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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2003 earlier)



  • For anyone still out there experiencing T/C check engine light problems, just some reassurance.

    My light came on at 12 miles. T/C replaced about two months ago at about 1000 miles. No problems at all since then. Just had an oil change at about 3000 miles; car runs great, no sludge in the engine :-). Only minor irritant is that when they did the oil change, they put air in the tires and set off the tire pressure light. Supposedly, if you drive 5 miles at a sustained speed of 30 mph it will reset itself. Ha! I live in Silcon Valley. I haven't driven 30 mph sustained for 5 miles in years. Called Kevin at the service department (One nice thing about the T/C problem is you get to know all the service manager and assistant by first name) to help me find another way to reset it.

    Despite the T/C, still LOVE the car. Drives like a dream.
  • I don't know about the clunking sound but the hard shift from 1st to 2nd is one of the problems we are having and our new transmission is on order. The mechanic that test drove our van noted that the transmission seemed to stick at times between 1st and 2nd gear. The sticking felt much more abnormal than the hard shift but they could be related. You may want to have it checked out.
  • Take a look at my post #367. I believe this the noise you are hearing. Ignore the "extra" rhetoric which I included for cblake's benefit
  • I wanted to make this post two weeks ago but had to leave town for business and am just now getting caught up. We were finally successful in getting an extended warranty given to us after requesting one (almost two months after asking).(post #221).

    We settled for the Gold Package because the Platinum, as near as I can tell, only extends the maximum miles, not the time frame (100K vs. 75K, 72 months for both) There's no way we would put 100K on in the first six years given the around town and occasional family trip use we have.

    I do feel much better about my 2000 Sienna LE and my faith in the dealer has been largely restored but I sure wish we hadn't had to persist so long and make so many phone calls (and a letter) to the dealer. In the two months it took to finally get the manager involved, I probably disparaged Toyota and the dealer a dozen or so times to friends who could potentially have been future customers. All for the lack of a concession retailing for under a $1,000 (who knows what the dealer cost is)!

    Again, if Toyota had stepped forward early on and offered the warranty to the Cursed T/C Sienna souls, all this agonizing, ill will, and bad press largely disappears. That is simply poor marketing and miserable customer service.

    From what I could discern, the dealer will eat the cost of the extended warranty unless they can convince Toyota to make good on it. That's probably why many dealerships are reluctant to give these warranties out like free popcorn. If I'm a Toyota dealer, I write it off as good customer service and marketing. Costs less than a couple of newspaper ads and the effect of not doing what's right lingers long in the customers' mind (compare that to yesterday's newspaper ad).

    The van's running great now, we do love it, and hopefully we can get on with our lives again. Car problems can really have a negative effect on one's happiness (sad, but true in this day). Thank you all who post; this site is a tremendous resource and I'll check back regularly. I LOVE WHAT YOU DO FOR ME...INTERNET!
  • rjsforjsfo Posts: 13
    Glad to hear that persistence paid off for you. I am still trying to work things out with the Dublin (CA) Toyota dealer's Customer Relations Manager and the Toyota Customer Assistance Center without much cooperation. Would you mind sharing the name of your dealer so that I can use it as a reference? Thanks, rjsfo
  • Thanks JMSIMS for the info on Check Engine Light #733. We just took a long trip and have 800+ miles on our 01 XLE and the light has not returned. I'm starting to relax a little.

