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Toyota Sienna Maintenance and Repair (2004+)



  • 5000miles so far.
    stiff and stiff compare quest or caravan.
    It's strange and really disappointed.
    This is not a 'toyota quallity'.
    I think only my sienna have a problem.
    dealer says 'looks normal'.
    what should I do?
  • kmeadkmead Posts: 232
    Do you mean the ride is stiff? Keep in mind this is a vehicle which can have a very different gross vehicle wieght depending on the loading. 8 passengers and luggage and a trailer versus just you and one little tike.

    If you could be more explicit as to the problem, we may have some suggestions. I wouldn't expect it to ride like a Lexus, it is a van after all.
  • alaputalaput Posts: 19
    Have 300mi on an LE 8 and reading about gregali119's acceleration problem made me think of the slight lag I noticed from stop when the accelerator is depressed. Is this a normal characteristic of electronic throttle control?
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 39,936
    Our editors seem to like the steering just fine:

    Long-Term Test: 2004 Toyota Sienna

    To rule out the obvious, are the tire pressures to spec?

    That link also mentions that the Sienna engine earned so-so marks, but they don't mention lag specifically - just want more acceleration without having to punch it.

    Steve, Host

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • Yes, this is a REAL problem as Toyota has admitted it, but I too do not understand how they don't have a fix for it yet. At least we know there will be a fix on the way I am sure - prolly as a recall and you will get notice in the mail.

    BTW, the transmission software update improved the shifting/performance greatly. Can any of you tell me approx. what speed in mph that your transmission shifts into 3rd at?

    Thanks, Wendy
  • Mine did this too, you need to take it in and have them update the computer with new software, the aceleration problem will go away then.

  • kmeadkmead Posts: 232
    that the problem is a faulty converter or that Toyota has admitted it or that there is no fix for it.

    The smell you describe is often the result of running rich, ie more fuel than can be burned with the available oxygen. It may well be dumping a bit more unburned hydrocarbon into the cat than it can catalyze at startup.

    A catalytic converter needs time to heat up to be able to convert different elements of combustion into less harmful forms. At startup they are less efficient and under heavy load (again often a rich condition) may be overcome and unable to catalyze all of the gases completely.

    It is quite normal for cold start gases to smell much worse than normal operation odors due to the rich condition an engine needs at startup and the converter not being up to temperature.

    I have not seen any evidence that Toyota has admitted to this being a real problem with the Sienna. I participate in another board about the Sienna and there are Toyota service people who participate there and none have mentioned this, nor has anyone else complained about it. The Toyota dealer has admitted its a problem they don't know how to solve or that the service writer doesn't understand but is trying to satisfy a customer.

    If this is really a problem, a catalytic converter can be acquired, or new O2 sensors or other recalibration of the injection system can be performed. Given Toyota's experience with this engine family across multiple product lines, I am very sure they can figure out this problem.

    I would ask to have the Toyota regional service representative get involved to help resolve this.
  • kmeadkmead Posts: 232
    Some VW owners have also complained about poor throttle response with drive by wire accelerators. On our Sienna we haven't noticed this problem, but we tend not to really get on it due to where we live and still breaking our Sienna in.
  • just4fun2just4fun2 Posts: 461
    I have been following this problem the exhaust smell and I believe that it is normal under some conditions. I own a 2000 Chrysler and a 2002 Old and they both have that smell when I turn them off and walk around the back of them in the garage. Both of my sons own Toyotas and a friend owns a Nissan Murano 2003 and guess what, they all have the same problem.

    I can't believe that all of these cars have bad cat's.
  • The common recommendation from the dealers seems to be to seek out lower sulphur brands of gasoline, although not all who have done this report it to be of great help. Seems that in a given geographic area (presumably using similar gasoline) some Sienna owners have the sulphur smell while some do not. Suggests that neither the cat nor gasoline quality are the whole story. I fully agree that an engine that is running too rich would make the issue worse and I believe that some have reported improvement after having the mass air flow sensor replaced.

    The sulphur smell is not isolated to Siennas, or even to Toyotas, but rather is reported by many owners of newer models. Seems to be a bit more predominant in the Japanese makes. If you haven't already, take a look at the boards for Accord, Corolla, Protege, among others.

    Lovemyaccords, hope that your dealer is right and able to quickly resolve your issue. Just can't help but notice that many with the sulphur smell are quite concerned (not hard to understand why) and that not all have been successful in getting a fix.
  • Currently have 2000 Odyssey- although some problems the service is excellent, including warranty work at 88,000 miles (our warranty expired at 36,000). Main gripe is the constant tire balancing to control shimmy at high speeds. How have the dealers been with 04 Sienna problems? Do they OFFER free loaner or do you have to coerce it? Do they immediately agree to look at and fix the problem, or do they make excuses (we were once told leaking oil is normal for a Taurus by Ford dealer).

