Courier CT update: first problem detected

Discussion in 'Lexus Hybrids' started by Raidin, May 17, 2017.

  1. Raidin

    Raidin Active Member

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    Yesterday, after I changed my transmission fluid, I was told that I have my first real issue. A rear main seal leak. It's not bad, but were I to repair it, it would cost $2,000 at the dealer, and maybe a little less at my mechanic's. The dealer told me this is a 12-hour job.

    My mechanic also told me this could have been caused by debris in the oil that made it past the filter. Since I run long OCIs (Oil Change Intervals, currently 26,000 miles), that may have allowed something to make it past the filter. He suggested I look into bypass filtration again. Long story short, I once looked into that to increase my OCIs but the cost difference wasn't worth the trouble. Since the filter on the bypass system is finer than the standard oil filter, it may be worthwhile just to avoid problems like this down the road.

    I don't plan on fixing the leak right away, only when it's necessary. Just in case I run into another issue down the road where the transmission has to come out anyway.
     
  2. gamma742

    gamma742 Member

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    You change your oil every 26000 miles?
     
  3. Raidin

    Raidin Active Member

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    Yes. Working on going further, but now I may need to scale back or just go with bypass filtration.
     
  4. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    Or just change your filter more often than the oil. Though that could be a messy PITA depending on where the filter is. The last two GMs spoiled me with a cartridge type filter that is easy to reach from the top of the engine; no crawling on the ground and blind reaching.

    I've heard most oil filters clog and have the bypass valve open long before it is time for the next oil change, and have seen black oil near the time for the change become merely cloudy brown a week after just swapping the filter. So I wouldn't worry about the long oil change intervals being the cause, but would consider changing the filter more often since taking the particles trapped in it out of the oil eliminates them as a potential acid source.
     
  5. Raidin

    Raidin Active Member

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    This is essentially what my mechanic meant. The long OCI means more stuff gets past the filter, and as you have heard, if the filter "maxes out," the bypass valve lets everything through, meaning more chances of something causing damage to a seal, which may be what happened here.

    My research shows that beyond removing harmful particles from moving around the engine and causing problems, there are two other advantages to bypass filtration (which is why they are used so much in commercial fleets where you want to keep your engine running as long as possible); one, you reduce wear and tear on the engine because most engine wear is due to particles floating around with the oil and rubbing against the inside (some sites suggest bypass filtration essentially removes all engine wear, though I'm skeptical about this), and two, engine oil (modern synthetics mostly) basically never break down, and essentially only need changing because of the contaminants that a bypass system would clean up.

    With such a system, I will have a much longer OCI, longer engine life, and I only need to change the filters, along with adding additives when they oil additive package runs out. Right now this is what I've learned, but I'm still researching it.

    I also wanted to add that at 25,000 miles, only 1k short of my next oil change, my oil level is beyond the full mark (I have my shop add all 5 quarts instead of the 4.8 my car requires since I drive so much), so the leak I have right now is minimal and insignificant for the time being.
     
    #5 Raidin, May 19, 2017
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  6. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    My understanding is that the majority of the particles that end up in used motor oil are organic in nature; they are bits of oil that got burnt. The tiny bits of worn metal would be a wear source, but I can't say effective these scorched oil bits are at abrading metal. Relative hardness is a factor, but these bits remain suspended in the oil due to detergents, which should mean a better buffer of oil between them and engine parts.

    As your research showed, the actual oil doesn't lose its lubricating properties over time. It tends to thicken over time and use has portions evaporate off or degrade, which reduces efficiency. The main reason for changing it is because additives get used up. In addition to the detergents, the consumed additives include antiseize compounds and the base package.

    The antiseize compounds prevent micro welding when direct metal to metal contact does happen. GMs oil life monitor calculates oil life form the known use rate of a common antiseize compound at varying engine and environmental conditions. the base package neutralizes acids. The real warm of those the bits of burnt oil is that when mixed with the water that will get into the oil, they form acids.

    A little aside. becak when I had the 2005 Prius, there was a post, maybe here, from someone that had a bypass filter on a truck and multiple cars. They put fresh oil into a daily driver, take its used oil for the truck, and when the bypass filter had cleared up the oil, transferred the oil to another car. They did do oil analysis, IIRC. Eventually he took the by pass filter off the truck and plumbed it to a pump and small tank, and just ran old oil through it for the family fleet until analysis showed the additives were used up.

    If you don't mind getting a little dirty, a DIY filter change could be a lower cost option to a bypass filter for much of the same benefits. The last Toyota I had was that 2005 Prius, so I can't say how easy a filter swap would be though.

    This might be the source of your leak, or at least a contributor. When using the last free oil change from the dealer, the tech put a full extra quart into the Sonic. Likely though I had the base engine. In the week before I got it all out, there was some seepage from the valve cover, and I've such leaking on over cars over filled with oil.

    Point two quarts may not sound like a lot, but the oil is already under pressure with the engine running. Going over full could lead to that pressure increasing, and even a tiny increase can have consequences over time.

    Next oil change, stick to the 4.8 fill, and think about using a high mileage oil. They are on the thicker end of their weight label; that can help with a slow leak, and they have additives that can reswell old seals and gaskets. Your rear seal could simply be a result of it shrinking from the heavy use.
     
  7. Raidin

    Raidin Active Member

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    Thanks for this reply! I'll definitely look into all of this.
     
