Integrity Auto: Independent Toyota, Lexus, & Scion Specialists Blog

Antifreeze: Cooling System Flush Lexus-Scion-Toyota

Posted by Duke Bishop on Wed, Jan 06, 2016 @ 07:57 PM

Good clean antifreeze not only protects your engine from freezing in the winter, but of course also acts as a coolant that keeps the engine from overheating year round. In addition, it has corrosion inhibitors to prevent the metal in the cooling system from being eaten away by the water in the coolant.

It also has ingredients that act as lubricants to prolong the life of the water pump seals. As long as it isn't diluted with water, the freeze protection and the ability to cool your engine stays good forever.

However, the corrosion inhibitors break down with time and heat. Antifreeze that gets too old will begin to eat away at important internal engine components and plug up internal cooling passages, which can lead to overheating and cause additional damage, expense, and inconvenience.

When flushing the cooling system, we drain the radiator and the block and run fresh water through the system until there's clean water running out of both the radiator and the engine block drains prior to refilling the system with new coolant.

Good clean antifreeze not only protects your engine from freezing in the winter, but of course also acts as a coolant that keeps the engine from overheating year round.
This may be putting a fine point on things, but Toyota specifies the use of deionized water (water that's had the minerals stripped out of it) in its cooling systems. This is a more important concern in areas with a hard water supply. Deionized water (or distilled water) is recommended for both 1st and 2nd generation coolants, as the minerals in the water can precipitate out and restrict coolant passages. This issue is intensified with coolants that have silicates in them, as the silicates combine with the minerals and together they precipitate out of solution and restrict coolant passages. In this instance, it also results in increased corrosion due to a lowered concentration of silicates.

We're fortunate to have soft water in Portland, and this is what we use along with antifreeze when we are filling a cooling system. In systems that require Toyota Super Long Life coolant this is a moot point, as it comes premixed with deionized water.

Types of coolant: Red, pink or green? The short answer: The simplest most straight forward recommendation we can make is to use Toyota's red, Long Life Coolant where specified, and their pink Super Long Life Coolant where specified. On vehicles older than 1998, Toyota's recommendations are very general. We have come to believe that the Toyota Long Life Coolant is preferable for these vehicles as well in order to reduce clogged radiators.

Types of coolant: Red, pink or green? The longer answer: Regarding generic green coolant versus Toyota's red coolant in the older Toyotas (see section on older Toyotas through 1998 for broader discussion) although I'm willing to use either as per customer preferences, I have come to have a definite preference for Toyota's Long Life red coolant. It was designed with full engineering knowledge of the various materials (seals and alloyed metals) it needs to be compatible with. It was also deliberately designed with zero silicates. While the silicates in other coolants provide excellent corrosion protection, over the long haul they tend to precipitate out and contribute to restricting coolant passages. This can eventually result in overheating and/or having to replace the radiator. The additional cost of Toyota's coolant is minimal if you consider that the cost is amortized over a two to three year period and that the superior coolant may save having to replace your radiator.

I should note a balancing concern: On some engines where the timing belt runs the water pump, a red coolant leak with its build-up of crystals can cause the timing-belt tensioner bearing to seize up at the pivot. This can result in the timing belt going slack and hopping out of time. Usually this happens in cases where the timing belt was past due for replacement anyway. I've never seen that happen with the green coolant. Obviously there's a trade off of concerns at play here.

The older Toyotas and Lexus (through 1998) (for which we recommend Toyota's Long Life red coolant) simply call for ethylene glycol coolant. Ethylene glycol is the main antifreeze and heat-transferring ingredient in all three generations of Toyota coolant. To specify ethylene glycol doesn't say anything about which additives and corrosion inhibitors are best. Although Toyota sold its own red stuff, I'm not aware that they published any specifications that would overtly steer people away from using the common green generic alternative. However, my recent understanding is that even at that time Toyota was using zero silicates in their coolant. (See section on 1999 and newer Toyotas for further discussion on the use of silicates and their tendency to clog coolant passages.)

