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View Full Version : 97+ 5SFE PCV/sludge, recall/solution?



The Captain
12-26-2007, 11:16 PM
I've been doing research and learned Toyota 5SFE's had an issue with sludge building up do to a faulty PCV design. It appears the engine I have has this problem but is out of the recall time limit for the class action lawsuit. I'm stuck with this engine and have to get it running.

Anyone know of the fix that Toyota did? The differences between earlier and later PCV systems? I'm guessing the valve cover design may be different but I'm not sure. HELP!!!

Thanks.

NealWright
12-27-2007, 01:13 AM
Well, I can tell you my '91 was FULL of sludge.

Hadn't heard of a class action suit for any years, but I would suspect they're similar.

I'd start with a new valve. Probably takes quite some time to fill up with sludge. If you wanted an improvement, possibly some baffling inside the valve cover.

The only things that come to mind that would sludge up a PCV is inadequate air flow (does Toyota incorporate any kind of crankcase vent?) ... and overheated oil in the valve (just plain oil wouldn't really want to "sludge").

Neal

alltracman78
12-27-2007, 04:24 AM
It's not from the PCV.
Toyota restricted coolant flow in the heads of certain engines [not just the 5S] to raise head temps, improving engine efficiency.

However, this caused the oil in the head to run hotter than it should, causing it to sludge up.
This is made worse by using cheaper oil, and/or longer oil change intervals.

Your PCV, clogged or not, should have nothing to do with the oil sludging, it's purpose is to keep crankcase pressure down and nothing else.
The oldest version 5S [90/91] has the worse PCV design, just a hose from the valve cover to the intake, just like your [and my] 3S, and they had no sludging problems. The class action covered 97 - 02 or something like that.

Toyotas solution is to replace the shortblock, and head[s] [sometimes], cleaning everything else.
As long as the engine runs if you do frequent oil changes with good oil [Mobil 1 for instance] it actually WILL clean it up. The worse the sludge the more it will take to clean it up.
You can pull just the head and oil pan and clean the worst of it up, then do the oil changes, or you could tear it down completely and clean everything.
As long as the rings and bearings aren't damaged you can reuse them, though it certainly won't hurt to replace.

zmile06
12-27-2007, 05:34 AM
I wonder if the 4afe has this problem? Last time i had my valve cover off i saw no sludge...

alltracman78
12-27-2007, 02:19 PM
no

Chris
12-27-2007, 07:08 PM
Did the 92's have any major sludging problems?

The oil on my car has been changed at 3 to 4 thousand mile intervals all throughout its life.

The Captain
12-27-2007, 08:26 PM
It's not from the PCV.

Your PCV, clogged or not, should have nothing to do with the oil sludging, it's purpose is to keep crankcase pressure down and nothing else.
The oldest version 5S [90/91] has the worse PCV design, just a hose from the valve cover to the intake, just like your [and my] 3S, and they had no sludging problems. The class action covered 97 - 02 or something like that.



The PCV effects oil sludging by not drawing/venting the moisture that builds up inside the block. Engines are designed to run the oil at about 230 degrees F to boil off any water that may have condensed when the engine is shut down. If this steam is not evacuated properly, the oil and moisture combine creating sludge.

Short running durations in which oil never gets hot enough, long enough combined with a high humidity environment propagates sludge as well. This particular engine accumulated only 66K miles in 10 years, in Ft. Lauderdale FL. Synthetic oils, with no paraffins found in mineral oils, are more resistant to this phenomena.

I talked to Toyota today. Most of the engines effected were driven short distances over a long period of time. No changes were made to the engines they replaced in the law suit. Toyota fixed 9 year old engines because the problem was in the PCV system, or so alleged. Being an emission control, they had no choice under federal law. Some people were using a heavier grade oil, running the proper viscosity synthetic oil was the recommendation. On this car I'll be enlarging the PCV system and including a catch can. The car will be in Daytona FL and driven about 15 miles a day. I was more interested to know if there was any changes made to the later 5S motors that I could employ. I've go this engine on the stand now and I'm in the process of cleaning it out. I don't want this to happen again.

The 3SGTE probably never had this problem because we all know this car has no trouble heating it's oil!

I'm more interested in the differences between the earlier 5SFE and the later models in the PCV system, if any.

sloceli
12-27-2007, 09:07 PM
The only differences are the 90/91 pre-revision just have a straight though system where the 92+ had a PCV valve.