    For those still deciding on a vehicle, it was very comfortable and quiet on our trip. My 18mo. old son napped for almost 3hrs! He didn't do that in the old car. Also, the XLE's power driver's seat helps to reduce fatigue on long rides.
  • dardsondardson Posts: 21
    I was a little surprised several days into my driving experience to see Firestone tires on my just-arrived XLE. The demo I drove had Dunlop and I just kinda, sorta, assumed my ordered car would have Dunlop. I rarely buy a car that is not on the lot 'cause I hate surprises...and sure enough..... I get a surprise of Firestones. I realize these are not AT tires, that I'm not driving a high-center-of-gravity SUV, and that I wouldn't have thought a thing about it 8 months ago; nevertheless, I've heard and read enough on the Firestone panic to feel a bit uncomfortable. After all, I bought the damn thing (in part) because of Sienna's best-in-the-business crash ratings. Why would I want suspect tires?
    Anybody think this is an issue? Anybody have any problems with Firestones on their Sienna?
  • Toyota has used both Firestones and Dunlops for quite some time (I believe since the intro in '98). There are many many posts in this "problems" forum complaining about the Firestones as related to "pulling" and "wandering". But from the descriptions these problems had more to do with the characteristics of driving a van (my van handles fine, but it will never compare to my Grand Am or Maxima) and/or alignment problems. I did not read any posts complaining about tire failures, traction problems, or poor stopping ability. My van happens to have the Dunlops (I think they might use the Dunlops with alloy rims, but do not know for sure). I ran Firestones on my previous vehicle with no problems.
  • If you live in an area with snow or a lot of rain the Dunlops may be better for you. The Firestone tires have a B traction and a B temperature rating where the Dunlops have an A traction and B temperature rating. If I remember correctly, the tread rating on the Firestones was 500 and the Dunlops are 420 which is in favor of the Firestones. For me the traction is more important for safety reasons. I picked up a LE on Sat. and it had the Dunlops on it. I was happy as I live in Wisconsin. Personally, I think that it is a pretty poor decision on Toyota's part to put B rated tires on a 25K van. I do love the van so far.
  • dardsondardson Posts: 21
    (and thanks for the comment on my "B" grade tires, courtesy of Toyota) Same song, second verse.....My dealer (small city and hours away from another Toyota dealership)had no Sienna's with I didn't see (except in the brochure)nor drive one with leather. I drove a CE with cloth for 2 weeks while I waited for my leather clad XLE. The CE was very quiet, amazingly serene for a seven passenger people hauler, and smooth as butter. When I drove the new Sienna home, something didn't feel right. It was distinctly noisier. As my week progressed I began to realize the "lack of quiet" seemed due to the leather seat surfaces rubbing against one another. I finally took some silicone spray to what seemed to be the major of the middle bucket seats. The damn seat sounded like two balloons being rubbed together.
    On top of the thought I may have to 'butter-up" my leather on a monthly basis, I have a nasty buzz behind the instrument panel, and the $265 luxo-mirror has no clue what direction I'm headed. These are NOT good omens for the future.
    I just traded out of a 28 month old Expedition without a rattle or problem. I'm now wondering if my PC decision to move out of a gas hog SUV to a "bullet-proof", not so sexy, but very practical Toyota Van was a mistake.
    Has anyone had my same leather problem? Do I need to treat it? Do I dare to have the guy's in the service department pull the dash? It's againts my better judgement to start taking this damn thing apart. Am I whining after 260 miles? Yes, maybe a little...but if I wanted a slightly squeeky minivan that needed the dash pulled to fix a rattle and a mirror replaced, I coulda bought a '97 Caravan for 20k less.
    All this said, I will admit it has one great engine and drive-train, which is what sold me on it. I have not had the "check engine" light come on nor any feel that the car wants to pull left or right; but when I buy a 30k car, I do not want the thing to rattle!
  • Try having a $30k '00 XLE with less than 50 miles with the transmission torn out of it to replace the dreaded torque converter!!! So if it bothers you that much, let the dealer take the dash off, it may be a simple plastic clip that's broken.
    We do have leather and notice no squeaks or rattles. Although it's a good idea to keep the leather treated, it shouldn't be necessary to "butter up" everything just to keep it quiet.
    As far as tires are concerned, we asked the dealer (service manager) to swap out out original Firestone Affinity's with Michelin's and he obliged. It couldn't hurt to ask......
  • jbadamsjbadams Posts: 63
    Our new XLE with leather has the middle row squeak problem too. I did take some leather conditioner and smear on the leather which helped. The squeak occurs in the joint where the seat back and the seat bottom meet.

    There is a way to set your mirror compass. Drive around in a circle (according to the manual).

    The dash rattle can probably be fixed by the dealer. Good luck.
  • I am writing this in response to "readytobuy" and "akroger" I think you need to shutup sit down and do better homework before you slam someone else who is having Sludge problems!!!!!!!! Is this the only site you ever read? I just printed off 15 postings from "" about Toyota Sludge. Not only is it in the 1998 sienna's it is also in the Avalon's and Camary's 1995-2000! It seems that Toyota has messed up Royaly with there 3.0L V6 motor and now we (the consumer is going to pay for it! We were just told TODAY that Toyota will not honour its warranty for the 1/4 inch of sludge found in our Motor! We produced recipts for oil changes and filters. We did do our own maintenance and we WERE die hard Toyota owners and fans! But Guess what! Never again. If I wanted a piece of crap I would have bought a Ford but no I bought a Lemon!
    What Do you think I should do now? The cases are just coming out because People are realizing that they are NOT TO BLAME! The dealerships keep saaying we have never seen an engine like this before, but when we took it in the very fist time it started smoking they told us without even looking in the motor that Toyota warranty wouldn't cover sludge! Isn't that remarkable that they have that insite! Maybe you could help and be part of the solution before someone gets hurt! We are not being taken care of and Didn't 'Toyota Boast best vehicle, best SERVICE! Do a little looksee for yourself and you will notice that there are alot of folks with this problem.We didn't all NOT take care of our vehicles!
  • We had the torque converter and transaxle replaced this week. The dealer was very efficient. I haven't driven the van much since the repair but there was a noticeable difference in the shifting. My wife, who drives it everyday also noticed a big difference. My recommendation to anyone who feels either shuddering or hesitation when their van shifts gears is to have it checked out. This is not normal.
  • Maybe it's time for you to get to the next level and graduate from Valium to Prozac. I think you should take a hard look as to who is "slamming" who! Take a look at my postings, #361 and #368, do you see me telling anyone to shutup? NOT!!

