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"Most post 1992 Camrys have sludge problem and will seize" rumor



  • liufeiliufei Posts: 201
    Well, call me naive, but I expect a honest answer whenever I ask a question. A service manager with good integrity and reputation should admit and let the customer knows if there's really a problem
    with a particular car, strictly my imho though.

    The only reason the Accord and Camry is not the top seller pre-1997 because Ford dumped soo many Taurus to Avis,Hertz,etc (dont have exact number, but maybe 30%+ ?).. I think they still doing it in 1997+, but the sales gap between those 2 and the Taurus has been widen enough (also Toyota did dump like 10% Camry to the rental industry), but I digress here....

    The only thing I did is question the validity of the "most camry has sludge" stated in the topic issue. I dont remember ever blaming/accusing you for anything.
    What we have right now is several post and 3 (or 4?) owner complaints about sludge, plus your experience about those camrys that has sludge. To contradict you, we also have several camry owner and some people experience that said they dont have sludge....seems like deadlock to me.

    BTW you said those sludgy Camrys that got auctioned has logs. Do you have their service history (particularly regarding oil change) as well in the logs? That may help shed more light of the cause of the sludge.
  • jnowskijnowski Posts: 96
    1. History lesson: In the early 70's Chevy, I don't remember if other GM's were affected, had a broken V8 motor mount problem. Millions of vehicles from the previous 5 or so years were affected. This was a serious problem as it caused accidents to happen. The "fix" was a cheap and simple wire retaining strap. At first the "fix" was quietly installed whenever a customer brought a car in for service, (without the customers knowlege). Then as it became public knowlege, a recall was issued. The point being that a widespread problem CAN exist without the publics knowlege.

    2. Demographics: What type of driver trades in their car at this particular Carmax? First owners, second owners, city drivers, urban drivers, good/bad maintenance habits? Are these people who were refused at a car deakership? Etc,. etc. These and other factors may very well skew the quality of the trade-ins at this Carmax towards the less desireable vehicles, (condition, not brand).

    3. All cars "sludge" to some degree or other depending on driving conditions. If the sludge doesn't cause any ACTUAL relability issues, then what is the problem? And yes, statistics based on a large consumer survey as provided by "Consumer Reports" and other publications DO provide ACTUAL reliability information. Anyone with a shred of real world logic would understand this.
  • cyw0cyw0 Posts: 27
    Don't get confused by fxashun's word. When he said he found 50+ sludged Camrys, he just checked it by looking at the oil filler cap. But anyone with car knowledge knows if you want to determine the sludge problem, at least you got to pull out the valve cover to see it. And it has been said repeatly in Camry topics.

    It's just funny to see how he tried to rebut your finding. In your case, if sludge goes to PVC and clogged over there, then it can't be counted. However, if sludge goes to oil filler cap and get caught there, then it's a sludged engine. Just take a look at where the PVC valve is, you will know what I mean.
  • cyw0cyw0 Posts: 27
    Since now fxashun doesn't dare to say or support "most 92+ Camrys have sludge problem" anymore and since he is the only one tried to do that, that means this discussion can be ended. And the conclusion of this topic will be "Yes, it's just a rumor.".
  • cyw0cyw0 Posts: 27
    Does anybody else want to say or support the statement "Most 92+ Camrys have sludge problem"?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,666
    The existance of a bit of minor sludge does not make an engine bad!

    If fixasun's dealership REALLY rejected all cars with a minor bit of sludge, they would reject half of the cars they have on the lot!

    If aquatic's dealership suggested a "soft" rebuild(whatever that is?) or a new engine, something is wrong!

    I wouldn't be a bit afraid to buy a used Camry with a bit of sludge in it. This stuff is NOT FATAL!! I would simply change my oil two or three times that month and the sludge would be gone. I might even use a quality flush and let the engine idle with the flush for a few minutes before changing the oil.

    Now, I'm not talking about the thick goo that comes from abuse. That stuff IS bad!
  • liufeiliufei Posts: 201
    Only checking the oil cap? Hmm, I thought it will
    take more than that to check sludge in the engine, just like you said.

    But how are you going to distinguish between the sludge and that thick goo?? Found it interesting though, if what you said regarding "2-3 oil changes/month will clear out the sludge" is true. If it is, I dont truely see what harm this sludge could cause to camry owner.

    yeah, i'm inclined to point at Penzoil/Quaker State and the infrequent oil changes as well as the culprit of all the sludgy camrys.

    Good logic and explanation. Any chances that you are a vulcan in disguise ?
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    You know, if any sane person read the posts in this topic they would say we hosted a debating society here... {%^o

    Does anybody remember that Buffalo Springfield song:"...Nobody's right, if everybody's wrong...."

    I think a cooling off period is in order here. This topic will be frozen for about a week and I'm hoping that in 2-3 days everyone will realize that no one in this topic is going to back down from their position or just "let it go...".

    So, I'm going to do that for you; just consider it a public service. Medical tests have proven that long-held grudges are hazardous to your health and I would hate to lose a great bunch of debaters such as yourselves...

    Your host, Bruce
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    Well, we can talk about sludge again, if you really want....

    I hope this debate actually goes somewhere instead of two firmly entrenched sides just throwing out the same arguments ad nauseum.

    Your host, Bruce
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Ok, here goes nothing!

    Just wanted to summarize where we are and where we've come from, and maybe, where this debate can head....

