Help With Toyota Camry Transmission Problems

broken car
Fix your transmission before you're stranded. Getty

Transmission problems can be a serious issue, and very costly. Even before the transmission completely fails, poor shifting and unpredictable behavior in general can make your car or truck far less than a pleasure to drive. In some cases, a transmission problem can be traced to a minor issue, which means you've dodged a huge repair bill and avoided a rebuilt. In the letter below, one owner describes his Toyota Camry transmission issue. For cars built after 1998, there will be a much more detailed trail of OBD Codes to follow, which is even more helpful in diagnosis. If you can't figure it out, you can go to the transmission shop, but it never hurts to get as much info on your own as possible before you hand the keys to somebody who is going to write an expensive repair ticket.


I have a 1987 Toyota Camry. It has a 4 cylinder engine with automatic transmission and 285,000 miles. It has fuel injection, P/S and A/C. I've been having a problem with the transmission shifting. It is an intermittent problem. Most notably, sometimes when I pull out, it shifts from low right into overdrive and sometime it won't come out of overdrive when on the highway.

Sometimes I'll push the gas pedal to the floor trying to get it to "shift up" and it's like it comes out of gear all together and the engine revs like it's in neutral. I just got it out of the transmission shop today after having a partial rebuild and a rebuilt valve body put in it. I still have the same problem.

The transmission was completely rebuilt about 6 years ago. I've been told this could be a problem with a shift solenoid. If so, is this an easy and inexpensive repair and is the shift solenoid located on the outside or the inside of the transmission?

Could it have anything to do with the engine idle being set too high? I would very much appreciate any advice you could give me.

Thank you,


It is likely the problem is electrical in nature. So the first thing you should do is see if any codes are stored in the Transmission Control Module (TCM). once we know what those codes are, we can go from there.

Here's how to do read the diagnostic trouble codes from your automatic transmission.

Turn ignition switch and OD switch to ON. Do not start engine. Note: warning and diagnostic code can be read only when the overdrive switch is ON. If OFF the overdrive light will light continuously and will not blink.

Short DG terminal circuit using a service wire, short the terminals ECT and E1. Read diagnostic code. Read the diagnostic code as indicated by the number of times the OD "OFF" light flashes.

Diagnostic Code

If the system is operating normally, the light will blink for 0.25 seconds every 0.5 seconds.

In the event of a malfunction, the light will blink for 0.5 seconds every 1.0 seconds. The number of blinks will equal the first number and, after 1.5 second pause, the second number of the two digit diagnostic code. If there are two or more codes, there will be a 2.5 second pause between each.
Remove the service wire from the DG terminal.
NOTE: In the event of several trouble codes occurring simultaneously, indication will begin from the smaller value and continue to the larger.

One More NOTE: If codes 62, 63 and 64 appear, there is an electrical malfunction in the solenoid. Causes due to mechanical failure, such as a stuck switch, will not appear.