Major Oil Leak - Oil Cooler Pipe Fail - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
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post #1 of 5 Old 06-14-2019, 03:31 PM Thread Starter
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Major Oil Leak - Oil Cooler Pipe Fail

Three days ago, my wife and I took our '09 Highlander to run some errands. We made a round trip of just 8 miles (fortunately). As we were waiting to turn into our neighborhood, we noticed a strange noise and thought it was the car next to us. But, when we turned into the neighborhood, we realized it was coming from our car, and initially thought it was something caught under the chassis.

It started to get louder, and more metallic-sounding, as we approached our driveway. I might add, neither the check engine or oil pressure light had come on. As soon as I pulled into our drive and stopped the engine, I hopped out to check. There was a fair amount of oil coming out from under the car. Naturally, I popped the hood and checked the dip stick. It was virtually dry! As I always check the oil when I fill up with gas, I knew whatever happened had to have occurred on our short trip. So, we jumped into my wife's car, and retraced our route to see if there were any signs of oil leaking along the way, and where it may have started.

If it wasn't so gut-wrenching, it would have been comical. About 5 or 6 blocks from our house, we could see a light streak of oil on the road, which gradually got worse. Basically, it was like Hansel & Gretel, but instead of breadcrumbs, we were following an oil trail. We didn't even need to know where we were going, as it was so clearly marked on the road. Each stop we made on our errands left a puddle of oil. It trailed all the way to our destination and back home, where it tapered off just about where we started hearing the noise.

It didn't take long to figure out what happened. A friend of our neighbor's is a mechanic, and offered to take a look. But, he was already pretty sure what the problem was. And, in fact, he was right. Our oil cooler pipe had failed. One of the rubber components had sprung a leak, draining every bit of oil in just a matter of minutes. He said he was aware of a TSB that had been issued for it, but wasn't sure if it was still in effect.

In fact, it was. Or, as Toyota calls it, an "enhanced warranty" was in effect. Check out this thread to see the actual letter.

In short, repairs would be made pursuant to the "enhanced warranty," if our car was either under 10 years old, or 150,000 miles, whichever came first. We have 124,000 miles, and our car would be 10 years old just 2 1/2 weeks from the date of the incident! I don't think I've ever been so glad that a car of ours broke down when it did. As the dealer told us, just 10 years and one day after the "date of first use," and we would have been out of pocket for the repairs. And, possibly for an engine replacement! Since we were within the "enhanced warranty" requirements, the repairs were covered. The dealer even sent and paid for the tow truck to pick it up.

We just picked up the car today, and it sounds fine. They ran diagnostics, scoped it, and looked for metal shavings in the oil. Everything checked out OK. Still, I was concerned about what happens if the engine has trouble over the next few months, or year. I was given some assurance that Toyota would make good if that were the case. Especially, since there are detailed records on all past maintenance on the vehicle, as well as the oil cooler pipe fail.

So, in the end, it was a happy ending. Hopefully, someone out there reads this and discovers their repairs will be covered. Some of you may not have experienced this, and might go ahead and replace the oil cooler pipe, just as a preventative. It would be worth the money. Our situation was the best case scenario for having a failure. I've read other posts that say they were on the highway, and by the time they knew something was wrong, the engine seized. You definitely don't want to wait for that to happen.

Also, it's my understanding that the bad oil cooler pipes were limited to certain lot numbers. So, Toyota doesn't really know which vehicles are affected. That explains why there wasn't a recall. The bottom line, I don't think they'll pay for preventative maintenance. They'll only pay when the pipe fails. So, it's a gamble. Wait till it fails, and hope you're not on the highway, traveling along a lonely desert stretch. Or, go ahead and pay the $600-$1,000 out of pocket.

I hope this helps.
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post #2 of 5 Old 06-14-2019, 05:08 PM
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Its well document on the forum as a problem and a must do fix in stickys. People come and post about problems that we all know about that do spend time here.

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post #3 of 5 Old 06-14-2019, 05:10 PM
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Mine's an '08, heard about the problem when I signed onto Toyota Nation. Since back then I was making regular trips out to Colorado I just paid Toyota to make the change. So, at the time you're right, unless it showed a leak you had to pay for it yourself but I sure wasn't going to risk it popping out on the big road.

It's been a while but my recollection was that there might have been two rubber lines, one up top and one down under, but perhaps the second one was only if you had the cooler for the towing package. You might check to see if you needed both. Other than one other repair I'd still buy a new one in a heart beat if this one vanished.


For now you sure are a Lucky Ducky you caught it.
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post #4 of 5 Old 06-15-2019, 02:33 AM
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if this was my situation, I would get rid of that car at the earliest opportunity. There is no such thing as no damage for an engine run without oil. Damage was done, you just don't know what it will show up as later. Surface hardness only goes so deep. Once that wears away (due to a lack of lubrication) the metal below it is much softer. Let's say a camshaft wears out, do you really think Toyota is going to cover your 10+ year old engine? i don't believe one word of what the dealer told you. Scoped it? Where did they scope? Down the spark plug hole? There is no oil in the combustion chamber naturally. That won't show anything. Did they remove a valve cover and inspect all the camshafts, valve actuators etc? Oil is critical in these areas. How about the crankshaft? Did they remove the oil pan and inspect the crankshaft bearings? They would need to remove the bearing caps to see the condition. Highly doubtful they did this. Again, this is just my opinion.
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post #5 of 5 Old 06-15-2019, 08:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nme7 View Post
if this was my situation, I would get rid of that car at the earliest opportunity. There is no such thing as no damage for an engine run without oil. Damage was done, you just don't know what it will show up as later. Surface hardness only goes so deep. Once that wears away (due to a lack of lubrication) the metal below it is much softer. Let's say a camshaft wears out, do you really think Toyota is going to cover your 10+ year old engine? i don't believe one word of what the dealer told you. Scoped it? Where did they scope? Down the spark plug hole? There is no oil in the combustion chamber naturally. That won't show anything. Did they remove a valve cover and inspect all the camshafts, valve actuators etc? Oil is critical in these areas. How about the crankshaft? Did they remove the oil pan and inspect the crankshaft bearings? They would need to remove the bearing caps to see the condition. Highly doubtful they did this. Again, this is just my opinion.
Agreed...

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