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

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That's great! Im happy for you that you are having such a good experience in the newer Lexus. It's a great vehicle IMO. But if you don't care about another older Lexus owner posting questions for possible solutions on how to mitigate better durability and driveability and performance, than why are you here posting on this threa
For fun and because I believe you have unrealistic expectations of a vehicle that now has +200k miles AND for which it spent +100k miles in someone else’s possession with a completely unknown service record. How can you conclude Toyota is at fault?
 
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Ok so you are saying 500:1 is not 1 ounce to every 5 gallon of gas? When I first read that also on other forums, I thought that the ratio to ounces didn't seem right either and questioned it. Will look into it further. But it is emphasized as rule of thumb on other forums that 1oz. to every 5 gallons is what's to be followed. Oh wait? I see I wrote it backwards in my previous post. 5 ounces of oil to 5 gallons of gas. My bad.

1oz in 5 gallons is pretty close to the 500:1 ratio. The best way of course is to calculate using the same measurement across the equation. Ounces to ounces or milliliter to milliliter.
 
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Ok so you are saying 500:1 is not 1 ounce to every 5 gallon of gas? When I first read that also on other forums, I thought that the ratio to ounces didn't seem right either and questioned it. Will look into it further. But it is emphasized as rule of thumb on other forums that 1oz. to every 5 gallons is what's to be followed. Oh wait? I see I wrote it backwards in my previous post. 5 ounces of oil to 5 gallons of gas. My bad.
A gallon is 128 ounces of fluid.

Drop all additives including to the fuel. Buy top tier. Run 5k interval and see where it is.
 

Robert Scalchi

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For fun and because I believe you have unrealistic expectations of a vehicle that now has +200k miles AND for which it spent +100k miles in someone else’s possession with a completely unknown service record. How can you conclude Toyota is at fault?
Well? Im not expecting miracles in a bottle to correct a mechanical design flaw on a vehicle with 200k mi abd expecting it to perform like new without cracking open the engine and mechanically fixing the issues. Whether it be worn timing chain, cam, clogged pickup screens on VVTI Design flaws. Piston flaws or whatever? Just attempting to exhaust all options, trying everything I can try, and looking for opinions and possible simpler solutions and experiences before doing so as a last resort. That's all. As far as prior service records. I know they exist. I have seen them first hand. All dealer maintained. I just forgot to ask for them on closing of deal. Ill email sales rep fro, a year ago. Maybe they retained them?
 

Robert Scalchi

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A gallon is 128 ounces of fluid.

Drop all additives including to the fuel. Buy top tier. Run 5k interval and see where it is.
Will consider. I agree about dropping oil additives all together. Unfortunately can't afford top tier gas at the amount of miles I travel a week and rate I top off tank at. I go through about 1/2 a tank daily. I actually have been saving an 1/8 tank of gas daily with the 2 stroke TCW3 method I have been utilizing in the gas. Only change in performance has been beneficial. Easier starts. Smoother idle in vibrations (Despite the intermittent clacking on startup below 50 degrees.) Intermittently more bottom end power. Better gas mileage. So I don't really see a reason to discontinue that regiment at this time. I am running 5k OCI'S

(When you say top tier. You do mean brand? Correct? Like Sunoco. Shell. BP. Or are you referring to 93 octane rating as top tier?)
 
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Ahh ok thanks
I figured I would write the OP a novel as well, and be as detailed as possible.

My personal experience was 3 years rebuilding Toyota 4 cylinder engines and I got up to 99 engine rebuilds before I called it quits and went ahead and finished my higher education after I got my wife through pharmacy college rebuilding engines. I do not currently rebuild engines but I know what neglected or proper oil change maintenance can do to a Toyota engine as I have torn apart many of them.

