Trying ARX for a sludged-up Toyota

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Recently, I asked my fiance when she had her oil changed last in her 2003 RAV4, as I had sent off an oil report for my own car. She didn't remember when, but knew it had been a long while. I offered to do it for her, since I'm now maintaining my own new car *'06 Civic Hybrid}. She was interested, but we never set a date certain. Told her I'd take a sample of the oil and have it analysed just to see what things looked like. A couple of weeks later, the day after I got my Blackstone report back *stellar result} [Big Grin] , we were talking on the phone and she said... "were you still interested in changing the oil in my car ? It had a funny sound when I started it this morning...like metal on metal" I told her I'd be there in a few minutes. Got to her house, pulled the dipstick...and I couldn't believe what I saw. It was a semi-solid black goo. Chunks were present on the dipstick. I wiped it...and found the oil had varnished itself on to the stick - I couldn't get all of it off. I also noticed that nothing was present on the dipstick when I reinserted / pulled it again. Not even near the 'add' mark *2qt between 'add' and 'full', per the manual}. Took a couple minutes to get the oil cap off - and when I did - sludge was practically falling out of the cap, and was packed in the recesses of it. The car has the 1AZ-FE 2.0L w/ VVT-i, with a 4 qt sump. 2qt of Citgo 5W-30 *I picked it for the moly} got it back to the full level on the dipstick. Started the engine and heard a grating metallic sound as it fired to life, but then it quietened down *as much as this engine can, that is - it's always been a noisy little bugger that doesn't have much grunt, IMO}. We ran it at idle for a couple of minutes, then took it to 1500 for a few seconds, back to idle, and then up to 2000rpm and back to idle. The top end sounds a little noisy, and I can hear there's an attendant noise from somewhere in the top end. Nothing else amiss, from what I can tell. I'm hoping the bottom end is ok, and I'm thinking we may have gotten to the car just in time *it's a leased vehicle, so we have to keep it running until Nov 2007 unless we term it early for the Honda Element that we've had our eyes on}. 45,500 on the clock. When I pressed her for when she thought it had been changed last, she thought "last fall". Her work driving would amount to < 6200 mi over that period - when I met her, she had about 31K *?} on the odo - I'm thinking it may not have been changed since *then*, the way the oil looked. We live in Northern IL, so it gets cold in the winter, and we just suffered through 100F temps like the rest of the country last week. As we were driving to the auto parts store to pick up that 2qt and 5 more for an oil change to be done tomorrow along with oil / air filters, I told her of Auto-Rx, and how it helps sludged-up engines. She trusts my knowledge and instincts when it comes to cars, and so we're ordering a couple of bottles today. My questions: - I was going to take a sample of the existing oil - but with the dilution of two new quarts just added last night - is it going to be a waste to do so ? I have extra kits on hand and could easily take the sample. As I alluded to above - I don't know what brand is in the crankcase now, or how many miles are on it. I'm thinking if I do, that a TBN would be useless, btw. - I've seen mention of a third cleaning cycle *the ARX website lists 2 for sludged-up engines} by a couple people on this board. Figured I'd use the varnished dipstick and oil fill hole as guides for a 3rd cycle if needed. Thoughts ? - Any special considerations / issues for this engine, for Toyophiles out there ? I'm a Hondanista, myself [Wink] , so I don't know a ton about Toyota's engine offerings. I'm guessing that I'll have to monitor the seals / gaskets quite closely after all the **** has been removed. I haven't seen the bottom end yet, but the top end gaskets look ok from what I've seen. - Now, she wants to go to synth once we get the cleaning done. She didn't like it too much when I laughed on this one. But she wants to do it because she left this oil in for so long. I also reminded her we're doing this just to get to Nov 2007 *we had already decided prior that we wouldn't keep the vehicle}. I'll have to remember to tell her about the gaskets and potential for leakage, now that I write this. - Finally *being facetious here, no answer needed}...WHY do women do this with their vehicles ? I've now seen this firsthand, and we've agreed that I'll be doing all maint going forward, as I don't want to be replacing her Element after 3 years. While I felt bad that I didn't think about this, we don't share a household yet, so her vehicle has been 'her responsibility' - but no more [Roll Eyes] I'm not a 'Yota fan, but seeing the condition of that poor engine made me want to cry. Thanks for reading, if you made it this far. It was cathartic to write about it [Bang Head] Sorry about the irregular formatting - apparently, parentheses aren't allowed in this forum
 
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Even though 14,000 miles seems like a lot on dino, I can't believe it sludged that badly. I feel for you. I'm going through the same thing with my fiance. She has a '00 Ford Escort ZX2 with 90k that somehow is still not paid for. She doesn't have the money to take a loss on the car right now (saving for a wedding next Sept). So I Auto-Rx'd her car in order to keep it running and keep the repairs to a minimum for the next year and a half before she gets rid of it. She is just about up to 1500 miles on the clean phase. The difference between the car's performance is night and day. No funny sounding starts, no vibrating at idle, accelerates much better. I'm sure the engine will last another 18 months. The rest of it, who knows? The Auto-Rx can't hurt in your case. I think it will at least get you 15 months out of the car. Good thing it was a lease. You'd better take control of that Element when you get it. I'll be doing the same thing with my counterpart's choice when the time comes. Good luck.
 
