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Old 01-07-2012, 11:29 AM
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Internal engine sludge issues: Ever had a problem? How to cure it?

Now that I started the thread on extended warranties, 'latech' left a post suggesting a problem with sludge buildup in the Dodge 4.7L V-8, which can lead to failure. I'd never heard of this before, but then I did some Google searching and found where people said they'd had a problem with 'sludge' buildup.

'latech' recommended always using full synthetic motor oil, but pointed out that unsludging the engine might not be a good idea due to the fact that you might dislodge some crap that will clog up the oil pump pickup screen, which would cause the same problem that may be caused by sludge in the first place, engine failure.

But on 'Dodge talk', I found a post where a guy recommends buying several quarts of cheap oil and 2 extra filters, but also getting some top quality synthetic oil and a good filter. Then, drain the old oil, fill with the cheap oil, plus 1 qt kerosene and install a cheap filter. Then idle the engine for 20 minutes, drain the oil/kerosene mix and throw out the filter. Then fill it up again with more cheap oil and filter(but apparently no more kerosene, as he doesnt mention it), then drive it around for 30-60 miles, then drain and throw out the filter. Finally, fill the engine with the full synthetic oil, the good filter, and that'll clean it out without lots of problems...... Make sense?

Other people keep mentioning Sea Foam, but what about possible sludge debris clogging the system after broken loose?

Now some people claim this 4.7 liter sludge 'issue' is due to a thin spot in the block or head casting, leading to increased heat and sludge, but some people, including Dodge(of course) claim that the problem is caused by poor maintenance, and not doing oil changes frequently enough, which leads to sludge. I dont know the answer.

One encouraging thing I noticed while looking into these problems at carcomplaints.com, is that there is a fairly long list of people with 2004 and earlier vehicles, but none with 2005's. Mine is a 2005. Hope that means something....

1. Anyway, how best to check for sludge issues?
2. How best to remove sludge without a complete engine disassembly?
3. Anyone else hear of sludge problems with other engines?
4. Will full synthetic really help prevent sludge?

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Old 01-07-2012, 01:55 PM
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My daughter had the same problem with Chrysler. Engine had less than 50,000 on it. They "cleaned out" the engine and said to change oil ever 2000 miles and use full synthetic. Not a good option. If you look further on line, it appears to be only certain engines and happens about 50k. Chrysler/Dodge is no help. Probably still using same engines.
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Old 01-07-2012, 02:22 PM
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You are flirting with disaster if you run anything through it to clean it. If it is sludged up real bad all that crap will be circulating and most likely will plug up something.
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Old 01-08-2012, 05:41 AM
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My 2 cents: Are you just fretting over this because you have been reading too much on some forums? Kinda sounds like it. Even if dealerships see pattern failures, it seldom affects but a small percentage of the cars or there would be a recall. And just because you haven't read about it happening to an 05 might just mean it isn't old enough to have the issue yet. Without any pattern failure knowledge of your car I will tell you what a few years around this stuff has taught me about sludge. Poor maintenance is at the top of the list. Short drives like a close commute (especially in cold winter conditions) are possibly involved where the engine never gets to run at operating temperature long enough to burn off the crap accumulated during the cold start/warm up. Two other issues combined are too cold of thermostat and cheap paraffin based oil like Penzoil. Many years ago I had a customer with a badly sludged up engine and had our race car engine builder in the shop one day so I ask his opinion. He told me to check the T-stat and see what kind of oil they were using. He bet me it was Penz and a 160 degree. Bingo, he was right on both counts.

Sooo. in conclusion not just one issue or cause but usually a combination of things. Keep the oil changed regular and buy some over the counter flush or drop in a quart of kerosene for a few minutes of idling just before you drop the oil. I have never, ever heard of a big chunk of sludge clogging up an oil pump but I'm sure it has some probability factor.
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Old 01-08-2012, 06:24 AM
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I would not try to "unsludge" an engine unless you can actually confirm a problem. I don't know anything specific about the Dodge 4.7, but most modern engines run in a heat range (190+ thermostat) that prevents sludge build-up unless you do some extremely short range driving.

If you are concerned with sludge, the simplest solution is to start changing your oil religiously at 3k miles/3 months, and use a full synthetic oil and high quality oil filter with a bypass. It is overkill for synthetic oil change interval, but it won't hurt the engine.

If you are doing a lot of very short trips, especially in cold weather, make sure you change it every 3 months - don't wait until you hit 3k miles.

Bruce
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willowbilly3
My 2 cents: Are you just fretting over this because you have been reading too much on some forums? Kinda sounds like it. Even if dealerships see pattern failures, it seldom affects but a small percentage of the cars or there would be a recall. And just because you haven't read about it happening to an 05 might just mean it isn't old enough to have the issue yet. Without any pattern failure knowledge of your car I will tell you what a few years around this stuff has taught me about sludge. Poor maintenance is at the top of the list. Short drives like a close commute (especially in cold winter conditions) are possibly involved where the engine never gets to run at operating temperature long enough to burn off the crap accumulated during the cold start/warm up. Two other issues combined are too cold of thermostat and cheap paraffin based oil like Penzoil. Many years ago I had a customer with a badly sludged up engine and had our race car engine builder in the shop one day so I ask his opinion. He told me to check the T-stat and see what kind of oil they were using. He bet me it was Penz and a 160 degree. Bingo, he was right on both counts.

Sooo. in conclusion not just one issue or cause but usually a combination of things. Keep the oil changed regular and buy some over the counter flush or drop in a quart of kerosene for a few minutes of idling just before you drop the oil. I have never, ever heard of a big chunk of sludge clogging up an oil pump but I'm sure it has some probability factor.

No I'm not fretting over it, I'm just concerned and trying to make sure I prevent it from happening if it's a real problem. I first heard of the issue when a member here mentioned it on my thread about extended warranties. He recommended getting the extended warranty because he's seen this problem with this engine in his work. Then I looked it up and found numerous websites and forums talking about this same issue with this and other Dodge engines with sludge. A new engine costs a lot of money, especially if the company refuses to pay for it through warranty, so I just want to be safe.
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:30 AM
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the 3.4 v6 in my 98 Toyota 4Runner is very well known for sludge/coke deposits in the heads

mine was like that when I bought it, and it bothers me, but its hard to find one that doesnt have it

I would like to flush/clean it somehow, but the aftermath worries me more

the only way that I know of, to properly clean it, is rebuild it

after that, take better care of it then the guy before you did
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Old 01-09-2012, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matts37chev
the 3.4 v6 in my 98 Toyota 4Runner is very well known for sludge/coke deposits in the heads

mine was like that when I bought it, and it bothers me, but its hard to find one that doesnt have it

I would like to flush/clean it somehow, but the aftermath worries me more

the only way that I know of, to properly clean it, is rebuild it

after that, take better care of it then the guy before you did

Well, if you have coke deposits in your heads, then it sounds like a drug trafficker is using your vehicle to smuggle drugs!

I will just have to make sure the oil is changed frequently enough.
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