system does eventually. Again, just because Toyota vehicles tend to have similar issues doesn’t make them bad vehicles. Many other brands have more issues, more often. But, if you’re a Toyota owner you are more likely to experience a failed water pump, damaged steering rack bushings and steering rack assemblies, and worn out struts and shocks.


Struts and shocks tend to be the repairs that make people raise their eyebrows when they hear it has to get done because the costs can add up quickly. While struts need to be repaired in pairs, it’s common to have all four replaced at once. That’s because, for most people, the first time they need to worry about replacing them is somewhere north of 50,000 miles where even if one fails, all four are probably worn down anyway. Many manufacturers recommend replacing struts at 50,000 miles, but like with changing the oil, you may be able to get more out of them. You shouldn’t go too far beyond 70,000, however. You can start experiencing serious wear and tear past that point.


As for the water pump, it’s not very subtle when it’s on the way to failing. Coolant leakage, steam, and an overheating engine are all telltale signs that there is trouble. It’s important that you bring your vehicle in right away if signs of water pump trouble are appearing because a failed water pump can eventually destroy the engine. 




There are many reasons why you’re the happy owner of a Honda or Toyota vehicle. Whether it’s the good mileage, durability, value, or any of the other many reasons why these cars and SUVs are so popular, you intend to keep driving your vehicle for many years to come. While Honda and Toyota are known for their ability to be driven for years and years, even the most durable vehicle runs into problems eventually. Whether it’s routine maintenance or serious repairs, we’re here to help. Call us today to schedule an appointment to bring your vehicle in. At Independent Motors, we value our customers. That’s why we offer the best service at an honest price. Bring in your vehicle and we’ll help you keep it on the road for many more years.