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Cause For Concern? (oil Sludge Worry)


cfiiman
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I was !Removed! around in the garage tonight with my new to me 02 RX300. I unscrewed the filler cap and saw this "crusty" stuff inside the filler neck. It is very hard to the touch and when I rub my finger hard on it, it comes off "gritty". I have been reading about sludge issues and everyone says you should look for what looks like grease, or goo which this does not, it is like a "burnt on" coating or something that is very gritty to the touch. I have never seen anything like this on any other car I own. I've only had the car about 3 weeks and it is under a 60 day warranty from my local Lexus dealer and it runs and is perfect, I love it. I have not noticed anything at all wrong with the car and the fluids were perfectly clean when I checked the car out before buying and still are. I took a picture for you all to see it. I have read I need to pull the valve cover but I am worried about going through all that if it is not necessary, plus I feel Lexus would need to do it if I was going to have them cover it. I read about a lawsuit which they cover sludge issues for like 8 years or something? Does that apply to used purchases like mine? If so that means I have till 2010, but I do not want to wait if something needs to be done. Again this is like a burnt on coating that is gritty-like in texture, not gooey or greasy at all, I probably wouldn't have thought anything about it except that I have read stuff and am all nervous about it, I would just have figured it for being dried out oil from constantly being poured in the same spot over and over for all these years and drying between oil changes but now I'm not so sure. :( Any advice would be appreciated, I am unsure how to even proceed if it does need to be looked at b/c I am sure my warranty doesn't cover "it might be a problem", just if it IS a problem. I'm thinking about a way to have Lexus look at it and tell me what it is without my salesman knowing so they won't look over it you know. Their techs changed the oil the day I bought it and I didn't hear anything about it, but then again that was b/c I was buying it maybe. Thanks for any guidance.

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Just found this on another forum: http://forums.noria.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f...995/m/305601547 where someone was worried about the same thing, thought I'd post his response for anyone like me that may have been worried and wanted to know what it was:

"I have a 2001 Camry LE 3.0 with 48,000 miles on it. I have ALWAYS changed the oil at 3,000 miles. 3 days ago I had drained the oil and when I started to pour the new oil into the motor I noticed a hard crusty film about 1/16" to 3/32" thick inside the valve cover oil opening. I scrapped it off and was careful not to let any get into the engine but the space where the oil flows into the engine was restricted so much that the oil drained slowly. I was sure it was part of the sludge problem but after seeing the valve cover removed (by Toyota) it looked like a new engine with my own eyes I wanted to let others know what the tech said. Where you pour the oil into the car is slightly cupped and a small amount of oil can't get into the engine so it sets there and cooks with the high temperature and forms the carbon crust. This will not hurt the engine because it is separated. I was please to find I didn't have the sludge problem but I want to let others know so they will not make the same mistake I did. bcalvary@tampabay.rr.com"

Any ideas on how to remove it (if you should) w/o it dropping down in the engine? Should I just leave it alone? Would it hurt at all if some did drop down in there?

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Just found this on another forum: http://forums.noria.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f...995/m/305601547 where someone was worried about the same thing, thought I'd post his response for anyone like me that may have been worried and wanted to know what it was:

Any ideas on how to remove it (if you should) w/o it dropping down in the engine? Should I just leave it alone? Would it hurt at all if some did drop down in there?

cfiiman- What you see is unfortunately quite common in the Toyota/Lexus V-6 engines. I personally believe it is because the crankcases run very hot on these engines. I have changed my own oil all my life (a very long time-LOL) and I have NEVER seen anything like that in any of my many vehicles. I am the mechanic for my DIL's 99RX and hers had the same thing though the filter and oil have always been changed at least every 5k mi. It concerned me enough that at about 120k mi. I pulled the front valve cover and the lower engine oil pan to look things over. It had that same "cinderized oil" deposited around in the top end and the bottom end (where ever it decided to deposit it), but only about 5% of the area was covered with it. (Random, wherever it decided to deposit it) The only thing that can cause that is running very hot in the crankcase area and "coking" the oil in depositing it. It's definitely not "sludge" and I don't think it will actually hurt anything, I would just rather not see it there. When I had the valve cover off I cleaned the deposit out from where you have pictured and believe me it's cooked on. It took a considerable amount of scrubbing with steel wool and lacquer thinner to get it off- it thought it was part of the engine and it didn't want to go anywhere. I would say forget about it, and enjoy your new ride, IT'S NOT GOING ANYWHERE!

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I had that crust too, but switched to Castrol Oil synthetic 0-30 weight, european formula, and it is truely weird, after two oil changes the crust on the filler area disappeared. Must be some really good cleaners addititives in that oil. My car has 160k miles on it....have a great day...

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Holy hell, thank you for your fast reply to save me from agonizing over this all night lol. So do you just not worry about it? Why is it like that? Oh and how many miles are on your 330, I love the styling on those btw.

We have 100,500 miles on my wife's RX330. We purchased it new in late 2003 and originally, I used Mobil 1 5W30, but at about 65,000, I changed over to Pennzoil Platinum 5W30. I use Mobil 1 filters.

As for the gritty film, you could always have the dealer pull the valve cover off and check for sludge.

Another option is Auto-RX. It is a very safe cleaner (not an engine flush). www.auto-rx.com

Hope this helps.

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Lenore,

Thanks for the info, I will try that at the next oil change, I was going to start a thread on what is the best "type" of oil to use, can everyone post what they use and why, or does it really matter that much?

cfiiman- Lenore makes an excellent point- can't imagine the synthetic oil being that powerful (that stuff is hard!) but it's worth a try. Newtoncd also makes a good point about the Auto-RX. From everything I've read about it, it does do wonders but I think I would probably try Lenore's sugg. 1st. because it's so simple.