Toyota called for a coolant change every two years or every 30k miles. We encourage the same, although I'm comfortable with 3 years or 30k. For years I actively preferred the green antifreeze to the red due to my strong impression that the red coolant more actively finds its way past seals and gaskets. I still have no question that I see red crystallized coolant deposits oozing past gaskets and seals more often than I see signs of the green coolant leaking. However, Ryan here recently raised the possibility that the red coolant may not leak any more aggressively, but may simply leave more visible tracks. This may be the case, and in fact seems likely to be so. I know that on older water pumps we always see some staining below the weep-hole on vehicles that use green coolant. This staining may represent a similar amount of seepage that would have shown up as a mass of crystals on a water pump that was using red coolant. I really can't say for sure—in either case it's a slow seepage that dries out as is emerges.

Within the first year after Ryan came on board he mentioned that since he'd left Lexus where they exclusively used Toyota coolant he was seeing a lot more radiators plugged up. He said he'd virtually never seen clogged radiators even on cars that had over 200k on them. The clincher came for me when we encountered a radiator that we had replaced maybe 30k prior that was already showing visible clogging of the passages. On that day I became a believer in using Toyota's Long Life red coolant, and that's what we promote to all our customers now who have vehicles that are 2003 or older.

In 1999 Toyota and Lexus came out with their red long-life coolant, which is definitely what we want to use in these vehicles. They still recommended coolant replacement every two years or every 30k, and this is the recommendation we follow, although I'm comfortable with 3 years and 30k. Toyota calls for coolant with zero-silicate, zero-amine, and zero-borate content. They specify that "use of improper coolants may damage the cooling system" and specify that their coolant is designed so that it "will not clog radiators from silicone gelling" and "will not corrode aluminum surfaces like coolants that contain borate." When I've seen charts displaying the chemical profiles of brand new coolants, the Toyota long-life coolant is clearly different than Prestone's green-colored alternative, with the Prestone coolant clearly having the silicon and borate content that Toyota engineers specifically want to avoid.

In 2004 Toyota and Lexus came out with their pink super-long-life coolant. This is what we use for these vehicles. Their recommendation on this coolant is that it be replaced the first time at ten years or 100k miles. Their recommendation thereafter is that it be replaced every 5 years or 50k miles. This puzzles me, and though I'm not characteristically cynical, I find that a cynical part of me speculating that possibly Toyota has taken this route as part of an effort to keep their advertised cost of ownership lower in order to enhance new car sales. This coolant comes premixed with a 50% of it being deionized water. I haven't seen any chemical profiles comparing this coolant to the previous generation Toyota red long-life coolant, but they aren't incompatible, because Toyota specifies that you can add the Toyota red long-life coolant to top off systems that have the Toyota pink super-long-life coolant. Different dealers have opted for different schedules on flushing this coolant. Some do it exactly by the book with the first being at 100k and the second at 50k. At the time of this writing, the Lexus dealership I'm acquainted with was recommending coolant being flushed every 30k, and observed that they always get some particulate sediment coming out of the system with the coolant.

Toyota's recommendations assume a perfectly maintained coolant system, i.e. proper mixture, proper pressure, and continually full. Obviously if the mixture is off—diluted from adding water—that will decrease the effectiveness of the corrosion inhibitors and shorten the effective life of the coolant. Same with pressures: too low a pressure due to a faulty radiator cap increases the likelihood of internal metal erosion due to cavitation. Even allowing the system to go low increases corrosion, as the mixture of air and steam in the system is much more corrosive than being constantly bathed in coolant. This is apparently more especially so for coolants with organic-acid-technology based corrosion inhibitors, which is the class of inhibitors that Toyota's Super Long Life coolant uses.

Regarding the service interval, I'm increasingly impressed that just to look at it, the coolant typically doesn't look bad even at 100k. If customers prefer to go exactly with Toyota's recommendations, I have no quarrel with that, although I at this point I still have some reservations that it's ultimately for the best to wait 100,000 miles and/or ten years before replacing the coolant for the first time. Time will tell.

There seems to be some rationale for flushing the Super-Long-Life coolant every five years or 50k miles. It's not a hard recommendation, but I think it may make sense in light of the fact that:

  • Toyota makes the same recommendation of five years and 50k miles from there on after the first 100k, and also because
  • Toyota recommends coolant changes at 30k with their older (not-premixed) coolant that is chemically similar enough to be used as a top-off coolant.
Note: The Super Long Life coolant shouldn't be used in the older Toyotas that came with brass & copper radiators, as it's organic-acid-technology corrosion inhibitors aren't effective for these metals or the soldering used in these radiators.

