Toyota Sienna Transmission Questions

arodoryarodory Member Posts: 10
On my 2005 Sienna, we changed the transmission fluid at 30,000 miles and just checked again at 67,000 and it is nearly BLACK. I had it changed along with the filter and 4 days later it is black again...the transmission is running well but I know this is not normal and want to avoid problems down the road. My mechanic advises against a full flush because it can cause damage to the seals.
Is it normal for the turn dark so quickly in this vehicle?
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Comments

  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyMember Posts: 6,068
    Hard to say if beginning of problems, more likely an isolated incident. Anyhow, it's totally unacceptable that this would happen on a brand new van. I would ask the dealership to extend the warranty of this transmission to 7 years. Others have asked to be switched out with a brand new van.

    If van continues to have problems you can pursue lemon law, or Toyotas have high resale value... sell it.
    2020 Honda Accord EX-L, 2011 Hyundai Veracruz, 2010 Mercury Milan Premiere, 2007 Kia Optima
  • chrisjenn97chrisjenn97 Member Posts: 6
    Hello. 45 days ago I purchased a new 2007 Sienna XLE. It test drove beautifully (actually drove it for a full day or so before buying). It had about 350 miles on it when I took it for the test drive.
    It currently has under 1,600 miles on it and about 10 days ago I noticed when it would shift from 1st to 2nd gear, it would hesitate & buck. It almost seemed as if it was a manual transmission & you let the clutch out too fast. On the way to the dealer, I noticed that it wouldn't go into overdrive until reaching about 53 mph which seemed too high to me.

    Dealership says I need a new transmission (obviously under warranty). My question is that my family has owned approx. 6 Toyotas throughout the 80's and up to 2004. After putting up to 120,000 miles on these vehicles, we NEVER had any issues with anything other than the normal items that get replaced (brakes, timing belt, tires).

    Should I be concerned that this is only the beginning of problems? I totally babied this van driving it very conservatively. The dealer said the transmission is shot & it is a defect.
  • chrisjenn97chrisjenn97 Member Posts: 6
    Luckily we have a lifetime power train warranty that our dealership provides to every new Toyota, so that is good. Yes, I'm hoping it's an isolated incident. This was the entire reason why we dumped our GM & bought a Toyota.
    I don't know if it makes a difference, but I was reading on this site that the transmissions are now made in the US in West Virginia for the Camry, Sienna and possibly another model. I figured the parts were still made in Japan, but assembled in the US. I guess not anymore.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Let them fix it.

    The 5 speed trans is actually pretty good. Toyota is having more issues with their 6 speed, though the Sienna didn't get that new design yet.

    Mine has been fine, so I agree this will likely be an isolated incident.
  • lxpatellxpatel Member Posts: 34
    Life time warranty that you did have to pay for? or they gave that as a result of tranny failure. Let us know, I would want to shop over there next time, to avoid buying extended warranty.
  • chrisjenn97chrisjenn97 Member Posts: 6
    The lifetime powertrain warranty was given to us by the dealership at the time of vehicle purchase. It is something that all of the Toyota dealerships give at the time of a new Toyota vehicle purchase.

    Got my van back on Friday and it runs beautifully! Super smooth (I think smoother than when I purchased the vehicle)!

    So far, so good! :-)
  • pingmoonpingmoon Member Posts: 6
    You just got yours back today and mine was just diagnosed today!!!! I also have a Sienna 2007 LE and it has 4,500 miles on it and we purchased it in May this year...new.
    They are ordering a new transmission for the vehicle! Obviously it is under warranty...but we did not get the lifetime, because Gettel Toyota did not offer it. However we got the vehicle for several thousand less than other toyota dealerships that offered the lifetime. This is our 3rd Toyota...and the first to have a major issue:( Coincidence...or just a bad line of transmissions...or the beginning of a lot more problems???? I'd like to know also.
    Tonya
  • caravan2caravan2 Member Posts: 198
    That's interesting.... I was giving the option for 100K warranty if I do all the maintenance work at their shop.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Hopefully they fix yours just like they fixed his. Let's see.