Chris
12-27-2007, 10:19 PM
I talked to Toyota today. Most of the engines effected were driven short distances over a long period of time.

Well fuck, that's my car right there.

Amaymi
12-28-2007, 06:30 AM
The tech in the stall right next to me replaced a 5s out of a solara under the sludge warranty campaign last week. The customer got it done for free from what I understand.

He just got a new block and had to send the old one back. I was bummed cuz I wanted to use the crank.

85gtsblackman
12-28-2007, 06:51 AM
hmmm i guess i know why my old 93 camry newver sludged

heres why it should have

dad changed the oil every 5000-10,000 miles


heres why it didnt

i got the car, i always ran 1 quart of atf to 3 quarts 20w50

even after tore the engine apart to fix all the leaking everything cept hg, wasnt sluded

that was after an extreamly hard 250,000 miles

one time it even ran out of oil :eek: , it never knocked


that car still runs till this day :bigthumbu

davmac
12-28-2007, 12:46 PM
What? 1 qt atf + 3 qts 20w50? Add 1 qt Jack Daniels and you get cough syrup :D. Obviously it worked, but I can't see giving your homemade oil treatment credit for 250K trouble free miles. Most 5sfe engines will run close to forever if you change oil every 3 - 5K probably safely with longer OCI if most trips are 15 miles +. If you have a 97 -01 5sfe change oil at 3K and maybe use synthetic oil. If you have a 97 - 01 5sfe and it is sludged go to Toyota for repair under the special campaign. Anyone with a 5gen has little to worry about unless they are driving all < 5 mile trips and changing oil at 15K intervals.

The Captain
12-28-2007, 03:14 PM
I wish I could get it replaced by Toyota. I've already spent $900 in parts. They just bought it as a used car, and they have no service records. Importer 5SFE's are $1500 and I'm not going to put a 3SFE in it. I'm just painstakingly cleaning every single part with a scraper, wire brush or toothbrush and carb cleaner. Definitely need to figure out a way to beef up the PCV system.

alltracman78
12-31-2007, 04:00 AM
The PCV effects oil sludging by not drawing/venting the moisture that builds up inside the block. Engines are designed to run the oil at about 230 degrees F to boil off any water that may have condensed when the engine is shut down. If this steam is not evacuated properly, the oil and moisture combine creating sludge.

Short running durations in which oil never gets hot enough, long enough combined with a high humidity environment propagates sludge as well. This particular engine accumulated only 66K miles in 10 years, in Ft. Lauderdale FL. Synthetic oils, with no paraffins found in mineral oils, are more resistant to this phenomena.

I talked to Toyota today. Most of the engines effected were driven short distances over a long period of time. No changes were made to the engines they replaced in the law suit. Toyota fixed 9 year old engines because the problem was in the PCV system, or so alleged. Being an emission control, they had no choice under federal law. Some people were using a heavier grade oil, running the proper viscosity synthetic oil was the recommendation. On this car I'll be enlarging the PCV system and including a catch can. The car will be in Daytona FL and driven about 15 miles a day. I was more interested to know if there was any changes made to the later 5S motors that I could employ. I've go this engine on the stand now and I'm in the process of cleaning it out. I don't want this to happen again.

The 3SGTE probably never had this problem because we all know this car has no trouble heating it's oil!

I'm more interested in the differences between the earlier 5SFE and the later models in the PCV system, if any.

There's a bunch of problems with this man.
First off, Toyota didn't do it because they were required to under the Federal emissions warrenty, they did it because there was a class action lawsuit.
http://oilgelsettlement.com/
The Fed warranty is a mileage limited one, yet there is no mileage limit on the gel [sludge] engines.
It doesn't matter if every single emissions component failed, once they're out of warranty Toyota has absolutely zero legal requirement to replace any of it once it's out of warranty by 1 mile or 1 day.

Also, the difference in the early and late 5SFE PCV systems is the lack of a valve in the early ones. They just had a breather tube.
The 5S and 1MZ PCV valves and tubes are no smaller than the other engines, yet they specifically had the problems.
The 1MZ and 3MZ share the same PCV system, yet the 3MZ have no gel problems.

A couple more things;

1-If your PCV system is clogged [on OBDII engines], the engine runs poorly, and over time can even cause a MIL.

