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Toyota Sienna Brakes



  • Sienna was at 42,054 at time of incident. At the conclusion of a 3 hour drive back home with the van, we had smoke rising from right-rear tire. The smell of hot brakes was very strong.

    I got the van to my local mechanic and he confirmed that the rotor was toast, pads non existent and caliper had seized. He replaced the brake pads on the rear tires and put new rotors on both. We opted, due to cost, to replace only the right-rear caliper. He thought we'd be good.

    Three weeks later my wife calls me that the hot brake smell was in the air again. This time it was prevalent from the left-rear tire. I was back at the shop once again with a seized caliper, but now on the left. This one was caught plenty early and everything checked out OK, but the caliper was replaced.

    Is 42,000 miles too early for this type of work? The van has only lived in Southern Maryland and Virginia. It did haul a UHaul trailer almost nearly one year prior when we moved from Maryland to Virginia. It hasn't hauled anything since then.

    I called a Toyota consumer line and they pulled up my information. They said there was nothing that could be done for us and it was just generalized as "wear and tear". I don't know about you, but I have owned many vehicles in my life and haven't seen such a wholesale failure of all the replaceable components like that. It was like they were on a timer.

    We are also dealing with sliding door issues, which I understand there may be coverage for at a dealer.

    Anything similar out there?
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,729
    edited February 2013
    Loosing two rear calipers in quick succession tells me there is likely something systematic at play. If your mechanic still has the calipers, he can do a quick inspection to determine or rule out some possibilities.

    1) Inspect the sliders, pins & boots for signs of corrosion or lack of proper lubricants. This would impede the release of the brakes. That would (possibly) indicate an original factory assembly issue.

    2) Check the fit of the brake pads in the carrier for the same thing. If they fit too tight, they won't retract well. Ever have the rears serviced prior to this?

    3) Does the piston move within the caliper easily? Pull the piston out of the caliper and check the inside for rust. That would indicate contaminated fluid. Given what happened, make sure your mechanic thoroughly flushed the entire system.

    4) I once owned a Corolla that did this to the fronts. The new caliper seized up too within a week. It turned out to be bad rubber hoses that collapsed on retraction, trapping fluid pressure on the caliper.

    5) Remote possibility, but it could be a master cylinder, ABS or proportioning system issue that is trapping pressure and causing the rears to drag.

    No boat ramps or immersion of the rears in standing water?

    I'm sure there are other possibilities, but that's what comes to mind!
  • orionreplayorionreplay Posts: 10
    edited February 2013
    Thank you for the reply.

    The mechanic said last night that though it was unusual for calipers to fail this early, it wasn't as uncommon as I'd think. He wishes he had replaced both calipers three weeks ago and not just the one.

    1) He made no note of any corrosion.

    2) The brakes have never had to be serviced in our 42,000 miles. I was tracking pad wear for an upcoming replacement, having had our tires replaced last May. When I'd go in for the free rotations, we were monitoring brake pads. I knew pads would need replacing in the next 10k miles.

    3) When the van was in the for the first failure (right side), the mechanic checked out the left side caliper and reported all pistons were working well. I neglected to say that during that first job, he flushed the brake fluid and filled with new, mostly due to the heat that generated during that 3 hour drive.

    4) There was no discussion of hoses being checked. Unsure.

    5) Mechanic spoke of this, but also said words similar to it being a very remote possibility.

    In the end he feels now that we have replaced all parts in pairs, we should be good to go. He kicked himself for not insisting we change out the left caliper at the time. But he felt for us and the bigger bill we were paying with having to change out everything at that time.

    No standing water or boat hauling. Just the one UHaul trailer for our move to Virginia from Maryland in January 2012. The mechanic had seen our trailer hook and questioned me on hauling as well.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I have my OEM pads and rotors at 58k miles, but no towing here. I do load it up with weight, though.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,729
    It sounds like you've found a competent mechanic who asked all the right question, so I don't know what more to add. Obviously if it were to happen again you go looking for the esoteric stuff like collapsed lines or a major problem in the expensive stuff under the hood (topic #5).

    At this point you write it off to a random freak run of brake components bearing an original equipment defect with unusually precise timing. Maybe you should play the lottery this week? Hopefully, we'll never hear from you again - and I mean that in a good way!!
  • wheels13wheels13 Posts: 51
    My 2006 Sienna had the same thing happen at 40,000 miles and I replaced the caliper and wheel had run very hot. At 80,000 the wheel bearing went bad due to the over heating caused earlier with the brake problem. We thought the caliper went bad because I drive a lot om gravet roads and it is dusty. Now at 100,000 no problem.
  • We are now at 42,000 miles and change. Since the left rear replacement of caliper, we have had no more issues in the last 2,000 miles. I find myself still checking after a long drive, feeling the rim... smelling for hot brakes. So far, nothing.