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Tags: Lexus service, Scion Service, Toyota Service

Replace My Toyota Catalytic Converter With A Aftermarket Converter To Save Money?

Posted by Duke Bishop on Mon, Dec 14, 2015 @ 06:00 PM

Our experience is that the Toyota catalytic converters are clearly and significantly superior to the aftermarket catalytic converters.

They clean up the emissions much more aggressively right out of the box, and they typically last from five to ten times as long.

The brand new aftermarket cats we've had occasion to test have passed the emissions test by the thinnest of margins, where a Toyota catalytic converter would have easily passed with room to spare.

Catalytic Converter

The Toyota cats run much cleaner on sudden accelerations as well. We've tested the emissions of Toyotas with brand new Toyota catalytic converters on repeated back-to-back snap accelerations (which lends itself to creating maximum emissions) and the result has been that we see a high of only 50 or 60 parts per million of unburned hydrocarbons (HC). Doing the same test on brand new aftermarket cats has resulted in hydrocarbon readings as high as 1700 to 2000 parts per million.

As for longevity, over and over we've seen people who have replaced their cats with aftermarket cats get stuck in a cycle where from then on they have to replace the catalytic converter every two years just to make it through DEQ. A further problem with aftermarket cats is that in order to install the "universal" cat, the muffler shop will cut a section out of the original piping in order to weld in the non-Toyota cat. At that point, if the owner ever gets frustrated with having to replace the cat over and over and wants to return to a Toyota cat, he has to spend even more than he would have, because he now has to replace the piping on either side of the catalytic converter in order to restore the bolt-up flanges that have been cut off.

We were recently discussing cat costs with a Tundra owner and had occasion to calculate the cost per mile of one of Toyota's most expensive catalytic converters. In this instance, the cost worked out to about 1 ¾ cents per mile. It had lasted 150,000 miles. Models with less expensive cats commonly work out to less than half a cent per mile.

If the aftermarket cat this person was considering were to fail within a year-which is not uncommon-then it would cost about 5 cents per mile if it lasted 15,000 miles. That's approaching 3 times the cost per mile. (Okay, okay, it's 2.857 times the cost per mile.)

While going over this with the customer, she mentioned that a muffler shop had told her that they were using an OEM part that would be the same as the Toyota part because supposedly OEM meant that it was made by the original manufacturer for Toyota. What OEM or Original Equipment Manufacturer actually means is that this company at some time has supplied some sort of part for Toyota-could be anything, could be a gasket. What it doesn't mean is that they provided the catalytic converters. If they had provided the cats, they certainly wouldn't be trying to sell generic cats that required cutting the old ones out and welding the new ones in.

As far as Catalytic converter failures go, they can fail in a number of ways and from a number of causes. Most commonly, their ability to clean up emissions eventually simply fades out and they either fail the DEQ emissions test, or, for newer vehicles that monitor the converters, the computer can turn on the check engine light and will set a code that says "catalyst efficiency below threshold." If your engine is chronically burning oil, it tends to leave crusty deposits on the cat and make it effectively inert. If those deposits continue long enough, eventually it plugs up the cat and you experience a severe loss of power, because the exhaust can exit quickly enough to allow the engine to take in the quantities of air it needs for power. Driving the car with a cylinder misfiring causes the cat to overheat as it ignites all the unburned gasoline to burn in the cat itself. In this case, it can run so hot that the catalytic converter material disintegrates. This can lead to chunks of material getting lodged in the exhaust system in a manner that plugs up the exhaust and causes severe loss of power. Another way in which the catalytic material can be broken up is if something strikes the outside of the cat hard enough.

Tags: Toyota Repair

Hey Duke What is a Good Toyota, Lexus, Scion Car Battery?

Posted by Duke Bishop on Thu, Nov 05, 2015 @ 08:17 PM

I get asked this question quite often, what is the best battery for my Toyota, Lexus or Scion?

I have quite a strong bias in favor of Interstate batteries, which are made by the same company that makes Toyota's batteries, which is Johnson Controls. I have a strong bias against batteries made by Exide.

