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Ellis

Sludge Inspection Procedure

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I came across another excellent tutorial on sludge--it's worthy of a read, plus it further underscores my contention that education is probably the 'real solution' to the sludge issue:

 

"Causes and effects of sludge go a lot farther than some suggest, in spite of the odd inference that an 'as yet unproven flaw' exists, wrongly recommended oil change intervals, or the insistence that engines are being properly maintained and still sludging.

There have even been allegations that engines are sludging with as low as 3000 mile intervals--although although in fairness, there haven't been any hard numbers or any pertinent details on such cases shown to date.

Looking at that one factor alone is an acute case of "chronic tunnel vision". Most everybody looks for the simplest or most obvious 'short answer'.(Often happens in the ongoing sludge controversy by individuals who point blame at only one thing).

Well, it just isn't that simple, folks.

Oil change intervals are only a small part of a much larger "proper maintenance" equation.

At 3000 miles after an oil change, any auto engine is beyond the point where oil levels are going to start to shrink.

At this stage, especially under "average" driving conditions, the process of oil consumption is well under way.

Oil usage in an auto engine is a fact of life. If an engine isn't using oil to some degree, it isn't getting properly lubricated.

If an owner chooses to go beyond that "start to shrink" point in oil change intervals, then that owner had better start checking oil levels routinely.

This becomes extra critical if the owner opts to go to the longer intervals being suggested by automakers these days, i.e., 7500 miles or longer.

Letting oil levels go unchecked at these higher mileage intervals is an invitation to trouble, no matter what make or model of vehicle it is.

With today's oil formulations, especially the synthetics, the oil in your engine can handily cope with longer intervals.

If oil levels are maintained properly, your car's engine can also cope very nicely with extended drain intervals. (Even Toyota engines can, in spite of efforts by a few to suggest otherwise!)

However, if owners don't check and maintain oil levels with these longer intervals, it's not surprising that trouble happens.

Under these conditions, regardless of who made the car, there will be two categories of owners--the first will be those who have already had trouble, and the second being those who will eventually have trouble.

 

Many of the tales of woe we see and hear about re this sludge kerfiffle make a big deal of "I maintained my car by the book, I changed my oil religiously, etc.,etc."

Then the finger pointing starts "See, that shows the Toyota engines are flawed,etc.,etc."

What we seldom, if ever, hear is how frequently the owner looked at oil levels and topped them up if required.

 

In fact, a case which was discussed here not too long ago started out with the "I got sludge, I went by the book on oil changes, and because I did so, Toyota should buy me a new engine"

And the "hate Toyota" faction had a field day with every accusation they could muster.

However, after some close and astute examination, it was determined that the owner NEVER checked oil levels between changes. The owner reluctantly admitted to this habitual flaw in how he used his vehicle.

 

Too often, we see the term " I maintained my car religiously" when an alledged sludge incident is reported.

"Maintained Religiously" means a whole lot more than oil change intervals.

 

Bottom line? Sludge development is a PROCESS, not an EVENT!!!

 

People who truly "Maintain their vehicles Religiously", a.k.a., among other things, check their oil regularly, aren't the ones who are going to have problems like sludge."

Edited by urconscience

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trap

It's an interesting question (low oil levels).

 

I remember driving older Plymouths (1970s) where if you were low on oil, the light would go on around a sharp turn. The harder you drove the car, the better the warning system! (I was more forgetful of oil changes back then and having 100,000 - 180,000 miles on my cars, with 1970s seal technology, and totally un-opened engines - original valve covers, etc., thanks to hydraulic valves - meant I would lose a quarter or two between changes, which occured somewhere between six months and a year).

 

Then there was Saturn - some of their early models lost a quart every thousand miles! This was explained away as "normal." Never knew how those got past environmental inspection. That said, a six thousand mile oil change interval ... was a bad idea on them unless you constantly dumped oil in between changes.

 

My last few cars have not required any additional oil between fills, period, end of story. That includes not just the Corolla but also a 1991 and 1993 Sundance four-cylinder, Spirit R/T four-cylinder turbo (which did get synthetic every 6,000 miles - that was 224 hp from 2.2 liters), 1995 Neon, and a PT Cruiser Turbo. Indeed, the Neon and PT barely register any loss of oil over six months - in the Neon's case, that held when I had a 110 mile a day commute. So I'm not sure oil level is a real factor, since I suspect the Camry V6 is quite capable (like the various Chrysler engines and the Corolla engine I had) of holding its oil for six months with no loss that would be compensated for by an owner. Unless we're now supposed to add oil by the pint and not by the quart - and if that's the case, we'll need better dipsticks or some sort of warning system on the dash. (Cost-wise dipsticks seems to be the way to go.)

