2018 Toyota Camry Top 3 Complaints and Problems – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Transmission, Electrical and Engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners
HELPLINE

The Camry is one of the most successful mid-size sedans of all time. Like other Toyota vehicles, it’s known for unrelenting reliability. But the fully redesigned 2018 model has some very “un-Toyota-like” design flaws. According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), key problem areas include the engine, transmission / powertrain, and vehicle speed control.

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Engine

Toyota recently recalled 1,700 model year 2018 Camry cars due to pistons that are too large.

Pistons are the heart of any engine. As the crankshaft rotates, the pistons move up and down inside the cylinders. Going downward, they pull air into the engine. Traveling upward, they create compression. Both of these actions are required to create combustion – the series of small explosions needed to generate power and propel the vehicle.

A piston that is too large will have reduced clearance with the cylinder wall. As a result, the piston may make contact with the wall, causing extensive engine damage and eventual seizure.

And that’s precisely what’s happening with 2018 Toyota Camry models. Cars equipped with the 2.5L four-cylinder engine have been found to seize up and stop running while the vehicle is moving. Also, the car may emit smoke from the tailpipe and display a myriad of dashboard warning messages.

Toyota has stepped up to the plate and will replace the engine free of charge on affected models. The automaker’s number for this recall is J1M/J0M.

2018 Toyota Camry Engine Recall Information

March 28

Engine may Stall due to Incorrectly-Sized Pistons
An engine stall can increase the risk of a crash.

NHTSA Campaign Number: 18V200000

Manufacturer Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing

Components ENGINE AND ENGINE COOLING

Potential Number of Units Affected 1,730

Summary

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (Toyota) is recalling certain 2018 Toyota Camry vehicles equipped with a 2.5L, four-cylinder engine. The pistons on these vehicles may be larger than specified, possibly causing the engine to stall.

Remedy

Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the production date codes of the pistons and, if an engine contains a piston from the affected production period, the engine assembly will be replaced, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin May 25, 2018. Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-888-270-9371. Toyota’s number for this recall is J1M/J0M.

Jerky Transmission / Powertrain

For 2018, the Toyota Camry got a brand-new, 8-speed automatic transmission referred to as the Direct Shift-8AT. The NHTSA website lists numerous complaints about this unit’s performance.

One owner from Pewaukee, WI, wrote in,” Vehicle has issues with (the) transmission. There are times when the car can’t seem to decide what gear to pick and when to engage it, resulting in a second or two of dead acceleration. Once the vehicle decides what to do, it sends an excessive amount of power to the wheels with unintended acceleration rates.  This has been an issue since the car was first bought in November, 2017.”

Even journalists have noted the problem. An article in Autoweek about the 2018 Camry reads:

“It’s a quiet, nicely trimmed sedan with an upscale dash design and good rear legroom…But then there’s the transmission, which needs an exorcism.”

The author then proceeds to recount his experience:

“In D, the car seems to upshift to fourth by 20 mph, and any attempt to accelerate is met with a yawn and multiple downshifts. It’s like piloting a steamship; you have to call down to the engine room for more power, then wait for the boilers to respond. S mode holds gears slightly longer and behaves more like a regular transmission, but then it seems to stop upshifting at 4th gear unless the driver uses the shift paddles (a truly laughable accessory on this car) to set the top gear. The result: Neither mode is adequate as-programmed for regular around-town driving.”

