From SynLube Newsletter (sourced from Automotive News Articles)
Toyota sludge problem
More than 3,000 owners have complained to Toyota about vehicles equipped with two of the automaker's core engine families -- the 1MZ V-6 and 5SFE inline 4.
Engines are choking on a buildup of sludge, oxidized oil in the form of mucky goo that can seize up an engine.
Problem can be caused from failure to change the oil regularly, or from use of poor quality motor oil.
Toyota steadfastly has refused to cover this problem under its five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
In a letter sent in February 2002 to more than 3.3 million owners of vehicles equipped with the two engines, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. says it will pay repair costs for sludge damage in cases where customers can provide proof of "reasonable efforts" to maintain the vehicle.
The so-called special policy adjustment, requiring proof of only one oil change in a year, is good for one year. At the same time, though, the U.S. sales arm refused to veer from its position that negligent owners, not the product, are the source of the problem.
However, the more likely problem is use of poor quality motor oil that is far more susceptible to gelling or sludge formation.
Many of the Toyota owners who had sludge problems had regular oil changes performed at Jiffy Lube, but their engines still suffered from sludge formation and failed.
The problem is not limited to any specific geographical area. Owners in Michigan, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, had engine problems.
Following vehicles are affected by this problem:
Toyota models equipped with 3.3 million 1MZ V-6 and 5SFE inline 4 engines produced between July 1996 and July 2001
Camry, 4- and 6-cylinder, August 1996 to July 2001
Camry Solara, 4- and 6-cylinder, June 1998 to May 2001
Sienna, July 1997 to May 2001
Avalon, July 1996 to May 2001
Celica, 4-cylinder, August 1996 to April 1999
Highlander, November 2000 to July 2001
Lexus ES 300, August 1998 to July 2001
Lexus RX 300, January 1998 to July 2001
Of course we at SynLube, Inc. have many customers with above vehicles that have accumulated as much as 60,000 miles without oil change and NONE have had ANY engine problems.
However, we are sending this information to our customers as a warning, since MANY of the above vehicles are entering USED car market, due to END of LEASE.
Above USED Toyota and Lexus models may NOT be the USED vehicle you want to buy, because they may have existing problems or already have had some engine damage.
Also if you are intending to convert ANY of above vehicles from conventional Motor Oil to SynLube Lube-4-Life it is strongly recommended that you FIRST use our "FLUSH OIL" and Oil Filter, BEFORE SynLube INITIAL FILL is Installed.
As an extra safety feature the FIRST oil filter after conversion to SynLube should be replaced after one years or 15,000 miles.
You should also submit the oil filter for inspection to SynLube, Inc., this way we can determine if your engine has or had unusual amount of sludge in it.
SynLube Lube-4-Life Motor Oil will clean internally sludge built-up in most engines, but the sludge which averages 60 micron in size will be trapped by the MicroGlass oil Filter which will filter down to 5 micron range.
This will however result in blockage of the filter media, and that is why more frequent oil change interval on USED Toyota and Lexus models with above mentioned engines is recommended by SynLube.
Vehicles that were converted at low mileage to SynLube Lube-4-Life do not have any sludge problems but the oil filters should still be changed every two years or 24,000 miles which ever occurs FIRST.
On many Toyota models the Factory OEM Oil Filter is just way too small for the engine size, but fortunately on many models a larger version of MicroGlass oil filter can be installed, if that is possible the largest oil filter that mechanically will fit onto the engine is recommended.