3 Common Toyota Camry 2.5 Liter 4-Cylinder Engine Problems


Toyota’s 2AR-FE is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder used most commonly in the Toyota Camry and RAV4. It’s been around since 2008 and has proven to be smooth, reliable, and fuel efficient. Sure it may lack the power of a V6, or even many newer four-cylinder engines. But its strong suit is dependable, low-cost operation. 

Like every engine, there are a few trouble spots to watch out for. According to Tuning Pro, the three most common are relatively minor but worth checking out. We’ll cover those issues in this article.  

Toyota 2AR-FE specs and info

The 2AR-FE engine was produced by Toyota from 2008 to 2020. Displacing 2.5-liters it’s one of the larger four-cylinder engines on the market making it ideal for larger vehicles like the Toyota Camry and RAV4. It produces between 169 and 180 horsepower and around 170 lb. feet of torque. 

The AR family of Toyota engines is still in production and used in conjunction with hybrid powertrains on many vehicles. It features variable valve timing, and an aluminum block with cast iron cylinder liners. Where it really shines is fuel efficiency and longevity coupled with low operating costs. 

Here are 3 common Toyota Camry 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine problems

A red 2009 Toyota Camry driving alongside a fence
2009 Toyota Camry | Toyota

Even though the 2AR-FE four-cylinder is a dependable, long lasting engine, there are three problems to watch for. 

Water Pump Failure

Water pumps are a part that eventually wears out on all engines. When they start to go bad, they typically begin to leak coolant. More seriously however, they can fail internally, either by seizing up or coming apart. As a result, the vehicle can quickly lose coolant and overheat. 

If the water pump fails completely, you’ll see the temperature gauge rise quickly and you may hear a grinding or screeching noise from under the hood. If that happens, you’ll want to pull over to a safe location as quickly as possible and turn off the engine. It’s best to avoid running the engine until the water pump is replaced. 

Camry and RAV4 Transmission Problems

The second problem Tuning Pro references isn’t really an engine problem at all. Instead, it has to do with the transmission. 

The transmission is part of the drivetrain but is a separate component from the engine. On some Toyota Camrys and RAV4s the transmission’s torque converter may act up for fail. When this happens, you may notice the transmission slip or hesitate. It may also shift rough when accelerating or coming to a stop. 

Often caused by poor maintenance, the Camry and RAV4 transmission problems affect a small number of vehicles. Transmissions, like many mechanical components need regular service to maintain their performance and extend their life.  

Engine Knocking Sounds

Engine knocking is caused by a number of issues. Some of these problems may be minor but there are a few that can be serious. In the case of the Toyota 2AR-FE, engine knocking is minor and hardly worth mentioning. Still it’s one of the most common Camry 2.5 Liter 4-cylinder engine problems.

Typically, engine knocking sounds on the 2AR motor involve the timing gears for the variable valve timing. The knocking occurs when the engine is cold and goes away in less than a minute. Toyota issued a service bulletin on the issue and offers a warranty on the repair. 

If you have concerns about the engine knocking sounds, it’s a good idea to get your engine checked out by a Toyota dealer or certified mechanic. If nothing else, it will give you peace of mind. 

Should You Buy a Toyota with a 2AR-FE engine? 

A blue 2022 Toyota Camry in a press photo.
Toyota Camry | Toyota

If dependability, good fuel economy, and getting from point A to B are your priorities, the answer is absolutely yes. Tuning Pro groups it among the most reliable engines its ever covered and the problems on this list are either minor or only affect a small percentage of Toyota vehicles.    

All cars eventually have problems and need repairs. But the keys to longevity come down to two things: 

  1. Quality of design and build are key factors. The design of the vehicle, including mechanical components like the drivetrain play a significant factor in its longevity. Vehicles that have a high number of problems, or more than a few expensive repairs rarely last as long as a vehicle that is basically trouble free. 
  1. Equally, if not more important than design and build: vehicle maintenance. One of the constant laws of car ownership is that a well maintained car is always more trouble-free and reliable than a poorly maintained one. It doesn’t matter what vehicle it is. Virtually any car runs better, lasts longer, and costs less to own if properly cared for.   

While we can’t vouch for the maintenance of individual vehicles, we can say that the Toyota Camry and the RAV4 with the 2AR-FE are among the best built, most reliable vehicles on the road. Properly cared for, they routinely last more than 200,000 miles with out any major issues. 

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