Blue smoke from Toyota Sienna

I have a 1999 Toyota Sienna, about 130 K miles. I went about 5K miles without an oil change recently, and the oil did get below the low mark on the dipstick. I’ve since changed the oil and filter.

Shortly before the oil change, one day the engine started putting lots of blue smoke out the exhaust. This seemed to happen overnight, or nearly, as i never noticed smoke before.

I took it to a Toyota dealer, who said that I have sludge, and offered two options: install a used engine ($5200), take off and replace the short block ($7400).

I did a little research on sludge, and decided to try Seafoam. I added half a pint to the new oil, and half a pint to a full tank of gas.

When I poured it onto the running engine, where one puts in oil, I was amazed. I noticed an immediate decrease in the noise level of the engine, about 20%. Smoke keeps coming out of the exhaust now after every overnight rest, but none at all when the engine is warm. There has been no overheating, and everything else is working great.

The only problem is this blue smoke coming out every time we start it in the morning. I thought the Seafoam was burning out the sludge, which I think it did, but the engine is still putting out this blue smoke when starting in the morning, and for a few minutes until warm up.

My question: does this mean my engine is on its way out? Has there been ring wear or something that happened very suddenly, that causes the cylinders to accumulate a bit of oil when the car engine rests, and is that what is causing the blue smoke?

Question two: do any of these oil additives such as “No Smoke” work?


Get a second opinion. Blue smoke on early morning startup usually means bad valve seals but not always. Sludge can cause oil to remain under the valve cover(s) and not drain back properly. When this happens no valve seal in the world can keep the oil out of the combustion chamber. Have another mechanic remove the valve cover(s) to check out the engine. I think you can save a lot of money if you have your engine checked out. A second opinion is warranted in this case.

Have you changed out the oil that had the SeaFoam treatment yet? If not, do an oil change and see if it still smokes with the fresh oil.

At 130K miles a bit of blue smoke at start up isn’t going to shake me up much. Just monitor your oil consumption, a quart every 2K miles or less is just fine. The mfg will say a quart or less every 1K miles is OK. As long as you are not using excessive oil just drive on.

If you have to pass any emissions testing and the car fails then I’d be forced to do something. Short of that just keep driving.

I Like The Worn / Aged Valve Stem Seal Theory. Can You Get It To Smoke By Letting It Idle For Several Minutes And Then Accelerating ?

The catalyst, after it gets hot might just burn up most the oil before it gets out the tailpipe.

I don’t think I’d be thinking about dropping any kind of engine into an 11 or 12 year-old car with 130,000 miles and more by the day. Drive it the way it is. Look at the advice that was given previously.

This car could run like this for quite some time, months and months, even years.

One of these days you’ll have to sit down and have one those reality checks. I myself try and drive cars forever, but they never do. Start coming up with ideas for the time down the road when the old van puffs its last puff of burning oil.

Until then, drive it, save up some money, and enjoy not having car payments.

Record Man, Has anybody mentioned PCV valve ?
One thing you could try is to replace the PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve and also make sure that all the plumbing for it is not restricted along the whole system, especially if you suspect sludge ! It’s got to breathe !


Thank you, Missileman,
Id does warrant a third opinion (got two already, and no-one pulled the valve cover). I’d pull it myself if I thought I would be able to tell if a seal, or all have gone bad. The only thing that causes me to question this theory is that it happened so fast (the smoke). It seemed like it was a matter of days. Would low oil or dirty oil have caused something like that to happen so quickly?
Thanks for your advice,

Thanks, UncleTurbo,
I have not changed the Seafoam treated oil yet, as it has only a few hundred miles on it. I am not sure if the guy who did my oil change used high mileage oil or not, and that might help. Thanks for the advice.

Thanks, common sense. It does run pretty clean after it warms up. I don’t plan on dropping any big money into it, and as long as it’s not overheating or losing power, I’ll probably drive it into the ground. No need for reality checks here, though. I also drive a 1990 Volvo DL with 285,000 miles on it, original engine, no smoke. This is a car that you CAN drive forever, apparently. Every other owner of an early model DL (I think they started to make them in 1990) that I meet also has more than twice the mileage of your average car. This one was treated really well at the beginning, and it has paid off. The original owners probably spent twice the price of the car on maintenance alone, according to the records I got. This car was also driven in 3rd gear at highway speeds for many months, but the transmission and engine survived it all without a complaint!
I also drive an 87 Dodge Ram that just hauls monster loads of fire wood without complaining, and is as trustworthy as the day is long. So - I guess I am a “drive it forever” guy!
Believe me, I’m enjoying the lack of car payments.
I did buy a new PVC valve but haven’t figured out where it is yet on the engine, and the Volvo manual is no help. I’ll get to it though, and that may do something good.

