Toyota Camry 2012-2017: problems, photos

Updated: March 01, 2020
Famous for its smooth and quiet ride, the Toyota Camry is one of the most reliable family sedans. The Camry has front-wheel drive and comes with a 4-cylinder or V6 engine.
2012 Toyota Camry interior2012 Toyota Camry interior
Both engines offer good fuel economy. The V6 Camry is also fast. The Camry Hybrid version is also available. The only transmission choice in non-hybrid models is a conventional 6-speed automatic.

The interior is stylish and practical. Large doors and elevated seats make entry and exit easy. The USB and Bluetooth are standard. The Camry's safety ratings are among the best in its class. In terms of reliability, the 2012-2017 Camry did not have any major problems, but there are some concerns used car buyers should be aware of; read details below.

Toyota Camry Problems: The Check engine light with the code P0441 can be caused by a bad purge valve or gas cap. Either part is not expensive. To confirm, mechanics do an EVAP system test.

According to the service bulletin T-SB-0041-13, the brief knock/rattle at cold startup in the 2012 Camry 4-cylinder 2AR engine could be caused by a problem with Camshaft Timing Gear Assembly. To repair the problem, the gear assembly must be replaced. The bulletin quotes 2.6 hours for the 4-cylinder Camry. Check out this discussion at the forum (the RAV4 has the same engine). Honda and a few other makes have the same problem in some engines too.
Another bulletin T-SB-0086-12 describes the intermittent shudder on light acceleration after an upshift in some 4-cylinder 2012 Camry vehicles.
2012 Toyota Camry XLE 2012 Toyota Camry XLE. Toyota Camry 2AR-FE 4-cylinder engine Toyota Camry 2AR-FE 4-cylinder engine. Toyota Camry 2GR-FE V6 2GR-FE V6 engine.
The bulletin instructs replacing a torque converter if the issue is not resolved after changing the automatic transmission fluid. Toyota USA issued Warranty Enhancement Program – ZE5 for certain 2012-2014 Camry for U760E Torque Converter Shudder.

Several Camry owners mentioned a musty smell right after the A/C is turned on. Toyota issued the service bulletin T-SB-0142-13 describing ways to minimize the odors. Recommendations include: set the HVAC system to "fresh" air mode when parking the vehicle, replace the HVAC filter (cabin filter) annually or every 10,000 miles. Use the High Performance Charcoal Filter. Do the A/C evaporator cleaning service once a year if the condition persists.

A number of owners complained about the power sunroof/moonroof switch not working intermittently in the 2012 Camry. We found the bulletin T-SB-0116-14 on this issue. It recommends checking the switch and, if defective, replacing the overhead console assembly with an updated part. The part is sold for around $100 online.
The overall number of complaints is fairly low compared to some other mid-size cars.

Engines: The base 178-hp 2.5L 2AR-FE 4-cylinder engine delivers 178 horsepower. It's one of the best 4-cylinder engines on the market. The 268-hp 3.5L V6 (2GR-FE) is also well known. Both are twin-cam engines with variable valve timing. Either can run on regular gasoline. Toyota has used both of these engines for several years in many vehicles and they both have proven to be reliable. See photos below.

Timing belt or timing chain: Both the 2AR-FE and 2GR-FE have a timing chain; there is no timing belt. The timing chain does not require regular replacements.

2015 redesign: For 2015, the Camry received a major redesign, although it's still considered the same generation known as XV50.
2012 versus 2015 Toyota Camry 2012 versus 2015 Toyota Camry.
The 2015 Camry has a widened track (0.4 inches / 10 mm), better sound insulation and more features, but mechanically, it's not much different.

Pros: Fuel economy; safety; reliability, soft and quiet ride, refined powertrain, very powerful V6; interior room and comfort, resale value, moderate ownership costs.

Cons: Pass-through behind the rear seats is fairly small, glove box is not very large, some of the interior materials could be better, the steering feels a bit numb around the center.

