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2014 Highlander Limited
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I recently purchased a 2009 Camry XLE (4 cylinder) from a good friend at work. It has 235,000 miles on it, BUT, I remember when she bought it new, and know that virtually EVERY MILE is her 120 mile round-trip commute between Menomonie WI and St.Paul on I-94 every day. So ALL freeway miles, and looks/runs like new. She took it into Toyota dealer for EVERY oil change (recorded on CarFax also), only changed ~every 7000 miles and NOT synthetic. Wasn't thrilled with THAT, BUT it never used oil, even though from "that group of cars" that had the oil (ring?) issues. Figured if it didn't use oil after 230k miles (and they didn't have to fill between 7k oil changes!), it was a safe bet.
OK, refreshing the car for my daughter and changing/flushing ALL fluids, I switched to Mobil-1 "Hi-mileage" synthetic, but still the 5W-20 Toyota specifies. I was disappointed this spring/summer that it took about a quart over 2,000 miles. Granted, synthetic AND daughter drove ~15 miles to work from school, vs 120 freeway miles each day. But I'm wondering how much is due to synthetic, and how much to 'short trips/cold-starts'.... And, would I be better off going back to 5W-20 conventional oil, or try going up to 10W-30 Mobil-1 perhaps? Anyone have experience with this situation? Thanks!!!
 

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According to Toyota, excessive consumption is only if it exceeds 1 qrt per 1200 miles.
You have no case with Toyota.
You have 2 options. Well, maybe 3.
1. keep adding oil
2. replace pistons and rings with updated ones that have larger oil holes and new rings, designed to prevent oil caking.
3. aggressively Seafoam engine oil. Hoping, that it will open oil passages, de crud rings and prevent oil blow by burn out.
Selected engines of those years were known for excessive oil consumption due to poor piston/rings design. My 07 failed test and had engine ovehauled under warranty extension. That stopped oil burn out completely.
 

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The real question is, if it never happen and it only recently happen will it still happen? At that mileage, you may just need new valve seals. Worse case is basically an engine rebuild with updated parts.
 

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I have 2009 SE and recently switched from Mobil1 to Pennzoil platinum 5w30. My engine is 3.5 and it takes 6qt, but instead of full 6qt I put 5 Qtr. Of oil and 1 Qtr. of Lucas. I have 235K and doing 20to 25K a year. Change oil every 5K as light goes on
 

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I have 2009 SE and recently switched from Mobil1 to Pennzoil platinum 5w30. My engine is 3.5 and it takes 6qt, but instead of full 6qt I put 5 Qtr. Of oil and 1 Qtr. of Lucas. I have 235K and doing 20to 25K a year. Change oil every 5K as light goes on
3.5 is very different and is not relevant here.
 

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OK, refreshing the car for my daughter and changing/flushing ALL fluids, I switched to Mobil-1 "Hi-mileage" synthetic, but still the 5W-20 Toyota specifies. I was disappointed this spring/summer that it took about a quart over 2,000 miles. Granted, synthetic AND daughter drove ~15 miles to work from school, vs 120 freeway miles each day. But I'm wondering how much is due to synthetic, and how much to 'short trips/cold-starts'.... And, would I be better off going back to 5W-20 conventional oil, or try going up to 10W-30 Mobil-1 perhaps?
There are two likely possibilities:
  1. Engine seals are leaking. I assume you have inspected the engine closely to make sure there is no sign of any oil leaks or seeping through the seals. However, you will not be able to see valve seal leaks.
  2. Oil is burning internally due to slipping past the piston rings.
Assuming the problem is number 2, switching from conventional oil to synthetic with that many miles on the OD can result in excess oil usage due to existing engine wear from using conventional oil, because a synthetic 5W-20 can flow past the piston rings easier than a conventional 5W-20. So I would switch to a 10W-30 or even 0W-40 (if needed) full synthetic motor oil.

A high mileage oil is best used for problem number 1 above, since it will swell the seals to prevent oil leaks. But generally if ones starts using a high mileage oil, and then stops using one, it could allow the seals to shrink causing leaks even if no leaks previously existed. I don't know if just one oil change with a high mileage oil is enough to cause a problem (if you stop using high mileage oil), but you may want to consider keep using one.

Regardless of whether you keep using a high mileage oil, increasing the viscosity is definitely your best bet at this point.
 

