Toyota Solara Years To Avoid: Expert Buying Tips

The Toyota Camry Solara, commonly known as the Toyota Solara, is a mid-size coupe or convertible Toyota produces. Launched as a coupe in late 1998 for the 1999 model year, its convertible variant debuted in North America in 2000.

However, not all Toyota Solara models have met the highest performance standards. The 2004 and 2006 models have been criticized for significant interior and engine problems.

Please read the following article to understand these models better and decide whether they are worth considering.

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Toyota Solara Years To Avoid List

Toyota Solara Years To Avoid List
Toyota Solara Years To Avoid List

The Toyota Solara was engineered based on the mechanics of Toyota’s successful Japanese market series, the Toyota Camry. Solara models boast a sportier design, enhanced sportiness, and improved suspension and engine tuning for a more dynamic driving experience.

However, some Solara models are notorious for issues like defective convertible tops, sticky dashboards that cause distracting reflections, and dashboards that are prone to cracking or becoming shiny.

When looking for a used Solara, it’s advisable to steer clear of the following model years:

  • 2004 Toyota Solara
  • 2006 Toyota Solara
  • 2007 Toyota Solara
  • 2008 Toyota Solara

These years contributed to Toyota’s 14th-place ranking in the Least Reliable Toyota Models category, with 151 complaints and a 9.75 score on the PainRank™ system.

To understand why these models are deemed the least reliable, let’s delve into the specific issues of each year.

2004 Toyota Solara Common Problems

2004 Toyota Solara Common Problems
2004 Toyota Solara Common Problems

According to several websites, the 2004 Toyota Solara disappointed many with its defective interior accessories. The most frequent complaint was about the factory-installed dashboard, which was known to crack unexpectedly.

Other significant issues included:

  • Excessive oil consumption.
  • Engine surges.
  • Persistent airbag light.
  • Cracking dash over the airbag area.
  • Faulty shoulder harnesses.

There were also reports of sunroofs shattering or detaching spontaneously, with one user reporting a rear window shattering inexplicably.

2006 Toyota Solara Common Problems

2006 Toyota Solara Common Problems
2006 Toyota Solara Common Problems

Owners of the 2006 Solara reported the dashboard becoming sticky, shiny, or cracked. The damp or glossy dashboard typically emerged around 44,000 miles, while the cracking often occurred at approximately 88,000 miles.

Common complaints include unintended acceleration, erratic jerking or missing during acceleration, excessive engine movement in cold conditions, and high oil consumption. Problems with airbags, short-lived flat tires, and convertible top windows falling out were reported.

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2007 Toyota Solara Common Problems

2007 Toyota Solara Common Problems
2007 Toyota Solara Common Problems

According to several websites, the 2007 Solara models suffered from interior and engine problems similar to earlier models. The most prominent interior issue was the dashboard cracking and melting, often necessitating a replacement.

Engine problems like excessive oil consumption, unintended acceleration, and persistent check engine lights were common. Other issues included rusting heat shields, leaking rain gutters around the convertible top, air conditioning malfunctions, and occasional brake failures.

2008 Toyota Solara Common Problems

2008 Toyota Solara Common Problems
2008 Toyota Solara Common Problems

The 2008 Toyota Solara faced various issues, particularly with its interior, and problems were reported concerning the exterior and lighting systems.

Owners of the 2008 Solara frequently experienced the dashboard turning sticky, leading to hazardous reflections while driving. Issues with defective convertible tops were also noted. A significant problem cited was the malfunction of headlights, particularly dangerous when they unexpectedly turn off during night or rainy drives.

This headlight malfunction typically occurs at around 80,000 miles, with repair costs averaging about $800.

Toyota Solara’s Worst Years

Focusing on the worst years for the Toyota Solara:

2004 Toyota Solara

Several websites’ graphical representations of the 2004 Toyota Solara highlight 39 reported complaints. The primary issues were interior (23 complaints) and engine-related (5 complaints). Key problems included dashboard cracking, excessive oil consumption, engine surges, and a rotten egg smell.

2006 Toyota Solara

The 2006 Toyota Solara faced 35 complaints, as reported on several websites. Users primarily encountered interior (24 complaints) and engine issues (5 complaints). Prominent problems were shiny, sticky, or cracked dashboards, flat tires with short lifespans (average repair cost of $1,000), excessive oil consumption, and unintentional acceleration.

2007 Toyota Solara

With 35 complaints reported on several websites, the 2007 Solara users experienced mainly interior (16 complaints) and engine-related (11 complaints) issues. The most notable problems were dashboard cracking, excessive oil consumption, and dashboard melting.

Despite these problems, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not issued official recalls for the Toyota Solara models.

Toyota Solara’s Most Common Problems

Exploring the most common problems of the Toyota Solara:

Toyota Solara Dashboard Problems

Several websites report that dashboard melting, warping, and cracking are prevalent in the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 Toyota Solara models, with particularly severe cases in the 2004, 2006, and 2007 models. The dashboards in these models, exposed to sun heat, tend to melt and deform, leading to cracking and creating dangerous reflections for the driver, potentially causing accidents.

Following multiple complaints and lawsuits, Toyota issued a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB), acknowledging that some 2006 to 2008 Solara models had sticky interior panels. Toyota identified the issue as affecting either the instrumental or door panel pad, which appeared shiny or degraded. To address this, Toyota voluntarily extended the service warranty for affected consumers.

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Toyota Solara Engine Problems

According to several websites, the 2004, 2006, and 2007 Toyota Solara models exhibit several engine issues, with the 2007 model experiencing particularly severe problems. The most common engine-related troubles typically arise around 72,000 miles.

Users frequently report excessive oil consumption, unintended sudden acceleration, malfunctioning check engine lights, surging engines, and erratic behavior during cold starts or acceleration. The root cause of the excessive oil consumption is often linked to defective piston rings, which usually require replacement to rectify the issue.

Another common problem involves malfunctioning the check engine light, often due to a failed oxygen sensor component or a faulty EVAP purge control valve. The solution typically involves replacing these defective parts.

Which Toyota Solara Models Are Safer to Buy?

Consumers and automotive experts consider the Toyota Solara models from 1999, 2001, and 2002 safe.

  • 1999 Toyota Solara: Equipped with a V-6 aluminum engine, this model is known for its smooth and powerful performance. Rated 4.6 out of 5 on the Consumer Ratings, the 1999 Solara is prized for its reliability, value, and good resale prospects.
  • 2001 Toyota Solara: This five-seater coupe offers the quality and features of the bestselling Toyota Camry at an affordable price. Consumers appreciate its sportier exterior and driving experience.
  • 2002 Toyota Solara: An improved version of the earlier Toyota Camry coupes and convertibles, the 2002 model features a refreshed front fascia, including a new bumper, grille, and headlights. It is highly regarded for its reliability.

Key Tips

  • The 2006 Toyota Solara is noted for having the most interior-related problems, particularly with the dashboard, as reported on several websites with 24 complaints.
  • The 2007 Toyota Solara holds the record for the most engine-related issues, with 11 complaints noted on several websites.

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Last Words

Although Toyota ceased production of the Solara Coupe and Convertible series after a decade due to declining sales, some models remain popular in the used car market. However, when selecting a model, it’s important to avoid those identified as problematic in this article. a

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