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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2003 earlier)



  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    just curious, how many of you here would agree that oil change on any car should be at 5000kms.=3125miles interval under normal driving conditions.
  • cliffy1 wrote:

    > I am in the sales side of the dealership and
    > while I can listen and ask things of the
    > service guys, I don't deal with it on a daily
    > basis.

    Thanks. My experience with my Toyota salesman was great. My experience with the service department was characterized by accusation, contempt, and instant defensiveness. Unfortunately the salesman will suffer for the poor customer skills in the service department.

  • rward99rward99 Posts: 185
    Cliffy, I wish that my '99 had come with the TO option (I bought it used), but it did not. I checked with two dealerships about having it added but both said that there isn't a 'kit' for this and you have to add up all the individual components; every little wire, motor, hose, clip, fuse, etc. With a frame hitch and all the little stuff it came to about $1300 at the dealership. The biggest pieces for TO were larger fan motors (2), the tranny oil cooler, and some logic chips controlling the fan motors. Most of the rest were clips, fuses, screws, etc. (Of course the frame hitch itself was a big piece, but not part of the TO option itself).
  • and I pretty much have taken the same course with my '01 Sienna. I mean, you can either invest a little more in having frequent oil changes(cheap insurance, as far as I can tell); or you can take your chances on the lengthier intervals and maybe have a sludge problem some day. I too, was brought up with 3k to 4k oil change interval, and think that compared to the original purchase price of the vehicle, or the price of a new engine; that frequent oil changes still make a lot of sense to me.
  • deepandeepan Posts: 342
    "From above post: by joe1948
    I have a 98 Sienna with 47,000 miles. I too found a thin layer of black gritty sludge in the oil fill hole. This black grit seems to be limited
    to the small area at the oil fill hole. Why? No idea.
    My question is what caused this grit? "

    Is there some sort of a (black) filter in the fill hole that filters the oil ( dont know why it needs a filtration) before it enters the engine
    block that we may be mistaking for sludge.

    anyone working for toyota probably could take a look in a new sienna by opening up the cap of the oil filler hole and let us know. Or other owners maybe. No one has really addressed this point.
    thank you
  • That's exactly what I saw in my 2001. I was able to scrape it off with a knife just to see how deep it was. It was just on the surface and just enough to make it look worse than it was.

    I have an oil change scheduled for tomorrow and will have someone take a look and hopefully explain why it would concentrate in the filler area. Cliffy said what I described was what sludge looked like. I've had oil changes around 3000 miles and used the dealership from day one, so based upon what Toyota is saying about proper maintenance it shouldn't be sludge.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    my 99 sienna have that same black sludge you mentioned. from what i understand, it's not the same type of sludge thats causing engines to die.

    i was told this black stuff is carbon build-up and i check other cars and i did see the same stuff. i also understand that the only way to find out for sure if you got sludge or not is to pull off your valve cover or you see puff of blue smoke from your tailpipe
  • I've been so concerned about the "sludge" reports that I even had a nightmare about it a couple of nights ago. ..scary~ I could never afford to spend the amount of money needed to fix the problem if it really existed. Our Sienna is our only car and I bought it so my wife didn't end up stranded with our children on one of the remote roads out where we live. Our monthly payments strain our finances with little room for any major engine problems out of pocket.

    That said, I had to find some humor in this hot topic. ..I was just thinking that IF the sludge issue really ends up being just a myth and mainly a side-effect of poor maintenance, Toyota owners are going to have some of the best maintained vehicles around :) ..maybe it's really a strategy by Toyota to keep it's cars regarded as the most reliable cars out there.. gotta try~
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    Thanks for the note of levity. I like that kind of thinking.

    To relieve your stress, I would recommend getting an oil change now and ask the dealership to let you take a look under the valve cover. They will charge for this, but it will be worth viewing to ease your mind. Then, proceed with normal maintenance, preferably at 5000 intervals or less. Doing this, your van will do exactly what you expected it to when you bought it.
  • john339john339 Posts: 229
    you have mentioned in others posts about a bad batch of torque converters on the Sienna or something like that. Can you please expand on what the issue is?
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    You may need to go back to the archives for this. There was a batch of Siennas back in the spring of 2000 that had bad torque converters. They often failed within the first 100 miles, although some made it farther than that. First evidence of the problem was a check engine light. When hooked to a scan machine, the error code was 770. In some cases, this lead to total transmission failures. The problem was traced to a bad batch of materials from one of Toyota's suppliers and the problems was fixed and has not resurfaced.
  • I agree with Cliffy 1. I too was very concerned as I mentioned in an earlier post. I was almost ready to run out and trade my 98 Sienna until I pulled my front valve cover and as I mentioned, no sludge at all, upper head area very clean. But, I had to do this to convince myself that I was not going to be faced with a very expensive repair. The front valve cover is very easy to pull but if you don't want to attempt it, have your local dealer do it. I checked and was quoted $39.95. That's a fairly cheap price for peace of mind. Now if only someone could come up with an explanation of where the black, gritty material is coming from that is at the oil fill hole. And no, there's no screen there. It's a metal shield that is mounted on the underside of the valve cover.
  • dardson1dardson1 Posts: 696
    my understanding is the problem's with the 2000+ engines......the ones from which Toyota squeezed an extra 20hp and higher mpg numbers....according to what I read (and I'm just a very interested observer of this situation since I own an 01 Lexus ES300 and recently traded out of my 01 Sienna ) part of the process of updating the engine resulted in smaller coolant passages and running the engine at higher matter what any book said, I would never extent oil changes to there are many drivers who care nothing about cars and just want reliable point A to point B transportation (I think this could describe a good number of people who drive Toyotas) I can imagine a group who would follow the car manual instructions without a thought. I can also imagine that Toyota just might have pushed this engine too far and that the trade off is that it's prone to sludge if not religiously maintained.
  • Thanks for the information joe and cliffy. It's nice to know that what I was seeing isn't sludge. I'm also curious what the grit really is. I'll let you know what the dealership says.

