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Toyota Highlander oil sludge settlement



  • use of oil may be related to not replacing the pvc valve. see other thread on this board. change pcv first. rr70
  • I am also having a problem with excess oil consuption. I need to add 1 quart of oil every 500 miles, I have a 2001 highlander with 110000 miles on it. It has NO leaks but it does have a sludge build up in the PCV area, oil passes through the PCV valve. I heard about the unusual sludge problem with these models so I called Toyota Financial (I bought this vehicle from the in September 2011). They said my VIN should it may be eligible for repair by toyota so now it is hoop jumping time. They told me t go to a dealer and have a teck check it out. I took it to Libertyville Toyota and they checked it out and they said the engine was clean. I asked about the PCV area and they said they would need $400 from me before they would check that. I asked about the excessive oil use and they said it is normal to use a quart every 1000 miles on a well maintained vehicle. I asked for that in writing but they gave me a piece of paper that said something about if a vehicle uses more than a quart of oil after 1250 miles, there is a problem. They said the sludge problem would be by the valve cover if it was going to be covered by toyota. I reminded them again that I just bought the vehicle from toyota financial, they should have disclosed this problem before I bought it. They said too bad, pay up.

    I am waiting for a letter from Toyota to see how to proceed. Would like any feedback.
  • Hi,
    We also have a 2001 highlander. They shot us down in a very ugly way with the same situation. We found this problem 40k miles ago! By accident we found that if you leave the oil cover off (where you put the oil in the engine) Then it will burn oil must less quickly. In order to keep the oil from spraying all over the engine, we have placed an edlebrock air breather over the opening. Still burns oil, just not nearly as quickly. My highlander is a mom car and my kids have been terribly rough on it, so we decided NOT to spend the 3k on the engine, but it is still going strong with this method. It is sad that Toyota wouldn't do the right thing. We were within the window and had all the reciepts for oil changes, but they said it wasn't engine sludge. That was 2 years ago. We are going strong. =)
  • I have a 2002 Hylander that I purchased with 131,000 miles on it. Drove it off the dealer lot and seemed fine. After the first oil change, it has used as little as 1/2 quart over 300 miles of driving or as much as 4 quarts in 250 miles. I contacted the dealer and they tell me to bring it in and have engine disassembled for troubleshooting. Another mechanic I use thought it was oil rings. It doesn't add up. Does anyone know what the problem could be? I really like this vehicle, and own a newer Highlander as well. Maybe this was a bad chioce for a vehicle. Its getting old carrying around a 5 quart bottle of oil to make sure I do not damage the engine. Oil consumption is not even consistent. I have put 10,000 mikes on it and have added more than 20 quarts of oil between oil changes.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    The oil is either leaking out of the engine or being burned along with the gas. In either case at that level of oil consumption there should be obvious signs.

    If there are no signs of leakage you most likely need a new or rebuilt engine.
  • I own a 2002 toyota highlander that burned excessive oil only at highway speed driving (~70mph or greater). It was burning 3 quarts every 300 miles at these speeds. It did not burn this oil at city driving speeds. The lack of oil did eventually damage my block. My toyota highlander only had 53K miles at the time in 2009 when this happened. Toyota "assisted me in my repairs" since it was such a low mileage vehicle and I had good records of my oil changes. They paid for my parts (a new short block ~$4k) and I paid for the labor (~$1,900). However, that did not fix the issue. Later after many more test drives and the technician trying to figure it out, Toyota replaced the heads, valve covers and the PCV valve. Toyota paid for it since they didn't fix it right the first time with just the short block replacement (after pleading my case to the manager at the dealer and the regional Toyota engineer). I have not had excessive oil consumption since then. I have done some research and found that the earlier highlanders, including 2002, had a flaw in the oil circulation in the heads. Some say the new valve covers provide better oil flow in and around the valves in the heads. I have seen where others have claimed that a new PCV valve had resolved the issue. Based on my experience, all I can say is it was something in the new heads, valve covers, or PCV valve that fixed the problem since those were the last three items that they replaced. Best of luck to you. It is somewhat difficult to get Toyota to admit to any design flaws and to cover the costs!!!! I may have been one of the exceptions since it had such low mileage. I basically ended up with a complete new engine at my cost of labor ($1,900).
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,785

    The description of the high oil usage at high speed points clearly to a problem with the PCV valve in any engine. I'd guess that was more logical starting point


  • I own a 2002 Highlander V6 with 112,000 miles on the clock and also experience oil consumption issues. It's mostly used for short hilly urban stop start commuting in Vancouver, Canada, and uses about 1 quart every 3000mi - pretty reasonable to me. However, when used for longer high speed freeway trips, it starts eating oil like there is no tomorrow.

