Purchased a 2001 Toyota Highlander, with a 3 liter V6 engine code 1MZFE in July 2004 with 48,000 miles, from Chevy Dealer. Contacted Toyota prior to purchasing the vehicle using the VIN # asked for any recalls etc on the car and engine. There were two recalls all of which were taken care of. There were no recalls or issues with the engine. Upon driving the vehicle noticed it was consuming oil (one quart eery 1,000 miles).
Contacted Toyota Dealer and talked with the service department on my car's oil consumption. The service dept told me there were "No" issues with these engines and that the previous owner must have pulled a large load prior to breaking in the engine and that the valve seals were not properly seated.
6 months later, During a trip to Chicago (500 mile round trip) car consumed 2 1/2 quarts of oil. I had changed the oil prior to the trip. I also noticed white smoke coming from the exhaust pipe after starting the car. The car had sat overnight in the hotel parking ramp. The car was idling.
I immediately contacted the same Toyota service dept and reported what I saw. They adamantely claimed there were no issues with these engines. Because of this I switched oils and now use the highest quality synthetic oil. Problem continually got worse. I was now driving with a 5 gallon container of oil and a funnel in my car. I switched cars with my High School daughter and drove my 1998 Toyota Camry (with 284,00 miles) to work (a 50 mile commute each way). I also broke the hood cable, on the Highlander, as I was lifting the hood every day to check the oil.
I checked the engine for leaks, conducted oil analysis, etc and nothing came up on why my engine was consuming oil. In desperation I contacted another Toyota Dealer and requested a price quote to replace my valve seals on my engine (It was the only thing that could be causing the oil consumption). The head mechanic called me back with a quote and told me I do not have a valve seal issue with my car.
He stated that he has never seen an engine's valve seals go bad after 85,000 miles. I told the mechanic about the white smoke, oil consumption (now at one quart every 200 miles) and oil gelling (if I did not change the oil often). I also told the mechainc I have a 2001 3 liter V6 engie. He told me he had no idea what could be causing this problem, but he was sure it was not the valve seals. He gave me a quote for $2,000 to replace all 6 valve seals. He told me if one valve seal is bad they are all bad.
Not wanting to spend $2,000 on something that may not be the problem, I decided to go to a local garage. The garage has ASE certified mechanics. I asked the mechanic if he could research the problem with my engine. After three days he called me and told me there is nothing wrong with my valve seals, my oil is fine with no traces of coolant, compression was fine, etc. He pulled the 6 sparks plugs and found 2 spark plugs with white residue all over the tips. The other four were completely clean.
At this point he believed I had a defect in my engine and thought I might have a piston to cylinder clearance issue. He replaced the spark plugs with new spark plugs, ran the vehicle for two weeks and the same two spark plugs were completely covered with white residue. We took pictures.
The mechanic called Toyota Customer Service toll free number and requested to speak with a techincian on this issue. He talked with a technician who had worked as a mechanic at a Toyota Dealer. The technician knew about my car's engine issue and told the mechanic I should have been notified of a Goodwill Recall on these engines. He said my car's engine code and VIN matches the engines with problems.
I NEVER receievd a letter or notification on this issue. The technician also told us that we should try and go through Toyota corporate as the dealers will not honor the Goodwill Recall and will place the blame on bad valve seals. He said he replaced many valve seals only to find it did not solve the problem. I now look on the internet and find all kinds of articles on my engine oil sludge issue, especially the white smoke after starting the car.
First week in August (?)called Toyota Customer service and filed a complaint.
August 16th sent formal letter to Toyota
September 22. Toyota finally calls me and tells me I have to go through a dealer to get the recall honored. At this point I was working with a Toyota Dealer in Mankato. They request an oil conumption review on Highlander. They replace my synthetic oil with Mobil 5W30. After one week and 3 1/2 quarts of oil consumption they were not satisfied and requested more oil consumption review.
I am traveling 4 hours, round trip, to the Toyota Dealer. While driving back from the dealer, my engine light starts to flash. I believe my vehicle is unsafe. I bring car back to dealer and try showing the service department my pictures of my engine and spark plugs. They will not look at the pictures and push them away. The dealer files a claim but tells me my oil was not black enough and probably will not meet the recall.
4 days later the service manager and service advisor call me at work and tell me that my engine does not meet Toyota's Goodwill recall. I asked them what is causing the oil consumption? They said two of my valve seals are bad. I told them I had already paid a mechanic to verify my valve seals are good, why would I replace something that is not the problem? The service advisor gets mad at me and tells me I do not trust him. I then ask if I could trade-in my car for another vehicle as I feel the valve seals will not correct the problem. He yells at me and tells me my car is worth nothing as it has a major engine defect and I will not let him fix it.
Toyota's Recall program for the 2001 3 liter V6 engines with code 1MZFE is a joke! They will not honor it and will place blame on the valve seals. Valve seals do not fail in low mileage vehicles! The goodwill recall program is very unethical.
Red Wing, Minnesota
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