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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2003 earlier)



  • I have a 2001 Sienna with 80K miles. Just a couple of days ago I noticed the noise that you're describing - a whirring noise as the transmssion is shifting when the engine is cold. Has anyone just left it alone? If so, did further problems develop? Also, might some of the fuel system cleaners at the auto parts store make any kind of difference? Thank you!
  • Follow up to my post. Pretty strange but the assembly, including bolts, etc., that holds the catalytic converter in place was rusted out. Parts have been ordered and it will be covered under warranty for this 2002 Sienna with 45000 miles.

  • crissmancrissman Posts: 145
    A friend of mine was asking whether the timing belt needs to be changed in his 1998 Sienna. It now has 92,000 miles. I was not sure whether it used a chain or a belt. Thanks for any help.
  • jprocjproc Posts: 133
    The Manual recommends replacing it at 90,000 miles
  • densmedensme Posts: 1
    Thanks for your artical. I also have a 98 Sienna and am having a bottoming out problem too. Did your fix work?
    I also had problems with my front brakes and had a dealer brake job within the first 25K miles. What have you done about this problem...

    Thanks, Denny
  • jojjoj Posts: 6
    I have a 2000 Sienna that I am going to be trading in. I was looking at a Honda Pilot and when the sales guy saw my Sienna he said it was too bad that I wouldn't get much trade in on it because of the "sludge problem". Well, guess what, mine had the sludge problem but I am wondering if that is in any public records (like on CarFax) where it can be seen by anyone? Anyone know? I also was thinking about the Highlander but I am pretty sure that Toyota could run my VIN and figure out that my Sienna had sludge. I had the free warranty repair but I don't think they replaced the engine. That is part of the reason I want something new now cuz I worry about the Sienna getting sludged again.

    Also, I am pretty sure that the sludge is a thing of the past and newer Toyota models aren't facing it -- true?
  • paul6paul6 Posts: 14
    Could someone post instructions on how to change a dash bulb; specifically the one on the left side of the cluster by the temp gauge. Thanks.
  • scoti1scoti1 Posts: 676
    The Honda dealer is just trying to slam you on resale value. I don't think that sort of info turns up on CarFax either. You can always get more money by selling your van out right and if you trade it, they are going to try to pay as little as possible, or raise the sales price on the car you are buying. Wouldn't it be something if Toyota devalued your van based on the sludge problem!

    Also, turn this in to a positive, your engine has two more years on the sludge warranty. Not many 6 year old vans have that!
  • jojjoj Posts: 6
    Also, turn this in to a positive, your engine has two more years on the sludge warranty. Not many 6 year old vans have that!

    It is not much of a postive for me. I am not sure Toyota would fix it again if I get sludge. I am pretty sure they said it was a one time deal. But thanks for your advice.
  • :cry: I own a 2002 Sienna Symphony that I bought used in 2003. When the van had approximately 26,000 miles on it I noticed the carpet was soaking wet and there were puddles in various places, and it had a moldy/mildewy smell to it. I took it to the dealership because it was still under warranty. After a week in the repair shop and $4000 worth of work--out of Toyota's pocket--they decided that a drain plug was put in the wrong place and they "fixed" the problem. Now, my van has 49,000 miles on it and the carpet is getting wet again. Since it is not under warranty, I am guessing I should trade it, unless someone has an idea of what it could be. Other than this issue, the van is perfect and I couldn't ask for anything better.
  • jprocjproc Posts: 133
    Were you the original owner of the 2000 Sienna and if so how often did you changee your oil.Also how could the Honda salesman tell that your car had a sludge problem?

    We have 82k on our 2000 Sienna and I am hoping it lasts til my youngest gets thru college (7 years away!)
  • hylynerhylyner Posts: 216
    The sludge story was blown totally out of proportion when it was first discussed. It received much undeserved publicity in the early 2000s, so much so that Toyota issued a SPA (special policy announcement) in 2002 providing free repairs up to 8 years--provided there was proof of at least one oil change per year.
    Toyota also made a minor change to the PCV system in those engines back in 02 which made them more tolerant of poor maintenance. This helped to minimize the issue even more.
    History has now shown beyond any doubt the vast majority of sludged engines occurred in vehicles which were not well maintained. Owners weren't changing oil at all, or going well beyond recommended intervals.
    A number of other makes were plagued with the same undeserved publicity, for the same reason.
    The so called "sludge prone" engines made by Toyota are reliable as they come--given reasonable maintenance. This requirement isn't any different for other manufacturer's engines.
    Simply put, after all that past furor about it, sludge is no longer an issue.
    It hasn't affected resale values at all for Toyota any more than all those failed Honda transmissions which happened at the same time. The salesman was blowing smoke.
  • jojjoj Posts: 6
    Yes, I am the original owner. The oil was always changed at around 5,000 miles, give or take a couple hundred. All my serving was done at Toyota so they could see I followed the manual on oil changes and fixed it for free in 2002 at around 40,000 miles, when it started smoking from the tail pipe and using a couple of quarts of oil a day. It was fixed under the extended 8 year warranty for sludge.

