2009 Toyota Camry oil leak

Hi Ray, love your column - I’ve learned a lot! My car has just under 114K miles and has started using oil - I’ve had to add 3 quarts in the last 4K miles. Toyota has a Warranty Policy Bulletin that covers my car for an excessive oil usage problem. Took it to the dealer - said they would do a usage test but first I would have to fix a couple of oil leaks. I’ve never had any oil dripping, etc, so I was surprised to learn that there were leaks. Here’s the list: oil pan replacement $550, valve cover $239, timing cover leak $1,416. I’ve never even heard of a “timing cover” leak - but my questions are: would these things just start leaking all of a sudden, why would I have not had any oil leak spots in my garage and do you think it’s worth spending $2K to fix them? Oh, and do you think these leaks (if legitimate) would be the cause of the oil usage? Thanks so much for your answer!

here’s what’s probably going on . . .

Yes, there is a warranty extension for your engine, because it’s known to potentially consume a large amount of oil. The problem is on the bottom end . . .

Anyways, in those documents, I believe it states that there can’t be any external oil leaks, before an oil consumption test is begun. that is standard procedure for pretty much all manufacturers

You’re not seeing any oil spots on your garage floor, because those components are seeping or sweating. The whole thing is the wording . . .

Ask to speak to the service manager and ask to see evidence of these leaks. Tell them to put your car on the hoist and point out the leaks. Right there, with the car in the air and everybody standing there, ask the service manager again why they won’t start the oil consumption test.

My gut tells me all these components don’t even account for 1/2qt over the last 4k miles. Probably less.

From a legal standpoint your in a tough spot, because the dealer has legitimate reasons written down why they can’t . . . yet . . . start the oil consumption test

Let us know what happens, please


Yet another reason why I do not trust business people in general. I understand protecting your business but there’s also admitting responsibility.
So, let me get this straight, the OP has to fix the other leaks on the vehicle Toyota sold because the gaskets Toyota used weren’t good enough to prevent the leaks so that the OP can do a test to determine the oil consumption on the engine that Toyota made. I know it’s a clunky sentence, but it still sounds ridiculous to me.
If Toyota and the dealer was interested in finding the problem, the oil consumption test could be run with an allowance for the previously discovered leaks. If the dealer service department is the “expert” on these vehicles as they claim, they should be able to estimate an allowance for the leaks.

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Clean the engine off and go to another dealer?

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It’s a 10 year old car with over 100,000 miles on it. Gaskets aren’t made of magic forever-sealing fairy dust you know. They will leak eventually.


sounds similar to other thread where car did not burn/leak oil up until 130k miles. and than “used” 3-4 qts in the next 7k miles and ruined motor since no oil was left. does this camry not burn oil for 110k miles and suddenly start using 1qt/1k miles a 111k miles?

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I’ll bet you guys lunch all those gaskets which were mentioned are merely seeping or sweating, so to speak

I feel the zone rep, regional manager, or whatever he’s called, should come see the car and use some common sense, if he’s allowed to. Those guys typically aren’t idiots and have some authority. He’d probably take one look at the engine and say “There’s no way these sweating gaskets are responsible for 3qts in 4k miles.” And then he would hopefully instruct the dealer mechanic to perform the oil consumption test.

Erm. No. But @boilerengtn (who is not the OP) was blaming Toyota for using poor-quality gaskets because they’re seeping, after a decade and 100k miles. I was responding specifically to the idea that a gasket which leaks after so much time automatically means the car was built poorly.

If OP hasn’t observed any oil spots on the floor of the garage, and no smoke coming from the engine compartment, it seems difficult to believe any oil leaks – and most 9 year old cars have oil leaks – could account for enough oil to cause a noticeable increase in oil consumption. The advice above to seek out someone at the dealership with better common-sense to assess the situation. The dealership can’t be responsible for oil leaks on a car that age, so that’s the purpose of what they are saying; but imo they shouldn’t use that as a way to divert the attention away from what may be an actual problem they need to solve for their customer. Especially if oil consumption is a known problem on this engine. I’ll add that if the oil consumption is 3 qts per 4000 miles, imo that isn’t overly excessive to the point anything needs to be done other than monitoring the situation.

Your engine uses a chain driven with sprockets to synchronize the valves to the pistons, and that all has to be well oiled. Oil would spray all over the engine compartment from the chain going 'round and 'round if it was out in the open, so the chain is enclosed using a piece of metal called a “timing cover”. It is bolted to the engine, with a gasket in between the cover and where it is bolted. That gasket eventually leaks.

I would suggest going to another shop (even an independent) and ask them to inspect for oil leaks. Ask them if once they have the car on the rack to take you out into the shop and point out any potential trouble spots.

This particular car seems to have an abnormal number of oil leaks if the diagnosis is to be believed. Pointing the finger for a minute, I could suggest that with an oil useage complaint maybe someone saw an opportunity to sell some “oil leak repairs” which would be fixed with a few cans of aerosol carb cleaner. Just sayin’…

Toyota uses poor quality gaskets? Not in this universe…

That is unfortunate, all of those leaks will be resealed when the pistons and rings are replaced. Those type of oil leaks generally amount to only a few ounces per thousand miles. I would clean the oil stains from the engine and try a different dealer.

BTW Toyota engines leak as much as any other engine. Last week I had a 2012 RX350 in to inspect for an oil leak. The timing chain cover was leaking, rather messy but out of warranty, the customer declined the repair.

My criticism was not on the quality of the gaskets. Minor leakage is to be expected after a period of time and is not detrimental to the car’s performance. My criticism is the no-external-leakage requirement for running the consumption test. I do not understand why the OP has to spend $2K to fix something that is performing as expected in order to run this test. I would think that an “expert” could include a reasonable leak rate for the gaskets in the test.