2005 Dodge Grand Caravan sludge problem

I have a 2005 Grand Caravan with a 3.3L V6, and it seems to have an oil sludge problem. Over the past couple of months, I have noticed that the engine was making noises starting up - sort of a whine for only a
second of so, and only in cold weather. I was going to take it into the dealer to look at it (the van is still covered under the 7/70 plan, and it has 49,000 miles now), but it became warmer so the sound started to go away. I told them I would wait until a cold snap would occur, then I would take it in.
So the other day I take it in for an oil change at the local place, and they tell me that the engine has a sludge problem. Sure enough, under the cap it is pretty black - much more black that I had ever seen it. They tried to sell me an engine flush, but I had read all sorts of nasty things that can happen, so I declined. Anyway, with new oil the van started better, so I figured I would try do desludge the engine myself. Some research on the web seems to say that changing oil every 500-1000 miles for a few times would let the detergents in the oil do their thing gently, rather than have a solvent do it. So this is what I plan to do...
Until today, that is. The little oil light went on, just days after an oil change. I shut down the van, checked the oil - all is fine. But I do not want to drive this thing much at all now, unless it is to the dealer.
I have a horrible feeling the engine is dying, and another feeling that the dealer will not want to do much other than a flush. I have heard that more and more new cars are having sludge problems, even with proper maintenance, and the only cure is an engine swap.
What say the experts?
I do change the oil myself sometimes, and other times I just take it to a quick change place (Valvoline, etc.). I also buy decent oil - not the best, but certainly not the worst. My last Caravan, a 1996, ran for 238,000 miles on the original engine*, so I must be doing something right. I am also quite easy on engines.
*When the van died due to my friend smashing it up, the engine still worked fine...
-- Will
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normally build up by driving short trips all the time without the engine reaching proper temperature or lack of maintenance (oil changes) You have 49k on the odometer now so either you do not maintain this vehicle and caused excessive sludge or the noise you are hearing is not related to an internal engine problem. This vehicle is prone to have P/S leaks and a whine noise when the fluid gets low. If the oil pressure sending unit is bad it will cause the lite to come on. Have the oil pressure checked. If you know you do not maintain this vehicle and the engine is sludged up your wasting your time and money. By trying to desludge an engine....all the crap falls from the upper part of the engine to the oil pan and then restricts the oil pick up strainer thus causing even more problems.
Just my opinion
Glenn Beasley Chrysler Tech
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maxpower wrote:

I have been reasonable about changing the oil - probably on average every 4500 miles. I also do a great deal of long road trips, and since I work out of my house, I do not make zillions of little trips to work. Basically, I probably do cold starts way less than the average driver.
So I wonder why all this sludge...

I actually originally suspected the power steering, not the oil.

Yes, I will do that. And now, the light does not want to go on...I suppose that is "good". Perhaps a sensor just on the edge?

Yes, that is what I read, and why I declined the engine flush at the oil change shop.
-- Will
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Then you shouldnt have any sludge and someone is just trying to sell you unneccessary work. Is your noise from the P/S? You will have some buildup on the oil cap. The sure way to check is to remove the valve cover

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On 31 Dec 2006 12:52:55 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

A PROPER engine cleaning procedure can remove the sludge without causing a problem. You can't do it all at once. You need to put some "cleanser" in just before the oil change and run it long enough to get good and warm before draining. I like a bit of Shaler Rislone or MMO. About a pint to the change, then drive moderately for 20 miles or so before changing the oil. Then add a bit of Lucas oil fortifier or Bardahl2, or "motor honey" to the new oil. Drive abouit 1000miles or 1 month and repeat. Put the MMO in a little earlier on the 3rd and 4th change, the 4th can have MMO in the oil for the entire 1000 miles if temperatures are not too high and driving is not too severe.In 4 months you will have a clean engine, and also a healthy engine. Attempting to do it all in one crack COULD cause problems, depending how badly sludged the engine is. I've only had ONE engine fail due to desludging in 40 years - and I've done some pretty nasty ones, and I've done some pretty agressive flushes. The only one I've had fail was a '65 Valiant 225 with about 87000 miles on it where I dislodged the crud attempting to adjust the valves before attempting the flush. It was so far gone already that it didn't really surprise me when the oil light came on 15 miles later- - - - -. The oil intake screen was totally blocked with "chunks" when I tore the engine apart.
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