Toyota has recognized the transmission problem and issued a technical service bulletin (TSB) in response. The article (TSB #T-SB-0330-17) points to a problem with the car’s main computer, the powertrain control module (PCM). Dealers have been instructed to reprogram the PCM to remedy the concern.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Toyota Camry Transmission Problems

I BOUGHT 2018 CAMRY LE THE PROBLEM IS JERKY SHIFTS FROM THE TRANSMISSION, AND SOMETIMES IS DOSEN’T ACCELERATE FROM A SLOW DOWN IF YOU ARE MERGING ON THE HIGHWAY. THIS CAN BE A BIG RISK BECAUSE IT DOESN’T GO WHEN IT THE GAS AFTER A FEW SECONDS ITS KICKS AND GOES REALLY FAST AND YOU DONT EVEN KNOW HOW FAST IT WILL GO ALSO THE TRANSMISSION IS SUPER JURKY IN CITY TRAFFIC. SOMETIME IF YOU PUT THE ACCELERATION IT DOESN’T MOVE FORWARD WE AND OTHER TIMES ITS ACCELERATION IS TOO FAST AND YOU CAN CRASH WITH THE CAR IN FRONT OF YOU. ALSO THE GAS PEDAL IS REALLY STIFF AND IF YOU DRIVE FOR A LONG TIME YOUR FEET AND LEG GETS REALLY SORE FROM APPLYING SO MUCH PRESSURE TO THE GAS PEDAL.

2018 CAMRY 8 SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION HAS DOWNSHIFTING PROBLEMS. THIS INVOLVES A DELAY IN DOWNSHIFTING THAT I HAVE FOUND ON 3 OCCASIONS COULD HAVE BEEN DANGEROUS. UPON COMPLETING A TURN AND REAPPLYING GAS PEDAL THE CAR APPEARED TO BE IN NEUTRAL OR STUCK BETWEEN GEARS. I HAD A DEAD GAS PEDAL FOR 3 OR 4 SECONDS. ON 1 OCCASION I COULD HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN A REAR END COLLISION IF THE OTHER DRIVER HADN’T REALIZED SOMETHING WAS WRONG AND SWERVED TO AVOID MY CAR. I CURRENTLY HAVE LEMON LAW COMPLAINT FILED WITH THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERALS OFFICE INVOLVING THIS CAR AND IT’S TRANSMISSION.

2018 TOYOTA CAMRY HAS BAD TRANSMISSION SINCE THE 1 ST WEEK OF HAVING THIS CAR IT HAS BEEN GIVING ME PROBLEMS IT SLAMS INTO GEAR SOMETIMES, IT HESITATES WHEN STEPPING ON THE GAS LIKE IT DOESN’T KNOW WEATHER TO GO OR NOT IT JERKS LIKE IT CANT FIND WHICH GEAR TO GO INTO THE CAR IS REALLY BAD AND I CANT SEEM TO GET ANY HELP FROM TOYOTA THEY TOLD ME TO KEEP DRIVING MAYBE THE CAR NEEDS TO GET USE TO MY DRIVING. THEY TOLD ME ITS A 4 CYLINDER THAT’S HOW THEY DRIVE. THEY TOLD ME I SHOULD DRIVE IT MANUAL MODE. IM JUST FED UP

Vehicle speed control

Most of the complaints listed under “vehicle speed control” on the NHTSA website aren’t anything different from what’s in the “transmission/powertrain” category. Instead, they’re just more accounts of the Camry’s widespread transmission problem. Presumably, messages end up in this catch-all “vehicle speed” category when the driver doesn’t know what’s wrong with their vehicle. They just know it doesn’t accelerate as it should.

An owner from Orono, ME, complained, “The car keeps jumping forward, it can’t decide when it wants to shift up. When starting from a stop, or driving and trying to accelerate, the car takes over five seconds to really take and realize you are pushing on the gas. All it does is rev a lot.”

Toyota’s new Direct Shift-8AT is designed to be efficient and responsive. Unfortunately, problematic computer controls prevent the transmission from reaching its full potential.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Toyota Camry Speed Control Problems

WHEN THE CAR IN THE LOW SPEED AROUND 20 MILES/HOUR AND THE ENGINE AROUND 2000RPM, THE TRANSMISSION IS WIRED TRYING TO FIND SPECIFIED GEAR, MAKE THE CAR SPEED INCREASED AND DECREASED, IT LIKE JERK THE CAR.

