High Quality Oil Gone Bad

By: Anthony Fontanelle

Individuals purchasing used cars usually neglect to inspect the most crucial auto parts. That makes them guilty of the automotive original sin. The negligence of purchasers could lead to complex car problems at some future time. In fact, such negligence could turn high quality oil into futile gasoline.

Several hot-selling cars appear to have an increased peril of serious mechanical troubles. This is, most of the time, caused by neglecting the scheduled oil changes during the car's formative years. One of the reasons that challenge the quality of the car is the buildup of sludge. The viscous tarlike deposits diminish or shut off oil circulation. It could cost the owner thousands of dollars for repairs or replacements.

Sludge is the term for solid waste and the thick breakdown of oil as it deteriorates. The buildup is triggered by moisture and contaminants that turn oil to gel. As a result, friction increases. Eventually, it may cause excess wear or worst - a stop-right-now failure. Experts are saying that there is no foolproof technique to ensure car owners of a trouble-prone vehicle to protect themselves. In addition, if there is a trouble involving sludge, the automaker may reject the warranty claim over the vehicle because it is likely hard to prove that previous owners neglected oil maintenance expected of them.

Oil sludge usually occurs at temperatures lower than 100 degree Celsius. It could be a key contributor to major engine problems. As a fact, sludge could necessitate a timely engine replacement. Late models of piston engines from several manufacturers have experienced failures by reason of oil sludge contamination. Failures happen when engine oil passages are clogged with sludge. Hence, even if oil is of high quality, it will be futile. The worst that it could do is to damage the whole engine much to the owner's disadvantage.

Oil sludge has resulted to several auto catastrophes. In the automotive history, 3.3 million engines from Toyota, 430,000 from Saab, 426,000 from Volkswagen and unknown numbers from Chrysler, Dodge and Audi had such problems. These failures require changing to synthetic oil, inspection, and even engine replacement.

"Chrysler has a serious sludge problem with the 2.7-liter V-6 engine used on some of its Concordes and Sebrings and also on some Dodge Intrepids and Stratus in the 1998-2002 model years," said Clarence M. Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. He added, "The center's Web site (autosafety.org) had about 2,800 complaints of failures from sludge."

Sam Locricchio, Chrysler spokesman said, "The center was exaggerating the problem. He said the center received many duplicate complaints as well as cases in which it could not be shown that the vehicle had been properly maintained."

Dean Tomazic, director for performance and emissions at FEV Engine Technology, a consulting firm in Auburn Hills, Mich. said, "The owner of a used car could conscientiously change the oil every 3,000 miles and still have a problem if the previous owner neglected the maintenance. The engine may be so damaged from the past abuse," He also added that such could "eternally cause sludge formation."

Used car owners are not alone with said dilemma. Earlier, Jeff Meckstroth of New Orleans, initiated a class-action suit against Toyota involving sludge problem. Meckstroth's new 1999 Lexus RX 300 sport wagon also had a sludge problem. Later, it was ruled by a Better Business Bureau arbitrator that the car was properly maintained. Unfortunately, Toyota denied there was a problem with the engine.

On the other hand, Consumer Reports magazine reported "the problem rate as reflected in our reliability data is very low." "Oil sludge," according to an auto expert, "is almost like clogged arteries. You look good on the outside, but you don't know what is on the inside." Every auto parts serve a vital role in the vehicle's efficiency. Hence, an owner should not only concentrate on brakes, EBC pads and the like. He must inspect each part to be secured.

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