Record Man, Do Make Sure That The Hose / Tubing Connected To The PCV Valve Is Clear For Its Entire Length And Not Sludged Or Restricted.


I recommend Auto-rx for this ( It cured my fogging 3.0 Mitsubishi and got rid of an odd HLA tick deal. I didn’t have sludge, but it works there too. The advantage is that it does it slow. Not like a fast acting solvent where you can get some land slide and clog the screen. It’s ester based chemistry wants to bond with metal. The main carrier ester is a POE (polyolester) like Red Line oil.

Just to add to the above,

I have a 98 Camry that started putting out a little blue smoke on startup 4 years ago. I’d wager near half of 4 cylinder Toyotas of that age I see put out a nice little puff of blue smoke on startup. The driver would almost never notice it is so small… But for our family, the cause has ALWAYS been leaking valve stem seals.

The nice thing is that high-mileage oil has always worked for me. I don’t insist on full synthetic, but since I’ve switched to using Valvoline High Mileage, Mobil Clean 7500, or Mobil Clean High Mileage, I’ve noticed that the smoke pretty much never shows up and oil loss between changes is minimal (the spare quart I keep in the trunk lasts over a year).

Since you posted about a Toyota Sienna I’m not surprised that a Volvo manual didn’t help. If your valve guides are worn the oil that pools atop the cylinder head drains down the guides overnight.

If the engine does have sludge (which this engine is noted for)…then do NOT remove it quickly…It could KILL the engine. What happens when sludge is removed quickly…is sometimes large pieces of sludge dislodge and clog up the screen for the oil pump…this will block oil from circulating the engine.

I suggest you remove it slowly…Change the oil every 2k miles. I also suggest replacing 1 quart of oil with 1 quart of Rislone. This will remove the sludge slowly. It may take 5-10 oil changes. But when done the engine will be nice and clean.

I had the same problem with my Avalon, and I dont think you will solve your problem with additives

My 2001 Avalon, at 125000 miles, was throwing a cloud of bluish white smoke from the tail pipe on start up and I was losing a lot of oil and there was a tapping noise fron the top of the engine. My mechanic determined that the oil was leaking from the cam shaft seal(s) and from the rear valve cover. He removed the front valve cover and confirmed that the engine was heavily sludged. His diagnosis was that there was enough sludge in the drains from the top of the engine to the sump that the oil couldnt flow freely back to the sump and that the pcv valve was plugged up with sludge; pressure was building at the top of the engine pushing oil past the valve seals to the combustion chambers (white smoke) and out any ‘weak spot’ in the seals (valve cover and cam shaft). He suggested that I sell the car and the problem immediately (before the engine blew up) that to fix it was more than it was worth. I confirmed that with the local toyoto dealer. Their solution was to pull the engine and take it completely apart, clean everything and put it back together. Assuming that I didnt need too much in the way of new parts they estimated $4000.

Then I read this:

I convinced my mechanic to do what was suggested in that article. He did (with some modifications) and now the car runs like new again.

What he did was to mechaniclly remove any of the sludge he could get to with the valve covers removed using a screwdriver and shop vac, paying particular care to see that the drain holes were open. He then filled the engine to the top) with diesel fuel and let it soak for a day or so to disolve any remaining sludge. Then he removed and cleaned the sump. The valve covers and the oil pump intake and screen were also soaked in solvent and cleaned. He put it all back together, with new camshaft seals, new timing belt water pump and valve cover gaskets and a new pcv valve, new oil and filter

By the way this cost me $1500 (400 in parts 1100 labor) I think I got a deal

I also use the Auto-Rx product mentioned in another comment, but more as a preventative measure

Hey Ron ! You’re Beating All Our Dead Horses ! This Is Another March Question That You’ve Brought Back From The Dead !

Where were you in March when we needed you ? These ships have sailed.


Ron, thanks for your detailed posting and solution. Although the “Common Sense Answer” guy may not have thought it was timely, the info you posted will help me now and others for years to come. Hopefully CSA is still adrift on some sailboat!