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2014 Highlander Limited
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Discussion Starter #7
thanks all. Yes, spent a lot of time over and under that engine flushing all fluids and filters, and no leaks of any kind. With all those highway miles, and not using oil until changing to synthetic my money is also on slipping past the rings. Wouldn't change immediately otherwise. Thus my gut leans towards changing viscosity up a bit. Wouldn't even ask in the "old days", always went 10W-40 regardless of what "Big 3" recommended in the car, to protect against hot summer driving, but I keep hearing how Toyota's (particularly my newer 12 and 14 with 0W-20) are engineered with very tight tolerances that require that "watery oil". I AM a mechanical engineer, so tend to take that possibility seriously. But also know how marketing ends up ruling the day in most companies, so not really sure how critical the viscosity really is. If a Toyota engineer directly told me to stick with the recommended weight, and explained why I'd pay more attention. :) I think I'll try 5W-30 on the upcoming change and see if it changes at all. In the long run, putting in a quart every few months (my kids are in college, summer jobs, part-time jobs; don't rack up thousands of miles very quick!) isn't a big deal, just annoying when all my other cars (five!) don't take ANY oil....
 

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...but I keep hearing how Toyota's (particularly my newer 12 and 14 with 0W-20) are engineered with very tight tolerances that require that "watery oil". I AM a mechanical engineer, so tend to take that possibility seriously. But also know how marketing ends up ruling the day in most companies, so not really sure how critical the viscosity really is.
It is true that tolerances are tighter for modern cars, but a synthetic oil takes care of that.

The recommendation for a 20 weight oil is for obtaining increased fuel mileage that automakers have to achieve in order to meet federal CAFE and/or state (such as California) fuel mileage targets. Usually, the same engines sold in other parts of the world (outside of North America and EU) allow higher viscosities to be used.

In particular, specification of 0W-20 is to require a synthetic oil (for improved fuel economy and for extended oil change intervals to 10,000 miles for environmental reasons), because there are no 0W-20 conventional motor oils. For marketing reasons, they don't like to use the word "synthetic," which conjures up ideas that a Toyota will be more costly to maintain.
 

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I drive my '08 Camry with fully synthetic oil and extended millage oil filters. Stopped going to the dealer for oil changes two years after purchase. I do oil changes at 10K. I completely disregard the ridiculous "0W-20" on the oil cap and use 5W-40 instead. The first digit is what it's important depending on the climate where you live. Operating oil temperature in warmed up engine is pretty much the same regardless of engine type so the second digit, even tough it relates to the outside temperature, can be safely changed to 30/40. This is how I drive my car and never had oil or engine related issues. Also, my fuel consumption 10 years later is exactly the same as the day I bought it 25/30. Don't go back to conventional oil.
 

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Change the PCV valve and use dealer source OE part.

Switch to 5w30 high mileage synthetic oil. Use a ~pint sized bottle of Lubegard Bio-tech with each oil change. I find it locally but Amazon/ebay usually have it too.

Alternate among the following, all in 5w30 then 10w30:

Run each of the above oils for 5000 miles, log the consumption, and stick with the one with the least.

To keep the oil clean, run any of the full synthetic oil filters.

Quart in 2000 miles is nothing to worry about. Just because previous owner didn't top off oil, doesn't mean it didn't consume oil. So, make sure you check the oil every 500 miles and top it off a cup of oil as needed. And, teach the kid how to take care of the car. So, daughter needs to check oil level weekly, check tire pressure, and keep an eye on brake fluid level, windshield washer level, serpentine belt conditions, tire thread bars, and report any NOISES to you.

Engine tolerance has NEVER been a deciding factor in oil grade chosen. Tight tolerance means NOTHING concerning oil grade. And the term "modern" is a useless descriptor concerning current engine designs.

Dont forget to change the ATF and its filter.
 