ANOTHER PROBLEM IS WHEN YOU TRYING TO SPEED UP CATCH UP CARS SPEED FROM LOWER SPEED ON HIGHWAY, PRESS THE GAS PEDAL, THE CAR JUST LIKE THINKING THE LIFE PHILOSOPHY THE RPM REACH 4000 THE CAR SUDDENLY SPEED UP.

THE CAR HAS ACCELERATION/SPEED PROBLEMS. IT TAKES TOO LONG TO ACCELERATE WHEN CHANGING LANES, PASSING OTHER VEHICLE, OR ENTERING FREEWAY. THIS ISSUE IS GOING ON ALL AND EVERY TIME I DRIVE IT. I PURCHASED THE CAR ONE MONTH AGO. THIS IS MY 5TH CAMRY AND I NEVER HAD THIS PROBLEM. CAR IS UNSAFE AND IM SCARED TO DRIVE. TOYOTA, DO SOMETHING BEFORE SOMEONE DIES!!!!!!!!!!. I ALMOST GOT REAR-ENDED COUPLE OF TIMES

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work aid your lemon at no cost to you. The law makes Toyota pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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21 COMMENTS
  • Glenn B

    Just drove a 2019 Camry. Transmission searches and down shifts. To many selections for the computer. It is a darn shame. Car shifts constantly. I love Toyotas but this car is an engineering failure.

  • Sanalkumar

    We also had the same problem with the Camry 2018 and 19, but we recognize the problem right after buying it then we took it to the dealer and they tried to convince us that it’s normal and that’s how they designed but we refused to take that as an answer and told them that the car is not safe for us to drive due to the acceleration and speeding problem, we replace the car with 2016 which has way better transmission and acceleration. It’s not brand new but hey it’s safe and fun to drive than the slow sluggish 2018 and 19 Camry, I hope Toyota fix the problem or lose loyal customers.

  • Jackie

    I just purchased a certified preowned 2018 Camry SE, and I sensed something was different/wrong about the way this car drives. I’ve noticed exactly the same issues with the transmission and acceleration. Reading all of these comments/complaints has me very concerned. This was a big purchase for me, and I’m afraid I’m stuck with a lemon.

  • Andre

    I purchased my 2018 Toyota Camry SE back 2017. I drive a lot with my car to work, school ect and all my recommendations/guidelines maintenance were done throw the dealership. on 05/21/2019 I was driving and all of a sudden my car started to rev while I have the car D and my foot off the gas pedal and notice their were warning lights came on informing me to go to the dealership. I informed the service manger and they look into it and the code they received was in the transmission. They did their inspection and still can’t find no issues. Mechanics and service manger concluded that it’s a mechanical failure and need a new transmission which for a new one is $4,597.92 and labor $750

  • Johnny

    I am having the transmission problem with my 2019 Camry LE. The problem with my car is bad. I actually dread driving the car. There is a significant hesitation about 75% of the time on stop/go driving or when I slow down in traffic and then push on the gas pedal to resume my speed. The car lags/hesitates and then jerks. Also it’s loud. The engine revs loudly, especially in the morning when it’s driven for the first time of the day. Sounds like a hot rod at times. I had a 2002 Camry that was nowhere near as loud as this and drove much better. I have been to the local Toyota Dealership 3 times and opened a case with Toyota. All I get is, it’s normal for the new transmission. Off the record the people in the service dept have told me they are getting many complaints on this problem. When they fill out the ticket it simply says ‘Normal operation for the car’. They are getting away with a crime. I really am not sure what to do. Seriously considering trading it in and getting something else (certainly not a Toyota ever again) but I stand to lose money if I do that. The car only has 3500 miles on it. This is not a minor problem and to go to the dealership and have the service manager ride in the car knowing he is aware my complaint is valid and yet tells me that Toyota hasn’t come out with a fix and until they do there is nothing he can do for it and then he writes that’s it’s normal. The case manager at Toyota has been very poor and says that since the service manager at Toyota says it’s ok that’s all they can do – the case will be closed. Shame on you Toyota. I’ve purchased Camry’s since 1993 but never again.