2014 Avalon with a 2GR-FE bought at 58k miles, original owner took it to Toyota dealership for all oil changes before I got.
original spec 0w20

40k miles on this 2GR-FE in 2 years
Engine oil changes:
1) 1st oil change at 61k miles with Mobil 0w20 AFE and ran that for 14k OCI in the next 8 month with 13.9K miles being pure highway driving
2) 2nd oil change at 75K with Mobil 0w20 AFE again and ran that for 12k OCI in the next 8 month with 11k miles being pure highway driving
3) 3rd oil change at 87k with Mobil 0w20 EP 5 Qtz and 1.5 Qtz of AFE, that has 12k miles and again 11k miles on highway car now has 98.4k miles, and at 100k miles it will get Napa FS 0w20 for 10k OCI going forward.

2008 Lexus ES350 with 2GR-FE bought at 54k miles, original owner took it Lexus for everything, amazing maintenance history
original spec 5w30

I saw the last oil change sticker and it stated "5w30 Syn" which I now doubt as when I changed the VVT-i oil line for the rear cylinder bank to an all metal line from the 2011+ models to prevent the rubber section from bursting later on, at 60F in a garage the old oil was too thick, it had about 8k miles on at that point according to the oil sticker, and it was just too thick, I know what used oil looks like especially a synthetic oil which I have used a lot myself, which many many more miles. I feel because it was spec'd for 5w30 the maintenance on this vehicle before my ownership was done using Dino oil which from my engine rebuilding experience on Toyotas, I personally won't recommend as their piston run way too hot and cook up oil and you get carbon build up primarily on the oil return holes.

The above maintenance was performed at 59k miles along with various other needs as the ATF filter and complete fluid change using the oil cooler line, and the vehicle shifts better then before.

I now have 400 miles on the oil change using Rotella Gas Truck 5w20 Full Synthetic (only because it was $5.25 for a jug) and at the beginning on the oil change there was a slight valve train noise (intake VVT-i gear according to TSBs and 3 Toyota Techs) that went away within 1-2 second of a cold start, which now seems to be getting better and better as there in no noise on cold starts 9/10 times, this is in fact a common issue on neglected 2GR-FEs or when the maintenance is performed using Dino or bulk dealer oil, someone people have reported with engine flushes (which I don't believe or won't do myself, I rather drop the engine and change the VVT-i gears before "flushing" my engine) and Full Synthetic short oil changes to have cleaned up VVT-i gears enough to reduce or eliminate the noise. If I heard this noise on every single start up, the intake VVT-i gear would be considered bad and it would have to be changed, no oil changes or flushes will help.

I have read enough on these 2GR-FE engines to tell you that the so called piston slap is not a "common" issue, it is an issue that exist but not "common", I suspect bad maintenance history before your ownership, and other people being overly anal and calling something a piston slap from their own person diagnosis unless they got Toyota/Lexus to confirm this diagnosis.

my two 2GR-FEs have no piston slaps of any sort and the 14 Avalon sounds perfect from start up to driving, I have driven the Avalon very hard on high speeds for extended hours driving 110-130 mph, neither engine are burning any oil that can be seen on the dipstick, its always full.

2GR-FEs are very reliable engines, with 400k+ miles on many of them, I have looked into buying another one for a new driver. Also they spec'd the 2GR-FEs with 0w20 without really changing the tolerances, I haven't read that anywhere and sounds like speculation as it would cost too much redesign an engine just to change the oil spec, I believe the engine runs perfectly fine on 20/30 weights, that's it.

My recommendation is actually to diagnose maybe professionally or upload an video with audio of your so called piston slap that sounds like a diesel, are you burning any oil between oil changes? does your oil look like it has very obvious shavings (I have seen this before) if not, and your getting recommended mpg and have good power, I would just drive the car and change your oil using Full Synthetic oil with a Fram Ultra (change it every other oil change) at 5K OCIs until you get your vehicle properly diagnosed.
 