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2014 Highlander Limited
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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Oh, preaching to the choir! :) Has been a GREAT excuse to force my daughter to check the oil (and coolant, and tires.. though the TPM system takes the teeth out of my warnings there). And she has become the BEST one next to my wife at reporting any 'noise' to me! My oldest son, recently minted EE, had our '97 mini-van for the five years of school, until it TRULY died at 285,000 miles.. (Chrysler....oh well). HE actually asked for a scan-tool for Christmas, shut off the annoying "Evap System" light... and parked on curbs to get under and change Crank sensor, etc... etc.. No better way to teach kids about cars (other than growing up on the farm) than to have them drive an old one that they BELIEVE will truly leave them stranded if they don't keep an eye on things!! Yes, I flushed each of the "old" Camrys and Avalon we bought, both tranny (via radiator cooler hose), coolant, and steering system. Unbelievable how CLEAN after 200+k miles on each of them, yet unbelievable no-one recommends (except us do-it-yourselfers) changing any of these fluids at all, ever! Was definitely past time to do so, but 235,000 miles and THAT clean; amazing... The 09 Camry actually had the original factory spark plugs (per the code), and while worn close to the tip, WERE STILL GOOD and clean at 235,000 miles. I remember being thrilled getting 30k on my '63 Chevy back in college, and how much better it ran every time I changed plugs or points! (new cars KIND OF take the fun out of maintenance! :) ) How annoying you can only get the Toyota coolant in 50/50; i always flush with distilled water, and no way you can get enough drained out even with the petcock on the block; got CLOSE by jacking up rear-end, but still had to buy "OEM RayChem" brand concentrate to get it back down to Minnesota standards.
OH, I get you and agree about oil use between changes, wouldn't mean the car didn't take any oil (anyone can run it low and bring it in to be changed). But this dealership marks on the sheet, along with brake and tread measurements, what the oil level is, and WHEN that was actually marked, it was always near the full mark or at least half. So might have been using some, but in 7000 miles a lot less than it is now in 2000 miles. So am going to jack up the oil viscosity some and see if any different. She sits a lot in the winter, outside, so definitely want to stick with synthetic for cold starts. Re: changing PCV valve, I actually bought a new thermostat AND a new PCV for it when "refreshing" it, and ended up taking both back to Toyota for a refund. I never dared force the little RUSTED ON nuts holding the thermostat, and I could never FIND the PCV valve on that car.... But never googled YouTube videos for that either; wasn't too concerned as I've NEVER had a PCV valve 'not rattle' when I've replaced them, seems like wasted time and money, if they are not just sticking out begging for you to change them. Maybe I'll look again if you think that might help...... Thanks.
 

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Well, as you are mechanical engineer, you know simple concept of heat transmission.
If you compare old pistons and new ones, you WILL notice 2 things.
New ones are significantly shorter piston height wise
New ones are significantly lighter.
As the result, heat conduction through piston, during combustion phase, is much faster and it gets much hotter, than old taller and heavier piston.
As they shortened the piston itself, to reduce weight, they also had to cram rings much closer to each other..
Also, they had to go with smaller oil holes, to avoid cracks in piston skirt itself.

AS THE RESULT oil
1. gets heated up much more (400 degrees C across the piston combustion surface vs 250 degress on old piston) and cakes faster
2. piston rings get caked with that oil faster
3. oil holes get caked and plugged faster
4. PISTON SEAL TO CYLINDER WALLS IS LOST= OIL BLOW BY BURN OUT.

It's that simple.

Plus, lower height piston tends to wobble inside the cylinders as it has much less side stability vs old longer piston.

 

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2014 Highlander Limited
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Discussion Starter #15
Just wondering, is the car/engine an NA or Japan built one?
It is an Indianapolis assembly. It IS one on the list of potential recall for the pistons problem, and my friend said it was tested ( sealed for 1000 miles and rechecked); no oil urs noted. So bought it aware of this problem, but figured if THE problem ( pistons/rings) it would have showed up in 200k plus miles...
 

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It is an Indianapolis assembly. It IS one on the list of potential recall for the pistons problem, and my friend said it was tested ( sealed for 1000 miles and rechecked); no oil urs noted. So bought it aware of this problem, but figured if THE problem ( pistons/rings) it would have showed up in 200k plus miles...
I didn't realize the Indianapolis one had problems too. I know the Kentucky ones had a lot of problems. I think it's one of the reasons that even though Honda and Toyota both have good reputations for reliability, Honda has a better reputation than Toyota for specifically engines.
 

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I didn't realize the Indianapolis one had problems too. I know the Kentucky ones had a lot of problems. I think it's one of the reasons that even though Honda and Toyota both have good reputations for reliability, Honda has a better reputation than Toyota for specifically engines.
It will or it won't and it's a matter of when. Of course if that when is over 150,000 miles or 200,000 miles I would consider it normal and because the engine is (for the Gen 6 Camry) ten years old since last made.
 

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Same as SAE J300
OK, so you do mean viscosity grade (16, 20, 30, 40, etc).

I disagree with your previous statement that:

"Engine tolerance has NEVER been a deciding factor in oil grade chosen. Tight tolerance means NOTHING concerning oil grade. And the term "modern" is a useless descriptor concerning current engine designs."

I believe that some older engines, and those with engine wear typical of going 150K miles on conventional oil, often do better with a higher viscosity motor oil (especially if switching to synthetic). I agree that "modern" is an ambiguous term, but I can't spell out the exact dates of each engine as to when it can handle the kind of low viscosity oils (0W-20 or below) that manufacturers are now recommending.
 
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