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Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

Posted by piddlerdad3 (My Page) on
Sat, Dec 9, 06 at 11:37

My mom owns a 2000 Model Toyota Camry, and received a legal notice in the mail. I've never been one to sue anybody. I won't start ranting on about my personal views here.

Mom wants to know what to do. Basically, the settlement is for people who own Toyota Camry, Sienna, Avalon, Celica, Highlander - somewhere in between 1997 and 2002 range. some of these cars have apparently had problems with oil gel.

Mom's car doesn't show signs. She has good pressure, the exhaust looks okay, no excessive oil consumption, check engine light is not illuminated.

She is worried sick that her car is going to blow up or just stop running now that someone has told her about this. My questions:

1) How prominent is this oil gel in Toyotas (and the notice mentions some Lexus models as well)?
2) Is this legitimate? or is this a scheme of lawyers who want to make $$ off of worrying little old ladies who sit around with nothing else to do but file paperwork for eligibilty on class action suits against major companies?
3) The eligibility certificate already has her VIN # on it, and it is titled "The Toyota/Lexus oil gel Customer Support Program. Added Protection for your vehicle." The notice makes it sound like this is something Toyota has implemented and all that Mom has to do is take it in if she ever sees problems. Is this on the level?
4) She has until Dec 31st to opt out. Otherwise, from the way the legal notice states, she is alredy covered and just needs to keep the certificate in her glove box. If she has problems, the certificate states that Toyota will repair her car.

I have to admit this sounds like a good thing to just put in her glove box and she should take no action to opt out; but I'm leary of things like this. What say anyone?

Thanks for any advice or confirmation. dennis


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

Engine oil can gel in Alaska, where nighttime temperatures can get below minus 50F. Since gelled oil does not flow freely through the various passages drilled in the crankshaft, an engine could be starved for lubrication, if it was started up without first warming the oil. If your car is only used for short trips, under 5 miles, the oil never gets hot enough to boil-off accumulated moisture. Water vapor is one product of combustion, and inevitably some of it gets mixed in with the engine oil. Driving the car on longer trips, 10 or 20 miles, gives the oil time to get hot, and the water vapor is boiled off. I am sure that climate plays a part in this, also. If the car is kept in a warm climate, where daily highs exceed 80 degrees F, I would guess that some of the moisture evaporates out with the car sitting still.


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

I know or hope someone that knows more about this will comment, but I'll start --

I've heard that certain Toyota engines have hot spots (one theory) that in certain cases causes used motor oil to "gell". Oil changed often, like every 3,000 miles, doesn't tend to develop this problem. It is when you let it go 5,000+ miles that problems are seen once in a great while.

If the hot spot theory is true, it seems to me that the oil is oxidizing. The antioxidant additive all motor oils have gets used up after a period of time. So the oil works just fine for a while.

I'd guess an internet search would yield more info on this.

Ken


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

**2) Is this legitimate? or is this a scheme of lawyers who want to make $$ off of worrying little old ladies who sit around with nothing else to do but file paperwork for eligibilty on class action suits against major companies?**

A little of both. The cause of the problem discribed in this case is not changing the oil often enough period. The company's fault in this if any is most likely they recomended extending the oil change interval way past the standard 3 month 3k miles. If your mom takes the car on a good long drive once in a while and has the oil changed every 3 months or 3k miles, she has no problem. As to the class action, the money's probably already spent by the company. She'll most likely get some piddley amount. The lawyers of coarse will get there $500 per hour + for persuing the case.


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

All internal combustion engines have hot spots. If the engine is equipped with OHV, overhead valves, then engine oil must be provided to keep the mechanism lubricated. You have to get oil up to the head, and lubricate the valve lifters, valve rockers, and OHC (overhead camshaft) if the engine is so equipped. Exhaust valves in particular are very hot during normal engine operation, so any engine oil that comes into contact with an exhaust valve stem will be subjected to relatively high temperatures, greater than 300 degrees F.


