Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Have you recently switched from a luxury sedan to a luxury SUV? A reporter would like to talk to you; please reach out to [email protected] by 7/25 for more details.
Did you get a great deal? Let us know in the Values & Prices Paid section!
Meet your fellow owners in our Owners Clubs

Toyota Engine Sludge Problem



  • This service writer is way out of date. The new synth's are completly compatible and can be switched back and forth if so desired. Fact is there is alot of supposed full synths that actually are part mineral based and part synth like castrol syntec for example. Here is the basic article about castrol...

    goto and select FAQ's about oil.. then select "thoughts on oils"

    (sorry, the link was too long to post directly)


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Resale: Given that Audis and Mazdas don't have diminished resale even with horrendous past scandals to their name, I don't see why Toyota should suffer much in the long run--they certainly are doing more intervention than Audi ever did, and Mazda was very late stepping up to the plate for its ultimately generous intervention.

    As for cars with current low resale, like say Jaguar, that a decade to build that bad a reputation (the XJ6s) and will take a decade to bring it back. They are just about there.

    My personal theory is that the effects on resale will last about the same amount of time that the scandal remains in the public mind. So for Audi it was two years of fairly bad publicity and then two additional years of poor resale. Ditto with Mazda. The rotary is back!

    So with Toyota it depends, but I don't see this one lasting too long, another couple months at most.
  • john339john339 Posts: 229
    In my opinion, I believe the resale values as projected by Automotive Lease Guide on Audi and Mazda vs their competitors. I think their lower resale values indicates that Audi and Mazda have never fully 'recovered' from their earlier problems.

    Both Audi and Mazda have lower reasale values than comparable products from their competitors.

    For example, a Mazda 626 V6 after 4 years is worth 34%, an Accord V6 is worth 45%.

    An Audi A4 3.0 after 4 years is worth 44% and the 330i is worth 48%.

    I don't believe Audi or Mazda have ever been able to recover the ability to universally charge a "premium" for their products. Once you lose the trust of your customers, it is very difficult to ever regain the ability to regain the "pricing power" that a select few companies enjoy. This is especially true if a company has been able to charge more for their product because they had a perceived 'bullet-proof' reliability. If customers no longer perceive that reliability to be 'bullet-proof', then the ability to charge a premium for it diminishes.

    source: Resale Value Figures were provided by Automotive Lease Guide, Santa Barbara, Cal. through Kiplingers Personal Finance
  • of my views on Toyota's responsibility for these problems.

    In the cellphone case jbollt was using his phone "normally" by carrying it in his pocket. Many phones are now small enough to do this, and are in fact advertised this way. If the phone can't stand the lint of a shirt pocket then it has been poorly designed for its purpose, end of story. The cellphone maker can't argue "severe" use or owner neglect.

    This, IMO, is exactly where Toyota find themselves.

    What we need is some sort of mechanism to get some statistics of sludging rates for different makes and models, so we can verify that either certain Toyota models are truly more prone to sludging, or that they are the same as other vehicles.

    On the net its hard to tell a minority crusade from a genuine mass movement, but the number of posters, the Toyota Dealer Council action and Toyota's own SPA would all tend to indicate (at least to me) that there is a real problem here.

    Anyone got any ideas on what govt agency or consumer group might have (or could get) some real facts on the incidence of sludging for different makes and models?
  • black_tulipblack_tulip Posts: 438
    "An Audi A4 3.0 after 4 years is worth 44% and the 330i is worth 48%."

    So, is it your contention that before the hatchet job, Audi's residuals(or resale values) were higher than or equal to those enjoyed by similar BMW models from that era? Frankly, that would be news to me, if true. I think Audi has fully recovered and then some.
  • john339john339 Posts: 229
    Compare Audi and BMW market share from 1987 and now, that pretty much tells the story of how Audi has done vs. the competition.

    and your thoughts on Mazda are?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Exactly my thoughts, BT. Audi and Mazda never were the equal of Acura anyway. What I meant was that they recovered their former resale value rates. Sorry for the obfuscation.

