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Sludge in oil filter

My daughter brought her 2014 Camry (I-4) to me today for an oil change. It has 40k on it. The first two were done by dealer under the free maintenance program at 10 and 20k. I did one at 25 and 30k. She was supposed to bring it to me at 37.5k but didn’t until the maintenance light came on.

Anyway the oil didn’t look bad, just a dark caramel color, but when I dumped the oil filter element from its housing, I noticed a layer of sludge on the inside of the filter canister. It wasn’t terribly thick, just a coating and it was pretty thin as sludge goes. It wiped out easily.

Is this normal to have some sludge inside the oil filter or has Toyota still not fixed the sludge issue? I’m going to have her bring it back at 45k for another oil change and I will check the filter canister again for sludge.

BTW, this was the first time I bothered to check the inside of the canister or clean it out.

Just changed oil yesterday and didn’t bother looking at the filter. At 3000 miles it should be pretty good. I change the Acura at 5000 though. I just don’t like extended oil changes so I’d put her on a 5000 mile routine.

Incidentally like I said before, when the dealer did my key fobs, they said I had a bad oil leak at the rear seal and possibly starting at the front seal. I had another shop check it out and nothing. At any rate when I changed oil at 4 months and 3000 miles, I was down exactly 1 pint. So much for a bad oil leak. Remains to be seen if they were just incompetent or dishonest, but I’m not dummy.

Weird. When I was a youngin’ the exact same thing happened to me except back then it was a 1972 Dodge Coronet Custom, and you know what Custom stood for. That usually mneant that the car was a completely stripped down version of what it was without all the extras-. Extras! Like a damned radio! Dad, you may recall those times.
Anyways, what we were told to do by our awesome mechanic–you don’t see them anymore. This guy was an elderly grizzled fellow with a cigarette hanging from his lip and an old half lame German Shepherd laying on the store’s front porch that was one of the sweetest “junk yard dogs” I’ve ever known. You had to step over him to get into the place, but he didn’t mind a bit as long as you patted his head when you passed.Once you got into the repair area, it was a hurricane toos of tools and parts, new and used, thrown everywhere, all of them covered with grease. But Jack knew where every single item was, at all times. His son worked under him and couldn’t screw on a tire bolt straight but Jack was possibly the best mechanic I have ever known. He was also one of those rare breeds who didn’t mind helping out a down-on-their-luck person. When the car threw a rod–that’s how we found out about the "sludge"in the engine–he knew we were a young couple just strating out with very little of our own and charged us a whopping $7 labor to replace that rod. Even back then that was dirt cheap. I always wondered how he came up with the number seven for a price…
Anyways, what he told us to do is to change the oil, without fail, every 1,000 or less miles for the next five or six changes. He made sure to press the "don’t skip and wait until 2 or 3 thousand every now and then. If we did as we were told, it should clean it out, and the car should run alright afterwards.
Well,Jack was right.We traded that Dodge Custom in four years later and it still ran well. By then we both had full time work and a new house and were well on our way. I like to think that a lot of that had to do with what Jack did for us (And the did that several times over those early years.) The only reason we got rid of it is because little things began to go, and those little things start to add up, it’s time to buy a new (or newer) car. So we got almost what we paid for it and bought a brand new 1979 Diplomat, two-door, six cylinder, with a landau vinyl roof, A/C, an AM/FM stereo radio with two front and one rear speaker! We got it at a steal cuz that was the year Chrysler was going bankrupt and Lee Iococca came to the rescue.
They also make a whole lot of additives that are allegedly designed to clean out your motor, but I’m still not fully sold, though I am getting closer to it. I’d do a bit of research on a few of the better ones and see what folks who have actually used them have to say. Sometimes they do some good even when you least expect it, or WHERE you least expect it at some other part of the engine or drive train.
So ideally, you should have them flush the system, but that would be a more expensive option. And I’d use the ‘high-mileage’ oil, with a low viscosity rating, maybe 5W-30, for at least a few of those oil changes. I know the car doesn’t has high mileage, but the oil probably was never changed. That’s where all that sludge probably came from. If it was changed or changed near its regular schedule, the build-up wouldn’t even be seen, not at 40 thousand miles. So the particulate matter flowing in and around all the parts inside that engine and the cylinders for all that time, never being changed and just getting worse and worse, has most likely done more harm than most 40 K mileage engines would see. But yeah, of the two, the flush out would be best but the do-it-yourself option sure as hell worked for me. I hope it works for your sweet daughter. Sounds like you’re a Dad who sincerely cares. That’s a great thing for a daughter. Take it from one who’d been there and knows. Good luck to you and her!

Is this with full synthetic?

This car is fairly low miles. Does it get used for quite a few short trips? Does it get up to operating temperature for a while every time it hits the road?

I’ll bet the Owner’s Manual has something to say about severe driving and more frequent service and perhaps it needs an oil change at least every 6 months.

What kind of climate does it operate in?