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Will consider. I agree about dropping oil additives all together. Unfortunately can't afford top tier gas at the amount of miles I travel a week and rate I top off tank at. I go through about 1/2 a tank daily. I actually have been saving an 1/8 tank of gas daily with the 2 stroke TCW3 method I have been utilizing in the gas. Only change in performance has been beneficial. Easier starts. Smoother idle in vibrations (Despite the intermittent clacking on startup below 50 degrees.) Intermittently more bottom end power. Better gas mileage. So I don't really see a reason to discontinue that regiment at this time. I am running 5k OCI'S

(When you say top tier. You do mean brand? Correct? Like Sunoco. Shell. BP. Or are you referring to 93 octane rating as top tier?)
Google: https://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+top+tier+gas&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari
 

Robert Scalchi

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From what SOPUS told me,PHM 10W-30 contains 200-250 ppm of moly. Maybe that will smooth your engine out.

My 98 3000GT sounded horrible on startup with synthetics. But it was silent on dinos.
Thanks. I will try that in the future. I've heard good things from users with the 2GR-FE motor with PUP that remediated some noises. As well as PHM.
I also hear QSUD contains 200-250 ppm of moly as well. Or is it the QSHM?Curious to see if it smooths things out on my next change. Ill be pressed for luck to tell on cold starts since the weather will be warming up by the time I hit 5K. But should be able tell by the smoothness of the valve train.
 
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Robert Scalchi

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I figured I would write the OP a novel as well, and be as detailed as possible.

My personal experience was 3 years rebuilding Toyota 4 cylinder engines and I got up to 99 engine rebuilds before I called it quits and went ahead and finished my higher education after I got my wife through pharmacy college rebuilding engines. I do not currently rebuild engines but I know what neglected or proper oil change maintenance can do to a Toyota engine as I have torn apart many of them.

2014 Avalon with a 2GR-FE bought at 58k miles, original owner took it to Toyota dealership for all oil changes before I got.
original spec 0w20

40k miles on this 2GR-FE in 2 years
Engine oil changes:
1) 1st oil change at 61k miles with Mobil 0w20 AFE and ran that for 14k OCI in the next 8 month with 13.9K miles being pure highway driving
2) 2nd oil change at 75K with Mobil 0w20 AFE again and ran that for 12k OCI in the next 8 month with 11k miles being pure highway driving
3) 3rd oil change at 87k with Mobil 0w20 EP 5 Qtz and 1.5 Qtz of AFE, that has 12k miles and again 11k miles on highway car now has 98.4k miles, and at 100k miles it will get Napa FS 0w20 for 10k OCI going forward.

2008 Lexus ES350 with 2GR-FE bought at 54k miles, original owner took it Lexus for everything, amazing maintenance history
original spec 5w30

I saw the last oil change sticker and it stated "5w30 Syn" which I now doubt as when I changed the VVT-i oil line for the rear cylinder bank to an all metal line from the 2011+ models to prevent the rubber section from bursting later on, at 60F in a garage the old oil was too thick, it had about 8k miles on at that point according to the oil sticker, and it was just too thick, I know what used oil looks like especially a synthetic oil which I have used a lot myself, which many many more miles. I feel because it was spec'd for 5w30 the maintenance on this vehicle before my ownership was done using Dino oil which from my engine rebuilding experience on Toyotas, I personally won't recommend as their piston run way too hot and cook up oil and you get carbon build up primarily on the oil return holes.

The above maintenance was performed at 59k miles along with various other needs as the ATF filter and complete fluid change using the oil cooler line, and the vehicle shifts better then before.

I now have 400 miles on the oil change using Rotella Gas Truck 5w20 Full Synthetic (only because it was $5.25 for a jug) and at the beginning on the oil change there was a slight valve train noise (intake VVT-i gear according to TSBs and 3 Toyota Techs) that went away within 1-2 second of a cold start, which now seems to be getting better and better as there in no noise on cold starts 9/10 times, this is in fact a common issue on neglected 2GR-FEs or when the maintenance is performed using Dino or bulk dealer oil, someone people have reported with engine flushes (which I don't believe or won't do myself, I rather drop the engine and change the VVT-i gears before "flushing" my engine) and Full Synthetic short oil changes to have cleaned up VVT-i gears enough to reduce or eliminate the noise. If I heard this noise on every single start up, the intake VVT-i gear would be considered bad and it would have to be changed, no oil changes or flushes will help.

