Toyota Valves Fail at 85,000 Miles
Toyota says this is Normal Wear and Tear
Livermore, CA March 15, 2004 -
Text of a Letter sent to Toyota USA
Customer Assistance Center
Re: Disallowed post warranty claim for Case 200403111143
To Whom It May Concern:
I have a 1998 4-Runer with 2.7L engine with 85,000 miles diagnosed with 3 cylinders low compression. The cause is burned exhaust valves. I followed and documented my compliance with the Toyota warranty service requirements.
At 60,178 miles, I performed the required maintenance, and followed the instructions in the Toyota Owners Supplement to listen for excessive tappet noise or note engine vibration. There was no excessive noise, and the engine ran smoothly. At 65,000 miles, the exhaust manifold developed a fracture at the location of the #3 exhaust ports. I asked the dealer to provide a warranty replacement but was refused. I had an exhaust shop replace the manifold with a Toyota part at a cost of $600.
At 85,000 miles, I noticed that the engine was starting to run rough. I performed a tune up, and then a compression test, where I discovered that cylinders 1, 2 and 4 were very low. I measured the valve tappet clearance and found all valves significantly under the minimum clearance specification. My conclusion was that the exhaust valves were burned. I took the vehicle to the Hayward Toyota who charged $100 to come to the same diagnosis as I. I requested that the dealer see if Toyota would assist in some of the repair cost. Through the dealer service manager, you have apparently declined assistance.
The service manager stated that the valves in this engine have been found to be elongating as they age, and the tappet clearances therefore decrease over time. The engine remains quiet and smooth, and thus does not trigger the valve adjustment inspection called for in the Owners Manual. The service manager further stated that they recommended all owners coming in for the 60,000 mile service have a valve adjustment done. This is a complex 6 hour procedure, quoted by the dealer at $575, in addition to the $550 major service. There are no service bulletins to show why this is necessary. I have had the car in several times several times prior to this for minor service, and received no notification of the problem or changes to the service recommendations.
The Owners Manual Supplement contains the following statement on page 31 – Explanation of Scheduled Maintenance Items):
Inspect for excessive tappet noise and/or engine vibration and adjust if necessary. A qualified technician should perform this operation.
And on Page 41, under the heading 60,000 Miles or 48 Months:
Inspect the following:
Valves (Audible inspection), adjust if necessary.
Via telephone, Toyota Customer Care has refused to take responsibility for this. Their view is that this failure is the result of normal wear and tear. And when I requested to talk with a supervisor I was told that none were available, but someone would call me back - in fact there has been no return call.
My view, and that of my attorney, is that Toyota has an obligation to inform me of changes to recommended service during the warranty period, and to publicize service difficulties after the end of the warranty period. Anyone who follows the Toyota Owners Manual instructions for the 60,000 mile service is unknowingly at risk of destroying the exhaust valves and thus will require an expensive repair.
A consumer should not have to contract with a Toyota dealer for maintenance to ensure that their engine will not be destroyed by following the Toyota published protocol. In fact, it almost appears that this is an intentional act, designed to restrain trade by preventing other entities from correctly servicing the vehicle.
This is also a fraud, in that consumers purchasing Toyota vehicles rely on Toyota product documentation to make their purchase decision – In this case, I would either not have purchased the vehicle, or elected to have supplemental warranty insurance, or negotiated a lower price based upon a higher projected maintenance cost.
I have been very reasonable in my discussion with the Toyota staff, so hostility would not seem to be a driver in this. I was keenly disappointed to discover this week that they will not even allow this to be referred to a supervisor. Clearly a stonewall.
Can you help me on this? I am out $2,000 and the cost is climbing. Failing a affirmative response, please consider this a demand for you to reimburse me for post warranty repairs, totaling $1,075.28 in labor and parts, $300.00 in machine shop costs, the costs of the prior exhaust manifold replacement being $600,00 and 10 days of replacement vehicle costs at 52.47 per day being $524.70, and 14 hours of my time for which I bill $75 per hour, all of which totals $3,449,78.
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