My Toyota Sienna needs your help

shutterstock_165216488Philip Boutelle’s minivan is a money pit and Toyota doesn’t seem to care, even though it issued a limited recall. Can this car be saved?

Question: My wife and I purchased a 2008 Toyota Sienna used from a dealer in her hometown in central California, a dealer where her family has purchased numerous cars over the years.

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A few months ago, the oil light flickered while driving. I pulled over when it was safe and got the car towed. A pressurized oil hose had burst, and cost me just under $500 to fix, plus about $100 to tow. I contacted Toyota of America to ask why an oil hose would failed on a five-year-old van, and if the repair cost would be covered under my warranty.

I was turned down, allegedly because I didn’t service my vehicle at the dealer, even though I had complete service records from my regular mechanic from the day I brought the car home from the dealer.

When I drove the van out of the shop, I heard a noise, and the mechanic identified it as “internal engine noise” caused by the sudden loss of oil from the burst oil hose. My local dealer mechanic has diagnosed it as the lifters, with a repair cost of $5,700, plus the $250 diagnosis.

I again asked Toyota to help defray this cost and was again denied. As far as the effectiveness of the repair, the service manager said that he didn’t think there was lower engine damage but that we would never know unless there was actually a problem in the future, or we paid another large sum for a full engine teardown.

I researched this problem and discovered that Toyota had a limited service campaign — essentially, a limited recall — involving the hose. I asked my local dealership if it would cover the repairs and it turned me down without much discussion, and apparently no room for appeal. Can you help me? — Philip Boutelle, Santa Cruz, Calif.

Answer: It sounds as if you bought something of a lemon from your Toyota dealership, which is unusual. Toyota has a reputation for selling cars that work, so when one of its vehicles doesn’t, that’s noteworthy. Sticking you with the repair bill for a defect is highly unusual and very un-Toyota-like, to coin a term.

Don’t look now, but it looks like the warranty on your Sienna just expired. Here’s a sample warranty from the latest Sienna model, which says the longest amount of coverage is 60 months, which covers your engine, transmission and transaxle, drive system, seatbelts and airbags. I’m no mechanic, but it doesn’t look like the oil hose would even be covered.

The limited service campaing is a limited service campaign. In other words, the manufacturer would contact you if your Sienna was affected. Toyota had your contact information, but didn’t contact you, so it’s safe to assume that your van wasn’t affected.

Case closed? Not quite. You can still appeal this decision to someone at a higher level at Toyota. I list the names, numbers and email addresses on my site. I suggested you contact one of them, and you sent Toyota’s executives a firm but polite email and also mentioned that you were working with me on the case.

In response, Toyota offered you $1,000 towards future service, or $2,500 towards a new Toyota. You took the check.

Did Toyota offer Philip Boutelle enough compensation?

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81 thoughts on “My Toyota Sienna needs your help

  1. Toyota:

    The One you Ought to Avoid.

    Cars are total junk and Toyota DOES NOT stand behind their vehicles.

    My mother bought one in 1993. Absolute Lemon. No Joke, Toyota spent more money “repairing” than the actual value. Albeit refusing to take the car back under the Lemon Law. Car never worked properly.

    1999 Toyota Corolla (Still functions). Burns oil like the dickens since around 90-100,000 miles. Don’t risk going over 500 or 600 miles without a quart on hand. At least the car runs with 140,000 or so miles…..Next….

    2001 Toyota Corolla – Engine began failing at 100,000 miles. Car died shortly there after at around 140,000. Car was meticulously maintained.

    Moral? Toyota builds CRAP. A company taking pride in their workmanship has vehicles lasting more than 10 years / 100,000 miles before cataclysmic failures. Not Toyota. I hope the OP spends the check elsewhere!

    1. Well, my 2006 Toyota Prius still runs great. Only thing I had to replace was the light bulb, an internal 12v battery this year and tires, of course.

