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Ellis

Sludge Inspection Procedure

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Ellis, you know the old proverb: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

In other words, people who ignore proper maintenance are the only ones who need to worry about sludge.

Prevention is the way to go. People who do proper maintenance don't need advice on how to check for it.

The one plausible benefit of your suggested post might be for someone buying a used car, to check to see that it was maintained properly.

 

That said, another wise person in another forum sums up the sludge issue nicely with this: "I think there may have been a few people whose maintenence was somewhat questionable and their cars ended up with engine problems related to sludge. I think they are trying to force the issue with the manufacturer (Toyota) to get their cars fixed. They probably ran into a lot of resistance and as a result are very frustrated. I can understand their frustration, but not the attempt at over-emphasizing the severity of the problem. They probably got no satisfaction and feel victimized. I empathize, but I have no sympathy with them.

 

A suggestion Ellis--you would probably make a better contribution to the sludge topic if you spent more time telling folks how to avoid it.

It's really simple--just keep advising people to maintain their engines properly. It's not rocket science!

 

One question.

You have authored a large number of posts dealing with the sludge issue. All of them paint Toyota as the bad guy. Why is that?

Edited by thesource

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Most of those instructions pertain to inspections and then cleaning. Once it is determined that parts have been properly inspected and cleaned, the objective must be to keep them operating by regular maintenance. The engines will last considerably longer when kept clean thru frequent oil changes, etc.

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DB1 and Ellis, you don't seem to like Toyota much. Always reminding readers about the sludge controversy.

How come? It never was much of a widespread thing, and most of it was hyped by that lady who bombarded the net with her spinny propaganda.

I've owned MANY different cars and I've used synthetic in all of them and I've NEVER had any engine related failure nor any sludging problems. At one time I owned a 1984 Camry, a Tercel and now I own a 2003 Highlander with 64,000 miles on it and a 1991 Volvo 240 (4-cylinder cast-iron engine) with 188,000 miles on it and again, I've never had an engine related problems or sludging.

Here's what I think we're seeing with the sludge problem: Toyota makes millions of cars per year and I think there are only several thousand sludge-related complaints. Of these, statistically speaking, some of these sludging problems will happen to owners who neglected maintenance and some will happen to those who routinely maintain their cars! This is nothing more than the "statistical bell curve" in action. Granted, some models of any make may be slightly more prone to sludging, but in the scheme of things, Toyota's total is a statistically small number for certain.

Anyone who believes different is probably overly compulsive about some perceived wrong they feel has been done to them.

Edited by urconscience

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DB1 and Ellis, you don't seem to like Toyota much. Always reminding readers about the sludge controversy.

How come? It never was much of a widespread thing, and most of it was hyped by that lady who bombarded the net with her spinny propaganda.

I've owned MANY different cars and I've used synthetic in all of them and I've NEVER had any engine related failure nor any sludging problems. At one time I owned a 1984 Camry, a Tercel and now I own a 2003 Highlander with 64,000 miles on it and a 1991 Volvo 240 (4-cylinder cast-iron engine) with 188,000 miles on it and again, I've never had an engine related problems or sludging.

Here's what I think we're seeing with the sludge problem: Toyota makes millions of cars per year and I think there are only several thousand sludge-related complaints. Of these, statistically speaking, some of these sludging problems will happen to owners who neglected maintenance and some will happen to those who routinely maintain their cars! This is nothing more than the "statistical bell curve" in action. Granted, some models of any make may be slightly more prone to sludging, but in the scheme of things, Toyota's total is a statistically small number for certain.

Anyone who believes different is probably overly compulsive about some perceived wrong they feel has been done to them.

 

I couldn't disagree more, "urconscience!" Is that "spinny" or "spiny?" Whatever. Are you suggesting that one lady made up all the issue of sludge in Toyotas? If so, you are inaccurate in your postings (the same may be said about the IP tracking information posted in another discussion).

 

I have followed the Toyota sludge matter for over five years now. I have corresponded with hundreds of Toyota owners as well. That's great that YOU have never had sludge; unfortunately, that has NOT been the experience of thousands upon thousands of other Toyota owners.

 

We respect what you think, urconscience, but we differ in opinion. Sludge in the Toyota is observed despite *proper maintenance*. The moderator has indicated this as well. The fact that Toyotas have sludge is not in any way related to the emotional make up of any person.....at least let's be honest and confirm this fact!

 

Many Toyota owners have had issues with the emissions control components on their vehicles either at the time of sludge or shortly thereafter. Many Toyota owners report blown engines with no plausible explanation by Toyota. This includes Corollas, too. Sludge occurs in Toyotas regardless of maintenance; this is fact.

