Last post on Nov 07, 2013 at 7:33 AM
You are in the Toyota Highlander
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Toyota Highlander, SUV
#2491 of 5330 Low / Erratic Idle Speed solution
Mar 19, 2005 (2:47 pm)
My 2002 4-cylinder Highlander had an erratic idle - sometimes too high, sometimes it would stall because it was too low. Turned out it was the Idle Speed Control Valve, or ISCV. Toyota dealer knew all about it - he even had an old (bad) one in his top desk drawer to show me. Toyota uses this ISCV method to control idle speed, and while they use different valves on the I4 vs. the V-6, they both get gunked up. Dealer offered to replace it for a little over $300. But I managed to clean my existing one, and now it runs better than ever. Starts instantly, cold or hot. The key is to get some Throttle Body Cleaner (TB Cleaner) into the upper port in the throttle body (need to remove intake air hose to get access). On the 4-cylinder, it's impossible to get to it with just the little 4" spray extender on the TB cleaner. Here's how I finally got it right, after 3 unsuccessful tries just using the 4" extender.
Best done with cold engine. Buy or borrow about 2-3 feet of small vacuum/fuel line - needs to be less than about 1/4" OD to fit. Also buy a can of Throttle Body Cleaner (do not use Choke Cleaner or WD 40 or anything but TB Cleaner) - you won't need much for this. Then remove the air intake hose. (Once you've removed this hose, DO NOT START THE ENGINE again until you replace it - you'll get a Check Engine Light if you get impatient, and the engine won't start anyway).
Then thread one end of the hose ALL THE WAY INTO the rectangular port that's just above the throttle plate - it goes about 1/2" up, at right angles to the throttle body itself. When it's all the way in, back it out a hair (to allow for the TB cleaner to flow out the end of the hose). Now, with the little spray extender on the TB cleaner in place, shoot some cleaner in to the free end of the hose for about 1/4 second. If you have safety glasses, wear them. Look away from the top end of the hose when you do it, too, so you don't get any into your eyes. (May not be a bad idea to seal off the hose/extender junction with tape). Long blasts fill up the hose, and the stuff shoots back at you and all over the engine compartment, so several short blasts are better than one long one. Give it 3-5 blasts. Then pull out the hose, and follow the TB Cleaner instructions for cleaning the rest of the TB. Then quickly replace all the hoses - this is important because the intake manifolds aren't metal - they're plastic. Once you're all buttoned up, you'll have to push the accelerator about halfway down to start the engine with all the liquid in the intake manifold. Once it starts, rev it a few times to burn off the TB Cleaner, and then you're done.
Let us know how this works for you. I saved myself $300 doing this. I hope it works for you and everyone with low or erratic idle.
#2492 of 5330 Engine Sludge in Newer Highlanders?
Mar 20, 2005 (12:07 pm)
I own a 2003 Highlander. On Wed. of this week my car began making strange clicking, clanging noises. Happened first thing in the morning on my way to work. Within 2-3 minutes of hearing the noise, my low oil light came on. I stopped immediately and put oil in my car. The oil light went off. I took the car to the dealership that same day. They say my engine is gone. Blame me for dirty oil. Since I don't have service receipts (I know...dumb me), they are voiding my warranty and charging me $6000 for a new engine. I know this has been a problem with other years of Highlander...I've spoken with 3 other mechanics who say NO WAY this should happen to a car with 29,000 miles. I had absolutely no indicator of any kind of problem before Wednesday. Any advice or information would be greatly appreciated. Kim
#2493 of 5330 Re: Engine Sludge in Newer Highlanders? [khorn]
Mar 20, 2005 (1:30 pm)
Do you have a 4 cylinder or a V6? Do you remember approx. when you last changed the oil and where was it changed? The last oil change should be on record in some business computer.
Toyota did have an engine sludge problem in some 3.0 Litre V6 years, but you are going to have to prove you changed the oil on a regular schedule.
Best of luck.
#2494 of 5330 Blame me for dirty oil.....
Mar 20, 2005 (2:47 pm)
The way your post reads your engine failed because it was STARVED for lubricant. Just how much did you have to put in?