    You may not remember, but Audi and Mazda were on the ropes with a good deal of very ugly publicity, way, way worse than anything Toyota is experiencing. For one thing, the defects they were wrestling with were far more dramatic and out in the open than sludge. Cars crashing into beauty parlors, and engines smoking to holy hell all over the country in substantial percentages.
  • john339john339 Posts: 229
    Which former resale rates you are using? Are you using figures from the 2001 Intellichoice database or the 2002 ALG database?

    There is actually a good deal of infomation out there on resale value vs. problems with automobiles. I think the Audi topic you brought up is a good one as it may have implications here with the sludge problem. There were suits filed against Audi for dimunition of resale values. For example:
  • fxashunfxashun Posts: 747
    As far as Audi resale....They have no resale. They depreciate fast than nearly any other "premium" European brand. There are a lot of A4's being appraised at $6500 with decent miles and no paint. To put it in perspective 1997 BMW 3 series still gets about $13000. Their prices aren't that far apart when new.
    Or even worse...A 1997 Civic can pull more in trade in value than some Audi A4's. Base A4 when new $24,000 Civic EX when new $17,000. Ouch.
  • wishnhigh1wishnhigh1 Posts: 363
    "An Audi A4 3.0 after 4 years is worth 44% and the 330i is worth 48%."

    If I am not mistaken, neither of these models have been on the market for 4 years yet. How is this residual value calculated?
  • fxashunfxashun Posts: 747
    Mine were real life figures at the dealership where I work. 1997 Pearl white A4 no paint 50K offer of $7500. Lets use my next car...A 1996 Honda Civic EX 4 door Paint on hood and bolts turned on core support, 107k. This car still pulled $4500 in the appraisal lane. And that's CHEAP for a Civic.
  • wishnhigh1wishnhigh1 Posts: 363
    Where did you pull that from? I did a search for A4s on for A4s from 1997 to 2000.

    Do me a favor and replicate that search. Go to, enter the Audi A4, and the years 1997 through 2000. Sift through the results and truthfully try to tell me that Audis have zero reslae value. In fact, with over 500 results, the lowest price listed was $10,900...pretty far from what you are claiming.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    In my professional opinion, it is unsupportable that Audi suffers any *substantial* difference in resale from most cars of its type and price, including Lexus.

    That pricing information is grossly incorrect . 1997 Audi A4 resale and 1997 BMW 325 *retail* resale are just about the same, at 61% dealer asking price, West Coast, clean car, average miles, good records.

    This data is from Kelley Blue Book, and I am a paid consultant for them, so I know something about this.
  • john339john339 Posts: 229
    The info quoted earlier were residual rates used for leasing. The numbers quoted were for 2002 models. They are an "estimate of what the car will be worth after two and four years, expressed as a percentage of the suggested retail price". The numbers came from a company called Automotive Lease Guide which is a "privately held company in Santa Barbara, California, has been the benchmark for residual values in the United States and Canada for over 35 years."

    According to Kelly Blue Book, there was no 1997 325 model sold in the US.

    However KBB does list the RETAIL price of a 1997 328i with 67,000 miles at $22,400 and a 1997 A4 2.8L with the same mileage for $16,900. Thats $5500 less than the BMW per KBB. Both similarly equiped 5 speed models on the west coast. The prices FX quotes are not retail and sound about right for a 4 cylinder A4 at auction.

    I think we've strayed way away from the original point, but its been a fun exercise.
  • john339john339 Posts: 229

    If an oil analysis revealed traces of the chemical glycol, what would the presence of glycol do to the engine oil and ultimately the engine?

    And what about the presence of excessive fuel or silicon in the oil. What effect would those items have on the engine oil over time?

    Some of the information I have read indicates that these items were present in the oil of some the sludged Toyotas.
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883
    Since we're on resale...