      Next time get a hybrid 🙂

        1. They did mail a not-so-recall-like letter. They offered all Prius owners a “special” half-off price of “just” $150 a bulb 🙁
          However, I could think of more disgusting things that happened to my American branded vehicles. My next two purchases after the Prius were Subarus. Guess what, the light bulb went out of the Outback, too. But Subarus have 3 year bumper-to-bumper protection warranties. The new Forester must be good. My wife’s been keeping it away from me. 🙂

          Sorry no more American cars for me. They can shut Detroit down or sell it to China. But I don’t care to be screwed over again and again.

          1. HID Bulb I am guessing? Yeah, dealers tend to charge $300 a pop for those. You can get them yourself for $90 or so and as long as you are careful and follow the instructions, they are easy to replace. Though sometimes they are tricky. My current car (Acura) requires I remove the bumper to replace a light bulb. Our Outback is almost 4 and all its had go wrong so far is one break light.

            ETA: The break light was so amazingly easy to replace, that car is so well designed!!!

          2. FYI, the Outback is a light bulb eater! Had to replace the right front bulb once and the driver side rear brake lights twice in my 2012 model.
            The dealer would do it free under the warranty but driving to White Plains and waiting is not part of my daily agenda.

            I don’t think there is an aftermarket replacement for the Prius headlight bulb.
            And as your Prius gets older you better carry one of those small jumper battery so you can get that computer on and start your car.

          3. I replied to you with a link to a bulb manufacturer with the specs for your bulb, and told you you can get it on amazon for $75. It said awaiting Moderation, and it now gone. Most likely your Prius uses a D4R bulb. Unless it’s got LED, then there is no aftermarket replacement, but it would also cost more than $300 a bulb.

    2. I bought my current daily driver in April of 1999. It’s a ’99 Camry and it’s running fine with just regular maintenance. Of course, all of this proves nothing with such a small sample set, but I’m happy for 10 years of no car payments.

      1. Odd. I know others that have had the same experience. Buddy of mine owned a 2000 Corolla and the car also burned oil horribly.

        All vehicles were properly maintained.

        1. “Regular maintenance” won’t spot a loose bolt or replace a worn gasket that could cause oil leaks and oil burn. Parts wear out and need to be replaced, it’s the price of owning a car. If you’re still driving a car that burns oil that badly, you’re only making the problem worse not getting the leak fixed.

          Oh, and you’re one of the people I hate driving behind when my windows are open. :p

          1. Car burns oil internally. It’s not billowing smoke ommitting a smell.
            We were told the issue of Corolla’s burning oil is apparently common. The cost of fixing (and remains true) wasn’t economical. Why sink in 1500+ dollars to rebuild an engine for a car worth 3 or 4000 dollars at best ? Now considerably less.

      2. @blackadar:disqus Three of my last 5 vehicles where Toyotas (interestingly all 3 made in the same plant). One was fine. One had an uncovered failure in the first 3 months of ownership (Tire would no longer hold air but did not have a hole) and one spent more time in the shop than out.

        Sorry but Toyota is no better or worse than any other manufacturer any more.

    3. Justin, your response begs the question. Why did you kept buying Toyota?
      To err is human (first Toyota), to persevere is diabolical!

      1. Hindsight is 20/20

        The 1993 was a Lemon for all intents and purposes. Spent more time and money under warranty repair than value of vehicle. The car was totalled out in 1998 when involved in an accident.

        My mother figured bad luck only strikes once. She took a chance and bought a 1999 Toyota Corolla. After owning the car 2 years (worked fine), I purchased from her in 2000 seeing I needed a vehicle.
        Mother replaced the 1999 with a 2001.

        The 1999 and 2001 worked for a while and neither had issues. The 1999 started developing oil burning problems 5-6 years down the road. Problem has now worsened to where every 500 or 600 miles, a quart of oil is required. Car still functions At least.

        The 2001 met a worse fate. I begged my mother to offload the car after it was involved in a hit and run. All damage was isolated to the rear and engine was unaffected. As luck has it, 6 months later, the engine began failing. Unrelated to crash.

