Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

New Sludge Articles

Recommended Posts

Keeping records is a good thing to do--with one caveat--if owners have proper maintenance done.

Doing regular oil and filter changes is fundamental.

Keeping records won't prevent sludge, but regular oil changes is a gold plated guarantee it will not happen.

All the moaning and groaning about engines developing sludge will disappear if affected owners would wise up and do what they're supposed to do. :P

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

It doesn't matter what all these so-called sludge victims whine about.

Most victims created their problem by not changing oil and are just trying to get a free ride on somebody else's tab.

If you change oil and filter on a reasonably regulr basis, sludge won't occur, and your Corolla engine will live a long and happy life.

Corolla engines are as bulletproof as it gets, and will only have problems if reasonable maintenance is ignored. :)



That is pure speculation and you have no real basis for saying that. You don't know every detail of every case. While probably extremly rare, a few ligit cases could exsist. Just because it is a Toyota, doesn't mean they are perfect. They have made mistakes in the past. They just tend to make way less mistakes then a lot of other car makers. I've noticed that when Toyota has recalls, they are usually in small numbers. They are better at catching mistakes faster.


Toyota changed the oil change time in the manual down to 5K miles. From reading on this forum, it sounds like it used to be 7K. I don't know if Toyota had any VVTi Corolla's with owners manuals suggesting 7K miles oil changes since our 05 says ever 5K, but Toyota recomended sooner oil changes for a reason. Sludge probably plays a roll in that.

The recommended oil change intervals do not prevent anyone from changing their oil more frequently. Toyota must draw a line at some point as to what they recommend and where it would cause damage if not done. You can drive a car without ever changing the oil, but at some point it will break down and cause serious damage. You can also change your oil at every 100 miles, but it would not be very economical. The interval is in between too often and not often enough. The sludge problem may ocurr at any of those intervals, but is less likely to happen at the more frequent oil change interval.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
The issue in this topic isn't about the generic causes of sludge.

Most people know and understand that ANY engine will sludge up if proper maintenance--specifically oil changes--isn't done regularly.

Most people know that sludge can occur in ANY and ALL makes of engine--it isn't exclusive to one make or model.

Believe it or not, even bulletproof engines like Toyota Corolla's can be made to sludge up if a negligent owner tries hard enough to make it happen.

What happened to start this Toyota sludge isse started is that a few disgruntled individuals (one person specifically--a wannabe activist who was more than a little nuts) started this issue about Toyota engines a few years ago by playing it up relentlessly on the net for months.

A few other opportunistic kooks who saw these claims and who saw this as a way to bilk Toyota through these hysterical claims took up with the instigators, and the campaign of lies got started.

For a couple of years it limped along--kept alive and fanned mainly by the same wacko activist who got it started in the first place--plus a few of her misguided followers.

Eventually the true facts emerged and the campaign of lies and political rhetoric died.

It turned out that lack of maintenance was the real cause of the issue, and nothing of the wacko claims pointing at Toyota's engine designs was ever proven.

Toyota, to its credit, did stand behind its products by offering an unprecedented good will gesture for free repairs to anyone who experienced sludging in one of their products and could show at least one oil change over a year. There weren't all that many who tried this offer and who qualified for it in the end.

The issue is now ancient history, but a few of the die hard opportunists who started the issue are still flogging it vainly--but not many people are listening to their lies any more because the truth eventually came to be known by the car buying public, media, and Toyota owners in general.


Bottom line--ignore proper oil changes and sludge will happen to ANY engine.



You down right blaimed every owner who has had sludge up to the owners fault. If you don't have every oil change record and diagnostic of every owner who has had sludge, you are just making stuff up. I've read some of the oil sludge stuff and while some of the owners sound like quakes, one thing is true. The engines can sludge. In the past, you had to down right neglect a engine to have oil sludge. Toyota isn't the only car maker with oil sludge problems and it seems to be a problem with newer engines as well. Much more then older cars.


You have 5 post. You aren't going to have a very good time here if you write up stupid BS post and then try and try and turn everything around.


