white smoke

smokeymsmokeym Member Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Toyota
We have a 2001 Sienna XLE and it has had no problems until now. We are experiencing a lot of white smoke from the exhaust at start-ups, not while driving. Is this one of the "symptoms" of the sludge problem. With 65,000 commute miles, I thought this was unusually early for a blown head gasket??


  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    it's not early for some of them :(
  • vanshopper7vanshopper7 Member Posts: 21
  • scoti1scoti1 Member Posts: 676
    I think the smoke on the sludged engines has been described as blue in color but not 100% sure on that. You need to have the valve cover removed to check for sludge if you exhibit any of the signs, one of which is smoke in the exhaust. I read somewhere that dealerships are supposed to do this for you at no charge. Another sign to look for is the MIL illuminating. Also, check your dipstick, too, to check the consistency of the oil. You may see black goo on the oil cap and dipstick. While this can be normal due to lack of circulation at the oil cap, combined with the smoke in the exhaust, you really should be checked for sludge. Also, once sludged, engines appear to rapidly consume oil. Be sure to get all your paper work in order so you can prove when you performed maintenance. The sludge policy is for 8 years from the original purchase date, unliminted miles, so you are covered if it is sludge and if you have performed reasonable maintenance.
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    Hold on now.
    First off, replace the PCV valve, especially if it has never been replaced.
    A plugged PCV vavle will create moisture problems in the crankcase, which can in turn create moisture problems in the exhaust.
    Also, does the white smoke smell sweet? If not, it isn't likely it is a blown headgasket.

    But, you will need to have the cooling system tested for combustion gases. The kit to check it is available from NAPA for about $45
    This is the tester.
  • disaptd7disaptd7 Member Posts: 8
    I have a 2000 Sienna, just turned 46K. Had the dealer do the 30K service. I don't recall seeing the PCV replaced on the work order. Where is the PVC located on the 2000 Sienna's? or does it have one?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Chances are if the white smoke disappears, it's not a head gasket issue. A bad head gasket will continue to produce steam in the combustion chambers all the day long in most cases.

    By all means check for sludge and service the PCV valve.

    Oil sludge really can't harm a head gasket directly, as it just sits there like meat in a sandwich.
  • pecto3pecto3 Member Posts: 2
    Hi to everyone! I bought a used 98 Sienna LE from a small car dealership in Southern CA about 3 months ago. The van has 65K miles and everything was in good condition when we left the lot. Then about 3 weeks ago, i logged on to sludge problem forum here at edmunds and learned a thing or two about the problem. Just out of curiousity, i checked the tail pipe of the van from a first start of the day and to my surprise, there's a bluish smoke coming out from the tail pipe. To make the matter worst, i also check the oil filler hole and found carbon deposits sitting at the bottom of the filler hole.

    This prompted me to call the sludge hotline number and advised me to have the van inspected at the nearest toyota dealer. So last Friday, i drove 200 miles to the nearest toyota dealer which offer free inspection and they said that theres nothing wrong with the engine and it seems everything was in normal operating condition.

    Presently, i think the engine is still in good running condition except for the above mentioned observations.

    Does anyone here have the same problem as i have? If you do, what are the things we can do to address the problem. Because to tell you honestly, I'm not really impressed by the result that the dealer gave me about my engine (how can they explain about the smoke and carbon deposit?). For years, my family owned several toyotas with more than 250K miles on each one and they still are running smoothly as ever and I really wanted to keep my Sienna for a long time.

    So my impression about the Special Service Program of Toyota in addressing the sludge problem is that, they wont fix the engine if the problem is just starting. Your van should be the worst case scenario in sludge problem if you want them to fix it.

    Again, since my problem wont be addressed by anyone but myself, what are the things i can do to fix the problem??? Like I said, I really wanted to keep the van for a long time. Thanks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well the carbon deposits are quite common and could mean nothing at all. This is not a good test for sludge at all. So discount that.

    The blue smoke is another matter but again doesn't have to relate to sludge. It could be worn valve stem seals for instance, which is not unusual for 65K, it's certainly possible.

    I don't really understand what the motive would be for the dealer to "hide" a sludge problem. They get paid to fix it.