        By the time the car hit 140,000 miles a year or two later (10 years old), car was al but dead.

        Lots of bad luck I guess?

        1. As an American I am not proud to say this – but the Toyotas that are built in Japan (the one that comes off a huge boat) seems to be better than the ones built in America.

          Also if you don’t want Toyota, there are other very good Japanese brands like Honda.

          1. I am curious. How do you justify your remark? Do you have a large pool of data or something collected over years that will substantiate your comment? I am not saying what you said is incorrect, however how did you arrive at your comment?

          2. By looking closely at the car models before I buy them.
            I just notice that the models assembled in Japan look like they have finer parts and the finish is just better.

            I just bought a Subaru Forester and compared to my Outback (which is quite new), I can tell the workmanship difference between Made in Japan and Made in Indiana.

            No wonder W. Edwards Deming is a hero in Japan and not here.

          3. I own a volvo now. I was given the car by a family friend who had a few too many vehicles. At which point I handed the 1999 back to my mother.

            Love the 2002 Volvo. Hate the repair costs. The volvo is the case of a NICE luxury car where the person didn’t do proper maitenance. Worth doing repairs, just hate the cost.

        2. If one is going to keep cars for longer terms than the standard warranties that come with vehicles, investing in an extended warranty from the manufacturer can certainly negate some of the issues you constantly complain about here. It may cost money up front, but you certainly could have used them for the issues you say you encountered.

    4. I seldom believe people who say every car they bought of a particular brand is crap. Most reasonable people will not buy another if they or a family member or friend has experienced major problems with the brand.
      I have owned 2 Toyotas and had great experiences with them both. My last was a Camry I drove for 14 years. Great car with only a few problems (motors on the electric windows). The only reason I am not currently driving a Toyota is the fact that I could not find a dealer willing to deal when I decided to purchase a new one. I had cash, no trade in, no financing but all said this is the price and that is it. Could not even get a deal online. But I would never buy another car from a brand that I had major problems with.

      1. See my post above.

        One problem car doesn’t indicate a universal issue. My mother’s 1993 was totalled in an accident. A 1999 was bought to replace the “Lemon Car” on the assumption that bad luck doesnt strike twice.

        My mom knew other happy Toyota owners and assumed back luck. The car worked fine for 5-6 years (1999). In that time frame, I bought the 1999 from her and a 2001 was purchased as a replacement.

        Problems ensued later on. From those experiences, neither I nor my mother will invest money in another Toyota.

      2. I had cash, no trade in, no financing but all said this is the price and that is it.

        That’s your problem right there. The dealers make a lot of money on the financing with relatively no risk since a bank is guaranteeing the loan. The dealer gets the full price of the car, plus a commission on the loan, and then the bank has to repossess the car if you default. I worked for a car dealer once between consulting gigs. Its best to finance, and then just pay off the loan immediately. Dealers don’t want cash. Also, there is a lot of IRS paperwork if you pay over $10,000 cash. None of that is needed for a loan.

        1. Better for the buyer to pay cash, not the dealer. Who wants to ding their credit by taking out a loan if unnecessary. Cash is king =).

          1. Except FQTVLR said no one would give her/him a deal or negotiate and they were shocked because she/he was paying cash and not trading in or financing. I was explaining why the dealer wouldn’t negotiate. Actually, I even left out the trade in, trade ins make a lot of money for the dealer, and loans make a lot of money. You have neither, they have no reason to negotiate, in fact, they are fine if you take your business elsewhere.
            From the dealership perspective (not the sales persons) you they make anywhere from $500 to $3,000 selling a new car for MSRP, depending on the car. You have a trade in and the dealership is going to make $2,000 to $4,000 on that trade-in, sometimes up to $6,000. Almost never less than $2,000. Also, depending on the value, the car and lender, the dealership is making $500 to $2,000 commission on the loan. The dealership also has to approve anything sold at less than MSRP, so selling to a cash buyer with no trade in means a minimum of $2,500 less in profit, and up to $6,000 or more in missed profit.
            Its not the new cars that are profitable, its the used ones.

