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Toyota Avalon, Interior, Sedan
#3529 of 3628 So close to death
Feb 18, 2010 (5:34 am)
TOYOTA DEAL: HERE COMES THE SLUDGE JUDGE
Mark Rechtin, Automotive News / January 8, 2007
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
Chink in the armor?
Sludge is gelled oil that fails to lubricate engine parts. It can lead to
damage, often requiring a new engine at a cost that can exceed $10,000.
Complaints about sludged engines have plagued several carmakers, but
Toyota's troubles have been especially controversial in light of its
reputation for vehicle quality.
The issue highlights a possible chink in the company's armor. Executives
fear Toyota is growing too fast for its engineering resources. That could
lead to quality snags and a tarnished reputation.
When a customer takes a sludge-caked engine to a dealership, there is
usually a "clean-out" procedure. The head is pulled and a service technician
tries try to steam out the sludge. If that doesn't work, the engine must be
Sludge can result from poor engine design; overly tight tolerances between
moving parts; improper cooling; and poor maintenance by consumers. Toyota
insists the problem arises mainly when owners fail to change their oil
The agreement does not find Toyota at fault.
"The settlement doesn't mean that Toyota or Lexus vehicles are predisposed
to develop oil gel," according to the notice. "The court did not decide
which side was right."
After Toyota had received 3,400 sludge complaints by 2002 it extended its
vehicle warranty to eight years and unlimited miles. The program was offered
to owners of 1997-2002 Toyota and Lexus vehicles equipped with 3.0-liter V-6
or 2.2-liter four-cylinder engines. The company declined to give an updated
number of complaints.
Under terms of the settlement:
* Owners of damaged vehicles have eight years plus 120 days from the
original purchase date to file a complaint.
* If Toyota denies the claim, owners can appeal to a judge-appointed
third-party administrator: J. Robert Ates, a New Orleans lawyer.
* Customers who have already made repairs may be able to recover the costs.
* Only those who elect not to participate in the settlement can sue Toyota
individually. The deadline for that choice was Dec. 31, 2006.
* The settlement is transferable to future vehicle owners.
* The car only needs to show evidence of oil sludge. It is not necessary for
the owner to have made repairs during the claim period.
* Damages that can be recovered include loss in value of the vehicle and
incidental costs, such as rental cars. Past lawyers' fees, mental anguish
and bodily injuries are not covered.
A Toyota spokesman said the agreement is not a defeat for the automaker.
"The settlement validates the customer support program we implemented four
years ago," Xavier Dominicis said. "The terms of the program remain
unchanged. There always was a way for customers to appeal our decision."
Plaintiff lawyers disagree. They say Toyota failed to communicate the extent
of the problem to its dealers and customers. Toyota's appeal process also
meant hiring a lawyer, which many consumers could not afford. It costs
nothing to file an appeal with Ates. "The consumer only needs to show
reasonable maintenance in terms of oil changes," Gambel said. "You don't
need to prove where the sludge came from, or explain your driving habits. If
you have oil sludge, Toyota pays" the consumer.
Consumers can get more information by calling 888-279-4405 or at
It all sounds great but here in Australia it means nothing whatever happens
in the rest of the world seems not to apply in Australia, even if an owner of a Toyota Avalon Grande 2000
comes so close to death, by a Engine blowing up due to Sludge, some people may not understand
the sheer terror and panic I felt.
So all I can say to the people that have accelerator problems is, GOD help you.
#3530 of 3628 Re: Toyota sludge
Feb 23, 2010 (3:58 pm)
i have a 97 avalon with 230,000 and runs today like the day it was new.
it is the responsibility of the owner to know ALL about motoring. Use
synthetic oil! Cost $50 more for oil change but i will run the car to 350,000 miles.
A person cannot expect to get in listento their favorite rock station day in and day out with not regard to mechanics without repercussions! I had an 02 which I put
225,000 and traded in when my wife wrecked the second car. I got the old 97 and
she got the 05 Highlander. if you buy the cheapest tires, oil, and parts you will get the least performance. Sorry for the tone.
#3531 of 3628 Re: So close to death [chev3]
Feb 23, 2010 (8:57 pm)
Interesting post.. but this is all old news to the forum. The oil gel or sludge problems were endlessly debated here and blame was distributed all around - to lazy/cheap owners and to Toyota engineers alike. For me, we had both a '99 and an '03 Avalon. At least one had the subject oil gel prone engines, I always thought they both did. Put near 100k on each and both performed flawlessly, two of the best cars we ever owned. We now have an '07 Limited.
If your post is right the warranty repair period is running out on all but the last of these cars. The 8 years is up. To that extent, buyer beware, your post is a reminder. But the gel related failure rate was only 1 engine per 5000 cars, approx, so the odds are good you will not own one.
FYI: The specific conditions required for the formation of oil gel are truly unknown. It cannot be reproduced in the lab and the best minds in engineering have tried. The thermodynamic stress on ordinary oil as it lubricates is a complex study, synthetics have a distinct advantage in chemical composition as pointed out in another post above.
Enjoy the Avalons - great cars...
#3532 of 3628 Cig lighter fuse--04 Avalon
Mar 02, 2010 (6:18 am)
Can't locate info on which fuse it is under dash.
Can anyone help?
#3533 of 3628 Re: Cig lighter fuse--04 Avalon [bobwhitlow]
Mar 02, 2010 (8:23 am)
It is clearly shown (on the inside of the fuse panel under the steering wheel) as being a 15 amp fuse. It is on the bottom row, and counting from right to left, is the third fuse (blue).
Of course, your problem could also be a burned out lighter element.
#3534 of 3628 Re: ignition problem [sharkmama49]
Mar 22, 2010 (10:37 pm)
Try giving it a good shot of WD-40 and immediately run your key in and out multiple times to exercise the tumblers. If that works, you could follow it up with a few drops of household oil or silicone spray.
#3535 of 3628 Directional signal problem
Apr 06, 2010 (2:24 pm)
During the winter my 2004 Toyota Avalon directional signals and 4-way flashers stopped working on the coldest days - below freezing.
After heating up they would work properly. The temperature that they stopped working has slowly gone up, so now they won't work below 70 degF.
My mechanic changed the flasher relay, but that did not fix the problem.
Anyone experience this problem and how did you fix it?
I have not been able to find a schematic - suggestions appreciated.
#3536 of 3628 Re: Directional signal problem [edon]
Apr 08, 2010 (9:46 pm)
After much trouble and conferences with outside garage, I asked that they look carefully for contact corrosions. They then found evidence of corrosions and cleaned it up. Relays were not the problem. Electrical shorts were caused by moisture! Shorts even drained new battery!
In my case, I feel faulty windshield seal was the originating source of moisture. Passenger floor mat moisture was not melted snow from shoes! Electrical signal controls are in area in front of passenger and gave us fits before chance soluton was found!
I did not need Service's expensive new computer solution to hanging relay and lighted icons!
Apr 09, 2010 (10:46 am)
I have a 2004 Avalon XLS. Had problem, at 20,000 miles with stiff steering and steering wheel wouldn't return to center after a turn. Diagnosis was lower steering shaft joint binding. Part was replaced. Toyota Corp. paid for part and I paid dealer for labor. I now have 35,000 miles on vehicle and the problem returned. Is anyone else having similar steering problems with their Avalon or is this an isolated case?
#3538 of 3628 Re: ronkro [ronkro]
Apr 14, 2010 (7:59 pm)
2000 Avalon XLS, (135,000 mi) had to replace same joint, steering was stiff and popping upon turning. Is OK now some 20,000 mi later.