The Toyota batteries made by Johnson Controls have an excellent track record of longevity. In the early 90's Toyota switched over to Exide for one or two years, and for the first time that I'm aware of they started having to warranty lots of batteries that were failing in less than 12 months.

 

We Use Interstate Batteries
They switched back to batteries made by Johnson Controls, and that I know haven't had trouble with bad batteries since.Throughout the 90's we saw the same results with Exide made batteries sold under other companies' labels as well. During that time period, Les Schwab batteries were made by Exide, and over and over we encountered situations where the customer would have a problem "that couldn't possibly be the battery because it's only 3 months old" that would in fact prove to be another bad battery made by Exide.

Batteries are more susceptible to failure during cold weather, due to a combination of the battery being at a lower level of chemical activity when cold, and the engine simply being more difficult to crank when it's oil is thicker due to being cold. A failing battery can have a number of symptoms. A gradually failing batter will progressively crank the engine over more slowly during startup. Often times the progression is so gradual that the primary driver doesn't notice it because each day it's performance seems essentially the same as it did the day before. A weak battery gets drained of charge much more easily as well, so that perhaps only a few minutes of sitting with accessories on but the engine off will discharge the battery so that you can't start the car.

If the battery is discharged enough that you no longer get a slow crank out of it, oftentimes the starter will give multiple clicks for a single turn of the key. This happens because the battery has just enough power to engage the starter gear with the engine, but at that point it requires much more electrical power than the battery is able to supply, which causes the battery voltage to drop so low that it can't even maintain keeping the starter gear engaged. So, the starter momentarily releases, and then as soon as the higher demand is removed, the battery is able to supply enough power to reactivate the starter. This happens repeatedly back-to-back producing multiple clicks for as long as the key is held to the start position.

An alternate cause of the same symptom of multiple clicks from the starter can be poor connections from the cables to the battery, which, again, allow just enough power through to engage the starter, but not enough to maintain engagement in the face of the higher demands made by trying to crank the engine. Occasionally the battery or the battery connections will fail at just the right amount of failure to allow the starter to give a single click and then hold but not crank. More often the symptom of a single click but no crank indicates a problem with the starter, or with the power supply from the key to the solenoid that activates the starter. Occasionally, though, the battery and/or connections can explain the single click.

Contact Duke to have your Toyota, Lexus, Scion Serviced today! 503-408-6385

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Tags: Toyota Repair

Is a small leak with my Toyota-Lexus-Scion water pump, a big deal?

Posted by Duke Bishop on Mon, Oct 12, 2015 @ 07:50 PM

I recently received a phone call, the individual said that his water pump has a slight leak and was it a big deal?

A properly working water pump is critical to your engine's wellbeing. It circulates coolant throughout the engine to prevent damage from overheating. It also circulates coolant through your heater to provide heat and to clear the windows of fog or ice. Loss of coolant from leaky water pump seals can cause overheating and can result in serious damage to your engine.
toyota_water_pump-1In some models a bad water pump bearing can damage the timing belt and cause it to break or derail. In other models, a worn bearing can allow the radiator fan to tilt forward and chop a hole in the radiator. Any of the above developments result in extra cost and inconvenience to you. Due to the potential for catastrophic damage to the engine as a result of failure, failing water should be given high priority for repair.

How to determine if your water pump should be replaced:

  • Allow your automobile to sit overnight, parked inside a garage having a clean concrete floor.  If you are unable to park it inside over a clean cement surface, position a piece of light-colored card board beneath your car or truck directly underneath the motor.
  • Check out the card board the following morning. If it looks wet from water, you've got a leak somewhere, probably with your water pump or the gasket. If you see green liquid on the card board, it's antifreeze. Which means you absolutely have a coolant leak somewhere.
  • Look at the water pump pulley. Look for the round part of your water pump that the belt is around. Try to push the pulley backwards and forwards. If it appears to be loose, it usually is time to get a new one because the bearing is going bad.
  • Listen to your car or truck. Start your car or truck's engine with the cover up. Should you hear a low-pitched grinding sound, it might be a signal that the bearing is going bad. It is possible to hear it plainly if it's gone bad.
  • Search for leaks around the water pump and gasket. If you notice droplets of water or even a small stream, you have a leak.
  • Observe if the temperature warning light turns on. If your car or truck isn't receiving enough coolant as a result of a leak or defective water pump, your car or truck engine's temperature will almost certainly increase, triggering the warning light.
  • Notice if the low coolant light is glowing. This is often an indicator that the coolant reservoir is leaking or that you've got a bad water pump. Another alternative is that there's a leak in the coolant system.
  • Focus on your car or truck's air conditioning. Should your air conditioner fail to work effectively, the water pump is probably not doing its job.
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Toyota-Lexus-Scion: Axles (front)/CV Joints and Boots