    I bought mine in May and the trans is fine, actually my overall performance/MPG is fantastic.

    Extended warranties are dirt cheap, about $800 for a 7/100. There is a thread here on Edmunds if you search.
  • chrisjenn97chrisjenn97 Member Posts: 6
    Good luck with your new transmission, pingmoon. Hopefully your 2nd one will be perfect -- mine is far better than the original but I had no idea because that was the only Sienna we test drove. Hmmm, maybe that's why we got such a good deal?? :-)

    If you can, let me know when you get your Sienna back with the new transmission. Our service advisor told us that we were getting a "new" transmission. However, when we got the receipt, it shows a "reman atm". Turns out it is a remanufactured one, sort of. They told us the transmission is new except the outer casing. They told us that the dealership cannot obtain a new transmission through Toyota, only this one which legally must be called a remanufactured one because the outer casing is from another Toyota.

    I've never had to deal with any of this before but I feel since it has a lifetime warranty, then I should be OK.

    Jenn
  • lxpatellxpatel Member Posts: 34
    can you tell us dealership that gave you the lifetime warranty, Thanx
  • pingmoonpingmoon Member Posts: 6
    Jenn,
    How frustrating. Do you think they are telling the truth when they say it is new except for the casing? These vehicles are too new to have to accept a used transmission. I'll let you know what they tell me.
    Tonya
    Thanks to the other poster for the warranty info!
  • budgetmombudgetmom Member Posts: 1
    Yes, I know it's hard to believe....My hubby and I bought a brand new...no miles....2007 Sienna LE in July of this year and in 2 weeks and under 500 miles I was stranded 4 hours from home. Transmission acted like it was slipping and then would not work at all. We towed it to dealership and they just said since it was so new etc. they would just feel better replacing the whole tranmission. Ok, so I'm a little disappointed that I have a 29,000 dollar van that didn't even make it 500 miles....but I got over it. Now, with 5500 miles and ownership of just over 3 months it stranded me again. This time I was slowing down at stop sign and there was a huge noise and I could no longer accelerate and when I put it in park it began to roll down the hill where I was. Obviously it was towed in yesterday (Sat.) and we haven't heard yet.....but I am convinced they are going to tell me it's the transmission. In Ark. you have to have the same problem 3 times before it's a lemon. I'm well on my way huh?
  • chrisjenn97chrisjenn97 Member Posts: 6
    Tonya, honestly, I don't know what to believe. Unfortunately there's not much I can do unless I have the same problem 3 times (Lemon Law). I guess I just have to hope for the best and assume that they are telling me the truth about it not being a rebuilt.

    The name of my dealership is Toyota Center in West Columbia, SC. There were and have been very good to deal with, I'm just hoping I don't need any other service except for scheduled maintenance!

    So sorry to hear about your Sienna, Budgetmom. I can certainly understand your disappointment and frustration! Please let me know what you find out!
  • pingmoonpingmoon Member Posts: 6
    Budgetmom,
    So can you pursue the lemon Law? Or do you technically have to wait for it to happen one more time? This is really scary to hear....this is so unusual for a toyota.
    They did change the transmission from the 2006 to the 2007 model...I think. Maybe you need to let them know this is the route you plan on pursuing if they don't get it right. They told us....and ours was just making a barely detectable unusual sound...that they don't repair transmissions...they just replace them. Also when my husband dropped off the vehicle, he asked if it was being replaced with a "new" transsmission...the reply was "absolutely" ...that was yesterday morning. So we will see. This is the first time we have ever purchased a new vehicle..and the most we have ever spent one also. so it is very dissappointing. Thanks for sharing it is very good to be in the know about these things. Thanks for taking the time to post.
    Tonya
  • siennamisiennami Member Posts: 116
    Oh, no... I test-drove an 07 from there in June. I ultimately ended up with one from Florence Toyota. Ironically, they offered an "exclusive" lifetime warranty also! I'm very sorry to hear of your problems with your van. So far mine has been working great.
  • pingmoonpingmoon Member Posts: 6
    I got my Sienna back last week from having the transmission replaced...so far so good. I'll post here of any future issues with the transmission.
    Tonya
  • hansiennahansienna Member Posts: 2,312
    NOT true. I tried to trade off my 2006 Sienna LE with less than 3,000 miles on it. The Toyota dealership used car manager said it was worth only $19,000...which is a loss of $ 10,000 in only a few months. :sick:

    If you are having problems with your vehicle, would you sell it privately to dump your problems on another person? :confuse:
  • pingmoonpingmoon Member Posts: 6
    I really hope there will not be anymore transmission problems. That is the only problem so far, but that was a pretty big issue for a Toyota. If I continued to have
    big issues, I might seek legal advice, if we chose not to go that route and the dealer would not give me a reasonable trade-in then I would sell privately, but I would definately tell the person the transmision was replaced. It is sad because this is the first time I have chosen to buy new. However I guess I could have bought my same van a year later 1 year used on a Toyota lot and never would have known the transmission was replaced.
  • mcase2mcase2 Member Posts: 160
    This is the most disturbing Forum on the Sienna I have ever seen. The transmission on my 2004 Sienna has a dead spot at around 1100 rpm. This was common on the 2004, but was only a minor nuisance. In fact I only notice it once or twice a year when stuck in stop and go traffic. However, failing transmisions are absolutely inexcusable on this high priced Toyota. The problem is widespread enough to have resulted in a forum and I would opine that most people do not get the warranties mentioned in these posts and are taking a huge risk in buying this car. I actually was thinking of getting another Sienna when the 7/100,000 was up on my 2004, but this not going to happen in light of the this latest failure on the part of the "the most reliable car maker on the planet." I had a failed transmision on a cheap used Dodge Caravan and Chrysler actually gave me a new transmission - not a reman. Toyota has cheek palming off remans on people who bought their high priced minivan. By the way, the word of a car dealer that only the case is recycled is meaningless. Its all about money and the guts are recylced as well. The sad truth is that you don't have remans available unless you have a high failure rate. Clearly Toyota has lots of failed transmissions to pick parts out of.
  • s4f4ms4f4m Member Posts: 19
    Definitely ask for a NEW one. What is REMANS? It is remanufacturing of a used transmission...replacing only the broken components. There is still wear/tear on the non-replaced components.
  • 2002odie2002odie Member Posts: 32
    I agree, this is horrible...I am getting bent out of shape because our 2002 Honda Odyssey at 89,000 miles needs a new transmission and I need to pay over $2k to get it fixed and having to fight with the dealer and corporate Honda to come down from trying to charge me the full $5k for the swap. In fact, during the time the Honda case manager was ignoring me, I started to research buying a 2008 Sienna to replace the Honda piece of junk, and here I see that brand new Sienna's with 500 miles are dropping transmissions, and some are on their second one by 3500 miles???? :confuse:
    What's going on? Used to be Odyssey's and Sienna's were the best of the best.
    Transmission failure is unacceptable. That's why we got the Odyssey back in 2001 and even had to pay $1k over the sticker at the time (and that was a good deal, since they were going for $2500 over...). We were after Honda reliability and quality. 20/20 hindsight, I should have gotten the Dodge Grand Caravan instead. :P
    My friend has an 05 Sienna AWD Touring model and so far has not mentioned any transmission issues.

    Now I will think about the Sienna some more (maybe that's why they are offering lifetime warranties, Toyota or their dealers know it's a problem), but definitely stay away from anymore Hondas. Maybe the Saturn Outlook or GMC Acadia are better alternatives.