I have read enough on these 2GR-FE engines to tell you that the so called piston slap is not a "common" issue, it is an issue that exist but not "common", I suspect bad maintenance history before your ownership, and other people being overly anal and calling something a piston slap from their own person diagnosis unless they got Toyota/Lexus to confirm this diagnosis.

my two 2GR-FEs have no piston slaps of any sort and the 14 Avalon sounds perfect from start up to driving, I have driven the Avalon very hard on high speeds for extended hours driving 110-130 mph, neither engine are burning any oil that can be seen on the dipstick, its always full.

2GR-FEs are very reliable engines, with 400k+ miles on many of them, I have looked into buying another one for a new driver. Also they spec'd the 2GR-FEs with 0w20 without really changing the tolerances, I haven't read that anywhere and sounds like speculation as it would cost too much redesign an engine just to change the oil spec, I believe the engine runs perfectly fine on 20/30 weights, that's it.

My recommendation is actually to diagnose maybe professionally or upload an video with audio of your so called piston slap that sounds like a diesel, are you burning any oil between oil changes? does your oil look like it has very obvious shavings (I have seen this before) if not, and your getting recommended mpg and have good power, I would just drive the car and change your oil using Full Synthetic oil with a Fram Ultra (change it every other oil change) at 5K OCIs until you get your vehicle properly diagnosed.
"I do not currently rebuild engines but I know what neglected or proper oil change maintenance can do to a Toyota engine as I have torn apart many of them."


"2014 Avalon with a 2GR-FE bought at 58k miles, original owner took it to Toyota dealership for all oil changes before I got.

original spec 0w20."

Me: Yes. Pretty much every 2GR-FE Motor 2010 and newer specs call for 0W 20 to my best knowledge unless I am mistaken. Thank you for sharing your experience with Toyota engines.

"40k miles on this 2GR-FE in 2 years
Engine oil changes:
1) 1st oil change at 61k miles with Mobil 0w20 AFE and ran that for 14k OCI in the next 8 month with 13.9K miles being pure highway driving.

2) 2nd oil change at 75K with Mobil 0w20 AFE again and ran that for 12k OCI in the next 8 month with 11k miles being pure highway driving

3) 3rd oil change at 87k with Mobil 0w20 EP 5 Qtz and 1.5 Qtz of AFE, that has 12k miles and again 11k miles on highway car now has 98.4k miles, and at 100k miles it will get Napa FS 0w20 for 10k OCI going forward."

Me: All very good information for 2014 Avalon 2GR-FE motor. Wow. OCI's that are anywhere between 10k and 14k. That's a great achievement and a nice long extended drain. Good stats.

"2008 Lexus ES350 with 2GR-FE bought at 54k miles, original owner took it Lexus for everything, amazing maintenance history."
originally spec 5w30."

Me: Ok now we are getting into what I read across other Lexus and Toyota forums ranging in the years that some manufacturing defects came into play and also right around where they changed from 5W30 to 0W20 on the 2GR-FE.

"I saw the last oil change sticker and it stated "5w30 Syn" which I now doubt as when I changed the VVT-i oil line for the rear cylinder bank to an all metal line from the 2011+ models to prevent the rubber section from bursting later on, at 60F in a garage the old oil was too thick."

Me:Yes I am aware of the solid metal line which supersedes the original metal/rubber line that is known to burst for the VVTI oil line. I have to confirm if this was replaced since 2009 year is affected in mine. Again. All good information.

"It had about 8k miles on at that point according to the oil sticker, and it was just too thick, I know what used oil looks like especially a synthetic oil which I have used a lot myself, which many many more miles. I feel because it was spec'd for 5w30 the maintenance on this vehicle before my ownership was done using Dino oil which from my engine rebuilding experience on Toyotas, I personally won't recommend as their piston run way too hot and cook up oil and you get carbon build up primarily on the oil return holes."

Me: Very good to know. To my best knowledge from what my eyes have been previed to from vehicle maintenance. All one original owner. All dealer oil changes. Whether they were all synthetic changes. I have yet to confirm. OEM calls for specifically 5W30 Synthetic with 5k OCI on my model year. I still have to get that vehicle maintenance sheet from dealer a year later.

