Engine sludge time bomb

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Old 01 Feb 2006, 11:16 am   #1 (permalink)
graybuckle@att.net
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Default Engine sludge time bomb

First of all I am impressed with the depth of technical expertise I
have seen in this group and appreciate the advice youall have given me
in the past.
Because of this you have me very concerned about "engine sludge" in
my 99 4 cyl Camry. I get any uneasy feeling that I am setting on a
time bomb that is going to suddenly destroy my engine. I bought the
car new and have had no problems with it except what I mentioned a
couple of weeks ago of noticing the car using a quart of oil (again)
after a 1200 trip but not using any between oil changes when we went
only on short trips and city driving. The car has 68000 miles on it
now and I have personally changed the oil /filter every 4-5000 miles
since I bought it except once when I told the dealer of using oil on a
long trip 3 yrs ago. They changed the oil replaced the filter and I
took it back to them 1500 miles later and it never used a drop since I
hadn't taken any long trips. I take good care of this car and my 93
Camry (which I bought new also) and don't "abuse" them. I have not kept
my oil receipts but do have a log of the dates/mileages of when I did
change the oil/filter.
So - what should I do or what should I expect? I would appreciate your
comments Thanks

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Old 01 Feb 2006, 12:03 pm   #2 (permalink)
Jason James
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Default Re: Engine sludge time bomb


<graybuckle@att.net> wrote in message
news:1138814206.775868.155360@g43g2000cwa.googlegr oups.com...
> First of all I am impressed with the depth of technical expertise I
> have seen in this group and appreciate the advice youall have given me
> in the past.
> Because of this you have me very concerned about "engine sludge" in
> my 99 4 cyl Camry. I get any uneasy feeling that I am setting on a
> time bomb that is going to suddenly destroy my engine. I bought the
> car new and have had no problems with it except what I mentioned a
> couple of weeks ago of noticing the car using a quart of oil (again)
> after a 1200 trip but not using any between oil changes when we went
> only on short trips and city driving. The car has 68000 miles on it
> now and I have personally changed the oil /filter every 4-5000 miles
> since I bought it except once when I told the dealer of using oil on a
> long trip 3 yrs ago. They changed the oil replaced the filter and I
> took it back to them 1500 miles later and it never used a drop since I
> hadn't taken any long trips. I take good care of this car and my 93
> Camry (which I bought new also) and don't "abuse" them. I have not kept
> my oil receipts but do have a log of the dates/mileages of when I did
> change the oil/filter.
> So - what should I do or what should I expect? I would appreciate your
> comments Thanks


You can allay your fears in literally 2 minutes. Pop the bonnet, unscrew the
oil-filler cap from the cam-cover,..look inside. On my 2.2L 2nd-handy there
was a thin layer of black gunk present there on the step in the casting
immediately underneath the oil-cap. If yours is essentially clean with
perhaps an opaque-honey coloured varnish, you have no worries. If there is a
layer of black goop,..then I'd start changing the oil/filter twice as often.
We are after-all talking about $20 for oil/filter and 20 mins work at home.
Its no biggy, as they say.

The point is, sludge forms *all* over the engine internals. If there's none
in the oil-filler hole, there will be none anywhere else.

Further with mine:

If there are oil-leaks on the floor under your car,..and they are not coming
from the distributor area or the cam-cover gasket,..have a look at the
crankshaft pulley area. Is there oil wetness around there? If so, you need
to have the oil-seals replaced on the front of the engine. If there is
wetness around the transmission bell-housing drain hole (underneath),..the
rear crank-seal may also be nutted. That can wait if its only a small
amount.

Jason



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Old 01 Feb 2006, 12:59 pm   #3 (permalink)
Nobody Important
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Default Re: Engine sludge time bomb

graybuckle@att.net wrote:
> Because of this you have me very concerned about "engine sludge" in
> my 99 4 cyl Camry. I get any uneasy feeling that I am setting on a
> time bomb that is going to suddenly destroy my engine.


I have the same car as you, and was also concerned about the sludge
problem. I was changing my Mobil 1 5W30 full synthetic every 5000 km
until I pursued the following avenue:

One scientific measure of whether you have a sludge problem is
to get a used oil analysis by a lab that has a plasma spectrometer.
Blackstone Labs (http://blackstone-labs.com) is one such lab with
reasonable prices and excellent service. I find that springing
for their Terry Dyson package (i.e. a plain-language interpretation of
the results) once a year is worth it. He can see if there are
precursors to sludge in your used oil, which will help guide you in
deciding how frequently to change your oil.

bobistheoilguy.com contains a lot of useful information if you're
prepared to read a bit.