          2. You forgot dealer incentives and manufacturer holdbacks. Any customer believing the MSRP deserves fleecing. Savvy customers buy the consumer reports book outlining what dealers pay for a car. Offer maybe 500 or 100 over that cost. Dealers make plenty of money still because of holdbacks.

            Also, trading in a car is a bad deal. Private party sale is recommended unless the car needs immediately offloaded. As you pointed out, the profit for the dealer is high and loss for customer is significant.

          3. Believe it or not, those margins are with the hold backs. Incentives, however, are not as they are not always offered. If they are, they are to be given tot he customer automatically (not all sales people do this). Also, the hold backs and incentives varied not just by model and time of year, but also by features specific to each car. Sometimes I did question those consumer reports numbers because they were taking into account he best case scenario, For example, if you buy the basic civic with no features, options, the margin with hold-back is around $500. If you buy it fully loaded, its more like $3,000. Consumer reports didn’t take that into account, so people go in wanting to buy the most basic (cheapest) model, and the dealer cant’ budge.

            Now I am just talking how it is supposed to work. On the other hand, what some of those sales people do made me feel dirty just begin near them. A lot of them were downright crooks.

            Assuming an honest sales person, hahaha. Sorry. Well, assuming, a dealer doesn’t make much money selling a new car with no loan and no trade in. Especially on a base model car. The dealer has got to be allowed to make something for themselves, so I don’t blame them turning away cash customers with no trade ins. This is after all a business.

            I totally agree with you that is much better for the customer to sell the car them self, as they will get more. But you also have to take into account that the dealer will get less and therefor give less of a price break. Its all a balancing act.

          4. Economics my friend. Dealers during the recession were desperate to offload inventory and free up cash. So I’m sure a customer with cash in hand, no trade-in, willing to buy stood a great chance of walking out successfully. Now as times have settled down a bit, those odds are less favorable.

            Per Consumer Reports, a section existed where the cost of adding features is factored into the price. Base model might be 17,500 Dealer Cost. Adding in heated seats, cruise control, power steering might make the car 18,900. Therefore, you make an offer of say 19,800 or 20,000. Dealer makes a profit, but you aren’t fleeced.

            Turned down? Plenty of dealers out there and usually you’ll find one ready to wheel and deal.

    5. I had my 1999 Celica Convertible until 2008 and loved it, and it only needed one repair the whole time and I sold it at 140,000 miles. Low by my standard. Our 2005 Highlander on the other hand sounded like your experiences. We swore of Toyota’s after that, though all few my Friends with Priuss have had great luck.

      ETA: Wow, a lot of Toyota fans must be down voting you. I’ll try to off set it. I do hope Toyota is getting better, they used to be amazing! But I think they had a bad few years.

    6. So, what kind of driving are you doing with these autos? Is it open road high speed? Or is it idling in traffic where you can spend many hours but not so many miles? The second is really a lot harder on the car than putting lots of miles on them on the highways and it is total hours of engine operation that matter more than total miles.

      But why are you upset with the cars that did last over 100K miles? I don’t consider any car that lasts over 100K miles to be junk.

      1. Mixed highway and city. City driving being harder on a car due to stop and go traffic, idling, and potholes.
        Thus, I realize 100,000 miles city is like a few hundred thousand highway. Friend is a mechanic.

        Cars today are made to last if properly maitenanced. 100,000, even if all city driving, isn’t over the top. So we disagree here.

      1. Quality Control. I was told by a Mechanic that Toyota had some VERY ROUGH years on Late 90’s and Early 2000 Corollas. Camry’s were given the superior engine and Corolla’s inferior. Many of the problems I experienced cropped up in a lot of cars from that Era.

