First Owner Japan Built, I have owned this Camry since new, people talk about headbolts problems and lot of negative comments..well, my car has been different, My Camry has been the most reliable of my cars, I owed a Benz S430, a suburban, a Honda accord, and this the only car that never has given me any major issues..the most I've done to it was the starter, main serpentine belt, cleaned the MAF sensor and Brakes..and an oil change every 3k and fuel additive every oil change works..at this mileage I do have to use an Oil additive, I notice some smog in the mornings..but using thicker oil has fixed the issue..I recommend this car with manual Transmission since is the one I drive..I don't know about automatic Tanny experiences..
If you locate a 2002 2.4 liter SE with more than 170k miles on it.., that has a condensation visual appearance exhaust, BUY IT! You won't go wrong. These motors are pretty much bullet proof, besides the normal replacement of worn engine parts, batteries, tires and struts. The owner of my Camry always kept 'Amsoil' in every sump the car had..., including the coolant. I truly appreciate this, for this is why I made the purchase. The previous owner obviously knew the importance of quality lubes (synthetic) and other chemicals. I took a leak down test of the vehicle, before I actually purchased it, and without going through the technical part of things, both the compression rings and cylinder walls revealed that of practically a new car. I expect to get 500k miles out of this little transverse inline 2.4 liter work horse. The car as a whole, endured the punishing heat of Central Florida since 2002, when it was purchased new. The paint in nothing to write home about.., but that engine is build correctly. I'm a diesel guy! I own a 7.3 liter Ford Excursion with 236k miles on it. Hardly broken in.., for a diesel that is. I put the 2002 Toyota Camry longevity and reliability on the same platform as my Navistar 7.3 liter diesel. It just that darn dependable!!!! In conclusion, I will keep it on a steady diet of 'Amsoil 3000 Series HD Diesel motor oil.' The drain interval for me is 25k, so all you have to do is change the oil filter every 7k miles, religiously. This is a sound practice that I've used for more than 15 years, but with the 3000 Series Diesel synthetic oil only. I also own a 1986 Dodge 318ci pick-up with 617K miles on it, using the 3000 series Diesel only. If you come across a 2000-2006 Toyota Camry 2.4 liter..., BUY IT. It'll be the best investment you'll ever make.
Got my 02 camry 2.4L on Aug 2013 from a bay area dealer, it did have 36K miles on it. I barely used it, it was my backup/weekend car and for 2 yrs I have the car, I've only put in 18K on it. I had the water pump replaced on Feb 2015 by a Toyota tech that does outside job and I did replace the serpentine belt on Dec 2014. Decide to use this car to work one day and noticed my temperature gauge start hitting hot, park my car to safe area and check my coolant reservoir, it was empty. I remember checking it 2 days ago, it was full. As I remove my radiator cap, there was no coolant in the radiator, put water in it since I did not have any coolant with me and decide to take it to one of the mechanic I go to, it was close by to the area where I was at. I did check my oil and it was still fine, did not see any water oil mixture. As I've mention the issue to the mechanic, he already knew the problem with this models. Strip head bolt and coolant is going through it or either leak back, recommended engine replacement. Took my car home and used my daily driver car, 92 camry with 279K (original engine). Same day, I've contact the Toyota tech mechanic, he had mentioned to me that this has been an issue with this car's but usually it's about 130K. I was aware of this issue a yr after I bought the car, google engine performance, I was hoping it would last me up to 130K. I would stay away from 2.4L Toyota engine from 2002-2010, bad engine engineering, either a strip head bold or piston ring issues, coming from the Toyota tech mechanic. I will have to replace my motor since I don't want another car payment, hoping it will last me at least 4-5 yrs just to get my money back. It will cost me about 4K with the Toyota tech doing the work. '