    So the transmission fails and they replace it with the same transmission that fails again...seems like Toyota doesn't have any solution except to keep putting in replacements that will eventually fail anyways??? Sounds like Toyota is using Honda transmissions now. :lemon:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I have the 2008 Buying Guide from Consumer Reports right in front of me, and the specific score for transmission for every year, 2001 to 2006, on the Sienna is either "Better than Average" or "Much Better than Average".

    Any car can break, but your odds are better with a Sienna than with any other van.

    My 07 has been flawless.
  • 2002odie2002odie Member Posts: 32
    Good point, Consumer Reports is a good guide, but it is still just a guide.

    Real life experiences that threaten the safety and well-being of a car designed to transport whole families is whole other story.

    Having a transmission go out within 500 miles is completely unacceptable.
    Where's the quality control?
    Where's the testing?
    Is it up to the buyer to be the guinea pig?

    There must have been a bad batch of transmissions or some kind of design flaw to cause this kind of premature failure (and then the failure of the replacement transmission? Ouch!)

    The transmission is the second most critical component, next to the engine, without it working properly, you are stuck on the side of the road.
    It's not like a bad power window switch, or a faulty radio knob.
    If the transmissions fails at just the right time and just the right place, people are going to get hurt.

    Obviously Toyota knows something is up with these vans.
    Otherwise why would the dealers so generously offer a lifetime or 100k warranty?

    During my price shopping, I was surprised to find these are going for $5k under the sticker with a $1000 rebate, which puts them at or way below invoice in most cases.

    Sign of the economic times? Slow sales? Or are they trying to unload them?

    I am not totally against Toyota, my sister-in-law has a Sienna with over 120k miles and no issues, and my best friend has a Sienna AWD Limited with no problems so far, that's why I was looking at them as a replacement for the Honda.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Tens of thousands come off the assembly line. One bad apple doens't ruin the batch. There will always be a few exceptions, even on a reliable vehicle. No vehicle is perfect, I doubt there ever will be such a vehicle.

    I'm sure they test samples, but not every one. Costs would skyrocket and you and I could not afford the van if they did.

    Overall van sales are way down, they used to break a million per year but are way down from that peak. GM and Ford abandoned the segment entirely. Crossovers are all the rage, so vans have to offer more utility and value.

    Smart folks step in and take advantage of that fact. Vans are better than ever.

    My Sienna makes 268hp and is quicker than sports cars were not too long ago, yet I've also hit a record MPG of 34.0. Carrying 5 people and cargo. I've never done worse than 21mpg (what crossover can claim that?).

    My van can carry 8 people or a sheet of plywood, has power doors on both sides, yet I paid only $25 grand, about $10 grand less than the average transaction price on a crossover.

    Sure, on rare occasions, they'll break down. There's a lot of complexity and things that could go wrong. Still, the odds are good, and like I said, vans are better than ever.

    Here's a bottom line, though: I got a price quote on a 7/100 bumper-to-bumper warranty direct from Toyota for just $880. So basically the manufacturer is betting that less than $880 of repairs will cover the entire van for that period, and even leave them room for profit!

    They basically put their money where their mouth is. Just get the warranty if you're concerned.

    PS Even Honda's scores for transmission reliability have improved recently (2004 and later).
  • mcase2mcase2 Member Posts: 160
    The problem started with the transition in manufacturing in 2007 - The stats your reading are irellevant
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Toyota still uses the U151E - 5 speed automatic in the Sienna.

    Are you saying there were significant design changes?

    I kinda of doubt it, given they had already started replacing those with the U660E 6 speed in other vehicles in their lineup.