        One can surmise, Toyota might have improved Quality Control. I’ll never find out. Been burned a few too many times to care.

    1. I think this comment was made because the vehicle was, in fact, out of warranty. Once a vehicle is out of warranty, any further complimentary repairs are done at the whim of the manufacturer. For obvious reasons, people that have had their cars maintained at the dealer are worth more to the manufacturer and dealer, and therefore more likely to receive gratis repairs.

      1. It sounds like a “certified preowned” vehicle that might have come with a used car warranty. The form of a warranty could have been by the dealer only, through the manufacturer, or via a 3rd party warranty contract.

        1. That would make sense, but the OP’s statements don’t really go along with that. The only time he mentions the warranty it’s pretty clear he’s talking about the original warranty because he mentions the age of the vehicle and he called Toyota of America about it while an extended warranty would be through the dealer or a third party. He then seems to be making the case that since they had a silent recall of sorts fixing these hoses at one time that he should be entitled to this repair, which again suggests he thinks the original warranty should somehow have covered this problem. And if he had an extended warranty, he’d have been denied for a specific reason and not given the tale about not using the dealer for service.

    2. I understand that it can be conditioned on dealer only service or specific branded parts if those services or parts are provided at no extra cost. Some high end vehicles come with regular maintenance included during the warranty period. Some people who have always believed in more frequent servicing often have a decision to make, although I haven’t heard of any conditioning. Mostly it’s that then they’ll be paying out of pocket. And these newer cars have oil change indicators that the user can reset. If someone changes at 50% and resets, the dealer isn’t going to agree to do every other change that way. Of course frequent oil changes have their own issues, but I won’t get too technical.

      Also, if something breaks during the warranty period and maintenance is brought up, the issue has to be related. If the door handle breaks off, the warranty can’t be denied because the oil wasn’t changed often enough.

  2. Like any product, cars have a warranty of limited duration. In this case the drivetrain warranty maxed out at 60 months. (And the mileage limitations were probably gone past before then.) If you are displeased with the length of said warranty, you always have the option of purchasing a longer one. If you don’t, then I don’t see why you should get angry at the manufacturer for not doing something for free. If they do, great; if not, well… you took the risk of saving a few bucks.

    Should a car last longer than six years? Sure! But sometimes they don’t, and you are on the hook to get them repaired. How long, exactly, is the manufacturer supposed to be on the hook for repairs, if not the warranty length? If Toyota wanted the drivetrain warranty to be longer, they would have done so. It’s not like the warranty length is hidden in some sort of unobtainable fine print…

    On another note: $5,700 for lifters? Sounds like the price for new heads to me… While a dealer will never do it, I imagine an independent mechanic will have no trouble obtaining and installing a rebuilt (or junkyard) head. I cannot imagine it would cost nearly that much.

    1. Extended warranties are almost always an incredibly bad deal. They are aggressively pushed because they are profit centers. For example, defunct Circuit City made all of its profits on extended warranties.

      1. I know that extended warranties, like any insurance product, are designed to be profitable. Toyota isn’t a charity, after all. I’m just saying that if the prospect of paying for a large repair yourself terrifies you, you should consider purchasing one. It’s the same decision you have to make for any form of insurance.

        1. Extended warranties aren’t insurance, a non-trivial distinction. Insurance produces are regulated in part because the risk/benefit analysis is outside of the scope of most people. An informed choice is nearly impossible.

          Extended warranties on the other hand are incredibly lopsided.

          1. Extended warranties ARE insurance. They are sold by insurance carriers (in Toyota’s case, Toyota Motor Insurance Services), and (lightly) regulated by respective state insurance commissions. If you look at an extended warranty, they direct you to file complaints about the product to insurance regulators… Not all insurance is price or content regulated; just a specific set of policy types, which varies by state.

            And legal definitions of the word “insurance” aside, it sure seems like insurance (in the common sense of the word) to me! You pay money, and in return the seller assumes some risk they would not assume otherwise. Isn’t that the basic definition of “insurance”?

