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10 Annoying Transmission Problems Of A Toyota Camry

10 Annoying Transmission Problems Of A Toyota Camry

If there was ever a sedan you could call a “staple” of the segment in the past 30 years, the Toyota Camry takes the cake. With good looks and even better reliability, the Camry is as popular as ever. In this blog, we are looking at the transmission problems of the past three generations of the Camry. Here is a quick recap of our findings:

The 2012-2014 model year Camry with the U760E and the 2007-2009 Camry with the U660E 6-speed automatic transmissions are the most problematic, and both will cost several thousand to repair. Apart from that, the transmissions on the past three generations of the Camry are highly reliable and last up to 180,000 miles or more.

If you are in the market for a Camry, we’re sure you can’t be satisfied with this short recap. As we continue, we take a deeper look at each of the transmissions of the past 3 Camry generations. We review NHTSA owners’ complaints, Toyota’s technical service bulletins, and potential recalls. Keep reading! 

Common Toyota Camry Transmission Problems

There are quite a lot of transmissions to cover, so in order to avoid confusion, we will separate this section into different generations of the Camry, list all the transmissions available in each generation, and discuss them one by one.

XV70 – 8th Generation (2018-Present)

Since the announcement that the Avalon, Toyota’s flagship sedan, is getting discontinued, the Camry will be left running the sedan segment. In the last, factory name XV70 generation, Toyota offered several transmissions:

  • 6-Speed U761E Automatic
  • 8-Speed UA80E Direct Shift Automatic
  • Direct Shift-CVT K120
  • Aisin Seiki T110 Transaxle eCVT (hybrid)

This lineup is unique, considering how each of these transmissions offers a different technological advancement that improves the standard construction concept. You’ll see what we are talking about as we continue.

6-Speed U761E Automatic

The U761E automatic transmission builds upon the trusted and highly reliable predecessor, the U760E, featured in the previous generation Camry. As far as standard automatic transmissions go, the U761E is in the top 5 of the most reliable modern transmissions.

During our research, we had difficulty finding actual owners’ complaints within the NHTSA system or on any owners’ forums. However, based on our experience, the same issues that apply to the U760E can be appointed to the U761E. 

This includes problems with the valve body, shift solenoids, and the torque converter once the transmission reaches high mileage. To be fair, no hydraulic transmission won’t experience the same issues at high mileage, so you can sleep well knowing this is a genuinely great transmission (if it is regularly serviced!).

8-Speed UA80E Direct Shift Automatic

8-Speed UA80E Direct Shift Automatic

Direct-Shift transmissions are known to cause a fair amount of problems, especially when they first started to appear on the roads 10-15 years ago in a variety of Toyota vehicles including the RAV4 and Highlander.

Despite the otherwise good reputation of the UA80E Direct Shift unit, owners of the 2018-2019 Camry would certainly tell a different story.

During the first two model years of the 8th generation Camry, there were approximately 80-100 NHTSA reports of owners experiencing jerking, hesitation, gear chasing, bumping, and overall erratic behavior of the transmission when driving at low speeds with low throttle input and after downshifting.

Toyota quickly addressed this issue in the technical service bulletin reference T-SB-0152-19. As it turns out, a software update to the power train module resolved the problem by applying new logic to prevent the before mentioned symptoms. There were no reports of such behavior after the 2019 model year.

Direct Shift-CVT K120

Direct Shift-CVT K120

As you might know, CVT transmissions tend to fail prematurely due to the impact of high torque on their belt and pulley construction. To resolve this issue, Toyota’s Direct-Shift CVT transmission resolves that issue by featuring a physical first gear.

Yes, it’s that simple. By installing a physical first gear, which takes on the immense torque and power of the first gear, the classic CVT belt and pulley system does not kick in until the first gear finishes its business.

This dramatically improves the reliability of the CVT transmission, and as of now, there are no major reported problems with this unit. Some owners complain that a slight vibration or a bump can be felt as the transmission switches from the first gear onto the CVT system.

Aisin Seiki T110 Transaxle eCVT (hybrid)

Aisin Seiki T110 Transaxle eCVT (hybrid)

The eCVT unit’s main job is to combine the electric motor’s power and the internal combustion engine. It does that by featuring a planetary gear set similar to that of standard transmission to combine the power of both motors.

