greg@gpcivil.com

Ls 430 Engine Sludge

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I've got news for all you Lexus Engine Sludge denyers; its a real problem. If you don't believe it go to the web and type in a few key words and see what comes up including class action lawsuites and lots of people complaining. You can include me in that group. We bought a used 2002 LS430 about 5 years ago with about 30,000 miles. It now has 117,000 mile and it has run like a sewing maching up until a few weeks ago when we started to get a burnt smell. We took it to our mechanic who said the valve covers were leaking so he replaced them. We drove it some more and then the low oil pressure light came on so we took it back. The mechanic mentioned that while he was replacing the valve covers he notice a LOT of gunk in the valve covers. He ran the engine and also got a low oil pressure light so I asked him to put a mechanical guage to make sure it was really low pressure an not a bad oil pressure sensor. Sure enough it WAS low oil pressure. It turns out that the valve covers were leaking because the engine was so gunked up that oil was building up in the valve covers and then leaking out.

So then he removed the oil pan and what I saw inside made me sick. Gooey, gobby oil and the oil pump intake screen totally gunked up with stuff that looked like an over baked cookie. He cleaned all that crap out and then he ran the engine with some "gunk' remover, changed the oil and filter again, ran it some more and the oil pressure light did not come on so I picked it up. I went strait to the auto parts house and bought enough oil and fiters for two more oil changes along with a couple cans of Sea Foam; one of which I put into the engine right away. My plan was to change the oil again as soon as it got 100 mile on it but it only got about 70 miles before the low oil pressure light came on again.

This is a disaster. If engine degunker and sea foam won't clean this crap out what will? The local dealer was absloutely no help and basically there is not much you can do except rebuild the engine or get another one.

This car has had regular oil changes and don't you dare doubt me on that. And don't give me that bs about the type of oil that was used. This is not an oil problem its an engine problem. I am 54 years old, I know plenty about cars and engines and I've had lots of cars most of which did not get the care this car got and I have never had this problem before.

I used to brag that this was the finest car I ever owned: it ran like a champ, accelerated like a motorcycle, smoothest ride in the world, bla, bla, but I can tell you that if this engine is cooked, I will be seriously *BLEEP*ed off. No car in this price category should get less than 200,000 mile. Period.

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Hello and welcome to the LOC albeit under dire circumstances.

This is not the first case we have heard of on these forums and will certainly not be the last.

The other one I seem to remember had exactly the same problem with engine sludge and no matter how many flushes and oil changes were carried out the problem remained,each time the sump was dropped there were hand fulls of the stuff in there.

I don't think there is much chance of any engine surviving this problem,if this stuff clogs a sump strainer filter there's not much hope for the fine oil ways feeding the crank and camshaft bearings to mention a few.

Like you with an engine of this build quality and the low mileage I would also be gutted.

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Do you have oil change records for the first 30,000 miles before you owned it?

What do "regular" oil changes mean to you?

Just did the Google search that you spoke of, a few hits but nothing significant and all at high mileage. No class action lawsuit, thats for a different Toyota motor.

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well.... the last time I saw/heard of this problem, I really didnt believe the poster, and chalked it up to "not changing oil".....

but now I am a believer.... no 430's in my future...

hang on to those 400's.........

I would not want to repair or replace this engine, just get another LS400.

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There's not much of a difference between the 4.0 in the LS400 and the 4.3 in the LS430. If you google "LS400 oil sludge" you come up with responses pretty similar to what you find when you google "LS430 oil sludge".

In a car where the oil was changed every 5k miles as per directed by the service manual, given my experience with these vehicles and the long time I've been around them...I just don't buy that you'd have catastrophic oil sludge.

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I am very curious about this claim. I do all the maintenance on my LS430 particularly the oil changes. I use Mobil one and watch the oil draining out and examine the filter gasket and the port where the filter screws onto the block . Never have I seen any hint of a sludge problem.

With as much sludge as is claimed, did you NOT see some evidence of this "goo" coming out the oil drain hole and around the oil filter port long before it became a major problem? I would think that the evidence had to be plainly visible for many oil changes.

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[quote name='landar' timestamp='1297736911' post='429624'

With as much sludge as is claimed, did you NOT see some evidence of this "goo" coming out the oil drain plug and around the oil filter port long before it became a major problem? I would think that the evidence had to be plainly visible for many oil changes.

An excellent point! Wish I had thought of that myself!

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Do you have oil change records for the first 30,000 miles before you owned it?