  • Victor M

    I have the same problem with the transmission it lags and then shoots out like a Bat out of hell , it feels very unsafe .I have taken it to the dealer and all they say is that its the 8 speed transmission and thats the way they are made and also there is a coolant smell all the time after I driver it. Not Happy with the car

  • John S

    Yeah we have a 2018 Camry LE 4 Cyl with the 8 speed trans. Definitely not a great transmission but honestly my 2018 Ford F150 with a 10 speed auto is about as bad. Way too many gears for these sort of vehicles. Just to wring out a slightly better MPG result I guess. Not sure anything can really fix what has been poorly designed. We don’t need this many gear changes for a vehicle, 6 speed was plenty. They worked, they were reliable and they provided a great driving experience along with decent MPG’s. Cramming so many gears into a trans is going to be a mess because the computer will eventually find itself in a gear selection confusion. Software updates help, but they are not always effective. Also why are so many Toyota owners having to replace these 8 speed trans when this is just a software issue? I suspect the software TSB just helps mask the problem.

  • KANDEGEDARA M

    I have 2018 Camry L. when I was buying it had 38 miles. now it is being 1 year and complaint to my dealer several times and Also to the Toyota. But they are saying some stupid answers to convince me I am totally disappointed. I don’t like the way they have designed the gas paddle. every single day having uncomfortable drive, lag issue, poor performance, have to give too pressure for the gas paddle. my previous car 2003 Camry performed way better than this model. I was so happy when I was buying this car a year ago, and now I felt why did I buy this and suffer. hope everyone’s issue solved with who has problem with 2018 Camry.

  • fakhan1

    Same problem on my new 2019 Camry XLE 2.5, 200 miles yet.

    When someone needs better MPG, then the person can switch the car into ‘ECO’ mode. Umable to understand ‘Normal’ and ‘Sport’ modes give no better acceleration when you really need it…

    There is no feeling of 2.5L engine when try to accelerate from a Stop. Toyota should understand that it has done terrible mistake in Camry 2018 onward models by playing with excellent transmission found in 2017 and older models. Many customers need powerful acceleration to survive while joining highways. Last week, a Toyota technician told that the car will learn the way you drive after few hundred miles. I don’t think it will ever be aggressive like Camry 2017 and older models.

    TOYOTA, you broke customers trust on CAMRY!

  • Farokh L

    I bought 2018 Camry several months back. I am experiencing same transmission issues as described here. I also have issues with my stereo where the icons disappear from screen when in drive. Other issue as described here is cabin noise and air getting through door jams. I spoke with Toyota dealer I bought the car from, they admitted they have had other folks report the same issues but Toyota has not released any sort of fix for transmission problems. They advised me to check back. I really don’t think honest paying customers should have go through this. Is there a solution????

  • Gary T

    I was parking my 2019 LE in the parking structure at work, when the car suddenly accelerated and struck the cement post. Since I was almost parked, my foot was firmly on the brake. It did not slip and land on the gas pedal. The accident caused considerable damage to the front grill, bumper and fender. If it had not been for the post, the car would have continued forward to crash into the building.

  • Dennis A

    My 2018 LE has similar shifting problems that developed after just a few thousand miles. The frustrating thing is it’s not consistent so demonstrating the problem to a tech is difficult. Shifting up from 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears causes the car to stutter and buck like it can’t decide to make the shift or not. Manually shifting the car eliminates the bucking but the car slides into 3rd gear from 2nd. I was told that there was a software upgrade issued to address this problem, however my car already had the upgrade applied at time of purchase. Fortunately I can solve the problem at the end of the lease by giving the car back to Toyota and moving over to a Kia or Honda. Too bad. The Camry is a nice car to drive. If only Toyota could solve the problem, I would remain a loyal customer.