    I hope it was just a freak coincidence. This van was supposed to be our 200,000 mile vehicle. I had never had seen such a brake failure in any vehicle I have ever owned. I started to doubt my 200,000 mile goal. We'll see what happens now.
  • It is August and the right rear tire "hot smell" has returned after a grocery trip this morning. February to August... 6 months and failure again?

    Guess I'll be taking some time off of work tomorrow to see if the brake place can give me a caliper check.
  • For those of you following along, Toyota dealership identified a bad Master Brake Cylinder, rotors that needed to be resurfaced, and other brake fixes from my recent seizing issue. Total cost for the entire work was quoted at $1,800. I contacted Toyota Corporation for a little help. They agreed that at 47,500 miles I should have not had such a wholesale failure of my van's brake system.

    They have taken to discussing my outcome and meanwhile the dealership is continuing to make the necessary repairs.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,729
    Good to hear that they are at least considering helping you. Good luck and let us know.
  • Thanks Fibber. Unfortunately I found out late afternoon yesterday via my telephone representative that Corporate Toyota will not help me in this situation. I was told that a Master Brake Cylinder failure, though rare at my mileage, does have some track records of failures at my mileage. Yes, most occur in the 150k range, but a few have failed around 47k.

    So, "it's rare, but not as rare as you'd think". They declined to help. It surprised the Service manager at the dealership. He took me aside and said that in his time at the dealership he hadn't seen one fail at all. I was his first.

    So I wrote a letter and mailed it this morning to Toyota USA. We'll see where that takes me.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,729
    It's not likely a singular master cylinder failure at 47K. I could see them denying a claim if you had zero brake system issues up to that point.

    It's that this has likely been a nagging problem for quite some time now, and that this master cylinder problem has also wiped out one set of rear brakes, and has now taken out a second set. This issue in total has cost you closer to $2500, right??
  • orionreplayorionreplay Posts: 10
    edited August 2013
    Yes. Back in January/February of this year we had a complete, wholesale take out of both our rear brakes (42,500). The brake mechanic then thought the Master Cylinder, but the rarity of it just seemed too distant to him. So he chose to fix the problem in hopes it was also the cause. He had told me that if it occurred again that Toyota needed to be involved for deeper diagnosis and maybe a chance at some Toyota coverage. ($600)

    I called Toyota back then asking if they knew of anything regarding a 2010 Sienna and brakes. They said no. I was told it sounded like general wear and tear. I accepted their explanation.

    Fast forward to 47,450 miles and we had the right rear tire seize again. So I took it directly to my closest Toyota based on that last advice from the mechanic. They kept the vehicle for three days and it took them two of the days to just diagnose the issue. They elected to pursue the master cylinder, which they didn't even keep in stock. On the third day the part had arrived and they fixed. ($1,800 total)

    Meanwhile, I was calling Toyota Corporation. In the end, they said No. They still considered it general wear and tear. Oh, but if I had purchased the extended warranty when I got the van, this would have been covered.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,729
    Yes, I think it kind of sucks the way they are treating you. You got to replace the rear brake system twice, in part because of questionable advice.

    But they brought up a valid point in the very last line of your presentation. I paid $1400 for an extended (8 yr / 125k) warranty. When the steering intermediate shaft started knocking, and the HVAC fan motor started squeaking, and the power port fell into the dash at under 60k miles, they covered it all, no questions asked. Around $900. So what's the value in buying this insurance, if they would have done it for free just by my complaining that these things shouldn't happen?

    One could argue that you had exactly the same options I had. You chose to self-insure, while I bought the policy. So far I'm still in the loss column, and in the end so are you. Just another way of looking at the cost of ownership.
  • I agree. My thought process when I bought the Toyota in 2009 was, these things don't happen with a Toyota. This will be my 200k mile vehicle, like my inlaw's Camry (175k and counting). So I declined. Was the dealership telling me their product wasn't a good product?

    When I bought my diesel Jetta in 2011, I had an oven and a fridge go on us between the 2009 Toyota purchase and 2011. I had gotten the Sears warranties on those two items and it more than paid for itself. So with that in mind, with the Jetta purchase, I got the extended warranty from VW.

    When this happened to my van with the Master Cylinder, it was the dealership service manager who told me to try Corporate. When I picked up the vehicle he didn't know they had already said, "no". When I told him, he admitted that in his time at the dealership he had never had a failure of this sort. This was his first and hence, why they didn't even have the piece in stock.