Me, I change my oil every 10,000 km now, after having proven that
this is a safe interval for the particular mix of city/highway that
I do in the climate that I live in. (Roughly 80% city by km driven in
Ontario, Canada.)
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Old 01 Feb 2006, 03:59 pm   #4 (permalink)
davidj92
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Default Re: Engine sludge time bomb

graybuckle@att.net wrote:
> Because of this you have me very concerned about "engine sludge" in
> my 99 4 cyl Camry. I get any uneasy feeling that I am setting on a
> time bomb that is going to suddenly destroy my engine. I bought the


I agree with Jason and N.I. and would only add that if the majority of your
driving is short trips then at least once a month (preferably more often)
you take a short trip of sustained highway speeds for at least 20 min. out
and 20 min. back. This will bring all lubes up to a heat point that will let
them evaporate all the moisture out and cause all moisture in the air
cavities to evaporate out. This moisture is what causes sludge when it is
allowed to accumulate and mix with oil vapors then gel.
davidj92


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Old 01 Feb 2006, 04:57 pm   #5 (permalink)
qslim
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Default Re: Engine sludge time bomb

Dude, relax. As I've often pointed out, I've dealt first hand with this
sludge garbage for about six years, and have not seen ONE example of a
sludged engine with a reasonable service history. By reasonable I mean oil
changes at consistent 7500 miles or less.
So, just change your oil, and you'll be alright. Besides, the 5S-FE like
yours isn't the one with the problem, it's the V6.

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Old 01 Feb 2006, 06:25 pm   #6 (permalink)
Daniel
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Default Re: Engine sludge time bomb

With regular 5,000 miles oil change intervals you should be just fine.
When I check the dipstick (weekly - Saturday morning, first thing -
cold engine) I look for oil level and condition.
You can observe the oil gradually darkening over time. It is supposed
to do that because there are detergent additives to hold contaminants
in suspension.
The only way sludge can develop is when the oil is overwhelmed by
contaminants that no longer stay in suspension and drain out with the
used oil.
So if you check and change the oil regularly, there is no problem.
If you chose to switch to synthetic oil, like Mobil 1, then you are
super protected.
=========
copied from someone else:
*Just what is synthetic oil*?
Technically speaking, synthetic lubricants are made by chemically
combining, in a laboratory, lower-molecular-weight materials to produce
a finished product with planned and predictable properties. Don't be
confused by this technical double-talk. What this means is that
synthetics are custom-designed products in which each phase of their
molecular construction is programmed to produce what may be called "the
ideal lubricant." This process departs significantly from that of
petroleum lubricants, whose physical components, both desirable and
undesirable, are inherited from the crude oil from which they are
refined. Crude oil possesses thousands of varieties of contaminants,
depending upon the oil's geographical and geological origins, which no
amount of refining can entirely remove. Corrosive acids, paraffins and
other waxes, heavy metals, asphalt, naphthenes and benzenes, as well as
countless compounds of sulfur, chlorine, and nitrogen, remain in the
finished product. Equally as important, petroleum oil molecules, as
contrasted to uniform-sized synthetic oil molecules, vary significantly
in size, shape, and length. When your engine heats up, the smaller
molecules evaporate, while the larger ones tend to oxidize and become
engine deposits. As a result, refined petroleum lubricating products
differ widely in their overall quality and performance. The presence
of
and the resulting drawbacks of the undesirable constituent elements lie
at the very root of the considerable performance differences between
synthetic and petroleum-based motor oils.
Contrary to what many may believe, synthetic lubricants are not a
recent
development. As early as the 1930s, Standard Oil of Indiana conducted
research into synthetic oil. More serious development and production
was commenced by the Germans during WWII, as their conventional
lubricants congealed and froze on the Eastern front and stalled their
advances into the Soviet Union. As jet engines were developed after
the
war, it soon became evident that conventional lubricating oils couldn't
withstand the high temperatures and pressures, and synthetics came to
be
used in all military commercial jet aircraft engines. Then in the
1960s
history repeated itself, and it was again cold weather that spurred
further development work as the U.S. Army needed better lubricants for
Arctic and Antarctic use. Still later, NASA specified synthetic-based
lubes for all space vehicles, including the Space Shuttle. Today's
automotive synthetic lubricants have evolved as an almost direct result
of these demanding military and extraterrestrial lubrication
requirements.
The U.S. Department of Energy lists no fewer than *sixteen* performance
parameters for any modern automotive motor oil. These are:

