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Oil Sludge Prevention and Repair

Some sludge is completely preventable. While other sludge is unavoidable due to defects in the engine. In either case, here are some tips to keep in mind.

  1. Keep a schedule and stick to it. If your manufacturer says change your oil every 3,000 miles – just do it. If you think 3,000 miles is ridiculous, get a different engine.
  2. But don’t blindly follow that schedule for the life of your engine. If your manufacturer says you only need oil every 5,000 miles, but your mechanic says you nearly ran out of oil before your change, mix it up. Oil change recommendations are based on averages, if you drive like you’re still in high school or in plenty of stop-and-go traffic, try changing it sooner. As your engine gets older and works harder, change it sooner. Yes, it costs more but it costs a lot less than a new engine.
  3. Don’t neglect the “check engine” or “change oil” lights on your dashboard. Listen, I get it. Life gets crazy – the dog keeps eating shoes, your teenager wants to be in band and ballet, and you have enough work email to last a lifetime. All that is to say, it’s easy to put off a trip to the mechanic. But warning lights are there for a reason and could be your last chance to save the engine.
  4. Ask your mechanic about what oil they use. There are certain synthetic oils that are better equipped to handle extreme temperatures, like say in a turbocharged engine.
  5. Think beyond the oil. When’s the last time you changed your oil filter, eh there champ?

Flush the Engine?

There are plenty of products out there that promise to clean oil deposits in your engine. Sea Form, for example, is the “proven choice*”

  • according to – you guessed it – Sea Foam

Here’s what Sea Foam claims to do:

  1. It lubricates moving parts. That can be handy if your oil is gumming up and not lubricating like it once did.
  2. It is “specially formulated” to slowly re-liquify gum, sludge, varnish, and carbon deposits.
  3. It absorbs water and allows it to be burned up in the combustion chamber.
Car driving into sea foam
This is not what we mean by flush it with sea foam

As is the case with anything, it’s always best to ask around and check with your mechanic before blindly throwing anything into your oil or gas tank.

Replace the Engine?

For engines where basic maintenance isn’t enough, you could look for a replacement.

However, in the case of DaimlerChrysler, if you decide to fix with a blown 2.7L V6 engine then don’t put in another defective 2.7L V6 engine. Find a mechanic to swap up to a 3.2/3.5L engine instead. Here’s why:

  • The 3.2/3.5L engine doesn’t have the design defect that causes oil sludge to form in the 2.7L V6.
  • The 3.2/3.5L engines are less expensive than the 2.7L, sometimes by $1,000 or more.
  • The 2.7L to 3.x swap is fairly straightforward & does not require any custom parts or other major components be replaced.

Here’s a thread about a successful 2.7 to 3.2L engine swap & what’s involved.

As is often the case, be wary of any “quick fix.” For instance, some companies sell “fixed” 2.7L V6 replacement engines that supposedly have been modified to fix the oil sludge defect. We have not heard back from enough owners who have gone this route to be able to form an educated opinion on this method. Usually though, the cost of the modified 2.7L engine is prohibitive.