    I looked through past posts and came up with only six in Edmunds who reported sludge, after the dealer or other service personnel pulled the valve cover or oil pan: rrinehart, tricia barbee (V6), Boca2, isellhondas, eden1, and aquatic (a.k.a. "frank" in Plus there were two more elsewhere: "Norm" in and liufei's post from looksmart. Did I miss any others?

    The one common thread through these (at least where enough detail is available) is that the cars all accumulated relatively few miles per year and the oil was changed about every 6000 to 8000 miles, some with Pennzoil which some of you think is bad stuff.

    So it seems that following Toyota's normal-service recommendation of 7500 miles between oil changes for cars that are used in short-trip driving CAN lead to problems. Still, it's fairly well known that short-trip driving, especially in cold weather, is a severe-service condition. Toyota itself recommends 5000-mile / 4-month oil and filter changes for severe service.

    However, Consumer Reports (which is far and away the best source for LONG-TERM reliability information) indicates close to stellar reliability for the Camry engines, 4-cylinder or V6.

    Still, sludge would not manifest itself to the average consumer UNLESS it caused more serious problems, such as seized engines in rrinehart's and tricia barbee's cases. (It would be nice to hear from them to see how they made out.) So maybe some (many?) people have sludge but don't realize it.

    Fxashun claims that the presence of sludge can be deduced from deposits on the oil cap. Others say that at least the valve cover has to be pulled first. I would tend to agree with the latter, unless maybe the cap had an half-inch-thick buildup of the stuff. Fxashun: can you tell us how many of the 50 or so caps that you checked had thick buildups? And NO other car models had buildups anything like the Camry 4-cylinder?

    Then there's the possible related problem of valve stem seals going bad, as happened with my '97 Camry 4-cylinder, with only 57K miles. (Other posters in edmunds have had this probem, not necessarily with sludge). I changed the oil and filter following Toyota's severe-service schedule. Why did the dealer say, when I described the symptom of blue smoke on start-up, that the first thing they were going to do was check for sludge? Does Toyota know something? (Luckily my engine was said to be "fairly clean" [whew!] and the valve stem seals were replaced under the powertrain warranty.)

    Let's try to keep this going without this getting into another shouting match between the two sides. Personally, I still love my Camry, but if there's something going on, let's try to get to the bottom of it.
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    From a technical standpoint, WHY would this particular engine create sludge? It seams to me you must need several unique elements to come together in order to create this sludge. Just like you need fuel, oxygen, and heat to create (and sustain) fire, there must be a combination of factors that create sludge. WHAT are they and WHERE are they on the Toyota 4 cylinder? That's what I want to know.

  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    Maybe this is an isolated problem which has been blown out of proportion, or maybe not.

    It seems to me that ANY engine will sludge up if oil and filter changes are neglected for too long.

    A brief story: a co-worker's husband acquired a used '96 Camry 4-cylinder that he "didn't like." (He also "didn't like" a nearly new '97 Civic before that and traded it in on the Camry.) Anyway, because of his dislike, he didn't have the oil changed for something like 30K miles. Finally, he decided to trade it at about 70K miles for a late-model full-size Chevy 4x4 pickup. Before doing so, he had another co-worker change the oil (finally!). I spoke with this co-worker afterward, and he said the oil dripped out of the drain hole rather than poured out, it was so thick.

    Talk about sludge! But still, the car seemed to run fine. And the dealer who took the Camry in trade was asking something like $11,995 for it!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,666
    I don't understand either. Maybe the crankcase doesn't vent as well as on other cars.

    Four cylinder Toyota engines are VERY long lasting. It sounds like the owners of these should maybe change their oil a bit more often.

    And, a bit of sludge does NOT ruin an engine!

    How did this dumb topic get started in the first place?
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335 got kicked out of another conference. Gee, I wonder why...

  • fxashunfxashun Posts: 747
    Carmax has no interest in gouging people for their trade in. We buy cars from people whether or not they are buying a car from us. The buyers appraise the cars based on it's own merits regardless of the reason the person is trading/selling it. Our buyers are graded on number of cars bought AND the margin. The closer to 0 the more successful the buyer is considered to be.

    Also as Isell so deftly noticed we DO reject over half of the cars we evaluate. Actually it's closer to 80%. We reject them for engine problems, over 2 consecutive body panels of paint, clamp marks on the frame rails, poor cosmetics, branded title, carfax discrepancies, and many other reasons. Our cars are guaranteed for 30 days with bumper to bumper warranty that can be extended up to 5 years. We also have a 5 day/250 mile no questions asked return policy. It's all at So just because your dealership slapped an oil pan on your sludged Camry doesn't mean that all do. I'm sure you would also sell a Camry with extensive paintwork or a inconsistent Carfax report. Our warranty company does not allow us to be that lax.
  • fxashunfxashun Posts: 747
    I asked our buyers and techs why this happens and here's their reason. When Toyota went to 2.2 liters from 2.0 in the Camry for some reason it caused the engine to run hotter in the upper cylinder area. This breaks down the oil faster that the recommended oil change interval allows for. If a Camry is cared for "by the book" there is a very good chance it will probably have sludge. If it has oil changes every 3000 miles or so it should be OK. It's just that many people don't.

    Sludge can be checked in the Camry by looking in the oil cap because it screws right into the valve cover. It is not necessary to pull the valve cover in the 4 cyl. Camry to check for sludge because of this. You can actually look into the oil filler and see the insides of the cover. If the filler was in a remote position or covered as on the V6 models you WOULD have to remove the valve covers.
This discussion has been closed.