This is usuallya friendly forum and you are off to a bad start.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

perhaps the truth is somewhere in between? an engine that is slightly prone to sludging inevitablely abused by the inevitable extended oil changes that occur every day across the country due to ignorance, inattentiveness or simply 'I'll get around to it tomorrow'. whereas most engine designs would varnish up perhaps, this one or that one had some hot spots which cooked a little oil more than average...


I just drained my oil out yesterday, had 9700 miles on that run. :rolleyes: Lets just say that I didn't just pour four quarts of supertech in 9700 and forget it...I have two UOA over that run that let me know my oil isn't 'cooked'.


I don't buy that the 1ZZ is prone to sluding, I don't know where that bit of folklore came from, you would think if the 1ZZ had ANY earned reputation for sluding it wouldn't have a reputation for being a bullet-proof tank that will give you 200k with minimal maintainence and 500k if you actually care about your car.


Anythign else, who knows? Won't any car sludge if you abuse it enough? Won't specific designs abuse oil more than others? Whats the truth? Very hard to tell when dealing with ANY corporation or government.


Nice quote... :ph34r:

Edited by GarrettSocling

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I still think sludging ocurrances can be reduced by frequent oil changes, but I am not so naive to believe that it is still not possible that engine designs can also contribute (maybe even cause) to sludging.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree - no engine "should" sludge with careful and regular maintenance of that vehicle. The engine will not take care of itself - you want it to last a million miles, you need to take care of it. Just look at listing for high mileage cars from Toyota, Volvo, Mercedes, even a 1995 Dodge Ram that hit 1,000,000 miles recently (owned by Robert Swan).


I'll also add a caveat - there is no such thing as a perfect engine or perfect lubrication. Even designed by the best engineers in the world - any one engine or chemical batch of oil could have a defect that would cause any number of problems - including sludging. Get one bad egg in a bunch, with the right person, and you can get this "sludge" propaganda spread every which direction. Some may be legit - most are probably not.


Look at some numbers - last count tens of thousands of "sludged" engines over some several hundreds of thousands of Camrys, Previas, Lexus, and other models sold each year (total number of "affected" engines number around 3.3 million). Lets take just the four cylinder Camry sales alone for the affected period - around 1.75 million engines, say 17,500 sludge cases (doesn't matter if they are or not) = 1 in 100 cars are sludged. That's a hell of a small number really. Even Lexus that boost some of the best quality control in the world (at least in 2002 and 2003) - accepts no defect in parts to the tune of 10 defects per million parts shipped! Has quality set at 63 problems per 100 vehicles within first 90 days of ownership - granted problems could be almost anything, but reported problems none the less - still best in the world for initial quality.


Point is - any vehicle can have problems, regardless how well it was put together or how it was maintained, ie. $hit happens, if its broke, fix it, if not, no worries.


In the same thinking - even the number one rated vehicle for quality needs regular maintenance, just because it well made, doesn't mean it needs "less" maintenance.


Example - my Matrix, when I bought it, had some heavy deposits in the valvetrain (no sludge though + killer price, that's why I still bought it last year). Why - the last owner who drove it for 40K miles "NEVER" changed the oil - his excuse, it was a Toyota, they supposed to be bulletproof. His attitude, sadly, it mirrored by many others - don't give a darn about requiremed maintenance, but one drop of oil on the floor - and they blame the whole of Toyota Corp for turning out a POS product.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

No flaw in the hypothesis - I'm just going on published numbers that are availabe to me, not pulling these out of thin air. Number of total engines in the "affected" and complaints lodged can be looked up on Consumer reports, Toyota presskits, and NHTSA as a few examples. I'm not justifying any number - just using numbers that are available out there for my example.


You also took my example way out of context - my example was only to illustrate how GOOD these engines are, not the other way around.


Note that I mentioned that in my post >> the so called "affected" engines and "say 17,500 sludge cases (doesn't matter if they are or not)". I never mentioned that these are truely sludged engines. Just ones that people have complained that have been "sludged", where it was true or not. Even so - using those potentially inflated numbers, Toyota still has some of the lowest "defects" per 100 cars.


