List the modern sludge producing engines.

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Mar 16, 2003
I was just curious as which engines are "sludge monsters"! [Big Grin] Should we stay away from buying these engines? My 2 engines are a 2002 LS1 v8 and a 2003 5.3 liter Chevy Vortec, are mine on this list?
No, you just have high copper wear, from God knows what since GM won't release any info! Copper or sludge? Decisions, Decisions... [LOL!] I guess in 10-15years we will all find out the hard way whether or not the high copper matters. [stretch] (myself included)
There are supposed to be one or more Toyota engines that are sludge monsters, but Toyota denies it. Some people have claimed that they had major sludge problems with certain Toyota cars and vans, and maybe some trucks and SUVs. I own a Saturn and Saturns may have some sludge problems. Obviously, I cannot prove this. But my car has some sludge even with 3000 mile oil changes. In fact, most of the time I changed oil sooner than 3000 miles-I would change it as soon as I started to get close to 3000 miles. I can think of only one time I exceeded 3000 miles, and that was only a couple of hundred miles. When I used Auto-RX, the oil filter after the first treatment definitely had some sludge in it! I really believe in Auto-RX, and I am very glad that I found this web site. Aside from Auto-RX, I have tried other products that people who come to this web site praise. For example, I used Berryman fuel injector cleaner, and it works! The Chevron fuel injector cleaner I used to use did nothing, as far as I could determine. But as soon as I used the Berryman product, the car performance went up. I am switching to Chevron motor oil and Wix oil filters (NAPA, CarQuest), because of favorable reviews by people at this site. Baldwin air filters are rated highly by some at this site, but I can't get my Baldwin air filters locally anymore. I will have to find another air filter.
I'd just like to clear up some misconceptions about the Saturn engines. First, it isn't just the DOHC motors that have the oil burning problem: it's ALL of the 1.9 liter engines. I don't know about the new Ecotec engines. People (i.e., Saturn dealers) will tell you that an engine redesign done in '97 or '98 fixed the problem: this is not true. The redesign had nothing to do with a new piston ring design, hence the problem continues to this day. Second, they don't have "sludge" problems, per se. They have the aforementioned oil-burning problem due to weak piston rings. This contributes to increased blow-by, which contributes to gunk in the intake, but not sludge in the crankcase (based on the popular definition of sludge). When I think of an engine with a sludging problem, I expect to find sludge built up throughout the engine, including the cylinder head. Plenty of us with oil-drinking Saturns have perfectly pristine cylinder heads and valves.
Kev, Is the Saturn oil burning problem due to lack of spring tension of the piston rings or the oil control ring groove or drain holes being too hot and filling with cooked oil and preventing the oil control rings from scraping the excess oil off the cylinder walls the way they should? Ken
Originally posted by Ken2: Kev, Is the Saturn oil burning problem due to lack of spring tension of the piston rings or the oil control ring groove or drain holes being too hot and filling with cooked oil and preventing the oil control rings from scraping the excess oil off the cylinder walls the way they should? Ken
Ken2 I believe both are true. My understanding is that the rings lack the proper amount of tension, and there are no drain holes. Whatever drainage solution they tried to incorporate (some claim none), it doesn't work. The oil cooks onto the rings and freezes them in place. This happens pretty quickly, usually by 50,000. Some people escape this problem: no one knows why. (Some have theorized it has to do with the way the rings are oriented in the grooves at the factory.) Whatever the case, it doesn't matter what kind of oil is used -- yes, that includes Mobil 1, Redline, and Amsoil -- or how often the oil is changed. Most people at have been running one kind of synthetic or another, and have been changing every 3000 miles: doesn't matter. Same goes, I hasten to add, for any kind of dino oil I can think of off the top of my head. Some say bad valve stem seals contribute to the problem, but I have yet to hear about someone reducing the problem with a valve seal replacement. I myself replaced the seals at 100,000 miles: they looked perfect to the naked eye, and the oil burning didn't improve. I've tried several Auto-RX treatments, several piston soaks, and a couple runs of Neutra in the crankcase to no avail. I'm now trying a rebel application (Frank might kill me) of Auto-RX. I dumped in one bottle at 1100 miles on dino oil, and have been topping off from a second bottle as the oil is burned off. I'm operating on the theory that the Auto-RX needs time to splash around the ring pack, and that the pace of oil burning prevents it from staying at a decent concentration within the oil to do the job. Topping off with more Auto-RX will hopefully maintain a good, heavy concentration throughout the treatment. When I drop this oil, I'll do it all again a second time on the next batch, and then follow up with one "Saturn-normal" application. When that's finished, I'll stick with the conventional oil for at least a few changes afterward. At that time, if it hasn't worked, it won't, and then I just give up!
Kev99sl: You said you didn't know anybody that replaced the valve seals on their Saturn and noticed a difference. Well, you will now. I have a '92 SL2. At about 20,000 miles it started to "use a little oil". By about 40,000 miles it was using in excess of 1QT per/1000 miles. I started a letter writing campaign with Saturn. They eventually relented and replaced the valve seals (back in those days they were admitting to having a problem in this area). That car never "used" a drop of oil after that date. As a side bar, I developed a valve problem at about 175,000 miles. While I had the head off, I decided to pull the pistons and replace the rings and rod bearings. As you described, the oil rings were "cooked" in burnt oil and "frozen" in place (but was still not "using" oil). This is a car that was mostly "freeway" driven and had oil & filter changed religiously at 3,000 miles. [ April 14, 2003, 10:28 PM: Message edited by: HarleyDude ]
HarleyDude, what kind of valve trouble did you develop? "They" also say that Saturns seldom have valve problems. You're right, you're one of the first Saturn owners I've heard of who had success with oil burning by changing the seals. Maybe it was more of an issue on early models?
kev99sl: I burnt a valve. Don't rightly know what caused it. I had been led to believe that the "bad seals" issue was more of an early model probelm, but who am I to tell?
Just curious about other measures that are used besides HTHS to determine the 'right' oil for an application. Was also curious what you guys would say about an olds Aurora engine. I have to change the oil real soon and i was wondering what you guys would reccomend. It has the de-stroked northstar motor from the caddy, a 4.0L DOHC v-8. I think last time i put in valvoline synthetic 10w30... not sure. any preferences? [ April 17, 2003, 04:39 AM: Message edited by: 5abi6r ]
I had heard that 4.7L dodge engines has some issues a year or two back due to not enough air flow through pvc (think that was a comment someone made)
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