Posted by Duke Bishop on Wed, Aug 05, 2015 @ 03:53 PM

axles-front-cv-joints-and-boots-1
The front axles (and some rear axles with independent rear suspension) have flexible joints on the inner and outer ends of the axles to allow your wheels to get power smoothly even while going around corners or when going up and down relative to the vehicle.
 
A rubber boot encases each of the joints. This rubber boot is intended to protect the constant-velocity joint from losing its grease and from being damaged by water or road dust.

Eventually, after flexing through millions of rotations, these boots tend to crack and split open. When this happens, if the axle joint is still good, we routinely replace the boots and repack the joints with fresh grease. As long as the boots are intact, the original Toyota joints tend to hold up so well that I prefer replacing the boots to replacing the entire axle. When the boot cracks and splits open, the grease gets flung out and it exposes the joint to the possibility of being contaminated with water and grit which invites wear. Even in this situation, the joint can often be cleaned, relubed, and rebooted if it hasn't been split open for too long. On original axles—even with 150k to 200k miles—I would routinely expect to get more miles out of rebooting the original axle than replacing it with an aftermarke one as long as the original axle hasn't gone without grease.

If the joint has been damaged, then the entire axle needs to be replaced. When it's the outer joint that is damaged, it tends to variously make a cyclic clicking, or knocking, or grinding, or creaking noise when going through sharp turns. When it's the inner joint that is bad, most often the symptom will be a heavy vibration felt on straight line acceleration. When they're available, we have a strong preference for using Toyota remanufactured axles. The only part that is being reused is the axle shaft. The joints are new and last as long as the original, which is far longer than can be anticipated from the aftermarket axles we've encountered—either new aftermarket or remanufactured. By way of example, we recently had a customer come in with both axles fully symptomatic and badly worn that had been replaced with non-Toyota parts at a major tire chain just a year and a half ago. They only had 26 thousand miles.

As the damage to the axle joint progresses, it can eventually impair your ability to corner safely. Although rare, in extreme cases it can even break. When the axle breaks, at minimum the car abruptly loses power to the wheels and won't drive. Sometimes it can damage other surrounding parts. A friend of mine once had an axle break and it ripped loose his brake lines so that he simultaneously lost the ability either to accelerate or brake. He had just come down out of the Pyrenees Mountains—off a steep, winding road that ran along cliff's edge—and out onto a level, relatively safe place to have it happen. Whew! Close call.

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Toyota-Lexus-Scion Air Filters: Stop The Airflow Fail Sensor Blues

Posted by Duke Bishop on Tue, Jul 07, 2015 @ 11:08 AM

Understanding just when you should replace your air filter is hard since it would depend mainly on what sort of driving you do and just how much crud your air filter ingests. A filter that lasts about 30,000 miles on the vehicle that is largely operated on freeways and city streets may last only a few months in a countryside location in which the automobile is driven regularly on gravel or dirt roads.

The engine air filter cleans the air that the engine uses for combustion so that the engine won't get worn out prematurely by having gritty, abrasive air introduced into its internal moving parts.

If it gets too dirty, it restricts the airflow into the engine and can cause a loss of power. On older vehicles it can make the engine run significantly richer and with greatly reduced fuel economy.

The signs of a dirty air filter vary and can quite often have a detectable reduction in gas mileage. Other signs and symptoms are possible ignition troubles cause by fouled spark plugs. An unclean air filter inhibits the required amount of clean air from reaching the engine which impacts the emission control systems of the automobile; decreasing air flow and producing way too rich air-fuel blend which could foul the spark plugs. Fouled spark plugs can make a motor miss, rough idle as well as starting problems. Additionally, a too rich fuel mixture will increase engine build up which can even make the Service Engine Soon light to come on.

toyota_air_filters-1

We prefer the standard disposable filters. When Toyota started using the hot-wire style mass-airflow sensors to measure how much air the engine was using, for the first couple of years, it seemed like every time we saw a mass-airflow sensor fail due to fouling, it was in connection with a K&N air filter-the type that has a light oil dressing.

