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Victor, Toyota Master Technician
Category: Toyota
Satisfied Customers: 767
Experience:  Toyota Master ASE Certified, Prius/ Highlander/ Camry Hybrid Certified, trained in all areas
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I have a 2003 camry 4 cyl. My oil light intermittently flickers.

Customer Question

I have a 2003 camry 4 cyl. My oil light intermittently flickers. Plenty of oil, and it is changed every 5k with synthetic oil. It acts as if there is a loose wire. Sustained blinking for no more than about a minute. It comes and goes especially at highway speeds. If I let off the throttle it will go away. I don't see it at low speed driving. A P0012 code ( Camshaft position 'A' over retarded ) came up when I took it to the dealer. The problem would not repeat with them. They wanted to drop the oil pan and pull the valve cover to check for 'geling'. It 'acts' electrical and I wonder if the oil sensing unit could be the problem. The motor seems to be running ok. no knocking or high temp. the idle is a tad rough when stopped and in gear, but it's been that way since I got the car 30k miles ago. it has 108k now
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Toyota
Expert:  Victor replied 8 years ago.

HiCustomerand welcome to JustAnswer,


It's uncommon for an oil pressure sending unit to be faulty, but it shouldn't be ruled out though. Even though it "acts" like an electrical problem, first thing you need to do is get an oil pressure reading. The dealer can do this for you. From experience, a flickering light usually means an oil pressure issue. It does sound like the engine is gelled or gelling. Once, it starts, the oil galleries gets plugged up and oil starvation occur. Another reason why I think the engine oil is sludged is because of the P0012 code. This code usually trips when the adjustable cam gear starves of oil. This gear needs oil to adjust timing depending on driving conditons. So, it sounds like inadequate oil pressure is present.


What you need to do is have the dealer pull the oil pan, valve cover and measure oil pressure.



Customer: replied 8 years ago.

If further inspection reveals gelling, should the engine get the full de sludging treatment as the dealer suggests to include replacing the valve guide seats or could cleaning the sludge from the pan, oil pick up tube and other visible areas be OK. It's 25 hours labor to do as they suggest. At any rate, the oil sending unit is fairly cheap and easy to replace, so I'll do that first. Could the tensioner cause the P0012. I'm really trying to NOT spend 2-3 thousand dollars. Thanks.

Expert:  Victor replied 8 years ago.

If gelling is found, a complete engine teardown will have to be done to see if the oil galleries and bearings are ok. Cleaning the pan and pickup tube will not take care of the problem. Once gelled, the gel is all over inside the engine. There's really no short cuts to fix it. A tensioner will not cause a P0012 code. I have not seen a failed tensioner to this date. The code is more likely from oil starvation as stated before. I understand you're trying to go the cheapest route, but to get it done right the first time, you will be saving a lot of headaches and money in the long run.



Victor and 3 other Toyota Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thanks for your help, and I appreciate your honesty. I have recommended you and will use you in the future. If your payment has not been received, let me know, and' I'll do what I can to make it right. I'm financially able to pay what is needed to fix my Camry. I just wanted a second expert opinon. It appears my dealership was straight up with me. Take care and thank you. Feel free to use me as a reference.