    I believe the data is 100% relevant.
  • hause7hause7 Member Posts: 153
    The 5 Speed in the 07-08 Sienna's are the same as the 04-06. Consumer Reports rated it a very good transmission and i rarely hear about people who have problems with the transmission in the 04-06 MY. Our 04 has 72,205 miles on it and counting and the transmission still is like new.
  • vu2000vu2000 Member Posts: 58
    My brother has a 2006 Sienna LE with 46K miles and it runs perfectly. A few years back I sold my 91 Camry V6 with 155K miles(never had any transmission issue). I am sure Japanese cars are not infallibe, but they are way more reliable than any American brands I've owned in the past.
  • pingmoonpingmoon Member Posts: 6
    I still love Toyota....it obviously has been a small number of vehicles that have
    had this issue or I think we would be reading about it on a lot more forums....and a lot more on this forum. I'm fine as long as it does not happen again on the same vehicle, if it did then I would become more concerned....I did not get the lifetime warranty.
  • siennamisiennami Member Posts: 116
    I don't think the fact that someToyota dealerships are offering Lifetime Warranties is necessarily a red flag. I think that's simply to "keep up with the Jones's". Chrysler offers one; so does Toyota. I just find it amusing that these dealerships are advertising them as "exclusive" when obviously they're not. I don't think that there's some big secret Toyota is hiding about transmission problems. The Sienna is a very popular van in my hometown. Out of my scrapbooking group, there are six of us that drive them. I think that out of the thousands manufactured,yes, there are going to be some that have some problems. And, yes, when it's your problem, that's a pain in the butt. That doesn't mean it's a pain in the butt for everyone else, however. If you feel that the dealership is lying to you, then by all means pursue the truth and get them to fix your van, and not at your cost. But let's not make a broad generalization of the entire manufacturing company because a few people have posted here. Power sliding doors not working is a problem; that's why I choose not to have them (and I can't afford them!). Sliding doors freeze.... but sometimes, so did the doors on my VW Passat when I had to park it outside during the winter. That doesn't mean that Toyota and Honda as car manufacturing companies are the most terrible in the world. There are lemons in every car make.
  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyMember Posts: 6,068
    If you are having problems with your vehicle, would you sell it privately to dump your problems on another person?

    Yep. I'd provide them with maintence records... their choice.

    If I were selling a newer vehicle I would offer it at private sale. Like you stated, dealerships don't want to give you jack for your trade-in... much less than jack on domestics.
    2020 Honda Accord EX-L, 2011 Hyundai Veracruz, 2010 Mercury Milan Premiere, 2007 Kia Optima
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I don't think these are very much related.

    One side may argue a long warranty is needed when people have no faith in the brand.

    The other might say a company offers one when they are confident in the product and truly believes they can afford to stand behind it without going bankrupt.

    But look at this simple example: even within brands, reliability varies. Yet those cars carry the same warranty.

    It's completely seperate.
  • mcase2mcase2 Member Posts: 160
    They changed the manufacturing plant - thats when the failures started - so the stats are irelevent because they apply to the transmissions which used to be made in Japan NOT the new failure prone ones made in West Virginia
  • mcase2mcase2 Member Posts: 160
    There are only an extremely limited number of people that contribute to this forum out of the millions of Sienna owners. Its probably a safe bet that dozens of complaints here represent thousands of failure on the road.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    What dozens? I've only seen a couple.
  • stevecrouchstevecrouch Member Posts: 1
    I own a 2007 Toyota Limited with 8250 miles. I have had it in to my selling dealer 3 times for the transmission. I'm sorry, but when I slow down to turn, go over a speed bump or otherwise make some change in speed, the transmission shouldn't be "searching" for a gear when I re-accelerate. The last trip to the dealer was after a complaint to Toyota and them setting up the meeting. The response? "Yes, we 've had lots of complaints about that...but Toyota hasn't given us any repair. We can reprogram the computer but that will last a couple of days and then it will be doing the same thing again". In other words...go pound sand because we're not going to do anything about your crappy transmission. I'm THROUGH with Toyota and this van is for sale. I'm sure I won't have any trouble selling a very low mileage Sienna with navigation/DVD etc. but what a load of garbage from Toyota. I'm totally disgusted.
  • siennamisiennami Member Posts: 116
    What do you mean "searching" for a gear? If you're talking about the slight hesitation you feel when you turn a corner, then yep, that is perfectly normal. Go to siennaclub.org. There is a long discussion given to this very same subject. I have learned to live with mine; it is a characteristic of the Sienna particular to the '07 model. If you had an '06, you wouldn't feel it at all, probably.... but then you also wouldn't have the bigger engine and be able fly when you need to, either! ;)
  • hansiennahansienna Member Posts: 2,312
    Expect AT LEAST $ 10,000 less for your Sienna than you paid based on the resale value I was quoted by a Toyota dealership used car manager when my 2006 Sienna had fewer miles on it than yours has. :sick:
  • chrisjenn97chrisjenn97 Member Posts: 6
    I'm not surprised by your experience trying to sell your van back to your dealership. In my experience, Japanese cars have held their resale value better than domestics. However, I have found that NOT to be the case with minivans in general. SUVs & trucks always have done better than cars, followed lastly be minivans.

