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Is this sound normal for 2GRFE highlander engines?

  • No, it needs engine replacement soon

    Votes: 3 60.0%
  • No, but this is not to be concerned of

    Votes: 1 20.0%
  • Yes, this is normal

    Votes: 1 20.0%
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2012 HL Ltd
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39 Posts
Discussion Starter #21
I too had an engine failure, it was likely the camshaft gear which is a weak point. I swapped in a used engine a few months ago and can verify that the VIN is on the block. When I shopped around, I correlated the block VIN to the car and got the service history that way. I did that for me now but will also be a + at resale.

The cold start sounds fine. I do hear something at idle, warm... a slight knocking sound. I would run it w/o the Serp belt installed and see if it changes. The answer to that will narrow things down quite a bit.

A great way to check the overall engine sludge condition is to remove the VVTi screens (either clean or replace). Very easy to do from up top, there's one on each bank behind the oil line banjo bolts.

Bob
Thanks so much for sharing your experience and you are so right! These engines do in fact have vin numbers attached to them and after looking through some pictures I took while I was at the shop did the swap, I realized original engine has a metal plate attached to it for the code while engine that was sold to me had the plate broken off. This explains why I was unable to verify vin number (therefore mileage) on the swapped engine 馃槙
 

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2012 HL Ltd
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Discussion Starter #22
Here's some example 3.5 V6 Highlander cold starts (on my personal Toyota).
Part one:
Part two:
Thanks so much for sharing. I am even more convinced that engine I have doesn't have 33K miles
 

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2012 HL Ltd
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Discussion Starter #23
I would try this additive. NAPA dealers carry it and I trust their brands more than I do big name parts stores. It is only 1/3 a quart. If you are sending oil for analysis, I would not add it until after you send it as planned.


The V6 is a noisy engine.

My lifter noise was loud at start up and when hot until I put in an additive. The lifter noise is mostly gone but there is some noise when cold under slight acceleration which I believe is piston slap. This noise goes away once warmed up.
Thank you. I will definitely give it a try after having the engine oil analyzed
 

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2012 HL Ltd
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Discussion Starter #24
Some very slight tick is normal. What you have is not normal "ticking" sound these engines make. That sounds like an engine that was run for it's entire life on the same sludged up oil.
I would try a couple of oil and filter changes with proper 0W-20 synthetic and see if it changes one way or the other. BTW rule out the belt tensioner as I have heard them sound like an engine ready to fail. But yeah that one knocks louder than the Kubota diesel tractor I looked at to buy the other day. Sorry
Thanks for sharing. I used Pennzoil platinum fully synthetic 0w20 oil and Fram ultra synthetic oil filter. will do give a lifter cleaner a shot after the oil analysis. will also check the tensioner too!
 

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2012 HL Ltd
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Discussion Starter #25
My 2010 Highlander with 76,000 mi makes a somewhat similar noise at idle after the engine has warmed up, but it's not as loud as yours. I don't hear it while driving around or even when sitting still if the rpms are revved a little. I don't hear it at start up or while the engine is warming up on high idle. The previous owner had the oil changed at the dealer every 5,000 miles, so I think it is not related to oil sludge or other abuse. While I find it mildly annoying, I'm not really worried about it. But I'm not a mechanic, so I could be wrong.

I've also heard a couple other 2GR engines that made similar noises. I remember reading something a while back about the 2GR-FE engines being noisy.
This is somewhat relieving to know. Yes, mine is very distinct and noticeable at idle when engine is at operating temperature
 