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

If the letter your mom received simply allows her to opt out of the class-action suit and she has not experienced any of the sludging problems, then there is no value at all to her in trying to settle outside of the suit. File the paper away and, as gary says, in a couple of years you'll get a certificate for a couple of free oil changes or something and some lawyers somewhere will be making down payments on new boats.

Oil sludging is a real problem on some Toyota engines. Toyota, to their credit, has been handling the problem much better than other *cough* Ford *cough *VW* cough manufacturers have handled problems -- though they're a bit lucky in that the problem does not create a road hazard or strand people (as Ford's and VW's did). The problem does affect the life of the engine. But I would not hesitate for one moment to continue driving and taking care of maintenance normally.


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

Thanks to all for your advice and feedback. Sounds like my mom has no concern here, as she religiously changes the oil - not at the 3K every 3 month cycle, but closer to the 6 month mark. At that time she has about 4K on the oil. from what i've read on modern oil we use in our cars now, this should be good. i'll just keep watching to see if the Camry shows any symptoms, but i'm advising her to continue on as normal.

thanks! dennis


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

4000 miles in six months. This is where the trap lies, in the assumption that "this should be good".

"IF" she drives two or three times a week, and gets that many miles, without a lot of idling time "THEN" it's probably OK. The only way to tell for certain is by having an engine oil analysis performed. (That costs almost as much as an oil change BTW)

"IF" she drives everyday, two or three times, and never gets the engine up to full operating temperature for fifteen to twenty minutes, she is in danger of having gelling occur! Gelling occurs because the oil does not get hot enough, long enough to boil off contaminents that it will collect. Combustion blow by gasses contain water vapor and unburned gasoline, which when they hit the cold insides of the engine, condense, and are picked up by the oil.

If need be, I can run my Explorer into the 4000 mile range, because 50% of my driving is over 30 miles, highway every week. My normal commute is fifteen minutes, ten miles rural roads, all easy driving. My oil is definately ready to be changed before 4000 miles, and that only takes me about seven to eight weeks!

A little clue to see if your changing oil often enough. The next time the oil is changed, pull the stick and look at how clean it is right away. Then look again one week later. The oil should not have darkened from picking up deposits in that period of time. The oil in my 100,000 mile Explorer does not start to darken until I hit the 3000 mark of each oil change. I usually don't let it run far over that point.


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

I found this opinion on another site regarding the oil gel settlement. This poster makes a lot of sense.

*******************************

Saturday, December 09, 2006





fight them - meckstroth v. toyota 2.0
Current mood: awake


Oil Gel Settlement Information Line

may i please have your first and last born


Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc. wants to make it difficult for their customers (er, consumers) to get repairs and/or reimbursement for their cars because of the faulty engines. The motor types: 5S-FE four cylinder and 1MZ-FE V-6, were installed in certain Toyota and Lexus vehicles* from 1997 to 2002. These engines are considered to be predisposed to "oil gel" or more directly, sludge.

"Oil gel is a thick, gummy substance that impedes operation of the engine, causes damage to engine parts, and can, in some [just about all] cases, require engine replacement."

The company, Poorman-Douglas, was appointed / hired as a "neutral" third party to disseminate information about the nationwide class action lawsuit and settlement for Meckstroth v. Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc. el al. And to do so they mailed 7.5 million notification letters to those who own or have owned, lease or have leased one of the qualifying** cars.

Subsequently Toyota, class counsel for the plaintiff (Meckstroth), and Poorman-Douglas set up a call center to field questions about the matter. This was a way to let Toyota customers know about the problem, the lawsuit and the potential settlement. In actuality it worked more like a shield for Toyota. Call center workers were trained to say as little as possible and to transfer callers to Toyota / Lexus customer experience operators. Who had the ability to interpret settlement wording like "maintain reasonable maintenance."

As early as 2002, after Sarah and Jeff Meckstroth won an arbitration for their denied warranty claim on a 1999 Lexus, Toyota Motor Sales USA started the Customer Support Program to help deal with the oil gel problem, which they refused to admit was caused by their engines.

