Toyota sludge problem 1997 V4

I am now on my third engine for this car. The service people made believe that they had never heard of the sludge problem. Toyota has had quality problems for years but always try to blame the customer. Hols their feet to the fire!

what model toyota is it, never heard of a v4. If you meant a inline 4 the only time I have heard of this is too long between oil changes or wrong oil.
What size is it?

Hi. My bad. Toyota claimed the problem was with the V6 only. Obviously an inline 4. Camry is a 1997 model that had a recommended oil change interval of 7,500 miles. I had to prove that I had met that requirement, which I did. Got receipts from Jiff-Lube. Toyota claimed that Jiffy-Lube’s oil was inferior and therefore not their fault. Excuse me? Toyota had a special superior oil? Not in the manual. They also claimed that the radiator had not been flushed every 24 months. Also not in the manual. I had to pay for a replacement radiator. This is my wife’s car and had never even kissed the red line. They did eventually replace the engine (good faith) even though it only had 30,000 miles on it since the last engine replacement. The original replacement was a result of a recall letter stating the possibility of a sludge problem on this engine. My statement is that Toyota knew they had a problem, tried to blame it on the customer (me) and after 30,000 more miles the engine needed replacement again. Same problem. I now replace the oil at 3,000 mile intervals and it is still running at 119,000 miles. As I misspelled in my post, hold their feet to the fire.

Oil sludging is caused by going too long between oil changes. The interval of 7500 miles is far too long in my opinion and depending on driving habits and environmental conditions oil changes may be need to be performed every 3k miles or 3/4 months at most.
It’s time critical also; not just mileage.

You state the interval is 7500 miles but does your manual also refer to a “severe service” interval? Almost every vehicle on the road meets the definition of severe service and waiting for 7500 miles to change the oil is just begging for engine problems unless almost all of the mileage is extended highway driving.

I know a couple of people with Toyota 4-cylinder of that era…and the oil change interval is NOT 7500 miles…but 5000 miles. 7500 is way too long. Both of these people have well past 200k miles on their vehicles.

Second…While the dealer is full of crap when they say they use SPECIAL oil…They are right about the warning about Jiffy Lube. Based on the number of posts in this forum alone about the problems people have had with Jiffy Lube I wouldn’t let them wax my car let alone change my oil.

I cant speak to your Camry but my 2001 Avalon was sludged up almost beyond repair at 125000. And Toyoto blamed me too. I had my oil changed at the local quick lube and my mechanic blamed the problem on that. Its all BS I also drive a 1995 Ford Explorer and it always gets its oil changed at the same place, same intervals, same oil and it has no problems at all.

Most toyotos dont have any problems either but there are design flaws in their product that make it more likely to sludge than other engines. Ive read estimates that about 5% of the v6 owners have had the same problem as I had

The problem is not caused by Toyota. It’s caused by this, although those affected seldom see it that way.

In some extreme cases changing the oil every 2000 miles/3 months should be followed.
My sister in law is one of these because her car seldom ever runs long enough for the thermostat to open. The car only sees a fully warmed up engine about once a year and she also thinks her Chevys sludge up due to design flaws.

In her case, she changes the oil once a year at the 3k miles mark; and 3k miles a year accrued 1-2 miles at a time is all this car ever gets.

Certain Engines Made By Several Different Manufacturers Are More Likely To Suffer Sludge Problems Than Others When Oil Change Intervals Are Too Long.

Apparently Toyota put out some of these engines over several models and years as did Chrysler when they made the 2.7L engine (fantastic powerplant, otherwise) that is in my wife’s car. My wife drives 5,000 to 6,000 HWY miles / 2 months and I change the oil and filter every 5,000 and the car continues to run to this day (knock wood).

I believe Ford made an engine that was put in Broncos and whatever that didn’t tolerate long change intervals well, for example.

As you can see from the posts we get here, some owners are religious about oil changes and other owners are a little sluggish. I think where the problem comes in is that these cars that are built with little tolerence for stretched oil change intervals take their owners by surprise when they sludge up and turn to junk.

Ronparise’s post above illustrates this point very well.

Some people are more “forgiving” (more tolerant) than others. Pilots know that some aircraft are more “forgiving” than others (less likely to go out of control). Some car engines are more “forgiving” (hold up better with poor maintenance habits) and some even have reputations for being “bulletproof” (have very few incidences of catastropic failures).

Most of us gearheads never get close to the ragged edge of lax maintenance. However, as I’ve said, you can see the posts from John Q. Public that we get and the number of folks who don’t know what an Owner’s Manual is and you get a good idea of the car savvy of a typical car owner.

As with good aircraft design, cars should be made to be “forgiving” and not have a tendency to bite one in the rear-end. Given a choice between a more forgiving airplane or a not very forgiving one or a forgiving engine or a not forgiving one, I’ll always take the former.

We have had excellent service (second to none) from the afore mentioned Chrysler car. The sludge issue didn’t surface until after I purchased it and has so far not created a problem. However, I would have selected a different engine or a different car if I had known at purchase time.

It’s easier and more desirable to engineer cars to meet people’s expectations than it is to try and “re-engineer” people to meet the car’s expectations. Manufacturers should cut their buyers a little slack.


Toyota also recommends using synthetic oil in their sludge prone engines. They changed their oil drain interval to 5000K instead of 7500K miles when the issue came to light.

And I wonder how toyota made it to clear the issue. As for the problem, it all depends on the environmental conditions. But of course surely some of those toyota parts must have been acting weird to have that problem.