Comfortable, but risky
We bought this minivan off-lease, in good shape with no obvious problems. Have now experienced the engine oil sludge build-up problem I am reading about on the INTERNET (too late).
Burnt through 5 quarts of oil on a 1600 mile trip over Christmas. We brought it to a Toyota dealer, along with our info on a high-end GE warranty we had purchased with the car.
The dealer diagnosed it as leaky valve stem seals, which is covered under the warranty ($1400 repair). The bad new was that the sludge build-up was so bad that the valve covers needed replacing and the engine needed an oil flush and oil pan cleaning, etc.-- which was considered the result of "lack of scheduled maintenance and therefore not covered by the warranty". I thought it odd that the dealership would so readily provide this explanation to the warranty people.
We are trying to get the maintenance records, but since this was bought off-lease this may be impossible. It seems obvious, given the record of sludge build-up in this engine independent of oil change frequency, where the problem lies.
We'll see where the fight leads us to get this repair covered, but I am posting this to add my voice to the long list of warnings about buying this vehicle!
This appears to be a frequent and serious problem caused by a manufacturer's design flaw. Prevention of this problem, if there is a way of preventing it, is to change the oil more frequently than is believable, and cewrtainly more frequently than what is recommended by the manufacturer.
The default explanation appears to be that it is always the owner's fault unless certified, meticulous-- perhaps notarized-- records are maintained.
Complaints have been reportedly filed with the NHTSA and the FTC, and a class action suit is rumored.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 7th January, 2004