Exercise! Brush your teeth. Learn new technologies. Lead a balanced life. Turn down the heat every night. Clean your glasses and the gutters.

Oh, and keep all your receipts, particularly the oil change receipts. Be sure they are dated. Be sure they show the milage. Be sure they show the car’s VIN. Do this before the “stop engine” light come on. Before the day after you spent $500 on misc. maintenance tasks. Before you spend $300 on towing it back home again.

Let this be a lesson to you! Do not to follow my example.


killer named sludge may live in your engine and can choke the life from your car, regardless of maintenance or mileage. And the automakers whose engines are susceptible to sludge still aren’t always eager to help.

Sludge often forms when oil oxidizes and breaks down after prolonged exposure to high temperatures. The baked oil turns gelatinous and can block vital oil passages, which could lead to repairs exceeding $8,000 or even an engine replacement.

While sludge often results from poor upkeep, notably not changing oil at prescribed intervals, some engines from Audi, Chrysler, Saab, Toyota, and Volkswagen appear prone to it (see the chart below).

The Center for Auto Safety says it has received about 1,300 sludge complaints since 2004. …

Volkswagen’s policy requires that customers produce all oil-change records.

Those conditions would require attentive record-keeping for original owners, but it could cause headaches for used-vehicle owners.Even with the extended engine warranties, some consumers are denied repair compensation when they first approach the manufacturer.

When Sarah Bolek’s 2001 Volkswagen Passat hit 59,000 miles in 2004, the engine succumbed to sludge. The repair estimate was $9,000, says Bolek, who lives in Boyds, Md.

I doubt, we will be buying another Volkswagen.

Re-negotiate your cable contract once a year. Oh, and your long distance service. Rebalance your investments annually. Keep an eye on your mortgage rate and refinance at appropriate times, but not too often. Consider having a health savings account. Clip coupons. Keep track of those rebates. Join frequent flyer programs as appropriate. Be sure you have a will. Check that your love ones know your end of life desires. Eat more vegetables. Take regular breaks to avoid typing injuries. Get plenty of sleep.

0 thoughts on “Sludge

  1. Lance Lavandowska

    Yeah, this happened to my 2000 Dodge Intrepid: had to replace the entire engine. The whole thing seized and the rods got bent, which damaged something else… Was I smart enough to keep my oil change receipts? No sir. Would it have mattered? Not likely.

    Oh, and this was on a car I was leasing, six months before the contract ended! I spent $5000 to replace the engine, and the lease company wasn’t likely to be pleased with this “unusually wear and tear”. Fortunately they offered me a good buyout price at the end of the contract. Still, not happy about it.

    Whine whine, grump grump.

  2. Julien Couvreur

    I talked to my garagist about sludge yesterday (since I’m concerned about my WV Golf 1.8T), but he said that changing oil more frequently only has little effect on reducing sludge. It’s more of a design problem for certain types of usage patterns (short trips).

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