I also wanted to point out that there may be a few cases that could have merit - no manufacturer can produce a perfect engine. To say and to believe that all Toyota engines are infallible is completely naive. Any engine can have serious problems, even with Toyota/Lexus screening parts to the level of 50/10 defects per million parts shipped (numbers from the Tahara plant in Japan), still means that a bad part get through every once and a while.


I'll restate what the whole post was about - if you maintain it properly, you can expect great performance from it. Treat it poorly - well, you should expect nothing more back. A bad engine can and does happen - something that the owner has no control over. Same goes with poor or incompetent service work by some techs and dealerships - also, owner has no control over. Hasn't deterred me from buying Toyotas - gone through five myself (keep the newest two).


The "sludge" monster was started by a disgruntled owner that probably wanted out of her van - or wanted to make a stink - or both. Look in the past postings - I've bounced posts off of her as well to no avail. Unfortunantly, those with legitimate problems got grouped together with these zealots - possibly causing them extra great grief because of the legal and public maneuvering of these select few that made Toyota backpedal a bit, made changes to some items (OCI - standard oil change indicators in the cars, reduced oil change interval from 7500 miles to 5000 for normal operations, 3000 miles for severe duty (stayed the same)), and stretch out warranty process for some.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Fishexpo101--I agree with everything you say except the numbers of complaints about sludge. To the best of my knowledge, and according to information published many times, there were less than 4000 complaints about it from owners. it wasn't an epidemic like that activist wanted everyone to believe.

Also, for your info, I attached (below) a Federal Register ruling on a petition lodged by that same wacky wannabe activist when she tried to get NHTSA to investigate Toyota for the sludge problem. NHTSA politely told her to get lost!

I x'ed out the petitioner's name for privacy reasons, but I think you know who it was.





National Highway Traffic Safety Administration



Denial of Motor Vehicle Defect Petition, DP02-004


AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),

Department of Transportation.


ACTION: Denial of petition for a defect investigation.




SUMMARY: This notice sets forth the reasons for the denial of a

petition submitted to NHTSA under 49 U.S.C. 30162, requesting that the

agency initiate an investigation to determine the existence of a defect

related to motor vehicle safety. The petition is identified as DP02-



FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Jonathan White, Office of Defects

Investigation (ODI), NHTSA, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC

20590. Telephone: (202) 366-5226.


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Ms. xxxxxxx xxxxx, Vienna, VA, submitted a

petition to NHTSA by letter dated April 9, 2002, requesting that an

investigation be initiated to determine whether to issue an order

concerning a defect in Model Year 1997 to 2001 Toyota Camry, Solara,

Sienna, Avalon, Celica and Highlander vehicles and Lexus ES 300 and RX

300 vehicles. The petitioner alleges sudden engine seizure in certain

aforementioned vehicles attributable to engine sludge-related problems.

In February 2002, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Incorporated (Toyota)

initiated a Special Policy Adjustment (SPA) covering the aforementioned

model vehicles. In April 2002, Toyota expanded the SPA to include

certain model year 2002 production for the same models. Toyota's SPA

program is designed to provide assistance to consumers who have

experienced engine problems related to ``oil gelling'' or ``sludge.''

While aggravating to the owner, this problem appears to have limited

safety implications within the meaning of NHTSA's authorizing statue.

Moreover, given the actions taken by Toyota to address this problem,

NHTSA does not believe that pursuing this matter would be an effective

use of its resources.

In view of the foregoing, it is unlikely that NHTSA would issue an

order for the notification and remedy of an alleged safety-related

defect as defined by the petitioner in the subject vehicles at the

conclusion of the investigation requested in the petition. Therefore,

in view of the need to allocate and prioritize NHTSA's limited resources to best accomplish the agency's

safety mission, the petition is denied.


Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30162(d); delegations of authority at CFR

1.50 and 501.8.


Issued on: June 12, 2002.

Kenneth N. Weinstein,

Associate Administrator for Safety Assurance.

