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Gelling Engine In Toyotas


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hey, everybody, i'm going to take a little break from my touchup worries and bring up a new issue in toyota engines.

i went to the dealer today and he told me that i had slight gelling in the engine oil or something. he said the last person must not have maintained the car with regular oil changes.

but searching the web, i've found several people who say that toyota camary's and avalon's have this issue even when regular maintenance is done. and i think toyota's inititated a recall.

one of the signs is a blue smoke coming out when the engine starts.

haven't we seen people with complaints of blue smoke?

also, my dealer did say how toyota was aware of the problem and that they'd take care of it over there. i don't know if that means all costs are covered as i have tendency to be overly optimistic, but i guess this is for real. which makes me think he's a little bit sly for trying to blame it on the original owner.

anyway, it's interesting.


update: it looks like this may be old news to a lot of you. does anyone have gelling with synthetic oil or no gelling without synthetic?

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Yes, gelling in the 3.0 V6 is very common, also called "sludging". I mentioned it to you when you asked about the Synthetic oil. Synthetic oil is much more resistent to sludging. If you change the oil every 5k miles at least you'll never have a problem. What happens is the engine is designed in a way that its hard to get ALL the old oil to drain when you do a change. It builds up over time.

If he suggests an engine flush he's probably right.

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hmmm. funny thing is, the guy then went on to explicitly recommend against synthetic. he was like, "especially now, you should stick with the regular mobil..."

so i really was going to do that. he thought the synthetic would be more harmful for some reason.

any idea why?


see, car parts are still like a foreign language to me. it doesn't have a relevant meaning in my life yet, so when you say gelling, you may as well have been talking in old english or something.

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it has been reported in some instances that switching to synthetic has produced leakage in cars with slight sludging problems. The sludge formation may fill in extremely small gaps in the seals and gaskets. An engine flush removes the sludge and leaves these extremely small gaps now open. The synthetic oil will seep through the gaps more easily thus producing a "leak" or drip. Dino oil supposedly will be less apt to leak.

Here is what you do:

Have the engine flushed to remove the sludge. If you do not, it will only get worse. Then change your oil to a 10w-30 (high mileage formula). Those have additives to help rejuvenate the gasket seals. You can go synthetic if you wish. Park the car on a large piece of clean cardboard or clean white sheet. Each morning, inspect the board or sheet for oil spots. If you get any, replace the oil with a slightly thicker synthetic or go back to a 10w-30 dino oil. If you don't get any spots, good for you.

You can use dino oil, it is not harmful.

Failure to replace the oil and filter on a regular basis is.

good luck.


I am having some thoughts on your vibration problem too, since you posted the amplifier thing. I can't help but think maybe the harmonic balancer (don't know Lexus's name for it) may be out of whack.

The part is the pulley that that is attached to the crank shaft outside the engine block. It is the drive pulley for all belts and thus drives all the external pulley driven parts (PS, AC, Alt.). I had one go on my SSEi and it sounded like someone put rocks in my crankcase. But in that case, it just went, no vibration, no forwarning. I could grab each side of the pulley and give it a half turn without the motor even moving.

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I'm thinking her vibration could be either the harmonic balancer or simply a malformed drive belt. I've also had it go in my Explorer, and it definately was a scary as hell sound, no warning there either.

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so, i take it you guys think i should spend yet more money and take it to that mechanic?

after i heard it on the volvo, i was tempted not to. i think i am just going to find a neighbor who has an es300 (can't be too hard) and see if she gets it in hers too.

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Dino oil is just normal old ordinary oil. The "Dino" refers to the fact that its from dinosaurs (fossil fuel) car guy lingo ;)

I'd have them flush the engine for sure. They're not going to do it for free though, couple hundred bucks probably. Worth it though. Toyota may charge less.

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Normally, I wouldn't do the flush, but in your case Amanda, I think I would also do it. If the difference isn't too great, I would let Lexus do it. Maybe I am over-rationalizing it, but since Lexus knows you may have a potential issue, as well as they would perform any warranty work for a gelled up engine, at least they know you tried the flush with them.

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