    The Honda salesguy did not know my van had the sludge before and I didn't tell him. He was just saying they couldn't offer much for it because it was one of the ones that could get sludge. I didn't feel like getting in a argument with him. I am still shopping around and haven't gotten to a bottom line yet. It just hadn't occured to me that it could lower my resale.

    I am not wanting to keep mine any longer. After the sludge, the dealer said I should change the oil every 3000 miles to maintain the warranty, but they were never clear whether they would fix another sludge engine. I don't want to chance it. Other than the sludge and going through tires like crazy, it has been an ok van and has served its purpose. I am ready to move on when my youngest starts driving later this year and I don't need a van for carpooling any more yea!
  • deepandeepan Posts: 342
    i also have a 00 sienna and change the oil every 4k kms or 4 months which ever comes first. i also have a avalon (same engine) and change it on a similar schedule. The avalon has 160k kms and runs like it was bought yesterday. cheap insurance against engine damage . ofcourse the salesman is going to low ball you so that when he turns around and sells it he can make a bigger profit.
  • jprocjproc Posts: 133
    We follow the same maintenance as you ie Oil changes every 5k miles.Maybe I'll switch to synthetic oil next change.I really don't want to buy another car.I'll be paying 2 college tuition bills for 4 of the next 7 years and 1 for the other 3.Don't have the dough to buy a car on top of that so I need this Sienna to last
  • ned671ned671 Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Toyota Sienna LE, Symphony Edition with 43K miles. I have had a couple of minor annoying issues with it that I have seen mentioned on this board (squeaky stering wheel; a rattle on the driver side rear door; slow shifts when cold), but nothing major, until perhaps now.

    A couple of months back I noticed an "extra noise" under the hood - sort of a thrashy, slurry sound. This is especially noticeable when the engine is cold and I am accelerating at a decent clip. It is harder to notice at higher speeds when the road and wind noise mask the sounds + the RPMs fluctuate less when on the gas. I have taken it to 2 different Toyota dealers and neither seems to be able to find anything wrong with it. At each dealer they claim to hear it - one technician even said it didn't sound that different from other Siennas he had driven. It doesn't sound like the buttery smooth Sienna I paid $25K for!

    Just last night and again today I heard a new noise - last night there were two loud "clunk" sounds from under the hood. This happened under acceleration. Today at about 35 MPH and again under acceleration there was a single clunk sound.

    The thrashy sound made me think that it could be an issue with the beginning of the exhaust system. The clunk sounds more like a universal joint/transmission issue. I am about ready to take it to a "good ole boy" mechanic, because I have little faith in the Toyota dealers.

    Has anyone had a similar issue? Any advice? Thanks!
  • deepandeepan Posts: 342
    dont worry about the engine noise when cold. cold metal is supposed to make a bigger noise than when warmed up.
    the tranny is designed in a way to delay shifting till the collant warms up. so you have nothing to worry about. dont floor the van till the engine warms up.

    if youre doing regular oil changes i wouldnt bother spending the extra bucks for synthetic. my 2 cents.
  • My gas milage has decreased, and I do not know why!

    I purchased a 2001 Sienna in Nov 05 (its now Jan 06). I had decent gas milage (aprox 22 mpg) at first. After getting the 60K tuneup, which includes spark plugs, new air filter, and I had the fuel injector cleaning service done. In addition, I have had 3 emisions sensors replaced, and the valves adjusted (under waranty).

    After all the above was done, I expected BETTER fuel economy. Any suggestions?
  • deepandeepan Posts: 342
    its cold out there and usually fuel economy suffers. idling the car for extended periods.
  • We have a 2002 Sienna LE, non-power driver's side door with the same "rattle" when going over bumps. I even had the dealer install the rubber edging found on the passenger side power door in hopes of making the "dull, thumping" sound go away. No luck. I think the hinges that have the roller are spring loaded, always wondered if they become loose.

    Has anyone had this issue resolved ?

    Otherwise, at 45,000 miles we are very happy with Toyota quality.
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