    I, too, have felt that slight hesitation when slowing down (especially when going down a hill) and then trying to reaccelerate. I just figured it was the vehicle. It typically only does it on one or 2 particularly hilly roads in my area, so I guess it isn't too bothersome for me since it isn't a regular occurrence I encounter.

    Despite my transmission problem within the 1st month of ownership, I can honestly say I am very pleased with my Sienna as well as my dealership. By contrast, my father owns a 4 year old Suzuki Verona which has under 36,000 miles on it. The engine needed replacing (per Suzuki dealership) but Suzuki corporate wouldn't do it...only rebuild it. Needless to say, they had his vehicle for 4 weeks before my dad threatened obtaining a lawyer & going to the local media, as the dealership & corporate fought about it. It is now having the same exact problem with fewer than 200 miles on the rebuilt engine.

    So, I am thankful that my dealership (& Toyota) stood by their vehicle.
  • hansiennahansienna Member Posts: 2,312
    I was going to TRADE in my 2006 Sienna LE on a new 2006 Grand Caravan SXT where the Toyota dealer sold BOTH new Toyota and new Dodge. The Toyota dealership should know the value of a Sienna better than anyone else. :blush:

    I like the Toyota dealership where I bought the new Sienna and like it better now that I am acquainted with the lack of features the Sienna has when compared to my less expensive 2002 Chrysler T&C LX.

    The Sienna does have some advantages: More cargo space behind the 3rd row and a more comfortable driver seat. :shades:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    You got a low-ball, wholesale trade-in offer from a dealership.

    You should shop it around some more. You can get a lot more for it than a dealer would offer you.

    Go ask in the RWTIV thread. Imports especially can fetch a LOT more in private party sales. Thousands and thousands more.
  • hansiennahansienna Member Posts: 2,312
    Agree 100 %. Dealers have told us they make more profit on trade-ins and other used vehicles than on new ones.

    I bought my Sienna at a BAD time ( NO Toyota factory discount). :cry: Toyota offered a $ 1,000 factory rebate shortly after I got mine. Today's paper has a NEW 2008 Sienna LE with a discount of $ 4,869 whereas I got only $ 1,251 discount on my new 2006 LE.

    When I priced a new 2006 Sienna, the TMV for my new Sienna LE was MORE than I paid. (One reason I question accuracy of TMV on Siennas, Odysseys, and many other new vehicles. :shades: )

    I looked at 2008 GC SE's and GC SXT's today and prefer my 2006 Sienna LE to a new GC even though I would like the separately controlled temperature for driver and front passenger. My Sienna has more attractive door panels, more attractive cloth seats, MORE cargo space behind the 3rd row and I prefer the compass/outside temperature/trip computer in the overhead console in addition to the Sienna INSTANT ECONOMY function (not included on GC/T&C since 2002 models). ;)
  • hansiennahansienna Member Posts: 2,312
    The actual MSRP for a 2008 Sienna LE as advertised in the paper is $ 27,189 and NOT the bloated $ 27,858 stated in the ad. The discount is $ 4,200 and NOT the higher amount of $ 4869. Even with the error, it is obvious that I paid TOO much for my 2006 Sienna LE. :sick:
  • kjokjo Member Posts: 24
    ateixeira:

    My Sienna makes 268hp and is quicker than sports cars were not too long ago, yet I've also hit a record MPG of 34.0. Carrying 5 people and cargo. I've never done worse than 21mpg (what crossover can claim that?).
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------

    I know this is a transmission thread, but this caught my eye.
    Is that downhill with a tailwind? And how fast were you driving and over what kind of road to get the 34mpg? thx :shades:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I drove from the Dulles Airport Annex after the Air-and-Scare party they had for Halloween, back to my home in MD.

    Traffic was very light and I kept it at about the speed limit (55) to try to get the best mileage. At the exits I tried to coast to a stop, vs. going fast and then braking to lose kinetic energy.

    I was trying, for sure, but it worked like a charm.
  • lgodivalgodiva Member Posts: 5
    I am having a transmission problem with a used Sienna that is absolutely frustrating. Below is my story (I have sent this letter to Toyota arbitration, to no avail). Please read it in its entirety - there's a lot to say - and if you can help at all, please post a reply. Is there any other form of recourse other than to shell out $2500 to replace a transmission that Toyota is unwilling to stand behind?:

    I purchased my 1998 Toyota Sienna minivan from Sloane Toyota in Devon, PA, in the summer of 2003. I also purchased a 3-year extended warranty. Within the timeframe of the warranty, in the winter of 2004-2005, the transmission started making an odd noise and was replaced under warranty by Sloane in June 2005.

    Within the one-year warranty on that new transmission, my car started experiencing unusual behavior: on the coldest mornings, it would not automatically shift out of first gear into second gear for one to two miles, or about five to ten minutes, even if I pressed the accelerator down quite far. I contacted Sloane’s service department and described the problem in detail to one of the service people. They told me definitively that this behavior was “normal” and nothing to worry about. I questioned this, but was assured that everything was ok with my car. I even called one more time and received the same reassurance, plus the suggestion that I might check the transmission fluid level (I did, and it was full). They did NOT recommend that I bring the car in to be checked, or that there was any reason for concern, or that I should even check the color of the transmission fluid (I will refer to this later).

    Over the next two winters, there were few truly frigid mornings during which this behavior exhibited itself. Thus, trusting the advice of Toyota’s service department, I ignored it on the few mornings it occurred. (This only happened in the morning when the car was completely cold, never at the end of the day.) Additionally, the car exhibited no other unusual behavior during this time.

    Then this past winter, my car started exhibiting other odd behaviors that seemed to point to the transmission. The gear slippage worsened - it would occasionally be slow in switching between gears, typically from second to third. I started hearing a high-pitched whine that rose in pitch as I accelerated. I finally brought my car into Sloane Toyota to have it checked; they said my transmission was shot, and that it would cost $5000 to replace it. Sloane said they would not cover the replacement because my new transmission’s warranty had expired. I pointed out that I had experienced and reported unusual behavior earlier on, and that they never told me to bring it in. I also pointed out that it seemed quite clear that my more recent gear slippage was a worsening of the original problem on cold mornings, and thus an inherent problem in the new transmission they had installed in 2005. I said that this all could have been avoided if they had advised me to bring it in rather than assuring me that the symptoms I had experienced were “normal”. I pointed out that I did not bring it in because I was not advised to do so by their own service department – I had relied on their advice. I spoke with the service manager, Jim Nagle, on several occasions, trying to convince him of this, and thus that Toyota had some responsibility in the matter due to their poor advice of his own service department, but he remained firm on this position.

    I also issued a complaint through Toyota Customer Service and spoke with a regional service manager, Larry Roberts. He indicated that the original problem of not switching from first to second gear on cold mornings was a “safety feature” to prevent stressing the transmission, and that the new problems I was experiencing were completely separate and unrelated.