[FR Doc. 02-15499 Filed 6-16-02; 8:45 am]


Edited by thesource

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

There were definintely some of the Toyota models prone to sludge. That is why there is a Sludge Policy that is specific to certain models and model years. If they weren't prone to sludge, there would be no policy or there would be a policy that included all models.


Also, MSN Autos reports that the respective models have "significant" engine problems which include sludge.




With most vehicles, you are not going to get sludge if you change the oil as recommended by the manufacturer. That is not the case with the subject models and model years.




I tried to get an answer to this question in another thread without success. Is it true that when an engine begins to get the sludge problem that the dipstick shows the oil is low? (I would think that it would read low if gobs of oil were sitting at various places in the engine and not getting back to the oil pan.)




Yes, it will "appear" that your engine level is low but you will have no noticeable leaks. The oil is still there, just in solid form. You will also see smoke coming out of your exhaust when you first start the car.

Edited by DB1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

thesource - thanks for the numbers, didn't want to get into a "war" over the exact number - since no one really knows the exact number for sure (cases that are pending, yet to be discovered, new cases brought forward, etc.). The number is so small compared to the numbers of "good" cars built - there is no conspiracy here - just a couple of people that went nuts.


I tried to get an answer to this question in another thread without success. Is it true that when an engine begins to get the sludge problem that the dipstick shows the oil is low? (I would think that it would read low if gobs of oil were sitting at various places in the engine and not getting back to the oil pan.)




Yes, it will "appear" that your engine level is low but you will have no noticeable leaks. The oil is still there, just in solid form. You will also see smoke coming out of your exhaust when you first start the car.

I'll also add that just plain low engine oil levels, since they do consume some quantity of motor oil in normal operations, will have the appearance of "sludge" symptoms and stir some people into a panic. Since there is so much oil can do to protect you - running less of it will only make it work harder. Same deal with Ford Explorer / Firestone fiasco - can't hold up a heavy SUV with only 15-20PSI in tires, designed for 30+ PSI. Up to the owner/operator to keep an eye on all aspects of vehicle operation - part of being a vehcile owner.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Various links with information on the sludge problem to help cut through the hype.


























































http://www.licquia.org/archives/2005/06/12...nd-reputations/ (check out the comments on this posting -- George Jones = TheSource???? http://www.licquia.org/archives/2005/08/25...-george-jones/)


















http://www.autosafety.org/showconsumercomp...lid=-1&offset=0 (sludged Corolla)







Edited by Ellis

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Quote from the 2005 San diego paper article in your links. Looks like you can get Toyota to pay for a sludged Toyota not covered under policy:


"Some sludge victims have resorted to more intriguing methods to get satisfaction. After fighting Toyota for six months about a sludged 2003 Corolla with 26,000 miles, Mazie Passeri vowed to picket the local dealership and drive the car with the words Toyota Sludgemobile painted on it.


Within days, the claim to rebuild the engine was authorized.


"I will never buy another Toyota," said Passeri, of Jacksonville, Fla. "The funny thing is, the car trouble itself never shook my confidence in Toyota. It was Toyota's poor customer service and their unwillingness to accept responsibility and make things right that did it." "




Ellis said:
Various links with information on the sludge problem to help cut through the hype.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Found this on another website. Not sure if all the links are still active...





Here you can find announcement of sludge program, copy of the letter that was to be sent to 3.3 million owners, and acknowledgement by Toyota that this is just an issue with two specific Toyota engine designs. Toyota says it is not a design problem, but an owner maintenance issue, yet limits the policy to two specific engines over a given range of time.




The information on this site is not readily available except to mechanics, however, one of their announcements addresses the problem. In this announcement they discuss the problem of sludge in properly maintained engines (something that Toyota says is an impossibility).




This government-run web site includes owners’ report of sludge engine failures by year and by auto make and model. Search under “Problems and Issues” heading. NHTSA opened an investigation into the sludge problem in 2002 but closed the investigation in a matter of a few months because of Toyota’s announcement of the sludge policy.