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Highlander(s)
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Thanks for sharing. I used Pennzoil platinum fully synthetic 0w20 oil and Fram ultra synthetic oil filter. will do give a lifter cleaner a shot after the oil analysis. will also check the tensioner too!
Please do NOT fall for the mechanic in a bottle snake oil. More times than not those things do more long term harm than good. Experiment with your oil brands. Give Mobil 1 a try, try an OEM filter as well (buy it from a dealer not from Amazon or online as fakes have been prevalent), but additives are junk and typically cause more harm long term. If it's a point of last resort to try to quiet it down before replacing it or to squeak out a few more miles from an ailing engine it's one thing. But they do NOT fix anything. When I was in the business we used them when a customer didn't want to actually "fix" a worn out or noisy engine. They would accomplish the job BUT usually other issues would come back to haunt the owner.
These engines are quite a lot noisier than the one they replaced (the older 3.0/3.3) V6. Thanks to a timing belt design (rather than chains) they were much quieter and also a little smoother overall.
We used to have a Gen 1 HL with that engine and I always was so impressed when listening to it vs the Gen 2 version. Night and day actually. Now I have gotten so used to it I don't hear it.
Now we have one that is actually a little noisier in our brand new RAV4 Hybrid. Those GDI type engines make quite a bit more racket.
Bottom line, have the oil analyzed. See if any metal is showing up in it. If not experiment with a different oil brand, different filter and so on. But don't put snake oil in a basically sound engine
 

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2012 HL Ltd
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Discussion Starter #28
Please do NOT fall for the mechanic in a bottle snake oil. More times than not those things do more long term harm than good. Experiment with your oil brands. Give Mobil 1 a try, try an OEM filter as well (buy it from a dealer not from Amazon or online as fakes have been prevalent), but additives are junk and typically cause more harm long term. If it's a point of last resort to try to quiet it down before replacing it or to squeak out a few more miles from an ailing engine it's one thing. But they do NOT fix anything. When I was in the business we used them when a customer didn't want to actually "fix" a worn out or noisy engine. They would accomplish the job BUT usually other issues would come back to haunt the owner.
These engines are quite a lot noisier than the one they replaced (the older 3.0/3.3) V6. Thanks to a timing belt design (rather than chains) they were much quieter and also a little smoother overall.
We used to have a Gen 1 HL with that engine and I always was so impressed when listening to it vs the Gen 2 version. Night and day actually. Now I have gotten so used to it I don't hear it.
Now we have one that is actually a little noisier in our brand new RAV4 Hybrid. Those GDI type engines make quite a bit more racket.
Bottom line, have the oil analyzed. See if any metal is showing up in it. If not experiment with a different oil brand, different filter and so on. But don't put snake oil in a basically sound engine

Thanks for these input. Definitely my plan is to 1) have the oil analyzed to get an idea of the health of the engine and also idea on the mileage to document 2) will definitely try 5w-20 and 5w30 oil next to see if it help make any difference 3) as a last report I will give the lifter cleaner a shot once lost all hope. I also checked the oil cap and can see the sludge inside, not sure if this is the norm with these engines (attached picture for reference)
327220

327221

327222
 

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2012 HL Ltd
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Discussion Starter #29
Hi Bob
Is the VIN number stamped into the block or is it on a sticker? If stamped somewhere, can you please tell us where or send a picture showing us?
Thank you
This may help: for mine, it was located on right side of the engine / right under the valve cover / above transmission. It is a small metal plate that gets attached to the engine.This picture may help

327223
 

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If all I am going by is that cap IMO that engine was NOT cared for. Either improper oil or no oil changes. If you looked at mine with 149k on it the engine it would be spotless. But mine has been serviced timely (every 5k) and with only Mobil 1 0w20 going back to the day it was put in service.
 

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2012 Camry XLE Red
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There are several regular maintenance things you can do , to miminize this.

Use Chevron Techtron cleaner in your gas.
Change oil and filter and use quality oil such as Penzoil Platinum Syn 5-30 or 0-20 and toyota brand filter.
Clean your throttle body with Throttle body cleaner and clean MAP sensor with MAP cleaner (instructions are on this forum).
Make sure you have a Clean quality air filter.
Clean or replace PCV valve. Only replace with Toyota orginial.
Make sure you dont have any loose vacuum hoses.
Replace sparkplugs, if over 100k miles. Only use denso or toyota.
Use good name brand gas.
 
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2012 Camry SE, 4 cyl
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Something to consider is when you have noise, you have excessive wear. The lifter uses a cushion of oil to reduce the clearance between the parts in your valve train so they do not hammer on each other. The noise is caused when there is excessive clearance and they collide with each other.