1st thing I thought too... Not that we are doubting you...

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I'm sure there are a couple LS430s here and there with sludge problems. Statistically every design can't be perfect; but with the UZ engine family in production for almost 20 years across half a dozen product lines I think if the problem were due to a specific design flaw (like the 3.0L V6 seemed to be) we would have heard about it by now. Also most people who did have sludge problems with the V6 saw it earlier, between 30k and 60k miles.

There were changes to the 3UZ version of this engine; specifically with regards to meeting the new ULEV standards; which typically dictate hotter combustion temperatures; who knows if this makes the engine more prone to sludge or not.

However this is the second time we've seen this problem so I'm still curious:

1) did this problem manifest itself suddenly (within 5k miles or so); this might point to the failure of another component (the cooling system, a gasket leak somewhere, a faulty temperature sensor). Even if the oil wasn't changed at all for the first 30k miles I think there would be some sign of sludge before this (miscolored oil, debris in the filter and or waste oil, hotter operating temperatures due to blocked oil passages). I'm surprised your mechanic didn't mention the yuck under the valve covers when he replaced the gaskets.

2) which maintenance schedule was followed; I know Lexus has one for 'Normal' driving and one for more severe environments. Most dealers and shops in LA tend to err on the side of caution; and recommend more frequent oil changes (which is why these newer Mercedes with the 'automatic' oil change notification scare me). Perhaps the 7500 mile interval is really too long in this case?

3) did the car have to endure cold winters? short trips where the engine didn't heat up completely?

The fact that Toyota is not recalling this engine means that this problem is more likely related to specific operating and maintenance conditions.

Any information you can provide us will be helpful so the rest of us can know what to look for.

Regardless it might be worth taking this matter up with Lexus Corporate; who knows they might take care of you.

Do you have oil change records for the first 30,000 miles before you owned it?

1st thing I thought too... Not that we are doubting you...

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Just changed my 2006 LS430 to Mobil1 full synthetic. Vacuumed out oil through dip stick tube and no hint of sludge. Now, I use this vacuum pump on my boat and Duramax diesel and it works wonders not having to remove the drain plug. I initially removed the drain plug on my Lexus after a pump-out and not a drop came out of the pan. The filter port was free of sludge as well. I have 88,000 miles on my LS.

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I have been using Synthetic oil since it first came out as Mobil 1. Have used it in all my Lexus vehicles (1991 LS400, 1995 RX300, 1998 RX330, and 2002 LS430) as well as my other vehicles and have never had a sludge problem. Always took the oil change interval to the max allowed. The synthetic oil is much more resistant to the high temperature breakdown relative to the standard motor oils. It also flows better in low temperatures (useful in the Buffalo, NY area). Probably also good for a little extra fuel economy.

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Unfortunilately I think I will be joining the oil sludge disaster. Looking for alternatives the dealers 3k estimate to drop the pan and clean, with no guarantees. Basically, my story is almost identical to the first post. I have a 2002 LS 430 with 140K miles. Has been a great car. OIl religously checked by me at 3k, every time oil is clean -- as golden as when it was put in. Oil changes were at 4500 miles, longest at 5k. No problems, never low, never dirtly. Then I started smelling oil at start up, but not much. Low oil pressure light came on a few minutes after starting. Turn off, all good, drive a mile or so, light back on, light did not go off is engine speed increased. Drove to Pep Boys (3 miles, 3 stops to rest and restart -- closest place, great experience). the VSC and check engine lights came on. Pep Boys did not get Low oil Pressure light to come on, replaced oil sensor, checked electrical. Picked up car, light back on after a mile. Returned, did flush, Pep Boys call Lexus dealer, no real help, advise need to drop pan, maybe 3K to check out Drove hime, low presure light came on but now no light when engine above 1200 RPS, NO check engine light, and No VSC light. Anyone have any magic solutions. With 140K miles, I can not afford 3k at the dealer just to find out the engine is toast. Key fact, the oils is still golden after flush but only 3 miles, Absolutely no engine noise, zero, no ticking or value slap, still sounds like brand new. Thanks Ed

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Ed, sorry to hear that you are having problems and welcome to the forum.

I would start by pulling one of the valve covers and having a look. If it is all sludged up, you should easily see evidence. The valve cover removal is not the easiest job in the world but not too bad...maybe an hour of so. Once you have looked inside, you will have a better idea of what to do next. Unfortunately, just like clogged arteries, there are no 'magic' solutions. Prevention is the key.

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