Toyota Motor Sales, (TMS) U.S.A., Inc., announced Apr. 3 a new customer satisfaction program for owners of 1997 through 2002 Toyota and Lexus vehicles equipped with 3.0 liter V6 or 2.2 liter 4-cylinder engines. Toyota is taking this action because a very small number of customers have reported engine damage from motor oil breakdown, also known as oil gelling or "sludging," a result of oil change intervals delayed beyond the factory-recommended schedule.

To make sure that customers have absolute confidence in their vehicles, Toyota claims this program will cover repair costs and incidental expenses for which a customer has paid or could incur as a result of damage due to oil gelling for a period of eight years from the date of first sale or lease without a mileage limitation. In addition to the costs of repairs, reasonable incidental expenses, such as car rental, and other out-of-pocket expenses will be covered, according to the company. Toyota says this program replaces a previous special policy adjustment regarding oil gel damage, and extends protection against this condition well beyond the new vehicle powertrain warranty period. Oil gelling is not caused by engine design, but by the long-term effects of changing oil at intervals longer than factory recommendation. When maintained according to schedule, Toyota says it is extremely unlikely that any vehicle powertrain will develop this condition. Lexus and Toyota will continue to communicate to customers the importance of assuring proper maintenance schedules for any automobile. Customers whose engines have needed repair in the past should contact Toyota at 888-802-9436 or Lexus at 888-654-6421 for details on obtaining reimbursement. In the very unlikely event that this condition should develop in the future, customers are advised to see their dealer to arrange for repairs.