 

The article quoted by urconscience seemed to have no scientific background or research, just another opinion, unless there's more to it that was left unsaid, and I'm tired of people making bold assertions with no backup evidence. I'll believe General Motors research studies, I'll believe what automaker engineers tell me in confidence, I won't believe forum postings with no apparent facts to back them up.

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"The article quoted by urconscience seemed to have no scientific background or research, just another opinion, unless there's more to it that was left unsaid, and I'm tired of people making bold assertions with no backup evidence. I'll believe General Motors research studies, I'll believe what automaker engineers tell me in confidence, I won't believe forum postings with no apparent facts to back them up."

 

Your message received, loud and clear!!

Evidently you don't want to see comments without 'apparent facts'--especially those by yours truly. (BTW, that quote you dissed was 'factual' and from a Corolland forum--several months back--it was part of a discussion meant to show how important it is to check oil between longer change intervals!)

That said, apparently I must apologize for not providing 'apparent facts' to support what is otherwise just 'common sense'.

Will try hard not to offend your sensitivities any further.

 

PS. If opinions without 'apparent facts' aren't your cup of tea, then why are you involved with Corolland forums ??

Seems to me a lack of 'apparent fact' mostly the rule rather than the exception here!!

Edited by urconscience

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That long quote talked a lot, but never mentioned any sources of infomration. Quoting someone else's opinion rather than stating your opinion directly is no stronger as evidence.

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That long quote talked a lot, but never mentioned any sources of infomration. Quoting someone else's opinion rather than stating your opinion directly is no stronger as evidence.

 

 

Please enlighten. Somehow I don't understand your logic. I'm wondering if we're debating the value of hearsay as opposed to offering advice on how to avoid sludge.

If I agree with someone's opinion, in this case--that regularly checking oil makes sense--somehow I must provide evidence?

Evidence of what?

Or because I happen to agree with another opinion, and state that, somehow my remarks are of no value because they aren't my sole opinion?

Yikes!!

 

Then what we've got here is a failure to communicate!! (I think Yogi Berra coined that phrase?)

Edited by urconscience

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I agree that checking oil makes sense. Then again, it always has.

 

I do not see any evidence that low oil levels are a causal factor in most engine sludge situations.

 

I do not see any evidence that lack of oil changes caused engine sludge in the particular cases associated with "problem engines."

 

I do see research evidence showing that oil changes normally can be extended to between 6,000 and 10,000 miles, and longer with synthetic oil (and shorter with turbochargers! or severe duty, of course.)

 

I am annoyed when people say "the reason these engines get sludged has nothing to do wtih Toyota, it is because of [something the owners did]" when they have nothing but an odd anecdote, usually third-hand, as evidence.

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I think everyone has an opinion and we that read these forums realize that.

 

People come here to get solutions and information on their Corolla - That is the premise of these forums.

 

When it comes to the sludge problem, I would expect to get testimonies of what people have experienced firsthand. I am interested in mostly facts with some actual activities related to the individuals that pertain to the topic.

 

What people hope to get (I believe) is answers to their questions and also contact with people that have had similar symptoms.

 

We are a collective that should uplift and support each other for mutual benefit.

 

Let's try to keep it all friendly and imformative.

 

Thanks for everyone's support.

Edited by Bikeman982

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I agree that checking oil makes sense. Then again, it always has.

 

I do not see any evidence that low oil levels are a causal factor in most engine sludge situations.

 

I do not see any evidence that lack of oil changes caused engine sludge in the particular cases associated with "problem engines."

 

I do see research evidence showing that oil changes normally can be extended to between 6,000 and 10,000 miles, and longer with synthetic oil (and shorter with turbochargers! or severe duty, of course.)

 

I am annoyed when people say "the reason these engines get sludged has nothing to do wtih Toyota, it is because of [something the owners did]" when they have nothing but an odd anecdote, usually third-hand, as evidence.

 

Three very profound statements:

(1) Low oil levels aren't a causal factor in sludge development?

(2) Lack of oil changes aren't a causal factor in sludge development?

(3)It's annoying when people say a Toyota (or any other make) engine sludged because of something the owner did (or didn't do)?

 

As a certified and licenced Class "A" Motor Vehicle Repair technician in the Province of Ontario, Canada, with 28 year's experience in auto repair of all makes, I can speak to these statements directly, and with first hand experience in each of them.

Simply put, they are absolutely WRONG!!

 

I currently work in a large GM dealership as a service manager. I have previously worked as a service technician in several other auto dealerships, and spent several years in an AERA certified engine rebuild shop.

I've seen and worked on every variety of sludged engine that anyone can imagine.

