I have a 1996 Toyota Camry, 4 cin, with 208,000 miles on it. I am the original owner of the car. Yesterday, I drove about 20 miles in the city and stopped and parked at Barnes and Noble. When I went back outside, I started the car and it sounded like there was a grinding in the engine. I turned off the engine, turned off the air conditoner and started the engine again. The engine still sounded as if it was grinding. I turned off the engine and called someone to come and get me. While waiting, I sat down on the curb in front of the car and noticed that a lot of liquid was leaking from the car. So much that it had run the length of about 4 cars parked next to me. The fluid was light brown and somewhat oily to the touch but had very little odor. I would have said that it was power steering fluid or oil but not coolant.
When my ride arrived, we raised the hood and checked the dipstick and it was on the Full line. I did this several time and each time, there oil registered as being full. However, the coolant chamber was empty.
During my drive to Barnes and Noble, the car sounded fine and there were no light on. I forgot something in the house before leaving and stopped in the driveway, left the car running, went inside for 2 minutes and came back out. There was no fluid on the driveway or in the garage when I inspected it at home later in the day.
I called a tow truck and when the driver arrived, he said that the liquid was oil. Even though, I told him that the oil registered as full. He also said that my sway bolt (?) Was almost off on the undercarriage of the car.
I towed it to a mechanic with a home garage and he came out when we arrived. He looked at the liquid that continued to leak on the tow truck and said he thought it was power steering fluid. He started the car and said " it doesn't sound good. I think it's the engine". He didn't open the hood because it was Sunday and he was closed.
I am a 29 year old single female who loves her Camry and believes that it has a few years of life left. Aside from typical repairs (i.E spark pulls replaced, timing belt replace, axel replaced.) It has never given me one day of trouble. And, it is hard for me to believe the the engine just " broke" with no sign of trouble while driving it. The driver of the tow truck scared me because he said that the undercarriage of the car could have fallen of in a deep curve and I could have had a serious accident. Is that coincidental with the fluid leaking or is there a link. HELP!