            Yes, a full risk/benefit analysis is outside the scope of most people, but the same is true of any insurance product. (That is why actuaries get paid so much…)

      2. We are talking about vehicle warranties, not Circuit City. Would you say JUSTIN and his mother could have benefited by having Toyota extended warranties on their vehicles?

        1. Maybe, its hard to say without knowing the numbers and the warranty coverage. But hindsight is 20/20. The analysis must be prospective as its about protecting against future events.

      3. I disagree when it comes to a vehicle. I have purchased 2 new vehicles.. A 97 Chevy S-10 and a ’05 Chevy Colorado.. I purchased, for about $2000, extended powertrain warranties(5 years, 100k miles, covers major components) on both.. On the Colorado, that paid for only a Camshaft Position Actuator Solenoid being replaced at about 97k miles($50 part, maybe $75 for the labor to put it in). On the S-10, it paid for 2 transmission replacements, a pinion gear seal replacement and a head gasket replacement. Roughly $8000 worth of work.

        Now, remember, when I bought these, the ‘standard’ warranty was still the 3yr/36k mile warranty on GM products. I think the 5yr/100k warranty is standard now.

        Now, I came out ahead.. that’s quite rare.. I buy another 5 vehicles, I’ll probably lose on the deal. My logic on the thinking here is that the S-10 I financed for 5 years, the Colorado for 4.. I didn’t want there to be any chance that the vehicle would be sitting, not working, while I was still making payments on it. After I’m not paying on the vehicle, a $3k repair might be more doable than while I was making payments on the vehicle.

      4. It’s a roll of the dice. Something bad happens you win. Under normal use you don’t. Some people can’t cover a major repair all at once.

      5. I got suckered in twice. Once the fuel pump did fail and an independent shop was able to get the payment out of the company. However, they had to track down the phone number as the provider had been sold. I got maybe a $200 repair from what was a $600 extended warranty. That was for an Acura back when they had a 2 year warranty. I think they figured that an additional 3 years wasn’t a bad option since there are rarely any issues.

        The other thing is that most extended warranties don’t necessarily extend the longer powertrain warranties. My Subaru had a 3 yr/36K mile bumper to bumper warranty, but a 5 yr/60K mile powertrain warranty. My reverse gear actually bombed when I stalled once starting the car (forgot to put it in neutral). Happened many times, but this time it sheared off a tooth and cracked two more. The guy who rebuilt it said he’d never seen it before, and that “straight gears almost never break”. In any case, I don’t know if any warranty would have covered it, since stalling might be considered “abuse” or “driver error”.

        1. So did I. I bought an extended warranty for my first car a used Chevy Celebrity. The car cost 8k, the extended warranty $600. Six months later a covered part broke ($175). I towed it to the dealer where I bought it. They refused to fix it. They said, why should we fix it when it was still under the manufacturers warranty. My response, because I paid you an extra $600. You fight it out with Chevrolet. If you’re not going to fix it, give me back me $600. Since the repair was $175, they fixed it.

    2. It’s important to note too that there is quite a difference between a knocking lifter and a pecking lifter. Pecking is usually cause by worn cam lobes actually slapping against the lifters, and rarely is it going to cause a catastrophic failure. Knocking on the other hand could be cause by a number of things, and in the case of a rapid oil system depressurization, could be cause by crystallized particles in the oil passages. That being the case, a $200 system flush on a motorvac could clear the problem completely.

  3. I spent 5 years as a Quality Engineer in a Vehicle Assembly Plant (not a Toyota one) and my Master’s degree was basically a study of the Toyota Production System so I think I have some insight into this one.

    First, the vehicle was out of warranty. The story is short on details on how old the van was when purchased, how long after the purchase the part failed and how many miles the van had on it when it did fail but I think calling it a lemon is a stretch. at best it was over 5 years old when the part failed at worse, it could be closer to 6. Sadly, parts do fail after a time period especially parts that go through pressure cycles like a pressurized hose. One thing I’m not sure of is if that hose is part of a service check at the dealer that the OP didn’t have done since he was taking his vehicle elsewhere. It might explain their statement about service other places.