 

Because some of the sites where Toyota owners go to cite such experiences have been sabotaged, the information is not as readily available as it was up until 2003. I suppose it was no accident that two major auto consumer forums went down at the same time.....never to be active again. Indeed, harassment of consumer advocates has been on-going.....guess someone wants to silence those "in the know" pretty badly.

 

I have found Ellis' and DB1's posts very valuable. There is no name-calling, no character assassination, no arrogance in their postings. There is no posturing to protect a corporation at all costs either.

 

It is important that all sides be heard in this discussion. Intimidation has no place here.....or should have no place here. Ellis and DB1 do not need to be challenged personally for what they post. Healthy debate is acceptable, however. I believe both could hold their own in such a debate based on their posts.

 

As for sludge and the Corolla, it has been an issue for some. I have heard about the excessive fuel in the oil in the Corolla, too. One Corolla owner had excessive fuel after just 314 miles on the new oil! No one at Toyota has given an adequate explanation about this phenomenon. Oil analysis is a good thing to do in the sludge cases.....check out what is happening in our oil and keep good records of the testing. Trends may indicate a serious engine situation. There are several online engine oil analysis companies you can use.

 

We have all heard the "you have to do your maintenance" hype. What we haven't heard is how Toyota is keeping its records post sludge revelation. How many owners are complaining now? The old "3,200" figure is years old now. How many Corolla sludge complaints does Toyota have?

 

These are questions only Toyota can answer. New posters here can enlighten us with their own experiences. Hopefully, Toyota will not resume its "denial phase" once again......

 

Charlene Blake

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What we are seeing here is a statistical phenomenon, and as a part-time statistician, I would like to address some myths.

 

1) Just because a problem is prevalent doesn't mean it'll happen to you. -- Just because you have an engine prone to sludge doesn't mean sludge will happen to you. Many chain smokers live to be 100 years old. Does that mean smoking doesn't increase your chance of death? Hardly. Thus, having cars free from sludge, even in the "problem" group, doesn't make the cars themselves "not a problem" any more than having a long-lived 1988 Ford Escort, or a trouble-free 1991 Ultradrive transmission, etc., etc. makes those vehicles/components fine and anyone who does have problems somehow at fault.

 

2) Just because poor maintenance is associated wtih sludge in some engines doesn't mean everyone who gets sludge is guilty of poor maintenance.

 

3) When a problem is limited to 1% or 2% of the population, it does not mean there is no problem, and likewise it does not mean that someone can see 200 perfect vehicles and never see one with sludge.

 

I for one, by the way, am willing to believe General Motors' research on oil depletion and not live according to some old fish tales about 3,000 mile oil changes. Technology has moved since 1950.

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Thanks Toyotatruthseeker and Dave. I was just providing some information that I thought would be of help.

 

There have been plenty of other problems with makes/models of cars that have not affected the entire population of that make or model and took a certain set of conditions to occur. A popular example would be rollover accidents in Ford Explorers with Firestone tires. All Explorers with Firestones weren't rolling over, but there was an increased potential, possibly when combined with hazardous road conditions and other conditions.

Edited by Ellis

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Dave: I would say you're going in the right direction describing it as a "statistical phenomenon".

I tried to say as much in an earlier post: "statistically speaking, some of these sludging problems will happen to owners who neglected maintenance and some will happen to those who routinely maintain their cars! This is nothing more than the "statistical bell curve" in action. Granted, some models of any make may be slightly more prone to sludging, but in the scheme of things, Toyota's total is a statistically small number for certain".

I do, as well, believe strongly in the "prevention" philosophy. "Fish tales" or not, 3-4000 mile oil changes are cheap insurance, and can be a factor in extending the life of an engine. Also, it sure helps to look under the hood on a regular basis. Checking a dipstick gives a few clues as to the health of engine oil.

 

\

What we are seeing here is a statistical phenomenon, and as a part-time statistician, I would like to address some myths.

 

1) Just because a problem is prevalent doesn't mean it'll happen to you. -- Just because you have an engine prone to sludge doesn't mean sludge will happen to you. Many chain smokers live to be 100 years old. Does that mean smoking doesn't increase your chance of death? Hardly. Thus, having cars free from sludge, even in the "problem" group, doesn't make the cars themselves "not a problem" any more than having a long-lived 1988 Ford Escort, or a trouble-free 1991 Ultradrive transmission, etc., etc. makes those vehicles/components fine and anyone who does have problems somehow at fault.

 

2) Just because poor maintenance is associated wtih sludge in some engines doesn't mean everyone who gets sludge is guilty of poor maintenance.

 

3) When a problem is limited to 1% or 2% of the population, it does not mean there is no problem, and likewise it does not mean that someone can see 200 perfect vehicles and never see one with sludge.

 

I for one, by the way, am willing to believe General Motors' research on oil depletion and not live according to some old fish tales about 3,000 mile oil changes. Technology has moved since 1950.