Many people say do not use additives. Your engine was abused and oil was not changes regularly (as you can see by looking at the crud on your oil filler cap). It will not go away on its own by using a quality synthetic oil. I change my oil at 5K intervals for 40K miles and proved this (previous 80K was done at 10K mile intervals).

As noted earlier I have the same engine, 125K miles and adding a detergent additive cleaned the lifters and eliminated the lifter noise. The noise was reduced within 2 days and gone within a month. If your noise is coming from the top side of the engine, you may want to try the same.
 

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The cheapest and easiest thing to try to quiet the engine is use a Toyota OEM oil filter. I've done oil changes myself in all my vehicles over the years and never had a problem until I changed the oil in my 2013 Venza at 66,000 miles and used a different oil filter. For some reason, I bought what I thought was a good quality oil filter at Autozone. After the oil change the engine noise was night-and-day noticeably louder. The ticking was definitely worse at idle and you could hear it easily from inside the car. I read through some forums and immediately went back to a Toyota OEM filter. The noise was gone immediately. Just my 2 cents...
 

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Your engine doesn't sound that bad honestly. Mine has 185k km and sounds similar. If it doesn't burn oil then just maintain it properly and you'll be fine for years.
 

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2012 HL Ltd
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Discussion Starter #37
Your engine doesn't sound that bad honestly. Mine has 185k km and sounds similar. If it doesn't burn oil then just maintain it properly and you'll be fine for years.
That is relieving to hear. Thanks for sharing
 

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Discussion Starter #38
The cheapest and easiest thing to try to quiet the engine is use a Toyota OEM oil filter. I've done oil changes myself in all my vehicles over the years and never had a problem until I changed the oil in my 2013 Venza at 66,000 miles and used a different oil filter. For some reason, I bought what I thought was a good quality oil filter at Autozone. After the oil change the engine noise was night-and-day noticeably louder. The ticking was definitely worse at idle and you could hear it easily from inside the car. I read through some forums and immediately went back to a Toyota OEM filter. The noise was gone immediately. Just my 2 cents...
Very interesting. I will definitely use OEM oil filter. They are actually much cheaper than Fram Ultra Synthetic and easily available at local shops or online. What was the oil you used in your Venza? I will test 5w-30 first then maybe 10w-30 to see if it makes any difference too. Any preference Pennzoil Platinum 0w20 or Mobil 1 0w-20 extended performance? I have been driving for a week now; I was really hoping sound to go away as engine is breaking in but still same
 

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Discussion Starter #39
Something to consider is when you have noise, you have excessive wear. The lifter uses a cushion of oil to reduce the clearance between the parts in your valve train so they do not hammer on each other. The noise is caused when there is excessive clearance and they collide with each other.

Many people say do not use additives. Your engine was abused and oil was not changes regularly (as you can see by looking at the crud on your oil filler cap). It will not go away on its own by using a quality synthetic oil. I change my oil at 5K intervals for 40K miles and proved this (previous 80K was done at 10K mile intervals).

As noted earlier I have the same engine, 125K miles and adding a detergent additive cleaned the lifters and eliminated the lifter noise. The noise was reduced within 2 days and gone within a month. If your noise is coming from the top side of the engine, you may want to try the same.
Totally agree - it will not going on its own as it seems to be sludge built up over long period of time. With the theory of oil being cushion to reduce clearance, this also can mean thicker oil can help too. I also read transmission oil being used to clean the lifters / cams. Any thoughts?
 

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Very interesting. I will definitely use OEM oil filter. They are actually much cheaper than Fram Ultra Synthetic and easily available at local shops or online. What was the oil you used in your Venza? I will test 5w-30 first then maybe 10w-30 to see if it makes any difference too. Any preference Pennzoil Platinum 0w20 or Mobil 1 0w-20 extended performance? I have been driving for a week now; I was really hoping sound to go away as engine is breaking in but still same
0w20 and I believe Mobil 1.


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