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Toyota Camry, Engine, Oil
#77 of 137 I had a sludged Camry
Jul 02, 2000 (2:26 am)
I had a 1994 Toyota Camry LE. Purchased new and driven by my wife. It had 66,000 so just about 11,000 miles per year. I changed the oil using Penzoil and Fram oil filters at about every 6,000 miles or twice a year. We pampered that car. My wife wanted to get routine maintance done on it and have the timing belt changed on it at 66,000 miles. There seemed to be nothing wrong with the car it ran perfect and sounded fine. We took it to a dealer and after he changed the timing belt he called and said our engine was sludged from not having changed the oil often enough and we needed a soft rebuild or a new engine between $3,600 and $4,600. Now on the way home for the first time ever it was blowing smoke on acceleration. I contacted Toyota about this and they blew me off in a nano-second saying that it was not their fault and they were not going to budge. Even though I may be in a minority of people who have had this problem with the Camry Toyota could have cared less and for me having taken care of that car the Camry was not that great a car.
#78 of 137 jnowski and aquatic
Jul 02, 2000 (3:55 am)
Hmm, interesting point. Ok, take your number and let's adjust to allow greater error in the real world. So if only 10% of the people are knoledgable about cars. Then let's increase the reported % by a factor of 10.
Camry sludge problem: 0.0719% x 10 = 0.719% real world.
Accord transmission problem: 0.316% x 10 = 3.16% real world.
Still, neither of those problem qualify as affecting "most" cars.
I agree that many people are clueless about their car. I heard this from a Toyota dealer. One woman turned in her Camry who's engine seized at 44,000 miles. The reason? She never changed the oil (she didn't know she had to). It really shows that there are some clueless people out there.
I more or less agree that I would guess that only 10% of the car owners actually have a good amount of knowledge about cars. The hard part is determining how much does one has to know about cars to qualify as a knoledgable sort.
aquatic: You are another person who reported to have sludge that uses Penzoil. The oil is known to cause sludge forumation in many different brand of cars. I would suggest that you switch to another brand (besides Quaker State) in the future. Good luck.
Jul 02, 2000 (4:35 am)
Wow! I go away for a few days and this topic becomes one of Edmund's hottest.
Some comments: My user name 210delray comes from a mid to late 50s Chevy model; I don't live in Florida but rather Virginia. But Chevrolet undoubtedly took the model name from the Florida beach.
I did NOT have sludge in my '97 Camry, just blue smoke on startup, caused by worn valve stem seals, which allowed oil to enter the cylinders. I DID follow Toyota's severe service recommendation for oil changes, which for the 1997s is 5000 miles (not 3000 miles).
It was the service advisor at the Toyota dealership that mentioned the possibility of sludge when I brought the car in with the blue smoke problem. I didn't prompt him; he simply said the first step would be to remove the valve cover to check for sludge. It seems to me that Toyota knows there is a potential problem with the 4-cylinder engine.
Wenyue, your point about Consumer Reports is well taken. I have put a lot of trust in their reliability surveys (and I fill out mine every year), but I think Fxashun also has a good point that the consumer has to be AWARE of a problem in order to report it. It was just by chance that I saw the blue smoke from my car -- only because I was looking from the street when another family member started the Camry in our driveway. But I couldn't see the smoke myself when I started the car another time -- someone else had to watch from outside. And the car ran and sounded fine.
About Pennzoil - yes, I used it at first (and for years before in my older cars - no engine problems with them!) Then I switched to Texaco and Mobil. I think Pennzoil is getting a bum rap -- does anyone out there have any recent proof that it's worse than others? (Isellhondas: your story about the old mechanic was fascinating, but you're right that today's oils are vastly different -- in terms of additives -- from those of the late 50s and early 60s.)
#80 of 137 Oil 210delray
Jul 02, 2000 (5:01 pm)
You are completely correct about todays oil being completely different. Every time the service requirement has increased, (API rating), the oil has had to be reformulated some way to meet the new standard.