    Second, at least for my former employer, limited scope recalls were put in place after we identified the root cause of an issue and could identify when the defect entered the system (normally a tool change or setup issue). We could then track when those parts lots entered the system and the span of vehicles involved (with their just in time system, Toyota should be even better at this). Simply having a recall on a part doesn’t necessarily mean that it had anything to with this failure. For example, the recall could have been due to a torque issue where the hose attaches but his hose burst. Completely unrelated problems.

    In short, nice of Chris to get him some hush money but its probably undeserved.

    1. I did do some googling. The recall was not on every Sienna but only ones with a certain engine configuration (across multiple product lines) so there’s no way of knowing if the OP’s van even qualified. We also don’t know if the recall service was performed prior to the sale on the used market.

  4. I used to swear by Toyota. In-fact, I had a 1999 Toyota for 10 years, and sold it only because we were downsizing. In all 10 years, it needed one repair, which cost $250. Sadly, my wife bought a Toyota in 2005, and it routinely had major engine breakdowns, all were known defects and had service bulletins issued, but none of them were covered because we were over the mileage limit for which they would pay for the repairs. When the steering system and breaking system failed, we finally cut our losses. Sadly, there was a major recall right after that, but it was too late, and we were over the mileage limit anyway. Toyota has had such a history of recalls ever since, so I no longer consider them to sell reliable automobiles.

    That said, cars break, parts of cars break, and having a hose bust after 6 years (2008 model year is made in 2007), doesn’t sound at all out of the ordinary, or like it’s a lemon. If this happened within a few months to a year, I would call it a lemon if they didn’t fix it, but this is no longer a new car and things break. The same thing happened to an old Mazda I had when it was 3 years old. Also, it doesn’t sound like something that would be typically covered under warranty. If the OP pulled over and had the car towed the second the hose break, its highly unlikely that it would have damaged the lifters. And for all of the lifters to be damaged, there has to have been some pretty severe strain. Driving a short time with low oil pressure should not cause that much damage. Either the OPs mechanic is ripping him off, the engine was faulty to begin with, or there are other problems going on with the car like running with low oil or no air filter for a long time. And $5,700 to fix? The OP is clearly getting taken by his own mechanic. It would cost less to get a used engine and swap it. Also, I am curious if the OPs car was even under warranty at all. But either way, cars break all the time, and expecting a 6 year old car to have no mechanical issues is dreaming in my opinion.

    1. With today’s engines and tight tolerances even driving for 30 seconds with insufficient pressure can cause all kinds of damage. Low oil isn’t an issue unless it impact the pressure.

    2. @emanon256:disqus The engine in question uses oil pressure to vary the valve timing on the issue. If this is the hose that failed, it would be like losing your timing chain. Very bad things happen in the top end of the engine as valves open / close at the wrong time. I’m not saying that’s what occurred but it would be consistent with the price of the repair.

      Edit : That’s engine not issue

      1. Oh wow, I had no idea it used oil pressure. Seems like a poor design as oil pressure loss is a lot more common than losing the timing chain. I still think a used engine would be cheaper than the repair, and there could be other issues down the road unless they do a complete rebuild.

        1. It’s not that serious. There’s always a lack of pressure at startup, and there’s typically valve rattle for a second or two with most hydraulic tappets.

          Then you have solid lifters like on my wife’s Civic. Those can come out of adjustment. I remember going to a shop that recommended adjustment every 15K miles, although the factory recommendation was to check it every 30K miles.

      2. I thought that no hydraulic tappet is ever designed such that loss of oil pressure will cause the valves to crash into the pistons like the result of a broken timing chain/belt. Most engines are starved for oil pressure for a few seconds on startup, but the pistons and valves are still moving. You’ll hear a valve rattle for a few seconds that goes away once oil pressure is up and the tappets can fill up with oil.