I remember cutting open a spin-on oil filter years ago and noticing a dark buildup on the side facing the exhaust pipe.

They were probably exagerrating minor seepage/sweating, hoping to drum up some business

That is standard procedure

My feeling is that during the next oil change a wire loop made from a piece of coat hanger should be used to scrape the bottom of the pan through the drain plug hole.

If the loop comes out sludgy looking then I’d want to look at the valve train next.

I have a 2012 Camry with 39000 miles and the oil has been changed every 7000 miles at maximum 1 year intervals with either Mobile 1 or Toyota synthetic 0W20 oils. No sludge in filter housing and oil has never become dark enough to be easy to read. Filter cartridges either Toyota or K&N.

@insightful yes, 0w20 full synthetic. Pennzoil full synthetic. I switched to Mobil 1 Fuel Economy this time.

@common_sense_answer Yes, short trips all city driving. This oil has been in all winter, mild climate in winter, low 90’s in summer. It does usually get up to operating temperature. Toyota calls for a 10k interval. We agreed to a 7.5k interval but she forgot this time. So 5k for the next one, then 7.5k after that. We’ve had a lot of success with Mobil 1 @ 7.5k intervals in the past.

@ok4450 I’ll try that. I may also remove the valve cover if I find any sludge in the filter next time.

what about using something like Mobile 1 Extended Protection one?

it is “real synthetic” and will not sludge as easily as “kinda synthetics” based on hydro-cracked base

not that expensive, Walmart, $25 / 5 qts now, although slightly more expensive usually

read about oil base-stocks and how oil industry makes hydro-cracked oils to be called “synthetics”

Mobil 1 EP is the same as regular Mobil 1 oils. It has added detergents so that it holds more contaminates over a longer time. It is also a blend of Group III (hydrocracked) and Group IV oils, just like the other Mobil 1 oils.

That’s unfortunate :frowning:
I’ve read some time before it is Group IV based oil

In this case I do not see much sense getting it over Valvoline SynPower for example

Some time in the past, I used to press more on accelerator and used to buy Amsoil for my cars… got lazy last 10 yrs or such, so here is some interesting comparison:

I’m not promoting Amsoil by posting it here, but rather use these comparison charts to point on other worty contenders when doing oil changes from what can be bought in local store. I kinda settled on Valvoline for myself, but here are many other worthy contenders based on tests, and Mobil 1 EP seems to be nowhere close to the top of the pack!

What was important to OP case:

still, I would not run to the store for Castrol, due to this:

I have always understood that even the most expensive synthetics have SOME group III oil blended in. The explanation was that this was required for the various additives to adequately blend with the rest of the oil as they won’t properly blend with a 100% synthetic oil.

I also know that the Europeans have a more stringent definition of what is considered a synthetic oil.

Funny. I’ve been using a group III synthetic but, must have had enough PAO in it. 94 Camry has over 160K and 00 Tundra has over 230K and neither one has any unusual engine noise, use any oil or had any engine issues. Change oil every 9K and oil filter 3K.

Send a sample to Blackstone or a competitor if you can find one, and find out what is happening to that oil for certain, instead of guessing.

Guessing is what most owners do, and that is not all bad, IMO. But, since you have a problem and aren’t sure what is going on, find out with a lab test.

Synthetic oil or not, you are brave, to be going 9K between oil changes on those vehicles you mentioned

I’m glad it’s worked out for you

I’m not condemning you, but I personally wouldn’t have made your choices

Your Camry engine was never designed for extended oil change intervals, and I’m fairly confident the same applies to your Tundra engine

Why are you changing the filter every 3K?

I get it. You’ve never been camping? Haven’t you ever applied deodorant twice between extended shower intervals? It’s the next best thing to actually cleaning. :wink:

If you think that’s bad. I had a 86 Ford Van with a 460 engine towing a 25ft Grady White totally approx. 18,000lbs and 87 Toyota 4X4 pickup that also went that far between oil changes. Like I said, you need to use a good quality synthetic with a higher percentage of PAO in it then some. Never had any issues with neither engines. When a head gasket went on the 87 Toyota pickup at 120,000 miles, the mechanic asked how often I changed my oil and was surprised at my response because he said the engine was so clean. Never seen a engine that clean with that many miles on it. One thing I learned years ago and that’s being cheap on you vehicle and you lose. I have worked in the auto industry for many years before I retired and learned a lot about lubricants from sources that use it instead of advertising’s The thing that great about synthetics is that they are not affected my water like most oils and withstand much more extreme ends of the temperature 40 below to 400 above. I was at a seminar given by Asland oil company about oils. They showed an engine on a video being started at 32 degrees and showed a timer showing how long it took for oil to reach the tappets and it was almost 2 minutes before lubrication started. I asked later what they thought about Mobil1 which was the only synthetic back then and the rep replied that he wish Asland Oil (Valvoline) would introduce synthetic also. Said its the best thing that happened to engine lubricant. Enough said, have a nice day…