Last post on Jul 18, 2007 at 10:32 AM
You are in the Toyota Sienna
What is this discussion about?
Toyota Sienna, Van
Feb 12, 2002 (12:29 pm)
my 1999 sienna calls for oil change every 6000kms while my brothers 2000 sienna calls for oil change every 8000kms. i honestly dont know why toyota did that with the same exact engine. as far as i know, they are the all the same from 1998 up to 2000. i think that if toyota lowers the mileage requirement for oil/filter change, not so many people would be having this sludge problem.
i know of 7 cars ranging from camry to avalon to sienna to lexus with the v6 engine as well as 4cyl. engine and none have this sludge problem. all (except the 2000 sienna) have 5000km. oil/filter changes. 5 of these vehicles have over 120,000kms on them with no problems at all.
so, my own opinion is that the sludge is probably caused partly by engine design and partly due to improper maintenance by vehicle owner
#1584 of 3687 Engin flush
Feb 12, 2002 (12:50 pm)
I used to do engine flush on my 88 Camry every 2-3 years after 100k miles. It has 210k miles now and still running. I checked my newly bought used Sienna with 45K miles, as I opened the oil cap, there's thick carbon deposit there. The engine runs fine so far. Just wonder has anyone had the experience to run engine flush on Sienna, or the flush chemical will damage the seal or clog the passage on this V6?
Feb 12, 2002 (2:07 pm)
"as I opened the oil cap, there's thick carbon deposit there"
I'm still not clear what to be looking for. Does anyone have an exact description of what we're talking about?
I bypassed the other minivans in favor of the 2001 Sienna primarily due to the history of Toyota's reliable design. The only reason I picked Toyota was because of their reputation. I've always heard that Toyotas require minimal maintenance. With that in mind, I anticipated not having to open the hood for much of anything as long as I had the car serviced on schedule. Also, knowing that warranties get really wierd when you don't have documentation to support your maintenance, I also committed to driving 3 hours to my nearest Toyota dealership to have the work done. That's not a problem. I can live with that until the warranty has expired..
What I didn't expect to do was have to open the hood and check the oil cap every time I rememember to make sure that my engine wasn't damaged due to "you know who" or maybe "who knows what" since Toyota hasn't posted any solutions to the problem.
Is that what we're supposed to be doing? Checking the oil cap? I just did that and am not real clear what to look for. It looks like the drain goes to the left and directly below the oil cap is a hard surface. I can't tell if the surface is really metal or if it's some type of other material. It looks like crusty oil or a charcoal residue on the metal surface. Is that normal? Does the drain go to the left? What would be directly below the cap? Is that just overflow of burnt oil or something or do I have sludge like the others have described?
All 3 oil changes have been made at the dealership and currently have 16,000 miles. I have another due in a week. Driving conditions would be classified as mild.
Any information would be great since I am completely clueless what to be looking for.
Feb 12, 2002 (2:47 pm)
First, Toyotas are not known for requiring little maintenance. They are known for extreme reliability as long as maintenance is done. That is a major distinction.
Next, with 16K miles and three oil changes, you have little chance of sludge, unless those oil changes went past the 4 or 6 moth interval. The crud you are looking at is sludge, but sludge in the area of the fill cap is normal. In order to find dangerous sludge, you really need to have the valve cover removed. Short of that, you may try sticking a small screw driver back under the valve cover and seeing if you can scrape anything out from under there. A dental pick works ever better.
#1587 of 3687 innovations
Feb 12, 2002 (2:51 pm)
no, it's not about checking your oil cap.
the carbon deposit mentioned is in the oil filler neck. when you remove your oil cap, look straight down the hole and you may or may not see this black carbon deposit there. if your van is fairly new, you may not have any deposit at all.
it is black and if you scrape it, it looks and feels like mashed up charcoal in water. some people call this sludge, some people call it carbon deposit. i just changed my oil over the weekend and i did see this deposit and scraped it and cleaned the oil filler neck area. from what i read/understand, this is normal in cars. i've also checked other cars yesterday and i do see the same stuff present. in order to know if you have sludge or not, only sure way to find out is to remove your valve cover or you'll know when you engine stop working! unless u see puff of blue smoke from your tailpipe and you are using up oil, then you're ok.
since this whole sludge issue started, i monitor my oil level and look for blue puff of smoke when i start up the engine. i change my oil every 5000kms. i now have over 53,000kms on the van and it runs perfect.