These transmissions are known as highly reliable, and there are currently no reported common problems. Truly excellent engineering by Toyota! However, this doesn’t mean the hybrid version doesn’t have any other problems. You can read about the problems of a hybrid Camry in this article.

XV50 – 7th Generation (2012-2017)

The 7th generation Avalon hit the roads with the 2012 model year and was an immediate success. This generation Camry still offered the 6-speed manual transmission, but you also had other options:

  • 4-Speed Automatic
  • U760E 6-Speed Automatic
  • 6-Speed Manual
  • eCVT (hybrid)

If you were surprised to see a 4-speed automatic transmission on a relatively modern car, we want to point out that this transmission was only paired with the 1.8-2.0L engine offered outside of the US. The same is true for the manual transmission.

U760E 6-Speed Automatic

We have written many great things about the U760E transmission before; it is generally widely considered a tried and proven transmission. However, that is where things take a turn for the worse.

While it is unknown exactly why this happened, this transmission experienced shuddering, jerking, and some have described as violent shaking at low speeds and low throttle input. More than 150 NHTSA owners’ complaints confirm this problem’s velocity.

Toyota quickly addressed this problem with a torque converter warranty extension for the 2012-2014 model year Camry. They confirmed this problem and concluded it happened during the torque converter flex lock-up phase, which occurs while traveling between 25 – 50 mph.

While this was a good reaction from Toyota at first, many reported that not only the 2012-2014 model years were affected and that the shuddering they experienced left long-term damage on the transmission, which caused all sorts of other problems that Toyota did not cover in their warranty extension.

Some owners of the 2013-2015 U760E-equipped Camry’s also experienced oil leaks on the transmission oil pan. Toyota addressed this problem with the release of a Tech Tips reference T-TT-0354-15.

4-Speed Automatic

As we said before, this transmission was only available paired with the weaker 1.8 and 2.0 L engines that were not sold in the US. After reading through a few Russian owners’ forums, we discovered that this transmission is widely renowned as being almost “bulletproof”. 

It is an old Toyota transmission, which has been perfected through the years, so there should be no significant worries here.

6-Speed Manual

As long as the clutch is not slipping and you make sure that you drain and refill the transmission fluid every 100,000 miles, this transmission shall outlive both your car and possibly even you. No problems here!

eCVT (Hybrid models only)

Just a few paragraphs above, we described how the eCVT unit represents the next step in developing transmissions for Hybrid drive vehicles and how Toyota’s eCVT stands out from other CVTs. 

You could also see how we mentioned that these transmissions seem extremely reliable and problem free. However, it was not always like this. There are always initial release bugs, and the XV50 Camry Hybrid was no different.

All model-year vehicles before 2017 experienced problems with hesitation and delayed engagement. This was a major annoyance and a safety concern.

A software update apparently resolved the problem to the ECU; however, none of the TSB campaigns mention these symptoms. The 2017 model year Camry Hybrid was problem free as far as the transmission goes. 

XV40 – 6th Generation (2007-2011)

During its slightly shorter production run, the 6th generation Camry featured an impressive number of transmissions:

  • 5-Speed Manual
  • 6-Speed Manual
  • U241E 4-Speed Automatic
  • U250E 5-Speed Automatic
  • U660E 6-Speed Automatic
  • eCVT (hybrid)

If we’re to put this section into a few words, it would be this: Avoid the U660E at all costs. Hear us out…

U660E 6-Speed Automatic

U660E 6-Speed Automatic

Right away, we could see that there was something seriously wrong with the U660E 6-speed automatic transmission. There are more than 200 owners’ complaints against this unit for the 2007 model year alone, and the complaints just don’t stop till 2011.

Several owners report transmission slipping, shuddering, resisting shifting between gears, harsh downshifts, and even complete transmission failures around the 100,000-mile mark. Toyota addressed this issue in several TSBs (TC005-06, TC007-07, TC010-06), but no real solution was ever provided.

Certain issues were mitigated by reprogramming the Transmission Control Unit; however, many owners had to replace internal transmission components like the torque converter, clutch bands, shift solenoids, or even the valve body. 

