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Oil Gelling Potential - 2002 Toyota Solara - 6 cyl engine

I just recently purchased a used 2002 Toyota Solara convertible - SLE V6 model. It has 112,000. The owner was a female real estate agent in Jax FL who took excellent care of the car. Did all the regularly scheduled maintenance - I have the receipts.

I plan to keep this car for several yrs - including passing it down to my 13 yr old when he comes of driving age. My concern is that this v-6 engine was identified by toyota for having the potential for oil gelling / sludge. Even though I don’t see any blue smoke - or - a poorly running engine - I am fearful that it will eventually do it - regardless of how well I take care of it. I understand that this problem is being covered by toyota for 8 years beyond the purchase date - so that gives me about 6 months left of warranty if anything happens.

Can anyone share some comments on this issue.

thanks - Dan

Toyota fixed the problem sometime around 2002, so you should verify if your engine is subject to gelling.

All you need to do is to pull a valve cover to see if any gelling has started.

If there is no gelling, just change your oil every 5000 miles with dyno oil (per the revised recommendations by Toyota), and you’ll be fine. You can use synthetic and it will reduce your gelling risk, but we’ve gone over 150,000 miles on our Toyota V6 (with the gel-prone engine) and we’ve had no problem changing the oil per Toyota’s recommendation of every 5K with dyno oil.

PS: Back when this problem became public, Toyota offered to have their dealers pull a valve cover to see if an engine had begun to gel and sludge. We brought ours to our local dealer. They pulled the valve cover and said it definitely had sludge and they wanted to rebuild the engine for me (under warranty). It was obvious to me they were just hungry for work, because the parts looked fairly clean to me. I decided to not have them tear apart the engine. That was 120,000 miles ago. Never had a problem.

The sludge problem has been resolved and I don’t think this engine is within the years Toyota had the problem…If it is…and sludging hasn’t occurred…to prevent it from happening…change you oil every 3k miles…or 5k with synthetic. I suggest using full synthetic since it resists sludging far better then conventional motor oil.

If there’s no evidence of sludge at 112K miles, I suggest you follow the maintenance schedule just like the former owner did, and don’t worry about it.

As others have suggested, synthetic oil might be worth the extra money in this application, but I would not extend the oil change past what the factory recommends.

If you change the oil every 5,000 miles, this should not be an issue. I do the maintenance on my mother’s 2002 Sienna, and this hasn’t been an issue. Just keep a close eye on the oil and make sure it gets changed on time with a quality brand name oil. Any brand of non-synthetic oil will do.

You may want to combine the check for sludge (pulling a valve cover) with other items - has the timing belt/water pump been changed? Does it leak a little oil (the v6 often does from the valve cover gaskets)? Is it time for plugs (if so, they’ll likely remove the intake plenum, making it easier to replace the rear valve cover gasket)? This isn’t cheap, but it may save some $$ to do it all at once. Just make sure they don’t double charge you for labor.

I would strongly suggest that the OP choose any oil that meets or exceeds the specifications in the owner’s manual. I seem to recall they specified synthetic for this car. That does not change even if you change the oil ever 1,000 miles.

Thanks for your response and advice. Are the toyota shops still checking valve cover gaskets for free ? Is this still the most dependable way to be certain ? How will I know if they are telling the truth ? If toyota is paying to repair / replace engines under warranty - why would they not claim it to be bad ?

They specify synthetic oil for a 2002 Camry Solara? If you are right, that is new to me.