The problem with this was Toyota did not do enough to let the other car owners know about the CSP, causing most of them to go beyond its eight-year period allowance. Many Toyota and Lexus owners were forced to sell or trade in their cars at a steeply discounted price because they could not afford to repair or replace the engine after it was damaged by oil gel.

And so know that the letters have gone out, and most owners are hearing about the CSP for the first time, anyone with a 1997, 1998, or 1999 that was first sold in 1998, are outside of the eight-year period allowed for repair / reimbursement by the program.

And although one of the allegations of the Meckstroth class action is Toyota's failure to describe the benefits of the CSP to their customers, the settlement as proposed does nothing to make up for the situation no extensions or exceptions are being allowed by Toyota.

The settlement if given final approval at the Fairness Hearing on February 7, 2007 by the 24th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson, State of Louisiana, 200 Derbigny Street, Gretna, Louisiana allows Toyota to get out of this without even admitting guilt for having manufactured the faulty engines and blocks class members from bringing any further actions.

The settlement is really only equitable to the Meckstroths, their lawyers, and Toyota. The general class members seem to be getting the short end. They have had access to the Customer Support Program without this settlement, and can exclude themselves from it and still get CSP benefits if their car is within the eight-year period. So the only advantage to remaining a class member is the right to have any denied reimbursement claim reviewed by a neutral third party: Special Master J. Robert Ates. But the amount of maintenance records and repair documents required is unrealistic.

I think the best thing to do if you own one of the cars that's outside the CSP, is to exclude (opt-out) yourself from this settlement and join or start another lawsuit.

*Vehicles included in settlement


MAKE

MODEL

YEAR

Toyota

Camry 4cyl.

1997-2001

Toyota

Camry 6 cyl

1997-2002

Toyota

Solara 4 cyl.

1999-2001

Toyota

Solara 6 cyl.

1999-2002

Toyota

Sienna 6 cyl.

1998-2002

Toyota

Avalon 6 cyl.

1997-2002

Toyota

Celica 4 cyl.

1997-1999

Toyota

Highlander 6 cyl.

2001-2002

Lexus

ES300

1997-2002

Lexus

RX300

1991-2002


**Qualifying Cars

Toyota/Lexus has agreed to continue and enhance the CSP, to describe its features in a settlement agreement, and also to make them known in a "glove box notice" that was mailed to vehicle owners and lessees and which is available at the website. The CSP and the settlement:

Covers engine repairs and incidental damages due to engine oil gel for eight (8) years [no extension] from the date of first sale or lease of a vehicle with no mileage limitation, as long as you have made reasonable efforts [not defined in settlement] to maintain the vehicle.




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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

Easier way. Quit trying to save $60 per year on oil at the risk of sacrificing the engine. Change the d*mn oil and stop worrying about it.


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

Wouldn't be the first class-action suit that ended with consumers (the "class") getting a mere pittance while the lawyers and defendant walked away with lots o' $$ ...


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

Your mother would be wise not to assume that her oil changes, even if done every 3,000 miles or every 3 months, will prevent the occurrence of Toyota engine oil sludge. There have been many Toyota owner accounts of engine oil sludge even with every 3,000 mile oil changes. Some have used synthetic oil exclusively and have not been able to prevent sludge formation. Toyota engine oil sludge does not discriminate;-)

The class action lawsuit fails to address the models and model years not covered under Toyota's CSP. It does not address the owners who have long ago traded in their Toyotas when Toyota said that the problem was all their fault. This lawsuit does not protect those Toyota owners whose engines threw a rod through the engine block for no apparent reason. This lawsuit doesn't address the Toyota engines that have spontaneously combusted while on the road! It does not extend the coverage of the CSP to protect those who don't drive their vehicles many miles in a year's time.

Toyota has blamed the owners from day one. Dealerships have accused owners of lying about the oil change intervals or falsifying oil change records! Toyota says the information which proves this is an owner maintenance issue is "proprietary." How so? Is this just a smokescreen behind which the company is hiding?

