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2nd gen drivetrain swap Q's

Old 05-20-2019, 01:05 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2019
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Default 2nd gen drivetrain swap Q's

Sup Camry Peeps!

I am planning to swap the engine and automatic transmission from my driveable 1991 into my 1988 Camry. I'm fairly new to these cars and I just wanted to hear if anyone knows why this would not be a direct bolt-in job. I think the engines are identical. The '88 does have a normal/power button on the console, but I hope this doesn't mean the cars have different transmissions. Or if they are different, does it even matter? The receiving car also has econ/normal modes for the a/c - are the compressors the same? Do I need to swap ECUs?

The reason for the swap: the '91's drivetrain is in excellent shape (133k miles), but the rest of the car is just OK and it has zero options. The '88 I just got at auction has a blown motor but is otherwise in great shape (153k miles) and has every option. That bitch even has a period correct 12 disc CD changer in the trunk linked to the stock radio, and everything works. The '91 will go to the scrapyard after the swap so I have access to any and all parts I need.

I think this should be very straightforward, am I a jackass? I'm looking to do this in the next few weeks before it gets too hot outside (I will do the work in my garage). Maybe I'll video the whole thing, feign a british accent, and put it on Wheeler Dealers. Any and all tips are greatly appreciated!

- Danny
Old 05-20-2019, 04:39 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
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Posts: 11,738

Toyota seemed have added a bit more HP as time progressed. The engine computer software would be adjusted to that. Could try just swapping engine sensors first before looking at an ECU swap.

Check trans to make sure its the same shift method as in electronic (has electronic shift solenoids) or hydraulic shift. The door panels should list trans type as in A140E or A140L.

Check if trans has two speed senors or one.

The are some good write ups on the internet about changes between 88 and 91. These seem to be minor. Otherwise they are the same generation of Camry.

Suggest making a close inspection of both engine/trans to determine any differences in setup such as sensors, vacuum hoses, VSV, cooling system fans, etc.

Take lots of photos and mark EVERYTHING on both cars lest you become confused as to what went where.

For parts difference compare P/N's at site such as Rockauto and online Toyota parts dealers.

Find out what type of Freon the AC uses. If R12 and the AC is OK, try to leave the system intact and closed when swapping. Real R12 can be difficult to find and expensive.
Old 05-22-2019, 12:57 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 2

Thanks for the reply, toyomofo. My plan is to install the '91 drivetrain into the '88 no matter what, as the newer drivetrain is known to be good. I'll just make it work somehow. I'll document/tag everything, though I failed to do this on the last drivetrain swap I did (my '84 BMW e30) yet she emerged in order.

Both cars have been switched to 134a, so I'll stick with that. The a/c in the donor car doesn't blow cold, but maybe the '88's does. This is essential here in Dallas especially since we have 100F temps on the horizon.

Finally - can you provide a link to the 88/91 differences? I did some searching but can't find anything. Thanks turbo!
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