Overall: The Camry is still the most comfortable, easy-to-drive family sedan on the market. It's also very reliable: as of December 2021, Consumer Reports ranks the Toyota Camry very well, with all model years from 2012 to 2017 rated 'Better than average' for reliability and listed as 'Recommended.' J.D. Power and Associates also rated the 2012-2017 Camry well. We have also checked many owner reviews: Several 2012 Camry owners mentioned a vague steering feel on the highway. Others complained about smaller and harder front seats. A number of owners mentioned that they can get the advertised fuel economy numbers. Overall, however, most Camry owners are happy with their cars. Read also: Signs of automatic transmission problems when test driving a used car.

Mechanical: The steering is electrically assisted with 36.7 ft turning circle, curb to curb. The suspension design is similar to previous models, with MacPherson struts on all four wheels. Rear brakes are discs only. The Camry Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine combined with a 105-kW electric motor. A powerful hybrid battery pack installed under the trunk floor stores the electric power. The 2012 Camry Hybrid LE gets 40 mpg combined.

Handling and ride: Driving the Camry is pure pleasure: it's soft, quiet and smooth. Road bumps and imperfections are well absorbed. Compared to the previous model, this Camry handles better and feels more stable in turns. The steering is light; the only downside is that it feels a bit vague around the center position. The 3.5L V6 is crazy fast; the Car and Driver magazine clocked the 2012 V6 Camry accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds; it's almost like a sports car.

Fuel Consumption
Toyota Camry EPA Fuel Economy: mpg
L/100 km
2012-2017 Hybrid LE 42/38 5.6/6.2
2012-2017 Hybrid XLE 40/37 5.9/6.4
2013-2016 2.5L 4-cyl auto 25/34 9.4/6.9
2017 2.5L 4-cyl auto 24/33 9.8/7.1
2012 2.5L 4-cyl auto 24/34 9.8/6.9
2012-2017 3.5L V6 auto 21/30 11.2/7.8
Fuel economy: The EPA rates the 2013-2016 Toyota Camry with a 4-cylinder engine at 25/34 mpg city/highway or 28 mpg combined. That means you can travel up 544 miles (875 km) on a tank of gas on a long highway trip. The 2012 Camry with a V6 gets 21/30 mpg; in mostly highway driving it can go for up to 476 miles or 766 km on one tank.

Related reviews:
Toyota Camry 2007-2011 review
Honda Accord 2013-2017 review
Honda Accord 2008-2012 review
Mazda 6 2014-2019 review
Mazda 6 2009-2013 review
Honda Civic 2012-2015
Toyota Corolla 2009-2013 review

Safety: Stability control, traction control, antilock brakes, as well as 10 airbags are standard in all Camry models. The 2012-2017 Camry got a perfect 5-star overall rating in government crash tests.
Camry rear seats folded Rear seats folded. Trunk The trunk offers 15.4 cu. ft. of cargo space.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the 2012-2014 as 'Top Safety Pick', while the 2015-2017 Camry earned the Top Safety Pick Plus award.

The 2015 update included the addition of an optional Pre-Collision System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Auto High Beam Lane Departure Alert, and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Maintenance tips: In the Warranty and Maintenance Guide for the U.S. 2012 Camry, Toyota recommends changing engine oil every 10,000 miles/12 months with 0W-20 synthetic when driving in normal conditions. When the vehicle is driven under especially demanding conditions, including low temperatures, extensive idling, etc., the recommended oil change interval is every 5,000 miles/6 months. Of course, you know that your engine will last longer if you change your oil more often. Toyota recommends rotating tires every 5,000 miles, so if you take your car to a dealer every 5,000 miles for tire rotation, why not change the oil at the same time?
It's also important to check your oil level regularly, as some amount of oil is consumed as you drive and you don't want your engine to run low on oil.
According to the owner's manual, the 4-cylinder 2.5L engine uses a high-strength drive belt; make sure to use the right part when replacing it. The maintenance schedule is online at the Toyota Owners website. The owner's manual can be accessed at the same website.