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Watertown, New York
Auto-Rx will definitely help you make it to Nov 07. Since the vehicle is leased, I would do one cleaning/rinse cycle and see how it turns out. If it is still sludged really bad, then do another Auto-Rx cycle. I would not use synthetic oil in a leased vehicle. Just use a quality dino oil like Havoline, etc for 4 - 5K OCI. I couldn't justify spending the extra money on synthetic. Just my opinion.
 
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Wow man, I really feel for you. I would deffinitely do one autoRX treatment and see where that gets you. Stick with the dino, its not your car after all. Its a lease. I would even feel confident using the supertech filters, and supertech oil. Its much better than not changing the oil at all. I would run a
 
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Also, don't waste the money on a UOA, it's not your car. Just keep doing 3K dino OCI's since you don't care if you can extended OCI's or if synthetic is beter in this engine which is the only reason to do UOA.. or to find gasket leaks. Again, who cares. Just my 2 cents.
 
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If it was REALLY that bad this would be my course of action. Drop the pan, clean it and replace. Take a heavy solvent like kerosene and FILL the engine with it, let it sit over-night then drain. Pour in 5 quarts (or how-ever many the engine specs for full) and a new filter and run the car for 10 minutes, allow to get to operational temperature. Turn the car off, drain the oil and change the filter, change the PCV valve and then refill again with a HDEO and run a 1500 mile OCI. After changing the oil after the 1500 mile OCI add Auto-rx, and do a Auto-RX cycle. Continue to use HDEO's and high-filtration oil-filters like a Purolator Pureone While this might seem drastic, and overkill for a leased car, its what I myself would do.
 
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[freaknout] It sounds to me like you need shock troops! If that was my problem, I'd give it a fresh oil & filter change with any cheap dino oil in the recommended weight, & then do what Bob used to do for sludged up Toyotas. Add a full 12 oz bottle of Schaeffer Neutra to the crankcase, then drive normally for about 600 miles- just remember it will work best with a well-warmed engine. Change the oil & filter again, and if it still looks bad do a second application. I don't think you'll get the deep cleaning of Auto-Rx, but you'll knock the top several layers of crud & goo off in a hurry! To really do a great job, finish up with Auto-Rx after the Neutra. I do *not* recommend mixing ARX & Neutra in the same oil fill- neither does Frank. As I recall, Bob said he sold a lot of Neutra to Toyota dealerships. [Wink]
 
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Problem with using solvents is the engine is going to continue making sludge and you don't want to use harsh chemistry every time your removing sludge. My latest test car is a 1996 Lexus ES 300 with the infamous V-6. Car had been driven with sludge and solvents it has 120,000 miles. I replaced O2 Sensors and new plugs started Auto-Rx application using Castrol GTX 10-30 wt. this morning I changed out the first rinse oil and changed filter. Compression is excellent. A/C compressor has quited down (no I don't know why) and air blows much colder. Temperature Guage is down a notch, perghaps thats why.
 
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I would for sure do what Vspec mentioned in dropping the pan and cleaning it till spotless, along with cleaning the pickup screen on the pump. Button it back up and proceed with Auto-RX. That will assure you that you'll have flow from the pump at least!
 
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I say give the Neutra a try then go arx. If that fails I like the kerosene or diesel route. Only, if you are worried about metal on metal contact, you may want to fill your engine to the brim with cheap oil after you dump the kero or diesel to get a little bit cushion in the bearings before you crank it up.
 

UzLess

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I took it to the garage on a flatbed. Before it arrived, I started the engine just to see where things stood. Sounded like a diesel for about 10 seconds, then quietened down. Idle rose and the noise started coming back, along with the oil pressure light flickering. Shut it down after 20sec or so. Garage called us... "you need a new engine". Of course, they only started the car as a courtesy, same as I did. To be honest, I don't think they want to really do any work on it. $4300 quoted for a used one. I asked him to pull the pan / clean the pickup tube / strainer, check the pump; we wouldn't hold him responsible if it didn't improve things. I figured I'd try the ARX after that - if the engine is truly shot, I've nothing to lose.
 

UzLess

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quote:
Originally posted by Drew99GT: I would for sure do what Vspec mentioned in dropping the pan and cleaning it till spotless, along with cleaning the pickup screen on the pump. Button it back up and proceed with Auto-RX. That will assure you that you'll have flow from the pump at least!
Looks like this would have been the best course of action...here's the latest... I changed out the oil / filter a few days ago; only 25 more miles were put on the engine before I changed it out. Didn't see these posts until after I had changed out...and I'm not about to pull the pan myself, not knowing if I have to crack the mounts and hoist the engine to do so, but guessing that I would. I'm not a pro mechanic. ARX hasn't arrived yet, btw. Car ran fine for about 4 days, then last night, I get the call... "the engine's making a terrible noise when I go above 35mph, I've got a check engine light, and the oil light is flickering...it only goes off when I give it more gas" She had her friend pick her up and drive her to work today; I told her to get ready for a big repair bill or a new engine; $1000-7000. Told her I figured the pickup tube / screen is clogged. I have to go over and look at this thing in a few minutes. Do I even start the motor ? I figure the most I could do is change oil / filter again, then put the ARX in when it comes. Should I do that, or just have it flatbedded to the garage ? Her nephew works for a garage; I told her not to even take it to the 'Yota dealer right now; they'll be telling her 'all new engine' for sure, since it's their vehicle [crushedcar]
 

UzLess

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Oh - she also mentioned that the engine was very hot - and it runs hot as it is. Also, she pulled the dipstick - still full, minus the 8oz I left for the ARX. So the oil didn't leak out Sad, I know... [Frown]
 
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