    I have now also paid money to USAA for their version of an extended warranty for the van. I'm not having this happen again!
  • Hi all-

    As you may notice, I have just registered myself in this forum, and hope this is the right place for what I am about to say and some else might have encountered the same issue with their Sienna 2013 or will. Here it goes:

    I've recently had a very SCARY experience with my less-than-6-month Sienna LE. My family was about to embark on a fishing trip and every one was seated and we were ready to go. As I put the car in the reverse, and backed out of my driveway (our house is on a high ground), i did the natural thing as I always do. that is, I was applying the brake as I was backing out. However this time, the brake system was gone, i mean, not there at all. The backup monitor displayed the emergency message: "Check the brake system. Please contact the dealer immediately." the Car kept sliding backward until it hit the curb on the other side of road. Long story short, in the end, The brake system came back online and started working after I restarted the car the 3rd time. The experience is pretty traumatic, and none of us wanted to step into the car. we had the car towed in to the dealer and the Dealer service manager called back and informed me that they have found nothing wrong with the brake system. But this is not very comforting.

    Now my questions are:
    1. has anyone else here experienced the same problem?
    2. What shall I do in this case?
  • haniffhaniff Posts: 2
    I also have serious brakes problem with my Sienna 2007 XLE. It is scary and I can imagine how you feel. Please see my post. If we unite we may get Toyota to fix some of their problems before some lives are lost
  • haniffhaniff Posts: 2
    edited August 2013
    I have a Sienna 2007 XLE with 82,000 miles. Most of them are highway miles. In the past two months my brakes pedal kept getting softer and going to almost the floor. I took it to a repair shop and they said it was air in the system and bled the breaks while I waited. It got worst after that. I went to Toyota dealer and then they tried one entire day bleeding it using computer without any luck. Their conclusion was that the brakes master cylinder was bad and needed to be replaced. Toyota sells and recommends to replace the entire system including the booster. A repair cost of $1700 approx. At the beginning, the dealer said it was impossible to have a bad master cylinder on such a vehicle, however then they changed that statement. They also assured me that someone changed the brakes cylinders on the back brakes because these are not the original ones that Toyota installs at the factory. Well, this made me even more worried. I never had any work done on this vehicle except oil and filter changes. Did Toyota install the incorrect parts on my van? This is the first vehicle ever to have a master cylinder failure, and the consumable parts (breaks pad, rotor and drums) are like new! Am I now subject to an unexpected breaks failure at anytime? My van is at the dealer right now; it will be ready within 3 days and I will get it back with about $1,700.00. I called Toyota and their answer was that that was normal because no one else complained, and it is up to the dealer if they wanted to give me a discount on the repair. I would like to appeal to all of you Sienna owners to call Toyota and let them know of your brakes problems. From what I have read, I am not comfortable anymore in that vehicle and it will be on the market soon. Are you interested? You have a deal here. Thanks.
  • Haniff,

    My letter to Toyota produced a response via a phone message. They had received the letter and included it in my file for my established case number. But being a voicemail, that was all I learned. The caller, Alan, said if I wanted to ask any questions I could use any representative when calling Toyota Corp.

    Your story sounds similar to mine. Except mine started at 42,500 miles. I did not go to Toyota originally when the problem first occurred last February, because USAA towed the vehicle to the nearest brake place. They wouldn't authorize a 30 minute tow to the nearest dealer. So I called Toyota Corporation then and was assured this was "normal wear and tear".

    When it occurred again, I purposely drove the van to that dealership trying to use the brakes as little as possible. I wanted a dealership to be involved.

    The backlash I received this time from Toyota Corporation, was 1.) I had called before for a similar problem and chose not to use an authorized Toyota dealer for the fix, 2.) I hadn't regularly maintained my Sienna at a Toyota dealership, and 3.) I should have bought the extended vehicle warranty.

    To them it was "End of Story". In my written letter I took exception to #1 and #2. Due to the towing and due to the Sienna passing, without a single discrepancy, the official Toyota dealership 20-point inspection when my vehicle was seen recently. I take great care of my vehicles and due my own servicing.

    As for #3, that is correct, as I described earlier in this thread. I hadn't gotten the extended warranty. In August 2009, I didn't think it would ever be needed. My trust was obviously misplaced.

    Clearly Toyota is cutting corners to maintain a level of profit on each purchase. Cheaper components. The answer is now from Toyota Corporation: you didn't buy the extended warranty to cover our sub-par components. You are expected to purchase it and I had not.

    I have done the phone calls and sat on hold. I have written a letter. I don't know if I'll ever get any satisfaction. As I told the service manager at the dealership, for a $1,005 part, Toyota Corporation would lose this customer forever? He just grimaced and smiled. He wasn't going to reply.
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