-Low temperature fluidity (low pour point)

-Low volatility...i.e. resistance to evaporation and resultant oil
thickening...good oil economy, additional engine protection

-High temperature oxidation resistance (of the oil itself)

-Lubricity...the oil's slipperiness

-Thermal stability...resistance to performance loss due to temperature
change

-Compatibility with engine metals, elastomers (i.e. "rubber" seals),
oil
filter elements, paints, and finishes

-Wear protection and film strength

-Freedom from deposit formation...good dispersant and detergent
characteristics

-Compatibility with other engine oils and additive packages

-Extended drain capability

-Water stability...propensity to remain separate of water molecules

-Corollary effects on an engine's octane requirements

-Ambient-startup protection...ability to protect against oil starvation
during initial startup

-Anti-rust properties

-Compatibility with catalytic emission control systems

-Compatibility with alcohol-containing fuels

Chief among the areas in which the pre-planned and predictable
properties inherent in premium synthetic lubricants significantly
surpass those of premium petroleum oils are: low temperature
fluidity...
and thus improved ambient startup protection; low volatility (higher
boiling point...greater resistance to evaporation); high-temperature
thermal stability; oxidation resistance; lubricity; fuel economy; film
strength, and wear protection; extended drain capabilities; water
stability; and high *natural* detergent characteristics (resulting in a
cleaner engine with less additive content).
synthetic oils are also
renowned for their high-temperature thermal stability. Superior
high-temp stability ensures and engine lubricant's capacity to protect
vital engine components during very-high-temperature operation, such as
hot summer driving, sustained high-speed driving, repetitious stop and
go metropolitan driving, driving in mountainous terrain, pulling a
trailer, or any driving with a small harder-working piston or rotary
engine. Underhood temperatures also take a quantum leap with the use
of
power options, especially air conditioning, and because of emissions
devices and emissions-related engine redesign. It is important to note
that, even though the dash gauge may register only a 200F or so
water/coolant temperature, the temperature of the sump and of all the
assorted bearing surfaces significantly exceed the water temperature,
and often surpass 500F on the piston ring and cylinder wall areas.
These high-temperature surfaces serve to rapidly decompose petroleum
oil
and additives, as well as contribute to their shorter service life,
while the synthetic is largely unaffected. Beyond the protection
afforded an engine during these particular instances of high-operating
temperatures, high-temp thermal stability moreover permits an engine
oil to deliver overall extended service life (significantly longer
drain
intervals) in all driving conditions, because it prevents the
phenomenon
of sludge and carbon deposit formations on critical engine parts
(valves, valve guides, oil channels, lifter assemblies, piston rings,
et
al.) due to oil thickening, a problem commonly attributable to
petroleum
oil breakdown at high temperature. As these deposits accumulate in the
oil circulatory system, oil flow drops, thus accelerating engine wear.
To the user of synthetics, the benefits are (1) reduced wear of
critical
engine components; (2) significantly reduced sludge and varnish... a
cleaner engine; (3) reduced engine drag due to uniform viscosity; and
(4) increased fuel economy due to reduced component wear.
"Film strength" refers to the amount of pressure required to force out
a
film of oil from between two pieces of flat metal. The higher the film
strength, the more protection is provided to such parts as piston
rings,
timing chain, cams, lifters, and rocker arms...wherever the lubricant
is
not under oil-system pressure. Synthetics routinely exhibit a nominal
film strength of well over 3,000 psi, while petroleum oils average
somewhat less than 500 psi. The result is more lubricant protection
between moving parts with synthetics.
The remarkable ability of synthetic oils to reduce internal operating
temperatures is far too important to ignore, since high operating
temperatures contribute directly to premature failure of mechanical
components and gaskets and seals. Coolant (i.e. water/antifreeze)
cools
only the upper regions of an engine. The task of cooling the
crankshaft,
main and connecting rod bearings, the timing gear and chain, the
camshaft and its bearings, and numerous other components must borne
entirely by the oil.
Popular Science article on synthetic oils, veteran race car
driver Smokey Yunick was quoted: "When you disassemble an engine that's
been run on petroleum oil, if you examine the rings and cylinder bores
with a glass you'll see ridges and scratches--that's the wear going on.
With polyol (a variety of synthetic), when you take the engine apart
everything has the appearance of being chrome-plated. In the engine we
ran at Indianapolis this year we used a polyol synthetic. When we tore
the engine down, you could still see the original honing marks on the
bearings...no wear at all. We put the same bearings back in because
the
crankshaft never touched the bearings. I've never seen that before."