#81 of 137 Re: I had a sludged Camry
Jul 02, 2000 (5:03 pm)
Aquatic: Part of the problem with your Camry could have been your oil change interval. Although you may or may not be within manufacturer's recommended mileage recommendation (I don't know much about Toyotas), you were probably outside the time recommendation. I know that several major manufacturers (Ford, Chevrolet, and Subaru) recommend changing the oil at most every three months whether you drive the car or not. Oil can absorb contaminants from the atmosphere, namely water. As time passes, more of the contaminant is absorbed and the oil becomes less and less useful. This could have contributed to your sludge problem. As far as the arguments about which oil is better, it really doesn't matter. All major label standard oils are pretty much the same. Synthetics are much better (of course), but if you follow the recommended oil change interval, they are not worth the added cost.
Jul 02, 2000 (5:04 pm)
it's very refreshing to see a person take the logical/rational approach to debunking an overblown statement about "All or Every........"
#83 of 137 Sludge formation
Jul 02, 2000 (5:25 pm)
IMHO the greatest factor between different engines in sludge formation is heat. As oil passes beyond a certain temperature range the oil starts to break down, and actually becomes thicker. Now, while the AVERAGE temperature of oil is kept fairly constant even between different engines, The SPOT temperature in a particular engine may be raising the oil up to or above its breakdown point. As an example, this could occur in a head assembly near an exhaust port with marginal cooling in that area. The oil would start to break down in that one spot and eventually get carried throughout the engine causing "sludge". This of course would be a long term, 30K-100K mi., problem. The advent of aluminum heads has made this a bigger concern due to the superior heat transfer coefficient of aluminim compared to cast iron. The reports of an absence of deposits with synthetic oil, which has superior high temperature characteristics, tends to support this hypothesis.
#84 of 137 jnowski
Jul 02, 2000 (8:52 pm)
Thank you. I work in the pharmaceutical research field. Ananlyzing data is part of the business. And yes, I believe the "most" claim is way over blown.
Over heating is one contributing factor. But bad oil filter and bad engine oil is another. Penzoil is (was?) known to cause sludge because of the additive they put in. It's something called "paraphin" (not sure about the spelling), I think it was used to increase the viscosity of the oil. But it also known to gum up your engine and cause sludge. I will look into the matter further.
#85 of 137 Oil change interval
Jul 02, 2000 (10:25 pm)
I followed the recommendation of oil change interval by Consumer Reports:
The long-time mantra of auto mechanics has been to change your oil every 3,000 miles. Most automakers recommend an oil change every 7,500 miles (and a specific time interval) for "normal" driving, and every 3,000 miles for "severe" driving (frequent trips of less than four or five miles, stop-and-go traffic, extended idling, towing a trailer, or dusty or extremely cold conditions). Many motorists' driving falls into one or more of those "severe" categories.
In our survey, almost two-thirds of our readers said they had their oil changed every 3,000 miles or less. They may be following the thinking expressed by one of our staffers: "I have my oil changed every 3,000 miles because that's what my father did, and all his cars lasted for many years." To determine whether frequent oil changes really help, we changed the oil in three cabs every 3,000 miles, using Pennzoil 10W-30. After 60,000 miles, we compared those engines with those from our base tests of the same oil, changed every 6,000 miles. We saw no meaningful differences...
The bottom line: Modern motor oils needn't be changed as often as oils did years ago. More frequent oil changes won't hurt your car, but you could be spending money unnecessarily and adding to the nation's energy and oil-disposal problems. Even in the severe driving conditions that a New York City taxi endures, we noted no benefit from changing the oil every 3,000 miles rather than every 6,000. If your driving falls into the "normal" service category, changing the oil every 7,500 miles (or at the automaker's suggested intervals) should certainly provide adequate protection. (We recommend changing the oil filter with each oil change.)
I think my downfall with the 1994 Camry is that my wife drives very short distances so she had frequent cold starts and short distances contributed to sludge. I noticed on toyotas website http://www.toyota.com/ that their maintenance schedule recommends oil changes every 5,000 to 7,500 miles too.
#86 of 137 Oil Change Interval
Jul 03, 2000 (2:11 am)
Aquatic: I agree that oil can easily be good up to 7,500 miles. However, I wasen't talking about mileage, I was talking about time. Time is the killer when talking about oil absorbing contaminants from the atmosphere. Six months is a long time with the same oil in your car (you said you changed it twice a year). I know several major manufacturers recommend oil changes every 3 months or 7,500 miles, normal driving schedule, whichever comes first (including GM and Ford). This should apply to an import also.