        I’ve heard that the problem with a loss of oil pressure would be that the valve won’t open very far. It will be damaged if driven like that for too long.

          1. The only VVT I’m familiar with is the one that was on my dearly missed 1995 Acura Integra GS-R. I had the valve cover off a few times, and in any case I could always peek inside the oil filler hole to see at least one set of valve lifters.

            That thing was unlike any other variable valve system. It would normally ride on the standard set of cams, but there was a solenoid that opened up to lock up a hydraulically actuated lifter and then would ride off of a secondary cam profile that was deeper than the standard set. However, there was nothing about that system that would die simply based on loss of oil pressure. Without oil pressure, it would simply revert to the standard cam profile.

      3. No engine is going to instantly grenade because the lifters de-pressurize. It’ll make a heck of a racket, but it’ll be nothing like a timing chain/belt going.

        1. You’d be correct for an old school non-variable time engine but Toyota uses oil not only as a lubricating agent but also as a hydraulic fluid in order to adjust the valve timing. I honestly haven’t studied the system enough to know or understand how that portion would fail when it depressurized.

          1. The VVT system Toyota uses (like all of them, I think) are “fail safe”. For this particular engine, in the event of a failure of the VVT system, the engine will simply fail to engage the high-speed cam profile. Other systems that vary the tension on the chain between the exhaust and intake cam may run poorly (or not at all) if the tensioner fails due to lost oil pressure, but again they won’t grenade the engine.

  5. It’s a shame the car had such terrible issues, but I’m confused why the OP expected any of it to be covered. Unless this letter is old or he waited a long time before contacting Christopher, the car was likely out of warranty. (2008 models were likely already being sold in 2007, so his warranty might already have been out in 2012.)

  6. Used Cars = Other People’s Problems. I am sure there are many fine used vehicles out there, I’m not going to roll that set of dice.

    1. That’s why I get them inspected first. $300 on a through inspection can save a lot of money down the road. I bought a car once with ~130,000 miles on it for $900 after it checked out okay, and a few years later sold it with ~240,000 miles on it for $2,000. During all that time, all it ever needed a new starter motor and muffler.

  7. Many used cars on the market are cars from other parts of the country that were salvaged from a disaster. The auction houses move them around to obscure the history. Not all states report claims and recoveries the same. If a car had flood damage it will never run right again, and always have electrical degradation issues.

  8. When I was young, long ago, my father taught me never to drive even one block with the oil light on. The car was driven after the hose blew until it was safe to pull over. That was the cause of the major damage. If stopping immediately was hazardous to life and limb, well, that’s the price of stayin’ alive. Otherwise, do like my father taught me.

  9. I voted yes. For a pressurized hose to fail after five years, if not covered under the contract, doesn’t seem like something for which the company should pay.
    I own a 1998 Toyota Sienna. I guess that car is the “Poster Child” for Toyota Sienna; I had it serviced by Toyota until their service contract warranty ended and then have it serviced regularly according to the manual by my private garage person. If Toyota had not lived up to the contractural agreement, then I’d be the first to recommend getting Christopher Elliott involved.

  10. If the car was better than expected would the OP go back and offer to pay the dealership more money? Buying a used vehicle is a gamble. To me I will take the risk of unseen damage for the huge savings. But it is still a risk.

  11. I had a similar issue years ago with our Chrysler minivan. In the course of 2 years we had several thousand dollars worth of unexpected repairs: the paint started bubbling, the tensioner rod snapped in half, the transmission which had been replaced once at 40K and had to be replaced again at around 100K. I’d had enough and photocopied all the receipts and sent them to Chrysler customer serivce. Imagine my surprise when I got a letter saying essentially “this repair and that repair are unusual and you shouldn’t have had to have them so here’s a check for $1100.00” Didn’t cover all that much but at least they responded and sent me SOMETHING.

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