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Bought a 2019 CPO (also still under factory warranty) and had it for two weeks, then the check engine light came on. The vehicle continued to run fine. Dealer diagnosed a bent rod due to water intrusion which defied explanation as we never drove through water during the two weeks we drove it. Dealer/Toyota denied warranty coverage because of “water intrusion.”

The insurance estimator inspected the HL yesterday and reported to us that there may be a bent rod but no evidence of water intrusion (air box and air filter were dry, no milky oil). He has reached out to the dealer for an explanation of why they concluded there was water intrusion and denied warranty coverage.

I know very little about this kind of thing (though a good bit more than I did two weeks ago) and would like to know what can cause a bent rod besides water intrusion. Any other comments are welcomed.

Side note: When we purchased the HL, the front and rear tires were mismatched (not permitted by CPO requirements) and the CPO checklist indicated that features our HL does not have passed inspection. This causes me to question the integrity of the CPO inspection including whether they ran a DTC or could have reset the codes before we bought it.

Most CPO used cars are sold without a very thorough inspection, or, in other words, people pay extra for CPO vehicles that may have flaws.

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No Kidding ! I wonder just how many of these so called CPO inspections are done from the local donut shop.

You need to contact Toyota Corp. , that info will be in your owners manual.

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I would be really fascinated to hear how such a thing can even be diagnosed on an engine which apparently still runs well enough to drive at normal speeds without making excessive noise. IF there is a bent connecting rod, it must be bent so little that the engine still runs (mostly) fine, which means that even if the mechanic removed the oil pan and looked up with a flashlight, it would not be obvious.

Also, assuming that water somehow got into the cylinder(s), it would have ended up in the oil pan. Clean water would not turn the oil milky, but it would still collect there.

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Thanks. I have spoken with Toyota, and they said they won’t get involved in issues we have with the dealer.

Then take it to a different dealer for a different diagnosis.

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I cannot imagine a car running well with a bent rod. What evidence is there of water intrusion?
I’d take it to another dealer, say nothing about the prior diagnosis.
What code set the check engine light?

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If this Highlander was purchased on the Toyota CPO program, then it is not just a dealer problem. The time between purchase and the problem is so short that it is almost impossible to have occurred when you owned it. take the list of Toyota CPO checks and have a mechanic you trust check the SUV against the list. This will likely cost you around $100, but that’s a lot less than any fix involving a bent rod. Get everything in writing from anyone involved. Certainly have the Highlander checked by a different dealer.

BTW, what were the codes form the CEL? We don’t know those yet.

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Tester

The dealer has thus failed to provide the codes despite our demand, and Toyota refuses to provide all the diagnostics because they’re “proprietary.”

Also, we’ll definitely take it to another dealer, but I believe any subsequent dealer will see the previous dealer’s diagnostics and Toyota’s warranty denial.

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Yes, they will see past visit data. You could take it to a chain auto parts store and get the codes read. If there are any, take a photo of the code reader screen with your phone or get a printout. The dealer may have erased the codes, and you might have to wait for them to show up again.

The code is most likely a misfire code for the cylinder with the bent rod.

Tester

Just to clarify, is the CPO actually part of the Toyota CPO program or is some kind of 3rd party warranty that the dealer is passing off as a Toyota CPO?
I ask this because you refer to an insurance estimator.

I have no idea how a bent rod was diagnosed by this person but I would think that with a bent rod there would be a compression variance which could lead to a slight stumble at idle and.or a subtle vibration.
You might consider having someone connect a vacuum gauge to the engine and see if something shows up. This is cheap and easy. I would think that a compression variance would show up on that gauge. An ideal reading is 20 to 21" of mercury at idle with a rock steady gauge needle.

I’ve often said that CPO designation may or may not mean anything and should be taken with a grain, or wheelbarrow full of salt. At one dealer where I worked CPO inspections (?) were done by the 2 guys in detail who washed cars.

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It is the Toyota CPO program. The vehicle is still actually under the factory warranty.

My reference to insurance is related to our comprehensive coverage. If there really were water damage it would be a comprehensive claim.

Unless they can prove water intrusion I do not see how they can deny a claim. I also do not understand how an insurance estimator can diagnose a bent rod without having some mechanical expertise and going into the engine to some degree.

I would strongly suggest having someone check the engine with a vacuum gauge. This should be a 10 minute deal at most. Another way of checking for a bent rod would be to remove the spark plugs and measure the connecting rod strokes (on top of the piston) with a dial indicator. If one rod is bent that makes it a bit shorter than the others and that would show up on a dial indicator.
I wonder if by some chance your insurance estimator is wrong about a bent rod?

Other than water intrusion the only other thing which could cause a bent rod is something falling into a cylinder such as a nut, small bolt, or part of a spark plug. Even that is grasping on a 2019.

And they will not tell you what diagnostic codes are present seems disingenuous considering what is going on with this vehicle. If you find someone to check things with a vacuum gauge you might ask them to do a scan for DTCs. Just in case someone at some level in the chain is lying.

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That’s a strong indication your particular vehicle should not have become a genuine Toyota CPO in the first place.

I’ve seen things get ugly and corporate buy back vehicles and remove the CPO status

That’s something I would consider

I wouldn’t be happy driving a vehicle that didn’t meet the criteria for CPO, even though I paid for it. And the fact that things your vehicle doesn’t even have were checked off as okay means it almost certainly received a sub-standard inspection. Makes me wonder what else they missed or turned a blind eye to

I’m going to be extremely blunt . . . as far as that CPO inspection goes, your Highlander was pencil whipped

Sounds like the dealer is trying to weasel out of their obligations by using that “bent rod due to water intrusion” excuse

I would consider ramping up the pressure . . . keeping extremely good records, noting down names, times and what was discussed

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Hmmm. Maybe they’re right and it was a flood vehicle the dealer got at a bargain price? The plot thickens.

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Just to clarify, the insurance estimator did a “top dead center” measurement which showed one cylinder “a little lower” which “could” indicate a bent rod, but he said that type of measurement is not “super scientific” and more would have to be done to be conclusive. And, if I didn’t say it before, he found the compression equal and to specs on all cylinders.

Still don’t understand the ‘insurance estimator’, who seems to be doing mechanic type work. Do they work for this dealer?

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He works for Progressive insurance company and is assessing whether our comprehensive claim is factually supported. That is, he has to verify whether what the dealer claims - that water intruded through the air intake system and caused internal damage, this is an “outside influence” - before Progressive will pay the comprehensive claim. Frankly, he seems much more knowledgeable and credible than the dealer.