    It would have been better for you to have examined the engine when they removed the valve covers and checked for sludge. They should have offered to show this to you and you should have suggested that you witness it.

    Anyway, about all you can do now is ask them to do it again and show you the evidence. You might have to pay for this, but if you want peace of mind this may be the way.

    But get the "carbon" thing out of your head. Dead end, wrong diagnostic evidence.

    The blue smoke is real and could mean something--but we don't know what yet.
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    It shows a PCV valve for the vehicle.
    PCV Valve Part number 1220420010
    If you are looking at the engine, the oposite side of the throttle body, tucked down below the ground strap is the PCV hose. Follow the brake booster hose to the manifold and the PCV hose should be just below that. THen you should be able to follow the hose to the PCV Valve. I am not certain on that engine, but it may be one that is threaded in.
  • scoti1scoti1 Member Posts: 676
    Another sign of sludge is rapid consumption of oil. Check your oil frequently. If you start using several quarts between oil changes, you should insist on having it checked for sludge again. It may be worth it to pay an non-Toyota mechanic to check the engine. Be sure to ask to see the engine once the valve cover is removed.

    Regarding Toyota dealerships making money off of fixing sludged engines, does anyone know what the deal is between Toyota and the dealerships on this? It is not a traditional warranty, it is a policy. Just speculation on my part, but there may be some disincentives to fixing the sludged engines to keep the costs down.
  • tg529tg529 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2001 Toyota Sienna with 28,000 miles. I think I have the sludging problem, however, I can only prove that I've changed the oil 2 times March of 2002 and Sept. 2003. Is Toyota going to honor their policy with my car? Help!!!!
  • scoti1scoti1 Member Posts: 676
    I have been looking into this, and it seems like Toyota is all over the place on this. I have seen reports of a Lexus owner who did not have to provide one single receipt and got her engine replaced under the policy and I have seen other accounts of Toyota requiring every single oil change receipt. When this first came out the word was proof of one oil change per year was deemed reasonable maintenance. I don't know what happens to people who change their own oil.

    More importantly, are the oil changes you list the only two that were done or the only two that you can prove? Many places keep computer records of oil changes and they may be able to help you if you have lost some receipts.

    Good luck to you and let us know what happens.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    It would seem most unproductive and unreasonable for Toyota to make sludge repairs a disincentive for the dealer, given the bad publicity surrounding the issue. The last thing they want is for this issue to rise up again in the public mind. This was, after all, Toyota's worst nightmare in their entire history in the US.

     If anything I would think dealers are being encouraged to facilitate sludge repair and are being monitored by the factory to do it right.

    Of course, customers have to follow the guidelines for maintenance, so without good records there may be some difficulties for the owner there.
  • pecto3pecto3 Member Posts: 2
    Hi! I would like to thank all of those people who responded to my letter. You guys were right, i should've insisted on seeing the engine after the valve cover has been removed.

    So right now, I guess what can I do is to change the oil and filter in a shorter interval than before. By the way 0patience, could you please describe again on how to find and replace the PCV valve on a 1998 Sienna? Im planning to replace that part this coming weekend and from what I read from your previous message, you were describing the process from a 2000 model. Thanks.
  • toyotajoetoyotajoe Member Posts: 1
    My van started blowing white smoke at start up at 55,000 miles. When we took it into the dealer, they said they couldn't see any smoke and did a diagnostic and the car was OK. I knew something was seriously wrong, so I brought it back again a few months later. The smoke was getting worse all the while.

    This time the second word out of their mouths was we need all you oil change receipts. Then they acted like they'd never seen anything quite like this but would check it out.

    Right now my valve seals are being replaced at a cost of $2,660. I told the guy my warranty would cover it...even if I need a judge to tell him so. They haven't said it wouldn't cover me yet, but its clear that's where they are going.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I wonder why they are replacing valve seals if the smoke was white? Valve seals cause oil burning, which is a distinctive blue color. And why does it cost so much? Are they taking the heads off? And if so, why are they taking the heads off to replace valve stem seals?

    All kinds of questions here!
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    as the cost might well indicate... and that would require replacement of the head gaskets. which would probably clear up the white smoke issue if it was a leaking but not catastrophically failed head gasket.

    if not, you might have a minor issue fixed and the major one unfixed.
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