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Old 01 Feb 2006, 11:57 pm   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Engine sludge time bomb

That sludge problem isn't what you should be worried about. You're much
more likely to have problems with your O2 and/or fuel sensors or better yet
the IAC valve...probably the most widespread problem among all Camrys of
your generation. Those problems should keep you awake at night, the sludge
thing is pretty obscure.

<graybuckle@att.net> wrote in message
news:1138814206.775868.155360@g43g2000cwa.googlegr oups.com...
> First of all I am impressed with the depth of technical expertise I
> have seen in this group and appreciate the advice youall have given me
> in the past.
> Because of this you have me very concerned about "engine sludge" in
> my 99 4 cyl Camry. I get any uneasy feeling that I am setting on a
> time bomb that is going to suddenly destroy my engine. I bought the
> car new and have had no problems with it except what I mentioned a
> couple of weeks ago of noticing the car using a quart of oil (again)
> after a 1200 trip but not using any between oil changes when we went
> only on short trips and city driving. The car has 68000 miles on it
> now and I have personally changed the oil /filter every 4-5000 miles
> since I bought it except once when I told the dealer of using oil on a
> long trip 3 yrs ago. They changed the oil replaced the filter and I
> took it back to them 1500 miles later and it never used a drop since I
> hadn't taken any long trips. I take good care of this car and my 93
> Camry (which I bought new also) and don't "abuse" them. I have not kept
> my oil receipts but do have a log of the dates/mileages of when I did
> change the oil/filter.
> So - what should I do or what should I expect? I would appreciate your
> comments Thanks
>



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Old 02 Feb 2006, 03:36 pm   #8 (permalink)
Paul
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Default Re: Engine sludge time bomb

"Daniel" <nospampls2002@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:1138839958.554597.286300@f14g2000cwb.googlegr oups.com...
> With regular 5,000 miles oil change intervals you should be just fine.
> When I check the dipstick (weekly - Saturday morning, first thing -
> cold engine) I look for oil level and condition.
> You can observe the oil gradually darkening over time. It is supposed
> to do that because there are detergent additives to hold contaminants
> in suspension.
> The only way sludge can develop is when the oil is overwhelmed by
> contaminants that no longer stay in suspension and drain out with the
> used oil.
> So if you check and change the oil regularly, there is no problem.
> If you chose to switch to synthetic oil, like Mobil 1, then you are
> super protected.
> =========
> copied from someone else:
> *Just what is synthetic oil*?

<snip>
> Beyond the protection
> afforded an engine during these particular instances of high-operating
> temperatures, high-temp thermal stability moreover permits an engine
> oil to deliver overall extended service life (significantly longer
> drain
> intervals) in all driving conditions, because it prevents the
> phenomenon
> of sludge and carbon deposit formations on critical engine parts
> (valves, valve guides, oil channels, lifter assemblies, piston rings,
> et
> al.) due to oil thickening, a problem commonly attributable to
> petroleum
> oil breakdown at high temperature.

<snip>

Daniel,

There appears to be a contradiction. You say sludge is caused by the oil
being overwhelmed by contaminants, while the article you copied says it is
due to high temperature breakdown of the oil. Maybe it's both?

Paul


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Old 03 Feb 2006, 04:52 pm   #9 (permalink)
m Ransley
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Default Re: Engine sludge time bomb

City driving in cold weather of 5 miles or so is bad for a motors oil as
it never heats up enough to cook out moisture and polutants. When you
drove on the highway if it was old oil it could have been extremely
diluted with gas and moisture which cooked out lowering the level. Ive
seen this many times.

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