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Now I'm Having To Add Oil Between Oil Changes....

RX in NC

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My wife's 2000 RX300 is currently showing about 96,500 miles on the odometer. I check the fluid levels weekly, and last weekend I had to top up the oil level by adding just under half a quart. This really surprised me because I've never had to add oil to this vehicle between oil changes before. There are no visible oil leaks underneath the chassis or on my garage floor - I've checked that out thoroughly.

I e-mailed the service manager of our local Lexus dealership explaining the situation. She replied that they consider having to add up to quart of oil between 5,000-mile to 7,500-mile service intervals as "normal". I've owned American vehicles that needed up to a quart of oil added between oil changes before, but they gradually developed this requirement over extended periods of time, not all of a sudden like this RX appears to have done.

So I expressed my concern to our service manager that perhaps this symptom could indicate the beginning of the dreaded oil gelling problem that is well-known in these 3-litre Toyota engines, but usually because of neglected maintenance. She is well aware that our vehicles are all meticulously maintained, so she agreed to pull the valve covers and have a look at no charge to us. Our RX300 goes in for this inspection next Monday morning and my wife gets a loaner vehicle for the day.

I don't recall seeing previous postings on this forum about this particular subject. Are any of you RX300 owners out there having to add oil between oil changes? If so, how much oil are you having to add and at what mileage reading did this need begin to occur?

I'll post the results of our oil gelling inspection next week after I receive the details. By the way, I've always run Valvoline 5W-30 conventional motor oil in this vehicle.

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What is your definition of "Meticulously Maintained"?

My idea of "Meticulously Maintained." is following the severe service schedule listed in the owners manual including performing most other required maintenance services more frequently than the minimum intervals listed in the owners manual or scheduled maintenance guide. Toyota owners who follow the severe service schedule are rewarded with low rates of oil consumption for 500,000 miles that are approximately as follows:

0 - 50,000 miles 1 quart every 5,000 - 10,000 miles

50,000 miles 1 quart every 4,000 - 6,000 miles

100,000 miles 1 quart every 3,500 - 4,500 miles

200,000 miles 1 quart every 3,000 - 4,000 miles

300,000 miles 1 quart every 2,500 - 3,000 miles

400,000 miles 1 quart every 2,000 - 2,500 miles

500,000 miles 1 quart every 1,750 - 2,250 miles

A dirty throttle plate can also adversely affect oil consumption so it should be cleaned about every 30,000 miles to maintain optimum power, fuel economy and low oil consumption http://www.saber.net/~monarch/tbclean.jpg

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hey RX my Lexus has 119k and has not used any oil between changes, I started the vehicle on synthetic blend oil and just switched to full synthetic on the last two oil changes, I do oil changes every 3k to 3.5 k miles. Good luck and keep us posted on the oil sludge, when I change the oil I noticed a build up around the the fill cap. but I have never removed the valve cover. The full synthetic should help I hope, but I do not know. Mine is a 99 RX300 by the way.

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keep us posted on the oil sludge, when I change the oil I noticed a build up around the the fill cap.  but I have never removed the valve cover.  The full synthetic should help I hope, but I do not know.  Mine is a 99 RX300 by the way.

Here is what a Toyota valvetrain typically looks like after 270,000 miles of running on conventional oil that was changed every 3-5,000 miles http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y189/mastertech/cor.jpg As you can see, there is just a light, harmless coating of varnish and no trace of sludge.

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Our vehicle also shows a slight oil build-up under the fill cap. It has always been there and has never concerned me before. I guess we'll find out after the inspection whether there is any cause for concern.

Under normal circumstances, having to add less than a half-quart of oil between oil changes on a vehicle approaching 100,000 miles would not concern me. But I've never had to do so with any of the Japanese vehicles we've owned, all running conventional Valvoline motor oil with one vehicle going over 280,000 miles before I sold it (a 1974 Datsun 260Z that I still miss very much). And the fact that this situation seemed to arise rather quickly also justifies taking the time to have it investigated by Lexus, especially with the known gelling problem.

I'll let you know what the inspection turns up.

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My wife dropped off her 2000 RX300 for the oil gelling inspection first thing this morning. Our service manager just called me with the results - no evidence of gelling was found and all visible engine components are clean and in good shape at approximately 97,000 miles on the vehicle. Lexus claims that my recent need to add about a half-quart of oil between oil-and-filter changes is "well within normal maintenance expectations".

At this point I plan to simply monitor the oil consumption situation in an effort to determine if it stays the same or gradually gets worse. If the situation remains the same I can live with it. I also plan to stay with good old conventional Valvoline 5W-30. That oil has served me well over the decades in numerous vehicles and there is no compelling reason to change at this point.

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I trust this dealership's service manager. She has bent over backwards with the Lexus goodwill warranty program to rectify every single well-known problem that has come up on our vehicle since the factory warranty expired at 50,000 miles. This includes a couple of oxygen sensor replacements, the rear main oil seal replacement, the front strut mount rubber bushings replacement, and a handful of other relatively minor issues. I've still never paid a penny for any services there, and it's because of my relationship with her. I won't deal with any other personnel there except for the general manager.

She knows me well enough to realize that if she were to lie to me about a gelling problem or anything else concerning my wife's vehicle, I'd have the dealership's general manager in court within 30 days.

This service manager is the most customer-oriented dealership employee I've ever met. She knows I'm extremely informed before I ever contact her concerning an issue, but she's still one in a million. I'll regret losing her when we decide to dump my wife's RX300, but as you know, we won't have another Lexus SUV in our stable after the RX finally gets pushed off a cliff.

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