2009 Lexus RX 350 3.5L 2GR FE piston slap/VVTI ticking

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Been lurking here and a few other sites for a while now and read most posts. Toyota Nation, Club Lexus, BITOG, Etc. Been reading about different brands of oil. Different additive packages, oil element components, weights, etc, and how they benefit high mile engines and quieting lifters, camshafts, piston rings, etc. and timing chains. I am convinced this particular motor 2GR FE VVTI is oil deprived upon startup and Toyota/Lexus refuses to address it as an engineering design flaw and take remedial action on all of its variants.



So here is my known ownership vehicles limited history and the experience I've been having with it experimenting with different oils and additives.



Used 2009 Lexus RX 350 picked up 06/20. 167,500 mi. 3.5L V6 Lexus/Toyota 2GR FE motor experiencing either one or the other or both combo of either piston slap, or VVTI ticking on cold startup usually below 45 degrees. I travel a lot for work averaging 700 miles or more a week. Went from 167,500 mi when purchased to 212,500 mi from 06/20 to present.



When purchased from dealer. Oil was fresh. (Don't know what weight or brand was used. Forgot to ask for all service records of vehicle which were offered to me at closing. ) Changed within 1000 mi of ownership. 1st OCI 07/20 Instant Valvoline synthetic blend 5W30. Had them short me a quart intentionally to avoid paying fees over 5qts. Put in Lucas Oil Stablizer to full mark immediately after driving out of garage. Ran for 3k OCI. 08/20 Next change again synth blend ran for 3k OCI. Valvoline added Rislone oil stabilizer. (Don't know which product as Shop manager added it.) No noise no issues as its summertime.



As fall approached last year. Noticed ticking/slapping developing on startups below 60 degrees. Bad slap/tick below 45 degrees. (Apparently this is not uncommon with these motors.)



Decided to start doing my own OC's after weighing the cost of what Valvoline was charging me an upwards of $100 each change. Been using exclusively Castrol Edge or Extended Edge 20,000 mi. 5W30 since with the exception of one OCI until recently.



08/20. Ran Castrol Edge Extended OCI for 10k mi. Ticking slap worsened as weather got colder. 09/20. Castrol Edge Extended mixed with 10% of 6.2 quarts Rislone High Mileage Formula Engine Treatment Conditioner and Cleaner seemed to improve and shorten the longevity and duration of the tick/slap. Initially after this OCI. I observed slap/tick would dissipate after 10 sec. from startup. As OCI continued into the 2 to 4k range, tick/slap would continue until reached operating temp of 210 degrees. Changed at around 8k mi.



11/20 Castrol Edge Extended but in 5W 20 since 5W 30 wasn't available. 10% of 6.2 quarts mix of MMO, STP oil regular treatment with traces of ZDDP and Rislone Hy Per Lube. Seemed to help.



This is where this OCI and motor ran the quietest through all of its OCI. Only tick/slap for 5 to 10 sec. Upon startup. Ran silky smooth. Ran for about 8k to 6k. Might. I forget...So I began to read more and began to question if I was running too thin with the 5W 20 mixed with the MMO and was it STP regular oil treatment that was quieting things because of small amounts of ZDDP? Or was it because of the MMO and better flow due to potential oil thinning and better pressure flow on cold starts. Or was it because of better film strength of Hy Perlube? I may have used Castrol Edge High Mileage 5W30 formula on this change as well. Again. Not sure. Forget...



01/21 Castrol Edge again. 10% MMO/ 1/2 quart Hy Perlube. Ran relatively smooth and quiet until about 1k. Noise and warm up tick/slap until operating temp again. Started reading more about esters. Molys, Graphite, "Nano" technologies. Changed early in 03/01 around 2,500 mi into OCI. Did Castrol Edge 5W 30with 10% Prolong Engine Treatment Super Duty. Nothing else. No difference in performance or noise. (Yes I now know Chlorinated Pariffins leads to acidity and corrosion.) Figured I would try it to see if it would benefit in any way.



Did more reading more research on
2GR FE motor. With some years back spec'd '10 and newer to 0W20. Found out VVTI /timing chain rattle/locking pin engaging/not engaging was a known issue within specific years of 2GR FE across multiple models of Venza, Tacoma, RX 350, ES 350, Rav 4, Camry, Scion and others. Locking pin mechanism would not engage upon startup after prior shutdown. Lack of flow to valvetrain until engine warm up, etc. Along with issues of piston slap due to short skirt design. So whether its piston slap or VVTI. or both. Short story long. Lexus Toyota won't fix it unless its within warranty. And according to what I have read. Its a $5k job that requires engine removal.



I've been reading on here and playing with the idea of if it is a cold flow issue combined with a mechanical one. Is it a film strength issue? Mechanical circulation/pressure issue? Or is it a weight issue with all the mish mosh of info with Toyota Lexus back specing to 0W 20 with multiple production years due to tighter ring clearances? Is it piston slap? Is it Exhaust Manifold back pressure? Is it VVTI tick? Who knows? May be all 3 ?