At the same time, we heard that Mazda had decided that using K&N air filters would void the warranty on mass-airflow sensors. Since that time, we've seen plenty of mass-airflow sensor failures in vehicles with conventional air filters as well; evidentially if you drive enough miles eventually the mass-airflow sensor can be fouled with any filter.

But it seems telling to me that there was such a delay between the first failures that we observed that were always connected to K&N air filters, and the failures that we eventually began to see with the conventional filters.

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What About Automatic Transmission Flush For My Toyota-Lexus-Scion?

Posted by Duke Bishop on Fri, Jun 12, 2015 @ 02:37 PM

Toyota proper is largely silent on when to change the fluid in automatic transmissions under normal driving conditions.


They only say to inspect and advise. We recommend changing your automatic transmission fluid by means of flushing it as preventative maintenance every 30,000 miles, or sooner if the fluid has gone through a significant color change that indicates its condition has begun to deteriorate.

get_your_toyota_lexus_scion_transmission_workingThe old fluid can't be effectively removed by simply draining. Due to the torque converter not draining, most of the fluid remains in the system even if the pan is removed.

The most effective way to accomplish a complete changeover of the transmission fluid is to flush the entire system. This is important for the life and health of your vehicle, and far more economic than having to spend the thousands required replacing or rebuilding your transmission later.

The question is occasionally raised as to whether changing or flushing the transmission can create any problems, particularly in the case of a vehicle that is long overdue for a fluid change. In more than 16 years of performing this service I have never been aware of any negative consequence that could remotely be perceived as a consequence of changing the transmission fluid. I don't recall even any transmission incident that might have been perceived as an unfortunate coincidence after changing the fluid. The way we flush the transmission is really nothing more than a very thorough fluid change. After draining the pan, we use the transmission's own pump to pull in new fluid and push it through the system in its normal direction of flow, pushing out the old fluid ahead of the new. New fluid is pumped through the torque converter and on out through the cooler to where we catch it in a drain pan. What could be a more natural or harmless way to change your transmission fluid?


Some shops use machines in the flushing process that may introduce other variables into the process than what I've described as our process. Some of these variables might include special solvents and higher than normal pressures. Although I hear people talk about back-flushing, I'm not aware of whether any of the standard processes actually involve reversing the fluid flow. I can't say from personal experience whether these alternate processes increase the risk of creating an unintended problem or not.

Signs that your car needs a transmission flush: Transmission Grinding or Strange Noises, Surging of the Vehicle, Slipping Gears, Problems Shifting Gears.

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Protect Your Toyota, Lexus, & Scion Engine from "The Black Death"

Posted by Duke Bishop on Thu, May 14, 2015 @ 01:44 PM

Sludgy deposits in the engine oil usually occur as a result of one or more factors--long intervals between oil changes, and/or insufficient ventilation of the engine crankcase fumes. Once a little sludging occurs, it tends to restrict the vapor flow through the ventilation passages and promotes more rapid sludge build-up along with higher crankcase vapor pressure which results in increased oil consumption, increased oil leakage, and increased likelihood of visible smoke in the exhaust. 

Engine Oil Sludge

If the breathing passages in the valve covers have begun to be restricted, then you can often get a significant benefit from replacing the valve covers. For a number of vehicles, Toyota has come out with redesigned/updated valve covers and PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valves to counter this tendency to sludge. On vehicles that have plugged up venting passages, we've seen dramatic reductions in oil consumption and visible smoke from oil burning when we've installed the needed new parts. Even when Toyota hasn't updated the covers, if the covers have plugged passages, then the same benefits apply. 

While doing the above repair, you should be aware of the possibility that bits of sludge will be dislodged and migrate down to the oil pan where they can plug up the screen at the oil pick-up tube for the oil pump. If this happens, then the engine pan has to be removed and the pick-up tube/screen assembly has to be replaced.