    This forum is for Toyota Sienna owners to voice their concerns about problems, not to lash out at one another. If you read my postings I only questioned some of the symptoms that "abcdefg6" described about his/her sludge problems. To reiterate a statement I made, " asking questions does not equate to laying blame". I also sympathized with this Sienna owner if in fact the vehicle was properly maintained yet suffered from sludge. I also questioned "cblake" about gathering information about this problem-NO RESPONSE!

    I'm sure you're upset about your sludge problem, I can't say I blame you. I took a look at "thecomplaintstation" website and noticed 9 (not 15-some people had multiple postings) other Sienna owners who shared your sentiment. Not 1 of them stated that they had a sludge problem after having changed their oil every 3,000 miles as recommended by Toyota. Actually, Jim Garrison states that he changed his oil at 7,500 miles, Steve Weiss went 6 months without changing his oil, taxiguy changed his oil at 8,000 miles and Neal Boggs had only 2 oil changes with 10,000 miles. I'd don't think many people would consider these vehicles well maintained.

    The only point I want to drive home is that if sludge were such a widespread problem than there would be more people posting their issues on Edmund's (less than a handful) and "thecomplaintstation" (9). Everyone has the option of changing their oil whenever they want, but if you do so every 5,000-8,000 miles you're only asking for problems. I'm sure it also depends on your driving habits and road conditions, since there are probably people out there who do change their oil within this range, but why tempt fate? Spend the $15-$25 on a regular oil change now and save yourself $5000-$8000 down the road.........
  • My '99 Sienna makes this noise too. It only started this year though ... maybe it's a Y2k problem? LOL Seriously, it is a disturbing sound. The first time it happened, I thought I hit someone or something, or that maybe the engine fell out!

    It's not that the seats aren't locked in properly, at least in my case.
  • ...major problem in a new vehicle is frustrating, but please keep your comments directed towards the situation and not the person making the comments.

    Vans host

    Karen-Edmunds Community Manager

  • This noise is becoming more pronounced in my '99 van. It happens each time I back out of my driveway now. What's wrong with these brakes?
  • "Readytobuy4," you said there was no response from me re: the sludge issue. Hardly true. It is true, however, that I will focus on networking with owners with the problem, not spin doctors. My van is smoking a bit now. I am keeping a watchful eye, rest assured.

    "Jcapeling," it is easy to understand why you are so angry. Who wouldn't be if they were told that they needed to be responsible for a new engine in a van less than 2 years old! Please do continue to find out more information. There are many owners who will appreciate it. "Readytobuy4," like Toyota, has made up his mind. You should not be compelled to defend yourself against such narrow-minded perspectives. The truth will speak for itself if the problem is of greater magnitude than Toyota claims.

    As for the regular oil changes in the 3,000 mile range, I will venture to say that IF there IS a defect, this measure will only serve to POSTPONE the inevitable demise of the system. I.E. Owners might get past the warranty period before the problem surfaces. I'd like such owners to come forward to support this theory, if possible.

    Let's not forget that IF there is an inherent problem, changing the oil more frequently will NOT solve the problem. It will merely delay it. This will make Toyota happy because then it can say, not only is the only is the owner to blame, but the warranty period is over. An owner who does not have the information that "jcapeling" has might lack the confidence to stand up for himself/herself. More power to the "jcapelings" out there!
  • I read in Edmunds that the 01 Sienna has an updated engine that "requires" premium gas. I can't see why Toyota would do that, but anyway, the dealer representative (in VA) told me that the 01 Sienna was not restricted to premium and would take regular unleaded with no adverse effects. I asked him if I would get reduced performance or reduced engine life if I chose to use regular unleaded. He said no, I wouldn't suffer any adverse effects by using regular unleaded in the 01 Sienna. Can anyone inform me about this? I'm wondering if the owners manual "recommends" premium, and if you chose to neglect it, you do so at your own risk. If so, that's much different from what the dealer told me.
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