EVERY single incidence of sludged engines in the hundreds that I've seen was due to owner negligence. The owner didn't bother to change oil--in some cases up to 25000 miles!--or an engine was run for months desperately low on oil--or the coolant level was way below limits--or the owner pulled an oversized load to the point where the engine cooked itself to death--and on and on.

We had a Toyota Sienna trade in just last month which was so badly sludged up it just ceased to run at 65000 miles. The owner swore up and down that he maintained it faithfully, and knew about the sludge issue, and vowed never to buy another Toyota.

Well, guess what? The van had the original factory installed oil filter. As far as we were able to determine, there hadn't been an oil change in at least a year, and likely longer.

 

I'm not saying that some engines won't sludge because of some unidentified internal problem--it happens.

I'm also not denying that some owners may have got sludge even when their engines were properly maintained.

In both those instances, however, I suggest they are the exception to what is a growing problem today.

What I am saying, and what I can speak to from much personal experience, is that most cases of sludge occur because of things owners DON'T do. The most common thing is NOT changing oil often enough.

And yes, I agree that synthetics add a fair margin of tolerance, and yes, most of today's engines are able to undergo longer oil change intervals.

But no engine is going to tolerate overly extended intervals, or lengthy intervals of low oil levels, abuse, negligence, or owner apathy--at least not for very long!

Sooner or later, those who DON'T do what they should do are going to be sorry.

 

Evidence?? I don't need any, thanks. I've seen it all.

And I get 'annoyed' when I see, time after time, a perfectly good engine damaged or destroyed because someone just didn't bother, or care enough to do some simple things that should have been done.

I also get 'annoyed' when people insist it's rarely ever the owner's fault!

 

PS. That April 27th article I quoted that was dismissed as irrelevant?? I wrote it!!

Edited by urconscience

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urconscience, you said "PS. That April 27th article I quoted that was dismissed as irrelevant?? I wrote it!!"

 

 

Are you saying you wrote the article that you introduced with "I came across another excellent tutorial on sludge--it's worthy of a read, plus it further underscores my contention that education is probably the 'real solution' to the sludge issue"?

 

That is just plain weird that you reference something you wrote yourself in this manner. Of course something you wrote would underscore your own beliefs. A little heavy on the ego, too, describing something you wrote as "an excellent tutorial".

 

To each his own. But if you are quoting something you wrote yourself then I don't think you need to acutally present it as a quote giving the impression someone else wrote it.

Edited by DB1

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Read the information on this site:

 

http://neptune.spacebears.com/cars/stories/mobil1.html

 

Not what I could exactly classify as "scientific" - but done well enough that it could be reproduced by others. I would like to see a test with minimal about of outside influences and carefully controlled - but that doesn't happen or seen in the real world, so to speak. Also influenced me to try it myself and see what my Corolla could do - results are very similar.

 

Summary of what they did:

- They ran a synthetic oil life study on a LS1 powerplant (Camaro/TransAm/Corvette) to see how far they can run the oil. They also provide some details on testing procedure, and report results of UOA from different labs for comparison sake.

 

Summary of what they found:

Running the oil out to 8K or more was no problem. Adding makeup oil - vastly improved oil life and additive package, older oil also produced less wear (referred to SAE Technical Paper 2003-01-3119). Not a whole lot of difference between the two synthetics they used - both provide good protection and oil life.

 

What I picked up from this and the references they mentioned:

- Oil does age - as such, its additive package is used up - run it enough in this "depleted" mode and you will seriously hurt the oil's ability to protect against deposits. IMO, this is the big factor in sludge formation.

- Adding make up oil (either replacing oil lost in testing or lower oil levels) significantly boosts the additive package and renews the oil in the engine. Keeping a eye on oil levels is very important - his ensures that you will always have enough oil to properly cool, lubricate, and chemically protect the engine (lower levels equals less additives to fight deposits).

- Even though this was done with PAO or Group IV oils "true" synthetics - using modern conventional oils should have the same general effect, though probably not to the mile extent they got here. Changing your oil at 3K intervals is probably changing it more often than you need.

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urconscience, you said "PS. That April 27th article I quoted that was dismissed as irrelevant?? I wrote it!!"

 

 

Are you saying you wrote the article that you introduced with "I came across another excellent tutorial on sludge--it's worthy of a read, plus it further underscores my contention that education is probably the 'real solution' to the sludge issue"?

 

That is just plain weird that you reference something you wrote yourself in this manner. Of course something you wrote would underscore your own beliefs. A little heavy on the ego, too, describing something you wrote as "an excellent tutorial".

 

To each his own. But if you are quoting something you wrote yourself then I don't think you need to acutally present it as a quote giving the impression someone else wrote it.

 

 

DB1, It comes as no surprise to see a comeback like yours.

