Attention Toyota Owners- Special Recall Policy On Oil Gelling

Toyota USA will cover the cost of engine repair caused by oil gelling in 1997-2001 Toyota Camry, Solara, Sienna, Avalon, Celica and Highlander, and Lexus ES300 and RX300.

Here is the story, Directly From The Horses Mouth

February 2002 Torrance, CA -- Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., has implemented a Special Policy Adjustment (SPA) as a measure to insure customer satisfaction for a very small number of Toyota and Lexus owners who may have experienced a condition known as engine oil gelling, which can be caused by a lack of proper vehicle maintenance.

This condition, not unique to Toyota or Lexus products, tends to occur due to three factors. Changing motor oil less frequently than the recommended interval is the primary cause along with short, stop-and-go-driving cycles and cold weather climates. Symptoms of oil gelling include blue smoke coming from the tailpipe and/or excessive oil consumption, which may cause the malfunction indicator light (MIL) to illuminate.

If a customer vehicle exhibits signs of oil gelling, and the owner can show reasonable evidence of regular engine maintenance, Toyota will cover expenses related to the condition. This one-time goodwill gesture provides coverage for circumstances that would not be covered under warranty and is offered on a case-by-case basis for one year.

"We're not aware of any cases of oil gelling in properly maintained engines," said Bob Daly, TMS group vice president and general manager of 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.

"Even though the complaint rate is extremely low, we think this is the perfect opportunity to go the extra mile to emphasize the need for proper maintenance of any vehicle and to spare a very few owners costly repairs," added Daly.

Letters reminding customers about the importance of keeping up with their vehicle's recommended maintenance programs and detailing the specifics of the SPA were sent to owners of potentially affected vehicles beginning in February 2002. Vehicles involved in this SPA include certain 1997-2001 model-year vehicles with four- and six- cylinder engines.

Toyota and Lexus owner's manuals stipulate oil changes every 7,500 miles or six months, whichever comes first under normal driving conditions, and 5,000 miles or four months under severe operating conditions. The 5,000-mile, or severe schedule, should be adhered to if a customer drives on unpaved or dusty roads, tows a trailer or makes repeated trips of less than five miles in cold temperatures.

"Toyota understands that customers can sometimes be confused about how to properly maintain their vehicles," commented Daly. "We're confident that this program will remind customers of their responsibility as well as reassure those who have had regular oil changes that they have nothing to be concerned about."

Toyota and Lexus vehicles are known worldwide for quality, dependability and reliability as shown by independent research from various well-known organizations. In fact, in the 2001 J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study (VDI), which examines the durability of vehicles after four to five years of ownership, Toyota and Lexus had 14 vehicles rank in the top-three of their respective segments.

Toyota owners who feel they qualify for repairs or reimbursement under the Special Policy Adjustment can call 888-802-9436 for more information. Lexus owners can call 888-654-6421.

The Facts About Toyota's Special Policy Adjustment (SPA)-Engine Oil Maintenance

February 8, 2002

Of all the many claims made about engine oil sludge these days, this much is true: It's an industry-wide issue that's existed since the dawn of the internal combustion engine.

We're Toyota Motor Sales USA-the US distributor of Toyota and Lexus cars and trucks-and together with our 1375 dealers, we'd like to set the record straight about sludge and our Special Policy Adjustment (SPA) for Engine Oil Maintenance.

Whether it's called sludge or engine oil gel, it's nasty stuff and bad for engines. It happens when old, dirty oil becomes thick and no longer does what it was meant to do-lubricate the engine. It's certainly not unique to Toyota.

We recently made a decision to reimburse owners of certain 1997-2001 Toyota and Lexus vehicles for engine problems related to oil gelling, even though all of our evidence indicates the problem is caused by improper maintenance-not by a product flaw.

Why would a company do that?

We did so voluntarily because we care about our customers and believe the experience of owning and driving our products should mirror the high quality of the vehicles themselves. And frankly, we take great pride in the reputation our dealers and we have earned as the industry benchmark for quality and reliability. We also hope this goodwill offer will heighten awareness of the importance of regular maintenance.

Our engine oil maintenance SPA is straightforward, providing assistance to owners of the affected vehicles who encounter engine problems related to oil gelling as a result of failure to maintain their engines properly.

We work very closely with our dealers to ensure we hear the voice of our customers and are able to respond to what they tell us about our products and their ownership experience. We monitor internet forums along with our own websites to help us capture all relevant public opinion about our company and products and, when needed, to clarify any of our policies or actions that provoke inaccurate or erroneous claims.

We're eager to provide additional facts about our Engine Oil Maintenance Special Policy Adjustment and its provisions:

· This is a maintenance issue-We simply have not found one case in which a properly maintained Toyota or Lexus has experienced sludge build-up and the related mechanical problems associated with this condition. The vast majority of our customers follow our recommended maintenance schedules and avoid the risk. · We are offering assistance under this special program to owners of 1997-2001 Camrys, Solaras, Siennas, Avalons, Celicas and Highlanders as well as 1997-2001 Lexus ES300s and RX300s and are contacting them with a letter. · Toyota and Lexus owners enjoy one of the best power train warranties in the automotive industry, but damage caused by improper maintenance is excluded from that coverage.

· The Special Policy Assistance for owners of affected vehicles will reimburse them for repairs already completed for the effects of oil gelling. It goes one step further by protecting our customers who undergo engine problems related to oil gelling for up to a year following our letter. We're asking all of our customers who do ask for assistance under this program to at least show that they made a reasonable effort to follow a regular maintenance schedule. · This is not a recall or a special service campaign. It is meant solely to help the small number of our customers who have had or who may encounter engine problems directly resulting from lack of maintenance. The special assistance is offered for a limited time and is for covered expenses only.

It's obvious from the many maintenance-related postings in forums that confusion exists about the recommended frequency of oil changes for any vehicle. Toyota and Lexus provide guidelines on oil changes to every customer who purchases a vehicle. More information on proper maintenance is available from every Toyota and Lexus dealer and within our websites at http://www.toyota.com/html/owners/maintenance/index.html and http://www.lexus.com or you can email us at special_policy_adjustments@toyota.com. Or, you're welcome to call our customer assistance centers at 1-888-802-9436 for Toyota and 1-888-654-6421 for Lexus.

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