All I know its loud as hell on startup and sounds like an angry diesel depending on what I feed it. It changes with temperature, and time duration of OCI



Decided to try something different this OCI. Switched to 0W 40 European Castrol (Since I couldn't find 0W 30 other than M1.) on this last OCI. Currently 700 mi. into it with the only change being that startup was quiet. Well not quiet but muted or muffled for the first 200 miles. Now it's clacky again. So that rules viscosity out I think. (I need to read up on viscosity index more.)



I am also running a verified experiment where I am putting 2 stroke TCW3 rated oil in the gas at a ratio of 500:1 or 5 ounces per every 5 gallons of gas to clean up the ring packs, valve seats, fuel injectors, combustion chamber, etc. Taking the place of putting MMO in the gas. The results almost showed up immediately within the first 2 tanks of gas. Right before I switched to my 0W 40 OCI. Doing this method I went from 17/21 mpg to 20/23.5 mpg for a week. Startups were quicker, motor was super quiet with no vibration at stop lights fully warmed. So quiet that I couldn't hear the motor running idle from the drivers seat at stop lights. I also started gaining 1/8th tank of gas on daily fill ups and saving some $$$ at the pump.



Then I did the 0W 40 change recently and the MPG dropped to 17/20 and pretty much stayed stuck on 20 mpg.




I get it that hydraulic lifters and DOHC is going to do this over time abd make some noise. But IMHO this is not normal. Maybe common given the design flaws of the motor.



I've read users on here with same motor having good result with QSUD. I've picked up various weights of QSUD jugs at my local Wal-Mart. 5W 30 jugs of QSUD is impossible to find. Only can find them in individual quarts. But I have QSUD 5W 40, 10W 30, and QS Full Synthetic High Mileage 5W 30. Was curious as to which one I should run next? The QSUD 10W 30 with summer approaching? Or the QSFS HM 5W 30? Does anyone here think my motor with my condition would benefit more from the HM FS? Over the QSUD? The engine uses/looses zero amounts of oil. Doesn't smoke on startup. (Maybe just a puff for first 2 seconds.) Seals are good. No leakage. So I have some concerns of seal swelling if HM oil is used, but also am asking if my motor with all its intermittent clackiness, would really benefit from HM oil at 212K if it was never used, or used limitedly in prior OCI'S?



I'm trying to correct something (Which is probably not correctable other than by mechanical means.) by process of elimination, of trying different oils, and additives, whether Molys, Esters, Titanium, Zinc, Ceratec, "Nano Technologies" (won't consider graphites) compensate for mechanical design flaws for wear and age I know.



I was wondering? Can anyone here give me a baseline on all the elements, chemical makeup, and numbers for what a healthy Blackstone Lab OA should look like from a used timely OCI? Like as if I was troubleshooting a pool water composition for clarity? You know? PH, Free Chlorine, TA, CH, CYA, etc...



What viscosities, film strength, additives such as boron, moly, and acceptable wear metal tolerances.



Also? Any users here with this specific motor 2GR FE that have found a successful regiment, brand, blend of weights, alternate weights, or any additives that promote quiet smooth operation from startup to shutdown, in all operational conditions, and for throughout the entire life of the OCI? That offers optimal MPG's I would really love to get this tweaked and fine tuned to prolong the life of the motor. I need to make this motor/vehicle last to at least 350k. As I am of limited means. As you can see I rack up the miles fast. I've done 50k in a years time. 85% use highway at 75-80 MPH and 15% around town at 45-50 MPH. Tire pressures are always checked weekly. I'm running 34 psi in front and 30 psi in rear based on tread wear and how tire profile tread sits on road. Goodyear Assurance All Season (Absolute Junk. Noisy as hell like aggressive truck tires after 25k. Assurance Comfort Tread is good and quiet.) Rotated regularly. Wheel bearings assessed ok. Alignment. Ok..Done 10/20. So looking for MPG gains. As far as fuel. I alternate between 89 octane and 93 on fill up every day to get 91 rating which is minimum to my engine with factory compression of
10.8 :

That's all I can think of..lol (As if this wasn't enough.) If anyone can offer any suggestions. Would be much appreciated. I'm growing tired after 1 year of chasing this dragon in finding what consistently quiets this motor in a safe and effective manor. Thanks in advance.
 
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Piston slap is usually NOT oil dependent, as you seem to be finding out. It is a design "feature" to prevent piston seizure, but it can get worse over time. So yeah, at 200,000 mi. there is no way you're going to stop it. The only real cure is to pull the pistons, check clearances, and possibly get new ones since the TEFLON pads (or whatever material) they use on the piston skirts sounds like they are worn down to me.

Many people like to floor their car from a cold start. If the pads on the skirts weren't there, you'd have a piston seized in no time on a new engine.
 
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I read the first third or so of the OP. Skip all the oil additives and try some M1 EP High Mileage with the recommended viscosity. I'd also try some Gumout Regane High Mileage fuel cleaner. Both available at Walmart with a rebate on the M1. One of these two things helped solve the 1 second start up grind on '12 Camry.
 