2-Pre emissions engines [up til the 60's] had no PCV system [They had a breather tube (called a road tube) that allowed the crankcase to vent; this is much much less effective in releasing vapors from the crankcase], were certainly low mileage over time and yet there was no widespread oil sudge problems with the amount of gel we're seeing in the 5S and 1MZ.

3-There's no TSB on those PCV valves [or hoses]. Easy fix for Toyota, instead of having to worry about replacing more engines, until whenever they stop this.

4-There is a breather hose that the crankcase is able to vent through. This would allow excess humidity to vent even if the PCV valve were clogged.

5-If the PCV valve were indeed clogged, there would be excessive oil residue in the intake, from the breather hose.

6-Gel engines are all over the US, not just in humid areas.

I can't track down the Toyota info on gel engines right now, but here's a few things I dug up online.

Larry Perry, an A.S.E.-Certified Master Technician,repair-shop owner and host of a radio talk show in Orlando, Fla., says he has discovered an apparent design flaw in 3.0-liter V-6s produced between 1999 and 2001. He says he sees a disproportionate number of the engines coming through his shop on 1999 and 2000 Siennas.
"We believe Toyota reduced the size of cooling passages to the cylinder heads in those engines in order to increase combustion temperatures for more of a complete burn to reduce exhaust emissions," Perry said.
Excessive heat makes oil more susceptible to sludge. Perry says he has measured cylinder-head temperatures as high as 260 degrees in those engines - 30 degrees higher than in earlier models.


From
http://yotarepair.com/Automotive_News.html


The reason all these sludged engines showed up recently is because of a design issue that caused excessive heat transfer into the lubrication system. This is what I was told by a few product engineers at the Central Atlantic Toyota hq in Baltimore.

I understand Toyota makes a distinction between "gelling" and sludge, honoring claims only on vehicles that are deemed to have "gel" and not sludge. "Gel" is supposed to be primarily caused by overheated oil, whereas sludge is primarily contaminants resulting from neglect.

Both from
http://www.tegger.com/hondafaq/sludge/index.html

That's all I'm typing for now, it's time to go out.

The Captain
12-31-2007, 03:17 PM
Some very good and valid points.

I've looked at this engine for days on the engine stand and I'll be darned if I can't find this "breather tube". The only tube that connects to this engine to the intake system is the PCV tube. It runs from the top of the valve cover to the surge tank. I broke open the plastic tube that leaves the valve cover and it's only 3/16" inside diameter, and completely clogged. The 3SGTE tube is almost a 1/2 inch in comparison. Any ideas where this breather tube is? The only way out of this engine I've found is the oil cap and dipstick tube.

Of course engines all over the county are effected. Humidity is everywhere. This engine came from Ft Lauderdale FL. Would you say it's more humid there than Denver? I think this is why it's so severe in this engine.


Nothing should look like this after 67k miles:

http://www.celicatech.com/gallery/files/5/7/2/1/head2.jpg

Of course the PCV isn't the TSB. If the catalytic converter failed and burned your interior out, would they just replace the cat?

http://www.yotarepair.com/Sludge_Zone.html


"The actual cause of the problem is an inability of the engine's crankcase ventilation system (PCV) to move the normal gases from the engine. When these gases stay longer in an hot engine it allows deposits to form on the metal parts of the engine. When enough deposits are present "Sludge" is formed. In my opinion the reduced flow of the PCV is related to the vehicle emissions. This presents a problem since to correct it may require Toyota to recertify the engines, come up with a solution acceptable to the EPA and then they still have to repair or assist in repairing the affected engines. The costs would be staggering but ignoring the problem, in so many of their best selling vehicles, may be worse in the long run. In the various articles I've listed below, if you want, you will learn more about the cause an effect."


The following Toyota engines I've owned never did this: 7MGTE, 3SGTE, 22R, 20R, 5MGE, 5VZ, and my 2UZ.

Yes, it was a lawsuit. Toyota wouldn't do it voluntarily would they? Since we're dealing with a huge, impersonal, profit driven, mega company, I doubt Toyota Inc would give us the real reason. The engines they replaced were identical to the ones they took out from what I've been told. No changes to the oil system or the PCV were made according to my local dealer, although they could be mis informed. Nothing was mentioned about the cooling passages in the 5SFE. This may be true. I don't have an older 5SFE head to look at, only this 97. Who knows, it may be a combination!

