NILLINOIS Copied From Automotive News LOS ANGELES -- Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. has quietly settled a class-action lawsuit that covers about 3.5 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles that may have been damaged by engine oil sludge. Details of the settlement, which allows for third-party mediation of sludge claims rejected by Toyota, have been mailed to 7.5 million current and previous owners. Critics contend Toyota has told customers and dealers too little about sludge issues. They say some customers took vehicles with dead engines to dealers who had little or no knowledge of the problem and often assumed it was the owners' fault. Unhappy customers had no remedy other than hiring a lawyer to go after Toyota. Under the agreement, owners whose claims have been denied by Toyota may submit them to a third-party mediator at no cost for binding arbitration. "This settlement breathes life into claims that have been dead for years," said Gary Gambel, a lawyer for plaintiffs who sued Toyota. "This is not a settlement that gives a few dollars to everyone. The relief is exactly tied to the problems and damages that someone might have." The lawsuit, filed in a Louisiana district court, is expected to be approved by the court in early February. Toyotas at risk About 3.3 million Toyota vehicles are susceptible to oil sludge, which can cause thousands of dollars in damage and require replacement of the engine. Here are the vehicles included in the settlement. VEHICLE MODEL YEARS Camry 4 cyl. 1997-2001 Camry 6 cyl. 1997-2002 Camry Solara 4 cyl. 1999-2001 Camry Solara 6 cyl. 1999-2002 Sienna 6 cyl. 1998-2002 Avalon 6 cyl. 1997-2002 Celica 4 cyl. 1997-1999 Highlander 6 cyl. 2001-2002 Lexus ES 300 1997-2002 Lexus RX 300 1999-2002 --------------------------------------------------------------- So Toyo finally is forced to admit the sludging problem...after a CA lawsuit? They stonewalled this well known problem long enough.