"The above maintenance was performed at 59k miles along with various other needs as the ATF filter and complete fluid change using the oil cooler line, and the vehicle shifts better then before.
I now have 400 miles on the oil change using Rotella Gas Truck 5w20 Full Synthetic (only because it was $5.25 for a jug) and at the beginning on the oil change there was a slight valve train noise (intake VVT-i gear according to TSBs and 3 Toyota Techs) that went away within 1-2 second of a cold start, which now seems to be getting better and better as there in no noise on cold starts 9/10 times, this is in fact a common issue on neglected 2GR-FEs"

Me: Yes. This is what I have read about with the locking pin and or cam phasers with the locking pin on the VVTI gear not engaging properly upon startup. Across multiple Toyota/Lexus forums. Including TSB. I think I read somewhere that some model years the VVTI gear is known to have its bolts back out and destroy the whole unit with timing chain and adjusters. That particular issue might be the '10 model year. Common issue? Yes. Normal?.. Debatable....

"Or when the maintenance is performed using Dino or bulk dealer oil, someone people have reported with engine flushes (which I don't believe or won't do myself, I rather drop the engine and change the VVT-i gears before "flushing" my engine) and Full Synthetic short oil changes to have cleaned up VVT-i gears enough to reduce or eliminate the noise. If I heard this noise on every single start up, the intake VVT-i gear would be considered bad and it would have to be changed, no oil changes or flushes will help."

Me: Also great information cross referencing between real world experience and mitigating the issue. It sounds like top end oil starvation is caused due to three or possibly four factors. I am tempted to try an engine flush but don't want to with how sensitive this VVTI is with flow. Don't want to unintentionally clog up any oil gallies or passages or pickup screens as a result of doing a engine flush. Trying to clean slowly by using strictly synthetics, and was using gentler MMO in the crankcase since last Sept.

Naming the possible 3 to 4 factors. The VVTI gear locking pin. Using 5W30 DINO oil from factory for long periods of time and duration, possibly causing oil galley constriction in the block from sludge, or whether it be in the VVTI pickup screens. Or due to the locking pin mechanism being faulty. Or? Piston Ring landing tolerances in hindsight by Toyota/Lexus not being spec'd for 5W-30 but realizing clearances meant for 0W-20 years later after the fact. Or oil line hose failure delivering inadequate amounts of oil to the top end?

"I have read enough on these 2GR-FE engines to tell you that the so called piston slap is not a "common" issue, it is an issue that exist but not "common", I suspect bad maintenance history before your ownership, and other people being overly anal and calling something a piston slap from their own person diagnosis unless they got Toyota/Lexus to confirm this diagnosis.

My two 2GR-FEs have no piston slaps of any sort and the 14 Avalon sounds perfect from start up to driving, I have driven the Avalon very hard on high speeds for extended hours driving 110-130 mph, neither engine are burning any oil that can be seen on the dipstick, its always full."

2GR-FEs are very reliable engines, with 400k+ miles on many of them, I have looked into buying another one for a new driver. Also they spec'd the 2GR-FEs with 0w20 without really changing the tolerances, I haven't read that anywhere and sounds like speculation as it would cost too much redesign an engine just to change the oil spec, I believe the engine runs perfectly fine on 20/30 weights, that's it."

Me: Thank you for your experience and opinion on this.

"Also they spec'd the 2GR-FEs with 0w20 without really changing the tolerances."

Me: For which model years to run 0W20 from factory? 2010 and newer? Same ring tolerances for 2010 and newer? OR ARE ALL 2GR-FE 2009 and older spec'd with the same ring tolerances and can run on 0W20 oil? This is where the confusion begins for me since I suspect that ALL 2GR-FE motors even as old as '09-'07 should be back spec'd to 0W-20 oil. But I cannot deny or confirm, and not sure I dont want to run the risk of running that thin regularly unless I have confirmation. Even though I already have run that thin for two OCI'S. One I ran 5W 20 Castrol Edge for 10K. The other I ran 0W-40 Euro Castrol Edge which I am currently on and 700 mi in.