Bottom line is I have no faith in Toyota anymore. This is the last TSB I get screwed by. TSB's should be sent to the owners so they can check. Twice I've missed the claim deadline by a couple of months. The only good Toyota is an old Toyota.

Until an independent study is done and proves what causes this, it'll be a debate. The internet is full of opinions. I believe that a clogged PCV prevented the moisture from leaving this block and caused this head to gel up. I'll be modifying the PCV system including a larger hole in the valve cover, no PCV valve and a catch can plumbed back to the surge tank. The car will go back to Daytona, a very humid environment. It will be driven 12 miles each way to work daily. If it sludges up again, it'll get a 3SGTE swap!!!



Thanks alltracman for your input. I'm definately going to run Redline "water wetter" in this engine because of your replies. I wonder if I should run a cooler thermostat too. I'm trying to learn as much about this as I can. This is what makes forums like this so good.

extremeskillz
12-31-2007, 03:44 PM
Should i be worried? Mine engine has been well maintained since ive had it. Oil changed every 2500 to 3000 miles. Im the 2nd owner of my car and from past record its was well maintain as well.

The Captain
12-31-2007, 03:55 PM
You should be OK. It affected engines produced 8/96 to 8/02. Pop your valve cover if you're paranoid. Due to what alltracman said, I'd consider running Redlines "water wetter" to help the head cool. It makes the water slimy making better contact to carry heat away.

extremeskillz
12-31-2007, 04:00 PM
You should be OK. It affected engines produced 8/96 to 8/02. Pop your valve cover if you're paranoid. Due to what alltracman said, I'd consider running Redlines "water wetter" to help the head cool. It makes the water slimy making better contact to carry heat away.

Na if it doesn't affect me then ill sleep in ease. but ill check it anyways :hehe:. Interesting thread. So what you saying is your engine just was poorly maintained resulting in sludge build up. Funny how simple PCV valve can do such damage. Now that you mentioned it im gonna check mine too :hehe:

alltracman78
12-31-2007, 04:50 PM
Nope, you're not even close to the production date.
And you don't have a PCV valve, only a breather.


I've looked at this engine for days on the engine stand and I'll be darned if I can't find this "breather tube". The only tube that connects to this engine to the intake system is the PCV tube. It runs from the top of the valve cover to the surge tank. I broke open the plastic tube that leaves the valve cover and it's only 3/16" inside diameter, and completely clogged. The 3SGTE tube is almost a 1/2 inch in comparison. Any ideas where this breather tube is? The only way out of this engine I've found is the oil cap and dipstick tube.
Dunno, a pic of the valve cover would help.
You might not have one. There are a lot of revisions of the 5SFE.
That's a normal size[roughly, I've never measured one] for a PCV valve, even on larger engines.
The 3SGTE tube is larger because it's a breather tube. Same goes for the 5S breather tube.


Of course engines all over the county are effected. Humidity is everywhere. This engine came from Ft Lauderdale FL. Would you say it's more humid there than Denver? I think this is why it's so severe in this engine.
But humidity is not as bad everywhere.
It's less humid here [Ma], but we have them.
Denver has them, and it's MUCH less humid there.
Same goes for Arizona.
As for how bad it is, that's par for the course man. I've seen worse than that.




Of course the PCV isn't the TSB. If the catalytic converter failed and burned your interior out, would they just replace the cat?

You missed my point, and I don't think you understand how TSBs work. :P
There is no TSB at all for this [oil gel].
If there was a cat problem, that's exactly what the TSB would state.
Replace cat. You fix the root cause of the problem [if it is in fact hotter head temps I don't see Toyota R&Ding heads for engines they don't make any more]. If there is incidental damage, Toyota usually covers it as well, but the TSB wouldn't be on it, it would be on the original cause of the problem.
And, I know it's a technicality, but if the cat failed and caused the car to burn there wouldn't be a TSB, there would be a service campaign [recall].
TSBs are technical service bulletins, designed to give techs insite to common problems a particular car has. They're not safety related.
Service campains are usually safety related.


Thanks alltracman for your input. I'm definately going to run Redline "water wetter" in this engine because of your replies. I wonder if I should run a cooler thermostat too. I'm trying to learn as much about this as I can. This is what makes forums like this so good.

