I am the proud owner of a '96 Toyota Camry, and I really love my car. However, I'm a bit confused as far as mileage between oil changes is concerned. I don't drive hard, but I do put a lot of miles on the car, about 25,000 a year.
I could tell you some stories. I've seen the inside of a 100,000 mile engine so clean I had to wash my hands before I worked on it. On the other hand, I have inspected a few cars with 15,000 miles on the odometer, with the factory oil filter still in place, and the oil was thick enough to clog a garbage disposal.
That's the difference between changing the oil every 500 miles and never changing it at all. Now here's what you should do. Most manufacturers recommend an oil change about every 3,000 miles unless you drive at a constant 52.3 mph in a sterile environment, and at room temperature. Now, if you do a lot of serious highway driving (40,000 miles or more a year) it's all right to go 5,000 or 6,000 miles between oil changes. The oil doesn't take the same abuse as it does in normal stop and go driving. In the case of your Camry, though, I would stick with 3,000 or 4,000 miles as a good guideline. Changing your oil this frequently should keep the engine squeaky clean for years to come.