    There's got to be someone out there that has experienced a real case of sludge with real proof of proper service. I'd sure be disappointed to be the first. On the otherhand, I would think Toyota wouldn't hesitate in correcting the problem if it did arise.

    Since I have never really required warranty work from a Toyota dealership, I'm still uncomfortable in guessing if they really back their warranties.
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    anyone adjusted their own rear drum brakes?
    just wondering coz i may need to adjust mine soon.

    if you have, please provide whatever info u have.

  • dardson1dardson1 Posts: 696
    according to my dealer, the rear brakes are adjusted when you engage the parking brake. What a curious way to adjust! How many of you have ever used the parking brake? The rear drums are a Sienna issue that make all sorts of strange noises and squeak when you inch up in an intersection. The dealer adjusted mine at every oil change, as though they knew it needed to be done without asking. Does that tell you they have a problem back there?
  • if Toyota was really interested in repairing customer relations, and at the same time, show that there is nothing wrong with the design of these engines-select at random several of the owners of sludged vehicles(Camry, Sienna, etc.), and give them a new vehicle to drive for a year. Have three new vehicles per several different geographical regions in the US and Canada, and then have three different oil change intervals for them. One would be every 3 to 4k, one at every 5 to 6k, and one at every 7 to 8k miles. The test vehicles would be taken to a participating dealer who would do the oil changes for free and also make an inspection of the engine for sludge. The drivers of the vehicles would have the use of them for a year for free(except for gas), and could report first hand what they have experienced. I think this would go a long way to either proving or disproving that: there is a faulty engine design; the operating temps. are too high; or the oil change intervals are wrong. It might also help to show both old and new customers what the problem really is and perhaps restore the confidence that customers have in Toyota. Just an idea....
  • jeproxjeprox Posts: 466
    thanks for the info.

    sounds like self-adjusting rear brakes which is not very common. i thought only VW's have self adjusting brakes.

    i'll remove the drums again and have a look.

    thanks again
  • I do my own oil changes on all 5 vehicles currently. I KNOW my oil was changed and was at the correct level when completed. Now I admit I was a bad boy because I did not keep my receipts for the purchase of the oil and filters. I never needed them before on any other new car I had ever bought. If i you think doing it at the dealer is any better, check out the "Engine slugde" topic to see someone who had the dealer do the changes and still got sludge. Sorry to rant be it just gets under my skin to see Toyota (in this case) point the finger at everybodyelse (owner negligence, Jiffy Lube, inferior oil and filters) but themselves. I think you need to change the oil and filter more often than the manual says not to have a problem. Most of the people here who say they have not had a slidge problem, change the oil around 3k to maybe 4k miles. Not close to the manual, but that is what is needed. Enough ranting for now.
  • deg856deg856 Posts: 120
    3.3 million cars (total involved) - just over 3 thousand cars with sludge = still roughly 3.3 million cars with no sludge. Since it's known that more than 99.9% of the cars do not have sludge, what would adding a few more cars, which are statically insignificant, as you had suggested prove? Don't you think that chances (99.9% no problem against 0.1% problem) are there will be no problem with so few "test cars", so why even bother with this meaningless experiment? Nevertheless, since we're just day dreaming let's add the following to the wish list:

    1. Not only do these lucky owners with sludge get new cars to drive around for free, Toyota should pay them monthly salaries since these people are now "official sludge testers".
    2. Since the entire reputation of Toyota now hinges on these chosen few, Toyota should pay for semi-annual Hawaiian vacations for these lucky few to make sure they provide nothing but glowing reports of their ownership experience.

    However, you can't have your cake and eat it too, so here are additional conditions for participation. If, at the end of the test, that the participants agreed that properly maintained vehicles do not get sludge, and that sludge was his/her own fault in the first place, he/she would agree to the following:

    1. Reimburse Toyota for the use of car for the one-year test period, the vacation, and the monthly salaries.
    2. Pay for the entire bill of the original engine repair due to sludge.
    3. Get his/her name published and publicly apologize to Toyota for false accusation.
    4. Toyota reserves the rights to sue these people for defamation and loss of revenue.

    It's only fair. (End of day dream.)

    San Jose, CA
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