Feb 12, 2002 (3:05 pm)
i just have a question about this "pulling" problem with sienna's. mine used to be really bad, got rid of those dunlop tires and it's not as bad now. the van still pulls a tiny bit to the right or left. on freeways, it drives straight as an arrow!
so my question is: are sienna's just sensitive to the "crown" on the road or is there something else?
i've been to 3 dealers, 2 of them said there were complaints on sienna's about this pulling problem and the one dealer gave me the "crown" on the road story.
thanks for any input
Feb 12, 2002 (3:39 pm)
You have no idea how happy I am to answer a question NOT related to sludge.
I have an opinion on this but first, let me give a little history. There was a batch of early production Siennas that did have a defect in the suspension that made them impossible to align without major alterations. I could be mistaken, but I think every one one of those were fixed and many were bought back by Toyota a few years ago.
Some of the people who experienced this problem posted on the Internet about their problems. This caused concern among other Sienna owners and gave them the idea to do something that they had never done before. They drove down a seemingly level road and let go of the wheel. That is when road crown caused a drift to one side or the other. Customers mistook this for an alignment issue and some mischaracterized it as "pulling" when drifting would have been more accurate. Combine that with people who had poor alignment anyway and the myth began about pulling Siennas.
Poor alignment is not easy to detect. There are slip pads at some dealerships, but they are known to be a bit vague. The only way to really know is to look for uneven tread wear. Unfortunately, by the time the problem shows up, it is too late. The best solution is to have your car aligned once a year in the spring after the potholes are repaired.
I've never seen that the Siennas are more susceptible to road crown than other cars. Drive the same stretch of road at the same speed in two different cars, under similar wind and weather conditions and the drift should be about the same. Certain tires may affect this a little, as may differences in power steering systems, but the affect will be negligible.
#1590 of 3687 How come Toyota would not accept third party service receipt in the sludge dispute?
Feb 12, 2002 (7:53 pm)
The logic is easy to understand - they have no way of knowing if oil changes were actually done despite the fact that the customers paid for the service. Here is an example. My aunt has long suspected that the independent mechanic she uses to service her Mercedes has been cheating her on oil change, but she is so ignorant about car maintenance she didn't even know how to check. Finally, a friend of hers checked the dipstick right after an oil change and found the oil to be extremely dirty. They went back and confronted the mechanic, who agreed to do it over. How this mechanic stays in business, and why my aunt still goes back to him, is beyond me. Are national chains better? I wouldn't count on it judging from the periodic scandals that break out in the news. I would like to think that the vast majority of service places are honest, but even if one out of a hundred places cheats their customers, there would still be a lot of cars that are not getting properly services. If you go to Sears for regular oil change and still get oil sludge in your engine, shouldn't Sears be responsible for fixing the engine since they're the one performing the service and guaranteeing the work? We know where that argument is going to get you with Sears (or with any other third party service places), but why not? Why should these third party service places earn your money for service but assume no responsibility? It's a classic Ford vs. Firestone argument, in which average consumers, individually, simply don't have enough insight to know the true guilty party. The fact of the matter is it's a lot easier to blame the car manufacturer no matter who services the car. If you go to Toyota dealers for service of your Toyota vehicles, at least there will be no argument on who's responsible if something goes wrong since it's their car and their service. No matter where you go, I still recommend checking the dipstick before and after each oil change to verify that the work is actually done. It's a small effort for your own protection.
San Jose, CA
Feb 13, 2002 (6:41 am)
Feb 13, 2002 (8:03 am)
thanks for the insight. i can say that since i installed michelins and got rid of those dunlops - definitely better ride and the pulling or drifting or whatever people call it is pretty much gone. not completely but i can live with it. alignment was done using a laser guided alignment system and it was perfect.
i gave my dunlops to my nephew for his caravan and i personally feel those dunlops were junk! he installed them on his caravan and about 5000kms later, they are almost bald! i havent seen tires wear out so fast.