4WD

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Piston slap is usually NOT oil dependent, as you seem to be finding out. It is a design "feature" to prevent piston seizure, but it can get worse over time. So yeah, at 200,000 mi. there is no way you're going to stop it. The only real cure is to pull the pistons, check clearances, and possibly get new ones since the TEFLON pads (or whatever material) they use on the piston skirts sounds like they are worn down to me.

Many people like to floor their car from a cold start. If the pads on the skirts weren't there, you'd have a piston seized in no time on a new engine.
Yep … my 2010 5.3L slapped on 5w30 or 15w40
My L83 5.3L is quiet on 0w20 … both were …
 
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engine that is known to have had sludge issues
Really? Do you have any proof to back this statement up? I just want to learn more since I own one. I do agree with the fact that with the mileage the OP has, he just lives with it. Mine (2010) does have the piston slap but has not worsened since we took ownership in 2014 to present day. It's had a steady diet of 0w-20 MOBIL AFE except the last two changes which have been 5w-20 NAPA FS. It's a short tripper so it gets changed every 5000 kms and I haven't noticed any audible differences.
 
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So your 11 year old car with 212k miles runs perfectly well but makes some noise on start up and this is a conspiracy by Toyota to not fix a MAJOR problem? No engine is engineered to run forever. That’s life. Continue to drive your vehicle. Maybe if it doesn’t reach 500k miles come back and complain.
 

Robert Scalchi

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Man, how long did it take to right this novel? It's an over 200K mile engine that is known to have had sludge issues. Either live with it, (maybe it will go another 50-100K without an issue), or dump it now while it's still running ok.
Yeah. Im known to not leave out any details to avoid questions that there are already answers to. Lol...Wrote it between 4am and 6am this morning. Had oil on the brain. Lok
 

Robert Scalchi

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Man, how long did it take to right this novel? It's an over 200K mile engine that is known to have had sludge issues. Either live with it, (maybe it will go another 50-100K without an issue), or dump it now while it's still running ok.
Who mentioned sludge? I didn't?... Unless you are saying this 2GR FE model engine is known to sludge regardless of DINO or Synthetics?
 

Robert Scalchi

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Piston slap is usually NOT oil dependent, as you seem to be finding out. It is a design "feature" to prevent piston seizure, but it can get worse over time. So yeah, at 200,000 mi. there is no way you're going to stop it. The only real cure is to pull the pistons, check clearances, and possibly get new ones since the TEFLON pads (or whatever material) they use on the piston skirts sounds like they are worn down to me.

Many people like to floor their car from a cold start. If the pads on the skirts weren't there, you'd have a piston seized in no time on a new engine.
Ok. Good info. If there is known warm up issues. IE piston slap or valve chatter. I never run my vehicles on the road not before fully warming them up to operating temps. I can count on one hand how many times I've taken off without idle warm up. If so? I baby the throttle only to 2k rpm until operating temp has been reached.
 

Robert Scalchi

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Yep … my 2010 5.3L slapped on 5w30 or 15w40
My L83 5.3L is quiet on 0w20 … both were …
Going to the 0W20 has thus had any effect on increased fuel economy or metal wear on the rings being a thinner viscosity? Any shavings in the oil? Any test done on the oil? In considering moving to an 0W 30 with MB 1 EX next
 

Robert Scalchi

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So your 11 year old car with 212k miles runs perfectly well but makes some noise on start up and this is a conspiracy by Toyota to not fix a MAJOR problem? No engine is engineered to run forever. That’s life. Continue to drive your vehicle. Maybe if it doesn’t reach 500k miles come back and complain.
Normally I would concur but. Dont think you've read up on the subject material as much as I have in the last 6 months which spans across multiple forums. BITOG, Toyota, Lexus, ETC...Many users of the 2GR FE motor has reported the same issues from brand new off the showroom floor across all different Toyota/Scion/Lexus models. 08- 17s are mostly affected. AS I LISTED IN MY POST. Sienna, RX 350, RAV 4, Tacoma, and many others. Ill find the TSB from one of the users here later. No conspiracy here.
 

Robert Scalchi

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Really? Do you have any proof to back this statement up? I just want to learn more since I own one. I do agree with the fact that with the mileage the OP has, he just lives with it. Mine (2010) does have the piston slap but has not worsened since we took ownership in 2014 to present day. It's had a steady diet of 0w-20 MOBIL AFE except the last two changes which have been 5w-20 NAPA FS. It's a short tripper so it gets changed every 5000 kms and I haven't noticed any audible differences.
I never said my engine has known to have sludge issues.
 
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All of that is really something. I don’t know what, but something. Very hard to make any of it out except I think there’s a lot of misconceptions flowing around in the mix.

I don’t know how you kept it straight yourself.
 

Robert Scalchi

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All of that is really something. I don’t know what, but something. Very hard to make any of it out except I think there’s a lot of misconceptions flowing around in the mix.

I don’t know how you kept it straight yourself.
Can you kindly elaborate? Not sure what you are getting at? Misconceptions at the way I am attempting to tackle this issue? Or other users reading my posts?
 
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