Regarding the sludge that as accumulated in the engine (other that the sludge in the valve cover breathing passages) once the sludge is in place, I'm not aware of a safe and reliable way to remove it short of performing a complete disassembly of the engine. I'm not comfortable trying to flush it out, as the dislodged sludge is far to likely to end up plugging up the screen at the oil pick-up tube for the oil pump and starve the engine for oil. So, unless you plan on doing an engine overhaul, it seems to me that a "let sleeping dogs lie" policy is the safest course of action with regards to addressing sludge that has already accumulated in the engine. The valve cover replacement mentioned above is intended to reduce oil burning and stop further build-up of sludge.

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Is Flushing Your Toyota, Lexus, Scion Brake Fluid Really Necessary ?

Posted by Duke Bishop on Mon, Apr 06, 2015 @ 01:43 PM

You have probably have heard and also been given this recommendation by your auto repair professional. “Your brake fluid is black and needs to be flushed” and you usually decline because you feel that your vehicle is braking and stopping just fine. That may be true, but overtime many factors will begin to affect your braking system.

toyota_brake_fluidThe standard Dot-4 brake hydraulic fluid that Toyota, Lexus, and Scion and most other manufacturers use is hygroscopic-that is to say, it actively absorbs moisture out of the air, which then becomes a corrosive contaminant. Toyota is silent on service intervals for the brake hydraulics, which is odd, because Lexus-their sister company-recommends that it be flushed every 30,000 miles, which seems to be a common (though not universal) industry standard elsewhere as well.

 

The brake fluid starts out clear and almost completely without color. It gets darker and transitions to amber and eventually black with age. In the absence of service records, this serves as a casual indicator of age. Just as a casual aside, the clutch hydraulic fluid, which is identical to the brake fluid, turns black much more quickly than the brake fluid does. I speculate that this is perhaps because of two factors: First, the two systems are each exposed to the air through vent caps with the same sized vents in the reservoir caps. The clutch hydraulic system though has a much smaller amount of fluid in it. As a result, the same total amount of moisture absorbed becomes a much higher percentage of the whole, and so has a greater effect. Secondly, the hydraulic fluid in the brake system is routinely exposed to much higher temperatures, and so has a tendency to cook some of the moisture back out of the fluid. This is just my theory, and I haven't ever seen it discussed anywhere else.

 

 

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Toyota Parts versus Aftermarket Parts

Posted by Duke Bishop on Mon, Mar 09, 2015 @ 03:53 PM

toyota_genuine_partsToyota makes good parts, and that's what we want to use. Our biggest supplier of parts is a Toyota dealership. Our next biggest supplier is a company that sells us the same parts that were made by the original Toyota parts suppliers.

The result is that the vast majority of the parts we use either come from Toyota direct (through a dealership) or from the original suppliers of the Toyota parts. To give you an example, Nippon makes Toyota's fuel filters.

The Nippon fuel filters look identical to the Toyota filters, and in fact, if we care to peel off the strip of black tape that Nippon has applied to the filters they sell us, underneath the tape is the original Toyota parts sticker with it's Toyota part number.

It's the exact same part whether we buy it from Toyota or from Nippon. Same way with clutches. A company with the name Aisin/Asco makes clutches and water pumps for Toyota.

They used to sell those same parts to us new, in a Toyota box, at a price competitive with the same thing remanufactured from Toyota. There wasn't any question in my mind-I preferred the new to the remanufactured.

Since then, Toyota has prevented them from selling those parts in Toyota packaging, but the parts still have all of the same casting marks and look identical, except the water pumps have had the word "Toyota" ground off and replaced with other company markings.

Again, I have a strong preference for Toyota parts. I've just seen too many poor quality alternatives. As a side note, it's not an uncommon strategy for some aftermarket suppliers to offer a lifetime warranty on their products. This is strictly a marketing tool and usually seems to have no relationship to the quality of their product. Over and over I've met people who have gotten stuck with poor quality parts that repeatedly fail prematurely, and eventually they would get worn out with doing repeat repairs and decide that the better quality Toyota part was the better deal after all. Other times the life-time warranty was handled in such a slippery fashion and it was so difficult to manage their way through the hurdles set before them that the life-time warranty was effectively a lie.

 

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