    I did a 4500mi road trip from Canada to Southern California last summer, where, at times, I was going through two quarts every time I filled up (about 300miles). It appeared to be directly related to how fast I was driving - at a steady 75mph I used a quart every 300miles; two quarts were required during 85mph legs in Montana. Under 65mph oil consumption is negligible, even when hauling a trailer.

    I've learned to live with it, and given the big repair cost of PCV valves, I'm not going to fix it, unless it gets worse. I now use one of our other vehicles for long distance trips in future, and keep the Highlander for around town commuting.

    Sucks though. I backpacked around Australia a few years back in a 1984 Toyota Corona. 405,000 kilometres on the clock when I purchased it and 421,000km when I sold it 7 months later. It didn't use any oil between changes, and it was often driven at 100mph plus in the then speed limit free Northern Territory.

    Somehow I don't think my 2002 Highlander is going to get to 400,000km.

  • Dave,
    If the solution really is just the PCV valve, it is only ~ $10 item. PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) system siphons the vapors from the crankcase and routes them into the intake manifold so they can be reburned in the engine. It's just a little black valve that attaches to the valve cover. Some have claimed this has worked for them (this valve needs to open up at high speeds). I'm not convinced but I think it would be worth the $10 to try it. If that doesn't work, then yes it appears that your repair will involve either the new valve covers that they have made for the older highlanders or the actual heads with new valves. Best of luck. If you do choose to replace the PCV valve and it works, I'd be interested your results.
    Regards, Steve
  • We also own a 2001 Toyota Highlander that has the same problem of using a lot of oil. I was very interested in your solution regarding leaving the oil cap off and replacing it with an Edlebrock air breather. May I ask what the part # is for the air breather? I would like to try this solution, thank you.
  • meke1meke1 Posts: 1
    Did you ever have any luck finding out how to get hold of the Edelbrock air breather for your Highlander? I have an 02 with the same problem. I bought it new and have been meticulous about oil changes and such. Very frustrating! I have also noticed much higher oil use on longer, highway speed drives.
  • yj151yj151 Posts: 1
    My 2001 Highlander is tha same as yours. I am the second owner of this suv.
    Current milage is about 166,000km. I found when I drive the speed over 120km/hr, need around 2 quarts engine oil for every 300 km. If the speed is less than 80 km/hr, the engine oil consumption is not apparent.

    I did talk to TOYOTA CANADA. Toyota asked me to send my viehicle to delership to get test. After communicating with dealership, they said I need to get the engine oil changed at their ficilate at first. And they will monitor the engine oil consumption. I was confuded for if I need to make a trip to approve my evidence. I gave up. I prepare some engine oil on my suv for a long trip.