I wasn't accurate enough in my original statement.
I do think hotter head temps are the main cause of the problem. But I'm sure other things contribute as well.
Moisture, vapors, hard driving, extended oil changes, crappy oil/oil filters all help too.

A couple of suggestions.
1-If you're set on a larger PCV system, source a valve cover with a breather tube as well as the PCV valve. 90/91 engines didn't have the valve, just the breather. 92^ had both [with I guess some having only the valve]. You've also got to match to the type of plug wire available. There are different shapes for the plug end, and of course different connectors for the dist/coil end.
2-If it is in fact mainly caused by hotter head temps, water wetter and a cooler therm will only go so far, and might in fact cause driveability problems if the coolant is too cool.
They lower overall coolant temps, while the engine is designed to specifically heat the head.
3-Use synthetic oil, and change it regularly. It's much less likely to gel up.

One last thought to leave you with.
While oil sludge and oil gel are used interchangeably, they are actually 2 different things.
Oil sludge is a liquid like gunk that comes from moisture and such. Stick a quart of oil and a quart of water in an oil pan and mix. Let it sit for a few days and it will sludge up. Looks kind of like molasses.
This is what you normally see when you do a search for oil sludge or gel.
Oil gel is a hard[er] substance. It's not liquid.
It looks much more like carbon deposits that you find in the combustion chamber that are baked onto the piston and head.
Yours looks like gel, not sludge.

Rix86
12-31-2007, 09:46 PM
This is REALLY SIMPLE.
Regular oil changes = NO SLUDGE
PERIOD, END OF STORY.
I've had 2 cars in the shop at the SAME TIME, as identical as 2 cars can be.
within a couple thousand miles of each other, both 4 door camry's, both automatic, both driven in a similair fashion. ( neighborhood to freeway to city to work, and back with other types of trips thrown in)
One car had oil changes between 3-4k miles, no more than about 4 months apart.
the other had big lapses in the maintenance.... 8k oil change, 14k oil change, etc.
The car with regular maintenance looked BRAND NEW under the valve covers. very slight brownish tint on otherwise clean aluminum.

The car with big lapses had a sludge mold in the shape of the inside of the valve cover.

I've done a "sludge engine" on a sienna, and installed a new short block with the 'updated" valve covers yadda yadda.
They did the same thing again, and the second time they came in (about 4 years later) the engine smoked, was sludged again.
they had changed the oil TWICE in 4 years.

Another sienna I did has come in for oil changes religiously since the new engine was put in (they paid for it and were later re-imbursed by toyota) with all the same stuff as the re-sludged sienna, and been in for over 120k miles in about 5 years with NO sludge build up of any kind.

MrWOT
12-31-2007, 10:51 PM
Why don't you just tap the valve cover for multiple 1/2" fittings and tie them to a vac source with a catch(s) inline? Sounds like it just doesn't have sufficient evacuation. My home made ghetto catch cans are made from pvc pipe stuffed with steel wool and work great :)

edit: also, look online for AutoRx, I'd run a treatment just for peace of mind once you get it back together, it does it's job very well.

grayscale
01-01-2008, 12:30 AM
^? Pvc catch cans? Hmm, sounds like a good recipe for disposable cans. Do you just clean yours out and reuse them?

MrWOT
01-01-2008, 12:54 AM
They are 6" threaded on both ends, each end cap has a tapped thread in the center with a 3/8" fitting, stuffed lightly with steel wool mounted horizontally. I just unscrew the caps, and wash it out every couple weeks :)

grayscale
01-01-2008, 01:17 AM
That's great, seems better than one of the flashy cans that you can't get into.

The Captain
01-02-2008, 11:16 AM
Just like the Dr. Shoales commercials. I'm GELLIN!!!!

Rix86
01-04-2008, 04:42 AM
Change the oil.
nothing else needed.

extremeskillz
01-04-2008, 04:45 AM
Change the oil.
nothing else needed.

Well the issue he is repairing a neglecting engine.

The Captain
01-07-2008, 09:31 PM
It's all cleaned up and ready to go back together. Got the new oil pump on, bottom end is buttoned up. Went to put the head on (with new valve seals) and Toyota sold me 4AFE bolts. Had to order a new valve cover too. KA CHING!!!!