    We drove one and liked it but don't want to switch unless service is as customer friendly.
    Thanks for the input! Oh yes- any shimmy problems?!
  • kmeadkmead Posts: 232
    Service is dealer dependent. Finding a dealer that gives service you are satisfied with can be frustrating. Check with friends that have Toyotas to find the dealer you will appreciate and will appreciate you.
  • Rcgator over on the 4Runner boards says that s/he has been working with someone inside Toyota (prefers to not give names at this point) who indicates that Toyota is going to be replacing cats. I assume this means replacing with a re-designed cat, not just another of the same type.

    So, maybe Toyota is going to step and do something constructive on the sulphur smell. Some documentation supporting the rumor of a forth-coming fix would sure be nice.
  • kmeadkmead Posts: 232
    A coworker, who lives close to work, has this problem with his 2003 Corolla. Here is the story he got from Toyota Canada:

    Apparently Toyota's ultra-low emission engines (like the current Corolla's and Sienna's) can give a rotten egg smell, particularly with a lot of short-distance driving where the engine doesn't get warmed up. Toyota (and other manufacturers) were expecting Canadian gas to follow other countries and have lower sulphur gas, and they designed their emission systems accordingly, but the sulphur content is still higher in Canadian gas.
  • bosco9bosco9 Posts: 16
    Well, took our Sienna to the service manager and had him wash it with his power washer to show him how the water leaks into the door frames. He thought it was weird too, but showed us where the seals are located...and it is no wonder that the inside of the frames get wet. All I can after you wash it, open all 5 doors and dry it off. I have never had a vehicle with seals like this before, but then again, this is my first Toyota...luckily the rest of the van is problems with smells, acceleration, or tranny. I have ordered touch up paint though...several chips at just 800 miles.
  • Kmead: Yup, that's been Toyota's standard answer for the past couple of years now. "Our cats are ahead of their time. Wait for the gasoline quality in your area to catch up." If a bad match between cat and the gasoline that most folks can actually buy today is the problem, though, then Toyota is able provide a fix in the form of a cat that works with current gasoline.
  • alaputalaput Posts: 19
    I enjoy your informative posts. Is there really a "break-in" period anymore with advances in materials, quality and lubrication? I still plan to keep the revs down and change the oil at 1000miles...
  • kmeadkmead Posts: 232
    Break in periods are not as rigorous as they used to be. With the tight tolerances that current vehicles are built to break in is not as important as it used to be.

    However, Toyota does strongly suggest that you take it easy during the first 1000 miles. Given their recomendation I would tend to follow it.

    In my view it is very easy to ease your car into the service you will be using it under. Easy starts, part throttle acceleration, no hard stops, no 4k plus rpm are all easy to do and cost you nothing. It will not hurt your car to break it in. With all 5 new cars I have bought I have followed the following regimen and so far have never had a car that uses oil in the first 150k miles, replaced a head gasket, or any other engine or transmission problem.

    During the first 500 miles part throttle acceleration (half or less) and never accerate much below 2000rpm, never over 4000 rpm, do my best to vary engine speed either by choosing another gear or slowing down or speeding up. Easy stops (if others cooperate) to allow the brakes to bed in. After 500 miles increase rpm max to 4500 and continue to use part throttle to accelerate. As I get closer to 1000 miles I tend to increase the rpm with more throttle and eventually will do full throttle and redline by 2k miles periodically.

    Some may think this overly conservative but it works for me.

    There is a whole other school of thought on this, and it is detailed here:

    I tend to keep my cars for a decade or more, use them for household as well as autocross and track use and have never had engine or transmission related problems. (I doubt I will autocross the Sienna) So, whatever works for you will probably be fine.
  • navyjnavyj Posts: 5
    I am not sure if I have a transmission problem or not. We have just over 900 miles on the van. When you are at a stop and start to go, it feels like it slips. Is this normal? I am not going from 0-60 in 5 sec. or anything, it is a normal acceleration. Any feedback would be helpful. Thanks.
  • kmeadkmead Posts: 232
    If your car was built before late November of last year, the TSB for the tranny should be done.

    As for the "slipping", it does take a bit of rpm to get that mass moving. It may also be among the anomalies that result from the drive by wire accelerator.

    Some cars do the following, I don't know yet if the Sienna transmission does this: When sitting at a stop, the transmission shifts into 2nd to reduce the tendency to creep forward, when you start off it needs to shift into 1st to get going, giving a annoying hesitation.

    As to whether this is the issue or not remains to be seen.

    I doubt you have a problem (we have just gone over 1000 miles since Dec 26th) but it can't hurt to ask when you go in for your first oil change. We live in an area that doesn't require hard acceleration very often so I haven't noticed this issue on our Sienna.
This discussion has been closed.