It's typical of a staunch advocate mindset that Toyota should ante up for every case of sludge out there. It's all Toyota's fault!! Call the Lawyer!! Scream "lemon law!! Sign a petition!! Notify the media!! It's all been said many times.

And when someone comes out with a common sense statement that can't be argued with, hit them with the personal approach--push the "ego" or "wierd" or "you're biased" buttons. Just change the subject and get them out of the way!

I flat don't agree with the advocate's contention and their chosen solutions, and it's a fact folks who know better wouldn't agree either.

Why?? Because it's not realistic!! In fact, it's just nuts to suggest that all sludge problems be pointed only at the automaker.

You can sluff off the article I wrote, and call it ego, just plain wierd, underscoring my own beliefs, or whatever else you choose to poo poo it with.

But it doesn't change the fact that what I wrote is RIGHT, not to mention a darn helpful and truthful piece of common sense!!

I take a lot of comfort knowing that.

And maybe it will have helped someone--a much better approach in my books than simply echoing the "dreaded sludge--avoid Toyota--it's an engine flaw--sue, sue, sue" dogma that advocates tend to inundate the net with.

 

And Fishexpo--a story for you. A few years back, I worked on an under warrantee Ford engine which had sludged badly because the owner didn't believe in oil changes. I removed one valve cover, and the goop in there was just like a Jello mould--it remained in place after the valve cover was removed. The guy swore up and down it was all Ford's fault. He didn't get warantee.

Edited by urconscience

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And Fishexpo--a story for you. A few years back, I worked on an under warrantee Ford engine which had sludged badly because the owner didn't believe in oil changes. I removed one valve cover, and the goop in there was just like a Jello mould--it remained in place after the valve cover was removed. The guy swore up and down it was all Ford's fault. He didn't get warantee.

I don't doubt that - I've seen all kinds of engine issues from non-maintenance and just about every story in the book about why they did or didn't do. Here are two examples of extreme cases that actually had warranty work done: Infinity J30 - owner never changed oil from day he purchased it - two years and 17K miles later, engine spun a bearing - Infinity replaced the engine under warranty. New VW Beetle - woman didn't know that you had to change oil (engine sludged over - starved bearings for oil), said salesman never told her - drove 18 months/24K miles - engine also replaced under warranty. No top off oil in either case - just pumped in gas and drove - both were also leases.

 

These were also extreme cases - they got the engines replaced under warranty where they should not have been replaced (owner misuse/negligence) even though the owner's manual clearly outlines regular maintenance. Since the dealership didn't hold their hands and make them come in for service - they blamed the dealership/manufacturer for making a faulty product. I feel bad for the guy that had something truely wrong with his car and get turned down for warrany work and goofball owners getting the manufacturer to pay for their mistakes - but such is life.

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I feel bad for the guy that had something truely wrong with his car and get turned down for warranty work and goofball owners getting the manufacturer to pay for their mistakes - but such is life.

 

How true!

And it does happen! Too often, I'm sorry to say.

If it wasn't for those who do almost anything to to avoid responsibility for their actions, life would be a whole bunch easier for everyone.

Instead of saying "such is life", I think it more appropriate to say "Such is human nature!"

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DB1, It comes as no surprise to see a comeback like yours.

It's typical of a staunch advocate mindset that Toyota should ante up for every case of sludge out there. It's all Toyota's fault!! Call the Lawyer!! Scream "lemon law!! Sign a petition!! Notify the media!! It's all been said many times.

And when someone comes out with a common sense statement that can't be argued with, hit them with the personal approach--push the "ego" or "wierd" or "you're biased" buttons. Just change the subject and get them out of the way!

I flat don't agree with the advocate's contention and their chosen solutions, and it's a fact folks who know better wouldn't agree either.

Why?? Because it's not realistic!! In fact, it's just nuts to suggest that all sludge problems be pointed only at the automaker.

You can sluff off the article I wrote, and call it ego, just plain wierd, underscoring my own beliefs, or whatever else you choose to poo poo it with.

But it doesn't change the fact that what I wrote is RIGHT, not to mention a darn helpful and truthful piece of common sense!!

I take a lot of comfort knowing that.

And maybe it will have helped someone--a much better approach in my books than simply echoing the "dreaded sludge--avoid Toyota--it's an engine flaw--sue, sue, sue" dogma that advocates tend to inundate the net with.

 

And Fishexpo--a story for you. A few years back, I worked on an under warrantee Ford engine which had sludged badly because the owner didn't believe in oil changes. I removed one valve cover, and the goop in there was just like a Jello mould--it remained in place after the valve cover was removed. The guy swore up and down it was all Ford's fault. He didn't get warantee.

 

You are attributing words to me that I have never said and positions I have never taken. Please stop.

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