Toyota Discovers Bigger Pistons Aren't Better, Issues Camry Recall

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

It’s 11:40 a.m. Do you know how large your Camry’s pistons are?

Odds are you don’t, and Toyota isn’t sure it knows, either. That’s why the automaker has issued a small but relatively unusual recall for 1,730 Camrys from the 2018 model year. The issue lies with the installation of pistons built to an incorrect specification.

Essentially, they’re too big for their britches.

Toyota doesn’t say which engine is affected by the porky pistons (which boast a larger-than-spec diameter), nor whether any major incidents have resulted from the snafu. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn’t listed the recall at this time.

“In certain conditions, this may cause the vehicle to run rough, create an abnormal sound, emit smoke from the exhaust, and illuminate warning lights and messages,” the automaker said in a release. “In some cases, a reduction of power may occur and the engine could stop running.”

Of course, having your engine conk out at speed usually impacts your power steering and brakes, so there’s an inherent danger here.

Owners of affected vehicles should expect a mailed notification by late May. Once in the shop, the automaker will check the production date code for the pistons — if you’re the lucky owner of a compromised mill, you’ll receive a whole new engine courtesy of Toyota.

Given the limited nature of the recall, it’s unlikely Toyota PR need to worry about gaining a poor reputation from this minor fiasco. Still, Honda — which is currently losing the great Camry/Accord battle — might lob a joke or two.

[Image: Toyota]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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8 of 53 comments
  • El scotto El scotto on Mar 31, 2018

    GM would say the customer misused their car, didn't follow driving recommendations in the owners manual and just generally abused their car. In no way were there any engineering or manufacturing errors from GM. No Siree, no bad manufacturing, no bad parts from GM ever. Toyota finds something wrong with the engine, replaces engine.

    • See 3 previous
    • NormSV650 NormSV650 on Apr 03, 2018

      @ponchoman49 Toyota said it was pedal misapplication too.

  • John Horner John Horner on Mar 31, 2018

    What a non story. Does this site still have editors? Toyota realizes that an exceedingly small fraction of Toyota Camrys might have shipped with slightly out of tolerance pistons. Not bad enough to cause the engines to fail, but theoretically might cause problems under extreme circumstances. Toyota doesn't wait for class action lawsuits (which might never happen in a sub 1% of vehicles scenario) but proactively issues a recall and offers brand new engine installations on any potentially out of spec vehicles. The industry standard reaction in this situation would be to do nothing and say nothing. Toyota is going the extra mile to clean up after themselves. That is The Truth About Cars in this particular situation.

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Apr 01, 2018

    Someone missed a step in the quality assurance process. Who ever setup for machining didn't accurately measure what was produced.

  • Erikstrawn Erikstrawn on Apr 02, 2018

    Nissan had a similar problem in the late '90s with the VG30Es in the pickups. The pistons and bores were graded by size and the piston manufacturer marked some of the pistons wrong. Some of the engines ended up with pistons that were a little loose, and on a cold winter morning you'd get a little piston slap, similar to what was normal in GM cars at the time. The fix? Remove and replace the engine. I imagine that's what Toyota is dealing with, except they're getting cylinder wall scoring.