Edited by urconscience

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The Explorers were interesting because part of the problem was Ford telling people to underinflate the tires...

 

However -- yes, sometimes the sludge is due to maintenance shortfalls, but as I understand it, USUALLY in these particular cars maintenance is irrelevant, and you will get sludged regardless. Changing the oil more often, if you're in a "prone" environment and car, may or may not work, and the effectiveness is unproven. Telling everyone to change the oil every 3K on the off-chance they MIGHT have a problem seems a tad irresponsible on a national scale - think of the millions of gallons of oil we're talking about here.

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You may have a point there Dave, but I'll change oil on a Corolla one more interval per year than normal, (+4 litres) and still be way ahead on crude oil consumption as opposed to driving a gas guzzling Explorer (a thousand+ litres--or more) especially if you underinflate the tires!). I'll also bet you a buck there'll be no sludge in my Corolla.

An ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure--a valid policy even though we live in the post 1950 era!

Speaking of a "tad irreponsible"--wouldn't that apply to the way the vast majority of us as consumers use use our vehicles?

(That's a subject for another discussion--right?)

 

The Explorers were interesting because part of the problem was Ford telling people to underinflate the tires...

 

However -- yes, sometimes the sludge is due to maintenance shortfalls, but as I understand it, USUALLY in these particular cars maintenance is irrelevant, and you will get sludged regardless. Changing the oil more often, if you're in a "prone" environment and car, may or may not work, and the effectiveness is unproven. Telling everyone to change the oil every 3K on the off-chance they MIGHT have a problem seems a tad irresponsible on a national scale - think of the millions of gallons of oil we're talking about here.

Edited by urconscience

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Ellis, your link is an excellent tutorial, and I suggest is exactly the kind of material participants in forums like this one should take the time to read. It's a much better approach than than the usual finger pointing, or the alarmist technique often used to focus attention on the sludge issue.

It is possible to extend oil change intervals beyond the traditional 3K mile 'rule of thumb'. (I never said it wasn't--I just think it's not a bad idea when attention to necessary maintenance is inconsistent).

The paper you found is significant in that doesn't take sides; in fact, it's true value is in what it reveals about certain key elements of the sludge controversy which are probably the least understood.

I've attempted to chronicle the key points of the article in the following.

 

Automakers and oil companies have been leading us in the direction of longer oil change intervals for some time now. The three main components of this trend are:

(1) New oil technologies allow longer life--however it's important to note this is especially true by using synthetics,

(2) The necessity to reduce oil use overall--environmental and supply pressures,

(3) Consumers are demanding vehicles with reduced maintenance requirements.

 

Extending oil change intervals is not without risk. There are a number of key factors involved here as well:

(1) It is essential that quality oils be used,

(2) Oil filter efficacy is critically important,

(3) To reduce or inhibit risk of sludge development the quality of oil used is THE major factor--the article clearly states "This is no exaggeration",

(4) Extended oil changes place much greater emphasis on preventive maintenance in the periods between changes.

(5) Greater emphasis needed on consumer education re maintenance requirements for their vehicles.

 

Needless to say, the article is the right information at the right time. It illustrates the value of education in dispelling all the hype, misdirected passion, and and overall misconception which has accompanied the controversy. Thanks.

 

 

Here is an interesting discussion on oil change intervals.

 

http://www.mema.org/cmspages/getAttch.php?id=102

Edited by urconscience

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The article also supports Dave's statement "I for one, by the way, am willing to believe General Motors' research on oil depletion and not live according to some old fish tales about 3,000 mile oil changes. Technology has moved since 1950." The article states that there are very few makes or models with 3000 mile oil change intervals and that 5000/7500 mile oil changes are not considered extended drain intervals (the article defines extended drain as 10,000 miles). It goes into discussion on the improvements in motor oils that allow for these longer drains.

 

It also covers the environmental importance of longer drains as Dave also pointed out. The article states: "Vehicular environmental impact is also a topic with which the automobile manufacturer must contend. The European Union views used motor oil as a form of pollution and has since 1974 issued directives on its proper disposal and use. The EU legal basis and objective concerning waste and pollution is to “avoiding waste by promoting environmentally-friendly and less waste-intensive technologies.” Critically important is the emphasis on the reduction of waste production, rather than simply looking at ways to deal with pollution that is produced. Working within these guidelines, the ACEA would be obliged to set sequences that allow for extended drain intervals."

 

I agree that 3000 mile drains may be necessary to avoid sludge, but they really shouldn't be needed. Particularly when manufacturers like Toyota are touting these longer drains.

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Ellis, I guess we're saying the same things, just coming from different directions.

Regardless, it's a good article, it doesn't blame one side or the other--or any automakers either--and it illustrates the value of consumer education if they want to 'prevent' trouble.

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