"My recommendation is actually to diagnose maybe professionally or upload an video with audio of your so called piston slap that sounds like a diesel, are you burning any oil between oil changes?"

Me: No. I am not burning any oil between changes what so ever. I check it weekly.

"Does your oil look like it has very obvious shavings (I have seen this before) if not, and your getting recommended mpg and have good power, I would just drive the car and change your oil using Full Synthetic oil with a Fram Ultra (change it every other oil change) at 5K OCIs until you get your vehicle properly diagnosed."

Me: No shavings that I can tell. Oil usually has good clarity left on it when I change it. I thought one time I saw microscopic particles in the oil. But wasn't sure if it was my eyes playing tricks? Or if it was possible miniscule aeration in the oil. Been wanting to put in an after market magnetic drain plug for some time now but cannot find one yet. If it exists for my vehicle.

Is there any filtration benefit to the Fram Ultra? Is it a tighter media? I have read conflicting info across multiple threads from users with using Fram Ultra on this engine as the media may be too tight, causing pressure surges and inadequate delivery of oil to top end.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences, advice and knowledge on the 2GR-FE. Really appreciate it. (This is why I type in novels too.) Lol.
 
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Top tier gas is independent of ethanol content. It's more a question of detergent additive requirements needed to attain top tier status.Premium fuels that are top tier have higher detergent levels as well as of course higher octane. But even 87 E10 top tier gas will have met top tier requirements,
 
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This is where the confusion begins for me since I suspect that ALL 2GR-FE motors even as old as '09-'07 should be back spec'd to 0W-20 oil. But I cannot deny or confirm, and not sure I don't want to run the risk of running that thin regularly unless I have confirmation.
if you run any 20/30 weight you will be fine, I'm running 20 weight in the 08 Lexus, if you want I can report back as I put on mile quick, I doubt it's gonna really care.
Is there any filtration benefit to the Fram Ultra? Is it a tighter media? I have read conflicting info across multiple threads from users with using Fram Ultra on this engine as the media may be too tight, causing pressure surges and inadequate delivery of oil to top end.
Fram Ultra has the highest efficiency at 20 microns and its affordable from Walmart, and if you look at the media, its very robust, I have used it for 30k miles many times on many different engines, you could run the full 20k miles as recommended by Fram, and with these cartridges' filter, it came out as it went in but with old oil on it, the media didn't look beat up or even wavy. it isn't restrictive at all, also if your oil filter getting loaded up with insolubles is an issue, then you have real engine issues that aren't connected to the oil filter, and your engine is going towards failure very soon, my point is your oil filter having robust media filter and a higher efficiency is all that matters.

Don't use any additives, I would just use the motor oils as is, they have enough additives to clean up your engine, your vehicle getting up to operating "oil" temp, not coolant is crucial, and it looks like you drive enough highway so the oils themselves will do all the cleaning necessary.
 
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What you’re experiencing is pretty common on these engines, it’s usually the cam phasers - they bleed down after they sit for a while - and as you probably already know, it’s a $2,000 plus dollar job to replace them. Ton of labor. Timing chain cover has to come off and it’s a royal pain.

No additives or oil brands are going to fix It, the phasers need to be replaced. Although some have had success bouncing up to a 0w40 oil, so maybe try that.

Temperatures are going to change just how much oil will leak out of those phasers overnight...colder=likely more...warmer=less.

There is a oil feed system available online, but I’m not sure who makes it or exactly where it comes from. Not exactly cheap either ($300 plus). Doesn’t look exactly easy to install either. And I’m not sure if it evens works, but when you’re a company like Toyota, and you sell a ton of cars, and a ton of people have the same issue? Someone is going to design a “solution”. And it may or may not work.

There are plenty of people driving around with this issue and they keep these going for 100,000’s of thousands of miles. But yeah, I see why you’d try to find a solution...it’d drive me a little crazy until I’d just accept it for what it is (an old car with a lot of miles on it).
 
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