MSN Autos site:



The above link is for the Avalon, but all the models covered by the sludge policy are reported to have significant engine problems. These ratings are based on reports from independent garages (not ones that are manufacturer affiliated) so they give an unbiased picture of problems that these garages see in vehicles.




A former Toyota mechanic acknowledges the problem. (this site dedicated to Toyota’s even has a “Sludge Zone”




AutoNews and several other publications included the announcement of the sludge problem in February and April 2002. Several publications had subsequent announcements.




See complaints (all since AFTER the announcement of the sludge policy) on Toyota engines. Also has link to Auto News article




As of this writing, over 375 signatures of owners who have experienced sludge and are dissatisfied with Toyotas response to their problem.




Do a web search for “Toyota Engine Sludge” and you find numerous reports of engine sludge in Toyota’s.




View from a garage that specializes in Toyotas.




See discussion of engine sludge on this forum, including one by Toyota rep (tmsusa1).




Includes discussion of sludge problem.


Numerous other websites with sludge reports include:





Toyota Owners Unite for Resolution web site












Edited by Ellis

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites



I don't understand where you are coming from or what your point is. I agree with the importance of maintaining your car properly, doing proper oil changes to extend the life, etc., etc. I also agree that sludge is not just a Toyota phenomenon. I know you are trying to pull me into some sort of pointless argument with you but it isn't going to happen. I have posted what I think is beneficial information to people who ALREADY have/had sludge so they know about the problem and where to turn to for assistance. Also, anyone buying a used one of the listed models should be aware of the problem and should know to check the engine for sludge and request all maintenance records before buying one.


Regardless of what you say, Toyota really DOES have a sludge policy to cover the repairs for those who have this problem in specific vehicles over specific years if they have reasonably maintained their car. Kudos to Toyota for having this sludge policy because it is actually better than some other manufacturers are doing with their models that have a propensity to develop sludge, Chrysler for example. Where I think Toyota has fallen short is that they have limited it to very specific models and model years. One of the things I question Toyota on is why isn't a Corolla owner who has reasonably maintained their vehicle and can prove it and who develops sludge also covered? I don't expect you to answer this because only someone inside Toyota would be able to do anything other than speculate.


Ellis, here's another excellent explanation of how sludge happens (also at Edmunds):


"Any engine will sludge if oil changes are neglected. This is NOT an exclusive Toyota phenomenon. Those who insist otherwise are wrong.

A light tan or brown mayonaise-like consistency glop on the underside of the oil filler cap is neither sludge nor sludge related. It's a harmless mix of normal oil and water vapors that've condensed and adherred to the relatively cooler plastic cap. It's most likely evident in vehicles operated in cold weather and/or short trippers.

Sludge is tarry BLACK and gritty to the touch. In its worst form, it becomes hard baked-on to the hot surfaces restrictng oil flow. When an oil gallery becomes clogged from sludging, bye-bye bearing.

Sludge is the result of oil breakdown from over-extended oil change intervals and/or operation in extended hot, highspeed applications.

Cold, short trip operation can abet sludge formation, too, from incomplete comustion of fuel along with the slightly richer fuel mixture encountered during this type of operation.

As noted, a good romp will help prevent sludge in a healthy engine.

Established sludge, however, can NOT be dealt with by extended driving. It has to be hot-boiled out with solvent after complete engine disassembly despite the claims made by certain snake oil supplemental additive makers.

If you want to keep your engine sludge-free, service the oil and filter according to the "severe service" recommendation in your owner's manual - and this applies to both conventional as well as synthetic motor oil formulations.

There ain't no free lunch, people."


Ellis, that last highlighted segment really tells it all, IMHO!!!! Singling out Toyota is just plain wrong, no matter how much rhetoric the sludge lady plastered all over the net.

Edited by Ellis

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

after reading all of this its possible that some engines are more prone to sludge when oil is not changed at proper intervals than others. one engine may go 10K miles with out an oil change and not sludge the oil, another engine may go 5K miles and be full of sludge. is this a design flaw with the 2nd engine? NO! its an owner maintenence problem with the 2nd engine.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...