Toyota to Cover Oil Gelation Damage


Toyota Motor Sales USA has made a one-time offer to cover repair of customer vehicles that have been damaged by engine oil gelation.

Toyota emphasized that the action is based on a small number of cases and maintained that customers encountering gelation are not changing oil often enough for their driving habits.

Still, the company said it will pay for repairs as a goodwill gesture. The offer is available for one year on a case-by-case basis to Toyota and Lexus owners able to show reasonable evidence of regular engine maintenance.

Oil gelation occurs at cold temperatures when oil gels into a semi-solid glob and fails to lubricate engines. In an attempt to avoid the problem, engine oil formulas include pour-point depressants. API-certified engine oils are supposed to pass tests proving their pumpability at low temperatures.

But gelation still can occur, although researchers say the problem usually stems from oil degradation. Toyota said that failure to comply with recommended oil drain intervals is the primary problem, and that short-distance, stop-and-go driving and cold temperatures also contribute.

A Toyota USA spokeswoman said the company has received only a small number of gelation reports – less than 2,500 over a number of years. The company said it has yet to receive a report from a customer able to document compliance with recommended maintenance practices.

We’re not aware of any cases of oil gelling in properly maintained engines, said Bob Daly, group vice president and general manager Toyota Customer Services. The vast majority of Toyota owners, and motorists in general, regularly maintain their vehicles and will never encounter this condition. But for some, busy schedules, budget considerations or misunderstanding of what constitutes normal versus severe driving conditions may result in neglecting their vehicle.

Spokeswoman Ming-jou Chen said some gelation complaints came from customers who did not follow recommended maintenance oil drain intervals because they did not realize their driving habits qualified as severe.

Toyota and Lexus define severe to include traveling on unpaved, dusty roads, towing trailers or repeated trips of less than five miles in cold temperatures. They recommend oil change intervals of 5,000 miles or four months under severe conditions, 7,500 miles or six months under normal conditions.

Chen was unable to provide detailed analysis of Toyotas pool of gelation complaints.

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