    1997 Audi A4 2.8L FWD:

    With 50Kish miles.. That's a $11K++ Car at the auctions. A really nice one will hit $12K and perhaps break that by a few hundred $$s. Make it the much more common Quattro, and that's a $13,500-14,500 car across the block. $7,500 for a nice 1997 A4 with 50K miles? Pearl White? Even if it was a 1.8t 5-speed with cloth and no sunroof its worth more than that, still a $8,500+ car. Maybe Carmax is stealing trades now? I personally don't pay much attention to I suppose it could be used as a reference, but what cars are selling for at auction is what I pay attention to as that tells me what other dealers are paying for cars on a wholesale level. So who cares what the book says, I know what I have to pay/can get for one at the sale :)

    1997 328i:

    A clean Automatic with 50K on it is a $16-17K car at the Auctions, NOT a $13K car. Thats what it takes to buy a nice, low-miler. OTOH, Everyone else is selling those for $19Kish.. So I'd love to buy 'em for $13K!

    As all of us in the business have seen, ALG has been WAAYY off the mark before! I can remember sending 2 year old XJ6s downthe road with 3-year residuals,per ALG, of $19K or so for when they had 60-65K miles on them. That was in 1998. I'm buying those today for $13-14K!

    Me? I am also a consultant for TMV...

  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Posts: 4,883

    I just find it interesting that, simply because you recommended your Grandparents buy a Camry, that you seem to be on this mission against Toyotas.

    Has their car sludged? Have you seen a sludged one?

    I'm just not seeing it. What I still think is that these are cars that are just not tolerant of abuse. Maybe Toyota went too far with 7500 mile drain intervals. I think its a combination of slightly lacksidasical maintience combined with engines that, because of what they do (Among other things, Low Emissions, etc..) are naturally hot-running and very precision devices.

    That being said, I always change my oil every 3K miles irrespective. To me it always has been, and always will be, cheap insurance.

    Ramblin, nice cheap shot there... totally untrue. Maybe jealous because you were never, and never will be invited in perhaps?

  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    If Glycol is leaking into the oil via head gasket problems I believe it will cause engine problems/form of sludge. Now as to fuel contamination, well, a certain amount is normal (in that it cannot be prevented) especially if you drive less then 10 miles or so to heat the enigne up. It is when the fuel as a % of vol in the oil begins to thin out the oil to the point it hinders good lubrication. Not sure but I believe this occurs somewhere between 5-10% of volume. As to dirt. again sllicon appears in three sources in the oil and oil analysis cannot determine the cause. It can come from dirt, silicon seals in the engine and from the oil itself as an additive. Too much silicon in the oil (assuming dirt) obvioulsy is not good and casues premature wear.
  • armtdm did an excellent job explaining that.

     let me ad that alot of people will pull samples after the damage and will find this, but question is like the chicken and the egg, which came first, the sludged engine causing the damage or the glycol/fuel causing the sludge?

     for more information on oil analysis and what things mean,


  • golfstergolfster Posts: 6
    Noted auto expert Pat Goss of the Motorweek TV program (and other radio and TV shows) recently stated (in his Washington Pest column and on his radio show) that the Toyota engine oil sludge/gel problem is caused by an inadequately designed Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) system.

    Pat says the PCV system should be checked each time the oil is changed and the PCV valve (inexpensive item) should be changed annually.

    By the way, has anyone else noticed how the exhaust pipe on the new Camrys hangs down below the axle? Looks like some kid took "fits-all" parts from JC Whitney and stuck them under the car. Very sloppy and not at all in keeping with what is otherwise a nicely designed car. Toyota makes a very good vehicle (my 85 4X4 SR-5 has 168K miles and runs great) but IMHO, lately they seem to be coming back to the field.
  • canccanc Posts: 715
    The Pat Goss comments were discussed about 100 posts back.
  • ramblinonramblinon Posts: 80
    not a cheap shot just a casual analytical observation over several months. For what it is worth, the wisdom and truth offered by "most" used car (and new car) sells persons is not the cement of trustworthiness.

    As for never being invited to the "Mt. Club" of the auto/truck sales people in this room, well, let's say I'm not going to lose any sleep.