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Lenore,

Thanks for the info, I will try that at the next oil change, I was going to start a thread on what is the best "type" of oil to use, can everyone post what they use and why, or does it really matter that much?

cfiiman- Lenore makes an excellent point- can't imagine the synthetic oil being that powerful (that stuff is hard!) but it's worth a try. Newtoncd also makes a good point about the Auto-RX. From everything I've read about it, it does do wonders but I think I would probably try Lenore's sugg. 1st. because it's so simple.

After Lenore's post I looked up the Euro Castro. Found this (no idea to what extent true, but appears to address the sludge/varnish issue):

"Mobil 1 uses a 100% completely synthetic PAO (Poly Alpha Olephin) Group-V base stock. Mobil invented this technology back in the fifties, and they have always used the 'true' synthetic formula.

Castrol 'Syntec', as originally sold in America back in the late eighties/early nineties, was NOT a true synthetic, even though it was advertised as such.

The Castrol product used a group-III/IV base stock which is derived from natural petroleum/crude oil sources.

The lawsuit brought by Mobil against Castrol resulted in the decision that Castrol was indeed allowed to call thier product 'full synthetic' based on the fact that Castrol claimed it's base stocks recieved further refining processes, at the molecular level, than did 'normal' conventional base stocks.

This very, very refined base stock very closely approched the performance of a full PAO synthetic, so the US 'guv' decided that (paraphrasing here)" If it does the same thing, whats the difference"?, and allowed Castrol to call it synthetic.

The European government does not allow Castrol to sell this product as synthetic there...it carries a different name.

In ExxonMobil in-house tests, the Castrol product is very close to the Mobil 1 product in all areas except:

1)Phosphorous and Sulfer content, which are the main contributors to sludge formation. It comes from the crude oil, and is extremely difficult to remove completely. Mobil 1 has ZERO of these components, making it almost 100% resistant to sludge formation.

2)Mineral-oil is very susceptibale to high-temperature oxidation, creating...sludge and varnish. It also reatins heat and reduces lubricity. Mobil's PAO technology is almost 100% resistant to high-temperature oxidation. Once again, no sludge formation...with better gas mileage to boot!

3) Mobil 1 uses less additives overall (by percentage), meaning more actual oil 'in the mix', creating a cooler running engine, and producing better gas mileage."

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Back in the mid 1990s, the group IV vs group III issue was a big deal between Mobil and Castrol. However, there have been reports now that Mobil-1 may not be fully group IV (still very questionable as Mobil will not confirm/deny) in all grades. Read bobistheoilguy.com for more info.

Regarding Castrol's product, Syntec 0W30 is the exception to the rule for the Syntec line-up. To meet the specs it does (BMW LL, ACEA A3, MB 229.X, etc). the 0W30 product is very good and is probably group IV; use it with confidence. Just make sure it says "Made in Germany" on the back of the bottle. A few years ago, there was a "Made in USA" 0W30 that didn't meet all of the specs the Germany product does. There still may be some old stock laying around.

As for me, I think the Syntec 0W30 is a bit heavy (12.1 @ 100 degrees C, cST vs 10.2 @ 100 degrees C, cst for Pennsoil Platinum 5W30 or 9.7 @ 100 degrees C, cST for Castrol Syntec 5W30) for the Toyota engines (it is close to a 40 weight). As always, YMMV.

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From my reading here, the sludge issue was THICK, GOOEY sludge formed because of inadequate oil changes and a poorly designed oil system, especially in the 300s. The area that you show in your photos is, obviously, where we pour our oil (no kidding?) and the residue that sits on that "shelf" gets quite warm and winds up looking like sludge. If you really had sludge, it would be much thicker and would be evidenced by removing the valve covers.

Like the song says, don't worry, be happy. :)

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Thanks for the replies. I checked into the Auto-Rx, it seems like the way to go as a preventative measure, it seems gentle. I youtube some videos of seafoam, man that stuff looks crazy. I really don't want to do anything if nothing is wrong except keep my fluids clean, etc. Why is it on the regular Castrol GTX oil it states "superior sludge protection" yet on the full synthetic it says nothing? Also I heard if you switch to a full synthetic in a used car that has not had synthetic it can cause leaks, I guess from seals shrinking up? Is this true? Is it ok to switch to Full synthetic next oil change?

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Thanks for the replies. I checked into the Auto-Rx, it seems like the way to go as a preventative measure, it seems gentle. I youtube some videos of seafoam, man that stuff looks crazy. I really don't want to do anything if nothing is wrong except keep my fluids clean, etc. Why is it on the regular Castrol GTX oil it states "superior sludge protection" yet on the full synthetic it says nothing? Also I heard if you switch to a full synthetic in a used car that has not had synthetic it can cause leaks, I guess from seals shrinking up? Is this true? Is it ok to switch to Full synthetic next oil change?

cfi- I don't think it's the seals shrinking, rather that the synthetic is slick enough that it gets past them.

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I switch at 100k miles and have had no problems of leaks. As for the Castrol Oil, yes look for the made in europe on the back of the container. really funny thing is the car is quieter, and mileage went up about 1 mpg...

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  • 2 months later...

I used Mobil-1 in my Lincoln Mark VII 5.0 HO for ten years ending at 250K miles when the rest of the car needed $$. I pulled the engine last month with plans to overhaul it and put in my ski boat. When I opened the engine it was extremely clean. Now I think I will keep it intact, replacing simple seals and pass on the overhaul. It was only using about 1 quart of oil [which included minor leaks] every 3000 miles and it did not smoke at all. My oil change frequency was about every 7000 miles with a new filter midway.

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