What is causing my oil analyses to show "abnormal oil condition" no matter what the oil change interval is? Why is the TBN so low? Why is the oil so nitrated at 5,000 miles on the oil? After all the automaker's recommended oil change interval is 5,000-7,500 miles. What is causing the oil to breakdown prematurely? What is creating the conditions that lead to Toyota engine oil sludge?

Consumers would be wise to send Toyota a certified letter to notify it should sludge develop. Toyota owners should file online reports with the Center for Auto Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They should post accounts of their engine problems on automotive discussion forums and/or car survey sites. Consumers need to network to protect their rights. Far too much information remains hidden or very hard to find. For instance, the Toyota CSP information was front and center in April 2002, but soon after this same information became buried deep within Toyota's own website. Sites where consumers were discussing this matter have been hacked. Some discussions have been closed by moderators (e.g. CarSpace at Edmund's). On still other sites, discussion is being manipulated by those wishing to protect the corporate interests. Consumer Generated Media on Toyota engine oil suldge continues and it also continues to be the target of those want to stop it!

Charlene Blake
cblake@erols.com
Toyota Owners Unite for Resolution: Toyota Engine Oil Sludge


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

What I don't understand is why would they be sending these out now. How long is the waranty on these vehicles for? 5 years tops I would think. If this is for up to 2002 models the waranty ran out so I don't see how they couls have lawsuits on them? Or am I missing something here? Don't make sence to sue after the waranty is over.


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

I own a 1998 Camry that I bought used. In Nov. 2003 I had to replace the motor. I received the notice of settlement in Nov. 2006. Since I don't have service records from the previous owner is there any use for me to try to get compensated?


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

Wow, I just sat here and read post after post blaming the lawyers for this Toyota produced problem. I read one post praising Toyota for handling this so much better than Ford or VW. Some even chastised people for not taking the initiative on their own to just change the oil sooner than poor Toyota recommends. I read "consumer report" after "consumer report" saying these cars are the best of the best.

Real answer: Toyota stuck it to everyone who owns one of these millions of tainted cars. Don't blame lawyers, don't blame the little old ladies who change their oil in a timely manner as suggested by Toyota, and don't praise Toyota for "handling things better than other auto producers." Blame Toyota, since it was Toyota that produced several million garbage engines. And don't forget to tell the truth the next time you get a questionnaire in the mail asking about your Toyota.

Final thought to ponder: The worst maintenance record of any GM vehicle right now is the Pontiac Vibe. You know, the car made for GM by Toyota.


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

Strange, this "oil sludge" problem.
Not one word as to the oil itself !!
Maybe the additive package is no good. But this is only a silly guess..but it should be looked into....

And why is it that not all engines are affected ?

A whole lot more intelligent investigation is necessary before drawing any conclusion..
The lawyers must be kept out of this.
Also the marketers are the ones who push the long oil change drain intervals.
They too should stay out of this...
Note, too, that the hard working high performance four cylinder that seems to be involved in this oil-sludge dilemma, but not the cooler running 6 or 8 cylinder engine....
Why ??
If I were to receive a notice of this sort, I would go to the dealer for an explanation..at least they should be given the chance, even those with a bad reputation......


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

Good points all around earthworm.

IMO, the so called problem is due to extended oil changes in combination with vehicle operation in less than favorable conditions to do that, and perhaps to a small extent, some characteristic of the motor, hot spots, cold spots, something like that. I tend to call BS on the sludge issue, particularly when someone says it happened while using synthetic oil. Seen sludged up engines first hand. It's paraffin layered on engine parts or clogging the oil pickup screen. In my experience it was due to the engine never getting up to operating temperature and/or overly contaminated due to moisture and not getting changed often enough. There's no paraffin in synthetic oil. Without the paraffin, what's there to make the sludge? I have a feeling that most of the people screaming about sludge wouldn't know what it was if someone dumped a shovel full in their lap. The issue gets $500 per hour lawyers something to generate their wages for a few months. jmo


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

Don't blame lawyers, don't blame the little old ladies who change their oil in a timely manner as suggested by Toyota, and don't praise Toyota for "handling things better than other auto producers." Blame Toyota, since it was Toyota that produced several million garbage engines.

