AC Compressor blows up

pgregstonpgregston Member Posts: 3
edited July 2019 in Toyota
Our 04 Sienna has 120K miles and until this, not one unscheduled service. If this happens, be aware that this is a common problem with the Denso compressor sourced by Toyota for the current Sienna and Honda for the latest Odyssey.
The compressor disintegrates and spreads fine metal throughout the AC system. Everything has to be replaced as the debris will not flush out. Full kits are now available including all the bits, and at something of a discount from the individual pieces. The dealer prices are much higher and put the cost of repair near the value of the depreciated value of the vehicle.
While the book allots 13 hours for the repair, the Sienna layout is almost like they built an air conditioner and put the van around it. Both the engine compartment and dashboard, as well as the rear quarter where the rear condenser sits, have to come apart. Unless your mechanic has done it before, they may not know about the kit, or the time to execute the repair.
If you are looking at a used Sienna, look for this having happened already or expect it as part of ownership into the second hundred thousand.


  • stevew4stevew4 Member Posts: 1
    If this is such a known problem, why hasn't Toyota owned up to it? (think I know the answer to that...) Has anyone received satisfaction in dealing with this problem? Just happened to me and I'm not ready to pay all ~$4000 to fix it on a car that's been loyally serviced at the Toyota dealer.
  • pgregstonpgregston Member Posts: 3
    Known in the sense that they have put together a repair kit. And the aftermarket parts kit (same parts!) sourced outside the dealer network will drop the repair to about $2500. Point that out to your dealer service department manager. In these times they need to get themselves aligned with the market. When I was told the compressor would be thousand bucks, fifteen minutes with Google found it at half the price. My shop thanked me for finding them new sources.
    My car was over five years of predictable (never thought about it) service, with nothing but follow the scheduled maintenance. Its a [non-permissible content removed] putting a quarter of the KBB value into having the AC work, but then I could have sold it or kept driving without AC.
    And the problem isn't Toyota only. It's the Denso sourced AC system, which is in Honda's minivan now too.
    Replacing the exploding compressor before it goes would be cheaper. They could send out notices telling you the statistics on how many blow up at what age.....
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Can we honestly expect any manufacturer to fix a part at 120,000 miles when the warranty was 36,000?

    Are we expecting too much (waaaaaaay too much) from Toyota?

    Let's be realistic, folks.

    My '91 Ford Escort had its A/C system go out twice in the 107k miles that I owned it and Ford didn't cover either repair, nor did I expect them to given both occured well beyond the 36k mile warranty period.

    If manufacturers keep fixing things forever for free you'd never buy a new car again.
  • wwestwwest Member Posts: 10,706
    "..Can we honestly expect..."

    Yes, when it's clearly a manufacturing or design flaw the cost should be covered, at least on a pro-rated basis.

    "...Ford didn't cover.." surprise there.....
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    A design flaw that worked perfectly well for 120,000 miles?

    120k, it's not like it's 37 or 38k miles, very close to the warranty period. It's more than 3 times the warranty length.
  • pgregstonpgregston Member Posts: 3
    My Seinna came with a seven year 70,000 mile warranty, which it was well beyond in miles when the compressor blew. I wouldn't say the flaw in this is in terms of the time or mileage served.
    Rather it is the fact that in the design of the minivan, it was almost like they had built the vehicle around the A/C system, since so much of the car had to come apart to replace every piece of the system. The nature of the failure - atomization of metal that is then circulated throughout the system- and the design of the car makes this repair a high proportion of the value of the vehicle.
    What we could ask of all manufacturers is to share data on failures. It would have been useful to know where on the bell curve this event sits. I could then have a realistic idea of whether or not it was within 'normal' or an outlier, whether I can expect another 100K out of the engine and trans or other major components etc.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Now that I can agree with, though I'm sure automakers keep such info as confidential as they can, legally. Sometimes illegally.
  • grumfangrumfan Member Posts: 4
    Who the heck buys a car and only expects it to last 36K miles?

    Honda's routinely go 250K, 300K miles. There are some that have been documented to have gone a million miles already.

    The problem with the Denso AC compressors, and the incredibly expensive repair (Over $3000 ) they cause is well known to honda and they have already lost one class action lawsuit (CRV owners) because of it.

    I found out about it because I was going to buy a used CRV and came across this issue while researching it. Now I won't buy the CRV. And as I keep looking I'm starting to wonder if its safe to buy any Honda or Toyota that has AC. Since I'm looking at used units that will cost between $3000, and $6000, the idea of a $3000 repair on one of these is ridiculous!

    Basically every used honda just dropped $3000 in resale value. And some toyota models as well.

    The correct thing for honda to do, is: find or design a compressor that does not shred itself to pieces every 40,000 to 70,000 miles. Make that compressor available at cost, and encourage everyone to replace their AC compressor with it immediately.

    Ordinarily this would seem like an arrogant demand, but Honda has known about this issue since 2002!!!! And has never taken any systemic action to correct it! As far as I can tell, the compressors going into the 2013 models STILL have this issue.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Honda's routinely go 250K, 300K miles

    On their 3rd or 4th transmission, maybe.

    No car goes that far without a few replacements/rebuilds.
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