#2495 of 5330 Re: Engine Sludge in Newer Highlanders? [bdyment]
Mar 20, 2005 (3:54 pm)
Hi, I have a V6. I cannot prove my service. Does that mean I have no recourse? They said it was not a low oil problem it was a dirty oil problem. It just blows me away this could happen to a new engine. I would not have given it much more thought until I spoke with a few mechanics and conducted a google search under "toyota oil sludge." I am trying to track down records from my last change, but I know I will not be able to produce 5 receipts which is what they are requiring.
#2496 of 5330 Re: Blame me for dirty oil..... [wwest]
Mar 20, 2005 (3:56 pm)
I put in a quart immediately. The light went off. At Toyota dealership, they said it was not a low oil problem but a dirty oil problem.
#2497 of 5330 Re: Blame me for dirty oil..... [khorn]
Mar 21, 2005 (4:40 am)
Kim - Based on what you have said so far it is time to fight Toyota on this and please keep us inform on this forum of your progress. First try to reonstruct your oil change history if possible. Wherever it was done (unless you did it yourself) should have a computer record of it. Most oil change places keep a history of the cars they service. Tell them about your problem since they have a stake in this, too. If you can get them, go back to the same dealer with your records. If there are no records, then call the national Toyota customer service number and open a case with them. Ask for a regional service rep to look at your vehicle and give you a second opinion. If you can get the vehicle to a second dealer that would be helpful, too. Make copies of as much forum discussion of Toyota sludge problems as you can find and write a letter to Toyota national as a last resort.
You could also take a sample of your oil to a national oil testing lab to see what they say about it. Tell the dealer to give you some of the oil from your car so you can have it tested before you spend $6,000.
In my opinion there is no way you should have to pay for this. Toyota has had a big problem with oil sludge on pre 2002 models and I'm sure they don't want to open that discussion again. They have extended the warranty on my 2002 engine to 80,000 miles - not sure about 2003s. Having said all that, yours is the first 2003 model that I know has had that problem. Although Toyota has an excellent reputation for building good cars they are very quick to blame problems on owners instead of accepting responsibility. Fight hard!!
PS: If you can contact others that have had to fight Toyota on this, ask then how they went about doing it. I'm sure they will be very glad to help.
#2498 of 5330 Not keeping maintenance receipts......
Mar 21, 2005 (5:00 am)
Amazing. Without being able to prove you've had the work done within the allowed time frames and mileage intervals, you're SOL.
#2499 of 5330 Re: Engine Sludge in Newer Highlanders? [khorn]
Mar 21, 2005 (6:28 am)
The 2003 models are not included on the sludge policy, even though it is exactly the same engine. There was some minor tweaking of the engine head and PCV system, but that was it. The major redo of the engine didn't take place until 2004, so basically, the engine in the 2003 is the same sludge monster as in the 2002. That said, it is going to be an uphill battle to get Toyota to do anything about it. It is the owners responsibility to maintain the engine and you must be able to prove that you held up your end of the warranty. During the height of the sludge problems, Toyota was allowing proof of one oil change per year to suffice as proof of reasonable maintenance, so if you can prove that much, you may want to do battle. If not, you may as well hang it up and pay to get your engine repaired. That said, I would not pay $6,000!! That sounds like highway robbery. I read of people getting their engines cleaned of sludge for prices more in the $3,000 range. Go to some independent mechanic if Toyota isn't going to do anything for you.
#2500 of 5330 Jumping the gun....
Mar 21, 2005 (9:22 am)
None of us really know enough to be jumping on Toyota about this yet. I'm personally suspicious that whoever changed the oil last simply didn't put the required level in the engine.
My 2001 911 only requires an oil change every 15,000 miles and my 2001 Lexus only every 7500 miles. I DIY oil changes and with this level of mileage the oil is NEVER what I would call dirty and in case of the Lexus I am always amazed that it simply doesn't burn any oil between changes.
So, even with NO changes at 29,000 miles I don't see how the oil could be that dirty or that much burned absent something wrong with the engine.
Or some gofer at a quick oil change only put three quarts in a five quart refill.
Given my own experiences at Lexus dealers regarding oil changes I'll vote for the latter problem until proven otherwise.