    If I can get a conveninence and economic way to fix it, I defenetly go with it. I hope I can still drive this viehcle at least 5 more years.
  • shoffieshoffie Posts: 1
    I have an 02 higlander, 151,000 miles. it started using oil last fall. the oil light has never come on and i only found out when getting ready to go on a road trip, i checked the oil and there was none on the dip stick. I finally took it to the dealership who changed the pcv? valve, did a consumption test after 500 miles, and all checked out fine. I thought we solved it..
    I just went on a road trip this past weekend and checked the oil before i left. It was good. I drove to billings montana from denver and parked it. when i went to leave and started the car, the engine banged around and a puff of black smoke came out. i turned it off right away! that had never happened before..checked and again, no oil on the dip stick. put about 2 1/2 quarts in, and all was well. I put the other half in at wheatland, and now the oil level still looks good but i called the dealership and told them the pcv valve wasn't the answer obviously. I took it in and after looking at it, they told me they'd have to remove the top of the engine (or something like that) to check on a sludge issue that had been happening with these cars awhile back, and that would cost ME $450 alone. but... that if i kept up with the oil, the car will probably be fine for a long time.
    Other than the indications on the dip stick, there are no other "symptoms". Never any leaks on the ground, never any smoke coming out except what happened the other evening...they are not offering to pay for it AND i don't recall ever getting a letter re: a sludge issue. I am now and always have been on top of all the maintenance required....
  • I never did find out what Edelbrock air filter to use but it doesn't matter now because we are to the point of either replacing the vehicle or repairing the oil problem. I think we'll repair the engine, it's a better option for us than buying a newer vehicle right now. We did start using a synthetic blend oil (Trop Artic) which works a lot better than straight motor oil and very reasonably priced compared to other synthetic blends. We can definitely relate to your frustration of the oil problem and, unfortunately, AFTER buying our Highlander and finding out about the oil problem with it, we then did some homework on it and found out this is a common problem with the 2001, 2002 and then got better starting with the 2003 models. The funny thing is, after doing a lot of vehicle shopping the last few weeks I still like our '01 Highlander the best, still looks very good inside and outside for it's age and you can't beat the price tag even with the repair of the oil problem :)
  • I just picked up a 2001 highlander v6 70k miles, 3rd owner last year in summer of 2011. Now in 2012 around June, I started noticing the oil sludge problem. So I took it to a shop and the auto guy said I had carbon build-up because I take short trips or a lot of idling too much (what a liar never heard that one b4) cause of only 5k miles into it for a year and it needed motorvac, etc ..cost $450 for treatment. A month goes by and still the same thing oil consumption. 4 more months go by with the sludge and one cylinder misfires. So now my car is in a shop and an auto guy tears the engine block down to tell me that a piston valve broke, oil ring broke, needs new piston ring all due to oil sludge . I mean come on Im at only 80k. But anyways I want to know if I can still get the toyota sludge settlement even if the car is a 2001 and now its 2012 and the settlement only covers up to 8 years? Cause all these repairs is causing me a lot of money.
  • I originally posted in 2011. A few people asked what the breather was that we were using in lieu of the oil cover. We recently had to have the spark plugs changed because my ride was missing, but it is running like a dream once again now!! 169k and going strong!
    I am so, so sorry that I never received any of your replies via email!! I certainly would have replied. This cover is similar, if not the same one as I have on my Toyota. We did have to have new spark plugs installed this month because it was missing. Now it is running like a scalded dog once again!! =) We are at 169000 miles.
  • 13k on car ... it uses 1 quarter of oil every 1k miles. Dealership keeps keeps telling me this maybe normal. Wants me to keep bring it back every 1200 miles to check. This is getting a little laborious. Any suggestions?
  • We purchased a 2001 Toyota Highlander in August of 2010 and found out three months later that it was using oil like crazy. After doing a lot of homework on this vehicle we found out that a lot of the 2001, 2002 and some of the 2003 Highlanders had this problem. A class action law suit was brought against Toyota which resulted in the Company issuing an unlimited mileage repair of this problem to the original owners of the vehicle. Unfortunately, we were the second owners so it didn't do us any good. We just ended up with a real lemon dumped in our laps. We are going to sell it for parts and salvage, we aren't about to have someone else end up with it. I wouldn't think that a 2012 would have this problem and for your sake I truly hope this isn't the case. I wouldn't think a newer car using a quart of oil every 1k miles is "normal" for ANY vehicle, just saying. Good luck, hope it's still under warranty.
  • I have owned my 2001 highlander since 2005. We found out about the problem in 2008. I have driven it 70k since then. It helped a LOT when we figured out that if you leave the oil cap off, it burns less oil. We ended up putting an Edlebrock engine breather thing over it to keep the oil from blowing out on the engine. This works quite well for city driving, but Interstate, it still burns quite a bit of oil. With this being said, we have just had a tune up on it and replaced one of the coils. It is now becoming higher maint. that we care to deal with considering we are military and live 1000 miles from home. We will be trading in for a newer highlander...why? Because despite the defect in the engine, I still love this car. The way it handles, the performance over the years. Bottom line is that if I had gotten the oil changed every three thousand miles, it probably never would have had the issues that it does. 8 years next month...I will be sad to see my baby go.
  • cordieritemancordieriteman Posts: 2
    edited May 2013
    I am interested in the research you did on your Highlander to find the unlimited mileage repair for the original owner. I am an original owner of a 2001 and have found high oil consumption with my vehicle at approximately 165,000 miles. My Toyota dealership says nothing about any repair through Toyota. They say that they are only familiar with the "oil sludge" problem on other Highlanders. I am not sure this is related. I noticed this problem in January 2013. It would burn a quart of oil every 300-400 miles. This is not possible with simple oil leaks. I surmise there is a vacuum malfunction within the engine emissions control system in the exhaust gas re-circulation logic. I have seen some posts suggesting it is tied to the PCV valve, but I had mine changed and it did not improve much. This would also explain why use of a vented oil cap helps. In my experimentation with my vehicle the highest oil use is at highway speeds greater than 70 mph (1 quart per 300 miles). At 65 mph the oil use drops to less than a quart per 300 miles, while at less than 62 mph the oil consumption decreases to essentially zero! I see almost no oil consumption in around town driving. By the way, I have personally changed my own oil for all 165,000 miles on the vehicle every 3000 - 4000 miles. I also have always changed the filter with each oil change, only using Toyota filters. I would really appreciate any information you have gathered on Toyota offering the unlimited mileage repair to original owners. I would love to keep the vehicle. I like everything else about it, except this oil issue. Thanks in advance for your help!
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