    For a second expert opinion, I then took my car to a very reputable and highly-recommended local transmission shop near me, who indicated that the transmission was a mess, that whatever was wrong had been building up for several years (i.e., since before the warranty expired). They said they found many “chunks of metal” in the transmission fluid and that the filter was completely clogged. The fluid was black rather than the usual clear color. They didn’t think it would last more than a few months. I explained the entire history of my transmission and my dealings with Toyota. They pointed out that Sienna minivans have a history of bad transmissions from the late 1990s through the early 2000s, and that my initial transmission replacement was one of many that Toyota quietly did under warranty. I described the “safety feature” concept, and he said it was complete and utter nonsense - that in all his years of transmission repair of Toyotas other cars, there was no such safety feature. Obviously, Mr. Roberts was lying in order to get me off his back, something I seriously resent and am deeply offended by as a Toyota customer. I called Mr. Roberts back to tell him this, and asked him for proof of such a safety feature. He ignored my request and became very gruff, hostile, and non-responsive.

    My trans shop replaced my clogged transmission filter and refilled the fluid, to at least give my car some short-term life. Their cost to replace the transmission is *only* $2500 (not surprisingly half of the dealer’s price).

    It surprises and distresses me that Toyota will not stand by their cars in this situation. Certainly, a new transmission should last more than a couple of years, especially on a Toyota!

    Here are the points I was hoping would convince Toyota to take responsibility in this matter:
    · Pat’s Transmissions expertly diagnosed how badly my transmission was damaged, compared to how relatively new it was.
    · The extent of damage points to the certainty that problems started very early on, related to my original problem of gear shifting on cold mornings. I would even suggest that the ‘new’ transmission Sloane Toyota installed was a ‘lemon’, i.e., faulty right from the start.
    · Sloane Toyota’s service department gave me poor and erroneous advice that the original symptoms I was experiencing were “normal”; moreover, they did *not* recommend that I bring my car in to have it checked while it was still under warranty.
    · There is a known history of Sienna transmission problems in the timeframe of when my car was manufactured. I have had two bad transmissions in my car over the span of only five years!
    · As a manufacturer of high-quality cars, Toyota should be expected to stand behind their products. Transmissions should not fail after such a short time, regardless of the arbitrary one-year warranty.
  • jipsterjipster Louisville, KentuckyMember Posts: 6,068
    Obviously your dealership lied to you... big time. That Toyota's regional service manager would also give you a bunch of bull is amazing. Unfortunately, unless you have any written documentation from the dealership indicating that this problem with the trans. was "normal", then you may out of luck.

    You aren't going to get anywhere with your dealership. If you have the independent mechanic repair the transmission Toyota isn't likely to assist in the repairs. Otherwise, I would try speaking to someone else at Toyota Customer Service. Then the only recourse you would have is small claims court. Without written documentation it would be your word against theirs.

    In the future I would take my vehicle in to be looked at if it is under warranty... instead of relying on dealerships word over the phone. If the dealership says whatever the van is doing is "normal", make sure you are given written documentation indicating such.
    2020 Honda Accord EX-L, 2011 Hyundai Veracruz, 2010 Mercury Milan Premiere, 2007 Kia Optima
  • adm6902adm6902 Member Posts: 1
    I have a similar problem with my 2008 Sienna. If I slow down to about 5 MPH, the engine revs up as if the transmission is disengaged or maybe downshifting too soon. Also, the same will happen when I come to a stop. Instead of lugging the engine to slow down, it acts like it comes out of gear and is freewheeling.

    I would think they could reprogram the transmission to change how / when it downshifts.
  • tlw6tlw6 Member Posts: 15
    Asking for advice: I have an old car. The engine shut off on the highway. My son panic'ed and shifted the transmission (automatic) to P while braking. So, the car moved for a distance while the gear is in P before stopping. As a result, I lost the Reverse gear, the car won't back out. How bad is the problem? Does this mean that I need a new trans? Thanks in advance for any advice.
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