Came across this article in the online WSJ. Some of you that own recent Toyota's may be interested in.
Toyota to Pay for Fixing Engines
Damaged by Oil-Sludge Buildup
By a WALL STREET JOURNAL Staff Reporter
DETROIT -- Toyota Motor Corp.'s U.S. sales arm, in an unusual response to customer complaints, says it is sending letters to more than three million owners of 1997-2001 models and offering to cover the cost of repairs for engine damage caused by oil-sludge buildup.
The action, announced by Toyota on Friday and reported by Automotive News on its Web site, comes after the Japanese auto maker received about 3,000 complaints about severe engine damage caused when the oil thickened into a gooey sludge, or gel.
In a statement, Toyota said it isn't aware of any cases of "oil gelling in properly maintained engines," and said it will pay for repairs as a "one-time goodwill gesture" if owners "can show reasonable evidence of regular engine maintenance."
Toyota said the program will last one year. The auto maker said the action is a "special policy adjustment," not a recall, and is aimed only at what it described as a small number of customers who have suffered oil-sludge damage. The action covers 1997-2001 Toyota Camrys, Solaras, Sienna minivans, Avalon sedans, and Highlander sport utilities, and Lexus ES300s and RX300s. These are some of Toyota's best-selling vehicles, and a Toyota spokesman said this is the largest such action ever by Toyota's U.S. sales operation.
Toyota, in a posting to some automotive Internet sites, said it regards the oil-sludge problem as a "maintenance issue," caused when customers fail to change their oil according to the schedules set out in owners' manuals. Toyota's owners' manuals call for oil changes every 7,500 miles, or six months, under normal driving conditions, and 5,000 miles or four months, under severe operating conditions.
Oil-sludge problems occur most frequently in engines that aren't properly maintained, and are run for short trips in cold, damp climates, a Toyota spokesman said. Toyota said it plans to take additional steps to inform customers about the importance of regular maintenance.
Updated February 12, 2002 12:01 a.m. EST