It's faint praise. Fact is that Ford and Firestone played legalistic volleyball for months trying to avoid the blame for the Explorer rollover problems. VW's failed coil packs (a problem they, too, initially denied) stranded customers and their inability to source replacement parts left them stranded. By comparison, the Toyota sludging problem does not leave customers dead or stuck by the side of the road. There is a difference.


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

**It's faint praise. Fact is that Ford and Firestone played legalistic volleyball for months trying to avoid the blame for the Explorer rollover problems.**

Just curious, would you attribute any blame to the owners of these short wheel base 4x4 vehicles who were driving them like it was a Ferrarri? The tires weren't so bad, not great, but not bad. They'd fail if underinflated (per ford recommendation) and operated at high speed in high temperatures. An explorer isn't made to be an 80 mph vehicle no matter what for tires it has.


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

would you attribute any blame to the owners of these short wheel base 4x4 vehicles who were driving them like it was a Ferrarri?

Sure, some. Folks tend to forget they're driving trucks. But people drive lots of SUVs like they were sports cars, and the Explorers with Firestones on 'em were the ones doing turtle imitations at a level far higher than anyone else's. There had to be something else to it.


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

Today's cars (starting in 2007 all of them) have tire pressure monitor systems built into them. Some systems are passive taking advantage of the wheel speed sensors. Some are an active system with sensors in each tire that report the tire pressure, but are a basic system that will simply report a low tire, but not it's location.

Then we have some that have fully active systems that not only report if a tire's pressure is out of spec high or low, but which tire needs attention.

The reason we have these? NHTSA decided the real blame wasn't Ford or Firestone, but the average driver failing to properly maintain his/her car and negligently driving on underinflated tires. Underinflated tires have much more friction both with the road, and in the tires sidewall from flexing. Combine high ambient temperatures, high road surface temperatures, low tire pressures and high speeds and you will get a tire failure. Now add an inexperienced/suprised driver that over-reacts and the chances of a roll over accident go even higher.

As far as back to the original subject of this post. I have fourteen customers with Toyota's from the "alledged" group. NONE OF THEM, not a single one is experiencing any sludging issues. I also own a car from the alledged, affected group. At 70,000+ it also is not experiencing any problems. The oil when I drain it is just starting to darken , but is still translucent. Drain intervals average 3300 miles, 4 months. (Easily confirmed by service records for the entire group)

If anyone is so sure it's Toyota's fault, how do you explain zero failures in what amounts to a control group? BTW, nothing fancy being done here. No Synthetic oils, no additives, just the correct oil, and top of the line filters, and the old if it's not broken don't try to fix it 3mo/3000mile recommendation.


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

"If anyone is so sure it's Toyota's fault, how do you explain zero failures in what amounts to a control group?"

Why is it Toyota's fault? Because Toyota made the engines! People are using this Toyota problem as a forum to mention a Ford tire problem. My neighborhood had a dozen people with Ford Explorers, let's call that a "control group." None of them rolled-over and died. So,how do you explain that?

My semi-educated mechanic mind tells me that the thin spots in the engine super-heat the oil when the car is in "gridlock" traffic or other slow moving conditions. Watch your temperature gauge rise when you are in traffic. Or, put a load on the cars, call on some good old fashioned torque out of that Toyota engine and watch the temp rise and smell that tranny fluid burn. I suspect these are the type of conditions where the Toyota engines fail.

Finally, whatever happened to treating your customers right? Toyota should have recalled and fixed this problem; instead, victims now need to hire lawyers (don't get me wrong, I don't like lawyers either) and form a class action lawsuit. Check how many times any of the Japanese automakers pull voluntary recalls. Like Microsoft, they throw their product out on the market and keep their fingers crossed. This time they got bit. At least Microsoft sends out patches to fix their "oopses." So anyone on this post (especially those of you that know nothing of motors) who supports Toyota in this case need to worry less about Fords and more about getting back some of that money you grossly overpaid Toyota for that inferior product.