Toyota’s response to this issue was poor, but they sorted this issue by 2012, which is why we recommend avoiding this transmission if you can.

U241E 4-Speed Automatic & U250E 5-Speed Automatic

U241E 4-Speed Automatic

We have joined up these two transmissions because they are essentially the same, and the only difference is the additional 5th gear on the U250E unit. The 4-Speed transmission was only used on the weaker engine options offered outside of the US.

These two transmissions mainly suffer from problems related to shift solenoids (partial or complete failure), which result in harsh downshifting, shift flares, and slipping of the transmission. Both issues are explained in great detail in Gears Magazine and Transmission Digest.

5-Speed Manual & 6-Speed Manual

We have not detected any problems, recalls, or TSBs regarding these two transmissions, and they seem to be problem free.

eCVT (Hybrid only)

After reviewing all 54 pages of the owner’s forums threads, we have observed very little to no existing problems with this transmission. There are also no recalls, TSBs, or common NHTSA owners’ complaints that would address any specific eCVT transmission problems.

We’ve also seen this transmission perform well in other Toyota hybrids of a similar size like the Avalon and Corolla.

Other Problems Related To The Powertrain

We would highly recommend avoiding the 2007 model year Camry. Not only were there significant problems with the U660E 6-speed automatic transmissions, but owners also complained about the insane oil consumption of the 2.4 L engine. The problem was widely spread, and the repair costs were almost 3000$.

Apart from that, we have not detected any significant concerts in connection to the Camry’s powertrain. No major recalls or any other campaign would address significant powertrain complaints.

How Long Does A Toyota Camry Transmission Last?

Let’s start things off with the latest, 8th-generation Camry. As far as transmissions go, this generation has no major problems, but that doesn’t mean it will last as long as some of Toyota’s workhorse vehicles like the Sienna or the Tundra’s powerful line up of transmissions.

But based on our research, none of the transmissions should have any issues making it to at least 180,000 miles or more. And while the Camry’s transmission does have problems, every vehicle will have some transmission issues.

The 7th generation Camry also came with some fantastic transmissions. However, we recommend avoiding the 2012-2014 model year vehicles with the U760E transmissions due to its problems with the infamous shudder problems. 

Aside from that, all the transmissions in this generation should easily reach the 150,000 – 180,000 mile mark with regular maintenance.

The only widely problematic transmission of the 6th generation Camry is the U660E 6-speed automatic. We do not expect these transmissions to last 150,000 miles without going through major repairs. 

All other transmissions of this generation should have no problems reaching 150,000 and more miles with regular maintenance only.

How Much Does A Toyota Camry Transmission Cost?

  • Toyota U760E, U660E Torque Converter, new, eBay: 230$
  • Toyota U760E, U660E Transmission Pump, new, eBay: 200$
    Toyota U760E, U660E Refurbished Valve Bodies, eBay: 300$ – 500$
  • Toyota U760E, U660E Overhaul Kits, eBay: 80$ – 200$
  • Toyota U760E, U660E Solenoid Kits, eBay: 200$ – 300$
  • Toyota U760E, U660E, U250E Rebuilt Units, StreetSmartTransmission: 2000$ – 2600$
  • Manual transmissions, all generations, eBay: 700$ – 1000$
  • No aftermarket or new parts is being sold for the eCVT u

Closing Thoughts

Alright then, let’s wrap this up!

We’ve gone deep into the nitty-gritty of the transmissions for the last three generations of the Toyota Camry. We’ve dug into owner complaints, technical bulletins from Toyota, and even possible recalls.

That’s a whole lot of info to chew on! But, hey, whether you’re looking to buy a Camry or you’ve already got one parked in your driveway, this knowledge is critical. From fuel options to the most common problems reported by owners we’ve written about it all and it’s all helpful if you own, or might own, a Camry.

It not only helps you make a smart buy but also keeps you ahead of the curve in maintaining your ride. At the end of the day, knowing your car inside and out makes for smoother rides and fewer surprises. And that’s what we’re here for. So, keep this info handy and you’re all set for an awesome Camry experience!

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