  8. LasVegasaurusRex

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  9. Raidin

    Raidin Active Member

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    Hey! It's rolling just fine! :)

    I'm about to hit 345,000 miles, and still no further issues. The leak is still minimal, and after discussing it further with my mechanic, he feels that a PCV valve might have done this (as it seems to be something a lot of folks replace or clean on their cars). At some point I will see if it would be easy to remove and clean on mine.

    My last oil change interval was 28,500 miles, but my mechanic (who regularly looks inside my engine block through the opening where you add oil from) says that my engine isn't as clean as it used to be, and feels I should probably not keep extending the OCI. I tend to agree, just for longevity reasons, and will roll back to 25,000 mile OCIs. The oil report from the 28.5k OCI came back positive and the lab recommended I try 30,000 miles next time, but I think I pushed it and the filter enough as it is.

    Otherwise, the car still drives great! (y)
     
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  10. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    If the filter was one that could be changed from the top without oil coming out, I'd go with the 30k mile interval with replacing the fiter every 10k to 15k miles.
     
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  11. LasVegasaurusRex

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    Awesome!

    I know you run mostly freeway miles, but I can't remember if you are running a catch can / magnetic drain plug?

    Thanks

    As for keeping the engine clean, I run Redline fuel treatment every 10-15k miles per my mechanic's advice. He's extremely intelligent, doesn't EVER sell me on anything I don't need, and has saved me many thousands of dollars over the years. I don't know whether it or works or how, but I trust his judgment.
     
    #11 LasVegasaurusRex, Oct 19, 2017 at 6:37 PM
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017 at 6:42 PM
  12. Raidin

    Raidin Active Member

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    The thing is, my mechanic checks out my filter as well. At 28,500 miles on my last oil change, the filter I am using now (Wix 57064XP) is still holding up without any media disintegration, so I'm betting that going to 30k is no problem with one filter if I use the same one. I am just being cautious at this point because there is no incentive for me to keep going. There's no worthwhile savings going from 25,000 to 30,000 miles between oil changes.


    I don't run a catch can, but I do have a magnetic drain plug on both my engine oil drain and transmission fluid drain. Both never show metal particles. Engine wear, according to the lab, is still great with very little wear.

    Regarding the fuel treatment, and this goes to answer Trollbait too, I never use it even though my mechanic told me it may be worthwhile at some point. The reason I haven't used any is that I only use top tier gas. Of the over 900 fuel-ups I've done with this CT, only 5 or so have been non-top tier. The extra detergents are keeping everything pretty clean.

    I'm going to talk to my mechanic in more detail to see what exactly causes my engine to look "not as new" as it did before, and see if there's anything worth doing, or if it's even an issue (it may just be the miles I have on the car and nothing to do with the OCI).
     
  13. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    The filter not falling apart is different than the filter not filtering. The engine not looking as clean just had me thinking that your filter had hit the point of running totally in bypass; more crud left floating in the oil, the more that gets deposited elsewhere.
     
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  14. Raidin

    Raidin Active Member

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    You're right, but the oil reports show no filtration problems. My last filter was breaking up earlier than this and so media could have gotten loose and damaged/killed the engine. A visual inspection showed that my last filter was not completely blocked up.
     
  15. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    What constitutes a filtration problem? Or what is the filter removing?
    Better manufacturing and oil means less wear is happening, and what is happening results in microscopic particles that pass through the filter, or they wouldn't be detected in an oil analysis.
    Dirt and dust from outside has to get past the air and fuel filters first.

    That leaves the scorched bits and other particles formed from broken down oil. I haven't seen anything to suggest that the rate that they form at increases with the oil's age in the engine. Yet, old oil is black with the amount of them suspended in it. GM makes their cartridge filters top accessible. So I once replaced the filter on the HHR near the end of the oil interval. The oil was black. A week of commutes after changing the filter, the oil was back to a cloudy brown.
     
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  16. Raidin

    Raidin Active Member

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    Blackstone Labs has a test where they run the sample through a centrifuge and measure the amount of insolubles to determine whether it's a safe amount of not. I believe this is how they see oil filter problems. They can also check air filter issues by measuring things such as Silicon in the sample.

    Total percentage of insolubles should be under 0.6%, and I have gone from 0.2% to 0.4% across the 6 tests I've done. That, along with a visual inspection, showed that my oil filters have been working well and not bypassing much. The only issue was that the old filter type I was using (Mobil 1 Extended Performance) started to degrade (it uses a natural and synthetic media blend), so I switched to a full synthetic media type with the Wix XP.
     
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  17. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    The insolubles result could mean that their rate of build up is simply slow once the filter is clogged up. Which wouldn't be surprising given modern oils and the operating life of a hybrid engine.

    I don't see how a visible inspection can tell whether the filter is clogged or not. The element is designed to remove particles down in the micron size range.
     
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  18. Raidin

    Raidin Active Member

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    The centrifuge test is designed to collect all particles, especially ones that can't be seen due to their small size, into one clump that can be measured. Based on their training and experience, they feel that anything below 0.6% is perfectly normal. This is how they determine whether enough is getting through the filter or not.

    The fact that I tested 6 different OCIs, from 15k to 28.5k miles, with only 0.2% to 0.4% insoluble count across them, shows that time is not really much of a factor, at least not within my OCIs. This means that either the filter is doing its job, or that if it's failing, it's failing so slowly that it's moot anyway since I'd have to run 100k miles or more per oil change to see any issue.
     
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  19. LasVegasaurusRex

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    I don't think it's valid to draw conclusions about time from your use case scenario. Mileage absolutely, but not time.


    I'm too lazy to take a sample, but to draw conclusions about time you would need to evaluate a car like mine, an 2007 with 90k miles lol.
     
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