  • Linda Bandre

    I have to agree with all of you! I regret this purchase every time I drive it. The acceleration is
    terrible, the engine revving up but the car going pretty much no where. Occasionally the RPM’s will go
    up completely on their own but the gas was not applied. I have been looking to move on from this
    frustrating car for the last 8 months ( that’s how long I’ve had it).

  • Rickey Joe Story

    Toyota has known about this transmission problem since its introduction. I have a 2018 XLE purchased in November 2017 they have not been able to fix it. Random jerky shifts up and down are most dangerious in normal city driving conditions. Once on a service test drive the tech actually stopped and got out of the vehicle to see if he had been hid from behind. They delaying action and change case manangers on a regular basis.

  • Elisa

    I’ve owned a 2018 Camry LE since last year end of April. Transmission is the number one issue that is bothering me. I’m been to multiple dealers but they all say it’s normal and that hundreds of people call every day asking about this issue. Some of them don’t even know that there’s a recall out for 2018 Camry’s. I don’t like how the car’s ABS makes the most horrible scraping noise once it goes into effect, it feels like you’re dragging the car across pavement, and there’s a terrible rattling noise that is heard and felt throughout the car. I find it weird that in rainy weather the car refuses to operate the Frontal Collision System, saying that the server is unavailable. What kind of sensor needs service to operate? I’m reading NHTSA complaints about how several people have actually gotten into accidents because of this sudden acceleration issue the car has. 2 out of the 3 happened under 2,000 miles, the latter occurred at 5600. I’m approaching 5,000 miles, I dearly hope nothing happens to me. Dealership keeps telling me to wait until Toyota recognizes that it’s a problem, but when will that be? When someone dies?

  • Timothy Brickey

    Just purchased my daughter a new 2019 Camry SE last night and didn’t even make it home before it start a jerking sensation and hesitation when applying the gas pedal from a dead stop. It also has a real problem with the amount of pedal required to make this vehicle move. We took it right back to the dealer and advised the manger it was up to them to correct before I would allow my daughter to drive it.

  • Tamara

    I just purchased a 2019 Camry SE. The car was purchased on 12/23/18. Within two weeks, I was back at the dealership claiming about the jerking of the transmission. The mechanic went for a ride with me on the interstate, just to tell me there’s nothing wrong with the car. Today I got online and googled known problems with new Camry’s. After seeing all the comments, I’ve noticed that they’re all the same complaints that I have with my brand new car. Does anyone know what I should do?

  • Eduardo Fuentes

    I have a Toyota camery 2018 and have problems with transmission it’s jerks it does not change gears write and when am at the stop light you feel like somoene hit you from the back every time you take it to dealer they said that the computer does not show anything

  • Jay Washington

    I have the exact same issues, jerky on acceleration or it seems to be stuck in gear. The LDA randomly comes on for no reason when no other cars are in sight. The window noise is horrible as I also think it’s a crack in the window. Took the car to car wash and while the fan was drying the hood, I thought is was going to come off. Each time I go through the drive car wash there is water I side the doors and all the panels. Even when it rains hards. Radio and Entune is a joke! Side molding on driver’s side has come off. Bought this car in May and cannot wait to get rid of it. Dealership was no help and I’m still waiting after a mth for the moulding. My 2008 Volvo runs circles around this car. WHY WHY DID I BUY THIS CAR!!! If it was for ruining my credit, I would leave the car right in the dealership parking lot in Richardson, TX and HUBER my way a few miles down the freeway and get another Volvo.

  • Ana Madrazo

    I’ve been having the same issues with my now 7 months old 2018 Camry LE, transmission doesn’t work quite well…vehicle doesn’t accelerate…I been at Toyota dealer and they said the computer doesn’t show anything….plus the HORRIBLE customer service they have, including the General Manager.
    I DON’T FEEL SAFE DRIVING MY CAR!!

  • Dean Edwards

    2018 Camry Transmission problems : multiple issues
    2) AC odor issues: chemical smell emanating from vents especially when ac is on causing me to have chronic pleurisy

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