Engine Sludge!!!!!

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Apr 18, 2004
I recently came across this website loking for info for my 2001 Toyota Highlander. It has low miles, <36,000 and seems to have lost some power. Then I realize that the engine in the Highlander has a major design flaw that results in an unusual amount of sludge build up. So...tonight I check the oil fill and there was a ton on gritty oil, looked like the material you see on common ashpalt shingles. [Mad] [Mad] I have followed the manufacture's recommendations regarding oil service. My other car with more miles doesn't look anything like that; I can see the metal parts of the engine. I noticed on an old thread on Edmund's.com that Bobistheoilguy website previously had a link to information about this, but could not locate it tonight. Does anyone remember this? I will call the dealer tomorrow, b/c this looks like it needs serious professional help. Any recommendations?
Your probably looking at the oil baffle in the valve cover. Check again and see if you can see way back in the corners of the fill hole and stick your finger around the inside to feel for sludge. I have a feeling your engine is fine. You probably just got all bent out of shape because your engine is within the campaign. Good maintenance practices will keep sludge at bay. Relax! [Smile]
As long as you have documentation showing that you have performed oil changes at the factory recommended intervals you should hopefully not have a problem. Toyota was reported to be being hard headed about doing the needed repairs, but more recent reports have said that Toyota has become more customer friendly on this. The next step is to go to the dealer and find out what they can do to help you. Good luck! John
Hold on, take a deep breath, I think you're OK. Is this what you saw?:  - The 1MZ acutally has a rubbery polymer coating on the top of the oil baffle. When I first saw it on my Highlander, I paniced too. But it's not sludge. But don't take my word for it. Do two things to reassure yourself. First, carefully push some paper towel against it. It's porous, and you'll see some relatively clean oil soak into the paper. That's not going to happen with sludge. Second, if you must, go to your nearest dealer, mosie out amongst the shiny new Camrys, and look under the hood of a brand new 1MZ car and open the filler (only the LE and XLE are still 1MZ, SEs are 3MZ). You will see this coating in every one of them. Honestly, I can't imagine why they put this coating there. When I had the front head cover off my '03 Camry (unrelated minor seal repair), I struck up a conversation with the tech. He didn't know what it was for, but thought it might be to absorb valvetrain noise. Who knows... Final reassurance. That photo was taken in 8/03. My head cover was off in 2/04. The coating is the same, and the inside of my 1MZ is totally spotless. You're going to be OK. . . [Cool] [ May 05, 2004, 11:02 PM: Message edited by: ekpolk ]
It is more then likely for NVH control. A lot of valvetrain noise can hurt sales. It is just an extra detail that makes the interior quiter.
Well dealer has it and will look at it. Also had some other indications of possible engine trouble. Check engine light recently came 2 times and there seems to be more smoke than usual from the tailpipe. We will see.
Originally posted by first5ny: Well dealer has it and will look at it. Also had some other indications of possible engine trouble. Check engine light recently came 2 times and there seems to be more smoke than usual from the tailpipe. We will see.
I certainly hope it works out for you. Obviously, you could still have sludge, or even some other problem. BTW, this came up in August last year on the ToyotaNation board, and that's when I took the above picture. Another owner was sure he had sludge based upon seeing that coating. He finally checked a car at the dealer, and saw the same thing. Of course, cars with sludge will have the coating too, so the point is really just not to be misled by this one lone underhood feature. You should, as you are, have things checked out if you have any substantial indicator of trouble. Again, good luck with it.
Dealer just called and said that they took the valve cover off and no signs of sludge. Engine was "spotless" in his words. [Cheers!] what a relief! Thanks for the help!
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