1st Jul 2010, 17:28

I'm also a mechanic, and I know (as I'm sure the commenter does) that NUMEROUS factors can result in rod-bearing (insert) failure. A big red flag in the comment above is "The oil light coming on at idle". This indicates that the oil pump was not maintaining adequate oil pressure to the bearings. It wouldn't have mattered if the owner had changed oil every 10 miles. Not changing oil is seldom a factor in engine failure such as that cited. I once bought a used car from a friend who never took care of his cars and had admitted to me that he hadn't changed the oil in the past 30,000 miles (and he used cheap organic oil). When I bought the car, it had over 180,000 miles on it. I immediately cleaned out the engine by running it briefly at idle with solvent in the crankcase, then changed the oil to synthetic. I drove the car (a Chrysler) to nearly a quarter of a million miles with not a single problem and never a drop of oil burning.

The owner's manuals in most modern domestics recommend oil changes at 5,000-7,000 miles, even with unstable organic oil. Full synthetic oil is good for well beyond 10,000 miles, and I know several people who only change it once a year regardless of mileage.

Using full synthetic oil since the car was new and having a "sludgy mess" is a virtual impossibility with full synthetic. I've torn down engines that were run using full synthetic oil since new and have never seen anything but beautiful, polished metal with a very thin sheen of oil on it. Full synthetic simply CANNOT form sludge. It is chemically different from organic oil, which breaks down, congeals and forms a "sludgy mess".

1st Jul 2010, 17:28

Even Mobil 1 recommends a 7,500 mile change interval. Any good mechanic will tell you that you should change it more frequently than that. I've had relatives who are really good mechanics, and they always tell me to do oil changes frequently so they are not looking for extra cash. $30 for an oil change is a lot cheaper than $3K for a new engine. I use full synthetic in everything, and it gets dirty and thick just like regular oil does. I get maybe 5K to 6K out of an oil change, but I wouldn't push it any further.

Honda actually has a maintenance minder as do most new cars now I suppose. Well mine said it had 40% oil life at 7,500 miles. I checked it and it was down a quart, and it was so black and cruddy I couldn't believe it. I changed it. Car companies are competing for the lowest maintenance car to make it seem like they go forever with no work needed. They are trying to balance this with keeping the car running good, but they have overkilled it in length between oil changes. My maintenance minder surely didn't let me know the car was running low on oil. This was a brand new car too. Had I been someone who just gets in and drives the car, and lets the computer let me know when to change the oil, I would have been replacing the engine before 30K miles.

Plus, try getting your warranty honored by any dealer if they find you haven't done regular oil changes, and something goes wrong from old oil. 25K miles between changes is suicidal for your drivetrain. Most cars will burn up half the oil after that many miles... especially when it is old and dirty. Good luck to ya! Just let me know where you trade your cars so I never get stuck with one of your used cars...

1st Jul 2010, 17:30

Yeah, and what do you think that dark color is? It's microscopic metal shavings, carbon buildup, sludge forming due to condensation from cooling of the hot engine. It's microscopic "dirt" even if you don't see visible particulate matter. You don't have to have sand and gravel blowing down the intake in order to get "dirt" in an engine. You need to start changing your oil every 5,000 miles if you expect your car to last. But hey, you do it your way.

Maybe these people that change their oil every 7,500 or 10,000 miles trade their cars every 3 years, or have a lease that limits them to 60,000 miles so they don't see the problems. It's the next sucker that gets stuck with the sludge-filled oil galleries, the low oil pressure from worn bearings, the "check engine light" emissions control problems from oil blowby due to worn rings.

Oil changes every 10,000 miles = a bad idea.

2nd Jul 2010, 11:36

The record for not changing oil probably would go to a lady friend of ours who bought a brand-new Ford and drove it 56,000 miles without EVER OPENING THE HOOD!! The engine locked up at 56,000 miles because there was no oil left in the crankcase. I can't believe the battery lasted that long (4 years).

3rd Sep 2010, 16:09

Again I'm the original poster, the car has 49k now, still running.

To address the earlier question about the brakes, I would do them myself each time, taking the rotors in for resurfacing. Each time I would wait until the squealers would be well worn down, and grinding would just begin at the tail end of a stop. I suspect part of the reason for this heavy wear is that the engine with the automatic hardly gives any engine braking during deceleration, I assume to improve fuel economy.

This car coasts very well, better then other cars I'm next to when driving down a hill.

Regardless of when the dealer suggests changing the oil, it's always dark around 4-6k after an oil change, and the mileage noticeably is decreased by the end of that span. With this particular engine, the oil is very thin, so replacing it every 4k will ensure a long, or longer overall life.

Only other issue is that the transmission is definitely shifting harder than it used to, but still not to the point to cause concern.

4th Sep 2010, 17:38

I'm a little surprised to hear that your car is still running at 49,000 miles. It's a Corolla and Toyota is no longer known for reliability. They are now rated a dismal 21st out of 33 car makers in build quality.

As for brakes, if I did even ONE brake job on ANY car before 49,000 miles, I'd never buy another one of that brand. Our current GM vehicle is just shy of 100,000 miles, and has never had the original brake pads replaced. The same has been true of all our domestics. ANY problem before 100,000 miles is a sign of a very poorly built car.

5th Sep 2010, 22:04

The Truedelta website shows the 2009 Corolla as one of the more repair free cars around. Also, Consumer Reports shows the Corolla as above average for reliability. I don't think anyone is truly surprised to hear Corollas easily make 49K.

11th Oct 2010, 19:54

The car now has 52k on it. The 0w-20 synthetic looks black at around 3k after an oil change, so this time I'm sending the oil to a lab for analysis. Runs great though.

Driver's power window switch failed, got a used one on eBay. The brakes need to be done once again. Despite the problems, I'm mostly happy with the car at this point. As long as it continues to operate at 150k without needing an engine or trans., I'll be happy.