    John339 has explained his interest in this issue and I find it an honorable one. Caring for the welfare of ones grandparents is considered a duty in most households and his efforts are appreciated. Plus, I find his references to be useful food for thought.

    Brendwoodvolvo, what model of Toyota do you drive that has one of the engines at issue?

    Best regards,

  • jj35jj35 Posts: 283
    Is the PCV maintenance schedule outlined in the manual? I don't have my manual with me at the moment, but I don't recall it being mentioned until about 60k miles. If I go to Toyota for oil changes, do they check the PCV system/valve each time the oil is changed? Should I question this and make sure that they write it down on the invoice?
  • mjday1972mjday1972 Posts: 76
    I've been reading these posts for a few weeks now, trying to see if the 2002s are affected (I recently purchased a 2002 Camry - due to its reputation for reliability). What is the "sludge rate" that Toyota owners are experiencing? I've heard that there have been about 3000 reported incidents thus far. I also read that Toyota said that there were around 3 million of these engines out there. That gives us a "sludge rate" of 0.1% (note the decimal point). If I change my oil every 3000 miles, is this something I need to worry about? I'm thinking not.
  • mcgregermcgreger Posts: 40
    I think I posted the same question a while back(maybe on one of the Sienna boards), as I couldn't find any mention of PCV valve maintenance in the manual or in the service write-up when I've taken my van in for oil changes at the dealership. Two months ago I had the 15k service done by the dealership and again no mention of checking or replacing the PCV valve. Any Toyota mechanics out there who could tell us if this is being done at the oil change level or during the extended service interval at the dealership?
  • canccanc Posts: 715
    Exactly. You shouldn't have any sludge problems. Enjoy your Camry. :)
  • pjksrpjksr Posts: 111
    Service schedule is not in the manual. Change it when you change the air filter, or about 15,000.

    OK, let me have it. You guys don't want to change your oil, now you won't want to change the PCV valve, either. LOL
  • That I have seen at the toyota dealership engines with a little less than 10,000 miles on them that has been sludged up. If this PVC problem was not a matter of being changed, then the sludge wouldn't occur until after about a year. It would take a long while for this system to create this sludge problem if it was due to not being maintained.

    Now on the other hand, if the Pvc was defective from the gitgo, then this could be a possibility but also, it would be obvious to toyota as a problem since i would think they check all the hydrocarbons and such out the tailpipe before sending out to the dealer.

    From what I have heard, toyota is still looking for the cause of this problem and my thoughts are that the pvc on a brand new engine might contribute since sludge starts to incur then it would cause a higher demand on the pvc system thus cause it to fail.

    I still stand by my findings on oil being sheared by the gear teeth on the heads.

  • john339john339 Posts: 229
    Thanks Golfster for the added comments by Pat Goss. The comments we had to date were from the Mar 20th CBS-WUSA article where he said the following, in case you did not see it:

    =="Automotive expert, Pat Goss, says Toyotas with sludge are not unusual.

    =="We've seen 50 to 60 cars like this and that's an inordinate number of cars," says Goss.

    =="But Toyota places the blame squarely on customer negligence. They say you should change the oil more often. Pat Goss says it's more than that."

    =="Goss says the letter (from Toyota) is demeaning to customers. "
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think Pat Goss is merely speculating. He doesn't know any more than I do or any of you do for sure. But he's allowed his two cents as long as it isn't interpreted as gospel.

    I'm not sure either what the resale issue is all about. If the argument is that somehow an Audi defect of 17 years ago is affecting current values, that's pretty slim pickins' for a case, IMO.

    The more I read and hear the more I'm leaning toward this: an oil breakdown caused by multiple simultaneous conditions which vary driver to driver, in terms of driving conditions, maintenance and oil used.

    It seems this is the only possible explanation why two people living next door to each other can apparently have completely different experiences with the same car. It can't be automatically built in to the car itself. So I don't buy the PCV theory on that basis of reasoning.
Sign In or Register to comment.