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

To those searching for more on the Toyota engine oil sludge or gel matter, please see the following links:

http://www.toyotaoilgel.com
http://www.uc2.blogspot.com
http://www.autosafety.org

Follow "toyotasludge" on Twitter.com
Watch the Toyota Sludge video on YouTube.com at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fs7WI2s-CVw

If you have blue/white smoke from the exhaust, especially on start up; check engine light on; excess oil consumption or sudden disappearance of engine oil; failed emissions control components such as the oxygen sensor or catalytic converter; a thrown engine piston rod; or complete engine failure, then be on alert!

Notify Toyota via CERTIFED letter with return receipt requested about your problem and ask for full repair coverage under Toyotas Customer Support Program for Engine Oil Gelation.

Speak up loudly online if Toyota refuses to honor this program or continues to blame you in the wake of proper vehicle maintenance.

If Toyota is totally unresponsive in the wake of a failed engine due to engine oil sludge build up, consider going to the following web sites to voice your concern:

http://www.ConsumerAffairs.com
http://www.RipOffReport.com

Regardless of the Toyota response, be sure to file online vehicle owner complaints at:

http://www.autosafety.org The Center for Auto Safety
http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/ The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Just to make it clear, the Toyota engine oil sludge problemthe one that has attracted so many defamers to follow me around the internetis STILL a problem. There are many later model Toyota models showing signs of the same problem. What is worse, Toyota owners are reporting continued deception at Toyota and Toyota dealerships. Far too many Toyota owners are being told they do not qualify for the CSP repair cost coverage for one reason or another. Still other Toyota model owners who have sludged engines are being asked to pay thousands in repair costs despite proper vehicle maintenance.

This is wrong!

Toyota Owners Unite for Resolution

Charlene Blake
cblake@erols.com
charleneblake@cox.net

Here is a link that might be useful: Toyota Owners Unite for Resolution


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

Remember this quote "As far as back to the original subject of this post. I have fourteen customers with Toyota's from the "alleged" group. NONE OF THEM, not a single one is experiencing any sludging issues. I also own a car from the alleged, affected group. At 70,000+ it also is not experiencing any problems. The oil when I drain it is just starting to darken , but is still translucent. Drain intervals average 3300 miles, 4 months. (Easily confirmed by service records for the entire group)"

My list of regular customers with vehicles in the so called "effective" group is actually larger than I mentioned. The number of oil sludge related failures though is still "0".

Since that original posting a lubrication expert has weighed in with information that does help explain the issue, and it has to do with a reduced PCV system flow that when people over-extend the service life of the oil creates a situation where the failure (the oil sludge) is prone to develop. My daughters car is well over 100K, with absolutely NO SLUDGE of any kind developing. This failure is no different than any other oil sludge related failure that can, and could occur on any automobile engine. Oil should be checked regularly, added to when needed, and changed more often if it ages too quickly than the recommended intervals that would be quoted by every Tom, Dick, or Harry that think they know more than real technicians do.

People who take care of their cars correctly should start a class action suit against the ones who do not for causing the manufactures undue expenses, which get passed onto the people in the form of higher prices who maintain their vehicles. It isn't Toyota that ultimately pays for the cars that get repairs beyond the warranty period, its Toyota's customers who pay. JMHO


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RE: Oil Gel - Class Action Settlement - Toyota

...People who take care of their cars correctly should start a class action suit against the ones who do not for causing the manufactures undue expenses, which get passed onto the people in the form of higher prices who maintain their vehicles. It isn't Toyota that ultimately pays for the cars that get repairs beyond the warranty period, its Toyota's customers who pay. JMHO

I totally agree. Had the same BS issue around our Dodge Durango years ago. Some had others thinking they had a sludge problem when they had no clue what sludge is or how it's formed. 9 years and 120k miles, mine's clean as a whistle. Change oil when needed and there will be no issues. Don't change it often enough and you will have issues. It's as simple as that.

How does one start a class action against bone head owners who wreck their own cars then sue the manufacturer? I'd like to get in on that one. : )


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